Star Wars: Through the Never

2 years prior to The Force Awakens...
A persistent and interactive galaxy set shortly before the events of Episode VII

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VagueDurin
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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

*B Concourse, main corridor- 1655:36 Local Standard Time*

"All stations this is One. Report your location and status, Over." Vague's voice came over the comm unit.

Rossi glanced over at Slackjaw. They still hadn't found Two, but they were making decent progress along their pre-planned emergency exfil path. "Three and Four are green, en route to Dead Rebels."

"You didn't mention-"

"SJ, I know I didn't mention him. What am I supposed to say?!" Rossi snapped at the droid. "Hey boss, not sure where your number two is, we haven't seen or heard form him since this whole thing started! But we figured no one needed to be bothered with that information so we kept it to ourselves till now. Doesn't have the best ring to it, ya know?"

Slackjaw's photo-receptors blinked then he turned his attention back to the corridor in front of him. "Fair point. What are we going to do about it?" He asked.

His question wasn't likely to be answered, as once they turned the corner they discovered a pair of fully armored and armed First Order Raiders blocking thier path. Between the two troopers, a very familiar looking forger with long blond hair.

Rossi frowned at the sight, then watched as Ansel leaned towards one of the two troopers and said something. The next moment, the Raiders had brought their weapons up to bear. The Kessurian didn't wait for them to shoot first, instead, she squeezed down on the trigger of Orev's EE-4 carbine and moved for the left side of the corridor while Slackjaw did the same to the right.

"Three and Four engaged with First Order troopers on B Concourse, near the Gala. Eight is with them." She called out over the comm.

"Three, Four, this is Two. Stay where you are, I'm moving to you." they heard over the comm. Rossi let out a sigh of relief at hearing Orev's voice, but where in the frell had he been?

"Understood." She replied, leaning out of cover to squeeze off another couple blasts at the troopers. "Hurry." She added.

*D Concourse, side corridor- 1657:36 Local Standard Time*

Vague scouted out the next intersection, then waved for the trio behind him to close the gap. He'd just heard over the comms that Rossi and Slackjaw were under fire by the First Order, and that Orev was on his way to help. Vague wasn't too sure by Rossi's tone - the comm device he'd patched up carried with it some interference - but Ansel was at least accounted for. What he was doing there and why he wasn't answering his comm was another story. Tsiv and Nova were with him... That left, Lyshani, Raav, and Masilda yet to check in. So far, he'd heard nothing.

Something wasn't right. He hadn't heard any chatter on the stolen comm he'd picked up from one of the operatives that led him to believe they'd killed or captured any of his crew. Given what Rossi just reported, he had to assume that both Saber and Dagger team were First Order troopers. If they were here and they'd been moving in on the casino... The kids. he suddenly realized, looking back towards where Nova was bringing up the rear of their group. Someone must've sold them out for the bounty. Or someone's he thought ominously. It would appear that at least Ansel was in on it. The silence from the rest of the crew likely meant that they were either in league with the forger, or that maybe he'd taken them out.

"What a mess." Vague muttered to himself, watching Micaiah help Tsivoin down the corridor.

Micaiah's body was trembling so hard the Zabrak could feel it. He leaned on her for support but between his weight and her shakes they weren't moving very fast. Nova kept a close eye on them from behind, though she seemed mostly concerned with Tsivoin. The young Zabrak was in bad shape. She appreciated the gesture of him trying to help her out but she sincerely wished he hadn't done that. When Vague gave them the all clear he crossed to the other side of the intersection and waited for Micaiah and Tsiv. The young Sylarian hefted Tsiv on her shoulder and quickly crossed the threshold, she got about halfway before a concussion grenade landed on the floor between them. Reacting Swiftly Micaiah used as much strength as she could muster to push Tsivoin into Vague's waiting arms. Then she used that force to launch herself backward in the other direction. Vague caught the Zabrak and quickly dove out of the way. Meanwhile, the blast had picked up Micaiah and thrown her back the way she had come. Fortunately, she'd managed to miss the worst of it. Her injuries were minor, but had she not reacted so quickly it could have been a lot worse.

Nova already had her gun out and was leaning up against the wall, blasting down a side corridor. Several blaster bolts suddenly burned their way into the bulkhead right above her head from the other direction and she quickly ducked back after realizing they were surrounded. With Dagger between them and Vague they were effectively cut off.

"Take Tsivoin back to the ship," Nova shouted over the din of the combat, "We'll find another way!"

Vague had tucked the Zabrak between his hip and the bulkhead and was leaning around the corner to spray a few bolts in the direction of their attackers. When he heard Nova shout he turned to look back in that direction. The captain grimaced. The last thing he wanted to do right now was divide their forces. Micaiah may be more than what met the eye... but she was no soldier and Tsivoin for what little training Vague and his team had been able to give him was out of commission due to the attack he'd endured by the Lasat.

Before he could try and come up with an alternative strategy, though, he saw one of the plain clothed operatives from earlier appear in the corridor behind Nova and Micaiah. "Shavvit." He cursed, shouldering the carbine he quickly aimed down the sights and burned a pair of holes into the females chest. The other one, who had appeared to be their leader, appeared next and Vague had just enough time to clip the man with a blast before his attention was pulled back to the armored troopers closing in on him and the Zabrak. "We'll see you there." He shouted to Nova before setting about defending his own position.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Nova nodded then ran over and grabbed the Sylarian by the arm. The other woman was still trying to get to her feet when Nova tugged her forward back the way they had come. The plain-clothed officer tried to lean out and fire a shot off at them but Nova forced his head back by blasting the wall he'd be using as cover. Then she and Micaiah quickly ducked down a side passageway they had passed earlier. Seeing that they were getting away the officer tried one more time only to be forced back into cover again by Vague. Nova had idea where she was going, only a vague notion of the direction they needed to head in. The ship was so large, though, that there were any number of ways to get there. With Dagger behind them she didn't put much worry into running into any more trouble and ran as fast as she could while pulling Micaiah. They had taken so many twists and turns that eventually even the Sylarian wasn't even sure where they were.

They had just passed a marker on the wall that said Concourse C and Nova remembered that Masilda had her ship stationed here. Maybe they didn't have to make it all the way back to the Bedlam after all. "One, this is Five. We're on Concourse C and heading towards Ten's...," she stopped suddenly as she came to a screeching halt. They'd just turned a corner and very nearly ran headlong into Lyshani, Raav and Masilda.

"What the hell are you doing here," she asked them...

**********

Every part of this plan had been meticulously planned out. Lyshani knew that because she'd worked with Vague before. So how could everything have gone so wrong? There was a sound behind her and she turned to face it. Raav and Masilda had just turned the corner and were heading in her direction. "Good," she said, "I was starting to worry. Do you have the Oracle?"

Masilda nodded glumly and Lyshani allowed herself a smile. "Then give it to me."

The Ryn unwrapped the Oracle from her bag and presented it to the Zeltron. Lyshani stared at it a moment then frowned. "Cute," she said, "Now where's the real one?"

Masilda grimaced. She had switched the two while she was still in the vent above the vault. A part of her hoped Lyshani wouldn't be able to tell the difference, but the woman was a might shrewder than she expected. With a sigh she set the fake Oracle down then reached up behind her and fished the real Oracle out from where she had stored it. Lyshani snapped her fingers at Raav and the Zabrak quickly handed her a dufflebag. She stuffed the Oracle into it then threw the bag over her shoulder.

"Alright," she began, turning to look at Masilda, "Ansel's meeting me at my ship so we're taking yours. You try to pull another stunt again, however...," she left the rest hanging in the air.

The Ryn simply nodded and as she reached down to pick up the fake Oracle two people suddenly came careening out of a side hallway and nearly ran into them. Masilda allowed herself a sigh of relief when she looked up and saw Nova alive and well.

"What the hell are you doing here," the Jedi asked them, "This isn't part of our exfil plan."

Lyshani shared a glance with Raav, a look of genuine surprise on her face. Somehow, against all odds things appeared to work out. She gave a slight nod towards Nova and Raav began snaking his way around the two girls. "We were cut off," she said finally, turning back to look at Nova, "Those Dagger guys Vague warned us about prevented us from reaching the rendezvous."

"But how--," Nova started when Micaiah tugged on her sleeve and pointed at the Oracle at Masilda's feet. The Jedi stared at it in disbelief then looked up at the Ryn with a pained expression on her face. "You had it this whole time and you never said anything," she said, her tone a mixture of ire and grief. "You were going to let me die!"

"Nova, no--," Masilda tried to say but Lyshani cut her off.

"Forget it, Raav do it now," she ordered.

Somehow the Zabrak had managed to shift around behind her and when he reached for a stun baton Nova felt a flash of warning in the back of her mind. With surprising quickness she spun around, lightsaber in hand and in an instant the blade lit up and cut the stun baton in half. Then she pointed the tip of her weapon at Raav while drawing her blaster and leveling it at Lyshani.

"Give us the Oracle," Nova ordered them. "Now!"

Lyshani placed a hand on her forehead and silently shook her head. The Zabrak had one job and he couldn't even do that. "Relax, Nova, darling. We're all friends here," she tried to say in an attempt to ease the tension.

Nova just about had enough. "Shut the hell up," she shouted, "You had your chance to be my friend and you made your decision!"

"We're still your friend," Lyshani lied to her. She shifted her body just a little bit closer to the Jedi and tried to hit her with a powerful blast of pheromones. "Now come on, stop this foolishness and put down your weapons."

Nova smelled that familiar scent from before and could feel her knees beginning to buckle. Beside her Micaiah appeared to be awestruck by the Zeltron, completely unable to take her eyes off the woman. Both girls stood by and did nothing as Lyshani closed the distance between them. She was now almost within arm's reach of the young Jedi and she reached out to place a hand on Nova's cheek.

"Come with us back to Masilda's ship," she told her, "Forget about Vague and the others. I can provide you with so much more."

Nova felt Lyshani's fingertips brush against her cheek and for a moment she actually considered the Zeltron's offer. She lowered both her arms just slightly, allowing Raav a bit of breathing room. The Zabrak quickly breathed a sigh of relief now that he no longer had the tip of Nova's lightsaber just inches from his face. Then somewhere in the distance the ringing of klaxons snapped Nova back to reality and she fired a bolt into the bulkhead past Lyshani's head. "No, stop," she snapped, "back away now!"

She fired again and Lyshani obediently stepped backward to increase the distance between them. Then she shifted her gaze to Masilda and that pained look was back in her eyes. "Give the Oracle to Micaiah," she said, "Now, Masilda."

"Nova, I--," the Ryn started with a guilty look in her eyes.

Nova fired a third shot into the bulkhead, interrupting her. "I don't want to hear it," she hissed, "I trusted you and you abandoned me. I thought we were friends, but I was right about you from the start. Now give the damned Oracle to Micaiah!"

Masilda hesitated, glancing between her and Lyshani. When she locked eyes with the Zeltron the other woman nodded. With a sigh she reached down and picked up the fake Oracle at her feet. Then she slowly walked over to Micaiah and held it out towards the Sylarian. Before Micaiah could reach out and take it, however, a red lightsaber suddenly punctured the door behind Nova. The young Jedi stared down in disbelief at the red blade protruding from her abdomen. Then, just as quickly as it had appeared, the blade withdrew through the door and Nova immediately collapsed into a heap.

"Nova!"

"Elena!"

Both Masilda and Micaiah cried at the same time. Raav and Lyshani, however, had already begun to turn tail and flee. Meanwhile Micaiah was bent over Nova trying to do whatever she could for the young woman while Masilda watched helplessly. Just then the door was thrown inward off its hinges and a massive Lasat stepped into the opening. He took one look at the situation and immediately noticed the Ryn holding the Oracle. He lunged forward to grab it but Masilda instinctively jumped out of the way.

"Run," Micaiah shouted at her and the Ryn obediently turned and sprinted off in the other direction with the Lasat hot on her heels.

The Sylarian turned to look back at Nova. She was still alive but badly wounded. She needed to do something quick, but she wouldn't be able to carry the Jedi by herself. She reached down and gingerly took the com device out from Nova's ear before inserting it into her own. "Um," she began in an uncertain tone, "I don't know if anyone is listening, but we need help. We're on Concourse C near the hangar, Elena's been hurt bad. Quentin, if you're there please hurry!"

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

*B Concourse, main corridor- 1658:08 Local Standard Time*

A trio of particularly well placed blaster shots drove Rossi back into cover. The Kessurian spared a glance across the corridor and saw in dismay that SlackJaw wasn't having much better luck. Whoever these troopers belonged to, they were certainly better trained than the rank and file stormies they'd tangled with in the past. She'd just leaned out to take aim for another shot when a dark blur dropped down from the ceiling like a wraith, then coalesced into a dark haired woman armed with a nasty looking vibro-blade.

By the time Rossi got over her surprise, the newcomer had already swept one trooper off their feet and incapacitated Ansel. Rossi glanced away as the woman drove the blade into the vulnerable neck-seal of the other trooper who struggled on for another second or two before dropping to the deck. Orev dropped down from the same vent that the woman had and after the middle-aged Duros recovered from the drop, he finished off the first trooper. Just like that, it seemed to be over. Rossi exchanged a curious glance with SlackJaw, then the two of them broke cover and moved forward, keeping a keen eye on the corridor behind them in case there were more enemies.

Orev looked over at Rossi when she arrived, a guilty look flashing over his features as he looked into the Kessurian's honey colored eyes. There were a hundred questions swirling behind her gaze and he knew he owed her a lengthy explanation for his actions today. Later... he signaled to her and he was relieved to see her consent, albeit begrudgingly.

"First Order Raiders." the woman spoke, squatting down over-top of one of the troopers with her back to Rossi and the others. "Highly specialized. There are some who don't even believe they exist. Intel suggests they're used mostly on missions to acquire ancient artifacts, stuff to do with the force and all that." Rossi couldn't quite tell if the woman was talking to herself, or to the group. Before anyone could respond, she'd stood and moved over to where Ansel had fallen. "You knew this man?"

"We've worked with him in the past." SlackJaw offered. Rossi noticed how deliberately vague his answer was with approval. He obviously didn't trust this new woman any more than Rossi did, then.

"Ansel Brimm. Above board forger, defrauder, petty criminal. Under the table, though- a staunch centrist with strong anti-alien views and a known supporter of the First Order."

Rossi frowned at that. If Ansel was secretly a humanist and helping to fund the First Order, surely the crew of the 'Bedlam would have heard about it. "Who are you?" Rossi demanded suddenly. "How do you know so much about them."

For a moment, the woman didn't respond, she simply continued to search through Ansel's belongings. Finally, she stood and turned to face Rossi. Revealing a slim figure with defined cheekbones and a fierce gaze. She wore her jet black hair pulled into a tight and practical bun, but judging by the woman's exotic teal colored eyes, Rossi doubted it was her natural hair color. She looked to be at least a decade or two Rossi's senior. The woman fixed Rossi with a stare that felt equal parts amused and annoyed, before finally responding. "The name is Brakken, and it's my job," She held Rossi's gaze for another long second, before turning sharply to address Orev. "A job I need to get back to. Take you're pals and get out of here. I'll handle this mess."

Orev nodded briskly and snagged one of the troopers blasters, a heavy repeater. The Duros could sense that Rossi was about to object, so he stepped in between her and Brakken, the latter of which had gone back to examining the fallen troopers without a second glance at the group. "Come on, we have a ship to catch." He reminded her.

*C Concourse, main corridor- 1658:45 Local Standard Time*

It was all Masilda could do to stay a just far enough ahead of the pursuing Lasat that she was able to dodge and weave her way around his force aided attacks, but the man's strides were nearly half again as long as hers and the Ryn's legs were starting to ache and burn under the strain. She needed to figure something else out and fast. Who was this guy and why did he want the Oracle so bad?

Blast it anyway, she thought to herself. This was all Lyshani's fault. All they had to do was follow the job, perform their roles, and earn a payday. But no, that wasn't enough for the Zeltron. She had to strike her own deals, hatch her own plans, and blackmail Masilda into them during the process. A pang hit deep in her as she thought about it. Lyshani got away with the real Oracle, right? Would she consider Masilda's part done then? She briefly wondered if maybe she could just toss the forged one she carried. Would the Lasat stop, would he be fooled? The Ryn wasn't even sure how Lyshani had been able to tell between the two. No. She couldn't let them have the fake, if she did they would find out who had the real one and Lyshani would see that as just the same as a betrayal.

The invisible wall she ran into drove all the air out of Masilda's lungs and left her rebounding backwards across the deck. The Oracle rolled away, coming to a rest a meter or two away against the bulkhead. The Ryn gasped for breath, shaking her head trying to clear her thoughts. Before she was able to come to her senses, however, a fur covered, clawed hand reached down and yanked her to her feet. Masilda blinked blearily up at the Cathar, Misu Nim. The cold look in the feline woman's eyes set off a chill that shot its way through Masilda's whole body and caused her tail to twitch frantically. She had just enough time to try and draw her techblades before the Cathar slammed her against the bulkhead, knocking her unconscious, one of the blades clattering to the floor beneath her.

"Grab the Oracle, I'm keeping this one." Misu Nim told the Lasat, who collected the Oracle. The two turned and stalked off down a side corridor to rendezvous with Richter.

*D Concourse, main corridor- 1700:22 Local Standard Time*

As laser blasts stippled the bulkhead above him, Vague silently hoped that Micaiah and Nova were having an easier time of it than he and Tsiv were. There was no way of telling how many troopers the First Order had deployed here, but so far Vague had tallied his current opposition at about five. A significant disadvantage to his one plus an injured teenager. He'd been tactically retreating down the corridor for awhile now... but it would only be a matter of time before his attackers figured out how to surround them once again.

He and Tsiv had managed to to work their way down the corridor a few more sub-sections before just that happened. Vague heard the door woosh open just in time to prop the injured Zabrak up against the bulkhead and then spin around and grasp the barrel of the Relby V-10 Rifle as it poked it's way out of the access corridors doorway. He pulled it forward a bit, then shoved it forcefully backward - forcing it's wielder off balance and making them vulnerable for his brutal attack. Vague made quick work of disarming and subduing the trooper, then spun the rifle around in his hands and shouldered it. He squeezed off a trio of blasts to force their pursuers to duck behind cover, then grabbed Tsiv and moved as fast as they could down the corridor.

Vague had left the blaster carbine he'd been using behind and had rigged it to overload. Thankfully, the haphazard plan paid off and just before the other troopers passed he and Tsiv's last position the carbine exploded which triggered the corridors automated fire-defense systems and slammed a heavy-duty blast door between them and their quarry. Durin had just let out a relieved sigh and turned to guide Tsivoin towards the hangar where the 'Bedlam was parked, when he heard Nova voice cut in over the comms.

"One, this is Five. We're on Concourse C and heading towards Ten's...," There was a short pause and some rustling, then he heard, "What the hell are you doing here? This isn't part of our exfil plan."

The rest of the conversation and ensuing confrontation was muffled and distorted, but Vague had heard enough to start formulating a guess as to why at least part of the plan had gone so wrong. It was hard not to assume based on what he could make out of the conversation, that Lyshani had tried to pull some sort of a stunt. He was pretty sure he'd heard her try to convince Nova to leave with her aboard Masilda's ship, though he couldn't be certain about that.

It was only a few minutes after she'd first started transmitting that the comm channel cleared back into silence. He wished it would have stayed silent... because the next thing he heard chilled him to the bone.

"I don't know if anyone is listening, but we need help. We're on Concourse C near the hangar, Elena's been hurt bad. Quentin, if you're there please hurry!" It was Micaiah's trembling voice over the comm. Vague cursed under his breath, then glanced around his immediate area trying to gain a bearing as to where they were from where he and Tsiv now stood.

"One, Two here with Three and Four. We're at Dead Rebels."

"Two, one here. Have Three get the party started. I need you and Four to meet me on Concourse D, about four subsections aft of your current location. I have Six with me, he's hurt."

There was a double click of acknowledgement over the comm, and Vague turned to urge Tsiv to try and find the strength to move a bit faster down the corridor. "Come'on kid. Just a bit further. Rev'n'Ros are going to help you back to the ship - we're gonna get you patched up."

"What happened?!" Rossi exclaimed when she and Orev finally caught up with Vague and Tsivoin.

"No time. Get him to medical and get him scanned, ASAP. I'm going back for Five. If we aren't aboard in ten, blast out of here, we'll find a way to catch up. The kid's going to need more help than we can give him on the 'Bedlam and I'm not sure how much time he's got left." Before either of them could argue, he added. "That's an order, now go!"

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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*C Concourse, main corridor- 1702:52 Local Standard Time*

Vague burst out of the turbolift and took off down the corridor as fast as he could. He held the Relby rifle at the ready, slowing down just slightly at the intersections in case anymore First Order troops were patrolling the concourse. He hadn't come across any since his trick with the carbine down on D Concourse, but by now they could be anywhere. Eventually, the corridor curved around and he saw the Sylarian kneeling next to Nova. Vague slowed his pace just slightly so that he could stop short and dropped to a knee next to the two women. He looked down at Nova and saw the wound in her midsection, taking note of her clammy and pale complexion. The captain set a hand down on Micaiah's shoulder, who hadn't seemed to react to his arrival yet. "What happened? How can I help?" He asked as she started.

"The Lasat," Micaiah said and her tone had a surprisingly clinical feel to it. As Vague rested his hand on her shoulder he noticed her body was no longer trembling. "Her injuries are severe, I need to operate immediately. Help me carry her to the infirmary."

Vague nodded a bit as she identified the one responsible for the wound and he surmised it must have been done with a saber, rather than a blaster bolt. He inhaled deeply, though, as she finished speaking. "Mic we can't stay here." he said in an even, matter-of-fact tone. "This ship is crawling with First Order troopers and Lightsaber toting darksiders."

