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Beyond - Legends Shadows of Tesserone (AU, OC)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Vehn, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Title: Shadows of Tesserone
    Author: Vehn
    Timeframe: Several Hundred Years after ROTJ
    Characters: The members of the Vehn family (All OC’s)
    Genre: Alternate Universe, Political Drama, Family Drama, and all the goodness in between.
    Notes: A continuation, albeit at an undisclosed time in the future, of the Vehn family as read in The Fields of Tesserone.




    After years of hard work and delicate negotiations with age old enemies, economic prosperity has finally come to the worlds that have sworn allegiance to the ROON FEDERATION. It is a prosperity, however, that is not fully appreciated in certain star systems.​
    In the shadows of the independent systems a new threat emerges more powerful and dangerous than any the VEHN family has faced before.​
    Trained assassins,operating from a secret base, strike fear into the hearts of Federation citizens everywhere with bold and vicious attacks. The old alliances have been pushed to a shattering point.​
    The people turn to old heroes to save them in their hour of need. ELEANOR VEHN, called out of retirement to lead the Federation, vows to put a swift end to this new threat by any means necessary.​
    Clouding Eleanor's focus is a startling rumor from the dark corners of the galaxy that GRACE VEHN, Eleanor's long lost daughter, is alive and well...​





    Nime, Roon
    Presidential Opera House

    The young woman descended from the darkness of her perch above the stage. Getting backstage access hadn't been a problem. Security wasn't as tight as the Capitol Police would've liked. After all, for a trained assassin, there was always a way through the picket line.

    Where she was standing she found the pre-arranged package at the edge of her fingertips. She quickly flicked the package around and assembled its contents into a lethal rifle. She preferred to use a slugthrower. It was ancient technology in comparison with the advanced weaponry of her time but she enjoyed the level of skill and training needed to accurately deliver a killing blow.

    The performers were on stage now singing a song from a time long ago. A time when Roon had been under the control of the Baobabs. She suddenly remembered her history and realized that for many of the people in the room down below, the older generation, that was not a distant memory after all. That had been real.

    She glanced over at her target. Not very far away. At this range the kill would be lethal. At this range the shot would barely be heard over the swell of the orchestra. She affixed the silencer to the end of the barrel. She'd preferred to be invisible. That was her preference. That was how she operated.

    The music was reaching its climax now. The audience was enthralled. Enthralled by the masterpiece of audio and visual on display down below. It was a shame, really, that the show would have to come to a screeching halt but any plans the audience might have made were secondary to her own. She had other plans. Artistic plans. The kind of plans that made galactic history. The kind of plans that could destabilize the governments of the Outer Rim.

    She slid a round into the chamber. Time to kill.

    She adjusted the sight on her rifle. The range was good. Her breathing was slow and steady. Her aim was true. Just a few more seconds and the deed would be done. Her blue eyes remained sharp, focused, taking in every detail, every wisp of hair, every breath the target made. She almost wanted to reach out and touch the target. In a way she would. In a way she would touch the soul of another.



    [​IMG]


    She propped one leg on the catwalk that she occupied and steadied her breathing. One hand gently caressed the barrel while the other slid down the action and delicately wrapped around the stock. Her finger slipped inside the trigger ring and rested against the curved surface of the mechanical action that would decide life or death.

    The music soared to a bursting crescendo of sound.

    She was about to apply gentle pressure to the trigger, sending a round through the skull of another, when the stage lights suddenly shifted focus and blinded her. For a brief moment she lost sight of her target. She' failed rule number one. She refocused, fought off the glare and pulled the trigger. A low zip erupted from the barrel.

    The stage lights shifted away suddenly causing bright spots in her vision. She glanced at her target. Saw a figure slumped over as officials attended. She smiled as she realized she'd accomplished her mission. Shouts could be heard. Cries for help. Word got out to the audience. Someone screamed. Then more screams. Then pandemonium as the Presidential Opera House on Nime evacuated.

    She threw her weapon away and slipped down a nearby support rope. She landed hard on stage spraining her right ankle.

    "Frak!" she cursed as she hobbled off stage fighting a way through her pain.

    "Security is closing in. We need to leave," a masculine voice said in her ear. She recognized the voice. He was cut from the same cloth she was. An assassin as well. A professional killer. His name was Rory. She didn't know his last name. He was a backup. A fail safe in case she was killed.

    "Let go of me," she growled.

    "Not a chance," Rory replied as the pair narrowly slipped past oncoming security and into a speeder that would take them to safety.




    [​IMG]

    "I'm fine," Eleanor groused fighting off her security detail. The impact had caused her to slump forward momentarily in her chair.

    The round had burst through her shoulder and bore a hole out the other side. "Just a flesh wound."

    "I don't think so," her physician replied as he examined the wound. "The assailant was using a slugthrower. I thought those were outlawed."

    "Only in Federation territory," Rowan, her husband, said. "I believe they are still sold in Hutt territory and remain quite popular in the independent systems."

    "I've had worse," Eleanor grunted as the wound was being treated.

    "I take it you've been shot before?" the physician asked.

    Eleanor closed her eyes and nodded. "Several times."

    "People must really like you," the physician said finishing up dressing the wound.

    "I used to be fairly popular in my time," Eleanor replied, "but people have short memories. The market drives the Federation now. How to make the quickest credit with the least amount of effort and to think all of this was built with the blood of the fallen."

    "Those who died in the Roon-Druckenwell war," the physician said.

    Eleanor nodded.

    "Well you were lucky tonight. A few inches to the left and you'd be dead," the physician said as he stood and offered to help Eleanor to her feet.

    "Luck had nothing to do with it," Eleanor replied, accepting the hand, wincing as she did so. "I don't believe in coincidence either."

    "Then what do you believe in?" the physician asked.

    "Fate," Eleanor replied.




    Somewhere in the independent systems....

    "You were careless," Rory said as he gently set the woman down on a nearby bench at a run down spaceport.

    "The mission was flawless. I was flawless," the woman retorted. "I couldn't have planned for the lights shifting into my face like that!"

    "I suppose that's why you sprained your ankle?"

    "I had to make a quick getaway," the woman replied.

    "Leadership isn't going to like that you failed this mission. Eleanor was a high profile target and you missed," Rory said.

    "There will be other chances," the woman replied.

    "Are you sure your feelings didn't get in your way? I know how hard it can be to block them out when you go in for the kill," Rory replied.

    "There were no feelings," she replied and gave him a look not to pursue further questions.

    "Fine. I just think that of all the kills you've ever made this is the one that goes awry," Rory said.

    "Just bad luck that's all," the woman replied as she reached for a hand up.

    "You don't believe in luck," Rory said helping her to her feet. "Do you, Grace?"

    "You're right," Grace Vehn replied as she gingerly stood on her ankle. "I don't."

    "I believe in fate."

    Tag: Trieste;jcgoble3;Tim Battershell
     
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  2. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    :eek::eek::eek: Now that is a huge bombshell to kick off a new story with! Grace is a fully trained assassin assigned to kill her own mother? This will be very, very interesting... :D
     
  3. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    I had a feeling that there was more than a hunter-hunted relationship between the two.

    This is gonna be good. :D

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Trian, Independent Star Systems

    [​IMG]

    Jack Vehn examined his most recent archaelogical dig. He and a team of specialists from Bonadan had uncovered another layer of the ancient city of Mystaal: what the Trianii people believed was the First City created long ago to house the twelve tribes that made up the feline species genetic foundation.

    He ran a rough hand across the crumbling stone ruins and for a brief moment felt as if he had been transported back in time to a galaxy so far removed from the one he lived. A galaxy that was untouched by the harsh hand of oppressive governments, lawlessness, and violence. What had it been like, Jack wondered, to live at the height of Trianii civilization? To see the construction of the temples and tombs that now housed forebearers of this proud species? To see the old caste system? Spectactular.

