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Beyond - Legends The Price of Victory

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mira Grau, Jul 6, 2022.

  1. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Title: The Price of Victory
    Author: Anedon
    Timeframe: Mid 44 ABY
    Characters: Ulrika Grau, Ilona Malek and other OCs
    Genre: Friendship, Adventure
    Summary: The battle for Qaelan did not just changed the Southwest of the galaxy forever but also the lifes of our heroes, as each of them struggles to adjust to their new responsibilities, a new threat is rising on the world they fought so hard for to liberate.



    This story is the next part in my growing Ilona/Ulrika verse.
    Which includes the Main stories:
    -Shadow over Curean
    -Path of Lies
    -The Value of Freedom
    -Into the Fire
    -Following the Thread
    -Trials and Tribulations


    As well the additions:
    -Anarchists and Aristocrats
    -Summer Camp Shenanigans
    -Old Friends
    -Can Love be a Sin
    -To Dathomir, with a Friend
    -Tales from the Southwest
    -The Beast and the Beauty

    Which also feature some of these characters.




    Prologue

    It had been a long day, like any day in the last few weeks had been and Callisto was breathing heavily as she finally slipped through the door of her apartment building and made her way up the stairs. Most of the dirt had finally been cleaned and even the weak roof lighting was working again. "Only question is for how long..." she muttered over the clanking from her high heeled leather boots as she reached the door of her small flat and pushed it open.

    "Mommy!" Mya threw herself at her mother before she could even react. Wrapping her small arms around her. Then she stepped back again, a bit of a sheepish expression on her eight year old face.
    Callisto gave her daughter a patient smile, at the first day she had left Mya had been delighted to have their small flat all to herself for once. But having to spend all day alone, especially after the preceding weeks had clearly frightened her, even if she still tried her best to claim otherwise.

    It wasn`t that Callisto wanted to leave her young daughter without care, but that she had no other choice. Normality, which what had been their live... it was over. It had begun with the explosion at the administration building, the fighting in the streets, and then the invasion. The Sephi woman had assured her daughter up until the final day that the war wouldn`t come to Qaelan. That the cruel woman with the short hair, the Butcher of Metallorn, the young blonde goddess of death as the news had called her, wouldn`t come here. That the monsters could never hurt any of them.

    It had been cruel pictures, pictures and videos that had frightened Mya to no end on the holonet, seeing the black clad, armored human soldiers, their faces hidden behind gasmasks advancing through towns, massacring everyone. Burning non humans alive in the name of their cruel, bloodthirsty, goddess. There would be no mercy for any of them, the news had proclaimed, and Callisto had been drawn to agree with them, she had read about the Eriaduans, her parents had battled the old Republic and she had seen the crimes of the Empire first hand.

    "Did the bad men hurt you?" Mya asked as she grabbed her mother's hand and lead her to the table in the middle of the small room. Clear worry in her voice, worry and also a determination to make the people suffer who hurt her mother.

    Callisto couldn`t help but smile at her courage, even if it was born from naivety. "No, sweetie. Even got some tips..." she placed some small credit chips on the table.

    Mya´s eyes widened as she grabbed one of them, "can we buy sweets for those?"

    Callisto sadly run her hand over her daughters hair, "better not, not yet. We need to keep it in case..." in case things got worse again. In case this current calm was just an illusion, in case the propaganda was right after all.

    Mya pouted, sticking out her lip, "that´s unfair!"

    "The whole galaxy is unfair..." Callisto muttered more to herself than anyone else.

    Life had never been fair to her family. Her parents had been respected and hardworking members of the Sephi military but any future they might have had, had been burned to ashes in the Clone Wars. They had escaped with their lives... but only to find new struggles and trials with the millions of refugees trying to flee to the last Separatist Strongholds in the Outer Rim, in their case the Southwest.

    They had continued to fight, for Gizor Delso and Mikael Altuin, and later the Iron Alliance. But all it had won them in the end were early graves and a daughter left behind on the street of Qaelan. Callisto knew that she was already one of the luckier ones, having avoided being enslaved like other orphaned kids... but had her fate really been better? She had started working at a local bar at the age of twelve, serving drinks and food, for a bit of change and being allowed to sleep on a mattress in the cellar for a few hours and eat whatever scraps the customers left behind. And as she had grown older, and her body more mature, other `duties` had awaited her as well. Thankfully she hadn`t been forced into prostitution and she didn`t minded dancing, liked it even... but having strange hands all over her body all day, touching, pinching... it had sickened her.

    "Did the evil men forbid sweets as well?" Mya asked, still mostly concerned with the options the money left them.

    "No..." Callisto said. "I... I´m not even sure if they are that bad."

    She had seen little reason to live in those days, outside of the drugs she took, and the brief affairs with co workers or friendly customers... she had been a hedonist... the proud daughter of a higher race... reduced to a hedonistic party girl... Until she had gotten pregnant, by a lover she no longer even remembered. Until Mya had been born, until her life had been given a reason. She had taken her savings and bought a small apartment, just one room and the refresher, but it was a home, a home for her family. And up until the invasion had daughter had even been able to go to school, to dream of a better life.

    "What? But the holonet!" Mya stared at her mother, her eyes widened.

    "The holonet lies..." Callisto muttered.

    During and after the invasion she and Mya had hit in their apartment as the bar and school were closed anyway. They hadn`t seen much of the battle, but heard the thunder of artillery and the screeching of Fighter engines above. Callisto had feared it would come to a bombardment, but it seemed at least the major habitation blocks had been spared that. Then a few weeks ago, the bar had opened again, and so she had resumed her work, knowing that now more than ever she needed every credit.

    And it had been okay, locals and invaders had both frequented the bar. Looking at each other, with a mix of disgust, hatred, worry and curiosity. The soldiers she had served had been polite, even if it had surprised her that these human supremacists would want to watch someone like her dance... She had dared to hope that maybe things would just go back to how they had been, but then today she had been assaulted, two mercenaries, members of a company who had switched sides during the battle, had held her down, torn of her skirt and begun to rip away at her underwear. Usually, the bouncer of the bar a large and bulky Skakoan, would step in, and any patron trying to rape a serving girl would be banned from the bar... but now, with the enemy soldiers even their bouncer had been afraid to step in, knowing that resistance would have been their doom. So even Callisto had stopped resisting, as she didn`t want to leave Mya alone in this cruel galaxy even if that meant...

    "But you..." Mya started...

    "I was wrong sweetie," her mother said softly.

    Before they had ripped away her underwear the two mercs had been stopped, by two female soldiers. One of them had been a large Karkarodon, covered in scars, who had broken the mercs arms... and the other... the other had the same pointed ears and the same catlike eyes and grace as Callisto herself. A Sephi in the uniform of an Eriaduan officer, a Colonel even. She had spoken to Callisto gently, and even admitted to being half Sephi, just like Mya. Was that even possible? But as soon after several female human soldiers had arrived and taken the two mercs into custody, referring to the woman, Kinga, as their superior Callisto had believed it. Now she was even to give a statement at their tribunal, a tribunal? Things like that didn`t happen on Qaelan, never had. All they had been able to do with rowdy customers before was to permanently ban them from their bar... but now... things were changing.

    "Some of them are just like you..." Callisto smile, as she run a hand over her daughters right ear.

    "There are other Sephi?" Mya looked up, excited. "Is she a soldier? Or an officer? She must be their leader right?"

    "It seems so," her mother replied. "One of them saved your mommy tonight." And there was something else, something the strange woman had mentioned after they had chatted a bit. "And they say that the schools will be opening again soon."

    Mya´s grin became lopsided, "oh no! Do they have to?"

    Callisto smiled, "I fear they have, but who knows if you learn well, maybe you will one day be able to be such an amazing officer as well."
     
  2. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Love your new characters
     
    Kahara and Anedon like this.
  3. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Thanks, who knows they might show up again at some point. :)



    One

    "I don`t want to hear it," Elena said harshly as she stood up from her chair. "There is no excuse for what you did." She gave the two shackled mercenaries a death glare. She was angry, beyond angry, part of it was fueled by her exhaustion and frustration, but for the most part righteous fury was pulsing through her veins.

    "But that woman is the ene..." one of the mercs tried to say but Elena cut him off.

    "The enemy? Just like your company was up until halfway through the battle? Would that give me the right to abuse you?" She said, her anger rising stronger and stronger. But before she cut get a reply she answered her own question. "No I couldn`t, this is a society based on laws and neither actions nor titles will excuse that."

    "You bitches wouldn`t even be alive without us!" The other mercenary shouted. Trying to wrestle out of the grip of the soldier holding his arm. "You can`t just..."

    "I can and I will. The two of you will be sentenced to ten years of hard labor. Half of what you earn during this time will be paid to the woman you assaulted for compensation." Elena gave the soldiers a nod. "Get them out of my sight."

    She ignored the cursing as the soldiers dragged the accused out of the hall. Then let out a sigh, she wasn`t sure how many cases of this she had already been forced to judge, as she had stopped counting them. Her father had written in one of his books that in times of chaos those without a conscience would prey on the weak, and even if he had solely applied it to non humans, Elena had to admit that he had a point. The battle was over for several months now, yet even now larger parts of Qaelan seemed to be ruled by anarchy and reports of assaults, thefts, harassment, even lynching's and rapes came in on a daily basis.

    And it wasn`t just mercenaries and stragglers who committed them, several reports had involved soldiers of the coalition acting just as bad. Even her own former squad wasn`t completely immune as Hilda currently served a three month long community service at the hospital after she had broken the nose of a young slavers son she had gotten into a fight with. It had hurt Elena being forced to sentence her friend but seen no other alternative if she wanted to keep herself from divulging into nepotism and victors justice.

    "Rats deserve worse than this," Ambassador Ilona Malek pressed through her teeth.

    "I can only agree with the Ambassador," Captain Laric said folding his hands on the table. "We need to set a clear precedent. Executions for rape and assault will scare others off."

    "I doubt that," Corvey Adrimetrum the other half of the military representatives on the council leaned forward. "If anything decades of hard labor is a more frightening prospect than a quick date with the gallows... and just think of the troubles we would get into if we execute an innocent person. Our legitimacy is pretty low as is..."

    A chuckle from the other side of the tables echoed over to them, as the good looking Zeltron directed the attentions at himself, "how could we gain legitimacy when we disagree on everything, even if we are in agreement that a punishment is necessary."

    Elena still shivered a bit at seeing the mercenary leader Daecon here as she remembered her captivity in the hands of his men a little more than a year ago. His mercenaries had killed several of her squad mates, and caused the deaths of several captured ones... but he and his company turning on the Iron Alliance was the only reason Elena was still alive, the only reason any of her squad had survived the nightmarish battle in Qaelans noble district. As much as she hated dealing with him, he was a necessary evil.

    "Then that might be the one thing we can all agree on," Lady Florianne Indril said. "But we should move on, general" She perfectly inclined her head to Elena and gave her a well trained and memorized smile. A smile that could easily disarm anyone she presented it to.

    Even though she was already in her mid fifties Lady Florianne looked barely half that, her white skin was without any flaw, her cropped blonde hair almost as white as her pearly teeth. Her dress was immaculate and just the right compromise between sexy and modest, that no one could deny her attractiveness, without being able to accuse her of indecency. And yet despite her soft hands and smile she might be the most dangerous person on their table. For she controlled the money, as the younger sister of Lord Indril was the Quintads representative on their council.

    "Time is money I know," Elena gave her a grin, in yet another attempt to get any genuine emotion out of the noblewoman. "We should get to the next case."

    "That will be a problem," Lissa Freechild said darkly, and exchanged a glance with the large Muun next to her.

    Up until a few months ago Lissa didn`t even have a last name, being just yet another slave toiling under the Iron Alliance, but she had been the founder of a small resistance group of slaves and sympathetic free people and now represented them, and the other freed slaves on the council.

    "The matters has already become pretty heated on the streets." The man next to her said in his typical stretched way of speaking that all Muun seemed to share. "I fear now matter what we decide, there will be blood."

    Creon Damask was the youngest child in a long line. The runt of a wealthy and powerful family, reduced to nobodies in this generation young exile, and yet, he was a compromiser and a survivor, and it had allowed him to reach a position of authority amongst the remaining upper class of Qaelan. He was almost too willing to make himself useful, to the point that many soldiers joked that his head was now stuck right up Elena´s rear. And yet, despite his servile nature getting to Elena´s nerves, he was just too useful to remove from her council. And even Lissa was unable to really dislike him.

    Elena had heard about this case as well and so she swallowed hard as she said, "bring them in." She knew she didn`t have to meet any accused herself, but in more serious cases she had demanded it. You look a man in the eye when you speak judgment over them, yet another lesson from her father that still stuck with her.

    In this case though two young humans entered the room, flanked by soldiers. Both the young man and the woman had their hands shackled in front of them, just as the mercenaries had, but they didn`t fight back.

    For a moment nobody said a word as Elena quietly studied the report in front of her. Then she looked up. "You are accused of brutally murdering a teenager."

    "Yes..." the accused woman met Elena´s glance without fear. "And I would gladly do it again if given the chance. It was justice."

    "Justice? He was stabbed 39 times!" Ilona said, clenching her fists.

    "He was a sadist," the male prisoner said. "He had us whipped three times a day, not because we had done something wrong. Just because he could." He turned around and pulled up his shirt with his cuffed hands, showing off the scars on his back.

    Elena winced as she looked at them, this young man must have suffered a lot in his life. She saw how Corvey looked away in disgust and even Florianne showed a disgusted frown on her face.

    "Still," Corvey said, "you could have accused him to our council, and we would have judged him accordingly."

    "We tried!" The young woman said. "But the only response was that because he was only 14 he would not be put on trial, at most his parents would... who are dead. We had no other choice."

    Elena said nothing for a moment, wanting her council to lead the discussion for a while before she made a decision herself.

    "It was justice," Lissa agreed and leaned back on her chair. "I disagree with the brutality of the stabbing but... we can`t execute them for striking back against their tormentor."