Micaiah stared at him, ready to object. "If not here then where? If I don't treat her soon she'll die!"

Vague spared a moment to look down at Nova, then back up at Micaiah. "I've got a med-bay on my ship. My crew can patch her u-"

"Look, I may not know who you are or why you're here, but I do know medicine. I don't care what kind of bandages you've got I promise you if you try to treat this woman on your own you'll end up killing her. I won't allow it."

Vague sighed. He and Orev had quite a bit of training in field medicine, and Rossi had an affinity for it as well... but none of them were surgeons... His eyes shifted upward to stare at the ceiling for a long moment, then his jaw set firm. "Then you're going to have to come with us." he stated, an edge just starting to creep into the tone. Deep inside he hoped she would simply comply, he had no wish to take her by force.

If Micaiah had been surprised or frightened by his veiled threats she did not show it. She wasn't sure what kind of med facility this man had on his ship, but it didn't look like he was going to give her much of a choice. She was well aware of the bounties the First Order had placed on Force users. If Nova stayed here she would most certainly die.

"Fine," she said finally, "but I will need to go back to my room for some things."

"There's no ti--," Vague tried to object but she cut him off.

"They're medical supplies," she told him, "I will need them. Just tell your people not to take off without me."

"Fine. Keep the communicator," He told her, pointing toward her ear. "I'm going to get Nova to the ship and then I'll be back for you. Get to your room, gather your things and wait for me there." He explained. Vague carefully cradled Nova's unconscious form in his arms and stood. As he headed back the way he'd come he paused to look over his shoulder, "And be careful, yeah?" Then he trotted off as quickly as he could while not jostling Nova in the process.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Micaiah didn't particularly like the idea of Quentin following her back to her room. The supplies she mentioned were things she brought from home, Sylarian technology that was leaps and bounds ahead of anything the medical community inside the Republic was working with today. Until now she'd been careful not to share those secrets with anyone. Sylarians were a pacifistic race with no standing military. Their only advantage over other intelligent species in the galaxy was their science and technology. A part of what drove them out of hiding and into the waiting arms of the Republic was the fear of that technology falling into the hands of the First Order. At least with the Republic the Sylarians had the right to self govern. Visiting dignitaries to their homeworld were also kept to a minimum and their access severely limited. This has led to many rumors and fears cropping up within the Senate as to what their ultimate goals were.

With a sigh she stood and ran back the way she had come. Quentin hadn't bothered to ask where her room was, how exactly he planned to find it was a bit of a mystery. She assumed the communicator she borrowed from Nova had some way of tracking her and set that thought aside for now. As Quentin had said the ship was crawling with First Order troopers and she couldn't afford to be caught up with questioning right now. Getting around them wasn't going to be easy so instead she found an access hatch that led to the ship's maintenance tunnels. Shortly after boarding the Wanderlust she had managed to acquire a copy of the technical readouts of the ship and had committed them to memory. She had already worked out a safe path back to her room even before she was finished hotwiring the access hatch to open. From there it was a simple matter of following her internal map and then dropping down into her room through the light fixture in the ceiling.

She knew she couldn't take everything, not that she had very many belongings to begin with, but more important than that was her secret stash. There was a panel in the wall behind the holovid that she had pried open shortly after arriving. Behind it was a small compartment just large enough for her to stuff a small shoulder bag into. She'd been using it as a slick since boarding the Wanderlust. It was fairly easy to get to, but still required a bit of effort. She had to first unscrew the panel from the wall before she could get to the bag and by the time she was finished Quentin had already shown up. He had entered the room just as she was finishing screwing in the last screw. The first thing he saw was the Sylarian doctor on her knees on top of the console beneath the holovid using some kind of makeshift tool to screw the panel back into place. She had a shoulder bag around her shoulders that she didn't have before and the fact she had it hidden in a panel behind the wall spoke volumes to its value.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Vague stood sideways in the doorway to Micaiah's quarters. Rossi was easily able to tap into the ships database to identify where the Sylarian was staying. He'd not encountered any First Order troops along his route but had to sidestep a couple of the ships native security patrols who seemed to be in full blown panic mode over the days tragic events. The Captain took another quick look at the corridor outside of her room as he leaned against the doorjam, blaster rifle shouldered but pointing low and away. As he turned his attention back to Micaiah he noticed that she'd finished with the panel and had turned to face him.

"If there's anything else you need to grab, do so quickly please." He requested, eyes shifting to take in the contents of the room for a brief moment. Her space was orderly, clean and well kept. While he couldn't see what may lay behind closed doors or cupboards, it seemed as though she lived and traveled light.

"I'm fine," she told him, "Everything I need is in this bag."

Vague nodded his head in a way that said he'd figured as much. "Right. Follow me please." he spoke and started out into the corridor. He moved cautiously, but with purpose. His every step planned, pace slowing or accelerating in response to the ships layout and the effect it had on their tactical situation. For the most part, he retraced the route that he'd taken on the way up to her quarters and Micaiah remained silent for the majority of the trip.

Every so often, Vague had that feeling he got when someone was watching him too closely, but he shook the feeling off. He knew now, after the days events, that there was a lot more to this Sylarian than she let on... and maybe in time he'd learn some of those secrets, but far be it for him to begrudge her for keeping them. They'd just re-entered D Concourse and made it a subsection or two towards the stern of the craft before he felt it.

"Mic," he spoke his voice soft so as not to carry through the corridor, reaching back behind him with his left hand towards her while keeping his right hand on the pistol-grip of the blaster rifle. "Move up in front of me, please."

There was a slight hesitation, but she complied. The Sylarian moved gracefully around his left side and a few steps ahead of him in the corridor. About two and a half steps later, Vague suddenly shifted his stance and spun around to face the other direction closing the gap so that his hip grazed against Micaiah's. Again Vague reached out behind him with his left hand and rested it against her side, directing her to move closer to the bulkhead and he followed, walking backwards - his steps in perfect sync with her own.

He quickly returned his left hand to the fore-grip of the rifle and aimed down the sights. Not a second later, the first of a trio of First Order Raiders stormed out of a previously sealed alcove. Vague cycled the trigger of the blaster rifle with ruthless efficiency. To an outward observer, it may have looked like he was haphazardly shooting in the troopers general direction, but in truth, his shots struck the troopers on the flat surfaces of their armor, the kinetic force of the blasts slowing their momentum and causing them to bunch up in their formation. Then he sidestepped left, away from where he'd placed Micaiah so that their return fire wouldn't be headed her direction.

By the time the first and second trooper had recovered from his initial onslaught and brought their weapons back to aim at him, he shifted his stance and suddenly his shots were striking precisely and repeatedly into the weakpoints of the troopers armor. First the gap between the knee and thigh armor, then between the belt and torso armor. Finally between the upper chest and shoulder. Two shots to each point, twelve shots in total, and the first two troopers were on the deck, incapacitated. Vague dropped the power pack and slammed a new one home in milliseconds, then snapped the rifle back up to aim and burned a hole straight through the third troopers face-plate, killing them instantly.

"Quentin!"

He sensed the fourth trooper at the same time as he heard Micaiah try to warn him. Vague had just enough time to twist his body to the side, making what would have been a solid blow from the buttstock of the troopers carbine into merely a glancing shot that moved Vague off balance. The trooper followed through with a solid elbow strike to Vague's forehead that sent him staggering backward, his blaster rifle skittering across the deck. A shake of his head and a glance that direction told Vague he wouldn't reach the weapon in time, and so he instead planted his back foot and surged forward, closing the distance between him and the final trooper, forcing the Raider to abandon his own weapon due to the lack of range.

The pair entered into a violent and brutally efficient series of hand to hand combat maneuvers, and slowly at first, but with building momentum, their strikes and parries began to synchronize in a way that was absolutely uncanny. Move for move, strike for strike, block for block, it was almost as if the two had become one. In the end, Vague was able to land a devastating uppercut with his elbow, jarring the troopers helmet loose and knocking it off to bounce down the corridor. The trooper responded with a savage front kick that drove Vague a meter backward in Micaiah's direction.

Vague lay there a moment with the wind knocked out from him, as the trooper bent down to retrieve his blaster carbine. "I... thought you were... out, Abbot." Vague spoke around gasps for air.

"Yeah... Well," The trooper replied, standing back up and turning to face Vague. "I thought you were dead, so I guess we can be disappointed together, eh Ward?" Abbot saw Vague glance back at Micaiah briefly and chuckled sardonically. "Oh, doesn't she know?" The trooper took a step forward and made sure that the power pack was seated properly in his carbine. "Didn't you know, Miss, you're in the presence of the legendary, the all time great, Auden friggen Ward. Well, at least you were." He added, then pulled the trigger.

The blast struck harmlessly against the suddenly shut blast door, and Quentin's useless trophy of a blaster pistol clattered to the deck just below the doors mechanism. Vague wasted no time, spinning around and scrambling to his feet, he snatched the Relby blaster rifle off the deck and sent a trio of blasts into the doors mechanism to hopefully buy them some time. "Come'on Mic. The hangar is just a couple subsections ahead." He told her, urging her to follow as he took off at a jog, turning every handful of strides to check behind them for pursuit.

Thankfully they were able to traverse the last dozen or so meters harmlessly and emerged into the hangar. Durin tapped his comm and reported in. "One here, the Doc and I are inbound. Three, get those drives hot."

Vague guided Micaiah along to the 'Bedlams extended ramp and stood at it's base, nodding his head towards the interior of the ship. "Med-bay is up the ramp, through the commons and to your right. Someone should be there to assist you." he told her, then turned to keep an eye on the door leading back into the liner in case their pursuit caught up with them.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Micaiah froze in her tracks when Quentin, or rather Auden mentioned there would be someone to assist her in the med bay. She was almost halfway up the ramp but stopped to turn back to him. "I need you," she told him, "No one else." She appeared rather adamant about that. Just as he hadn't given her much of a choice neither was she. She didn't know anyone else, nor did she know who to trust.

Quentin frowned for a moment, but he knew he had little choice. His family was hurt, and Micaiah could help them. He tapped the comm again. "Clear the med bay. Two you've got the yoke..." The clicks of acknowledgment were delayed, obviously neither one of them approved of the directions, but in the end they complied. "Get us out of here." He ordered, taking one last sweeping look of the hangar, then lowering the rifle and turning up the ramp. He slapped the mechanism to close it when they'd reached the top, then lead Micaiah deeper into the craft. They were just passing through the door into the med-bay when the telltale vibrations beneath their feet signified that they'd left the atmosphere of the hangar and entered space.

"I need you to prep her for surgery now," Micaiah said as she set her bag down atop a nearby countertop. Quentin quickly moved over to administer anesthesia into the wounded Jedi while Micaiah pulled a small bracelet from her bag and stood next to Tsivoin.

Quentin caught a glimpse of the device from between her fingers as she was placing it on his wrist. It was like nothing he'd ever seen before. "What is that," he asked.

Micaiah ignored him, snapped the bracelet into place and pressed her finger against the small, holographic screen. A second later a green holographic X-Ray of Tsivoin's entire body appeared in the air above him. This hologram was not like any Quentin had seen before. Whereas most holograms were faded and blue this one was a crystal clear, three-dimensional image without any interference that could even be interacted with. The Sylarian turned and manipulated the hologram to highlight the Zabrak's broken collar bone and fractured skull before issuing a command to inject something into Tsivoin's bloodstream. Quentin watched in awe as she operated the hologram as if it were a touch screen on a datapad. Twisting and turning controls like they were knobs on a console. Then thousands of tiny little specs appeared in the Zabrak's wrist and began working their way up his arm to his shoulder.

"Nanotechnology," Micaiah explained without turning around. "The nanobots will drain the excess blood from his skull, set his bones and administer a bacta-like substance to heal his injuries." She quickly waved her hand and the holographic image blinked out of existence. "In case you're wondering," she continued, "it mimics Sylarian physiology, replicating our natural ability to heal ourselves. It'll work faster than your bacta. He should be fine within a few hours."

That felt a bit dubious. Tsivoin's injuries were enough to warrant him a sixteen-hour bath in a full tank of bacta at the very least yet she claimed that little bracelet of hers could accomplish the same job in a fraction of the time. "Will that work on her," Quentin asked, pointing at Nova.

Micaiah shook her head. "There are limits," she told him, "Not even Sylarian physiology is sufficient to heal from a fatal injury. First I need to repair the damage internally then sew her wound shut. Otherwise, it's like trying to plug a hole with water."

She quickly removed the bracelet from Tsivoin's wrist then moved over to place it on Nova. Again a holographic X-Ray of Nova's body appeared in the air above her. Micaiah quickly manipulated the hologram to zoom in on the area around Nova's wound, showing both her and Quentin the extent of the damage. With a frown she picked up a pair of gloves. "Disinfect the area thoroughly," she told him as she slipped the gloves over her hands. Quentin obediently followed her directions, spraying the area around Nova's wound with a disinfectant. Micaiah waited until he was done before picking up a laser scalpel to begin the operation...

**********

It was quite some time later before Quentin and Micaiah emerged from the med bay. She had her bag around her shoulders again, one hand hugging it tightly to her side as though she were afraid someone might try to steal it. The other crew members were huddled around outside the med bay waiting for any kind of news. As soon as they came out everyone stood up and looked at them. "How are they," Rossi asked.

"Tsivoin will be fine," Micaiah assured her, "He's currently recovering in the med bay."

"And Nova?"

Micaiah hesitated slightly before answering. Was 'Nova' the girl? "At the moment Elena is stable. I'll continue to monitor her condition, but at this point whether she pulls through or not is entirely up to her. For now, feel free to visit them if you want," she said, then she half-turned to look at Quentin. "May I have a word with you?"

Quentin nodded and the two of them headed to the engineering bay for a bit of privacy. Micaiah waited until she was certain they were out of earshot of the others before speaking. "I know you have questions," she began, "and I can't answer them all, but I'll explain whatever I can. Before I do, though, I need you to promise me something. What you saw back there, the technology I used... Please, keep that to yourself."

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Vague had a lot of questions. That much was very true... The Captain's eyes, light brown again now that he'd removed the colored contact lenses, carried a hard and analytical edge to them. He was having a very difficult time getting a read on the Sylarian standing before him. He kept trying to reconcile the confident, in control Micaiah he'd just assisted in the med-bay with the trembling bundle of nerves he'd been protecting in the casino earlier that day but it just wasn't working. Ultimately, he gave up and frowned in her direction.

"If you wanted it to remain a secret so badly, why did you come along? Why take the risk?" He asked, deliberately not promising anything. He'd given the Sylarian the option to stay out of their mess all the way back at that office near the vault, and ultimately she could have simply left Nova behind after the Lasat had attacked the Jedi and disappeared.

Micaiah averted her eyes. "I studied medicine to become a doctor," she told him, "It was my dream to help people. If someone is hurt I can't ignore it and let them die."

She took a deep breath then turned to face him again. "If I could have done the operation without you I would have, but I needed your hands. Just promise me you won't mention what you saw to anyone. It's for their safety as well as yours."

That last bit seemed to catch Vague’s attention. A light sparked beneath the surface of his eyes as he glanced at the bag on her shoulder. For their own safety? He was already harboring wanted fugitives of the First Order... “Is it stolen?” He asked.

"In a word, no," she told him, "This technology is from Sylaria, my homeworld. It was given to me."

Vague looked confused. "You'll need to do a few better than that."

The Sylarian shifted her weight slightly and broke eye contact again. "My people are pacifists, Captain. We were once a warlike species like you, but we demilitarized ourselves and chose a path of peace rather than violence. Your Republic would be surprised how far you can advance your science after a thousand years without war. Now we have no standing army. No way to defend ourselves from outside threats and a treasure trove of technology the rest of the galaxy could only dream of. So an organization was put into place, charged with the protection of Sylarian society by any means necessary. Their mission... My mission, is to eliminate anyone who discovers our secrets."

A shadow passed over Vague's expression at the veiled threat. Micaiah sensed the growing tension and quickly shook her head. "Don't worry, Captain. I've turned my back on that life. It just... wasn't what I signed up for. Of course, now I can't ever return home, but I digress...," she added sheepishly, her words trailing off into nothing.

I've turned my back on that life... his thoughts echoed her statement. Were it so easy. he remarked inwardly. Vague's eyes narrowed as reached up with one hand to touch the now swelling bruise over his cheekbone from where Abbot had gotten him with his blaster's buttstock. Vague regarded her for a handful of moments as he processed her admission. In a handful of sentences she'd swept a broad brushstroke over the blank canvas that represented her in his mind, and he immediately began to understand the dichotomy he'd noticed in her behavior earlier. Finally Durin took a deep breath, and crossed his arms over his chest. In truth, he'd always intended to honor her request to keep her technology a secret but had he simply agreed immediately he would never have gained this insight into Micaiah and her past.

"I'll agree not to share what I know about your toys..." He nodded towards her bag, then continued. "So long as you forget you ever heard the name Auden Ward."

Micaiah looked surprised at that. "Your crew doesn't know," she asked.

"It's - Complicated." He replied. "How did you put it... 'for their safety'."

With a shrug she held out her hand. "I can agree to that," she told him, "but what do I call you instead? Quentin?"

Vague stepped forward and took her hand gently, offering her as genuine a smile as he could muster after the days events. "I'm afraid, after today... Quentin King is probably better off dead. My name is Vague Durin," He motioned with his free hand towards the bulkhead. "Welcome aboard the Veiled Bedlam."

"Bedlam?" Micaiah repeated "A veiled state of uproar and confusion," she asked, giving him a sly look. "A rare peek into the mind of Vague Durin?"

Vague offered her a lopsided smirk. "Just don't gawk, some say it's contagious." he cautioned in a rare moment of levity, letting go of her hand. "Unless there's anything else pressing, I need to have a sit-down with my crew... Feel free to make yourself comfortable in the meantime?"

"Um, sure," she said, though truth be told she wasn't entirely sure where. She was familiar with some of the technical specifications of the CST-877 and knew it was a freighter but this was actually her first time inside one. "I'll, just, um... Be in the med bay, I guess. Pretty sure I can find my way back there."

Vague keyed the hatch on the engineering room and lead her back that direction. "Commons area here, there's a small bar, galley is that direction if you get peckish, keep following that corridor and you'll bump into the 'fresher..." He pointed out the most frequented portions of the ship as they walked giving her a very abbreviated tour. When they stopped outside the med bay, only the Duros remained in the commons. Vague nodded to his second-in-command, then turned back to Micaiah. "This shouldn't take long."

He then made his way towards the cockpit with Orev in tow. The Captain had almost made it fully out of the commons before he began to cough roughly. He and the Duros continued on, Rossi and SlackJaw were already in the cockpit waiting for them. Then the Sylarian was alone in the commons, standing just outside the med-bay.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Meanwhile, elsewhere in the galaxy a small ship floated in the shadow of the fourth moon of an enormous gas giant. Richter stood on the bridge of the ship, his eyes locked on the First Order star destroyer that had jumped in system and trapped the Wanderlust. Fortunately, he and his people had made it off the ship in time with their prize. They had even scored a prisoner, though Richter would have rather she'd been killed or left behind. Misu had--interesting tastes. In the four years they spent fleeing from the First Order the Cathar had developed a sickening interest in causing people pain. She'd become quite good at it, actually, using ancient techniques the Sith had employed thousands of years before.

"I think it's safe to say the First Order hasn't noticed us," Richter finally said to Wes Tapal who'd been sitting in the chair next to him. Then he spun on his heel and headed towards the door. "Get us out of here," he threw back over his shoulder as he left.

It was a short walk down the corridor to the commons area. The Sith holocron they found a few years back held a prominent place in the room at the center of the ship. It floated above a podium and seated across from it was the Cathar, the Oracle resting on the couch next to her thigh. As soon as Richter entered the room she stood, picked up the Oracle and quickly moved over to the table to set it down. Then she stepped away from it allowing Richter to come and examine it.

"Elena sure gave us the runaround but in the end we still got it. Now we can finally fulfill our destiny," Misu said as Richter reached out a hand and placed it on the orb.

"Not quite," he told her. "The Oracle is merely a piece of the puzzle. The first leg of our journey to becoming the most powerful Sith in the galaxy."

He closed his eyes and concentrated on the Force, channeling his anger and his hatred directly into the orb. He held that pose for nearly a full minute before his eyes snapped open and in a fit of rage he grabbed the Oracle and threw it against the bulkhead, smashing it to pieces. "The Oracle is a fake," he roared as he turned on Misu, lightsaber in hand. The Cathar flinched backward as she suddenly found herself staring down the length of Richter's crimson blade. "That Ryn pet of yours tricked us," he shouted, "She made a fool of you! You will get me the location of the real Oracle! NOW!"

************

Aboard Masilda's ship Lyshani sat in the copilot's seat with the Oracle in her lap. Raav, meanwhile, was currently piloting the ship back to Nar Shaddaa. While he was occupied the Zeltron was busy examining the Oracle. She held it up, flipped it over and looked at it from every angle but failed to find anything special about it.

"I don't get it," she said finally, "Why were those three after this thing? What didn't Ansel tell us?"

She looked over at Raav who merely shrugged. Damn it, she cursed. Now I'm starting to regret cutting him out of the deal. "Before we sell this thing we need to figure out what it is. If three dark Force users are after it then our price just went up. As soon as we land on Nar Shaddaa I want you to try and make contact with Ansel. If that fething sleamo knows something about this that he's not telling us then I want to know what it is."