    "Jack, you're going to want to see this," a voice crackled over the comm unit.

    Jack broke away from his quiet reverie and replied, "On my way."

    He scrambled up and away from the ruins heading for the river where base camp had been setup. He made his way through the crowd that had gathered on the riverbank and peered into the muddy water below. Surfacing, slowly, was a body, fairly well preserved considering how long it had been under the water.

    Jack leaned down and hauled the body out of the water. His eyes settled on the intact Trianii face, fur damp and cold, a slug wound bursting out of the chest.

    "Ambassador Kor," Jack said shaking his head. "He went missing months ago."

    He examined the wound more closely. A glint of sunlight caught his eye. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of pliers. He pried the piece of metal from the skin and held it up to the light. A deformed slug, bent and twisted as it had hit bone and lodged into some fat around the ribs.

    "There's something engraved here," Jack said as he examined the tip of the bullet.

    "What do you think it is?" An assistant asked.

    Imbedded into the bloody exterior was a symbol from a long time ago. One that Jack had come across in his numerous studies. He frowned as he stared at the symbol. Something wasn't right here.

    "This can't be..." Jack exclaimed.

    "What?" his assistant asked.

    "This symbol is several centuries old," Jack replied rotating the bullet around, "and was last used on Ord Mantell."

    "Perhaps there's been a mistake..." the assistant suggested.

    "No," Jack replied, "no there's no mistake. It's authentic. And it could only mean one thing. Put me in touch with headquarters, now!"




    Nime, Roon

    "We've completed our investigation, President Vehn," John Norden said.

    "And what did you find John?" Eleanor asked the son of Robert Norden who had been her long time bodyguard and had taught his only son everything he knew.

    "Professional job. Shell casing was picked up. Weapon is untraceable. No prints. No serial number. No obvious sign of forced entry. This person came prepared," John replied.

    "Security footage?" Eleanor asked.

    John slid a datapad to Eleanor's waiting grasp. Eleanor watched the footage backstage. Much of it was dark, hard to make out, until the lights switched position and a woman in a dress swirled away from her perch.

    "Did you get a good look at the assassin?" Eleanor asked as she handed the datapad back to John.

    "This was the best shot we had. A bit blurry around the edges but it should give us something to work with," John replied as he swiped his hand across the datapad and pulled up a new picture.

    Eleanor peered intently down at the datapad as the woman's face came slowly into focus. There was determination and strength in the assassin's face. Focus, as well. Eleanor realized that she'd been fortunate to have the lights switch position when the shot had been fired. That seemingly random act of stage design had saved her life.

    "What do we know about her?" Eleanor asked.

    "Nothing," John replied. "She's unknown. I've got feelers out with the Hutts, Naboo, even the Republic. Nobody has seen this woman before."

    "Anything else?" Eleanor asked.

    "Yeah, one thing. The slug we removed from the wall had this inscribed near the tip," John said handing over the slug.

    Eleanor stared at the slug as a symbol she hadn't seen in a very long time seemed to call out to her. A symbol that she thought had died centuries ago. Her mother, Verity, had shown it to her once in a scrapbook that was older than anything else the Vehn family possessed.

    [​IMG]

    "You recognize the symbol?" John asked.

    Eleanor nodded.

    "It's the official seal of the Vehn family used by Jamie Vehn during her racing days on Ord Mantell centuries ago," Eleanor said.

    "Funny thing you mentioned that," John said, "I received a transmission from the Corporate Sector Authority a few hours ago. Seems a man named Jack Vehn-"

    "Cousin of mine," Eleanor corrected. "Son of Kaitlyn Vehn."

    "Right," John continued, "anyways, Jack found a similar slug buried in the chest of a Trianii ambassador. The slugs match. I don't know if the same rifle was used but its a start."

    "Carry on with your investigation, John," Eleanor instructed.

    "As you wish, Madam President."

    Eleanor picked up her comm. unit once John left. The number that was dialed was answered immediately.

    "We need to get together. All of us."

    Tag: Trieste;jcgoble3
     
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  5. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Very interesting. And intriguing that Eleanor doesn't recognize her own daughter. [face_thinking]
     
  6. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    The passage of years can shroud such things easily. :D
     
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  7. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    A lot can change from when someone is six to when someone is a bit older.....The recognition will happen but not yet ;)
     
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  8. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    OOC: A longer post and lots of pieces. Do enjoy.



    Independent Systems

    "You called for me, Master?" Grace inquired as she kneeled before a throne made of stone.

    "I did," Master Adain replied. "I have a new mission for you."

    "I thought I wasn't receiving any new orders. Not after my failure," Grace replied.

    "I think there's always room in life for second chances," Master Adain said. "There's a gathering on Roon. A family gathering. Your family."

    Grace raised her head. That got her attention. "I thought we agreed that I was not to go anywhere near them."

    "We did," Master Adain replied, "but that was before I knew that you were one mishap away from nearly killing your own mother. That kind of action shows dedication. Shows true courage and faith to our cause."

    "I was trained to show no hesitation. No mercy. Not when it comes to completing a job," Grace replied.

    "Now your skills will be put to the ultimate test," Master Adain said.

    "Command me, Master Adain," Grace said.

    "You will infiltrate your family. Earn their trust. I want you to gain access to Eleanor Vehn's inner circle. When the time is right you shall strike a blow that will weaken the Federation and allow our plans to come to fruition. This mission will take some time. It may very well take everything from you. Even your life," Adain said.

    "And what if they recognize me? What if I'm compromised?" Grace asked.

    "Eleanor's head of security, John Norden, is convinced he knows what you look like. I made it quite sure that he does not. The security footage retrieved from the failed assassination did show a face. Fortunately for you the face identified is not yours. You will be able to enter this meeting of the Vehns without having to wear a disguise at all," Tel Adain said.

    "Hide in plain sight?" Grace asked.

    "Exactly. You leave in thirty minutes. Prepare yourself, Grace. Should you fail I will have no choice but to erase you from the galaxy," Adain said.

    "Then I won't fail, will I?" Grace replied as she gave a slight bow and headed to gather her gear.





    Tesserone

    [​IMG]

    Grace casually walked toward the front doors of Tesserone in a flowing blue dress. She saw the security detail in full view, even those that thought they were hidden. Her eyes didn't betray her tonight. Two security personnel at the doors, three on the perimeter in the tree lined driveway, and perhaps one or two on the rooftop. It was all standard procedure. It was all so boringly routine.

    "Family only. Identification please," the Federation security officer asked.

    Grace reached inside her clutch and handed her fabricated Federation issue identification over. She wasn't going to play around tonight. If she'd really wanted to she could have killed several of them without the others knowing. Fortunately for them that wasn't the objective tonight.

    "Cora Vehn," the Federation officer said.

    "The one and only," Grace replied.

    "Family comes from Ord Mantell?" the officer questioned.

    "They do. We don't make it to the Outer Rim very often. I'm here representing a distant branch of the family. I believe everyone was summoned," Grace explained.

    "One moment," the officer said as he walked off talking into his comm. unit as he did so.

    Background check time Grace thought as she patiently waited. She'd left her blaster pistol in the speeder. She wouldn't need it tonight no matter how tempting. Besides, Federation security wouldn't let her through anyway.

    "Sorry for the delay, Ms. Vehn," the officer said and waved Grace on through.

    Grace stepped across the threshhold and it was as if she stepped back in time. The paint on the walls, the decorations, the smell of her grandmother Verity's cooking. Here in the foyer she'd played Knights and Queens. Down the hall and out the back patio she'd helped Verity garden. Iced tea in the summer. Family hikes in the fall before hunting season. A part of her missed this place. A part of her died the day she left Tesserone. The day her parents gave her away. The day her parents no longer wanted her in their lives.