    "He was a child," Creon reminded her. "14, is he really to blame for how he was by that age? Or are his parents? His surroundings."

    "Does age really matter?" Laric asked. "I became a soldier of that age, does that mean I´m not responsible for my actions? He was old enough to realize his slaves were suffering. That said, we can`t tolerated vigilante justice like that."

    "If you want to send us to the gallows go ahead," the young man said. "I don`t fear death after the horrors he put me through."

    "We reserve the death penalty only for the worst offenders." Elena said, in truth she hadn`t spoken a single death sentence in her time as Qaelan´s military governor, and she didn`t intend to ever do so, as she despised the practice.

    "And they aren`t?" Daecon asked, rising an eyebrow. "Murdering a child? What could be worse? Especially considering the brutal manner in which they did it."

    "Our mercenary acts if he has standards." Corvey mocked him. "I say we put them into prison for a while and that´s it."

    "That seems to be the best option," Florianne agreed, "plus more labor will always be needed..."

    "And then what does separate us from the slavers anymore?" Lissa asked. "If we punish everyone we don`t like with hard labor?"

    "That served Eriadu well in the past," Ilona muttered. "But I can`t deny it's not an optimal solution."

    "So you want to punish us while you have slave owners unpunished? Is that fair?" The young woman asked. "We killed a child yeah, a sadistic, cruel child, what about all those children who were enslaved? Will they get no justice."

    "You, yourself know it's not that easy," Ilona said, but her face was clearly torn.

    Elena stood up, "I killed Keran Sarne. I shoot him dead when he was helpless, and I showed that Tof slaver into a pit to be torn apart by slaves after he threatened to rape me." She looked at the two accused. "I can understand how you have felt, and what drove you to doing this. Does the fact that he was younger than my victims make the crime suddenly unforgivable?" She looked around her council, but no one spoke up. "Maybe, but for me it's your lack of regret that seals it." She shook her head, "you were victims of this society, but now you´ve continued the circle of violence and made things worse for everyone." She made a pause. "I sentence both you to twenty years in prison. But not here, not on Qaelan. You will be send to one of the Eriaduan colonies for your sentence, to a prison were nobody knows who you are and what you did, so you yourselves don`t become victims of vigilante justice yourself... After ten years you will be able to apply for an early release, if you are able to understand what you did." She gave the soldiers a nod to escort the prisoners out.



    "You are quite merciful," Florianne said as she leaned on the railing of the balcony overlooking the nightly city. "Some might call that a weakness."

    Elena leaned with her back against the railing and breathed into the quiet and clean nightly air. "I am not sure if it's really a mercy. Because I think neither of these two young people is truly rotten to their core. Now they are filled with anger, but in the long run? They will come to regret their decision and the guilt will stay with them."

    "Your father once told me that guilt is a weakness that only the weak suffer from." Florianne said thoughtfully.

    "He was pretty full of himself," Elena shot back, surprised at the sudden mention of her father. "There were so many on Eriadu who jumped ship when the Empire fell, claimed they had been forced, hadn`t known or had changed. But he? Now Cedryc Cyr would never admit to have made a mistake in his life. He stood by his believes." She made a pause, "in a way I can even respect that. If nothing else he had convictions."

    "Those people are the most dangerous," Florianne lighted a cigarette and offered Elena one.

    Elena took it, she hadn`t been a smoker before but her current job had driven her into it, as much as she struggled internally. Then she lighted it and for a moment thought of Corvyn, and the bloodied remains of what had been his body. He had died on the flagship of the Iron Alliance, alongside Pallas the medic and most of Tobins old squad. And just as the war in orbit had taken its toll, the ground had been a slaughterhouse as well. Ryna, Kira, Venka, Olena...

    Janice had survived being burned to a crisp and Anela would spend the rest of her life as 'Darth Vader with breasts' as she had joker bitterly. But it was Xenia´s name that hit the hardest.
    "They want to grant her a Sainthood you know. The Falleen woman," Florianne said, as if she had read Elena´s thoughts.

    Elena nodded, "I heard of it, Saint Xenia of Qaelan. My father would spin in his grave if he knew." But then the smile faded from her lips, "still I would prefer having her with us over her being made a Saint."

    "From what I read none of you would be alive if she hadn`t given hers." Florianne placed a hand on Elena´s shoulder.

    The blue haired brigade general knew this was probably just another part of the great political game in which Florianne was now trying to suck up to her. But she still appreciated the gestured and leaned against the other woman a bit.

    "It's true," she agreed. "If she hadn`t stopped that AT-AT none of us on the ground would have survived."

    "Then we should remember her for that, give her the credit she deserves," Florianne agreed. "Maybe build a monument in her name?"

    "Can we afford that?" Elena raised an eyebrow, Florianne usually would bemoan the massive costs already sunken into the war and now the occupation.

    "I will pay it from my own pocket." The older noble assured her.

    Elena nodded, "it's a possibility." Then she looked up, "Thanks Florianne, you are kind of a jerk when it comes to the money but it's nice to see there is a heart somewhere in there." She placed a finger on the older woman´s chest. "Maybe I can trust you after all."

    Florianne grinned, the playful grin of a masterful politician, "well who knows my dear... Maybe mistrusting me was the smartest decision you´ve made since you became a noble again..."
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2022
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    difficult decisions to make for Elena and her judges
     
    Kahara likes this.
  5. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Indeed, its the price of power.



    Two

    Daecon was shaking, shivering as he stepped further into the building. Every room opened the view on new horrors, on his men, his boys, his girls. Dead, in a lake of their own drying blood. They had taken residence in this hotel before the battle, while they had still been loyal to the Iron Alliance. Before the old man had come and "persuaded" them to switch sides. Before they had stabbed their former employees in the back and had allied with their former enemies.

    He looked across the bodies in the next room and his stomach once again turned, he slammed the door shut, running past the next few doors, to his room, to his and Quyin´s room, begging, praying that at least she...

    "I am sorry," the words out of Elena Kyr´s mouth called him back into the reality. He wasn`t sure how long since he had collapsed, since he had seen the cut up body of his girlfriend on their bed. Since he had broken down crying, letting out all of his emotions that he had hidden behind his tough exterior for so long.

    He had loved her, he realized, he had truly loved her, seen her as more than just someone to blow off steam and share a bed with. She had been his partner, his best friend and his lover... they had been together for so long, pretty much since they had left Zeltros. But now? Now she was gone and he... he was alone. Alone amongst enemies.

    He stumbled back, back to his feet, "who did this?" His voice dripping with rage as he turned to Kyr, that woman who had been at the start of all his suffering. The blue haired bitch who seemed to have been born with nothing but the intent of ruining his life. And that after he had shown her mercy.

    "I don`t know..." Elena muttered, taking a step back. "I learned of this just as you..."

    "It was your girls right? This is your revenge for us protecting you from rapists?" Daecon shook his head. "I should have known for which side to fight." He spat at her feet, his rage boiling stronger and stronger. Someone had to pay for this, here, and now...

    "Protected us? Like you protected them when you handed them over to Keran Sarne? When you suggested using me as a human shield?" Elena´s voice became heated. "Want a price for basic decency?"
    Daecon´s fist hit her face before he even properly knew what he was doing, but he threw himself at her, using his larger strength to wrestle her to the ground as he continued to punch her arrogant cruel face. He felt how her nose broke under his assaults and blood splattered all over them but he didn`t care, all he wanted was to make this woman pay for what the galaxy had done to him. There was nothing else left, nothing but vengeance and once it was done Quyin would wait for him on the other side. That was all what kept him functioning, all that...

    Elena´s knee hitting him right into the crotch made his entire body spasm. An attack that was already painful for any male, was even worse for his Zeltron frame. He barely felt how Kyr grabbed him and threw him of her and right into the lake of Quyin´s blood. He saw her opened and dead eyes above him... and his eyes filled with tears again as he, the tough as nails mercenary began to cry, to sob like a little child, unable to get up again, unable and even unwilling to confront Kyr again. In this moment nothing mattered to him anymore. He felt as if he was dead inside, the hole in his chest, that Quyin had filled for so long, it was open again, and it would never be filled again... never....


    "Feeling better?" Kyr asked him later, hours later as they sat on one of the couches in the lobby of the hotel, while soldiers were moving the dead bodies of his crew out in bags. There were a few survivors, two had been swimming in the hotel pool, three had watched the sunset from the roof of the building, some had been in the city, all in all about a dozen of his squad were still alive. But all who had been in their rooms when the killer had come were dead now, and those who hadn`t been around had seen or heard nothing.

    "Yes..." Daecon muttered as he took a sip from the caf in front of him. He was surprised that he was even alive, and even more that he felt glad for it. Attacking a higher officer, the military governor of Qaelan even, in many instances would have been a death sentence. But it seemed that he would live to see another day. "Sorry about your nose..." he muttered.

    "It will heal," Elena said. The medic had set her broken nose and given her several batches of bacta on it to speed up the healing process. Thanks to the modern medicine Daecon suspected her nose would be okay again tomorrow and no trace of the attack would be visible anymore by the end of the week. A wound that could heal, unlike the wounds he had suffered.

    "I´m sorry," he said again, and swallowed hard.

    "I can forgive your reaction given the circumstances," Kyr said bluntly. "But should something like this happen ever again you can spend the rest of your lives breaking rocks in prison, do you understand?"

    "Yes, ma'am," he said and straightened his collar, then he looked up as he saw Captain Laric and Commander Adrimetrum come down the steps.

    Both sat down opposed to them while ambassador Malek and Lady Florianne who had been quietly talking to each other at the bar came over as well.

    Elena threw a quick glance over them, then she said, "we have a problem. Hell we have a giant problem."

    "Are the news out already?" Florianne asked as she leaned back in her armchair.

    "No," Adrimetrum said, "but it can only take a hour or so until someone will leak it. We already informed the garrison forces to be ready."

    "Creon and Lissa are speaking to their respective communities, so that we are the ones to inform them. Hopefully we can prevent a riot like this." Ilona said, shaking her head, "this is bad, beyond bad."

    Daecon knew what she meant, there had been crimes before, murders of course, but this... this was a massacre and they had nothing to offer. Nothing to present to the people to have made any progress.

    Dannika Scales, the medic woman approached them. Daecon had heard that her cousin had been amongst the dead of the battle and thus could only feel respect for her that she was working again already and even took on more responsibilities than ever before. These people believe in something, they don`t fight just for money and to secure a future for themselves, they follow a higher purpose.
    In its own way it was admirable to him, but knew that could never be his way. He wasn`t made to fight for others, at least not until he was paid.

    "We will do the proper autopsy at the hospital," Dannika explained, "but from what I could tell none of them offered the slightest resistance, none of them but..."

    "Quyin," Daecon pressed through his dry lips, the image of his dead girlfriend back before his mind. She had tried to fight... someone.

    "Yes," Dannika lowered her head. "This mean our killer was either utterly invisible and inaudible, or the victims trusted them..."

    "Which rules out your girls," Daecon lowered his head, "my men would have been on guard around them." He threw a glance at Adrimetrum and Laric, "same with your soldiers."

    "And they wouldn`t have trusted the Iron Alliance either," Laric said coldly, "tell me, is there anyone besides your own crew who your folks would trust?"

    Straight to the heart, as always. But Daecon bit his lip and swallowed the curse he had prepared for the Imperial as he quickly considered the question, but in truth he already knew the answer. "No... it must have been one of us... Sure some of us have families or other people they would trust, but the only trust all of us share is amongst each other. But they would never..."

    "No?" Laric said rising an eyebrow. "They are mercenaries, if offered enough money wouldn`t they? And there are people on this world with a motive to see your soldiers dead and the money to bribe a merc."

    "I..." Daecon muttered... He wasn`t sure what was worse, the massacre or that someone of his crew was responsible. "We need to arrest the survivors then, check their alibis."

    "Already underway," Ilona assured him, "we can be sure you weren`t responsible as you were with us. But... on the danger that more than one mercenary was bribed we can`t be sure they provide alibis for each other."

    "The nature of the killings would at least imply a seasoned killed," Dannika said. "That wasn`t the deed of a random vigilante or butcher. Whoever did this, they knew what they did."

    Daecon shook his head, "kriff this... if I get my hands on the son of a schutta who took the money..." He clenched his hands to fists, revenge, that was at least a reason to continue living. Even if it was a weak one...

    "I will prepare a declaration for the press," Ilona said as she got up. She threw a glance at Florianne, "can I count on you for that?"

    "Of course dear," the older woman said she stood up as well. "I will also check the bank accounts of the mercenaries just in case."

    "Victor, Corvey, can I count on your for the interrogations?" Elena asked the two other military commanders. "I get the feeling the two of you can get the 'good cop, bad cop routine' better than the rest of us."

    Corvey grinned, while Laric just raised an eyebrow. "As you command, we shall see what we find out."

    "Good," Elena folded her hands. "I will contact the Quintad, though I suspect they already know it anyway." She took a deep breath, "this job is killing me..."

    After they and Dannika had left Daecon remained alone in the lobby of the hotel, leaning back onto the couch and considering the events of the day... how his entire life had been destroyed in such a short amount of time. No he was alone again, alone like he had been as a child, unable to trust anyone, not even the survivors of his own squad. "What cruel galaxy is this..." he muttered as he looked across the room.

    He blamed his new allies, the traitor within his squad, the staff of the hotel, the cruel fate, the galaxy itself for his pain. But in the end Daecon knew, on an almost instinctive level that the person to blame, the one ultimately responsible was he himself. He had chosen to follow this life of violence, he could have retired, or sought out another job somewhere. Could have settled down with Quyin and even raised a family. But he hadn`t, he had decided to make his money with killing other beings. He had spread violence for cash and now, finally here today that violence had caught up to him. He was the one responsible for getting into this situation. But he also knew within his heart, that he could never accept this blame upon himself, and so he continued to blame each and everyone else, like he always had in his life.
     