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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"She seems nice. Are we keeping her?" SlackJaw asked the moment Vague and Orev entered the cockpit. Vague was still coughing slightly and as Orev secured the door behind him, the Captain grabbed his tumbler from the console next to the pilots seat and took a long drink from it. When he had finished, he smirked slightly in the droids direction.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, eh?" He spoke finally, settling into the chair and swiveling to face the rest of his crew. "All I know right now is that we have her to thank for the fact that the kid's are still with us. What I want to know now, is who do we have to thank for how ass end up this job went?" He glanced between his crew members as he spoke, then paused as he looked to Rossi. "What have you been able to find out?"

Where do I even start Rossi thought to herself. The Kessurian tapped a few keys on her handheld and nodded before answering. "I wasn't able to find any information regarding the three who attacked Nova, no records of them boarding or departing. Nothing on the feeds we had access to, either - Nothing before they attacked, anyway." She tapped another key and was about to speak again when Vague interrupted.

"Nova told me they were former Jedi students. Wes Tapal, Misu Nim, and... Richter. Do a deep dive on them later if you can." Vague sighed slightly, rubbing again at the bruise on his face. "I'm willing to subscribe to the fact that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time regarding those three. They were there for the Oracle and seemed about as surprised to see Nova as she was to see them... But those First Order Troops..."

"Raiders." SlackJaw interjected. "The shrewd lady called them First Order Raiders. She said they were 'Highly specialized, used mostly on missions to do with the force'."

Vague's eyes narrowed just a bit as he watched both Rossi and Orev tense up a bit in response to SlackJaw's statement. "That tracks," he said, keeping his attention on his crew. "They were definitely special forces. My guess is they were sent in to catch the kids. Ansel must have tipped the First Order off about them." His tone darkened at the mention of the man.

"Well, just like the other three, the Wanderlust didn't have any record of them coming or going." Rossi said.

"Not surprising. Rumor is that First Order has sleepers and supporters all across the Republic. Folks who miss the glory of the Empire bad enough to sell out the rest of us. Bets they had people inside the liners crew." Orev told them.

"At any rate," Rossi continued, "As I'm sure you noticed, the Wanderlust locked down as soon as the fight in the casino kicked off, which cleared out most of the bystanders on the other concourses."

Vague nodded, then took another drink from his tumbler. He was curious about this... shrewd lady, but it could wait for another time. "Ok so what bout the rest of our people?" He asked, a glint in his eye. They'd begun the heist with ten. They'd left the liner with six plus a strap.

Rossi paused for a long moment, glancing back and forth between Vague and the mottled blues of hyperspace out the veiwport behind him. "I mean... We all heard Nova's transmission, right?" She asked into the silence. "She ran into Lyshani, Masilda, and Raav while she and Micaiah were trying to get to the 'Bedlam. Sure sounded like they had the Oracle and were well on their way to double-cross us."

Vague shook his head slightly. It was hard to argue with her logic, and it wouldn't have been the first time that Lyshani had tried to pull a stunt on him. "And immediately after that, the Lasat got Nova... Which means, at the moment, Micaiah is the last person to have had eyes on the Oracle that we can actually talk to. We need to know what happened up on C Concourse."

The crew went back and forth putting their intel and opinions together for a few more minutes, then Vague brought them back to the present. He swiveled his seat a bit and glanced at the readouts on the controls. They were on a course set for Dosuun. Durin nodded and spoke over his shoulder. "Good call, wait here." He told them, then stood and made his way aft. Opening the door that led from the cockpit to the rest of the ship.

Once he got to the commons threshold, he leaned against the doorway and called out. "Hey Mic, can you come up to the cockpit for a bit?"

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Micaiah was surprised to be left alone aboard a stranger's ship. From watching how Vague had handled himself during their escape she had surmised he was probably former spec ops. Probably working for the New Republic as it was pretty obvious during their escape that he had no love for the First Order. It seemed like he was well and truly out of the game, however, and living outside of the law most like. The CST-877 was a freighter design from CorelliSpace. It was basically a CEC knockoff. Since the Galactic Civil War CEC freighters had become a popular choice among civilian entrepreneurs and smugglers looking to make a name for themselves. A certain General Solo had a hand in that, no doubt. Naturally, CorelliSpace tried to buy into the market by making ships of similar design with many of the same features. Unfortunately, the CST line never quite lived up to the legend of its CEC brethren, falling short in many areas, though Micaiah suspected this ship might be highly modified. She already knew that Vague and his crew were aboard the Wanderlust attempting to steal the Oracle, possibly for a client or maybe to sell. For a man of his background she would have thought he'd be more careful than to leave her alone on his ship.

Awfully trusting, she thought as she moved to stand under one of the ventilation shafts in the ship's ceiling. The oxygen recyclers had access to the entire ship, not that she planned to crawl through one the opening was way too small for her. Instead she reached into her bag and pulled out a small cylinder then quickly thumbed the top of it open. She didn't bother holding it up to the ventilation shaft, the air current alone would carry the microscopic nanobots up and through the oxygen recyclers to the entire ship. She waited several seconds before thumbing the top closed again then shoved the cylinder back into her bag. Then she headed down the corridor Vague had pointed out earlier until she found the refresher. Once she was inside she locked the door then turned her back to it. She slipped the holowatch off her wrist and gently set it down on the floor.

"Show me the reconnaissance data from the nanobots," she said.

A moment later the device activated and began to display a three-dimensional holographic image of the Bedlam's interior as it was gradually being assembled. She could see Nova's and Tsivoin's sleeping forms in the med bay and herself in the refresher as it slowly came into view. The crew quarters appeared to be empty along with the entire bottom floor of the craft. The bots were now beginning to fill in the upper floors, starting in the middle and working their way fore and aft. Eventually, the entire engineering bay had come into view followed shortly by the long corridor leading to the cockpit and the cockpit itself. Vague and the rest of the crew were there. She reached out with both hands, isolated that portion of the craft and zoomed in on it. The four of them were already deep in conversation.

"... Former Jedi students. Wes Tapal, Misu Nim, and... Richter. Do a deep dive on them later if you can," Vague was saying. Micaiah could see him rubbing at the bruise on his cheek.

I should have examined that, she thought.

"I'm willing to subscribe to the fact that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time regarding those three," Vague continued. "They were there for the Oracle and seemed about as surprised to see Nova as she was to see them... But those First Order Troops..."

"Raiders," the droid interjected. "The shrewd lady called them First Order Raiders. She said they were 'Highly specialized, used mostly on missions to do with the force'."

Shrewd lady? An informant? There was no way to tell. That codename could apply to anyone, though judging from the look on Vague's face it was his first time hearing about her. "That tracks," he said after a moment. "They were definitely special forces. My guess is they were sent in to catch the kids. Ansel must have tipped the First Order off about them."

Ansel? Ansel Brimm? The Forger? She thought to herself. Her superiors had a file on him somewhere. He was a known First Order sympathizer. Micaiah was surprised that Vague would work with someone like him. Did he know? Or was he unaware?

"Well, just like the other three, the Wanderlust didn't have any record of them coming or going." Rossi replied.

Orev was next to speak. "Not surprising. Rumor is that First Order has sleepers and supporters all across the Republic. Folks who miss the glory of the Empire bad enough to sell out the rest of us. Bets they had people inside the liner's crew."

"At any rate," Rossi continued, "As I'm sure you noticed, the Wanderlust locked down as soon as the fight in the casino kicked off, which cleared out most of the bystanders on the other concourses."

Vague nodded, then took a drink from his tumbler. "Ok so what bout the rest of our people?"

There was a long pause before Rossi spoke up again. "I mean... We all heard Nova's transmission, right? She ran into Lyshani, Masilda, and Raav while she and Micaiah were trying to get to the 'Bedlam. Sure sounded like they had the Oracle and were well on their way to double-cross us."

That confirmed her suspicions that Vague and his crew were aboard the Wanderlust to steal the Oracle. Not that she needed confirmation, however, the events aboard the luxury liner made that fairly obvious.

Vague shook his head slightly. "And immediately after that, the Lasat got Nova... Which means, at the moment, Micaiah is the last person to have had eyes on the Oracle that we can actually talk to. We need to know what happened up on C Concourse."

The crew went back and forth putting their intel and opinions together for a few more minutes before Vague cut the chatter between them. He swiveled his seat a bit and glanced at control consoles in front of him. Micaiah zoomed in even further to get a look at the readouts on the console. Apparently, the ship was on a course for Dosuun, a planet located in wild space outside of the control of the New Republic. "Good call," he said after a moment, speaking over his shoulder at the others, "wait here."

Then he stood and started to make his way aft. Micaiah quickly waved her hand and dismissed the holographic image of the Bedlam. The light from her watch on the floor faded to nothing and in a hurry she snatched it up and snapped it back to her wrist. Then she flushed the 'fresher and stepped outside, heading to the commons. She could already see Vague calling for her as she neared the threshold.

"Um, sure," she said as she stepped up behind him, "but may I ask why?"

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Vague turned to face her and gestured with his left hand towards the cockpit. "Well, introductions... for one, and we're hoping you can help us put some pieces together regarding what happened after you and I got separated back on the Wanderlust."

"Of course," she said then she followed his direction up to the cockpit.

Vague stepped into the cockpit behind her and pointed to the open seats before making his way back to the pilots chair. The trio had been in a quiet, cordial conversation that stopped the instant he and Micaiah had entered and now all three were focused on Vague as he sat down and swiveled to face them. "Feel free to sit wherever." He told the Sylarian, then introduced each of his crew members in turn. "Mic this is SlackJaw, most of us just call him EssJay, Orev, and Rossi. We'll be in hyperspace until late tomorrow so you ought to at least know who you're stuck here with." He waited a moment and just before he began to speak again he was forced to cough into his elbow for a few seconds. "Excuse me. Anyway Mic, I know things were hectic back there but if you could do us a favor and give us a play-by-play of what happened after you and Nova were separated from me and Tsiv... we'd really appreciate it."

Micaiah narrowed her eyes at him when she caught him coughing into his elbow. That was the second time she'd seen him do that. Some kind of illness? She around at the others, none of them seemed phased at all. Perhaps they knew about it.

"Um, sure," she said after a moment, a slight hesitation in her tone. "Shortly after we got separated we ran into three of your crew. I'm not sure what their name's are, though, Elena... I mean Nova, only identified one of them as Masilda. I think she had the Oracle. It looked like they were trying to leave. I think Nova thought they were double crossing you."

Vague nodded. "We heard as much," he confirmed, "What happened next?"

Micaiah's eyes shifted between Rossi, Orev and EssJay. How much did Vague trust these three? True, after this botched operation they stayed loyal to Vague... Or appeared to at least. Without knowing more details it was hard to say. However, four members of Vague's team betrayed him. That wasn't a very good track record. "Um," she began after a moment, "I think the Zeltron lady tried to kidnap your friend. It looked like they might have planned it. The Zeltron ordered the Zabrak into position with just a nod. He tried to attack her with a stun baton but she avoided it. Things get a bit--fuzzy after that."

She'd heard about the Zeltron's ability to seduce anyone through the use of pheromones, but this was the first time they'd ever been used on her. She hadn't realized how potent they were. "I vaguely remember the Zeltron saying something to Nova, but I couldn't quite hear it over the ringing in my ears. Then the Lasat appeared and stabbed Nova. After that he chased after the Ryn... Masilda, I think? Because she was carrying the Oracle. I don't know what else happened to her after that."

Vague glanced down at the deck for a moment... Lyshani was trying to kidnap... Nova? What was that barvy Zeltron playing at. He rubbed at his face for a few seconds, then looked back up at Micaiah. She had said that Tapal had chased after Masilda an the Oracle... but no mention of Lysahni or Raav after the Lasat showed up. "It's not like Lyshani to over-reach. She had to have known Nova wasn't going to be an easy mark... Did the Furişa disembark?" He asked finally.

Rossi spent a few seconds tapping at her handheld then nodded. "Way before we did."

"What about the Joyride?" he followed up.

Rossi tapped a few more times, then shrugged. "No log of it."

Vague's eyes narrowed just a bit. "Odd, that." He chewed at his lip for a few moments, then looked back up at Rossi. "Once we get out of hyperspace, I want to see what's hitting the holonet regarding all this. We're missing something here."

"About the Oracle," Micaiah asked suddenly, "You're not likely to find any more information on it that will help."

The others just stared at her in confusion so she tried to explain. "The ancient Jedi and Sith used to imbue objects with the Force turning them into powerful artifacts. If there are three Force users after the Oracle then it's possible that it's one of these artifacts. If that's the case then you won't find any records of it on any public database. After the rise of the Empire a lot of the old records concerning the Jedi Order were destroyed. You'd have to have access to an old Jedi repository that hasn't been found by the Empire yet and with the First Order taking over where Palpatine left off...," she left the rest hanging in the air. The message was clear, though, finding any information concerning the old Jedi Order would be nigh impossible with the First Order out there consolidating or destroying any and all records of it.

They all considered that for a few moments, before SlackJaw spoke up. "Well that would at least clear up why the 'three hoods' were so interested in it."

Vague nodded. He agreed that it would make sense... but his mind was elsewhere. He lacked information, and it was eating at him to admit that. He needed Rossi to find out what was being reported aboard the Wanderlust and what was getting leaked out to the rest of the galaxy. Was anyone arrested? Was anyone killed? Were they even aware that the Oracle had been taken? With Raav and Masilda presumably wrapped up in this double-cross, he had no way of knowing what the Ryn accomplished inside the vault. Due to Richter and his cronies hitting the security office, Nova hadn't been able to disable the heat sensors... So the casino would know that someone broke into it... Was she able to replace the Oracle with their fake? And if so, had it been good enough to convince them? In his mind, he began to make a list of possible complications due to all of this... They'd potentially made enemies of the Darksiders, First Order, and the Obsidian Cartel... Not to mention the double-crossers on his own crew. They didn't have the Oracle, which they would need to make right with their client somehow. Tsiv and Nova were laid up, and they had an outsider on board. Not bad for a days work. Vague thought to himself.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by Pryde »

"I need to check in with my two patients," Micaiah said as she turned to leave. The conversation seemed pretty much over now and after telling her side of the story she didn't have much else to offer. Or so she thought.

"Wait a minute," Rossi asked just before the doctor could slip away. "You said all the records concerning the Jedi were destroyed after the Empire came to power. If that's true then how do you know so much about them?"

Micaiah froze in her tracks and sighed. She should have just kept quiet. Most people who met her assumed her to be an Arkanian and it was easier to let them think so. She only clued Quentin into her real species as a way of goading out his secret identity, which she failed to do anyway. Finally, she turned back to look at the four assembled. "Because I was there," she said, "Thirty years before the fall of the Republic I visited the Jedi temple. On top of that my people have kept meticulous records of the events throughout the galaxy for thousands of generations."

"Thirty years before--," Rossi repeated, her eyes widening, "Is that possible? I mean, you'd have to be..."

"Ninety-eight," Micaiah interrupted her. "My people are exceptionally long-lived. The oldest amongst us have been recorded to have lived just over twelve hundred years."

Rossi's jaw dropped and the others had similar expressions of surprise. There were other species in the galaxy with longer life spans than humans, of course, but it was rare to meet a species with a life span longer than a thousand years. "So you're older than--," her words trailed off as she looked at Vague.

Micaiah just shrugged. "I'm actually still a child if you can believe it," she said. "Physically, we mature at the same rate as humans, but my people have a unique outlook on life. We no longer use physical maturity as a measure for adulthood. There are trials... Tests, of a sort. To become an adult one must first accumulate a lifetime of experiences. That's not likely to happen for me now, though. To take the tests I have to return home and, well... I think I've said enough." Her tone became oddly distant as she averted her eyes from them. "Anyway, as I said I better go check on my patients."

Then she turned and left the cockpit without another word...

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

Masilda started awake with a sharp cry, her light green eyes were as wide as saucers as she tried frantically to recognize where she was. It was dark, there was a faint odor... acrid like. Some sort of hold, maybe? A metallic jangle caught her attention and she slowly realized that her wrists were chained together above her head. It came flooding back to her - the Ryn had been running for her life. Nova had caught her, Lyshani, and the Zabrak Raav as they were preparing to leave the Wanderlust... then some hulking creature showed up out of nowhere and skewered Nova through the blast door. For all she knew, the girl was dead. A sharp pang of guilt stabbed into Masilda’s gut. Nova probably would have been fine if Masilda hadn’t gotten herself twisted up in Lyshani’s scheming. The strange young woman who’d been accompanying Nova had shouted at her. She’d told the Ryn to run. A lot of good that had done. She remembered being thrown to the deck, then yanked up and slammed into the bulkhead. Then the rest was black and fuzzy.

The sound of a door whooshing open somewhere behind her brought Masilda out of her introspection and she instinctively struggled against the restraints. These must have been the ones who’d attacked Nova. “You’d be wise to save your strength, starfly.” She heard someone say. The voice seemed feminine, but the basic was thickly accented. The Ryn shivered, her tail coiling tightly around her similarly chained legs. “Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. I’d 'oped to get you settled in back 'ome first, but you’ve been a naughty pet, ‘aven’t you.”

Masilda jerked her head to the side as she felt a set of sharp claws brush against her cheek. “Who are you? What do you want from me?” She shrieked in response.

“You will call me Maitresse, and I crave your surrender.” The voice spoke again, belonging to the Cathar who’d attacker her most likely, so close she could feel the other woman’s breath rustle her fur.

Masilda huffed a bit in irritation and clanged her arm-chains once for emphasis. “Think it’s a little late to ask for that, don’t you?”

She heard the sharp sound of something slicing through the air microseconds before she felt and heard the snap of a long narrow object whipping across the small of her back. The Ryn’s light green eyes slammed shut as she yelped in both surprise and pain. Her body instinctively tried to arch itself away from the impact but there wasn’t enough slack in her restraints for her to do so. She panted in an attempt to recover her bearings, and just as she was blinking her bleary eyes back open, the Cathar crossed in front of her and into view. Misu Nim had a mane of bright red hair, a pair of hauntingly bright green eyes, and her fur was a wildly striped combination of muted yellows and tans with some sparse shocks of bright orange mixed in. Masilda hadn’t had much experience with the Cathar species, but she guessed that this one was fairly close in age to herself, if maybe a bit younger. The Ryn had a hard time focusing on much else though, as she kept getting distracted and drawn in by the manic gleam in the Cathar’s eyes.

“You misunderstand, starfly. I desire to break you. To whittle you down, one offensive layer at a time until you lay raw, torn asunder, your very undeserving essence exposed to the universe, and then, only then, you will surrender yourself and I’ll watch as your worthless light returns to the Force like all the pretty starflies before you.” The Cathar explained, the sing-song lilt of her tone so horribly mismatched to the words she spoke. She reached up a clawed hand and dragged the sheath of one of Masilda’s techblades diagonally across the Ryns midsection from shoulder to hip. That must have been what she’d struck her with. “But that comes later, starfly. For now... you and I are going to have some time to get to know one another, while you tell me all about where the real Oracle of Vidunatru is.” As she finished speaking, she dropped a handful of fragments of the fake Oracle down to the deck in front of Masilda for emphasis.

The Ryn watched the bright red gem fragments fall to the ground helplessly and looked up into Misu Nim’s eyes fearfully. She had no idea how Lyshani, or these beings could tell the two orbs apart, but she knew that her captor wouldn’t be pleased when she found out that Masilda had no clue where the original ended up. She swallowed hard against a suddenly dry throat and began to scramble to put together a story to tell.

Masilda blinked up at her captor and hoped that by the end of this she’d find some way to walk out of here. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she lied, “I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, ok? I saw a commotion, then that, thing, was on the deck. It was bright, shiny, and red so I snatched it. It’s what Ryn do.”

Masilda watched as the Cathar’s facial features twisted, shifting into an expression of disgust in response to what she’d just said. “Naughty starfly.” Misu Nim admonished her, and in an instant, Masilda felt what seemed like every nerve ending in her body set on fire. She cried out for a moment but her breath was stolen away by how immense the pain was... then, just as suddenly, it all disappeared, leaving her shaking and weak. “Let’s try again, where is the Oracle?”

Masilda gasped for air, eyes distant as she tried to recover from the onslaught she’d just endured. “I.. don’t.. know..” she finally managed. “I was supposed... to steal it and replace it.. With a forgery. But the plan went... wrong. So I still had the fake when you caught me.”

Misu walked a slow, deliberate circle around Masilda, before returning to stand in front of her. “Again with the doublespeak. You’re going to tell me what I need to know, eventually. You ought to just do yourself a favor and make this quick.” As she finished speaking, the dark slider reached out once more and lit the Ryns body ablaze with force induced pain.

The interrogation seemed to go on forever. Masilda had no way to keep track of the time in the darkened hold, but she’d been trying desperately to explain to the Cathar that she truly didn’t know where the Oracle had ended up, and that the woman simply had the wrong hostage. In response, Misu Nim had alternated between acts of physical violence, dark side force powers, or just plan mental torture in an effort to get a response that the Ryn simply couldn’t provide. In the end, the Cathar had resorted to implementing the Force Rend technique, snapping Masilda’s twitching tail in two. Over the course of her questioning, the Cathar had been been probing deep into the Ryns mind, searching for any helpful information. Her captive had proven to be quite mentally tough. But everyone has a breaking point, and as Misu render Masilda’s tail in two, she’d finally given up her boss. It was the only lead she was likely to garner.