    Focus, Grace thought as she walked down the hallway hearing voices echoing down the corridor. She turned and entered the family room. The great stone hearth, built with the very hands of Joaquin Vehn, dominating the room. A cozy fire snapped and popped away adding a warm ambience to the reunion. Here in this room there was laughter, people sharing stories, the clinking of glasses and something else she hadn't been around in a long time: family.

    Her sharp eyes found her grandmother Verity, arm wrapped around Oisin, her grandfather. There was Victoria and Kurt Vehn, racing magnates. John, former Admiral, and Kasey Vehn, teacher, who'd carved a nice living out in the Corporate Sector. The stoic Jedi, her uncle, Austin Vehn was in attendance as well discussing a serious matter with Rowan, her father, the two of them speaking in low tones in the corner.

    Jack Vehn the younger, Kaitlyn's son, was busy examining the elaborate wood work of the room. Last, but certainly not least, Grace made out the elegant form of her mother, Eleanor. Eleanor sipped a glass of wine in quiet reverie looking out the grand window toward the gardens as if she were searching for something or someone.

    "Can I help you with something?" John Norden asked as he entered from the hallway. "You seem lost."

    "Hardly," Grace replied. "I'm right where I want to be."

    "Can I get you something to drink?"

    Grace shook her head. "Never when I'm working."

    "You call staring at people working?" John said sweeping his arm across the room.

    "I call studying those I only barely know being polite," Grace replied. "Only fools rush in to situations they don't understand."

    "Ah, I see. Distant relative?" John asked.

    "Is it that obvious?" Grace asked.

    "I had you pegged for a Vehn the minute you walked into this place," John said. "It's the eyes."

    "John?" Verity said drawing herself close. "Who is this beautiful woman you're talking to?"

    "I didn't catch your name," John said.

    "Cora," Grace lied, "Cora Vehn."

    "Verity, this is Cora," John introduced.

    "Yes, I heard," Verity replied, studying Grace up and down.

    Grace spoke up, "I've only just recently arrived on Roon. Family sent me all the way from Ord Mantell to answer Eleanor's summon. Not to mention they thought the economy was better over here. I have a small consulting job with a subsidiary of Blastech Industries."

    Grace hoped her cover would work. All she needed was some time to get to know them. Time to know how they thought and how they moved. Then, when they least suspected, she'd go in for the kill. Smooth, simple, and coldly calculating.

    "I wasn't aware we still had family on Ord Mantell. I thought they all left when Jamie Vehn uprooted all those centuries ago," Verity said.

    "A small offshoot stayed behind," Grace explained. That was only partially true. A small offshoot had stayed behind but they'd died out a decade or two later. Course it would take the Federation a long time to verify those details as Ord Mantell's records weren't exactly top notch.

    "I see," Verity said as she looked over in Eleanor's direction. "Come, come, my dear, you must meet Cora!"

    Steady, Grace, steady, Grace thought as her mother drew near. All those years of wanting to see her mother again. All those years of wondering why she hadn't found her, the pain, the grief, the fear and abandonment came rushing and threatened to blow her cover. Somehow she kept her composure.

    "She's from Ord Mantell," Verity said.

    "Is she," Eleanor said as she studied Grace's face. "Have we met before?"

    "No, Madam President," Grace replied extending a handshake, "Cora Vehn, a pleasure to meet you."

    "Call me Eleanor, you're family," Eleanor replied as she shook Grace's outstretched hand. "I wasn't aware I had any family left alive on Ord Mantell?"

    "Well you do," Grace replied. "A distant branch but a Vehn offshoot nevertheless."

    "So what brings you to Roon?"

    "Work and your summon," Grace replied.

    "And where do you work?"

    "Nime Innovations," Grace said, "subsidiary of Blastech here on Roon."

    "Are they a new company? I'm not familiar with them," Eleanor said.

    "Fairly new. They've only just begun to setup roots here on Roon," Grace explained. "I'm sure you don't want to listen to my work stories. I imagine running a coalition of planets has you pretty busy."

    "It's easier than my first go around years ago. Well, mostly easy," Eleanor said, "but these attacks, they're taking a toll."

    You brought it on yourself, Grace thought as she feigned interest in the conversation.

    "Jack over there," Verity said, "found that missing Trianii ambassador dead on the Trianii home planet. Killed by a bullet to the heart."

    "Yes, the strangest thing," Eleanor said, "which leads me to why I gathered the family together."

    Eleanor turned and whistled drawing everyone's attention to her. "The meeting is set to begin now. John, if you'll close the doors."

    Eleanor spoke again when the doors were shut, "I have gathered you today to bring forth a matter that has plagued our great family. Someone, or something, is behind recent high profile assassinations that aim to destabilize the galaxy. I haven't worked my entire life to see the Federation torn apart by terrorists."

    Grace listened but her eyes continued to study the family around her. Her family. All but dead to her now.

    "I have with me a bullet that nearly took my life," Eleanor said. "And yet the most troubling part of the attempt to kill me was not the actual event itself but what my security detail discovered."

    Eleanor held up the twisted slug for all to see. "Engraved in thsi bullet is the symbol of our family. A symbol of hope has now been turned into a symbol of hatred! A symbol of oppression!"

    Grace leaned forward with interest even as her cold blood ran even colder. The attempt had been nearly flawless. Nearly perfect. It was only a fluke that her mother was alive now. Some strange act of fate.

    "Why would someone use our family seal on a bullet to kill you?" Austin asked his sister.

    "That sounds more like a message if you ask me," Kasey Vehn said.

    "Someone was making a statement," Kurt Vehn added.

    "Perhaps it was a cry for help," Victoria Vehn said.

    "Please! It was an attempt at murder!" Rowan replied.

    "Who had access to our symbol?" Eleanor asked the family.

    "No one. I kept it secret. I kept it safe for years. It was all I had left from my father," Verity said. "Well, besides this house."

    "And you never showed it to anyone?" Austin asked.

    Verity shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She flicked a glance over to Eleanor.

    "Mama, tell me!" Eleanor pleaded.

    "You don't want to hear what I have to say," Verity said.

    "Tell me," Eleanor repeated.

    "I showed it to your daughter, Eleanor. I showed her the family history shortly before she was....taken. I wanted Grace to remember where she came from!" Verity replied.

    "What are you suggesting?" Eleanor said.

    "No," Rowan groaned as he shook his head, "no, what you are suggesting..."

    "Is very much a possibility," Verity said. "Grace was never found, Eleanor. You spent years searching for her and no one could ever find out where she went."

    "Are you suggesting that Grace is behind the attack?" Austin asked.

    "I am suggesting that Grace Vehn is alive," Verity said.

    Grace closed her eyes.

    How long could she keep up this charade? How long until she was discovered?

    How long until she had to pull the trigger that would end her mother's life?

    Tag: Trieste;jcgoble3;
     
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  9. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Wow. So now we know why Eleanor didn't recognize her in the security footage, but to not even think that she might look familiar in person? She really has changed. :eek:

    And uh-oh. They're on to her. If only they knew that Grace was standing in that room right now. [face_nail_biting]
     
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  10. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    [​IMG]


    This is a rough approximation of what she looked like the last time they saw her. So you are absolutely on to something jcgoble3....they will eventually recognize her. Its only a matter of time. Hiding in plain sight only works so long. :cool:
     
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  11. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Tesserone

    The Gardens

    Grace kept running. Running hard. Through fog and mist. Ignoring the cold air that made her lungs burn. Ignoring the perfectly manicured foot paths, the carefully trimmed hedgerow, the always in bloom perennials. All she could think about was the meeting. All she could think about was reuniting with her mother after years of being away. Seeing those eyes, her eyes, that peered right into her soul.

    "Have we met before?" Eleanor had asked.