  6. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    investigations. I hope they find out
     
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  7. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Won`t be easy that´s for sure.


    Three

    The washer gave a signal and Xela opened its door and began to pull out the large collection of dark underwear, tanks tops and shorts. It still surprised her just how quickly the soldiers went through their clothing, leading to her having to take care of one set of washing every day. Today it was the more casual clothing but tomorrow it would be the coats and jackets in this never-ending spiral dirty clothes turning clean, turning dirty again.

    Putting everything in the dryer took a while and Xela sat down on the floor to catch her breath after it was done. She had always considered it a boon to their slaves that they owned so many high tech machines to take care of most of their household chores, but now she had to admit that even with them, keeping the household running was a lot of work. Especially for someone as untrained and unused to physical labor as her. In the first days she had been utterly exhausted after the first two hours but now things were improving.

    After a moment she got back to her feet and made her way upstairs again, stopping at the bathroom to clean her hands in preparation for cooking dinner. As the water run over her hands and into expensive marble sink Xela looked at her own face in the large mirror. A face she could barely even recognize herself. She had pulled her long black hair into a tight braid were she had worn it openly before. The battle scar on her left cheek had left only a fine white line on her green skin, something she once would have used bacta for to remove completely but now... well the Eriaduan tradition of keeping scars as a reminder of courage had taken to her. As had their style of clothing as she now wore a black tank top and pants herself instead of the silken gowns she had spend most of her live in. If this continues you will be one of them in no time... she told herself, but in truth she knew that she had crossed that line already, the day after the battle.

    "As agreed, here is the money," Elena said as she offered Xela a heavy looking suitcase. "We have also an apartment waiting for you on Eriadu were you can live if you want." She gave the former slaver a weak smile.

    "Did you intend for me to be put under house arrest?" Xela asked, rising an eyebrow. She would never admit it but she had grown to like Elena, her and the other officers with whom she had lived together, laughed together, fought in the battle together. She had told herself, well allowed herself to think, that in a way she had become one of them.

    Elena shook her head, "plans change, you proved your trustworthiness during the battle there is no need to keep you under surveillance. I will also speak with the prison leadership to see your mother sentence reduced."

    "My mother is where she should be," Xela had said firmly. "Honestly if you want to be just you should send me to smash rocks alongside her."

    "Xela!" Elena had stepped closer to her. "What are you talking about?"

    Xela had taken a deep breath, "I was a horrible person and just as complicit as my mother in her crimes. I willingly traded with slaves and only helped you because you coerced me...."

    "You saved Anela´s life, I won`t send you to prison." Elena told her. "You have changed Xela, you are no longer that bad woman you were."

    Xela gave her a weak smile, "maybe... She made a pause. "Look, I don`t want to just take the money and settle down for a life of luxury. Because I didn`t earn it." Another pause. "But you are right, I helped you, which is why I want to stay."

    Now it was Elena who raised an eyebrow, "you want to remain here? No one here is on your side, the slaves just see a slaver and the free people see you as a traitor. I can`t guarantee your safety."

    Xela shrugged, "you couldn`t during the battle either. And if I die than so be it. But..." she bit her lip. "I finally feel I belong somewhere, somewhere I can make up for my mistakes. Let me continue to help you. Even if it's just doing your laundry and washing your dishes..."

    Elena smiled as she placed the suitcase on the ground. "Well, the ORSF is now recruiting non humans. If you want to join now is a better time than ever."

    Xela took a step back, that was more than she had intended and... "I´ve little to no combat experience."

    Elena shrugged, "you have enough to qualify for the logistics department."

    "Then why the hell not?" Xela grinned as she gave Elena a salute, "sign me up chief."

    Elena returned the salute and grin before she said, "that leaves the matter of the money. I can put it on an account of the Eriaduan bank, so it waits for you when you need it."

    But the young Falleen shook her, "no, please, split it amongst the slaves you freed from me. It´s the least I can do for them."

    "You want to give it away?" Elena took a step closer towards her.

    "Yes," Xela said as firmly as before. "Better they have it than I have."

    In the next moment she felt Elena´s muscular arms wrapping around her, "you truly have a good heart Xela..." she whispered.

    At first Xela was shocked, when had been the last time someone had hugged her? Jace had done a few times, but now she knew he hadn`t been genuine, not as genuine as Elena was here. So she returned the hug, "all just thanks to you."

    After a moment Elena stepped back, and a devious grin appeared on her face, "well, Hilda now owes me a couple of credits."

    A weird smile appeared on Xela´s face, "you knew I would want to stay?"

    Elena chuckled, "never doubted you for a second my dear."

    Xela blinked in front of her mirror and only then realized she was lovingly starring at her ORSF tattoo on her right shoulder. She wondered what her mother would say if she knew, but if she was honest with herself than her mother's opinion didn`t matter to her anymore, she was her own person, a better person than she had been.


    "Done our laundry properly slave girl?" Hilda asked her teasingly half an hour later as they had sat down around the table for dinner.

    Xela stuck out her tongue, "I could ask the same, did you enjoy scrubbing all those bed pans in the hospital?"

    Hilda chuckled as she leaned back in her chair and gave Xela a smile. During the battle the two had been assigned to the same part of the wall, no doubt another part of Elena´s attempts to get them to get along. And it had worked, but mostly it had been working together to save the badly wounded Anela´s life that had allowed them open up to the other, even if Hilda had only fully accepted Xela after she had rejected the money and decided to remain with the squad. Not that it stopped them from teasing each other. "I´m used to doing actual work, something our miss perfect can`t say of herself."

    "That miss perfect is about to show you how good the work was for her muscles..." Xela shoot back with a grin.

    "Ladies, not at the dinner table," Kinga said grinning as she leaned against Cari´s muscular shoulder. Given how loud they were in the bedroom Xela and the others had discovered their relationship in no time, and so neither woman had even tried to make any secret of it. Still they were an odd couple to look at, the short, slim Kinga, next to the towering muscular Cari who could easily carry her girlfriend over her shoulder.

    Still Xela was happy for them, and like the rest of the officers took part in the betting on who would win their daily sparring fight, where Kinga´s speed and skill was matched blow for blow with Cari´s strength and durability.

    "Any new on Nela?" Cari asked, maybe to change the subject.

    Katia shook her head, "not today. She is strong, yet this has impacted her will to live."

    Xela was still surprised that Anela lived at all, her wounds had been severe and her insane cursing with her broken mouth as she and Hilda had dragged her from the battlefield had made it clear that she was kept alive by naked stubbornness alone. And yet she couldn`t imagine how it must be for her now. A cyborg, her mouth replaced by a rebreather, an arm and a leg mechanical, as well as several internal organs. Unable to eat or even kiss her husband. "Can`t she get re grown limbs? Like you did?" She asked Kinga.

    Kinga sadly shook her head, "her midi clorian count is too high... her body would reject them..."

    "You can`t clone a Force User," Asajj Ventress added. "Your friend was never trained, even if I think her latent force sensitivity helped in keeping her alive despite her wounds." Like Cari she was no official member of their squad, but her help in battle had made her an honorary member nonetheless, and now the former right hand woman of Count Dooku still hung out with them. Xela suspect that she, like herself, flat out had no other place to go. Yet her company was worth it for her ghost stories alone.

    "Didn`t they clone the Emperor?" Dannika asked. The young medic now serving now as the head of one of Qaelan´s hospitals, she, like Ilona and Elena, often failed to attend their dinners as her duties kept her busy but unlike the other two she had managed to be here today.

    Ventress nodded, "they did, but it has side effects, insanity, quick cell deterioration. It's just with the Emperor he was already old and insane so nobody noticed." She straightened her short, tribal looking dress. "Believe me, it's a godsend it doesn`t work, even if that makes it harder for Anela."

    "She is strong, she will cope," Katia said. "Recently she even said she wants to return to duty."

    "Hah, she could do that," Kinga said. "Even if it would drive her mad that you now outrank her."

    After Elena had been promoted to brigadier general Kinga had been made a Colonel and the new leader of the squad, and in turn she had elevated Katia to the rank of Lieutenant and her right hand.

    "Yeah, can`t wait to order her around all day," Katia grinned.

    "Just remember what happened to people who tried to order Darth Vader around," Cari reminded her. "Can`t wait seeing her trying to strangle you for it."

    "Maybe our own darksider wants' to add something to the discussion," Xela said after throwing a cursory glance at Ventress who clearly looked uncomfortable.

    The Dathomirian threw Xela a dark glance, "there was a time where I would have killed you for those words alone... though in my defense, my subordinates were usually droids. But if you want to try me..."

    "Better not..." Xela lowered her glance. At the occasional water soccer matches Asajj had utterly dominated them to the point that the other officers had formed a team against her and still barely managed to hold against her when she used her force powers. "We really are a colorful bunch aren`t we?"

    "Wouldn`t have it any other way..." Hilda muttered as she threw a glance across the table.

    "Seriously, you guys remind me of the people I used to run with," Ventress chuckled.

    "I take that as a compliment," Dannika smiled.

    "Girls," Kinga stood up and raised her glass. "A toast to us. For the asses we kick and the names we take."

    The others rose from their chairs but before they could join in the door was slammed open and young Jola entered. Giving them a quick salute, "I am sorry but... there is something you need to see. We have a problem."
     
  8. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    nice being together but what is the problem?
     
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  9. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    pauses when Ventress speaks, remembers Ventress is around in these bits, carries on reading

    Looking good!

    Well, tragic, maybe, but good.
     
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  10. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    We shall see...

    Yeah Ventress is here. Though as established in the pervious story she is kind of a mix of her old and new canon selves... with the ultimate turning point being this Ventress actually accepted Lassa Rhaymes offer to join her crew... Story is really a mix at this point, most legends but also featuring NEU elements, like Lassa or Trace Martez...
    Glad you like it :)
     
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  11. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Four

    Ventress slung her arms around the other woman´s neck, pulling her close into a tight hug that no one could ever escape. She saw Dannika´s eyes widened, how her entire body began to shiver as she struggled against the handcuffs holding her hands on her back.

    The Dathomirian woman grinned, she was in control, Dannika was utterly at her mercy. And the same rush, the rush the dark side had given her so many times pulsed through her veins. The power that had broken her chains and was now the one holding the other woman´s life in her hand. Running her hands over Dannika´s soft, barely covered skin Ventress savored her prize, her reward for a long days worth.

    Her grin grew another inch as Dannika began to scream into the piece of cloth gagging her as the force told her just how the medic felt right now, as Ventress slipped her hand between the squirming woman´s legs. "Guess I should let you have some fun as well." Her tongue licked her pale lips.



    "You really are a naughty girl," Ventress said with a smile when she and Dannika were laying next to each other, still breathing heavily, Dannika still having a satisfied grin all over her face. "Do your comrades know just how kinky their medic is?"

    Dannika turned to her side and gave her lover a quick twinkle, "not their business isn`t it? But truth be told I wouldn`t be ashamed if they knew."

    It was this quiet confidence, in herself, her sexuality and kinks that had first attracted Ventress to Dannika when she had been taking care of her up in the weeks after the battle. Nursing the blaster wound in Ventress's guts until she finally had been able to consume solid food again. Their talks quickly growing into outright flirting and from then it wasn`t too far until they had shared a bed for the first time.

    "But let me guess," Dannika continued with a grin. "I´m not the first woman you´ve restrained in bed..."

    If Ventress was someone else she might have lowered her gaze, or at least blushed. But instead she returned the grin, "on Dathomir its normal for at least one partner to be in ropes while in bed..." She said, then seeing some worry on Dannika´s face she added, "Never been into the diminutive males of my homeworld though. But make no mistake, the witches are just as kinky with each other."
    "Men exist for procreation, pleasure is found amongst women." Dannika giggled.

    "As it should be," Ventress agreed. "Not that didn`t I met some men who could almost reach a woman´s skill when it comes to that." For a moment she thought of Kenobi. Even six decades after the clone wars he still occasionally showed up in her dreams and fantasies. He had been her enemy, her equal, and... she had to admit it the first one to see her as a person again after Ky Narec had died. And in some ways still the deepest cut on her bedpost.

    "You must have met a lot of people," Dannika mused, moving a bit beneath the sheets to lay more comfortable.

    "I did," Ventress agreed. "Fought some, befriended some, captured some, loved some..." She laid a hand on Dannika´s arm and massaged her still sore wrists.

    In her long life she had had many lovers of course, men and women. From quick nights in spaceports to brief affairs with people closer to her. But with the exception of Kenobi and her Clan Sisters on Dathomir they had never been loving, just about the fun, nothing more. Lassa in a way could have been closer to her, but the Pantoran woman had been into men only, and so the two had, contrary to the rumors never shared a bed, but instead been sisters in all but blood.

    "And now you are staying with us?" Dannika asked, a question Ventress knew had been on her mind for a while. "Why?"

    The Dathomirian took a deep breath and folded her arms behind the back of her head. She had asked herself that same question. "Truth be told I wasn`t expecting to even be alive..." she made a pause. "I´ve been in a dangerous situations all my life but when Lassa and I went to the meeting with the leaders of the Iron Alliance we both expected it to be our end. A suicide mission, to die in a blaze of glory doing a final good thing." She chuckled a bit at the notion, just as she had back then. "Sure I would have tried to fight my way out but saw little chance..."

    "But then that bomb happened." Dannika said and Ventress nodded.

    After the battle the coalition had begun an inquiry on just whom had place the bomb that day but so far they had found no clues. Something that worried not only Elena and the high command and many theories had spread since then as to who was to blame.

    "Yeah, Lassa she..." Ventress´s voice softened a bit. "She died for me. It was pure coincidence that she stood up in that moment, shielding me from the explosion that would have killed me otherwise. She has been my partner for so long, helped me when I was at the low point of my life... Was there for me whatever I needed. Helped me overcome the dark side." Another pause. "This fight, against the Iron Alliance to free the slaves... it was her fight. Which is why I stayed, I felt I owed her as much. To see this planet liberated."