“Well done, little starfly. Rest now. We ‘ave so much more yet to do when we get ‘ome.” Misu consoled the Ryn as she left the hold to go speak with Richter.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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It was late at night aboard the Bedlam. The ship was still in hyperspace, but most of the crew had already gone to bed. Micaiah found herself sitting alone in the cockpit, staring out the viewport at the mottled blue hues of the hyperspace tunnel surrounding them. For a brief moment she wondered what Vague's next move would be. Tsivoin had recovered and was awake, but Nova was still unconscious. She was through the worst of it, perhaps, but it would still take some time for her body to heal. Assuming there were no further complications. While the medical tools aboard the Bedlam were adequate Micaiah was used to something better. The medical facilities back home even far outshined those aboard the Wanderlust. With technology like that she could provide help to many people across the galaxy.

Of course, acquiring that technology meant returning home. It also meant revealing certain secrets to the New Republic. Secrets her people zealously protected. She was one of those secrets. A weapon forged to protect the interests of those in power. Returning home meant she could never leave again. She sighed and stared down at her open palm. Her hand still trembled slightly, though it had mostly subsided by now. It had been a while since last she was in a firefight. She had tried her best to avoid violence yet somehow violence had found her. How many people had died today? She couldn't be sure. There were four or five killed by Vague's own hands and then however many more caught in the crossfire between Nova and her fellow students. When they left the casino was in ruins. Card tables and slot machines completely destroyed, bodies crushed under debris. So much of this could have been avoided if Vague and his crew weren't there. Maybe Richter would have taken the Oracle from the vault and left. Maybe they could have avoided the clash of Force users tearing the ship apart.

She leaned back in her chair again. She knew Vague's secret identity now. She knew he was Quentin King, she knows the name of his ship and the names of his crew. With that information she could cause serious harm to him or to his crew. Vague must be thinking it also. She tried to stop him from stealing the Oracle so he knew that she was no thief. She may have saved Nova and Tsivoin but that did not mean she was sympathetic to his plight. He chose to take the ship out into Wild Space to avoid letting her free in a heavily populated urban center near the core. He was taking away her ability to report him to the authorities, but once they reach Dosuun, what then? Would he let her go? Could he let her go? Truth was he had absolutely no reason to trust her and every reason to keep her on board or even kill her. Micaiah wanted to believe he wouldn't go that far, but she barely knew the man. Even if he wasn't willing to kill her captivity wasn't necessarily out of the question. He could simply keep her locked up on board. After all, a medical surgeon's skills were invaluable in the Outer Rim and that would even explain why he was allowing her to roam freely aboard his ship. However, if he did decide to let her go, what then should she do? She had no home to speak of and was constantly on the move to avoid pursuers. Should she just go back to her life? Or whatever it was she had before?

There was a slight sound to her left and with a start she leapt out of the chair and turned to face the intruder. When she realized it was the Duros, Orev, she let her shoulders relax. "Sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to startle you."

"You're--Orev, is it?"

He nodded as he moved to sit down in the chair across from her. "Guilty as charged, m'dear. So what brings you up here?"

Micaiah slumped back into her chair and averted her eyes. "Couldn't sleep," she said quietly, "Can't stop thinking."

"About the Wanderlust," he asked and she silently nodded her head. "Nasty bit of business, that."

That was putting it mildly. "Vague calls you number two," she said, changing the subject, "I take it you've known him for a long time?"

"Longer than most," he he replied in a guarded tone. Of course, it wasn't just his codename that tipped her off. Both Vague and Orev were roughly the same age and Vague seemed to have an unspoken trust with the man that was evident every time he entered the room. "Vague and I have been through a lot together."

"Do you trust him," she asked, finally turning to look at him.

Orev stared at her with keen eyes as the corners of his lipless mouth curled up into a what passed for a Duros’ smirk. "Are you sure that's the question you want to ask?"

No, of course not. The question she wanted to ask was whether or not she should trust him. "Yesterday I only knew him as Quentin King," she said, "Now I have no idea who he is, but I know he's dangerous. I just want to know if he's dangerous to me."

Orev gave her a sympathetic look. In her situation it was natural to be afraid. Even though she came willingly she was still trapped on a ship in hyperspace with a group of unruly lawbreakers. "Look--," he started, but the sound of the comm beeping at them interrupted him. Orev sighed then half turned in his chair to answer the call. A second later the holographic image of the man known as Richter appeared before them.

"Are you the one known as Vague Durin," he asked.

The Duros shook his head. "Let's start with who you are, pal?"

"That's him," Micaiah whispered to him, "He's the one that attacked Nova."

"I have a proposition for the man you call Vague Durin," Richter continued, "A trade."

Richter's image blinked out of existence and was replaced by the image of a female Ryn chained up and hanging from the ceiling. It looked like she had been brutally tortured. As soon as she saw her Micaiah drew in a sharp breath and covered her mouth. A second later Richter appeared again. "I will trade the life of this woman for the Oracle. You have one week to deliver. Contact me again on this frequency when you're ready to trade."

Then the call blinked out of existence...

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

A moment or two after the transmission ended, Micaiah looked up at Orev and her brows furrowed when she saw that he seemed to be... smiling? She watched as he flipped a few switches on the comm board but ultimately couldn’t help but question him. “I may not keep the company of many Duros so beg my pardon if I’m misreading, but what could you possibly have to smile about right now?”

Orev tapped a readout with one hand while turning is red-orange eyes in her direction. He studied her for a few heartbeats, then replied. “You just said a bit ago that you didn’t know who he was,” his eyes and expression hardened. “Whoever that was is threatening to kill our friend. You’re about to have a front row seat to discover exactly what kind of being Vague Durin is.” Orev stood as he finished his statement and twisted a knob near the top of the cockpit and the ambient lighting suddenly shifted back to its daytime levels. Then he keyed the intercom and woke up the ship calling them to muster in the commons.

Orev and Micaiah were seated at the dinner table when Tsiv shuffled out of the medbay. The former was sipping on a steaming cup of caf. The teen Zabrak took one weary glance back towards Nova’s still form, then turned and walked in their direction, one hand rubbing at his shoulder. When he got to the table, he gingerly took a seat opposite of the Sylarian. “You’re uh, the one who patched us up, right?” He asked, his youthful violet eyes dulled with worry for his friend. “Me and - Nova?”

Micaiah nodded. "That was a very brave thing you did," she said, "You must care for her a lot. Is she your master?"

There was a flash of anger on Tsivoin's face. An almost primal rage that surprised her. Of course, Micaiah could not have known about his past as a slave, nor did she expect that kind of reaction from him. What was clear, though, is that he misunderstood her. "I mean, is she training you," she asked. "I'm sorry, I forget that not everyone on this ship is as old as I am, but Jedi Padawan learners used to refer to their teachers as Master."

Rossi had, thankfully, just came into the commons from the galley and had heard the brief interaction between Micaiah and Tsivoin. Her honey colored eyes bulged and whatever vestiges of sleep had remained disappeared. The Kessurian quickly crossed over to the table, she was wearing a loose pair of sweat pants and a utility top. Tsivoin’s rage and indignation at the mention of the word Master had crossed into a look of puzzlement as she took a seat at his side. Rossi rested a pink hued hand on his good shoulder and patted gently. “My spikey headed Campo grew up in the clutches of servitude,” she offered to the Sylarian, “We try to take it easy on that ‘m’ word.”

Before anyone could respond further, she turned her attention to the back of Tsiv’s head. “It’s so good to see you up and about again, Campo. I didn’t think anything in the galaxy was harder than your head, but leave it to you to find a way to crack it.” She flipped some auburn hair out from in front of her eyes as the teen chuckled just slightly, then looked over at Orev. “What happened?” She asked, desperately hoping to keep Micaiah from any further inquiries. The Kessurian wasn't sure if she was just assuming something about Nova and Tsivoin's closeness or how she'd managed to come to the suspicion that the kid was a forcer... Rossi highly doubted Nova would have told the stranger about Tsiv's.. gift. Either way she felt she owed it to Nova at the very least to stop the Sylarian from dropping that truth bomb on the Zabrak. The Jedi had been pretty adamant that she wanted to be the one to tell the kid, once she found the right way to do so.

“We should wait for--“

“We’re here.” Vague interrupted as he and SlackJaw entered the commons together. Durin held a pair of caf mugs, one in either hand and he set one down in front of Rossi before taking a long drink from his own. The Captain was still in the same clothes he’d warn during the heist, albeit the shirt was now unbuttoned, indicating he may not have been sleeping after all. He took a step back from the table as SlackJaw sat down on Tsiv’s left, and took a moment to read the room. Something was amiss - beyond whatever had caused Orev to wake them - there was a tension he couldn’t quite identify. He forced his brown eyes to focus and turned to look at the Duros. “We shouldn’t be to Tailring for at least another couple hours, so what happened?” He asked finally.

Orev Masuda sighed heavily and leaned forward, tapping a series of keys on the projector that popped up from the tables center. “Micaiah and I were chatting up front, when we received a hyperlink transmission,” he paused to let that sink in, comms sent through hyperspace were rare, and for non-military types, expensive. He then tapped the projector once more which caused the recording to play. “It’s.. not pretty.” He added as a warning to the others, then settled back into his seat to sip at his caf. The transmission was short, but brutal and to the point. When the image of Masilda was displayed, both Tsiv and Rossi couldn’t help but gasp in shock. Vague’s features merely hardened further.

“Richter.” Vague spoke out loud, his tone even and devoid of any emotion. “That was what Nova called this guy. He seems to be in charge of the Dark Three.”

“I guess this means that the Pink Lady and Raav made it off with the Oracle, then.” SlackJaw pointed out from his end of the table.

Vague nodded his head and took another drink of caf. “And if that’s the case, then the one Mic saw Masilda take off with must have been our forgery.”

“Which means, that the Casino and its owners definitely know it’s been stolen.” Masuda added, not going quite so far as to name drop the Obsidian Cartel in front of the Sylarian. It was a valid point, though, because it meant some really bad guys were going to be on the lookout to get their gem back.

“Orev, ping who you can while we’re waiting to revert. If these three have been on the run like Nova, there must be something out there on them. We can float the cost... clock is ticking and Masilda shouldn’t have to suffer any longer. EssJay, get up to the yoke, I don’t care what sun you need to skim, I want to be at Tailring an hour ago. Rossi, mine this transmission. I want to know where they are, who else they’ve talked to, whatever you can get me.” He paused in his orders as he realized that Nova would have been next. A brief crack in his stone facade that was rapidly overcome with a barely noticeable shake of his head. “Tsiv, I know it’s not glamorous but I want you back in the medbay getting some rest. I’m going to need everyone at one hundred percent, ok?”

There was a moment of pause, his crew responded in their nonverbal fashion indicating their understanding of the orders, and at Vague’s signal, the trio of Orev, SlackJaw, and Rossi stood as one and set off with purpose. Vague was looking at Micaiah, but then he noticed Tsivoin lingering behind. Vague shifted to face the teen and softened his tone for a moment. “Go, kid. There’s a fight coming, and you’ll get your shot. But not tonight.”

Tsiv seemed to consider that for a moment, then nodded reluctantly as he stood and shuffled back to the medbay. Vague sighed, took a moment to glance around the commons, then he leaned against the table to look down and Micaiah. As if noticing just then, he reached down and began to button his shirt back up. With a lowered voice he asked, “Don’t suppose you’ve got anything in that goodie-bag of yours that can help us right now?”

Micaiah had been so distracted by her interaction with Rossi and Tsivoin that she barely noticed Vague addressing her. "I'm sorry, what," she asked.

"That bag of toys of yours. Anything in it that could help us track these guys down," he repeated.

Micaiah gently shook her head. A bag full of nanotechnology wasn't going to help them track someone from across the galaxy. If she had been home then there would have been ways to trace the origin of the call, but that type of technology wasn't compact enough to fit inside a bag.

"No," she said finally, "I don't have access to anything like that, but I could perhaps help in other ways. You put your people to work tracking down the three Force users, but you told no one to search for the Zeltron. Richter will likely kill the Ryn if he gets what he wants, he has no reason not to. He'll likely kill you too, I'm sure you've worked that out. But if you're going to set a trap for them then it will be much easier if we have the Oracle. I can help you find it."

Vague silently considered her words for a few moments. In fairness, he had next to no experience in combat against a Force wielder. He was tactically proficient in the ancient martial art-form known as Teräs Käsi - which was originally created with the intention of trying to level the playing field between non-Force sensitive combatants and those who could utilize the mystical power... however by the time he'd entered an operational status with the New Republic, and ATOG after that, Force users were essentially extinct. So, maybe she had a point. Vague was confident enough to pitch himself against just about any foe who stood in his way, but he wasn't so arrogant as to ignore the fact that these particular foes had a severe tactical advantage over he and his team. Ultimately, he nodded his head in acknowledgment. "A fair point. Rossi can put together a dossier of what information we have regarding Lyshani and her known associates, contact frequencies and the like. Should give you a decent place to start." He took another moment to sip at his caf, then added, "Thank you." She held no allegiance to him or his crew, and certainly did not owe them any favors, after all.

Micaiah blinked in surprise. She hadn't expected that response. "I don't know if there's any reason to thank me yet, Captain. I'm still not sure where I stand in all this, but after seeing that girl... Well, let's just say I feel motivated to help."

Vague had already begun to head towards the galley and ultimately the ladder that would take him up into the cockpit, he paused just at the threshold of the galley and commons and turned to look back at her over his shoulder. "It's a good start." He replied, then turned and left the Sylarian to her thoughts.

******

Several hours later, the CST-877 Freighter tore its way out of hyperspace into the Dosuun System. For a few short moments, Vague and SlackJaw allowed the ship to drift only on its reversion momentum as they watched the readouts display the information gathered by the 'Bedlams advanced sensor equipment. The planet Dosuun was home to COS Tailring, one of Vague's bolt-holes, hideouts he'd established across the galaxy to be used as temporary housing, resupply points, or in this case... a safe place to get away and regroup... Tailring was strategically located in a low traffic area of the galaxy known as Wild Space, which limited the chances of it being found by the authorities, but somewhat increased the chances of other outlaws coming across it by chance. Once they were certain that they were not being monitored, Vague fed power to the sublight drives and sent the ship rocketing off towards the planet. He clicked over the intercom to warn all aboard that they'd be breaking atmosphere soon, then set about angling the shields to properly protect them during the descent.

Their approach was thankfully uneventful, and within an hour they were skimming across the surface of one of Dosuun's oceans, heading towards a massive mountain range near it's coastline. Vague tapped a few keys, then leaned over to speak to SlackJaw. "EssJay, go ahead and ping the COS. Let's get the welcome mat rolled out."

"Y'got it boss." SlackJaw replied, tripping a couple switches and then inputting a code that would wake up the bolt-hole's dormant systems.

It didn't take long for them to close the distance, though to the uninitiated it would be difficult to conclude that they were nearing their destination. From the outside, COS Tailring was indistinguishable from the sheer rock faces of all the other jagged mountain peaks around it. It wasn't until the freighter had closed the distance to a few hundred meters before the rocky wall suddenly slid away, exposing a cavernous hangar. Vague skillfully decelerated the ship and guided it through the entrance which promptly sealed itself up behind them. Once inside he flipped the power from sublight engines to repulsorlifts and delicately maneuvered the craft past a modified Y-wing and slowed down to a hover. Through the forward view-port, the back of the hangar could be seen illuminated by bright amber lighting set into the rocky walls of the cave. A series of several massive industrial supply containers could be seen in a row at the hangar's rear, seemingly connected and modified into a sort of segmented housing unit. Vague spun the craft 180 degrees to point it back towards the exit of the hangar and then set it down between the fighter and what looked to be a surplus Pursuer Enforcement craft.

Once the landing struts had settled to the hangars floor he began killing the drives and winding the ships systems down. His crew needed little direction after having watched the transmission from Richter. They quickly grabbed their go-bags from their quarters and headed straight into the housing modules to continue work on their pre-assigned tasks. Vague lingered in the commons, having checked in on Tsivoin and Nova briefly he led Micaiah from the ship and took some time to show the Sylarian around the base before leaving her to her own assignment and heading off to check in with the others.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Lyshani was beginning to regret stealing the Oracle from Vague. It had been three days since her arrival on Nar Shaddaa and not only was she not able to uncover any new information on the jewel she was also unable to sell it. Everyone knew the Obsidian Cartel was in possession of the Oracle and since Masilda had failed to replace it with the forgery the cartel knew the Oracle had been stolen and were out searching for it. Every possible buyer she spoke to refused to purchase the Oracle out of fear of facing the Cartel's wrath. That left her with a very valuable jewel that no one wanted and an extraordinary amount of danger heading her way. She sighed and rested her head in her arms atop the table. She was in a cantina currently drinking her worries away. She thought again about the Ryn and the forgery Masilda had tried to pawn on her. Had Ansel not shown her the forgery beforehand she might very well have fallen for that trick. It was an almost perfect replica, but there were certain flaws that only a master appraiser would notice. Lyshani wasn't quite so skilled, she was just lucky Ansel had pointed them out to her after she had questioned his work.

She heard heavy footfalls behind her and without lifting her head she reached for the blaster on her hip. A moment later the Zabrak Raav sat down in front of her. "I found a buyer," he said, "He originally negotiated for one-third of our asking price but is willing to go up to two."

Lyshani lifted her head slightly. "Two-thirds of the price," she asked.

Raav shrugged. "It's still more than we would have made had we shared the take with Vague and the others," he pointed out, "Under the circumstances I'd say that's fair."

He had a point, anyone willing to purchase the Oracle would have to cut the jewel and sell it in pieces to hide its movement from the Cartel. Such an act would seriously cut into their potential profits, hence the reduction in value. "Fine, set it up," she said.

Raav nodded then stood. Pausing slightly as he turned to look at her. "Were you able to find any more information about this thing," he asked.

Lyshani shook her head. "No one seems to know anything about it and with Ansel in the custody of the Resistance...," she left the rest hanging in the air. Figures that idiot would get himself caught. Though, she had to admit she expected him to get arrested by the First Order rather than the Resistance. She doubted he would ever be able to find his way out of that particular situation. At least the Resistance will be far more lenient to him than the First Order would have been.

"Anyway," Raav said, then he turned to leave.

Lyshani took another sip of her drink then half-turned to follow him with her eyes. For a moment she wondered just who it was who was brave enough to purchase the Oracle...

**********

It had been three days since arriving at Dosuun. Vague and his crew were still busy at work trying to track down the three Force users who had captured their friend. They weren't able to turn up much about their current location, but Orev was able to dig up a bit of their history. At the very last they now had a last name for Richter. His full name was Richter Tayvion and apparently he wasn't always a cyborg. Up until about four years ago he had no cybernetic enhancements, so something must have occurred that ultimately resulted in the loss of his arm. Nova had mentioned to Rossi at one point that there was an attack on the Jedi temple where she lived. Obviously she must have faired through it better than Richter and his followers. The last four years hadn't been very kind for any of them, either. Whereas Nova had managed to get through it while retaining at least some of her morals, Richter and the others had fallen down a darker path. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to find on their whereabouts over the last four years, mostly rumors. There was some talk of three powerful sorcerers in the Outer Rim who had amassed a following, a mixture of pirates and thugs, mostly sellswords. The rumors gave vague hints of places to avoid but no concrete information on where to find them.

Micaiah, however, had much better luck. In her years of hiding she had managed to put together a network of spies and informants on various planets that she had visited. She used this network to keep an eye out for various suspicious persons asking about her whereabouts. That was how she had ended up on the Wanderlust. She booked a last-minute ticket after being informed that someone whose physical characteristics very much matched her own was out looking for her. With this network and the psych eval Rossi had pulled together for her she was able to determine that one of the Zeltron's favorite haunts was the Hutt owned world of Nar Shaddaa. She told her contact on the Smuggler's Moon to keep an eye out for any rumors of someone attempting to sell a very valuable item. It wasn't long before Lyshani stuck her neck out and Micaiah was able to bait her into a trap. She had her contact approach Lyshani's bodyguard with a potential offer. Now all that was left was for her and Vague to fly to Nar Shaddaa and pose as buyers. Subduing the Zeltron and her bodyguard shouldn't be too difficult for a skilled warrior such as Auden Ward.

When Micaiah found Vague he was hunched over a holoprojector that was currently displaying a map of the galaxy. Orev and Vague had decided to keep track of and map all the various locations the three "sorcerers" were rumored to appear. Vague was currently trying to figure out a pattern. So absorbed was he in his task that he hardly even noticed the Sylarian entering the room. Not that it was particularly easy. Micaiah had a rather light gait and moved with an almost ethereal kind of grace. It was almost frightening how easily she could appear and depart a room without ever being noticed by anyone.

"I found her," she said, causing Vague to rise with a start. Again she had managed to sneak up on him. "They're on Nar Shadaa," she continued speaking as though she hadn't noticed that she had startled him.

That was somewhat surprising. Lyshani had been in the game for a long time and was quite good at hiding. The fact Micaiah had been able to find them after only three days either meant the Zeltron was desperate enough to make a mistake or the Sylarian was just that good. Vague wasn't sure which of those was the case. "Good, tell Orev to--," he started to say but she cut him off.

"No," she told him. "You and I will go. I already have a plan for grabbing her, but I can't loop the others into it. You already know some of what I'm capable of, so I can only bring you... And we can't take the Bedlam. Lyshani will see us coming."

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Vague held his steel tumbler in one hand, and his forehead in the other. The Captain was beginning to lose patience with the search for the Dark Three. As he stared into the holographic representation of their supposed movements and sightings he sighed heavily. There had to be a pattern in here, somewhere... Why couldn't he see it? The holograph was being projected up out of the table and was three-dimensional, taking up the better part of the small room he was in. Vague had killed the rest of the lighting so that the only illumination within was from the color-coded points of light and their corresponding connection threads. The effect of which bathed him in a muted rainbow of colors and played interesting shadows against the hard industrial edges of the underground structure. Then Micaiah walked in and startled him out of his thoughts.