    Grace stopped running and bent over placing her arms on her thighs. Her heart was racing in her chest. Her breathing cold and uneven. Master Adain had been right. This would be her most challenging mission yet. This would be the mission that would test her loyalty to the cause. She'd fought against going. She was starting to feel that it was all one big mistake. Now there was no stopping this from getting out of control. Now the concern that she had was that she might be out of control.

    "Focus," Grace whispered to the hibernating garden.

    She pushed her thoughts away. Dark thoughts. Quietly punished herself for engraving each slug with the family seal. It had only been so she could leave a mark for her enemies to find. So they could remember her. So they could fear her. Instead it had turned the very family she was attempting to destroy against her. The symbol had reignited hope in her mother's eyes that her daughter may very well be alive.

    Being back at Tesserone made Grace feel unsettled. She'd wanted to leave and find a place to stay in Nime but Verity had insisted she stay. Her grandmother always did have a special place in her heart. It was unfortunate tht she would have to lose another child soon. She'd already lost one, Liam, many years ago when he'd foolishly gone after conrol of the old RTO. Eleanor was next.

    Grace stood and began a cool down walk back to the house. All she could hear were the distant call of birds and her own shoes making a crunching sound on the well graveled walkways. She was in a world unto herself this morning. That was for the best. Helped her focus, helped her keep her mission at the forefront of her mind.

    A figure loomed out of the mist. Grace instinctively reached for her holdout blaster pistol tucked conveniently near the small of her back. Her hand kept a firm grip on the pistol as the figure drew near. She wasn't going to take any chances. Not now, anyway.

    The fog cleared revealing Eleanor who had her back to her. Grace could feel her heart beat pulsating down to her fingertips which were ensnared around the pistol grip. Was this the opportunity she'd been waiting for? Was this the moment to strike? She slowly pulled out her pistol and leveled it in her mother's direction just in case.

    "So you like morning runs as well?" Eleanor asked.

    "I needed to clear my head," Grace replied.

    "Nothing like cold air and a turn through the gardens to set the mind at ease," Eleanor said while she sat on a stone bench.

    "That meeting last night was something else, wasn't it?" Grace asked.

    "A lot of information to process," Eleanor said, "and to think that my daughter might still be alive."

    Right behind you with a weapon pointed at your back, Grace thought.

    "How long has she been missing?" Grace asked.

    "Decades," Eleanor replied, "and I never stopped looking for her. I'd heard rumors that Black Sun took her. I heard rumors that the Aimes family was involved. I heard rumors that maybe even the Hutts or some enemy I hadn't yet defeated. I didn't care who had her. All I wanted was to have her back home. To hear her laugh once more. To hold her in my arms."

    Grace felt her hand shake. An old tremor. It was something she'd fought to control. It was the tremor of uncertainty. It was a tremor that had caused her to prolong the death of her first kill. An energy baron on Druckenwell. She'd meant to shoot him in the heart. She'd missed out of nervousness and shot him in the stomach. He'd taken hours to die. Hours. She'd never felt worse in her entire life. Every night when she closed her eyes she could hear his screams, his cries for help, the pitiful moaning, the endless amounts of blood.

    Grace had killed too many times since then. Never having that problem again. She heard from the veterans that the first kill is the worst. They told her that you always remembered it, it always stays with you, and a part of their soul haunts you every day since. She could never go back to being that little girl again tha ther mother loved. She could never go back to being innocent. Not after what she had done. Not after the life she had made for herself.

    "Do you have family?" Eleanor asked turning to look at Grace who quickly hid her weapon.

    Grace shook her head, "Not anymore. I used to. I used to have a great life. I used to have it all."

    "What happened?" Eleanor asked.

    I was given away by my parents just to protect their political careers...Grace thought feeling the old anger rise up inside.

    "Someone very close to me, someone I loved, made a choice that changed my life forever.They never asked me how I felt about it. They never asked me if it was something I wanted. I hated them for it," Grace said.

    "Do you still hate them, Cora?" Eleanor asked with her piercing eyes. The eyes of a mother. The eyes that can extract any truth.

    Grace tried to push back but her walls were crumbling. She felt as if years of training was slipping out the window. She wanted to tell her mother the truth. She wanted to confess right there. She wanted to reach out and make everything right again and yet a tight fear encased her soul. A fear of retribution. A fear of letting down Master Adain. A fear of failing the cause.

    Grace took a seat on the bench and inhaled deeply. She tried to center herself. Tried to push back her emotions but found it increasingly difficult.

    "Do you still hate them?" Eleanor asked again.

    "I do," Grace said as she spoke the words aloud. "I hate them for what they did. For the choice they made. For being cowards. For not fighting for me."

    "I see their choices hurt you very much," Eleanor said.

    "You have no idea," Grace whispered, "I don't want to talk about this anymore. I have to leave."

    "I understand," Eleanor replied, "it was nice to talk with you."

    "I'll be in touch," Grace said as she took off at a brisk walk.

    That was close, Grace thought, you nearly blew your cover. The question now though is does she know who I am? Did she piece enough of the story together....can I still complete my mission?

    Tag: Trieste;jcgoble3;Tim Battershell
     
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  12. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    She just had the perfect opportunity to carry out the murder, yet she did not. Somehow I feel that she doesn't have the strength to kill her own mother.
     
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  13. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    Well this escalated quickly. This story basically move into close quarters, hand-to-hand combat. This is a pressure cooker now and something tells me that it can't be sustained for too long before something big happens--and I don't even know what that something would be!
     
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  14. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    OOC: Lots of pieces moving in this one....buckle up ;)

    Nime, Roon

    27th Floor of Nime Innovations

    "Communications secure," the computerized voice stated.

    "I've made contact," Grace said.

    "Good. Continue to make connections with your family. Gain their trust. Then you will be in a perfect position to strike," Adain instructed via hologram.

    "I find my strength faltering," Grace admitted, "guide me, Master."

    "I'm sending someone to assist you," Adain replied, "someone who can keep you focused."

    "I'm perfectly capable of handling this myself," Grace said.

    "Then why did I see you hesitate in the gardens the other day?" Adain asked.

    Grace's blood ran cold. How did he know? How did Adain know what happened? What sort of strange power did he have? He wasn't here on Roon, was he?

    "I didn't hesitate. It simply wasn't the right time," Grace replied, "who are you sending?"

    "An old friend," Adain replied, "look for his arrival in a few hours."

    "How will I know what he looks like?" Grace asked.

    "You'll know," Adain replied. "One professional to another."

    The hologram winked out.

    "Kill transmission," Grace said as she stared at the great port of Nime down below.




    Nime Spaceport

    The man, dressed in a custom tailored suit, disembarked the shuttle from the independent systems and quickly passed through security. His cover was that he was an investor looking to get into the booming Federation economy. That meant shipping. That meant the orbital shipyards. That meant a high profile meeting with the influential people who made up Nime society.

    He gathered his bags at the terminal and walked through a pair of glass doors to freedom. He was glad that he wore his sunglasses today for it was nice and bright. One quick scan of the curb told him everything he needed to know about his mission. The number of arriving delegates and business tycoons gave away the upcoming assembly. It was serious. All the cards were slowly making their way onto the table.

    "Excuse me," a woman asked as she slipped a death stick into her mouth, "do you have a light?"

    "You really should try and quit," he replied.

    "I've tried three times this year. I just can't kick'em," the woman replied as she lowered the death stick and let it drop to the durracrete below.

    "I heard you could use some help, Grace," the man said.

    "I didn't ask for you to come here, Rory," Grace replied as she directed the man to walk with her toward her speeder.

    "You think I want to be here? I'd rather be on a beach on Corellia," Rory replied. "But I heard you got sloppy. I heard you let your feelings get in the way."

    Grace had her blaster pressed against Rory's gut. Her eyes were cold as ice. She was ready to kill for that. "One more word from you and there'll be a new decoration to the parking lot."

    Rory didn't say a word.