    "Without you that probably wouldn`t happened..." Dannika leaned over and gave Asajj a playful kiss on her forehead.

    Asajj nodded, the battle had been amongst the hardest of her entire life, with just Elena´s soldiers and the freed slaves had fought to keep the Iron Alliance away from the noble district. They had fought against mercenaries, droids, slave soldiers and war beasts as the local commanders had send everything they had against them. A siege right out of the old Legends. A battle that should have been pure suicide, and would have been without her... Not that she could take all the credit herself, it had been the bravery of the slaves who had fought on amongst the ruins with improvised weapons to keeps the Iron Alliance at bay, the timely turn sides by the mercenaries, Elena´s excellent leadership.

    But in a way the thing that had impressed her the most had been the Eriaduan women. Their camaraderie and ability to work together had been something Ventress hadn`t seen even amongst the clones of the republic. Especially as the battle had dragged on and the soldiers had used stims to keep themselves together and awake. Even in their drugged state their bond had remained and she had fought as if their minds were connected. It, and the time she had spend with the women of the squad had reminded her of something. Of her family, the family she had lost.

    "You girls impressed me," she admitted. "I´ve lived amongst pirates for so long that I forget how true sisterhood looks like. But with your squad here, it... it reminds me of my sisters." She felt how a tear, a single tear formed in her eye and rolled down the side of her face as her thoughts returned to her sisters. When she had returned from the Clone Wars, broken and full of self loathing the tribe had welcomed her like she had never left. They hadn`t judged nor asked her for what had happened. They had instead embraced her as part of their family. A family she never had before after Ky had died... She had regained her self confidence, and begun a new life, dreamed of a new and better future. But in the end it had been taken from her. Her family, her tribe, was dead, all because of her.

    Dannika moved a bit closer to her and laid her arms around her, a gesture of comfort and something Ventress had only rarely experienced in her life. But she was comfortable enough around Dannika that she leaned into it a bit. "Yes you fight, you struggle and you argue... just as sisters do," she continued as she looked into her lovers eyes. "But that only makes your bond stronger.... I... felt and feel envious and glad. Envious for what you have, and glad to have found a place to stay for now..."

    The Eriaduan doctor smiled, "glad you feel at home with us." She gave Asajj a quick kiss.

    Asajj´s weak smile turned into a grin, "but don`t expect me to get such an ugly tattoo on my butt any time soon..."

    Dannika´s face turned red, "I was drunk that day..." Then she placed a finger on Asajj´s chest, "but I´m not sure if the ORSF even accepts Dathomirian witches amongst their ranks."

    "A night sister, not a witch," Asajj corrected her. "Those are two different groups."

    "And the night sisters are the bad ones?" Dannika grinned.

    Asajj shook her head, "no... well, it's complicated..." She closed her eyes as she leaned against Dannika´s warm shoulder and let her thoughts return to her homeworld. "The witches claim that Nightsisters are evil... but in truth we are not so different." She took a deep breath, "it's a bit like with you Eriaduan´s, the Nightsisters have been given a bad reputation through the actions of some people... But, in truth the witches label any woman they don`t like as a Nightsister, no matter why they don`t like her."

    Dannika smiled, "sounds like politicians accusing each other of being imperial bootlickers..."

    "If you say it that way," Ventress chuckled. "But my tribe for all their faults didn`t indulge in slavery like many witches do to this day..."

    "Didn`t Ilona mention that clan her brother married into is now brining equality?" The young medic asked.

    "They do," Asajj nodded. One day Ilona had asked her about Dathomir and the two women had talked at length about the world. It had relieved Asajj that at least some clans were moving towards a better future.

    "Aren´t there other Nightsisters out there?" Dannika asked.

    Ventress nodded slowly, Ilona had mentioned them as well, "true. But as I said, Nightsisters are very different from each other. What do I know if these new tribes are like my sisters, or if they are indeed the evil cliché the witches claim them to be." She shrugged. "Haven`t been on Dathomir for so long, who knows what would await me there if I traveled there..."

    "You could always give it a try, I am sure when Ilona vouches for you the tribe were her brother now lives would be willing to let you visit."

    Ventress thought about this for a moment, but it was no big decision. After all, what did she have to lose? She had no obligations between the ones she set herself, and her many years as a pirate had left her with quite a substantial amount of credits, enough to get a ship to bring her home. "I might want to visit them one day... just to see Dathomir again."

    "I could come with you," the young human said. "I want to see it for myself, and one of those sexy leather outfits... for research purposes of course."

    Ventress laughed, as her eyes wandered over her short leathers scattered on the floor in front of the bed. She had started to wear them more openly again recently, as the new Qaelan was such a melting pot they didn`t cause much attention at all. "Then its settled, when we get a week of breathing room here that is."

    "That is true," Dannika agreed. "But I am glad to have you with us all the more because of that."

    "Oh and I thought I´m just kept around for my ghost stories." Ventress replied.

    The young woman smiled, "right the ghost stories," she reached out and turned off the light switch. "What do you want to tell me about tonight?"

    Soon both women had fallen asleep, dreaming of Dathomir, and the darkness that lurked beneath the surface of the ancient world...
     
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  12. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    nice interaction between Ventress and Dannika
     
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  13. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Thanks :)


    Five

    Ilona was tired, part of her wanted nothing more than to finally lay down and get at least some rest to just close her eyes and leave her worries and duties behind, to escape at least for a while into her dreams for a bit of peace. Even more she wished she could sleep in Tobin´s muscular arms again, and cuddle herself against her husband and just be free together. But it wasn`t meant to be, and with her growing power and rank her responsibilities had also grown exponentially.

    "How is it?" She asked as she leaned back in the couch she had taken a seat on, stretching her arms and fighting to keep down her yawn.

    "Want an honest answer?" Florianne looked up from the datapad. "Well, this whole venture is one giant expenditure. And the actual costs exceed our highest expectations. This is, no doubt the highest venture in Eriaduan History."

    "Becoming a middle power is expensive," Ilona said with a tired smile, "but it also offers opportunities." It was a dream of many on Eriadu, to rise in power and prestige through the galaxy, to shed the backwater image that had been with them for so long. Their victories, well primarily Ulrika´s victories had given them this opportunity.

    Florianne raised an eyebrow, "is that you diplomats enjoying the privileges we economists have to pay for?"

    Elena shook her head, "yeah yeah and we militarists shouldn`t mention all our fancy toys you pay for at all. But give me the numbers."

    Florianne nodded, "we have been spending twelve billion credits in the last week alone. The costs of the whole occupations are closing in on 300 billion credits by now. Our coffers are emptying and we have to struggle to keep the investors on board."

    Elena took a moment to take in the dimensions of the cost, "more than Eriadu´s yearly GDP in three months... but why? Why did it exceed the calculations so much?"

    Florianne took a deep breath, "several reasons, first is that the success was greater than we anticipated. We could not only secure Qaelan but several worlds surrounding it, and are still expanding our territory. We all assumed this battle would just be one in the war, one after which a phase of consolidation followed. But instead the Iron Alliance began to collapse, and to fade back into the shadows, dozens of worlds fell to us... and thus became our responsibility."

    "The price of victory," Corvey said darkly. "I could talk with my mother again and see what we could do to improve the financial situation, but... the liberation front has lived from the hand in the mouth for decades, we don`t have much in our coffers that we could offer."

    "Another reason," Florianne continued, "is the lack of investment from the outside. We had expected companies from all over the galaxy would be interested to invest into the occupied territories, earning them good PR in addition to long term profits. But three reasons keep them away for now. The first is that the whole galaxy is in crisis again..."

    "Yeah that whole Lost Tribe stuff..." Ilona shook her head, Adalia had told her some about it, and even on Dathomir Adrian and Marie had talked about renewed hostilities with the Nightsisters."
    Florianne nodded, "it and the question on how long Daala will even still be in power in the Galactic Alliance makes investors hesitant... Made even worse by our erstwhile 'allies' from the civil war having pretty much all abandoned us to suck up to the GA again..."

    "Kriffing fair weather friends!" Elena spat, anger in her voice, "what did they even fight this war for? What became of the whole 'Corellian independence', abandoned in three years when they realized staying the GA was better anyway? It would be funny in how pathetic they are, if not for the billions who died in this war."

    Ilona looked at her darkly, "if you were on Corellia, pointing that out would already get you in trouble." Her own godfather, the author and long term governor of Corellia´s moon Gus Talon, Alec Fenton had been forced to flee the system after the assassination of his bodyguard. An attack orchestrated by Turr Phennir. Now he and his wife stayed in her mansion on Eriadu were they continued their fight against the regime that controlled his homeworld. Their son Titus was with them as well as both of his parents had decided staying with the order during this crisis was too risky for the young padawan.
    Ilona wished she could be there with them, but knew that her father would be able to host them in her absence. As Ethan was delighted to see his old mechanic again.

    "The second reason is, sadly Ulrika..." Florianne continued. "Well not just her but currently she is the face of the problem. Now the whole galaxy knows what happened at Metalorn. And while Ulrika stayed a heroine for many, others now see her as a monster."

    Elena nodded sadly, "the young blonde goddess of death some call her."

    Ilona chuckled, "compared to all the names I gave her over the years that sounds pretty tame."

    "But it, and well the Eriaduan reputation in general is holding people back. In many circles in the galaxy our intervention here is seen as a brutal grab for power and territory," Florianne continued. "To them we are the bad guys, because we are Eriaduans, and have allied us with Imperials and Ex CIS members."

    "Not to mention traitors to the rebel Alliance." Corvey added with a smile. "Mom has been 'delighted' that now she is the one to have abandoned the alliance, not the other way around..." She shook her head.

    Ilona laid a hand on her shoulder, "we will set this right." She could ask Alec if he was willing to help Kaiya Adrimetrum write her own story. The story of a rebellion that had lasted nearly five decades.
    "The third reason," Lady Florianne continued, "is that so far we have a harder time proving that we can actually keep up the security in the new territories."

    "They use the strategies again they used against us back in the day," Laric said, unlike the others he preferred to stand, and his face gave away no sign of tiredness. "This is how they broke the Imperial Rule over the Southwest, attacks on convoys and isolated worlds, piece by piece they drained our reserves and caused our collapse. Not that they didn`t have help." He threw a glance at Corvey.
    The middle aged woman looked up at him, "we helped exchange one devil for another that´s true. But even you can hardly defend the imperial rule over these worlds."

    Before Laric could react Ilona raised her hand, "please, again, we are on the same side here, let us let bygones be bygones." She made a pause. "We are all in the same boat, and if our occupation falls we will be back to square one, if not worse, if we are forced to pull out then the Iron Alliance will return one way or another."

    "I would die before I let that happen," Lissa pressed through her teeth.

    The Muun next to her nodded, "they would have all of us hunted, me first amongst them. Which brings me to the deciding question. Where and how can we cut corners to make the ends meet?"
    Florianne gave him a nod, "the good news is that things are turning up, after the slave revolt in Blaudu sector the public opinion is swinging towards abolitionism which means we and Ulrika are seen more and more in a better light. If things continue as they are more support is to be expected. Another advantage that we have is that Jagged Fel has recently pardoned Ulrika for the dead at Metallorn, official declaring her actions as a grim necessity of the war."

    "No doubt Jaina´s words in his mouth," Ilona said and thanked the goddess that they had been able to befriend the Remnants leaders consort.

    "If that is all the case, than our job seems to primarily be to keep the occupation stable, and prey the crisis in the GA will subside?" Creon asked.

    "That is true," Elena confirmed. "Which mean we need to capture that serial killer, or the serial killers as fast as possible. But I fear even if we do... some corners need to be cut." She looked up at Florianne, "Flo, tell me you have something."

    The noblewoman nodded, "there are if nothing else a few options... we could cut down on our infrastructure expenses, less money for the reconstruction and restoration of normal life on this world... or we could try and get its old industry back and running faster, using captives of war. But I don`t need to look into your faces to see this isn`t a veritable option." She gave them a polite smile and Ilona and the other relaxed again.

    "It's the mistake the empire made," Laric suddenly admitted. "Focusing on quick successes over long term stability."

    Ilona looked at him, Laric was rare to admit faults in the Imperial system, but it seems his usual honesty applied even to his own nation. She wondered how he and Tobin would get along, but alone the thought of her husband made her miss him even more.

    "Then we need to cut other expenses," Elena said slowly. "Even if it´s risky... I say we demobilize the dreadnaughts and send half of the reservists home."

    Ilona turned around, her neck almost twisting at this sudden suggestion, "you... you want to rob this world of most of its protection?"

    Elena nodded slowly, "I thought about it. Whatever capital ships the Iron Alliance had were destroyed they resorted back to guerilla warfare, where the heavy dreadnaughts will serve us little. Most of the Star fighters can be based on the station in orbit or on Qaelan itself with little problems."

    Ilona chewed on her lip, thinking, "sending the reservists home would weaken our forces on the planet, but we are past open resistance. And in catching serial killers the reservists prove more hindrance then help."

    "We should keep at least one capital ship in orbit, just in case," Corvey said. "If for nothing but symbolism."

    Laric took a step closer, "this is an Imperial World, or at least it used to be. So I would suggest we keep the Pride of the Emperor in Orbit. A Star Destroyer above might keep the humans calm and relaxed."
    "That is your largest Dreadnaught, are you willing to provide it?" Ilona asked, raising an eyebrow.

    "We can, the coalition gave us back this world and dozens of others..." Laric nodded. "It will be our contribution."

    "If we demobilize the dreadnaughts we would save several billions," Florianne said. "But if we send some of the reservists home..." She looked at Lissa and Creon, "your forces will have to take over some of their responsibilities."

    Both had, in the last few months set up a small militia, made up of both former slaves and free people. Were former slaves and slavers had been forced to work together. Some signs of it had been promising but of course conflicts often occurred.

    "We are ready," Lissa said confidently. "If people see citizens patrols the streets instead of outsiders it will help." She made a pause and gave Laric a glance, "but we will never come back to you. The Empire has caused this world its fair of scars, we are no one's subjects or slaves anymore."