He listened to her revelation and considered it briefly. It wasn't like Lyshani to slip up, but the woman did lack patience... Without the knowledge of who Vague's client was, she would have to turn to the usual fences in order to try and move the Oracle, and with news of the theft spreading across the universes savory and unsavory parts alike... that would be a tall order to fill.

"You and I will go. I already have a plan for grabbing her, but I can't loop the others into it. You already know some of what I'm capable of, so I can only bring you... And we can't take the Bedlam. Lyshani will see us coming."

Vague brought his focus to bare on the Sylarian after she interrupted him. It was becoming something of a habit of hers. He appreciated her desire to keep her identity and her past a secret, but there would come a time when doing so may put the team or the mission at risk and Vague knew which side of the table he'd be stacking his chips on when that moment came. He hoped that Micaiah would fall the same direction. He took a deep breath, then walked around the edge of the holo-table to lean against it's corner.

"Fine, you and I can go to Nar Shadaa. May I assume you're familiar with the Zeltron's... unique physiology?" He asked her.

She nodded. "I've studied their physiology before, but experience is entirely different from textbooks. She--caught me off guard," she added sheepishly after a slight hesitation.

The corners of Durin's eyes narrowed a touch, but a semi-playful smirk tugged at his lips before he replied. "In my experience, she catches everyone off guard. Poor Tsiv was punch drunk for a whole day after he met her. At any rate, any hope of capturing and detaining her will have to involve countermeasures to protect ourselves, as well as a means of neutralizing her." He offered, his tone implying that while he'd been considering it - he clearly hadn't identified a sound option.

Micaiah shrugged. "A Zeltron can't use her pheromones if she's unconscious," She pointed out. "First we stun her, then we figure out how to deal with her."

Vague frowned for a moment. He preferred to plan things out so that there was no need to figure things out once a mission was under way. Though a lot of good all his fancy planning had done for them back on the Wanderlust. He looked down at his booted feet for a moment and chewed at his lower lip. He'd need a disguise, obviously. Maybe one that required the use of a rebreather - something that could filter the pheromones out of the air before they could take hold of him. "The clock is running," He said finally, "Do you have someone on the ground there? How soon can we leave?"

"I do," Micaiah told him, "and we better leave now. We're already behind as it is." She cautioned Vague, who nodded in response, then shoved off the holo table.

"Rev'n'Ross aren't going to like being sidelined on this... Grab what you need, and meet me out in the hangar. I'll smooth things over with them while P0-TR preps one of the other ships." He instructed her, then headed off to find the others. COS Tailring was his main contingency site, and it happened to be stocked with a Y-Wing Courier Variant and a Pursuer Enforcement Craft, each maintained in the crews absence along with the rest of the base by a P0 series Adminmech.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Micaiah frowned as she watched him leave. She knew she was asking him a lot to keep her secrets from his crew, but it was for their own benefit. He understood that and, she suspected, that was partly why he was keeping his own secrets as well. With a sigh she headed back into the med bay. She had just about everything she needed for the trip, but more important than that was checking on her patient. The girl, Nova, was still unconscious. Her body was still recovering from her injuries and she needed a blood transfusion from one of the crew. Tsivoin, of course, volunteered, but Vague was the only match, much to the Zabrak's chagrin. Micaiah wasn't fully aware of the whole story, but the long and short of it was that in her brief time aboard the Bedlam Nova did a lot of saving. Naturally, Tsivoin felt obligated to pay some of that back, but it seemed whenever it came time to actually save Nova he just wasn't up to the challenge. Micaiah suspected it was eating him up inside. Which made it all the more confusing to her that he wasn't aware of his Force Sensitivity. Nova should have been able to sense it, why had she not taken him on as a pupil? Did she not feel some obligation to rebuild the Jedi Order? To take over where her master left off? Asking about it would probably be exceeding her boundaries.

Tsivoin was in the med bay again. He no longer needed to be constantly monitored and Micaiah had urged him time and again to relax in his room yet he insisted on staying close to Nova. When she entered he looked up from where he was sitting and upon seeing her he quickly looked away. Micaiah crossed over to Nova's side to check her vitals. Her pulse was good and her breathing steady. She held open the girl's eyelids and shined a light into her eyes. Her pupils reacted normally, but still no response from the girl. It would probably be some time until she woke up and after that a long road to recovery. Finally, she turned away and looked directly at Tsivoin.

"She'll be fine," she assured him, "She's past the worst of it. Why don't you try and go get some sleep? Sitting here worrying isn't going to help her wake up any faster."

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Tsivoin bristled a bit at her suggestion. It wasn’t that she was wrong, the teen absolutely needed to rest - but.. his violet eyes turned to regard his unconscious companion and he sighed slightly. Micaiah didn’t know. He’d lost Senna, and he’d be damned if he was going to lose Nova too. “I’m fine,” he fibbed, looking back up at the Sylarian. He’d found it difficult to meet her gaze ever since they’d broken words at the emergency meeting and she’d asked him that question, but he forced himself to now. “I’m right where I need to be.”

Micaiah watched him for a moment then sighed. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small communicator and held it out to him. "Well, then you're gonna make yourself useful," she told him gently. "I have to run an errand with Vague. If Nova's condition changes at all use this to contact me immediately, okay?"

Tsiv’s brows furrowed as she finished talking and he eyed the device with curiosity. While he wasn’t well traveled, the Zabrak was also not a simpleton. This device didn’t look like a variety he’d seen before, and units that small typically had a very restrictive range. Not wanting to risk looking dumb, though, he reached out and took the device from her hand. “Uh, sure.” He offered.

"Thanks," Micaiah said as she turned to leave. As soon as she reached the door she stopped and turned back around. "Take care of yourself, okay? Don't overdo it."

Then she turned and headed out the door to meet Vague.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Vague stood in the center of the modified cargo container that the team used as a central gathering place here at COS Tailring. His arms were crossed over his chest and he braced himself as the expected objections came from all three of the crew members present. Things had started off well, he'd told the team that their guest, Micaiah, had managed to locate both Lyshani and the Oracle on the smugglers moon of Nar Shadaa and that they had arranged to meet under the guise of an interested buyer. The crew was a bit skeptical that the Sylarian had the contacts necessary to run the Zeltron down but were willing to take her at her word for the most part. It wasn't until he informed the trio that they would be remaining behind that the turmoil began. The dissension that followed was a mix of defensiveness regarding the recent failed mission, accusation towards the mostly unknown and unproven newcomer, and general overall unease regarding the seat of the pants nature of the op. It took a second or two for the Droid, Duros, and Kessurian to realize that they were doing no good trying to shout over each other and then Vague unfolded his arms and held his palms up to stall their second, more organized wave of defiance.

He shook his head briefly, then responded in a cool an even measured tone. "I don't particularly disagree with any one of your points." He replied. "We don't know enough about our mystery doctor. Check. Setting up a sting on someone who knows how we shuffle the deck is a low probability op. Check. Short suspense and lack of intel means a volatile and improvised plan. Check. Ok?" He paused only long enough to draw a breath and scan his brown eyes across his crew, then continued, motioning towards the stitches still visible from the blow he'd taken to the face aboard the Wanderlust. "Look this didn't get to me, I haven't gone barvy. I'm just making the best I can out of a poor tactical situation. We're against a clock and Masilda needs our help. We don't have time for a slow burn play, and this op is high risk as it is. Extending the footprint will only increase that risk. And frankly, if Mic has something up her sleeve, she'd be a lot less likely to show her cards if the cavalry was along for the ride, comprende?"

He waited, until he saw each of his crewman eventually accept the reality. "Just keep to your tasks, stay frosty, and be on the lookout for my comm. I have a feeling the pace is only going to speed up from here."

It didn't take Vague long to grab what he'd need for the trip. The Captain stopped by the medbay to check on Tsiv quick, then slung a duffel bag over his shoulder and made his way out towards the row of craft along the far wall of the hangar. He could see up ahead that PO-TR, the short barrel shaped adminmech custodian of COS Tailring, was just finishing up prep on the Pursuer Enforcement Craft and Micaiah was standing off to the side. "Shall we get underway?" He offered after shuffling over to where she waited.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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"Sure," Micaiah answered with a nod as she followed him on board. She sat in the copilot's chair and helped Vague run the preflight checks. Apparently the doctor knew as much about starships as she did about medicine. Vague would have been surprised by this if he hadn't already learned to expect the unexpected with her. Not long after the ship was underway, blasting off into orbit. Once they were clear of the planet's gravity well Vague navigated to the closest hyperlane and began the jump. The cold blackness of space slipped away to be replaced by the swirling blue of a hyperspace tunnel. All they could do now was wait.

"It'll be a couple of hours before we arrive," Vague said as he half turned in his chair to face her. "We should go over this plan of yours to grab Lyshani."

Micaiah's expression seemed distant as she ran her hand over the bracelet on her wrist. Finally, she stood and moved to the back of the cockpit, keeping her back turned towards him if only for a moment. She seemed to be struggling with something and Vague wondered whether it was a lack of trust or something else.

"Here," she said at last, turning back to face him. Her bracelet was off her wrist and in her hand now and she was handing it to him.

Vague stood and crossed the short distance to join her and when he did she quickly placed the bracelet around his wrist. Much to his surprise it fit perfectly despite the fact her wrists were clearly smaller than his. She tapped a few keys on the holographic display and an image appeared in the air in front of him. She toyed with it, turning knobs and making adjustments before finally entering a command to activate. Vague tried to follow what she was doing but the names of all the controls were in a language he'd never seen before. Finally, the image faded and the bracelet lit up, surrounding Vague in an aura of light that gradually molded itself into the image of a Devaronian. Vague turned and caught a glimpse of his reflection in the transparisteel glass behind him.

"A combination of nanites and micro holo emitters," Micaiah explained. "Together they create an imperfect image that is normally used to fool electronic surveillance, but the disguise can also fool a person, up to a point."

As she finished that last word she stepped in front of him and pressed her finger against his chest to demonstrate her point. Vague glanced down and could clearly see her hand passing through the disguise with very little resistance. "You can use this to get close enough to Lyshani to stun her, but keep your distance from anyone else," she continued, "She won't come out into the open until she's sure this isn't a trap set by you or the others. She'll have the Oracle with her and the Zabrak for security, though I'm sure you can handle him. However, she's been on the planet long enough by now to have seduced others under her control so you may find yourself outnumbered. Do try to remember that these people aren't one hundred percent aware of what they're doing, so try not to kill them."

Vague's eyes narrowed, the holographic image of the Devaronian mimicking his expression. It was starting to sound like her plan involved him doing everything. "Where--," he started then stopped suddenly at the sound of his own voice.

"Voice modulation," the doctor told him. "The nanites will modulate the sound of your voice to match your new form. There are certain limitations, however. The holographic disguise cannot make you appear physically smaller than you are and as you've seen any physical objects such as a hand will simply pass through it."

Vague cleared his throat, the sound of it coming out deeper than his normal baritone. "Where will you be," he asked.

"I'll be close by," she assured him, "but I won't be providing backup, I'm sorry."

She quickly turned and stepped away from him and Vague could swear he saw a slight quiver in her shoulders. Given what she had told him before about being part of an organization tasked with eliminating anyone who learned their secrets he could only assume that she had been trained as an assassin. If that assumption was true then how exactly does someone like her develop such an aversion for violence? It wasn't just a choice, no. She seemed genuinely afraid of it. The doctor would probably describe it as PTSD.

"Anyway," she continued, interrupting his thoughts, "my contact will send us the coordinates of the meet as soon as we touch down. For now, I'm going to get some rest. I've been up for three days now tracking this woman down."

She half-turned then and pointed to his wrist. "Press your thumb against the display to deactivate the disguise. Press it again to activate it and, Captain, when this is over I'll need that bracelet back," she told him and Vague noted a certain edge to her voice. She seemed awfully protective of the device. Before he could say anything, however, she had already turned and left the cockpit...

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Vague watched her retreat with equal parts suspicion and curiosity twisting his normally stoic facial expression. The warnings and protestations from his crew now echoing softly in the back of his mind. She didn't sign up for any of this. he reminded himself. Whatever it was that the Sylarian was playing at, he had to assume that her focus and motives rested surely on self preservation and not some sort of ulterior malice towards him or his family.

"Still, though..." He muttered aloud, no longer phased by the modulation altering his tone and pitch. On the Wanderlust, she was the one to engage with me on both occasions, not the other way around.

It was a realization that he didn't like coming to. Firstly because it was something he'd overlooked during the chaos of the botched heist. Secondly for the implications it brought to mind. He shook his head briefly before turning back towards the cockpit, thumbing the display on the wrist-let along the way and deactivating the disguise. Once seated again behind the pilots yoke, he frowned at his reflection on the crafts display panel. Instincts long honed into the former agent urged him that Micaiah was simply too great a risk and that continued exposure to him and his team was ill advised. In another life the decision would have already been made. She would be eliminated, her tech and belongings becoming his, and he would have systematically gone about removing any and all traces of their paths crossing from existence. That, of course, was Auden Ward talking.

Durin turned his head slightly and glanced back in the direction of the hold where she was likely resting now and sighed. What was it she had said back on the bedlam? "I don't know if there's any reason to thank me yet, Captain. I'm still not sure where I stand in all this, but after seeing that girl... Well, let's just say I feel motivated to help.". It'd been several days now since they'd ran away from the carnage aboard the Wanderlust, and to her credit the Sylarian had yet to take issue with him or his crew in regard to her status and future. Was the reason for that an altruistic one, not wanted to distract from their efforts to save Masilda? Or, was it because she had a plan and had already set things in motion to secure her freedom?

He sighed heavily. Like so many other questions, he had no way of answering that one at the moment. The Captain glanced down at the readouts, checking their time to destination and the ships health. He, too, needed rest... But now wasn't the time. Instead, he turned his attention to the device secured around his wrist. To say the little device was impressive was a gross understatement. Vague of course have many, many ways of putting together a disguise, up to and including a portable three-dimensional printer that could create a mask - or given enough time a complete bodysuit - to alter ones likeness with exacting precision... but this tiny wrist-let could do so n miliseconds... A stray thought occured to him as he recalled her warning "when this is over I'll need that bracelet back.", perhaps there was something in the wrist-let that could help shed some light on mysteries surrounding Micaiah.

Everything about the device was foreign to him. It had no visible controls or buttons and all the commands and inputs were in a language he could not understand. He'd lost count of the amount of times he'd activated and deactivated the disguise that she had programmed into it. He was just starting to get concerned about what sort of power supply the wrist-let used and how close he might have been to draining the remaining charge, when he finally managed to activate something other than the Devoronian mask. Without warning or fanfare, a holographic image suddenly leapt to life and took form over top the ships dashboard in front of him. It took Vague a few seconds to make sense of what his eyes were seeing. Truly, it wasn't until he heard the familiar tones of Tsivoin's young and unsure voice that he managed to put it all together.

"...and I don't even know if you can hear me, Nova. I just- Look, things are bad, here. Everyone's so busy- we're trying to help Masilda she's in real trouble with that guy Richter and his people. That healer, Mic-Micaiah? She says you're 'past the worst of it', whatever that's supposed to mean." He paused, his horned head hanging down between his arms for a few moments before he reached out a grey and black tattooed hand and rested it atop of Nova's which were crossed over her midsection. "Nova I can't lose you too. I won't lose you too. You have to fight this, come back here. I'm scared-"

Vague took a deep breath and tried to replicate his previous movements, eventually finding a sequence that shifted the signal from the med-bay, he didn't feel right intruding on the Zabrak's conversation with his friend. The image shifted to one of the 'Bedlam's commons area, and then the cockpit. The captain's eyes narrowed down into slits as the implications became clear in his mind. The Sylarian had installed some sort of surveillance system aboard his craft- his home. Before he could dwell any further on how pervasive of a breach this was to him and his crew, there was a chime from the crafts control board. He fumbled with the wrist-let for a few more seconds and managed to disengage the connection to his ship. They were nearing Nar Shaddaa and he didn't have time to deal with this properly.

Flipping a few switches he cleared his suddenly dry throat and hollered back into the ship, "Reversion in 40 seconds." before he returned his focus to the ships controls and prepared to take them down to the surface.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Micaiah was already awake when Vague called back into the bowels of the ship. She had set a timer for two minutes before arrival so she could send out a message to her contact. By the time they had reverted back to normal space he had already gotten back to her with the coordinates for the meet, the problem was they only had an hour to get there and Lyshani wasn't planning on sticking around. This was going to be tight, but Masilda's life counted on them succeeding here so it wasn't like they had much of a choice. She stood from her chair and moved to the cockpit, taking the seat next to Vague to assist in landing the ship. When she glanced over at him she noticed a shift in his demeanor. Somehow he seemed colder, more distant. Was he thinking about Lyshani's betrayal? Or something else? There wasn't any time to discuss it further, however, before the control tower contacted them for identification.

Vague answered the call and fed them their clearance. Shortly after that the ship was landed in a berth at the largest spaceport on the planet. The whole process had been somewhat awkward, however, as Vague barely said a word to her the whole time. That really had her concerned that whatever bothered him had something to do with her. Perhaps he suspected a trap. "My contact informed me the meet is taking place here," she said, passing the coordinates to Vague's datapad. "It's an alleyway in the Red Light district. Lyshani is no doubt planning a counter-attack if this turns out to be a trap. Unfortunately, we don't have much time to prepare for it, we only have forty minutes to get there so we better hurry."

**********

"I can't lose you too. I won't lose you too..."

Those words echoed through the cavernous dark that surrounded her. On some level she was vaguely aware that it was Tsivoin's voice she was hearing, but where was he? She'd been wandering in the darkness for what felt like hours, unable to find her way out of this cavern. A voice kept pulling her forward. Was it Tsivoin's? Or someone else? She couldn't know for sure. She didn't even know how she ended up here or even where "here" was.

"Hello," she cried out into the darkness, her words echoing off unseen walls far into the distance. "Is anyone there?"

No answer. She waited but the voice she heard never found its way back to her. "Please! If someone is there please help me!"

Still no answer, so she wandered on. One uncertain step after another until suddenly the ground gave out from under her. A loud rumbling filled the space as she tumbled into the darkness among falling debris. She fell head over heels down a long slope before crashing to the bottom in a heap. A figure stood before her wearing a dark cloak. She instinctively backed away from him, her hand reaching for a weapon that wasn't there.

"Are you so scared of me that you would attack before asking a question," the figure said, speaking in a voice that was familiar to her.

"Richter, what are you doing here," she asked, climbing back up to her feet.

Light years away aboard another ship the half cyborg sat cross-legged in a room. His one good eye closed as the corners of his mouth curled up into a smirk. "Somehow I knew that wound wouldn't kill you," he said. Seemingly speaking to no one for anyone present and watching, though his true audience was somewhere else.

Nova looked confused. "Wound? What wound? What are you talking about?"

Richter frowned at her. "Elena, do you know where you are?"

Nova cast her eyes back and forth but she had no answer. Richter waited and watched but as soon as he saw the uncertainty in her eyes he answered. "You are in a Force trance," he told her, "You instinctively trapped yourself in here, slowing your heart rate and buying enough time for that young doctor to save your life, but now that you're here you have no idea how to get out."

Nova said nothing and simply glared at him. She didn't need to know whether or not his words were true or not, it ultimately didn't matter. He attacked her on the Wanderlust and Wes Napal nearly killed her. If anything he proved that he couldn't be trusted.

Richter sighed, the first sign of genuine emotion to cross his visage. "Elena, there's no reason for us to be enemies here. Once upon a time you and I were friends. I still remember that little girl that used to cling to my leg during Master Skywalker's teachings."

"You are not my friend," she hissed at him, "The Richter I knew would never kill in cold blood."

"The Richter you knew was young and a fool," he answered flatly, "The fall of Skywalker's temple taught me that along with a great many things. I lost my arm and half my face was badly scarred by the flames, but more importantly than that it taught me that the light is weak. Misu and Wes, they understood the message the dark side sent to us. If we are to survive in this world then we must learn to use its gifts. That is why we attacked you on the Wanderlust. We are merely trying to protect ourselves from our enemies and you threatened to stand in the way of that."

Nova gave him an exasperated look. "What enemies?! What are you even talking about?!"

Richter narrowed his eyes at her. "I'm sure you've seen them. The Knights of Ren? They hunt us relentlessly but they are merely servants to a much greater evil. A power the likes of which the galaxy has never known..." His words trailed off as he turned his back on her. "I've seen him, Elena, I've seen his face. Some day you'll see him too and I hope on that day you'll be strong enough to make the same choice as me."

"Never," she told him, "I will never choose the dark over the light."

He frowned, then slowly shook his head. "Still clinging to your foolish ideals," he said as he turned back to face her, "You of all people should know that you owe this world nothing. If anything the world should owe you. Think of all the people who threw you away. You are powerful enough to squeeze whatever joy you want from this miserable existence yet you choose to wallow in obscurity, desperately seeking the acceptance of others. Learn to live for yourself and no one else. Break your chains and the Force shall set you free."

Nova's entire body went cold when she heard those words. She knew where they were from, she'd heard them before. From one of the holocron's in Master Skywalker's vault. The red one, wasn't it? What did it say again? What was it about those words that sent a chill down her spine? "Richter, what have you done," she asked him, her eyes wide with fear.

"I have merely rediscovered the truth," he told her, "I will share it with you, if you are willing."

"No," she whispered, "No, I cannot... Richter, you need to stop this now. Please, it's not too late to come back to the light. I don't want to have to fight you."