    "I've killed my fair share of beings, Rory. I've done things that can rip a person's soul in half. All for the cause. All for the dream that Adain keeps preaching to us about. Unfortunately this dream involves my family. This place is my home. You want this job? Kill your own mother," Grace said as she holstered her weapon.

    "I know, Grace," Rory said as he got into the speeder. "I know what you've done."

    "Then you know how far I'll go to see this mission through," Grace replied.

    Rory gave Grace a sidelong glance and smiled. Yes, he knew just how far she'd go indeed.




    The Dawn of Democracy

    Federation Space Liner

    The turbolift up to the upper decks of the Dawn of Democracy seemed to take forever. Perhaps it was the mission. Perhaps it was the constant replaying of the plan that Grace and Rory had developed in order to complete the mission. Perhaps it was simply that the hit would be done in close quarters which always lent itself to complications.

    "One more time," Rory instructed as they went over the plan on the ride up.

    "Bar," Grace replied calling out her first mark.

    "And then?"

    "Engage Eleanor in conversation," Grace replied, "which sets you up for..."

    "Perimiter sweep of security personnel. I'll make sure they're taken care of," Rory replied, "creating chaos."

    "In the chaos I will strike," Grace replied, "then we all go home."

    The turbolift doors opened as gentle music wafted through the air intermingled with casual conversation. It was like so many parties held around the galaxy. A social meeting of who was important followed by who was less important. Where important discussions were followed by temporarily binding agreements, thinly veiled threats, and back door business deals.

    Grace strode through and headed for the bar. She ordered a virgin drink. She never allowed alcohol to affect her on the job performance. Nobody would know, however, save for the bartender. She turned around and leaned against the bar surveying the crowd. A few familiar faces from studying Nime's elite but most of them were new to the game of money. Young bloods.

    Eleanor was at the center of it all graciously shaking hands and swapping stories with anyone who'd listen. Her husband Rowan was nearby no doubt talking with his security contractor buddies about the growing assassin threat. John Norden was in the corner with an earbud keeping close tabs on everyone but one being in particular Grace noticed.

    Grace finished her drink and walked toward Eleanor. She brushed her mother's arm drawing her attention.

    "Cora! I didn't expect to see you here! What brings you to the Dawn of Democracy?" Eleanor asked.

    "Business," Grace replied, "always business."

    "How are you, though, really," Eleanor asked, "you said quite a bit during our rendezvous in the garden the other day."

    Said too much, Grace thought.

    "I feel better. Best I've felt in years," Grace replied, "thank you for listening."

    "My pleasure. Have you met my husband, Rowan?"

    Grace shook Rowan's hand. "A pleasure, sir."

    "A firm handshake. Don't find many of those anymore. Where did you say you come from again?"

    "Ord Mantell," Grace replied keeping an eye on Rory's movements around the perimeter.

    "Quite a long ways from home," Rowan said, "how are you enjoying Roon so far?"

    The sooner I leave the better, Grace thought.

    "It's different. The days really take some getting used to and the approach pattern to the planet was unlike any I've experience before," Grace said.

    "Ah yes, the infamous Cloak of the Sith. You know, when I was young man that very barrier saved Roon when Liam Vehn and the Druckenwellian Coalition attacked," Rowan replied.

    "What happened?" Grace asked. An honest question. She didn't really know what had transpired during those days on Tesserone.

    "A long family story for another time," Eleanor interjected shooting her husband a look, "Come, let me take you to the observatory. I hear there's a beautiful view of Roon from up here."




    John Norden brough a finger up to his earpiece as security feeds and reports came in from the Federation protective service detail that hovered close around Eleanor. Some of his men were dressed up like many of the patrons and some of the security personnel were more obvious. A perfect blend, a perfect trap.

    He'd received reports of increasing shuttle traffic from the independent systems. He'd asked terminal security to allow everyone into Roon but do a more thorough check at a later time. He didn't want any operatives blowing the whistle that the security forces of the Federation were onto them. Better to let them begin the first phases of their missions than to arrest them wholesale at the point of entry. It was risky but he was determined.

    John looked down at his datapad. The man who just entered with Cora Vehn was suspect number one. He found it curious that they traveled together. Perhaps they knew one another. Today, however, she wasn't his concern. The man was. Security footage from a hit on Osarian a few months back had partially captured his face. Enhancements to the picture since then had given John a clear idea what he was up against: a professional killer.

    "We've got a problem," John whispered to his unit. "One of them is among us."

    Static.

    "Unit report in," John said.

    More static.

    John shot frantic eyes around the crowded room filled with dignitaries. Where was his team? Why weren't they responding? He tried to find a few of the plain clothes personnel. They were gone as well. He felt the cold tip of a blaster pistol pressed against his back.

    "You need to come with me," a male voice instructed, "now."




    Observatory

    "Beautiful, isn't it?" Eleanor said as she stared up at the Cloak of the Sith.

    "Encircles the entire planet," Grace replied. "Majestic. I hear it clouds the sensors of passing ships. Makes it harder for them to see into the planetary surface. A disguise, so to speak."

    "Seems like quite a few of us are wearing disguises these days," Eleanor said.

    "What do you mean?" Grace asked even though she felt a chill slip down her spine.

    "You lied to me. You lied to me and my entire family. I did some research and the Vehn family hasn't been on Ord Mantell in nearly two centuries. Jamie Vehn took everything to Roon when she fled that scrap metal world," Eleanor pressed. "Who are you really?"

    "Cora Vehn," Grace lied. "I've only ever been truthful with you, Eleanor."

    "Is this you?" Eleanor asked as she showed Grace her datapad. It was a picture of the night Grace tried to kill her mother, rifle in hand, clear as day. This time it wasn't altered. Somehow, someway, Federation technicians had reproduced the exact image. The filter that Adain had installed had failed. The game was up.

    "It is," Grace replied trying a different tack.

    "Who sent you to kill me," Eleanor said pulling out a blaster.

    "I was operating alone," Grace replied.

    "Were you?" Eleanor asked.

    "I was," Grace said.

    "I know what you are," Eleanor said. "We've been hunting your kind down for months."

    "And what am I?" Grace pushed.

    "A trained killer," Eleanor replied.

    "I'm so much more than that," Grace said.

    "Really?" Eleanor asked. "What are you then?"

    "You really think you can handle the truth?" Grace asked.

    "What are you suggesting..." Eleanor said.

    "The Vehn symbol that was found on all those bullets. I put that there. I spent years honing my craft. I spent years becoming the perfect professional. I spent years denying that you ever existed. I spent years wondering why you never came for me."

    "Maker," Eleanor replied as a realization came to her.

    "That daughter you've been looking for all these years is right here in front of you," Grace said as a tear fell down her cheek, "right here. I'm Grace. I'm Grace Vehn."

    "My dear daughter," Eleanor said reaching out to Grace.

    "What a family reunion," Rory said as he emerged from the shadows. "A pity I have to break it up."

    "I've got this, Rory," Grace insisted.

    "Looks to me like you just gave up, Grace," Rory replied. "Master was right about you. You are weak. I guess I'll have to finish the job."

    Grace brushed past her mother and whispered, "If you want to live. Give the weapon to me."

    She felt the cool, reassuring grip of Eleanor's blaster pistol slip into her hands. It was time to kill. A shame her mother had to see how good she was at her job. A shame that Rory, who was such a promising candidate, would have to be destroyed.

    "Say goodbye to your mother, Grace," Rory said.

    "Goodbye," Grace replied and quickly brought the blaster pistol up in a sweeping motion squeezing the trigger as she did so. A double-tap to the head. An errant blaster bolt from Rory's pistol in response. Rory crumpled to the floor, dead.

    "You killed him," Eleanor said. "You killed him."

    "That's what I do," Grace replied as she threw the blaster aside and turned to leave the room, "I kill people."
    Tag: Trieste;jcgoble3;Tim Battershell
     
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  15. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    I knew she wouldn't have the strength to kill her own mother. Excellent reunion.