    "What is left of the upper class would also never accept that," Creon added. "Some of them were the Empires slaves before becoming masters themselves..."

    Ilona raised her hands, "we are not here to discuss that question... at least not yet." She gave Elena a glance. "There is a proposal made by our friend Cassandra that might be a way forward for all of us."
    "It's THE WAY for us," Corvey said, "I see no other real option for the future. Even if there are details that still need tweaking."

    "The regent is intrigued if nothing else," Laric admitted, but his face didn`t give away anything more.

    "What kind of proposal?" Lissa asked, worry on her face.

    Ilona took a deep breath, she wasn`t sure if the time was right to mention it already... but now it was on the table. "We take the Coalition a step further, not just allies... but brothers and sisters. What Cassandra suggests, is a new nation. A nation of the Southwest, no longer would Eriadu, the Liberation Front, the Imperials, all the smaller and larger worlds and factions stand alone. We would merge together, a coalition government, with strong local autonomy. A free and equal state for all of us."
     
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  14. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    nice discussion
     
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  15. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Thanks :)


    Six

    "Is there still more?" Elena asked after hours, trying her best to suppress a yawn. Her eyes were threatening to close and she more than anything desired to just finally get back into her bed, to for at least a few hours block out the world and her duties. Even more she wished for a full night's sleep for once, cuddling herself against Ulrika, feeling her lovers soft breathing on her skin and feel the muscular arms wrapped around her stomach.

    "One matter," Florianne said, and unlike Elena and Ilona gave away not even a sign of tiredness. The other councilors had been allowed to get some rest but the three of them stayed to discuss some further matters regarding the Eriaduan government.

    Elena let out a deep sigh and took a deep sip from her caf. Just one more matter, she told herself, just one more and its finally done. Then I can finally get some sleep...

    "Then go ahead," Ilona said leaning back into the couch she was sitting on. "Can`t be too tricky..."

    "It might be," Florianne said carefully, "as its not related to Qaelan, but to the two of you personally."

    Both younger women sat up, "whatever it was, it was probably Ulrika´s fault." They said in near unison, then a surprised second later both began to giggle heavily.

    Florianne allowed herself a weak smile, "in a way it even is. But I´m not talking about any of her pranks here." She fixated Elena. "But about the fact that you are a noble once more."

    "That is truly kinda her fault," Elena grinned, "if she hadn`t won this war for us I would still be down in the dirt..." She had been informed of this a while ago, and at first been quite hesitant to even consider the offer. She had been a noble before... for the first five months of her live, until house Kyr had lost its position due to her father's collaboration with the Empire. It had been his dream for the rest of his life that his daughter would restore their position, but ultimately despite her being honored after the Vong War he hadn`t seen it come to pass. But now... five years after his death it had come true, and Elena had been rewarded with a full restoration of her titles.

    "Dirt huh?" Ilona said with a smile, "like the dirt that allowed you to get the best transition the galaxy has to offer."

    She said it softly, only mildly teasing her former enemy, but Elena knew it was true. While her father had lost the entire family business and much of their fortune he had retained the rights to his books, and through them been able to sustain a comfortable lifestyle and buy his daughter and each and everything she might desire. For a moment she looked down her chest, the therapy she had gotten had been near flawless, aside from an inability to get pregnant she was indistinguishable from a cis woman. Something that most trans persons couldn`t afford. Your happiness, bought with dad´s dirty money... she reminded herself and lowered her gaze for a moment. In a way her body had been bought with the suffering of others and there was always a certain guilt in her for that.

    "The Quintad has by now decided," Florianne continued. "To restore some of your family possessions as well that were sized thirty nine years ago." Her eyes darted over to Ilona, "which affects you."
    Ilona´s face turned white, as she stared at Florianne, "they won`t. They can`t! They granted that to my parents... but it's just a fraction off..."

    Elena looked from one to the other, "honestly Ilona? My families industries were split, between the members of the Quintad... and the scraps given to your parents. Did you really expect that when my rights are restored the Quintad would give up their shares? No it's the little ones who have to pay the bill..." she said with a sad tone in her voice. "Is the Quintad giving up anything at all?"

    "A few bits, to make it look like they are contributing, but it's mostly the Malek´s who have to pay the bill... they offer some recommendation money at least but it's hardly worth what you need to give up." Florianne said, and for the first time Elena saw some real sympathy in her eyes.

    For a moment no one said a word, then Ilona gave the other two a grin. "Honestly I would have suspected something better of them, but it should be clear what this is about."

    Elena thought about it for a moment, trying to see the situation from the Quintad's point of view. "They want to drive us apart..." She shook her head. "After all we did for them this is how they reward us?"

    "We are becoming too powerful," Ilona mused. "You, Ulrika, me, even Katia and Anela´s stars are rising. They want to keep us small, under control."

    "Your faces are all over the holonet, and you are the ones with the best relationship with our allies," Florianne reminded them. "The regent, the liberation front, they trust you, not the Quintad. You have far much more power than you think you have." Then she got up, "I need to retire to my quarters now. Been a long day."

    "Then let us fight this," Elena said after Florianne had left. "let them not get away with dishonoring us in such a manner."

    Ilona shook her head, "no... if we do that... we will provoke internal conflict, might even lead to a civil war. Everything we have achieved here would be gone. No... I will accept the deal."

    "I can`t let that happen," Elena said, "I will contact them and tell them were to shove this restoration." Usually the political game didn`t bother her much, but this injustice against her friend enraged her.
    "That would be political suicide, probably exactly what they want to happen," Ilona said quietly. "But there are other ways."

    "What do you suggest?" Elena asked crossing her arms in front of her chest.


    "She wants to become a vassal to us?" Ulrika asked, looking at Elena as if she had just proclaimed that she had been chosen ruler of the universe.

    "Well to me," Elena said with a smile as she looked at the small holographic image of her girlfriend. "But that way she could keep onto everything she owned. And let's be real here, neither you nor me want to do all the business stuff anyway."

    "True," Ulrika grinned. "still, if that´s the case, could I then force Ilona to bow down to me and call me 'my lady' each time we meet?"

    She hadn`t been serious but Elena still place a finger onto her chin and pretended she thought about it. "I am sure we could negotiate for that. Gets time we avenge all those times she beat us up and shoved us into a locker."

    "Oh yeah," Ulrika´s grin grew another inch. But then she let out a giggle, "But do you know what? I fear she has become far too dear to me that I would really consider that anymore."
    "Yeah to me to," Elena said. "Wouldn`t mind us more or less unite our families."

    "Just leave me out of the whole political circus..." Ulrika replied. "Already hate having to play the diplomat and being nice to people. They say I have no emotion and that my face never moves..."

    "Do they?" Elena raised an eyebrow, "maybe I should reconsider on that betrothal then." She stuck out her tongue at her lover.

    Ulrika shook her head, "maybe Ilona will let you into her bed... guess it depends on how Tobin reacts to his sisters lovely idea."

    "I doubt he stands by that."

    "He has made his choice that is true, and having him on our side will only help." Ulrika pointed out.

    "Yeah, we also want to pool our money, to invest into Qaelan," Elena continued.

    "That would be a good idea, and help the people here get back on their feet, I think I might get Cassie to pitch in as well."

    "Once she is done with helping privatize an entire economy you mean?" Elena smiled.

    "I said leave me alone with the whole finance insanity... honestly why do we have to do this? Why can`t we just be in a traveling band or beat up bad guys in the streets at night?" The blonde woman ran a hand through her short hair.

    "Should have run away while we still had the chance for that Rika..." Elena stuck out her tongue.

    "Yeah I know... we are model citizens now... have to keep up the appearance..." She laughed. "Can you imagine telling that to our sixteen year olds selves?"

    "Before or after Ilona spanked the kriff out of us?"

    "Either I guess, not that that ever did much to deter us from causing future trouble..." Ulrika swallowed visibly. "Still, makes me regret it a bit... how long we fought with Ilona. Even if its partially her fault as well. Wonder what could have been if we had been friends from the start."

    "I somehow doubt we would have been that important in galactic history to be honest," Elena said, in a somber tone but with a twinkle in her eye. "I think pushing each other, trying to be better. It's that what made us who we are. At least we would get more sleep at night..."

    "That makes it undoubtedly the better alternative..." Ulrika joked, "but... you know what?" Her voice turned serious again. "I am happy that we did what we did."

    "Me too," Elena agreed. "Making the galaxy a better place one step at the time. Well if we continue in this pace we will be ruling the whole universe by the time we are eighty."

    "Seventy El, don`t sell yourself below value..." Ulrika grinned. "Or me for that matter."

    A moment of silence filled the room. Then Elena said, "to be a noble again... well for the first time really. I don`t know it feels strange. I was always the kid of the punished traitor, accepted but mistrusted. Later honored but not really seen as an equal..." She shrugged. "Been my dad´s dream for so long."

    "But not yours," Ulrika said. It wasn`t a question. She knew Elena that well.

    "No, I mean it's not that I didn`t want it now... but I just never cared about that. If anything I wanted it because it was what dad wanted..." She made a pause. "Nine hells it feels as if he, or his shadow still hover over me, even now."

    "You are not him," Ulrika reminded her. "Nor are in any way beholden to him or what he would have wanted."

    Elena took a deep breath, "I know... Now that I have fulfilled his dream, I could try to be better than him, work to improve upon our family... but that is kind of the point. In having restored my family there is a certain thing expected from me." She looked at Ulrika, who understood in an instant.

    "We can do it." The blonde woman said firmly. "I will do it."

    Elena smiled, as the sorrow she had fell from her shoulders, but still she said, "there are other options too. You don`t have to force yourself..."

    "El, I know that, but I love you, and there is nothing that would me make happier than to bear your child... our child."
     
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  16. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    nice discussions about influence and family
     
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  17. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Seeing as I've missed several of the middle entries in this series, I think I can say accurately that this does a really good job of explaining while not over-explaining the backstory as the story goes on. =D= (Thanks for the chronological list at the beginning by the way, that is really helpful as I'm hoping to get caught up on reading at least some of the earlier stories too.)

    It seems really plausible that winning a messy interstellar war like the one that Ulrika, Elena, and company have been fighting against the Iron Alliance would lead to some Consequences with a capital C even once they have officially won. While the pessimism of the whole political situation in this point of Legends (and in the Sequels, why did they have to keep that of all things? :oops:) was frustrating to me as a reader of the books, I really enjoy fanfic like this that takes the mistakes made by the Galactic Alliance into account as part of the background. If the ostensible leaders of the galaxy were even bothering to look out for people in the Outer Rim, none of this mess would have happened in the first place -- or at least it would be screwed up differently. :p

    The series of awful decisions that they are having to make about sentencing people for war crimes/crimes during the war by civilians/crimes after the war/just super violent crimes everywhere is really disheartening and I can see how that would really start to wear Elena down. I'm glad that she at least has Ulrika and their allies for support. It's interesting to see that the Quintad isn't really into all of them being strongly allied to each other and is trying to drive a wedge in with Ilona and Elena and the rest. Somehow, I feel like that could not work out the way that it was intended!

    Anyway, all that is to say that the various intrigues are really well placed in the plot and I'm very curious as to what's going on with the "serial killer". In quotes because it just seems suspicious in the extreme that some rando murderer could take down a building full of mercenaries, no matter how ill-prepared. Something about that doesn't smell right. I don't think Daecon did it unless he's the best actor ever including to his own mind, but there's more than a bit scary about that guy, too. Very unsettling all around. Given the tendency towards trouble of literally everyone involved, I can only wish them luck in not dying! [face_nail_biting]

    Ventress was a surprise -- it seems like being part of this merry band has been a positive for her after bouncing around from one temporary and/or evil group to another for a lot of her life. Glad that Dannika knows about her (completely absurd) life story and isn't running for the hills, this older and sorta-wiser version of Ventress seems like she might even deserve not to be fled from! :p

    And it looks like Ulrika and Elena are maybe nearing another major life event, so that's promising for the future if they can just get through this next set of things! :)
     
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  18. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Thanks :)

    First of all thanks for this monster of an review. ^:)^^:)^^:)^
    And yeah I try to explain stuff that happened in earlier stories in case they are read out of order. Hope you enjoy the other stories as well then.

    Yeah offering a more optimistic political situation is one goal of these newer stories of mine. Plot kinda grew there, from personal adventures to galaxy shaping events... And its just a lot of fun of reading all the lore of the official timesline with GA and all and then put it into my story, have my charaters react to and talk about it. And agreed the ST kinda makes it feel like all the suffering of the original saga was utterly for nothing, don`t want to repeat that here. :)

    Oh yeah, I will admit, as dark as my stories sometimes can get, the solution to the problems usually really comes down to "the power of friendship". Its incredibly corny I know, but its the kind of story that writing gets me through my own troubles... And its just nice to have a story for once were people from all sorts of different backgrounds and views on the world work together, instead of making an ideological war out of everything...
    And yeah the Quintad certainly feels a bit threatened by some of our heroines rising in influence and power.

    Indeed, we might learn a bit more about our killer in the following chapter, but I don`t want to spoil anything. [face_devil]

    I will say it always bugged me that in Legends we never really learned what happened to Ventress. Like she just disapears... but wouldn`t such a powerfull dark sider leave a trail? So I one day had the random idea of having her show up here. And since didn`t regret it one second. Though I did modify it a bit in writing this Ventress as kind of a mix of her old and new canon selves, like giving her hair again what happened in Dark Disciple. ;)
    And yeah, old Asajj has clamed down a bit in her old age though than again, she is Dathomirian so she might still outlive everyone but Xela, Kinga and maybe Cari. [face_laugh]

    Indeed, its a glimpse in the future, just like my OTP challenge entry... [face_shhh]






    Seven

    "Done scrubbing bedpans?" Xela stepped out, onto the balcony and next to Hilda who was sitting in one of the chairs overlooking the grounds of the manor, and the ocean behind. The was extreme as always on Qaelan, even during the evenings.