He stared at her sternly. "And what power do you believe you wield from here," he asked, "You who can't even find her way out of this illusion. You are trapped in here, perhaps forever. I could set you free had you been willing to accept my gifts, but apparently you prefer to cling to your weakness instead. Maybe after being trapped in here for a year or two you might feel different, but by then I will have already accomplished my goal and will have no further need of you. Perhaps I will save you, perhaps I won't. Should you manage to break free of this prison, however, I will not hesitate to kill you if you confront me again. Farewell, Elena."

As he spoke his last words his dark form began to fade into nothing, dispersing into the shadow and leaving Nova alone in the dark...

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

Vague had reactivated the disguise upon landing as the risk that Lyshani may have spotters at the spaceport was simply too great. As he walked had to admit that Micaiah had at least chosen a fairly good cover. No one would think twice about a Devaronian stalking about the Smugglers' Moon... But at the same time, due to their fiendish appearance, most denizens gave Devaronian's a wide berth and often went out of their way to not engage them directly.

"Must be the horns." He muttered under his breath.

"What was that?" Micaiah asked from his side.

"I was saying," Vague explained, "That the Red Light Sector is on the far side of the Duros Sector. If memory serves, we need to skirt between the Club Vertica and Star Cluster Casino's to get there." He paused to look back down at the datapad. They were just on the outskirts of the Promenade now. She hadn't been kidding, they would be hard pressed to get to the meet before the forty minutes were up.

Vagues eyes narrowed, surely that had been done deliberately in order to prevent a potential buyer from scouting the location or setting up any defenses of their own. Not for the first time since he'd left Tailring, the Captain was questioning the wisdom of leaving his crew behind and putting his faith in this relative stranger. He recalled her warning aboard the ship about how she wouldn't be providing backup as he observed the density of foot traffic increasing the further they headed towards their destination.

"Mayhap we split here," he offered, his tone level. "I'll be able to navigate the crowd more swiftly on my own."

Micaiah nodded. "I won't be far behind," she told him. "If the worst should happen just--be careful."

Vague gave her a sidelong glance. Was that genuine concern in her voice? The Devoronian visage displayed overtop his features twisted itself into a confident, if not a bit intimidating, smirk. "Always." he spoke, then set his focus to the ebb and flow of the crowd. He had a lot of ground to cover, and an ever diminishing amount of time to do so.

In the end, he passed through the Duros sector without incident and entered into the seedier Red Light sector with a scant six minutes before the meet was to go down. Unfortunately, that was the end of his smooth sailing. Once he'd turned onto the main corridor, aptly named Crimson Road, he found his disguised image was no longer effective at keeping the locals distant. Rather the opposite, it seemed, as he impatiently explained to yet another street dealer that he was not interested in procuring any spice.

He needed to get another couple of blocks along, the alleyway was wedged between the Crimson Road and the Red Light Sector Concourse which served as this areas major marketplace. Vague squared his shoulders and set off with a more determined gait. It was a risk, as a Devoronian antiquities trader he did have a part to play and setting off at a dead sprint like his friends life depended on him making this meet surely wasn't going to jive with the character.

The Captain resisted the urge to sigh in relief as he finally arrived at the coordinates that Micaiah had sent to his datapad. He took a moment to compose himself, then turned and strode confidently into the alleymouth. He immediately recognized the brute of a Zabrak, Raav Vesede, loitering near a dumpster at the far end of the alleyway. Vague counted two more beings near Raav which he imagined were some of Lyshani's new local thralls. He suspected there were likely more down-on-their-luck beings lurking under cover in the buildings nearby, but without a team or a surveillance suite he had not way to know for sure. He crossed about halfway down the alleyway towards the waiting henchmen and then held his arms out towards his sides with a nod of greeting.

"Necci Gun, at your behest," He spoke with a quarter bow. "I'm buying... if you're selling?"

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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True to his word the Captain did make fairly good time in arriving at the rendezvous. Micaiah found it surprisingly difficult to follow him through the Duros Sector. That all changed, however, after entering the Red Light District. For a moment it looked like he would make the rendezvous with time to spare. Then suddenly Micaiah found herself holding her breath as he rounded the final corner just in the nick of time. Raav was there to meet him, along with two more individuals. Micaiah used a pair of macrobinoculars to surveil the area, noting the heat signatures of at least four other individuals in the building across from Vague. Three of which looked like they were brandishing weapons.

"You're late," Raav said, his voice being picked up by the com in Vague's ear and transmitted to her. "We were just about to leave."

He snapped his fingers and one of his lackeys lifted a metal case and set it down on the ground between him and Vague. "I trust you have our payment," the Zabrak continued.

Micaiah frowned. Where was Lyshani? Her psych profile suggested she was a control freak. There was no way she'd let this deal go down without her. She had to be somewhere close by. She lifted her macrobinoculars again and scanned the surrounding buildings. There was one heat signature close by, a few floors up. A lithe figure with feminine curves that had to be her. There was something else next to her as well. A small spherical object that was shedding an incredible amount of heat. Could that be the Oracle?

She raised her hand to her ear and activated her com. "It's a decoy," Micaiah said to Vague, "She's testing you. She's in the building across from you, two floors up. She has the Oracle. There are four more heat signatures on the ground floor, they looked armed."

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

Extensive training and experience helped Vague to resist the natural urge a being has to react to the disembodied voice of someone speaking into an ear-wig comm device. Over his years he'd seen many operators, both on his side and not burned by an ill-timed reaction to direction from their overwatch. In his minds eye, he played back from memory the image of the surrounding area making note of building that Micaiah had identified.

Wonderful. he thought to himself, though he couldn't say he was surprised. Lyshani always did make things difficult.

The Captain allowed his attention to flag for a moment, covering up the fact that he was taking stock of the henchman next to Raav. They were lightly armed, but neither was poised to draw holstered blasters. He returned his focus to Raav and draped on some impatience to his demeanor and tone. "Look, one hornhead to another, I didn't travel all the way to this sleemo backwater to play games," He took a couple steps forward but stopped short when the henchman closed off their stances. "Credits, I have. Let there be no worry there. I'll need to examine the orb, however, if we are to proceed."

Raav opened his mouth to say something then stopped suddenly, raising his hand up to his ear. He seemed to be listening to something as if someone were speaking into him through an earpiece. He muttered something under his breath that neither Vague nor Micaiah could hear. After waiting for a response he finally lowered his hand to his side.

"Head upstairs two flights to the conference on the second floor," he said, indicating the front door to the building Micaiah had mentioned earlier.

A short distance away Micaiah frowned. Lyshani was trying to lure him into a tight space. A more effective arena for her pheromones. She considered telling Vague but she knew he was already thinking the same thing. All he had to do was stick to the plan... Then fight off a horde of lovesick thugs.

Durin struggled to keep back the smirk as he watched Raav do nothing at all to hide the fact that he was being directed from above. His tradecraft was worse than a toddlers. After the brutish Zabrak gave him the instructions, Vague replicated the quarter-bow he'd offered when he first entered the alley. While doing so, he began to run the numbers. Three here on the outside, another four on the ground floor, plus the Pink Lady herself. That was, of course, assuming they didn't have more backup nearby out of visual scanning range.

As he began to move he brought his attention back to the here and now. It wouldn't do for his gait and mannerisms to revert to a tactical posture that betrayed the character he was playing so he made a concerted effort to remain relaxed and, at least outwardly, not so aware of his surroundings. He entered the building and saw one of the four beings that Micaiah had identified just inside the doorway. A Nikto sub-species he wasn't inherently familiar with. Vague allowed for the expected pause and surprise to play out over his features, before the Nikto gruffly motioned with the barrel of his blaster rifle towards the staircase at the other end of the hall. Of course there was no lift.

"Old fashion, I see," Vague commented aloud. "Good thing I'm not here to buy a statue then." The Captain had no idea what kind of capabilities the Sylarian's tech may or may not have, he wasn't sure if she could see into the building or just the heat from the occupants. This way, at least, she would know he was being funneled into a staircase prior to arriving at the conference room.

"Just you keep your claws to yourself, or don't," The Nikto brandished the rifle a bit more aggressively as he continued, "Give me a reason."

Vague was sure to offer the appropriate amount of deference to the thug and his posturing, surely an antiquities trader such as Necci Gun had seen his fair share of overzealous security contractors, but it wouldn't do anyone any good to set off a spark down here, not before he'd finished his business upstairs, anyway.

The Captain had barely ascended the first flight of stairs before he felt the telltale signs of exposure to the Zeltron's alluring presence. She must have been laying it on thick. The edges of his vision started to warble slightly, his mouth went dry and he felt a prickling heat rising to the surface of his skin. If it was this bad in the stairwell... There won't be a second chance if the first shot fails. he cautioned himself. Predictably, as he pushed through the second flight of stairs, Micaiah's voice cut through the comm once more. "Captain, your temperature is spiking. It's imperative that you stun the Zeltron as soon as possible."

No shavvit. Vague thought to himself in silence. It wasn't as if there was anything else he could do, at this point. He emerged at the top of the staircase and took a moment there at the railing. It was plausible that the character he was playing may not have been in the best shape and two flights of stairs could have been plenty for the Devoronian to need a break to catch his breath. Secondly, it would hopefully signal to Lyshani that the potential buyer of the Oracle was being effected greatly by her pheromone output. In reality, he needed to steady himself, gather what faculties he had remaining, and get a tactical sense of the layout before he proceeded any further into the Zeltron's den. There were a handful of doors on either side of the hallway. Vague was struggling to count them and ultimately he gave up.

There was only one door open, that must be the conference room. It was about two and a half meters from the staircase. He took a short second to reach down and confirm that the snub-blaster was still secured to his waist. Thankfully Micaiah's disguise was projected outward far enough that it completely concealed the small weapon, and none of the Zeltron's thugs had bothered to search him physically. It was now or never and Vague knew it. He pushed off of the railing and did his best not to stagger as he made his way to the threshold of the conference room. Forcing himself to pause, his head getting dizzier and his thoughts less his own each moment, he knocked his knuckles against the door jam.

"Oh, do come in." He heard Lyshani's smug voice from deep inside the room. Ideally, he'd have preferred to simply toss in a stun grenade and call it a day, but he needed to confirm that she did indeed have the Oracle before he dropped her or they would be back to square one. Almost reluctantly, he strode forward and entered the conference room. It was dimly lit, there was some sort of energetic music playing from a device in the corner... and on the far side of the table Lyshani stood, a durasteel case in front of her. "My dear Necci Gun, you should not have come alone." He heard her speak, but the words sounded muffled, as if he were underwater.

Vague replied. "And you should have had your lackey's search me." He couldn't see the expression on her face through his blurred vision but he hoped it was confusion, or maybe fear. He thumbed off the disguise and threw her his trademark smirk as the Devoronian visage dissolved to reveal the face of a man she knew all too well.

"How-" He pulled the trigger three times--he couldn't be sure which one of the three Zeltron's he saw in front of him was the real one--sending a series of indigo hued stun rings in her direction. He would have kept pulling the trigger too, but he heard the muffled noise of her body hitting the floor. Unfortunately, rendering her unconscious did nothing for the fog of pheromones already released into the room and so still thoroughly intoxicated, he clumsily stumbled forward to take hold of the case. He needed to make sure it was the real deal, and quickly. It wouldn't be long before her lackey's came to investigate the ruckus.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by Pryde »

Almost immediately after the shots were fired six more heat signatures appeared inside the building on the second floor. Emerging from various doorways leading to the conference room. Shavvit, she cursed, the rooms were heat shielded! She lowered her macrobinoculars and raised her hand to her ear. "Captain, you need to grab the oracle and get out of there now. You're about to be surrounded... Captain?!"

She could hear him grunting and fumbling with something on the other end but he seemed too distracted to respond to her. Were the Zeltron's pheromones already that strongly dispersed? She thought back to when she noticed Vague's temperature rising in the stairwell. The pheromones were already affecting him back then, but that couldn't have been possible. With the air filtration system inside the building the pheromones shouldn't have lingered long enough to pollute the stairwell as well as the entire second floor, unless... She disabled the air filtration system, she grumbled quietly to herself. She hadn't thought of that of and she sent Vague in there without any backup. Even with the Zeltron down there's still a strong possibility he would fall under her sway. At the very least she couldn't emit more pheromones into the air but that was only a small mercy.

She lifted the macrobinoculars to her eyes again. The four heat signatures on the bottom floor were already making their way upstairs including Raav and the two others outside as well. Vague was about to be trapped in that room with Lyshani and no way out. "Vague! Move it now," she shouted into the com. Still no response.

She stowed the binoculars away for a moment and turned her back on the scene playing out before her. Her hands unconsciously balled into fists and her whole body trembled. Was she really going to let the Captain fend for himself against so many opponents? She saw the way he handled himself on the Wanderlust, but this was different. This time he was trapped and under the effects of what was effectively a drug. Even if half of his senses weren't impaired he would still find himself completely overwhelmed. Shavvit! Shavvit! Shavvit, she swore under her breath as she sprinted towards the building...

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

Inside the conference room, Vague had opened the case and held a portable scanner against the outside of the orb. He squeezed one eye shut in a desperate attempt to focus on the scanners readout, but it was no use. The edges of his vision were still thoroughly obfuscated and every beat and screech from the media player in the corner of the room seemed to shoot a different colored wave across what he could still see. No choice. It’s either real or not. He thought to himself. He could hear Micaiah shouting something over the comm but the noise merely added to his disorientation. Whatever she had to say he could assume it wasn’t good news.

The Captain hastily stashed the scanner in a pocket on his vest, then re-holstered the snub-blaster. It wouldn’t do him any good until he had regained visual acuity. Instead he drew a full size combat blade from a sheath on his flank and rested the trailing point style blade flat against his forearm in an inverted grip. He then started to attempt to attach the Oracle and its carrying case to a modular set of webbing at the small of his back. By his calculations, he had about ten seconds or so before any of the ground level thugs would be able to reach his position. He’d no sooner than finished that thought, however, when a trio of beings barged into the conference room.

Under his impairment, Durin had no idea what manner of species, gender, now age they might be. He could tell one of them was abnormally large, however, and that one reached the edge of the table between Vague and his assailants and immediately turned the massive piece of furniture in its end. Unprepared for the onslaught, Vague lost his grip on the case and it went tumbling off in the direction of the offensive media player. He turned to attempt to track the case and immediately regretted it as a rainbow of coiled waves assaulted his vision from the blaring music. A strong shake of his head brought a semblance of control back to the Captain and he backpedaled swiftly in response to the rush from the thugs. He only made it a handful of steps before the heel of his boot connected with something, Lyshani’s unconscious form, Sending the human backwards towards the duracrete.

He braced himself for the landing But never felt the impact upon his backside. Rather, he felt a sharp tightening from the front of his vest and an almost immediate shift in inertia as the larger foe caught hold of his front and flung him bodily to the other side of the conference room. Vague’s flank right flank struck the ground first, then he rolled a couple times before sliding to an abrupt halt against the rooms exterior wall. He gasped for air as it’d evacuated his lungs upon impact with the floor, and tried to scramble his way into a defensible position.

He needed the Oracle, he needed out of this pheromone rich room, he needed to even the odds, and he needed time. At this particular moment, it looked as though he would get none of these things. Work the problem. he thought to himself. He was mid-heave for some much needed oxygen when another of the thugs reached him and sent a violent boot stomp towards his head. Vague reacted as best as he could. The former operative was trained extensively in multiple combat disciplines, but almost all of them relied on precision and control to accomplish the task. Under the influence as he was, they would be of little help to him. However, in his youth, a troubled Auden Ward was often mixed up in local street gang warfare, and that manner of combat had been simple, clumsy, but brutally effective.

It was difficult to get his mind to stop trying to make sense of what his eyes were reporting, but with a concerted effort he was able to convince his muscles to move to intercept the kick -in the general direction of where it was likely coming from- with debatable success. The thugs boot still struck Vague just behind the temple, and it’s rugged rubberized tread made mince-meal of the upper edge of his right ear. He was, however, able to grasp the thugs shin just above his ankle and pulling the direction of the stomps momentum. This drew the attacker off balance and allowed Vague to twist and lunge, slicing his blade upward and effectively hamstringing this opponent. Durin heard the surprised scream at the same time that he was pelted with a spray of the attackers warm blood. The thug dropped to the floor clutching at the back of his thigh tightly and writhed in pain which afforded Vague the opportunity to finally get back to his feet.

He immediately backpedaled until his shoulder blades hit the wall behind him, then he reset into a fighters stance with gently bent knees and distributed weight while he tried to make sense of of room before him. Counting the thug he’d put to the ground, he had to guess there were five to six adversaries now arrayed against him. “Lewra em herin.” Vague proclaimed in his native Socorran tongue, then with a flick of his wrist, he activated the vibro-portion of his blade and in a blur, flung it towards the center of the nearest blur of an assailant.

He didn't wait to hear the blade strike, though it most certainly did. The victim of the tossed blade crumpled to the deck, spurring the remaining four active combatants into motion. Traditional doctrine told Vague to find a way to create separation. Four against one was fools odds. However in the confined space of the conference room there was little available to him in order to achieve that goal. The one advantage he might have had, the table, had been nullified by the big one on his way through the door. So instead Vague merely focused on the nearest target of opportunity. Work. The. Problem.

The fray was intense and time slowed as Durin battled for his life against Lyshani's love-struck throng. He'd been able to disable another pair of the beings, but at great cost. The massive attacker now had him locked into a particularly determined choke hold, while the remaining thug was pummeling his midsection. Vague felt something give, rather painfully, in his chest and lost what little air he'd had left to work with. His already distorted vision shrank to pinpricks and adrenaline shot through his system. This wasn't going to be the end. In a last ditch effort he mustered all his remaining strength and struck backwards at the larger being even as a viscous right hook connected with his cheek bone.

The blow to the head took it's toll but he'd managed to catch the being that was choking him off guard and couldn't miss the opportunity. Using the momentum from the punch to his advantage Vague managed to twist and throw the larger being off of him. Having surprised both of his opponents with the daring move, he drew the snub-nose and fired twice. There had been no time to switch the blaster away from stun, but the massive thug was disabled, all the same.

He spun to face the remaining attacker but the thug had recovered and struck at Vague's wrist, jarring the blaster loose. Vague sighed and leapt into the air, breathless, and kicked both feet out into the chest of the other attacker. They both fell to the ground and Vague again felt a sharp pain in his chest. He wheezed and grimaced, but began dragging himself back into the corner of the room where he knew the Oracle had been discarded. None of this mattered without it. He'd just managed to secure both clips of the Oracle's case at the small of his back when the smaller of the two thugs shattered a chair across his shoulder blades. Vague slumped to the ground, temporarily dazed by the attack.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by Pryde »

What the hell is going on, Raav thought to himself as he rounded the first corner of the stairwell. He heard of the comm the Devaronian's declaration that he should have been searched followed by Lyshani's surprise just before she was struck by a stun bolt. He would have thought the Devaronian was trying to steal the Oracle had his men not reported back that there was a human in the room instead. The man who approached him in the alleyway was definitely not human. No amount of makeup or prosthetics could paint that convincing of a picture. Raav took the man at face value. He seemed harmless enough and he didn't carry himself like a warrior. The Zabrak was certain he could take the man in a fight if needs be, but now? Now he had no idea what was going on.

The first six of his thugs that had entered the conference room weren't reporting back. Whomever this man was he was good. If he could take out six opponents while under the influence of Lyshani's pheromones, then he was extremely dangerous. Once he had reached the top of the stairs he ordered the first four thugs to investigate the room while keeping the last two back with him. The three of them waited in the hallway just outside the room with bated breath as the four quietly entered.

Vague was hunkered down with his back against the interior wall of the conference room, struggling to catch his breath. The last of the six attackers had put up a tremendous fight. Each heave of his chest shot a sharp pain through the human and his head was throbbing. He was still dazed and intoxicated by the lingering haze of pheromones, but somewhere in the back of his mind, he thought he could hear muffled voices from the hallway outside. Very suddenly, the realization dawned on him that Lyshani still had more lackeys in the building.

The Captain had barely managed to rise up from his crouch before the next wave rushed through the door. He snapped out a sharp kick from his left leg and dislocated the knee of the third of four attackers as they piled into the room. The being fell to the ground just inside the threshold and slowed down the fourth goon. Vague then snapped into action, he was bruised, bleeding, and battered all over – it felt as though his whole body was on fire – but he had to push through the pain.

He made quick work of the first two attackers, eventually disarming one and at one point using that being as a shield when the fourth attacker drew a blaster and fired. The bolts struck the thug, and Vague rushed forward, keeping his now dead shield between him and the fourth attacker as he went. He burst through the conference room door and didn’t stop until the three of them hit the railing. Vague sent the two beings overtop of the railing and leaned against the metal bar as they fell one story down and landed on the first-floor steps loudly.

There were sounds of a struggle and intermittent blasterfire. Whoever was in there was still fighting back. Raav waited until the fighting seemed to die down then ordered his last two remaining men to surround the doorway. They’d barely gotten into position by the time Vague came barreling through the door with two of Raav’s men. As Vague leaned against the railing overlooking the staircase, Raav and his two henchmen had him completely surrounded with blasters drawn.

Raav's eyes widened the second Vague turned around and he saw who it was. "That's far enough, Durin," he said, "I don't know how you managed to trick our mistress, but you're not leaving here with that orb, so put it down."

Durin sighed heavily as he saw Raav and the other two thugs training their blasters on him. He slowly and cautiously raised his arms up and out to his sides slightly as he glanced to his left and his right, his inner monologue trying to work through the problem. He might get maybe one or two of them, but the third would almost certainly shoot him in the back. He carefully calculated the risks and as he reached behind himself, appearing to reach for the oracle, he heard the whine of a carbine charging up.