    Somehow, though, I can't see it being quite that easy in the end...
     
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  16. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    The Dawn of Democracy

    "She killed him," Eleanor said as John Norden asked her a few preliminary questions. What happened to the girl she once knew?

    "Where'd she go?" John asked as assistants took Rory's body away.

    Eleanor turned and looked out the window just in time to see a shuttle rip away from the liner and head toward Roon. It was accelerating pretty fast right in the direction of two Federation cruisers.

    "She's going planetside," Eleanor said, "I want you to take a team and apprehend her."

    "At once," John said.




    Lady Constance Mountain Range
    Twelve Klicks from Nime

    Grace kicked out the canopy of the stolen shuttle and burst out of the cockpit, armed, ready to defend herself. The Federation cruisers had hit her hard on the way down. A near-fatal blow. She examined her surroundings.

    Only the lonely and windswept mountains of the Lady Constance range greeted her in response. She looked in the direction of Nime, noticed the nearly kilometer long divet she'd made in the ground upon her landing. That was a dead give away of her location. How could she have been so careless?

    Sonic booms high ahead caught her eye. The Federation was coming, nice and fast. They'd be on her location in minutes. She frantically examined her location. Too far to make it to cover in the mountains. Too far to try and hoof it back to Nime. The drop ships were nearly upon her now. She couldn't fight them off no matter how professionally trained she was.

    This mission had been an absolute disaster. She'd failed Adain. She'd come clean to her mother. Killed someone who once upon a time had been a good friend. When was this going to end? When was she going to stop running from her past?

    "Time for you to come on in," John Norden said, weapon drawn.

    Grace took stock of the situation. Security forces had her surrounded and outgunned. She wasn't quite ready to sign off on her life just yet. There was still so much to do. Surrendering now could work to her advantage.

    "Certainly," Grace replied and let her weapon fall to the ground.




    Unknown Location

    "DNA confirmed your suspicions," John Norden said as he visited with Eleanor behind a two way mirror. "She's your daughter."

    Eleanor shook her head. "All these years I imagined what our reunion would be like. The things we'd say to one another. The time we'd make up. I never in my wildest dreams thought my daughter would turn out this way."

    "Kids," John grunted. "Surprise you at every turn. Did you suspect that she wasn't who she said she was?"

    Eleanor nodded. "Her story was fairly airtight. Where she went wrong was when she continued to talk about Ord Mantell. I knew right then I had her in a lie. I knew she wasn't who she said she was but I had no idea that she was my daughter. Yes, there are some Vehn traits in her, that much is clear, but time has a way of changing the best of us. I find myself wondering who she really is, what she is really like? She can't be a murderer all the way through, can she?"

    John remained quiet. Eleanor didn't push the issue. She let that question hang in the air for a minute. All of this was surreal. So strange. Unsettling.

    "My husband and I gave her up all those years ago to protect ourselves. To protect the family. Now my greatest mistake has come full circle to haunt me," Eleanor said as she observed Grace sitting patiently at the table under a bright light.

    "How do you want me to proceed?" John asked. "If she's what I think she is I'm pretty certain she's not going to talk."

    "Then I'll talk to her," Eleanor replied as she took a deep breath.

    Is she really a daughter of mine? Eleanor thought, this professional killer?





    Grace examined her reflection in the two-way mirror. She knew what was going on. Knew the authorities wanted to make her sweat, make her squirm, make her uncomfortable. Unfortunately for them she was a patient person. She had nowhere else she needed to be at the moment.

    She reflected on her recent losses. Her cover was blown albeit by her own admission. DNA confirmed who she was. Now they would be ratcheting up the interrogation looking for answers, searching for clues as to the sinister organization that lurked in the independent systems.Somehow Grace had underestimated her mother. Somehow she'd misplaced her trust in Adain. He would leave her out to dry. He wouldn't come to her rescue.

    The door hissed open as Eleanor walked in.

    "Come to win me over?" Grace asked her mother.

    "I've come for some answers," Eleanor replied, "and you're going to give them to me."

    "And what do I receive in return?" Grace asked.

    "Your life," Eleanor replied.

    Talk or be executed, charming, Grace thought as she looked into her mother's eyes. Her eyes. They were so similar and yet so different. Both sets of eyes had been changed by the different life circumstances they had experienced. Changed by their different upbringings.

    Eleanor sat down across from Grace and rested her hands on the table. "For months, Federation security forces have been apprehending professionally trained killers such as yourself. None of them have talked despite hours of extraction. We need to know why so many covert operatives are running around the Federation."

    "I don't know anything about that," Grace replied. That was true. She didn't. She wasn't in the circle that made those decisions about which planets or people were to be targeted. She just carried out her orders. She knew, though, to avoid the firing squad she had to give her mother something more concrete. She might even have to reveal Adain's role in the organization.

    "You just follow orders. Were you just following orders when you infiltrated my family," Eleanor pressed.

    Our family, Grace wanted to correct.

    "It's not that simple. I don't know the hierarchy. I receive orders every week and carry out my mission. Sometimes people are killed. It's the nature of the business," Grace replied.

    "Who gives you orders?" Eleanor asked, "I need names."

    "I want a deal before I turn any information over to you," Grace replied.

    "I'm listening," Eleanor said as she crossed her arms over her chest.

    "Drop the death sentence," Grace insisted, "and then I'll talk."

    Eleanor lowered her head, grey and black hair falling all around her shoulders. The weight of the Federation was crushing. The weight of so many responsibilities was taking her toll. Now she was locked in a deadly dance with her daughter. A battle of wills. A battle she had never been prepared to fight in the first place.

    Eleanor looked up at Grace and replied, "The firing squad will hold their fire for now but if you give us any wrong information, daughter of mine or not, I will destroy you."

    "You seem to forget that I saved your life back there," Grace pointed out, "and to think my original mission was to kill you."

    Eleanor flashed back to the opera house. The failed assassination attempt. The slug ripping through her shoulder. She instinctively rubbed the healing wound and grimaced. Yes, that was where this particular story had begun. Years of searching for her daughter only to be nearly killed by her. Something had stopped Grace from killing her on the Dawn of Democracy. Something she couldn't put her finger on.

    Grace could feel her mother searching for answers. She searched within questioning why she hadn't been more ruthless in carrying out her mission. She'd had the perfect opportunity several times to kill the President of the Roon Federation. Each time she had held back, wanting, wishing, hoping, perhaps for a chance to give her mother redemption. To get an explanation as to how parents could so easily hand their child over to a sinister organization.

    A heavy silence descended on the room.

    "I--"

    "We--"

    Both women fell silent.

    "Go ahead," Eleanor said.

    "I work for a man who took me as a little girl. He trained me to be a professional killer. Trained me how to blend into a crowd. Trained me how to extract information. This man is still alive today. In fact, up until Federation security caught up with me, I was in constant communication with him," Grace explained.

    "Who is he?" Eleanor asked. "Tell me."

    "His name is Jerome Kuhn," Grace replied.

    "Yes, I remember him," Eleanor said, "he showed up at our home the night your father and I let you go."

    "Then you know I'm telling you the truth," Grace replied, "after all I heard he was involved in the murder of one of the Aimes family many years ago. Back when the Trianii problem was going on."

    "We'll verify your information and then I'll decide what to do with you," Eleanor said.

    "Fair enough," Grace replied. She had all the time in the world.

    Adain's identity was safe, for now, Grace thought.

    Tag:jcgoble3;Trieste;Tim Battershell
     
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  17. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Grace is shrewd. Give up a little information to protect yourself, but not actually anything of significant use, while keeping the critical information to yourself. Nice.

    Somehow, though, the truth will come out. The truth always does.
     
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  18. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Unknown Location

    Several Hours Later

    "Your story checked out," Eleanor said as she entered the interrogation room.