    Sitting down on a chair next to Hilda Xela turned towards her.

    "My last day today," Hilda said stretching herself a bit. "While you will remain doing the dishes around here for the rest of your life." She playfully stuck out her tongue at Xela.

    "Maybe I should charge you rent then, when you take my hospitality into account..." the young Falleen shot back.

    "Try it... And get your green butt turned red." Hilda said, but her attempt at keeping her voice aggressive failed and she chuckled. "How was your day?" She instead asked Xela after getting herself back under control.

    "Good," Xela smiled. "Lots of housework, but I`m getting better at it every day... Yours?"

    "I was scrubbing bedpans... how good could it have been?" Hilda laughed. "At least I´m done with that now... so I guess it's back to being a soldier again."

    "So... then I guess its shining your blaster and knives again..." Xela stuck out her tongue but before Hilda could react both were distracted by the howling of engines above.

    Jumping to their feet both women grabbed the light hand blaster they had been carrying along all day since the battle of Qaelan was over. A ship was closing in on them, a star fighter, about the size of an Eriaduan Valkyrie but Xela couldn`t identify it, but it seems Hilda could.... "Get down!" She threw herself at Xela and tackled her to the ground.

    Xela heart began to race as she felt Hilda´s strong arms wrapping around her. That had happened before, during the night were Hilda had held her down and explained every little detail of her life as a teenage pleasure slave to her. Since then a lot had changed, between them and in Xela´s life in general, but in this moment the terror of this night had come back to her... and looking into Hilda´s face hers as well.

    Exchanging a quick glance the two young women left the balcony, down on their hands and feet as to not give too much of a target. Then inside Hilda jumped to her feet and offered her hand to Xela. Xela grabbed it without hesitation and came to her feet.

    "That is a Oran Class assault ship," Hilda explained as they run down the stairs. "Used by the Senex Juvex Sector."

    "You think they are attacking us? That can`t be the chase we are dozens of jumps away." Xela said as they reached the bottom of the stairs.

    "Maybe an assassination attempts, I don`t know..." Hilda was shaking as they ran towards the armory. Xela´s mother had kept quite a lot of weapons there and now the Eriaduan soldiers had added further ones as well.

    Hilda grabbed an anti air launcher and threw it over to Xela who almost dropped it, then she took another one for herself. "Let's give these slavers a warm welcome."

    "I have no idea how to use this thing..." Xela said as they moved towards the entrance of the building, her heart was still beating fast but her mind had cleared and she was ready to at least try something.

    "Point it at them and pull the trigger, it's just a large blaster." Hilda said as they reached the front door. Both women pressing themselves against one wing of the door. For a moment their gazes meet and they exchanged a nod, then they burst out and aimed for their target.

    Xela noticed that none of the guards around the perimeter of the building were firing despite the ship now preparing to land. Had they already been taken out? Xela raised the launcher and took aim, her finger moving towards the trigger.

    "Stop! They are on our side!" A voice yelled over to them and Xela spun around, seeing Elena running towards them waving her arms. She dropped her launcher, as her body started to shake again, yet Hilda reacted a second too late and the shoot was fired.

    Xela spun back around, saw how Hilda´s face had turned dead white as the red haired girl hit both of her hands onto her mouth as the realization off what she had just done kicked in.
    The projectile shot into the sky, the distance to the fighter far too small... The fighter suddenly flipped over to the right, dodging the projectile at the last second so it harmlessly dissipated in Qaelan lower atmosphere.

    Elena run onto the grass, still waving her arms and gesturing the fighter to land.

    "That... that was impossible..." Xela muttered, "no normal pilot could have...."

    "Their pilot ain`t normal..." Asajj Ventress said as she stepped outside of the house and next to them. "She is a Jedi."

    "Jedi in a Senex Juvex fighter?" Hilda asked, still holding the launcher in her hands. "Sure she isn`t a Sith?" She was clearly still torn between the guilt of having almost shot down an ally and the hatred she felt for the Senex Juvex Sector.

    As the fighter landed the three women stepped a bit closer and stayed next to Elena. "I´m sorry..." Hilda muttered. "I thought."

    Before Elena could reply one of the doors of the fighter opened and a human climbed out. He didn`t looked like a Jedi... and hadn`t Ventress said it was a she? The man was about the same age as Elena, had black hair, bronze skin and wore a simple black patterned flight suit.

    "Francesco," Elena approached him with a smile and the two shook hands. "Good to see you are okay."

    "Well the two of us, even if that ain`t the welcome I expected from my old friends." The man said with an accent that Xela had heard before, from some of her mother's business partners. Was that accent of the...? She threw Hilda a glance who looked at the man with suspicion.

    "First I feel a Sith down here and then we get shot at..." another person climbed down from the fighter. She was dressed in a similar flight suit, had pale skin and red hair, much lighter than Hilda´s dark burgundy and more carrot red. Her hair was also shorter than that of her companion and a long scar run over her boyish face.

    "A Nightsister, not a Sith. Jedi." Ventress said with a smile and straightened her short leather dress.

    "Not really a Jedi anymore either," the woman returned the smile.

    Elena stepped between them. "Girls, this is Francesco de Comte, exile of the Senex Juvex Sector. He and I fought on Coruscant together. Just like wife, Eryl de Comte, former racing champion and Jedi." She turned around to the three women behind her, "this is Asajj Ventress who you probably read about in the history books, our generous host Xela Xui and Hilda Jerec... the young woman sadly responsible for this little misunderstanding, she was a former slave of the SJ, so please don`t hold it against her. She wasn`t on duty at the time so I didn`t consider informing her like the guards."

    "I am sorry." Hilda said again.

    "It´s okay," Eryl said with a smile. "Nothing happened... and how could I blame you or Elena for overreacting when it comes to the SJ... better be careful surrounding them."

    "It's the lesson you learn when in the underground railroad..." Francesco said. Then he raised an eyebrow. "The Hilda Jerec?"

    "One and the same." Hilda said relaxing herself a bit. "You... you are with the railroad?"

    "We are," Eryl said, ruffling her husband's hair. "Since after the Vong War."

    "I am sorry, the railroad?" Xela asked, looking from one person to the next.

    "An underground society in the SJ," Francesco explained. "Good people in a evil nation. We try to get slaves out, fight for political change and get information's about the treatment of slaves out to the rest of the galaxy."

    "You didn`t help us." Hilda said, crossing her arms in front of her chest, but her face wasn`t hostile.

    "True," Francesco admitted, "you became a legends in the SJ on your own."

    "They frighten unruly children that Hilda Jerec will come and kill them..." Eryl grinned. "An honor to meet you in person."

    Hilda smiled, "serves them right... but even I won`t target a slavers children. Well almost never..." She gave Xela a spank on her rear.

    Xela squealed in surprise but then she let out a giggle.

    "Still my sister took the fall for you..." Francesco muttered and the laughter died.

    "That was her?" Hilda looked at him again, the grin off her face.

    Xela had heard the story before, Ulrika had helped Hilda and other slaves with their escape plan. Something that had nearly caused a war between the SJ and Eriadu, until a SJ noblewoman had taken the fall for Ulrika and took the blame on herself.

    "Alejandra yeah, she was at the gala that eve." Francesco said and there was sadness in his voice.

    "Then I owe her more than I could ever repay," Hilda said. "But I am not sorry things happened as they did."

    "Oh she neither." Eryl assured her. "Even now..."

    "You said she was arrested?" Elena asked.

    "Yes," Francesco let out a sight, "she had been on house arrest ever since the gala, but after your victory on Qaelan a few months ago she returned to politics. She held several public speeches about the need for a change in our nation, and many listened to her. I think my reputation as a war hero protected her, until two days ago, when they arrested her."

    Eryl let out a disgusted grunt, "joke is, they claim her arrest has nothing to do with her protest. They claim she has been smuggling spice..." She shook her head.

    "Is she save?" Asajj asked, "I wouldn`t trust slavers to keep their captives secure."

    "We think so..." Francesco said. "Thing is, they don`t want a martyr. So she will be save in prison."

    "Then we break her out, I am sure Ulrika can put together a team." Xela said firmly. She didn`t know these people, but had heard their stories from other members of the squad.

    "It's from all of us the former slaver who is the first to ride out to save the fair maiden..." Hilda chuckled. "But count me in as well."

    "Sadly that isn`t an option," Eryl said... "because that´s exactly what they want."

    "If we break out Alejandra they can paint us as murders and terrorists... Yeah." Elena said and Xela could hear the frustration in her voice. "We need to get her out through official means."

    "I would be there with her now, fight for her in court, but I was worried about..." Francesco placed his hand on Eryl´s belly.

    Elena looked from one to the other... "you... you were able to?"

    "Yes..." Eryl smiled. "Took a long trip to Arkania but the Vongs damage was undone, I have a little boy growing inside of me."

    "That are amazing news." Elena smiled. "Yeah Arkania can make dreams reality..." she run a hand over her own skin.

    "Your transition happened there?" Hilda asked.

    "Yes..." Elena smile grew to a grin, "it was so perfect dad would declare the entire species as honorary humans afterwards... Of course that was long before the Vong War."

    "The war improved things there yeah," Eryl said and nodded. "Like in so many other places people of different origins grew together in the common fight for survival. Honestly makes me wish the Vong had reached the SJ..."

    "Maybe that could have helped..." Francesco said slowly. "And yet, I feel no one deserved to suffer through these horrors, not the Arkanians, nor anyone else."

    "True..." Elena muttered. "But those stories can wait for another time. You said you have a plan to free your sister?"

    "Yes... well Eryl has it," Francesco said.

    "We had it together," Eryl smiled. "And we think we can answer the question you have been plagued the last few days... that of your serial killer."

    "You know who it is?" a grin appeared on Hilda´s face.

    "We do," Eryl continued. "Or we are at least almost sure. It's a actually a woman a Clawdite, I don`t know her name but she is known as the Invisible Death..."

    "Wow, someone had no humility when it came to their code name," Xela sniped.

    Asajj let out a sharp breath, "I actually knew a Clawdite assassin, Cato Parasitti, who worked for the CIS during the Clone Wars... not sure if they are the same person but many CIS refugees fled into this part of space after the War was over."

    "A changeling? Guess that makes sense..." Elena said chewing her lip. "I think that´s how all the mercenaries were killed. This assassin took the guise of someone they knew and trusted, maybe even Daecon himself. No one would have expected to be attacked by the own boss out of the blue."

    "This changeling has worked for the SJ before," Francesco said.

    "Actually pulled the trick on us." Eryl grinned. "Bad idea with a Jedi who can sense if you are who you claim to be. But she can fight like hell and so she got away that day..."

    "Hm, with two force users we have an advantage," Elena said. "But more could be helpful. I will contact Darek if he is still around somewhere... and maybe Ilona knows how to contact that Johannes she talked about."

    Darek, the old man Xela had sold to the disguised Eriaduans, just about a year ago, even if it now felt like something that had happened at the dawn of time. He had returned to them, during the battle of Qaelan when he had bribed some of the mercenaries to switch sides. His help was one of the reasons anyone of them was even alive, but his motive and allegiance remained as much as mystery as always. If he returns I will apologize to him...

    "This assassin, if we can capture her," Francesco said. "She would sure gladly sell out her higher ups. We could use her as a bargaining chip to put pressure on our government. Get my sister back and further weaken our governments standing in front of the galactic alliance."

    "But we need to capture her first," Elena said. "We need to contact our force using allies and prepare a trap."

    "This assassin isn`t dumb, she might get suspicious that we are planning something." Eryl reminded them.

    "Indeed, which is why we need to prepare a bait so irresistible she can`t ignore it." Elena continued chewing on her lip. "We need to bring in the greatest hero of this war... I will call Ulrika... I am sure she will be delighted to put her neck on the line again."
     
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  19. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    great planning
     
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  20. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Yay, new chapter!:D Great to see some familiar faces with Eryl and Francesco making a dramatic entrance. ;)

    Hey, The Power of Friendship is one of my favorite tropes -- and I agree. I'll read all kinds of tragedy, and I get that in canon Star Wars politics tends to be all about cautionary tales. But it's really refreshing to have stories that give a more hopeful view of how people can work together to make things better! :) And I think that's one of the things that really appealed to me about the OT in the first place too.

    Off topic, but Ventress with hair will always be humorous to me because then you realize that the only possible explanation is that she's been taking the time to shave her head completely bald in a war zone for years. [face_laugh] And I believe she'd do it too, all for the aesthetic. That or the Dark Side has little-known hairstyling applications.

    :eek: Didn't even know who the pilot was yet, but this had me holding my breath for them and for Hilda's sake! Good thing she friendly-fired at a Jedi pilot who can dodge that kind of thing. [face_relieved]

    It's great to see them together and even about to start a bigger family here! [face_love] And it looks like they've been busy helping their corner of the galaxy, just like Francesco had planned to do, so that's great to see!

    And it sounds like they're finally getting some clues as to who was responsible for the recent murders. Clawdites are one of those film-canon species that we don't really see much, so that's an interesting detail -- I can definitely see how this will be a challenging hunt for everyone even more so with the shapechanging abilities.

    Well, when the invitation is put it that way I'm sure she will jump for joy. :p
     
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  21. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Thanks :)

    Yeah, its time for them to return to our story. :)

    Yeah sometimes they want to be cautionary tales... sometimes they say that dictatures are kinda good, when people like Jagged or Tenel Ka rule them... Its kind of all over the place I feel. But yeah, trying to be more optimistic here and move towards a better future for my characters and the people they interact with.

    I think it was mentioned somewere she cut her hair as a sign of her maturity as a Sith or something... not sure. But yeah I guess she had a barber droid with her at all times. Or it really is the dark side, it does give you a pretty bad dental plan as well... so I guess it also causes baldness. ;)

    Indeed, otherwise Hilda´s PTSD could have caused some serious troubles for them. And for her.