"No funny business now, Durin. Just hand it over, nice and--," Raav never got to finish what he was saying before a second attacker suddenly appeared. In the blink of an eye, she had completely disabled his gun arm, the limb falling limply to his side. He tried to use his other hand to swipe at her with the butt of his weapon, but she was moving too fast. Two more strikes and his left arm was disabled in the same fashion, followed by his right leg. All she had to do was strike him somewhere on the inside of his right thigh and his entire leg went numb, dropping him to the floor. When he looked up at her he saw the tiny little waif of a girl he met back on the Wanderlust just before the cocky Jedi got stabbed. It was the last thing he saw before she put his lights out with a well-placed kick to the head.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

Meanwhile, Vague had taken the opportunity to dispatch the remaining two thugs. He disoriented one by throwing the case containing the Oracle at him then quickly disabled the other. By the time the first got untangled from the metal case he had just enough time to bring his weapon to bear before the freighter captain was right on top of him. Vague grabbed his weapon and forced the barrel upwards. A single shot rang out, burning through the ceiling above their heads just before Vague put the man down with a solid punch to the jaw. He reached down and clipped the Oracle to his back again before turning around to look for Micaiah. He found the girl still next to the unconscious form of Raav. She had fallen to her knees, eyes wide in horror, her face completely pale.

Even though the fight was short it was enough to jar an old memory. In an instant she was back in that bloody room, corpses strewn about her, lying in separate pools of their own blood. The walls were stained with the same color of red that marred the floor and at the center of it all was her. Only she remained, the lone victor in what was effectively a slaughter. Her targets barely put up a fight and though she was not in complete control of her own faculties she still remembered every excruciating detail.

Vague approached where she’d fallen to her knees and placed a hand gently on her shoulder and she just about freaked. With a start, she tried to attack her new assailant, but her strike was clumsy and ill targeted. Impaired as he was Vague still managed to catch her by the wrist. The after-effects of the fight were clear to him, even in his disoriented state. He had suspected back aboard the Wanderlust but now Durin was all but certain that the Sylarian suffered from some form of post-traumatic stress from her pervious life. He knew from experience that beings in a state like hers were best handled with care and patience, but unfortunately, they didn’t have time for that now.

"C'mon, Mic, we need to go," he told her, his eyes projecting a warmth and caring that had been missing since they’d exited hyperspace over the planet.

Micaiah looked up at the sound of a familiar voice and stared into his eyes. From Vague's position it almost looked like she was not looking at him but rather through him. Finally, she nodded, and he helped her to her feet. After the ordeal and her jarring memory Micaiah's entire body felt numb. Her legs were like jelly and she leaned against Vague for support. Vague, meanwhile, could feel the violent trembles that shook her entire body. She barely said a word as they made their way downstairs and out into the alley where the air was clear and free of the pollution of the Zeltron's pheromones. Micaiah's trembling had subsided somewhat, but she still leaned on Vague for support. Her legs no longer felt as numb as they did a moment ago, but she still carried the emotional weight of her long-dead memory. She leaned against Vague not because she was unable to walk on her own but rather because she needed to feel his warmth. It was the only thing holding the nightmare at bay...

Vague was in bad shape. He’d essentially taken on about a dozen motivated and possibly even slightly deranged bodyguards while basically in a drunken stupor himself, and the further they got away from the building the more it started to feel that way. With each second that passed and each meter they got further away from Lyshani’s den, his wits and senses were returning to him. This was good, because he needed to focus and stay sharp now, especially since Micaiah seemed to be stuck inside her own mind for the moment. It was as equally bad, however, because he was becoming acutely aware of just how much damage he’d sustained inside that conference room.

The trek back to the hangar where they had parked their ship was arduous. Beaten and bloody, Vague drew plenty of attention from onlookers as they were forced to pass through densely packed public areas along the way. The Captain did his best to keep to the outskirts of the crowds but on a popular hub planet like Nar Shaddaa it was a monumental task and so they were regularly jostled about by passersby. Each instance shot blinding hot pain through Vague’s midsection, but he pressed on, doing his best to support Micaiah and keep them both out of harms way as they went.

Finally, Vague was able to guide the Sylarian up into their craft and laid her gently on the crash-couch in the main hold of the craft. She had yet to speak since they’d left Lyshani’s den, and while the pallid, vacant, horror filled expression on her face had subsided slightly since then it didn’t seem as though she’d be coming back around on her own any time soon. Vague delicately secured the safety restraints around her still slightly trembling form and offered her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “Hang in there, Mic,” he offered with a seriously strained voice. “I’ll get us home.”

He hurried as quickly as he could to the cockpit. At some point during the walk, he’d started shaking and had developed a cold sweat. He couldn’t be certain if it was due injuries sustained during the combat, or some form of withdrawal after such heavy and prolonged exposure to the Zeltron pheromones, but either way he knew he needed to get them safely into hyperspace and away from this place in case he were to pass out. It took ten minutes or so to gain appropriate clearances, breach the atmosphere, and escape the planets gravity well, during which time he sent a brief coded message off to his crew back at COS Tailring telling them they’d gotten the Oracle and were on their way back. A minute or two later, the course was plotted and he activated the pursuit crafts hyperdrive.

Vague exhaled painfully as the viewport was enveloped in the mottled blue and white vortex of hyperspace and slunk into the pilots chair of the craft. The Captain was a wreck. He was still bleeding from his mangled right ear. The skin over his forehead, right cheekbone, and lower edge of his jaw were broken open and bleeding. He’d sustained a couple slash wounds on his right arm and left flank and was certain he’d dislocated or broken several bones on the right side of his chest. Durin had every intention of seeing to sealing up his open wounds, and doing something about the swelling that was starting underneath his bruises, right after he checked on Micaiah and made sure she was comfortable and safe. He undid his crash restraints and moved to stand to do just that, but instead his legs defiantly folded underneath him and the battered man simply crumpled to the grated durasteel of the cockpit floor, wheezing and unconscious.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by Pryde »

When next Vague awoke he was lying on his back looking up at a holographic projection of his own body. He couldn't be sure but somehow his body felt better than it did before. He tried to move but stopped suddenly when he felt a hand on his chest. He tilted his head slightly to find Micaiah kneeling next to him. She had a wash cloth in one hand that she used to dab his forehead.

"Don't move," she told him, "You've been out for almost two hours."

She finished dabbing his forehead then dropped the cloth into the bowl of water she had sitting next to her. "Sorry, I know the floor isn't exactly comfortable," she told him, "I tried to move you but you're--heavy."

"Mic, are you..."

"I'm fine," she said, cutting him off. It was painfully clear she didn't want to talk about it.

Then she reached down and gently lifted the wrist upon which he wore the bracelet. "The bracelet keeps a log of the files accessed within the last forty eight hours," she explained. She tapped the display and the device lit up with the surveillance of Vague's ship. The image floating in the air just above the bracelet. "You must understand, when I put this in place I didn't know you. You left me alone on your ship to have a secret meeting with your crew. Were our roles reversed would you not have done the same?"

Vague’s gaze hardened as he regarded the Sylarian from his supine position on the starships deck plating. If she hadn’t just saved his life out-right, she quite likely spared him some very serious long-term damage. If for no other reason than that, he owed it to Micaiah to hear her out. For a moment he tried to place himself in her position, but it didn’t take long for him to realize he just didn’t know enough about the woman to step into her shoes.

“Look Mic, let’s not forget that you were the one who approached me in the Casino, you followed me to the vault, and you insisted on leaving the Wanderlust with the rest of us.” He pointed out, pausing to take a breath. “From where I lay, I’d say that I haven’t been suspicious enough about you and your motives – and I can confirm that the rest of the crew feels the same way.”

She began to immediately retort, and he raised his other hand up for her to pause. “Now, you saved the kids' lives and took a big risk exposing me to your tech in the process. That earned you plenty of credit with me and it is a debt that has only grown larger now that you’ve helped me reclaim the Oracle and patched me up here. But you bugged my home, our home. If the others knew – Mic, I can’t pretend to know or understand what you’ve been through I know that, but I’m not them.” Whether it was exhaustion or just the sheer pain of his Bedlam--his family's sanctuary--being violated like she’d done, Vague’s eyes narrowed and he struggled to keep the emotion out of his tone.

She sighed and looked away. He had a point she had to agree, but she had lived her life for far too long. "I'm sorry, but trust doesn't come as easy for me. In the program that's the first thing they take away from us. You and you crew have been very kind, but old habits...," she left the rest hanging in the air. Then she turned to look back at the hologram displaying the interior of Vague's ship and pressed a key on the holographic display. Bit by bit the image began to gradually break apart until it was gone completely.

"What did you do," he asked.

"I ordered the nanobots surveilling your ship to self destruct and purged all the recordings," Micaiah informed him before she unclipped the bracelet from his wrist and let go of his arm. She quickly slipped the device onto her own wrist then began gathering up all her medical supplies. "It was dangerous for you to toy with the bracelet," she continued.

Vague's eyes narrowed. "Because I managed to find your secret?"

"Because your fumbling disrupted its primary function," she chided him. "The bracelet monitors your system's vitals and automatically injects medical nanites into your bloodstream upon grievous injury, but somehow you managed to turn it off. Had you not toyed with the device you would not have walked away from there so wounded. You could've died!"

She turned her gaze towards him again and to Vague's surprise she looked--angry. At first he thought maybe it was because of his snooping but somehow he knew that wasn't true. Rather she was angry because she was genuinely concerned for his well being. He knew that, he couldn't explain how but he could feel it. Of course, what she hadn't told him and what he couldn't have known was that Sylarians were a strongly empathetic species. When in close proximity with another being a Sylarian could often sense the other's emotions, but it also worked both ways. If a Sylarian felt strongly enough about something that emotion could sometimes be felt by others. Even members of another species.

An alarm bell on the console behind them informed them they would be reverting to normal space soon. "Anyway, Captain," Micaiah said, standing up and then reaching out a hand to help him to his feet. "Your injuries are healing, but I wouldn't engage in any strenuous activity, at least for the rest of the day. In the meantime, I'll need you to report to the medbay so that I may run a more thorough examination of your lungs."

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

At the mention of his lungs, an alarm bell of a completely different nature set itself off in the forefront of Vague's mind. His grip on her supporting arm tightened and the momentum bringing him up to his feet faltered slightly. A set of blast doors slammed down behind the brown eyes that had only a moment ago been thankful, appreciative, maybe even a bit friendly. Vague took a slow breath and finished settling to his feet, but he didn't let go of the Sylarian's hand just yet.

"I'd rather not." he replied with a guarded tone. Vague’s damaged respiratory system was a closely and carefully guarded secret. Perhaps not entirely on the magnitude of Micaiah’s origins and past affiliation, but knowledge of how he’d sustained the impairment would certainly place an individual in very real danger. There were only a few known instances of the bio-engineered virus Aorth-6 being utilized, therefore awareness of Durin’s Aorth-6 exposure removed one more layer of separation from his old life, a dangerous life that he’d left behind. Knowing who he truly was, who he’d been, could only lead to tragedy.

Micaiah seemed genuinely surprised by this shift in demeanor. "Captain, I can't ignore this. According to your scans your respiratory system suffered some kind of trauma. A thorough examination will help to identify the cause of the injury as well as possible treatments."

Vague sighed and looked away from her curious gaze. He turned his eyes downward towards where he still held a firm grasp on her wrist. The irony of the fact that he’d just been lecturing her on the merit’s of trusting him and his crew wasn’t lost on him as he replied once more with a steady and flat tone, “I can’t allow you to do that.”

"Quent... Vague, while I respect your privacy the damage to your lungs is extensive. I highly recommend seeking treatment. Not doing so could put you at risk of further injury and considering your life style that could endanger your crew as well."

Vague tried to shake his head to clear his thoughts, the mentioning of his injury had conjured up some very unpleasant memories. As his vision re-focused, he could see just how tightly he was now squeezing Micaiah’s wrist and he immediately released the grip, taking a step backwards. “It’s not safe.” He said, trying to both soften his tone and keep the quiver out of it.

“Yes! Without a proper exam and diagnostic-“

“No. Mic,” He looked up and found her eyes with an expression that seemed as naked as any she’d ever seen him wear. “It’s not safe for you. For anyone. Forget you ever scanned me, please.”

Micaiah gently held her wrist in her other hand. Vague had been holding her so tight that it left a red mark on her skin. "You know that I can't," she told him flatly, "I took a hippocratic oath to treat all illness to the best of my ability, however," she added with a sigh, "I can't force you to seek treatment. Nor is it ethical to perform an invasive operation without your permission. I won't tell the others but this isn't an endorsement, Captain. My recommendation is still going to be to allow me to examine you."

The chime sounded once more, warning the pair to cut their confrontation short. Vague glanced first towards the cockpit, then at Micaiah's wrist and he sighed heavily. "I'm sorry, Mic. I still meant and stand by everything I just said down there," He spoke, motioning towards the deck he'd been lying on. "This secret though-" he paused to bring the fingertips of his left hand to tap at his chest, "It'd earn any confidant a deathmark and I can't abide that." With that, the Captain strode by Micaiah and gingerly took his place in the pilots seat. The Sylarian hadn't been exaggerating, he could tell even with that little bit of movement that she'd managed to heal a vast majority of the wounds he'd suffered back on Nar Shaddaa... but he was still tender.

He flipped a couple of switches, twisted a knob and rested his palm on the lever that would revert them back into realspace. He looked up at Micaiah's reflection in the transperisteel as she took her position in the seat next to him. "Ready?" He asked and waited while she secured herself in and offered him a silent nod in response. Vague pushed the lever forward, deactivating their hyperdrive and simultaneously routing power back to the Pursuer-crafts sublight engines.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by VagueDurin »

Meanwhile, back on the surface of Dosuun, the hour was late. Rossi had been scouring the meta-data on the transmission they had received from Richter looking for any possible lead to the darksiders location. She'd been awake for well over a cycle, running on little but protein nibs and fully leaded caf and the Kessurian desperately needed to rest. She carefully closed down her systems and stood, wrapping a utility jacket loosely over the exposed pink skin of her shoulders as she headed towards the row of containers that served as living quarters at COS Tailring. Orev and Slackjaw had turned in for the night already as they're doors were secured shut. She paused just before reaching her room as she noticed the door to Tsivoin's wide open. She gently knocked on the doorjam, waiting a few seconds, then upon hearing no response poked her head inside. "Campo? You in here?" She called out, keying on the light to confirm what she already suspected. The Zabrak wasn't there.

"Aye, voce jovem tolo." She muttered to herself, turning the light back off and turning her back on the row of living quarters. She moved at a brisk pace to cover the ground between the quarters and where the 'Bedlam sat on it's landing struts and Rossi hurried up the ramp and through the commons. She keyed open the door to the med bay and stifled a chuckle. The teenage Zabrak was there all right, passed out cold with his horned head draped over Nova's midsection at an eerily unnatural angle. She almost pulled out her data pad to snap a candid pic of the moment but refrained from doing so. "Campo." She spoke softly. There was no response. She took a step forward, and nudged his shoulder which seemed to do the trick.

Tsivoin startled awake with a sharp intake of breath and exclaimed "Break your chains!" He blinked violet eyes rapidly and a confused expression twisted his features. The first thing he processed was that the words he'd just shouted were not his own. They'd come from someone else... someone sinister. He shivered. Then he noticed that Rossi seemed to be standing on the wall-- no, that couldn't be right... Frowning, he came to the realization that his perspective was canted about the same time he felt the soreness in his neck. Heat rose to the teens cheeks as he slowly, painfully, righted himself and turned to face the Kessurian. "Rossi, what uh, is the doctor back?" She shook her head gently, and Tsiv felt for sure that she had a frightened look on her face. "Then what is it?" he asked, his tone a bit more irritated than he'd have preferred.

Rossi's expression shifted into a mix of annoyance and amusement as she did her best to try to ignore the chill that had shot through her when he'd woken and cried out. "I thought I would come check on your goofy behind when I noticed you hadn't gone to bed yet. For good reason, apparently. If you'd stayed crumpled up on top of Nova like that you're neck might have fused that way!" She tapped a booted foot against his own and offered him a softer smile. "Campo, it's late, we expect to hear from Vague soon and once we do -- Masilda is going to need us to be at our best. You need to get some rest. Come on." She finished and motioned back behind her towards the living quarters. "At least go lay down in your bunk for a few hours, if nothing else."

Tsiv was annoyed, but he knew deep down she was right. He glanced back at Nova and then reached out to squeeze her forearm gently. "I'll just be down the hall, mngani wami." he whispered gently.

Rossi stood back, observing casually but trying not to make it obvious. She couldn't shake the feeling that something had been wrong with Tsiv when she'd woken him. "Go on, get some rest Campo. We'll let you know as soon as we hear from Vague." She told the Zabrak as he passed her and headed out of the med bay with one last quick glance towards Nova's still form.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Nova had spent hours wandering the black abyss all the while considering Richter's words to her from before. He said that she had created this dream world on her own. That meant that she should be able to control it, right? Unfortunately, she'd been trying for a while with little luck. Figures I would trap myself in a trance with no idea how to get out, she grumbled to herself. If only she knew how she had done it in the first place then maybe she could figure out how to undo it. Finally, she stopped walking and sat down. Oddly enough, despite the fact that none of this was real she still felt physically exhausted from walking so much. She just hadn't noticed until she finally stopped moving.

With a sigh she laid on her back and stared up into the blackened sky. What would Master Skywalker do if he were here, she asked herself quietly. Her eyelids felt heavy and as she lay there she began to slip in and out of consciousness. Her mind wandered to the last time she saw Luke Skywalker alive.

"Well, you seem well and truly lost," a familiar voice spoke from behind her.

She quickly rolled over onto her stomach and looked up. Luke Skywalker stood before her adorned in his Jedi robes. He stood not in the darkness along with her but appeared to be inside his Jedi temple and as she became more and more aware of her surroundings she began to realize that's where she was too. Slowly she climbed back up to her feet, staring at the Jedi Master in bewilderment.

"This isn't real," she muttered quietly to herself.

"What makes you say that," Luke asked, "Because you arrived at this place through mediation?"

She could hear sounds from behind her, voices of Jedi she recognized. She slowly turned her head and found a throng of people behind her, diligently working on various exercises. Among them she could see the faces of Wes Napal, Misu Nim and even Richter before his appearance was marred by cybernetic implants. He was squared off with another Jedi, a young girl whom she recognized. It was herself.

"How is this possible," she asked.

"The ancient Jedi described the Force as a ribbon through time and space," Luke explained as he stepped up beside her. "Walk with me."

He turned and headed deeper into the temple. Nova spared one last glance at her younger self then turned to follow. "Master Luke, there's so much I have to tell you," she said as she hurried to catch up.

Luke shook his head. "Don't. Your experiences from the future are not for me to know. You, on the other hand, have come here seeking guidance."

He waved his hand at the doorway leading into the temple vault and beckoned her to enter. Nova hesitated for a moment before stepping in front of him to enter the vault. All around her the ancient Jedi artifacts Luke had collected throughout the years were safely stored inside various display cases or shelves. Nova stared at the room with a hint of sadness in her gaze.

"I used to sneak in here whenever I thought no one was looking," she said quietly.

"I know," Luke replied as he entered the room behind her. He crossed over to the other side and stood in front of a pedestal, atop which was a small red triangle.

Nova stepped up behind him, unable to take her eyes off the holocron. "What is it," she asked.

"A Sith holocron," Luke answered.

"Sith?" Nova said, finally tearing her eyes away from the holocron to look up at Luke.

"An ancient religious order opposed to the Jedi," Luke explained, "Your friends seek to revive a religion that is better off dead."

Nova felt a chill run down her spine as she looked once again at the holocron. "What does it mean to break your chains?"

"It's part of the Sith code," he said as he turned and moved into the center of the room. His voice sounded strangely subdued as he began to recite the code of the Sith. "Peace is a lie. There is only passion. Through passion I gain strength. Through strength I gain power. Through power I gain victory. Through victory my chains are broken. The Force shall free me."

The Force shall free me... That's what Richter meant. "You have to help me," she said, turning around to face him.

Luke shook his head. "I cannot. This fight is your own."

Nova looked crestfallen. "But I can't face them alone. I tried and I failed."

"But you're not alone, are you," Luke asked, giving her a knowing look. "You have friends to rely on and someone to train."

"Train," Nova asked incredulously, eyes widening in surprise, "'Tsivoin?! I couldn't possibly... I'm still just an apprentice!"

"An apprentice with the knowledge and skill of a Jedi Knight," he told her. "Elena, you are one of my brightest students. Don't fall into the trap of underestimating your ability. This task before you is one which you are fully capable of."

"I wish I could believe that," she muttered quietly to herself, averting her gaze from him. Her thoughts lingered on the crater Tsivoin left behind on Cantonica.

Luke walked over and rested a hand on her shoulder, giving her a sympathetic look. "All I can do... All I have done is taught you the tools you need to survive. What you become now is a choice that only you can make."

"But what if I make the wrong choices?"

He shrugged. "Then you learn to live with them," he told her, "No one is above making mistakes. Least of all the Jedi."

"Then tell me," she urged him, "I need to know what Richter and the others are planning."

He took his hand off her shoulder then turned away. A wary look passing over his visage. "The answer to that you must find for yourself. Seek the planet of Moraband, but beware. The dark side of the Force is strongest there. It is a place where Jedi rarely tread."

Moraband? She'd never heard of a planet with that name before. "How do I find this place?"

Luke gently shook his head. 'I have given you all the answers that I can. The rest now is up to you. Good luck, and may the Force be with you," he told her as he laid both his hands on her shoulders again and pushed her backward.