    "Then you have nothing to hold me on," Grace replied, "and I think its time you let me go."

    "You killed a man in cold blood," Eleanor reminded her daughter.

    "I killed a man to save your life! I killed a friend so that you could live! If I'd wanted to kill you I would've done so a long time ago. You have nothing to hold me on. Murder only applies to Federation citizens," Grace said.

    "And you're not a citizen of the Federation?" Eleanor asked. "I seem to remember you were born on this very planet not so long ago."

    "I renounced my citizenship," Grace replied. "I no longer answer to Roon, or to you."

    "Then I'm afraid I'm going to have to treat you as an enemy combatant," Eleanor said, "and that means death for attempting to take the life of the President of the Roon Federation."

    "I'm not afraid to die," Grace replied, "I'm afraid that you are making a grave mistake. You don't know what is out there. You don't know what dangers lurk in the independent systems."

    "Then tell me," Eleanor pressed, "tell me and this can all be over."

    "I told you who I worked for," Grace replied, "I told you everything you need to know."

    "Everything except for one very important detail," Eleanor replied, "your handler, your supervisor, wound up dead on Nar Shaddaa last night."

    "How?" Grace asked.

    "Poison," Eleanor replied. "Surprised you didn't know."

    "I don't know everything. He was a good man," Grace muttered.

    "What did you say?"

    "He was a good man who taught me quite a bit. Helped me become the woman I am today," Grace replied.

    "That man took you away from me! That man destroyed my life!" Eleanor yelled pounding the table.

    Grace looked into her mother's eyes. There was no love between them. Only contempt. "No, Eleanor, that man saved your life by taking me away, protecting you. Everything you have around you, every trapping of power, was given to you the night I went with Jerome into the independent systems."

    Eleanor stumbled backward as if she'd been punched in the gut. Grace could tell the blow hurt. Could tell she's really twisted the knife. She had her mother reeling. Right where she wanted her.

    "That's a lie," Eleanor replied shaking her head. "That's a lie!"

    Grace shook her head, "He told me how he had information on my family that could destroy them. That was why you let me go. That was why you and Rowan didn't have the courage to stand up for me. The courage to do what was right. You put your careers, your lives, first! You gave me up! You can never apologize enough to take that back! Never!"

    "We're done here," Eleanor said.

    "You're right," Grace said as she stood up and held out her cufflinks, "we are."

    "What are you doing?" Eleanor asked.

    "You're going to let me go. In fact, you're going to let me walk right out the front door," Grace replied.

    "And if I don't?" Eleanor said.

    "Then I'm going to have to do something I swore I'd never do," Grace said.

    "What might that be," Eleanor asked.

    "Hurt you," Grace replied.




    The thick, heavy, bulkhead doors squealed open as bright daylight flooded the mouth of the subterranean tunnel. It was as if the galaxy was giving birth to a great secret. A great mystery. A family feud. A howling wind ripped across the opening.

    Grace staggered forth into the light, uncuffed, free, but a heavy weight seemed to drag around her ankles as if a lifetime of regrets had caught up with her. She nudged past the thick doors and stopped for a moment, called to look backwards, at the past, at the future, at everything in between.

    "Grace?" Eleanor called out.

    "Yes?"

    "Don't go," Eleanor said. "Stay. Stay with me."

    Grace looked away as a single tear slipped down her face. Don't go. Stay with me. That cut deeper than any insult, any flesh wound, any challenge she'd ever faced in life alone. There was kindness behind those words, and regret. There was love and also sorrow. There was years of misunderstanding, of searching, of ever wondering if they would meet again.

    Grace looked into her mother's eyes and replied, "I can't. You know that it isn't time for me to come home. Not yet."

    "When?"

    "When we can see one another for who we truly are, not what we do, but who we truly are, deep down," Grace replied.

    "I'm trying," Eleanor said.

    "I know," Grace replied, "me too."

    Grace turned her back on her mother and walked away leaving only the screeching wind as solace against the pain in her heart. The void inside her soul could take awhile to fill. For now, however, this was a start. A chance at redemption for both of them.

    Tag: Trieste;jcgoble3;Tim Battershell
     
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  19. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    I suppose it is a bit too early for the happy ending. :p I wonder where Grace is going, that she doesn't want to be with her mother yet. And when will the truth about Adain come out? I suspect he will be the tipping point that forces the situation, now at a bit of a truce, to finally boil over.
     
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  20. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    I have a strange feeling that what had previously been taking place in the dark, where it was just a Vehn family matter is now going to explode onto the galactic stage...
     
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  21. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Tarhassan

    Gathering of the Twelve



    Master Adain, clad in dark robes, knelt before the altar dedicated to the Dark Lord Deran. Deran had fallen on the fields of Obroa-Skai a long time ago during the conclusion of the Neo-Sith War.

    All that remained of the great Sith Lord was the cloak he had worn in battle, rescued by a dedicated disciple, and passed down in the shadows from one generation to the next. It was believed the cloak, singed by lightsaber contact and tattered by the fierce winds that had ripped through the battlefield, had mystical properties and still possessed the power of the Dark Side.

    Tel Adain's meditation was deep, methodical, and took his mind to a darkness that was all encompassing. As chaotic as the strongest storms on Kamino. Burning incense cast spirals of smoke twisting throughout the cavernous cave on the remote planet of Tarhassan. The smell took him to an ancient time. A time long before the galaxy had even heard of the Vehn family.

    "Guide me, Master," Adain whispered to the altar. "Show me where to strike. Teach me to be strong, to be resolute, to break my enemies!"

    Adain inhaled the smoky air, opened his eyes, and felt an answer swell inside. An answer he had been contemplating for weeks now. Yes, this was the right path to choose. This was the way that had been shown to him all those years ago.

    "Summon the twelve," Adain commanded a nearby aide.

    "As you wish, Master," the aide replied.

    Aidan gathered his robes around him and headed toward the great hall. The hall where a round table, carved of ancient stone and littered with the symbols of runes and past glories of Dark Side Force users, existed. The gathering point. The place where darkness rejuvenated and restored the soul.

    Aidan took his seat at one end of the round table. His position was slightly elevated to show that he was the leader. To show that he was the first among equals. It was a seat of power and respect. A seat of direction and focus. Light shafts shone down onto the table from vents high above the room casting an eery palor about the room. The acoustics in the room were just right. A whisper could sound like a shout meaning that those who sat at this table had to choose their words wisely. Ever so wisely.

    The great doors at one end of the room opened and eleven robed figures entered the room. Each bowed in turn toward Adain before taking their seats. As each person sat down they would verify their identity by placing their hand, palm downward on the stone, on a scanner that would verify their true allegiance. Not only was it an advanced biometric scanner, it was a thought reader as well, and the thoughts had to be pure, had to be focused, had to reflect a clean conscience. Only the very skilled and talented could fool the system. A system requiring the utmost allegiance.

    Adain closed his eyes and allowed the Force to flow deep inside. Everyone was here. No, not everyone. Number twelve was missing. Had twelve betrayed him so soon? Had his visions come to fruition? Had twelve been so foolish as to think that their soul was free of his control?

    A presence rippled across his soul. Number twelve had arrived. The great door opening confirmed his feeling. He opened his eyes and stared as the last robed figure bowed before him and took a seat at the table. A hand shot out and identification was confirmed: Grace Vehn.

    "You are late," Adain said as he once again opened his eyes. Eyes so penetrating they could cut right into her soul.

    Grace lowered her hood and looked directly into Adain's eyes. A challenge. "I am here, aren't I?"

    Grace fought hard to close her mind off to Adain's mental penetration. It was as if his hands were working on her mind. Trying, probing, seeking out any weakness inside. He was not going to read her thoughts. Not today. How long could she last?

    "You seal yourself off," Adain said as he stood. "Are you greater than the rest of us?"