    Of course they did. They promised that to each other after all. Though for me, writing, of course Francesco started out as a freedom fighter in "The Value of Freedom" (the story Hilda also first appeared) and only later did I write his backstory and shipped him with Eryl. [face_laugh]

    That´s true, and even with Zam Wesel, she never really uses her abilities, like she keep the same face when trying to hide at the bar, not even trying to morph into something else... I hope I can do the species justice during the showdown...

    Given it gets her out of the, to her, boring diplomacy work she might actually do exactly that. :D




    Eight

    "My father actually fought in the battle of Endor, with the Rebellion." Ilona said as she leaned forward to further inspect the hologram on the table. "He said that by the time of the battle the quality of Imperial Forces had greatly diminished, and it only got worse from there."

    "Little wonder most modern day media shows them as too incompetent to even hit a target right in front of them," Corvey Adrimetrum chuckled, "but I think it lead to a dangerous precedent of underestimating ones enemy."

    "General Adrimetrum is right," Laric said after a moment of pause, acknowledging Corveys new rank. "But ultimately Ambassador Malek makes the more valid point, the quality of the Imperial Army had been in sharp decline ever since the End of the Clone Wars."

    Elena took a ship from her glass, glad to see the others getting along so well, it made the decision, her decision, easier to bear. In front of them, on the table was a holographic projection of the City Hall of Qaelan, the place they had determined for her meeting with Ulrika and other dignitaries from the Coalition, the place where they would spring their trap for the assassin. But then their conversation had ventured off and become one about the future, their future.

    "Then what do you suggest in our case ladies and gentelmen," she said, wanting to wait with her own opinion until the others had discussed the matter for a while. "How can the armed forces of the Coalition avoid this fate?"

    "Well first off, and this should be obvious, not waste the budget on giant Super weapons." Darek smiled as he run his hand over his short white beard. "Or let some random Force users command the forces."

    "Where you talking about yourself? Or was that going at me?" Asajj gave Darek a dark grin.

    The old man´s smile remained as open as it had been before. "More in general than anything, and the Jedi surely made a similar mistake during the Clone Wars. A mistake you, for sure made them pay... I still remember how much of a target you were for them back then."

    "Just how are you?" Eryl asked, cuddling herself against her husband. "You are obviously a former Jedi, and then methinks you were serving the Empire... but now you seem... I don`t know, you aura is all over the place."

    The old man let out a sigh, "you are right that I served the Empire, and yes, you could have called me a Jedi, even if I somewhat doubt I ever really earned that title..." His gaze became weary for a moment, as if he was watching something only he could see. "Do you know about the Jedi Agri Corps."

    "Hah!" Lissa Freechild laughed, "even as a slave girl I heard of them. That´s where the dumb Jedi go, the ones to incompetent to become knights right?"
    "They are the galaxies joke," Creon muttered as he rolled his eyes, but even he couldn`t help but smile.

    Erly cleared her throat, "they were, in the New Order they did away with the service Corps altogether."

    "That might have been for the better," Darek answered. "But you are right, for a young Jedi there is nothing worse than be send there..."

    "And that´s why you´ve betrayed the order? Well guess there are worse reasons." Asajj grinned.

    Darek shrugged, "it's been a long time ago..."

    By this time in her life Elena had developed enough people skills to feel that there was more to Darek´s story than he lead on, but decided not to press the matter.

    Laric looked from one to the other in the room, "I really can`t help but notice that of the people in this room apparently only Ambassador Malek and myself never betrayed our conspired against our superiors." He said more to himself than anyone else.

    Lissa rose from her seat, "can you blame me or the de Comte´s for what we did?"

    Elena sensed the danger and decided to step in before another fight broke out. "I don`t think that is what the Captain wanted to imply. And as for myself me and Ulrika were spies in the Peace Brigade from day one."

    "I certainly won`t blame a slave from fighting against her masters, especially the depravity of the Iron Alliance. But this exactly the reason why the Galactic Empire fell. Could have better trained soldiers have helped? For sure, same with a better use of the budget. But the ultimate reason for the Empire´s demise was treason and internal squabbles. The second the Emperor died his Empire fell apart. The remaining Fleet could have still won the battle of Endor if they just had stayed together and fought the Rebels, how they still massively outnumbered."

    " They had one of the strongest fleets the galaxy ever saw, against a battered Rebellion." Ilona agreed. "My dad said he fully expected to die there, even after the Death Star was gone. But then the ranks of the Imperials broke and more and more ships left the battle."

    "We saw the same in the Southwest," Elena said, looking up again. "Kentor Sarne barely managed to hold onto the colonies, as his force fell apart."

    "Wasn`t an easy fight," Corvey reminded her. "We lost many good people in that struggle." She let out a sigh, "still, if you had told me in those days I would one day consider the Imperials my allies... I would have probably killed you." She ran a hand through her brown bob cut.

    "A common enemy brings people together..." Ilona muttered, "a shame it needed the Iron Alliance for the people of the Southwest to stand together. But we interrupted you Captain," she gave Laric a nod, "carry on."

    Laric returned her nod, "yes Sarne fell quickly, and yet the Regent was able to hold onto what remained of the colonies to this day... and we have seen how superior the ORSF is was to the Forces of the Iron Alliance. And that didn`t just came from the better equipment and training, but from their convictions. A soldier fighting for something he or she believes in will defeat the one who only fights for themselves or out of fear."

    "That makes me think of the Clones," Asajj intertwined. "The ones of the Republic... they had all been raised like that... being ready to die for the republic. Complete loyalty."

    "They were slave soldiers!" Corvey said, her voice getting cold. "What was done to them, and with them... that should never be repeated again in!"

    "I was actually trained by a clone," Laric explained. "One of the very last Jango Fett Clones in the galaxy. Best soldier I´ve ever seen. That dedication, that faith in what he fought for. He was the perfect soldier. If the Coalition had an army of them our borders would be save."

    "No!" Corvey´s voice became heated. "We don`t need brainwashed war slaves. You are right captain that soldiers need to believe in something, but they need to come to that conclusion by themselves not forced into it by brutal training and mental conditioning."

    "Whether or not that would be a good thing is academic." Creon said after some deliberation. "But I feel that the answer to our problem lies somewhere else entirely." He made a pause. "Why should we risk the lives of our soldiers, of our brothers and sisters in wars when technology can shoulder that burden as well. The CIS showed that large amounts of battle droids can be a nearly unstoppable force." He made another pause as he recognized several skeptical glances thrown in his direction. Raising his hands he continued. "I am not saying we should stop using organic forces altogether, but if we form the bulk of our military around droids we can then keep a small elite force to be used in tight spots."

    "Yeah and who holds the leash of these droids?" Lissa asked, throwing her hands up. "Droids or Clones. If those forces exist, their commander would have far too much power. Has no one here learned of what happened with the Republic? Can we entrust a single person that much power again?"

    "If it's the right person." Laric said firmly.

    "And I suspect you would suggest yourself?" Corvey shot at him.

    Laric shook his head. "No, I am a soldier. It´s my duty to serve, not to lead. And I was never school in statecraft. It would need to be a qualified person someone like the Regent, or even Ambassador Malek here. A person with the knowledge and wisdom to wield that power for the betterment of society."

    "A wise dictator?" Ilona crossed her arms in front of her chest. Her face having turned white at Laric´s suggestion. She took a deep breath, "I am honored that you have this much faith in me Captain. But no, that is far too much power for one person." She made a pause. "I was once offered a similar power before... during the Second Galactic Civil War, when several nobles wanted to make me the Speaker of Eriadu... and I declined as well, I wanted to stay with my squad, and my brother."

    "That loyalty makes you even more valid," Laric assured her. "I am not suggesting creating an all powerful dictator. But an autocrat ruling via rational conduct..." he made a pause. "Democracy is a nice idea on paper... but how many Trillions died because of it? How many deaths did the politics of the New Republic in the face of the Vong War cause? How many lives could have been saved with a proper and clear response to the secession of Corellia?"

    "And how many did the Empire kill?" Corvey had jumped to her feet. "And the blood of Trillions is on the Vong. If you say that giving up our freedom for security is a just trade then I would rather die than to be protected by a dictator in the same vein as those who killed my father and sister."

    Ilona took another deep breath, "no, this can`t be our way Captain. I gladly serve my people, and would even lead them. But only if they choose me, in fair and open elections. And if they had the right to complain about my actions and vote me out of office if I mess up."

    Florianne, who had so far kept quiet gave Ilona smile, "I might one day take you up on that offer ambassador. Yet Captain Laric comes from a valid point. We are in a dangerous situation and sometimes decisions need to be made quickly and we need to people who go ahead. If Ambassador Malek and Admiral Caer hadn`t taken the lead than Eriadu would probably still ignore the Iron Alliance."
    "Harsh words, but undoubtedly true." Elena said. "My suggestion is that we for now work on the Council Administrator Torin proposed, but not as advisors to a dictator, but rather a provisional government. Then in the midterm we will begin organizing elections, first on planet level, than for the Coalition as a whole. But I suggest we retain the council even after that, for times of crisis, so that even then the power won`t rest in the hands of a single person but a smaller group who can make decisions quickly."

    "An interesting proposal General," Laric said slowly.

    "Agreeable for sure," Corvey nodded slowly, "at least if this council is assembled from all factions within the Southwest."

    "Maybe they should nominate each other," Francesco offered, chewing on his lip. "So that no world can decide who they would send."

    "These questions can be discussed at a later date, and probably by people who understand more of politics than the majority of us..." Elena said. "We are soldiers. And when it comes to the military my suggestion would be that every planet builds up its own military, though with cooperation between them of course. And that we expand the ORSF to accept recruits from all member worlds, and raise its budget which would include payments from members."

    "Sounds reasonable," Creon nodded, "that said I would still suggest using droids in the defense of individual worlds."

    "That would be for the worlds themselves to decide." Ilona suggested. "Your idea of the ORSF expansion reminds me of Ranulph Tarkin´s plans."

    "Plans cut short at Troiken yeah," Elena said. "The name Outland Regions Security Force always implied they would stand for the people outer rim, and not just Eriadu, maybe it's time to live up to that name." She bit her lip as she thought back to her decision and now she saw an opening and stood up. "To make a first step in that direction, I would suggest we incorporate the Forces of Captain Laric and General Adrimetrum into the ORSF. They are amongst the Coalitions finest and most well known forces, so they are prime candidates and it would streamline the occupation force here on Qaelan."

    For a moment nobody said a word, everyone just looked at Elena.

    Then Corvey said, "I see your logic here General, and I think a step like this is important. Even if I see many questions coming up regarding things like payment and service years amongst others."

    Laric nodded, "I accept your offer General, and will integrate my forces into the ORSF, if the Regent approves of course. But it is a large step."

    "It is... but I´ve talked about it with Admiral Caer and he approves of it as well. The details can be worked out at a later date... but..." Elena bit her lip again. "This isn`t everything. I will be stepping down as military governor of Qaelan soon.... as well as from my rank of Brigadier General. When Ulrika arrives here tomorrow I will return to her side. To be her second again."
     
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  22. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Great discussion about power and how to defend
     
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  23. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Thanks :)


    Nine

    "So, were your travels successful?" Ilona asked Johannes as the slowly walked through the rotunda of the City hall of Qaelan. Unlike most other buildings in the city, this one wasn`t inspired by the usual simple and functional imperial style... instead build with bright sandstone instead of the usual dark ferrocrete. Its roof being a large dome with a green metal overcoat, something that reminded Ilona of pictures she had seen of buildings on Naboo. The Iron Alliance had rarely used the building, but now, tonight, it was bristling with people various VIPs from all over the Coalition... here to trap an assassin.

    "They were," the old man said. "At least as successful as they can be in these troubled days." He made a pause. "That diplomats passport you organized was surely helpful." He gave her a smile.

    "Oh no problem, being a senators daughter who is now in the ambassador business as well it wasn`t too hard to get one..." she lowered her voice, "and being married to the brother of the most influential noble of our world also helps." She sometimes felt bad for the opportunities her close proximity to the Redan family allowed her, but she also knew that if she wanted to achieve anything in the muddy waters of Eriaduan politics she needed every ally she could get.

    Johannes nodded, "I found my dad´s grave. It´s still cared for to this day. He has become a hero on his planet... alongside my mother." Tears filled the old man´s eyes. "They build a statue for her there, and didn`t even let the Empire tear it down..." He pulled out his datapad and handed it to Ilona.

    Looking at it she barely recognized the duchess in the image of the young woman in a Jedi robe, holding up a lightsaber with a protective gesture. In her eyes nothing but a brave determination to face whatever threatened her. "I am sorry." Ilona muttered, she had heard Dorothea Nays tragic back-story from Johannes that night, but seeing this statue, a remembrance of the heroine she had been, it only made her fall even more sad.

    "Sometimes..." Johannes said slowly, "I wonder what would have been if she had never gotten pregnant with me. She would have remained a Jedi, a heroine, she would have never come to Curean, never found those texts... never become the duchess."

    Ilona shook her head, "it's pointless to wonder about what could have been. And even more to blame yourself for her decisions."

    "I know," Johannes agreed. "Still... I wish things would have gone better." He made another pause. "I see her in my dreams now and then."

    "You do?" Ilona asked, she saw her mother in her dreams sometimes though had never thought much about that. But Johannes was a force user, maybe things were different for him.

    "I see her as a servant," the old man said. "Wearing an outfit like her maids used to. But now she served them, and her other victims, helping their souls to heal from the wounds she caused them.

    Nursing their burns and apologizing for the pains she caused..." He smiled sadly, "probably just a silly fantasy... but I still hope she can find some sort of redemption for her deeds, to find peace, eventually."

    "Guess you are talking to the wrong person in that regard..." Ilona chuckled as she looked across the hall towards Asajj Ventress who was talking to General Altuin and Admiral Caer. But then she remembered the eve with Gaven and Nev a couple of months ago on Eriadu and what they had told her about Jacen Solo. "I think if there still was something good inside of her she deserves that chance to atone... whether in this life or in the next." She gave Johannes a smile, "after all, Emperor Palpatine she was not."