Nova cried out in alarm as she stumbled backward and fell. She tried to brace herself for impacting the floor, but to her surprise she hadn't fallen onto the floor but rather through it. The world above her appeared to shatter as though she had broken a mirror and she found herself tumbling head over heels into the darkness of an endless void until finally her eyes snapped open with a start. When she awoke she found herself on the Bedlam the soft beeping of medical equipment and her ragged breathing the only sounds she could hear. She tried to sit up but winced in pain, a not so subtle reminder of the wound she suffered in her gut. Giving up she tilted her head to the side and looked around, finding no one else in the room with her. Where is everyone?

**********

It was early morning when the Pursuer craft finally set down inside the hangar of COS Tailring. Vague wasted no time in gathering the others for an emergency meeting. They met inside one of the containers that had been repurposed to serve as a conference room, or a place for debriefing. The Oracle they brought back with them sat atop the table at the center of the room. Rossi and the others all stared at it with a look of disbelief.

"Are we sure it's the real one," Orev asked.

"It is," Micaiah answered. "The Orb is radiating power. I can feel it."

Orev cast a sidelong glance over to Vague who simply nodded. If Durin trusted her judgment then all he could do was accept it as truth. "So what is so special about this thing," Rossi asked suddenly, "Why are those guys looking for it?"

No one around the table had an answer for that. Orev finally reached out and picked up the Oracle, turning it over this way and that in his hands. "I don't see any buttons or switches or anything, how do you turn it on?"

"It is an artifact imbued with the Force," Micaiah explained, "Only the Force can activate it."

Rossi sighed, "And the only person who can do that is still in a coma." She glanced over at Micaiah. "I don't suppose you could activate it?"

The Sylarian shook her head. "No, I don't have the talent for it," she answered, then she turned her gaze to Tsivoin, "But he does."

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Ever since he’d entered the conference room, Tsivoin felt unnerved. As was his custom, the young Zabrak kept to the outskirts of the room. He was still struggling to identify his place within the group and without Nova to follow and/or hide behind he found it best to stay out of anyone else’s focus. He leaned against a storage locker, his violet eyes unnaturally focused on the Oracle in the center of the table. The odd sensation he felt had started around the time that Vague had removed the orb from its carrying case, but Tsivwasnt entirely certain that it was the cause of his unease. He couldn’t imagine what the rest of the crew would’ve thought had he tried to explain it. They’d think you’ve gone barvy he thought to himself.

The teen tried to focus on the edge of his conciousness - there was someone, something, there... just beyond his reach or awareness. It, he, felt familiar, comforting, but... wrong. He was so caught up in his own thoughts that he failed to process what Micaiah had just said, so too did he fail to recognize that all of the rooms occupants - except Rossi - had just turned their focus onto him.

The Kessurian, in contrast, struggled to keep her jaw from going slack and her eyes widened as she looked first at Tsiv, then Vague, then ultimately at Micaiah. Frak, frak, frak... oh Nova, I’m sorry. she thought to herself as she frantically tried to think of any way at all to derail what was about to come to pass. She was so keyed up and caught off guard by the Sylarians matter-of-fact outing of Tsivoins curse that she couldn’t stop a nervous giggle from escaping her lips, “Come on,” she asserted anxiously. “If that we’re true, surely Nova would have done something about it.” She tried to put an emphasis on her last words and shot a subtle look Micaiah’s way, but Rossi didn’t expect the Sylarian to understand. None of them could... thanks to the secrets you’ve been keeping. she admonished herself.

"It is true," Micaiah pressed. She caught the strange look from Rossi, but couldn't understand its meaning. Perhaps it had something to do with her previous coverup the last time Micaiah brought this issue to light. Either way they were pressed for time and whatever game they were playing would have to wait. "The Seldari--the Force," she quickly corrected herself, "flows strongly around those who can feel its influence the most. I cannot speak as to why Nova hasn't trained him yet, but he is Force-sensitive and for the moment your only shot at activating the Orb."

SlackJaw tilted his head and turned his yellow-green photoreceptors in the Sylarians direction. “You’re certain that our young Jedi-to-be would be aware of this... sensitivity?”

Rossi interrupted before Micaiah could respond. “The force is mystic, isn’t it? We can’t know that for sure. No matter how long we’ve been around the galaxy.” She spoke eyes narrowing just a smidge in Micaiahs direction. Rossi wasn’t even sure why she was still struggling to put Novas secret back in the bag. The Sylarian had dropped the truth on the proverbial table, after all. She knew intellectually there was no going back now. The Kessurian just wished that Nova was around to defend herself... and to deflect the blame.

Both Vague and Orev took a moment to regard Rossi - whose pink toned skin was going pale and who seemed to be stammering as if she were searching for some kind of a lifeline - then exchanged a knowing glance amongst themselves. Vague’s eyes narrowed and he turned his scrutiny towards Tsiv and Micaiah. By this point, Tsivoin had caught up with their conversation and was standing near the corner of the room with a completely dumbfounded expression on his face, and an unhealthy amount of fear in his eyes.

“You’ve known this whole time.” Vague spoke, his brown eyed gaze pointed towards Micaiah, though he spoke the words as both statement and question, and Rossi could tell that one of those two was aimed directly at her.

"Since the moment I met him," Micaiah answered back with a shrug. "I did ask him about it before, but he seemed to take offense at my choice of words."

Vague frowned slightly, and ultimately turned his focus to Rossi. He didn’t speak further, just sat very still and waited. Rossi couldn’t force her honey tinted gaze to meet his. She finally stood and tossed her hands up in the air. “Okay, fine! Yes. I knew,” she blurted out suddenly. “Nova confided it to me when we were preparing for the Chandrilla mission, alright. But she swore me to secrecy.” She ran a hand ough her light brown hair in exasperation. “It’s not like you think, though, ok- she couldn’t, didn’t...” Rossi stopped and spun around, turning her back to the rest of the occupants in the conference room.

“I’m sorry, Campo.” She said softly, looking over her shoulder at the disturbed looking teen as she recounted the terrible events that had unfolded back on Cantonica as Nova had described them, revealing to the whole room hat Tsivoin had done. “Nova didn’t want you to find out this way. She... she just needed more time to figure it out.”

Tsiv’s knees nearly buckled beneath him when she’d finished. “They'll fear you too after what you did on Cantonica.” it all came flooding back to him, like a succession of percussive waves one after another. She’d asked him about the events in the Tangle once or twice before... and he recalled how she’d treated him like the plague on Chandrilla... “She warned me that he’d tapped into a dark power, because of his emotions or something-“ Tsiv could hear Rossi still going on, telling the others about him. Visions of his home torn asunder, bodies wrenched and tossed aside, the cries and screams of the survivors... His hearts started to pound in his ears, and his breath shortened into hyper panting as he brought his hands up to either side of his head and squeezed against the pressure suddenly building up there.

The conversation continued oblivious to how it was affecting Tsivoin. After Rossi finished recounting her story Orev turned to look at Micaiah. "What do you know of this," he asked.

"Very little, I'm afraid," she said, "I know the Jedi had a view of the Force that included two opposing sides but my people do not share that belief. We don't see the Force as two parts of a whole but rather one supreme being, the Seldarin. Or, as it translates into your tongue, the 'Divine Authority.'"

Tsivoin slammed his violet eyes shut and clawed at his temples. It was as if a dam had suddenly given way, and strobing in and out of his minds eye were traumatic moments of his past. All the times when he’d been pushed to the brink and apparently had lashed out with the force unwittingly. In captivity, during his escape from slavery, on Cantonica... moments he couldn’t recall yet knew somehow that they’d happened.that he’d made them happen. There was a slight screech as he pushed backwards against the storage locker, causing it to shift against the duracrete.

Rossi was the first to notice, and without thinking she rushed to his side, noticing he was hyperventilating like he’d been when she and Nova had saved him from getting sucked out of the airlock. “Shhhh, Tsiv, Campo. I’m sorry. It’s going to be ok let’s just calm down and talk through this.” She whispered to him. Now would be a great time to come save the day, Nova she thought to herself sarcastically. The Kessurian then reached out and rested her palm on Tsivoins back, hoping to reassure the teen that things would be ok.

“Those people, the monsters, I.... Quiet.” Tsiv stammered. “Quiet, just be quiet.”

“Rossi, I think you should come back over here.” Orev spoke from where he, Vague, and SlackJaw had shifted to... but it was too late.

Without warning, Tsiv’s body began to warm up and vibrate beneath Rossi’s hand, and then suddenly he went very stiff and a shockwave of invisible energy struck out from him in all directions. The concussive force sending Rossi head over heels and forcing the rooms other occupants to stagger backwards. The Oracle was similarly effected, rolling swiftly off the table where oddly enough instead of following it shot up into the air about at eye level and began to glow from within. Tsiv, meanwhile, crumpled to the ground trembling and in a cold sweat. “The force shall free me.” He half whispered where he lay still virtually vibrating with agitation.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

Post by Pryde »

Micaiah was caught off guard by the sudden outburst of power. Other than Rossi she was the only other person standing close to Tsiv. The shockwave had affected her as much as the Kessurian. She was thrown backward into the wall, the force of the blow stunning her. By the time she had clawed her way back up to her feet the others, short of Rossi who had taken the brunt of it, were staring at the Oracle as it floated in the air before them. Little pinpoints of white light began to dot its surface with three of them lighting up gold. "It's a star map," Orev announced as he reached out to take the Orb. Before he could, however, Vague caught him by the wrist and pulled his arm back.

The aged freighter captain turned his gaze to Micaiah as she leaned against the wall trying to catch her breath. "What was that," he asked.

Micaiah stared at him helplessly. She wasn't quite sure. "I--," she started to say then another voice suddenly cut her off.

"It was the dark side," Nova announced from the doorway. She leaned heavily against the door jam, her left hand unconsciously covering the wound she had sustained from Wes Napal. "The dark side of the Force is fueled by raw emotion and Tsivoin has years of anger and grief built up inside of him. Until today he had no idea what he was doing and when I asked him about Cantonica he could not remember. I should have told him then... I should have told all of you, but I was afraid."

"Nova, I'm sorry, Micaiah knew some how." Rossi tried to explain. The Kessurian had been blasted the opposite direction from the rest of the crew and was seated with her back leaning up against the wall, one hand resting on her head as she struggled to recover from the force of the blast.

"Rossi, it's alright," the girl assured her, "They had to know." Then she paused a moment before adding, "And she knew about me also... Somehow." She grunted a little as she pushed off from the door jam and started to stagger over to where Tsivoin lay on the floor. She made it only a few steps, however, before Micaiah intercepted her first.

"You shouldn't be out of bed," the Sylarian told her, "You've only just recovered from your wounds."

"I'm fine," the Jedi answered forcing her way out of Micaiah's grasp and continuing her journey towards Tsiv. She all but fell to her knees next to the Zabrak and placed a hand on his forehead. With her eyes closed she concentrated and a moment later Tsivoin's body stopped convulsing. He turned his violet eyes to look up at her then suddenly pulled her into a hug.

"Ow, ow, ow," Nova cried involuntarily and Tsivoin quickly pulled away.

"Sorry," he said sheepishly.

Rossi stared at them curiously. "What exactly did you do?"

"I used the Force to calm his mind," the Jedi explained. Then she stood and turned to look at Vague, supported on her feet with the help of Tsivoin. "I know I have no right to ask this of you. When I boarded this ship I had no idea that my past would come back to endanger you all. I know how you feel about your crew, Captain, and I know this isn't your fight, but I need your help. I need everyone's help. Richter and the others are trying to revive the Sith and they must be stopped, but I can't do it alone."

She half-turned to Tsivoin then gently took his hand into her own as she stared into his violet eyes. "I need you now more than ever," she told him quietly before placing into his palm the broken hilt of the lightsaber she found back on the derelict ship...
Last edited by Pryde on Wed Jul 08, 2020 6:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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It was like a cool drink of water after baking in the hot sulfur mines of Oko E. He could almost feel Nova's touch inside his mind as she quickly but carefully sifted through the horrors that he was being suddenly forced to relive. The young Jedi had little experience dealing with this sort of thing, but she knew from terrible experience that she had to calm the Zabrak down quickly, or things would get much, much worse. She did the best she could, individually forcing each of the painful memories backwards and down into Tsivoin's subconscious where they'd previously been sequestered away. Were it not such an emergency, she might have been curious about what seemed to be some sort of advanced coping mechanism, most likely an involuntary response by Tsiv's own mind to deal with his past trauma's and the coinciding with his random outbursts of Force use.

Soon, the teen had recovered enough to look up into Nova's face and the relief in his violet eyes could have powered a sun. He immediately leapt up to his knees and threw his arms around her, only to have her cry out in pain. He quickly apologized to Nova and helped her up to her feet before listening intently to her as she spoke to the group, then to him in particular. He wasn't sure what she was doing at first, but then she placed a long, cylindrical object into his hand. He looked down at it, startled. The Zabrak recognized the cool, blackened metal. It was the lightsaber he'd wielding in those strange dreams aboard the Venator. It had belonged to that young Jedi. He blinked away the surprise and looked again into Nova's emerald eyes. His lips parted slightly and he took in a half-breath, about to speak when a voice spoke from the other end of the room.

Vague was clutching the side of his flank protectively and his face was twisted into a grimace of pain as Nova spoke out her plea. Micaiah's nano-tech had done a surprisingly thorough job patching him up after that grindhouse they'd been through back on Nar Shaddaa, but some of the body still had to heal the old fashioned way, and his had been damaged thoroughly in the fight. He straightened his shoulders and for a moment he simply stood still and silent, regarding his rag-tag collection of crewmates. A short, controlled breath in and out, then as if a switch had been flipped, he sprang into action.

"Mic, are you alright?" He asked first. He'd seen how hard the Sylarian had been tossed into the wall. She nodded her head, though her her features were quizzical. She couldn't place it but his demeanor seemed in-congruent with their current situation. "Good," He continued abruptly. "Take those three back to the med-bay and look them over."

He motioned at Tsiv, Nova, and Rossi on the far side of the conference room as he spoke. No sooner had the order escaped his lips, he'd turned his focus to the still floating Oracle. "Orev, EssJay, get some equipment brought in here. I want to these points plotted five minutes ago. We need to know every--"

"Vague..." Rossi interjected in a sympathetic and pleading tone.

"Everything that this orb is able to tell us and we need to know it now. There's no telling how long it's going to remain ac-"

"Vague?" Rossi interrupted again, slightly louder this time.

"Active." He finished the sentence, then took a quick breath to continue on.

"Vague!" Rossi finally shouted forcefully, her eyes wide both with shock at her own boldness as well as in surprise at her Captain's willful ignoring of what had just transpired. Durin finally broke his focus off of the Oracle and turned sharply to regard the Kessurian, causing her to flinch involuntarily.

"I know, Roz. I know, and I'll deal with it later. Masilda is running out of time." He reminded her grimly and a flash of understanding shone through her honey tinted eyes.

It was Nova's turn to interject. "Masilda? What about her?" She asked, a slight bit of flippancy working it's way into her fatigued tone as she recalled her last meeting with the Ryn.

Vague sighed slightly and forced his eyes to track over to the young Jedi's. "Your hooded friends kidnapped and tortured her." He replied matter-of-factly. "They're holding her ransom in exchange for that." He flung a hand back over his shoulder in the direction of the Oracle.

Tsivoin, who was still trembling lightly but doing his damnedest to help Nova stay upright pipped in, his voice was shaky and unsure. "Richter gave us a week. We have less than two days left."

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Two days... Two days and then they were going to confront Richter again. It was too soon. She needed time to train Tsiv and time to figure out what Richter was planning. Currently she only knew the what but she didn't know the how. "Vague, the Richter I knew before was a kind, honest person. He took me under his wing when I first arrived at the temple and gave me encouragement whenever I felt afraid. I don't know what happened to him after the temple fell but the man we saw on the Wanderlust is not the same man I knew. He is twisted by the dark side, full of anger and rage. There's no guarantee he'll honor his bargain with you."

Vague held her gaze, his expression was passive and his eyes were hardened. “If you have an alternative, I’d be happy to hear it once Mic has finished looking you over. If you don’t have an alternative, then we’re wasting the little time that Masilda has left.” He replied. “We don’t know why he wants this... map so badly and we don’t know where he has Masilda. We’re drowning in things we don’t know. You should be able to access the recording of Richter’s message from the medbay, maybe you’ll see something there that we can’t.”

"I do have an alternative," she pressed, "Richter wants the Oracle. All you have to do is make him believe that harming either you or Masilda will cause him to lose everything he's after. Rig the Oracle with an explosive. Program it to go off the second it's tampered with and give the detonator to one of them." She gestured towards Rossi and the others. "Richter will have no choice but to let you go."

Vague’s jaw set, and Rossi’s eyes flickered with nervous energy as she saw the telltale signs of her Captain reaching his limit. She hurried to her feet and shuffled between Nova and the Captain.

“Mic. Med bay.” His tone was flat and sharply edged.

The Sylarian said nothing as she led the trio from the room. Tsivoin continued to support Nova with Micaiah's help as they made their way back towards the Bedlam. "He looked angry," Tsivoin said quietly as they walked, breaking the silence between them.

"I lied to him," Nova answered in a flat, serious tone. "Even after I promised I wouldn't. I put the crew in danger by not telling them about you and I put you in danger by not telling you the truth. If he doesn't forgive me I can live with that. It doesn't change what I have to do."

Micaiah glanced over at the Jedi, giving her a curious look. She seemed--different somehow, more determined. Not at all like the directionless, overly cocky young girl she had met aboard the Wanderlust. What exactly had changed since she woke up?

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Re: Star Wars: Through the Never

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Rossi spoke up before Tsivoin could reply. The Kessurian was following sheepishly behind the slow moving trio of Micaiah, Tsivoin, and Nova. "We lied to him." she corrected, though her tone was far from accusatory. Instead it was mostly remorseful, with a hint of uncertainty.

Tsiv turned his head to the side a bit so he could look back at her. It'd all been so much, the Zabrak hadn't really had a chance to process anything. Secrets, lies, the Force. His violet eyes shifted once to glance at Nova before they returned to Rossi. He decided then, that he didn't resent the Kessurian for keeping the secret. He could see clearly that she was drastically effected by the deception and he certainly knew how persuasive Nova could be. "He'll understand, though, won't he?" He asked finally as they headed up the ramp and into the ship towards the medbay. "I mean, he lies all the time, right?"

"Maybe, we'll see," Nova said with a shrug, wincing slightly at the effort. "In the meantime you need to learn how to control that noggin," she said, turning awkwardly to tap him on the forehead while giving him a smile. Then she gestured to the lightsaber in his hand. "I don't know how comfortable I'll be about you using that thing if you can't control your emotions."

The foursome walked through the opening door to the med-bay and Tsivoin helped Micaiah lower Nova down onto the exam bed she'd been occupying since they'd escaped the Wanderlust. The Zabrak obediently sat next to Rossi on the edge of the other exam bed where Micaiah had directed him to and looked down at the damaged saber hilt in his hand. He turned it over twice, then his eyes focused on a space somewhere between the lightsaber and where Nova lay. He was recalling the nightmares he'd had aboard the Venator as they were training for the Oracle heist. "It belonged to Joc Sah." He muttered to no one in particular.

"Who is Joc Sah," Micaiah asked. The young boy had been acting so strangely she was concerned he might be delirious.

"A Jedi Padawan, from before the fall," Nova answered for him. "We found his body on the Venator we used to plan the heist on the Wanderlust. I brought his lightsaber back with me and shortly after Tsivoin started tossing and turning in his sleep. He was bonding with it."

"Bonding... With the lightsaber?" Micaiah sounded a bit skeptical. She paused in her examination of Rossi to tilt her head back towards Nova.

"A Jedi's weapon is his lifeblood," she answered simply, as if that explained everything. "While we were on the Venator the Force guided me to Joc Sah's body, I was meant to find his lightsaber just as Tsivoin is meant to have it." She shifted her gaze over toward the Zabrak. "Our encounter on Cantonica was no accident. Neither was our escape. The Force brought us all together for a purpose. I'm sure of that now."

Meanwhile, back in the conference room Orev's voice cut through the silence left behind by the rest of the crews departure. "She's not wrong, you know," the Duros spoke as he returned to the center of the room to better study the map that the Oracle was projecting. SlackJaw returned with some data-capturing equipment and the pair began to set it up on the table. "After all that collateral damage aboard the Wanderlust, we know this guy's in it to win it."

Vague sighed sharply, sending a short jolt of pain up his flank as a result. "I don't give a rot if she was right or wrong," Vague said sternly. "This deception because she feels she knows better has become a pattern, a trend. I can't have it on this crew." He crossed his arms and focused on the bright dots floating out in the air. "What I care about right now is figuring out what in the nine circles of hell this map is for, and what else this shiny sphere is hiding."

"You are debating the virtues of handing the Oracle over to the Hooded Three." SlackJaw said as he plugged in the last of the cords and fired up the device.

Orev's lipless mouth smirked slightly in response to the statement. That had not occurred to him.

Vague raised his hands out to his sides slightly. "Look I'm not saying one way or another without some data ok. I'm just saying, this is a real bad dude, who has gone to a helluva lot of trouble to track this thing down. I just want to know what the gorram thing is and what it's capable of before I just hand it over like a galactic delivery service and go about our way-- Not to mention, that we still have our client, and the Obsidian Cartel to concern ourselves with, as well."

Then, without warning, a coughing fit struck the Captain and he covered his mouth with the inside of his elbow, backing away from the table. With his other hand, he motioned for the pair to stay put. "Just- Figure out what - it is." He struggled out between coughs and exited the conference room. He needed to find his tumbler quickly.

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