    Grace knew what he was asking. Others had challenged Adain before and died for their troubles. She had seen a man lifted up from his chair, suspended in mid air, as the life was slowly sucked from him. A painful death. A death designed for a traitor.

    "I am not greater, Master Adain," Grace replied.

    "Then why do you resist me?" Adain pressed.

    "I do not wish to trouble you with my thoughts," Grace replied, "for they are dark and conflicted."

    "There is no darkness out there that I cannot manage. I am darkness. I am the absolute absence of light. Submit yourself, Grace," Adain said, "submit yourself to me!"

    Grace refused to respond.

    "I see it was a mistake to send you to your family. You were not ready. You were not ready to kill your mother. Yes, that much I can tell. I know what you are ready for, Grace Vehn. I know the great trial that awaits you," Adain said in a low tone.

    "I am not afraid," Grace replied.

    "I know," Adain said as his lip curled into a smile. "That is why I feel so terrible about what I must do."

    Adain's hands extended toward Grace. He summoned the dark energy of this cave and used the Force to lift Grace into the air. She struggled but did not scream. Oh, yes, she would take longer to break than any other that had come before.

    "I shall ask you one last time," Adain said as the eleven watched, "submit yourself to me and you shall live."

    "I will never submit to you. Never again! Never!" Grace yelled.

    "I thought you'd answer that way," Adain replied as he began to work his hands across Grace's floating body.

    The screams were so loud they could be heard by the sentries that stood at the mouth of the cave. A few of them turned off the audio on their helmets. The screams were terrible. Frightening. Soul wrenching.

    Adain laughed, a deep, throaty, sort of sound, as the breaking of Grace Vehn began.

    Tag: Trieste;jcgoble3;Tim Battershell
     
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  22. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Oh no. Adain has truly fallen to the dark side. And no matter what Grace has done, she does not deserve to be tortured like this. [face_worried]
     
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  23. Vehn

    Vehn Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Tarhassan

    Grace collapsed onto the round stone table utterly exhausted. She could barely move. Her limbs were nearly destroyed, her back nearly broken, her mind nearly crushed. She felt the cool stone against the side of her sweaty face and inhaled its musty smell. Her mind struggled to process the torture she had just experienced. It didn't know where to begin. It didn't know how to rationalize what had just happened.

    Master Tel Adain, once a valued contributor to the Jedi Order and now representing a sinister evil, knelt beside Grace and delicately placed two fingers below her jaw line feeling for a pulse. It was barely there. That was good and just what he wanted. He needed her alive for the final act of her life.

    "Bring her with me," Master Adain instructed as he departed into a narrow slit in the rock wall.

    Grace felt herself being dragged off the table, up a stone path, the air growing more fresh with each passing second. Soon she was passing into the bright light of day, past trees, across a broken trail, and onto a bare rock formation. Her eyes went wide with fear as she recognized where she was. The order Adain belonged to called it Traitor's Rock. Here the condemned were thrown off the peak into the canyon thousands of meters below.

    "You were my most promising candidate, Grace," Adain said. "My most promising pupil and you threw it all away over emotion, over sentiment."

    Adain turned to address his eleven disciples. "I hereby condemn Grace Vehn to the traitor's death. She shall fall thousands of meters to her doom. With each passing second she shall reflect on her crimes until her life is extinguished on the rocks down below. Let this be a lesson to all of you."

    Adain nodded his head giving the order to carry out the execution.

    Grace couldn't struggle. Her body was broken. She was done. This was the end. She closed her eyes and said a quiet prayer. When she opened them she felt herself launched off the cliff. She screamed with every lungful of the sickening plummet as the ground far below seemed frozen in time with each passing moment. Closer and closer.

    The end was near...




    Roon
    Six Months Earlier

    "Close the door, Austin," Eleanor said as she poured herself a drink.

    Austin did as he was instructed and asked, "Why have you summoned me, Eleanor? I had an important meeting on Nal Hutta."

    "That can wait," Eleanor replied as she tossed Austin a datapad, "this can't."

    Austin played the video and frowned as security cameras on Druckenwell caught another bombing taking place. Then, in the maelstrom of the explosion, survivors were picked off by an unknown sniper. The video ended with the words: "You're Next."

    "When did this happen?" Austin asked.

    "Twelve hours ago," Eleanor replied, "and the governor of Druckenwell chewed me out because the Federation wasn't upholding its end of the security bargain. I've dispatched Federation intelligence led by John Norden to the scene but this was a professional job. People were killed. Innocent people. This isn't the only attack."

    "There have been more?" Austin asked.

    "Many more. I've worked hard with the media to suppress them but I'm concerned that our old alliances are beginning to break. If these attacks continue I am going to be hard pressed to keep the Federation together," Eleanor admitted.

    "What do you want me to do?" Austin inquired.

    "Go deep into the independent systems. Find who is behind these attacks and help me stop them. Please, Austin, help me," Eleanor pleaded, "I lost my daughter. I don't want to lose everything else in the process."

    "Sure, Eleanor, I'll help you out," Austin said, "but it could take awhile."

    "Do what you have to do. Just get me results," Eleanor replied.




    Present Day
    Hyperspace

    Austin killed the throttle ripping his nimble transport out of hyperspace. His objective was the planet Tarhassan. He'd been tracking several of the assassins in the last few weeks and had a pretty good feeling that they were operating out of a base in the system. He quickly checked the scanners and confirmed that several ships had recently entered the planet's atmosphere.

    Austin plotted his approach, knifing through the dark side of the planet to obscure sensors. He burned through the atmosphere getting lower and lower as he traced the thermal trail of what he hoped were the professionals that had eluded him these many months.

    A break in the clouds, a towering peak, a large rock formation jutting out from one side of the great mountain. He reached out with the Force. Felt a presence he had not felt in many years. A dark energy, a conflicted energy, and pain. Lots of it.

    Austin broke the connection and circled slowly around the mountain staying well below sensor range so as to avoid being detected. He eased off on the throttle as he drew near the rock promontory on a subsequent pass. The droid in the cockpit whooped and warbled indicating movement on the promontory. Austin strained his eyes, saw some figures in robes, and then watched in horror as one of the figures fell away from the rock plummeting downward.

    Austin gunned the engines and pushed the control yoke toward the dash sending the droid complaining into a nearby wall. He ignored the moans of the astromech as he focused on the figure falling through the clouds. Hopefully this person was still alive.

    "Get below her, R8, and open up the hatch!" Austin said as he turned controls over to the disgruntled astromech.

    Austin adjusted his center of gravity as the transport slipped underneath the falling figure. He clambered up the tube and opened the hatch to the outside. Wind whipped all around his robes as the figure drew near, seemingly suspended in free fall. There was a look of frozen fear on the person's face. It was a young female. He recognized her from the party. What was her name? Cora?

    "Almost there! Hang on!" Austin yelled as he raised his arms. He could almost reach her. "Gently on the thrusters, R8!"

    Austin strained and extended his grasp as far as he could. He felt his fingers slip past the buckle on her robes. One more time. He stretched again. Contact! He gently brought Cora to his outstretched arms and took the lift down into the transport. The hatch closed behind him and the roar of the wind died away.

    "Get us out of here!" Austin yelled as he carried "Cora" to the medical bay.

    Austin gently set her on the medical bed and immediately hooked her up to his medical equipment. Her vitals were stabilizing but her body looked like it had been thoroughly beat up. The young woman gave out a low mumble.

    "What was that?" Austin asked.

    "Thank you," she replied, "thank you so much."

    "You're welcome. Who did this to you?" Austin asked.

    Grace, lips parched, body in agonizing pain, managed to whisper one word before she fell unconscious, "Adain."

    Tag:jcgoble3;Trieste;Tim Battershell
     
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  24. Trieste

    Trieste Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2010
    Oh snap.
     
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  25. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    This. I have no other words. =D=