    "I don`t think anyone was ever like him," a polite voice said behind them and Ilona turned around, seeing the Regent walking towards them. The old man gave them a polite nod, "it was actually here, in this very hall that I saw him for the last time. When he bestowed me with the governorship for the Colonial Territories."

    Ilona returned the nod, "so this is why the Laric and others consider you his legitimate successor?" To her, this sheer dedication to a ruler was frightening, and even if the Regent was on their side it wasn`t something she considered a good thing.

    "Amongst others... but it's mostly because of my name." The Regent said sadly. "As far as I know, I am Cosinga Palpatines rightful heir, it's in my blood whether I want it or not."

    "You... you are a Palpatine?" Johannes asked. Staring at the Old Man in his Imperial Dress Uniform.

    "Wait?" Ilona took a step closer to the regent as she raised her hands. "Maximilian Palpatine?" She closed her eyes for a moment to think back. It wasn`t a well known name, as most of the galaxy was concerned the Emperor had no known family. But she had read about him...

    The Regent nodded, "I am Cosingas Cousin, even if I barely ever saw him during my life."

    "I though he... you were dead," Ilona said, now that the information's returned to her. "Yeah you were declared ruler of the Imperial Colonial Territories, but then died during the fall."

    "So that´s what the history books write," the Regent said... "Well maybe it is better this way."

    "I think we all know the history books will never be able to speak the full truth..." Cassandra Torin approached them, followed by Hilda who smiled happier than Ilona had seen her in a long time.

    "Right..." Ilona smiled, "you where never a traitor but feed the Iron Alliance false information's from the start." She gave Cassandra a warm look, having forgiven the young woman for her mistake.

    Hilda´s eyes widened for a moment, and a brief expression of panic went over her face. Then she looked at Cass. "You did what?"

    "I was in a bad place, though for a while that I had warned Keran Sarne..." Cassandra said, looking worried.

    Hilda grinned, "I see, nothing too bad then. Got the old bugger after all."

    Cassandra smiled weakly, then she gave the regent a polite nod. "Sir, meet Hilda Jerec, heroine of the Southwest and bane of the Iron Alliance and the Senex Juvex alike."

    The Regent smiled. "A pleasure my lady we heard the stories of your exploits even all here in our enclaves."

    "You two know each other?" Ilona asked curiously. A bit overwhelmed by all the new information's she had been given in the last few moments.

    "We were friends as girls," Cassandra was beaming. "For all those years I feared Hilda had died, but she has survived. I´ve got my best friend back."

    "Yeah... me too." Hilda said weakly. "We just met again... we should..."

    In this moment the entire hall fell in darkness. All the lights went of and nothing but pitch darkness flooded the room. In the next moment, four lightsabers cut through the hall. As Johannes, Darek, Eryl and Asajj all activated their blades. Some people screamed, and Ilona saw how some moved towards the exits. This wasn`t good, this wasn`t good at all.

    In the next second the sprinklers exploded, covering the entire hall with water, spraying it all over the place. The cascade hitting the lightsaber and extinguishing them in seconds. Ilona remembered having read about the existence of certain water proof sabers but it seemed none of her friends had been blessed with... A shot rang through the hall, then another, and another, flashing lights of blaster fire and screams filled the place. And only got worse them the ones who had run to the exits found them locked. The heavy security doors unable to open without power.

    "Sniper!" Ilona yelled, "Take cover!" She was as loud as she could but the water swallowed her words. She heard how others screamed as well. Thinking quickly she took hold of the Regent´s arm and pushed him towards one of the tables, "down there. We can take care of this!" Spinning around she looked out for Johannes... and screamed in horror as she saw him stumbling towards her, blood running from a deep cut across his throat. She saw how he tried to form words with his mouth but the cut was too deep and her friend broke too his knees.

    A slash wound, the sniper wasn`t the only killer here... there must have been. She saw how Hilda moved towards Cassandra who clutched a blaster wound in her knee. Hilda who had finally found her best friend again... who had so eagerly forgiven Cassandra for... warning Keran Sarne....

    "It's her!" She screamed as she threw herself at 'Hilda'. Or whoever had taken the guise of her friend... a friend who had lost her crew to Sarne´s forces, who would have never brushed off the issue as easily. Ilona knew that Hilda knew everything about their plans. She was their friend, a member of their squad, she knew everything about the security.

    Throwing herself at the imposter saved Cassandra´s live at the very last second from the knife that would have cut her throat as well. But the killer clearly knew the weapon. "Cassandra, help!" She screamed with Hilda´s voice, clearly hoping to use the confusion and darkness to present herself as the victim.

    Ilona screamed as the blade cut into her arm, and while she and the killer went to the ground she saw for a brief second a figure trying to climb up the wall of the rotunda. She believed it to be Asajj but then she saw how the former Sith was pulled off the wall and thrown to the ground of again... as if whoever this sniper was had force abilities.

    The distraction allowed the killer to make another slash across Ilona´s stomach, she felt the pain, but the cut wasn`t deep and in this moment rage and anger drover her on, she grabbed the killers hand and twisted it, causing her to drop the knife. Then began strangling her attacker. Ilona pressed harder and harder on the fake Hilda´s throat, she saw how fear filled the eyes of the imposter, how she tried to find her knife... how...

    A boot hit her against the head and she fell over... Cassandra had kicked her, but as Ilona rolled onto her back and revealed her heavily bleed stomach wound an expression of guilt, filled her face.
    "It's her!" Ilona screamed again, her pain exploding with each drop of sprinkling water hitting the cut in her belly. She was overwhelmed with fear, no, please goddess no. Not him... not him... let me die... but not. Her eyes darting madly through the hall caught a glimpse of Eryl who used the force to throw a chair up at the approximate location of the sniper, but again something threw it off balance. Ilona screamed and screamed, her world becoming blurry but she saw how the killer approached Cass.

    "Thanks, she must be the imposter she is..." The fake Hilda never finished her sentence, as Cassandra drove the knife deep into her throat.

    "That is for Hilda you monster!" Cassandra screamed as the killer broke then, with blood all over her body. Then she turned back to Ilona, "I am sorry I need to get you off of her to get within range."
    Shots still rang through the hall but Ilona felt at least relieved that one of the killers was death with, yet looking across, at Johannes´s lifeless body made the pain even worse. But in this moment her fear was focused on something else... someone else. "Help me!" She yelled at Cassandra. "Help me save my baby!" She had only made the test about a week ago, and only yesterday she had visited Dannika to have her do a first inspection, an inspection that had revealed she would have a boy... She would have a boy... if the cut across her stomach hadn`t...

    In the next moment the lights returned, and the sprinkling stopped, looking across the room Ilona several lifeless bodies... and up, near the top of the Rotunda was a small balcony, someone was sitting there, a pale woman, bald but with a top knot, wearing a red jumpsuit and wielding a sniper rifle. Ilona saw how she got up aiming her rifle through the hall... finding Cassandra who was one of the few people still standing. Despite the distance Ilona could almost see the killer´s grin as she prepared another....

    The shot was never fired. Instead the Sniper tumbled against the small railing of the balcony, it creaked, broke and the woman fell, headfirst down onto the marble floor of the hall. Ilona didn`t see the impact but the sound told her all she needed to know.

    Up there, on the balcony stood, clad only in her underwear the real Hilda Jerec, "Never try tying up a former slave girl." She pressed through her teeth as she overlooked the carnage in the hall. It was the last thing Ilona heard before blacking out...
     
  24. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 21, 2006
    exciting action with known names appearing like Palpatine and Jerec
     
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  25. Mira Grau

    Mira Grau Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    True, though Hilda has no relation to that particular dark jedi... that I know of at least. ;)



    Ten

    "Your child will be okay," Dannika said with a smile as she continued moving the ultrasonic device over Ilona´s bare belly. The wound had been patched up with bacta, she was laying on one of the beds in the city halls sickbay where she had been brought after blacking out.

    "Thank the goddess." Ilona muttered. "And thanks Tobin wasn`t here tonight."

    "Yeah thanks for that." Ulrika said, sitting at her friends bedside. The eve had brought a terrible cost. Johannes was dead his throat cut through to the bone, the Sniper had killed General Altuin and several further soldiers and guests. Kaiya Adrimetrum was currently fighting for her life in the hospital, Darek, who had been the Snipers first victim would make it, same for Asajj even if most of her backbones had been broken by being smashed onto the floor of the hall.

    Both killers were dead too. The changeling stabbed by Cassandra, the Sniper from her fall after Hilda had pushed her.

    "If I had just noticed something was off about that Hilda..." Ilona said... "Then Johannes would still be alive... maybe, with his help we could have saved even more people from the Sniper."
    "Ilona, never think about what could have been." Ulrika said firmly. "The killer might have stabbed you in the belly in that case, killing you and your child." She wouldn`t let her friend blame herself for that. Nothing good would come from this.

    "You know what´s funny? I said the same thing to him just before..." Ilona shook her head. "Stars, he was a good man."

    "You said he was old? Like very old?" Ulrika asked, thinking back to her own meeting with Johannes about two years ago.

    "About 200 I think..." Ilona said... "Lived more than 100 of those with his mom." A smile appeared on her face. "He is now helping her find peace in the afterlife." She said firmly. "We need to bury his body on Curean."

    "Of course," Ulrika smiled, glad Ilona was feeling a bit better again.

    "I need to check on other patients," Dannika said as she stood up. "Best still stay in bed for a while ambassador, let the bacta do its due."

    "I will... thanks doc." Ilona gave her a smile.

    "You have visitors it seems." Dannika said with a grin as she left and Cassandra and Hilda entered, Xela followed them, her head lowered as if she was unsure if she should be here.

    Hilda now wore a simple tunic but Ulrika could still see the marks of cuffs on her hands and feet.

    "Hilda, what happened? When did they?" She asked, worried about the answer.

    "About 24 hours ago..." Hilda lowered her head, "after Eryl and Francesco arrived. But that was her at the last strategy meeting..."

    "Her?" Ilona asked.

    "I think a her, might have been a he..." Hilda muttered... "Came to me in the guise of Daecon, that seemed to be their favorite... Said he had important information's... I was should have known better..."

    "Daecon is dead, well the real one..." Ulrika said. "Elena said they found his body a few hours ago in the ship of the assassins. Wonder when they switched him."

    "I suspect soon after we found his dead crew, if not earlier..." Ilona mused. Then she looked at Hilda, "any idea why they kept you alive?"

    "Yes... the same reason they picked me as the assassins disguise... they hate me far more than any of you. They wanted me alive too..." She stopped talking but that didn`t matter, everyone knew what she meant.

    "Sick bastards..." Xela cursed, then lowered her eyes. "Not that I was better..."

    "But you aren`t anymore." Hilda said, her gaze softening a bit. "You are now one of us."

    "Yes..." Xela´s face turned red, giving away how emotional this made the young Falleen. "How did you escape your cuffs?"

    "Any slave learns that... when she wants to be free," Hilda said. "And later I improved my skills. Getting out of the cell on their ship was easy as well... didn`t even take time to get dressed or anything. They had blocked the com net with scrap code so the only thing I could do was take one of the speeder bikes from the ship and rush towards you... You can imagine the trouble I had alarming the guards..." She shook her head.

    "Thanks the stars I was there, to help with the food," Xela said, "So I could confirm Hilda´s identity to the guards... The assassins had killed the ones in the security center when they cut the power. So we re enabled it and Hilda rushed to stop the sniper."

    "You probably saved all of our lives... in your underwear..." Ulrika chuckled as she looked at Hilda.

    "If you had taken a second to get dressed I would be dead," Cassandra smiled. Then she became serious again, "you saved all of our lives..."

    "Ulrika saved mine years ago, so I guess we can consider it even... If I hadn`t just been so foolish to fall for the false Daecon..." Hilda said. "But after nearly getting Eryl and Francesco killed I was so focused on getting something right."

    "We all made mistakes..." Cassandra lowered her eyes. "I just wished we had seen each other again for real the first time. Not me meeting that imposter."

    "We will make up for that Cassie. Guess after tonight we should just forgive and forget..." Hilda said slowly. "What happened with my crew... I know you aren`t at fault but it will take time."

    Cassandra nodded. "We will, I´m just so sorry..."

    A polite knock at the door made them turn around and Elena entered, an arm in a sling where she had been hit by the sniper. Though despite her wound she had decided to do what she could to help restore order to Qaelan after the attack.

    Ulrika quickly got up from her chair so her betrothed could sit down.

    "My finale eve as military governor and everything goes to hell..." Elena shook her head, giving away how tired she was. Then she looked up at the others. "The SJ bastards have really spared no expense. The Changeling is now confirmed to be the Invisible Death, and the Sniper..." she made a pause. "Aurra Sing... her record alone is insane."

    "I heard rumors of her..." Xela said. "They say she used to be a Jedi..."

    "She did use Force Powers..." Ilona nodded, "I´ve seen her keeping Eryl and Asajj in check with them. Should have at least considered the possibility of a second assassin... We made many mistakes tonight."

    "We weren`t prepared..." Cass muttered, "just a few months ago we were nobodies on a galactic scale... guess this was our entry into adult life... we can`t just rely on ourselves to be save anymore."
    "We are in the big game..." Ilona said with a nod.

    "Which is why we need to be prepared better," Ulrika said, it was time to let the others know. "Admiral Caer and I discussed this before, the Coalition needs a special force, for moments like this, to hunt down assassins, to fight the hardest battles. And after tonight I have little doubt our allies will disagree..." She made a pause. "And he has chosen me, and Ellie here to form it."

    "A good choice I must say," Ilona grinned. "That cloak and dagger kind of war has always been yours."

    "We will see to integrate veterans from all our forces," Elena said. "It will be a common initiative. I just wish... no I can`t do that. It's impossible. We lamented the past more than enough... Its time to look towards the future."

    "Yes," Ilona muttered, running her hand over her belly. "The future awaits us."
     
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