Legends Have Many Sides
After the devastating war that caused the Galaxy to shatter into roughtly four pieces ended, a decade of peace and prosperity followed. The Oligarchic Imperial Monarchy of the Outer and Mid Rim Dominions, as the nation of Darth Tepe was now officially named, began a fruitful co-operation with the Galactic Alliance that started a Golden Age in the Alliance while continuing it within the Dominion. The Sith Dominion, controlled by Lord Kaoin, was still going but the corrupt Sith-controlled state was not approved by many of it's citizen worlds, causing Kaoin to increase military presence on worlds and place Dark Jedi and Sith into the inner circles of world leaders so they would stay under his control. The Hutt Space continued on as it's criminal sanctuary and the independent worlds managed to survive.
Then they came. The Yuuzhan Vong entered known galaxy, shattering the peace and causing many worlds to become uninhabitable. The shock of the extragalactic intruder was swiftly disbanded and the Dominions launched a massive attack upon the new species while the Galactic Alliance crumbled with the loss of Coruscant. The agreement Tepe and the Galactic Alliance senate reached was a definate turn point in the war as the two nations joined forces to rid Coruscant of the invaders. After five years of warfare, the Yuuzhan Vong departed but not without changing the Galaxy forever. The Sith Dominion diminished in size and power while the Galactic Alliance grew into a proper democracy and the other Dominion continued to keep a peaceful agreement with it's member worlds. It seemed that the "Divide and Rule" tactic truly worked. Years went past and conflicts within the Galactic Alliance rose as well as in the Sith Dominion. Both were ridden with infighting while Lord Tepe acted as an unbiased negotiator at the time of need with the aid of Skywalker and his Jedi. Peace seemed to be mostly restored while the lineage of Tepe and his new Queen, Charna, continued to grow. Both had went throught the Sith Hunter machine, giving them an ageless presence. For over the next century they would stay happily married.
Then it was once again time for conflict as the Imperial factions of the Galactic Alliance broke off in 119 ABY, taking over the Imperial Remnant territories around Bastion. The Sith let them take the area, thinking that they could manage without the few systems the New Empire took as it's own. But the tention between the Empire and the Galactic Alliance was tought to bear from the start. It didn't help that the Jedi of Coruscant also split into those who deemed the Empire the true might of the Galaxy and those who wished to serve the democracy. So the Jedi Order split into three; The Jedi of Ossus who are the most peaceful ones and in close cooperation with the Dominion, The Jedi of Coruscant who are the most old-fashioned and try to compel nations to attack the Sith, and then there's the Imperial Knights or those who left the Jedi to follow the newly formed Fel Dynasty and make sure the Empire is safe and peaceful. However, the uncomfortable peace would not last. The democratic Galactic Alliance, much like it's predecessor the New Republic, saw the Empire as an oppressive dictatorship that was more about military power than welfare of civilians. The Sith, knowing that the loss of the Empire as a trading partner would mean heavy losses on their part started to grow agitated of the Galactic Alliance's attitude and was held back from the war only by the threat made by Tepe that should the Sith Dominion enter the war, it would also mean war with the much more powerful Oligarchic Imperial Monarchy of the Outer and Mid Rim Dominions.
The year is 128 ABY. What part will you play in this flammable situation?
"Lord Tepe, I must express my gratitude on your well done job of keeping the Sith Dominion back. We feel that this war should be negotiated into a peace, but what can you do if the enemy does not wish to speak?" a holographic image of a well built and elegantly clothed man said. The old mechno-chair that produced the hologram walked with the Lord as he walked throught the corridors of the LiMerge Power Building, or Dominion Embassy as it was now known. The window next to him showed the great outdoors of the very well cleaned up Works. Tepe stopped and turned to the mechno-chair, nodding slightly.
"Thank you, Emperor Fel, but I fear the Sith Council will not tolerate even my threats for much longer. There are rumours of a bounty on my head. I do not fear bounty hunters or assassins, but it will be very inconvenient for the Galaxy to lose so much talent" Tepe said and looked as his four guards stopped around him also. The Colonel was long gone and he missed the old friend, but life went onwards nonetheless.
"You are a very important supporter and companion of the Empire, Lord Tepe. Much more important than the Sith Council. If they attempt your life and side with us in the war, I have no choise than to reject the offer. We cannot handle two very powerful enemies at once"
"That is why I am attempting to speak Chief of State Stazi out of the War, but it will not work without your cooperation"
"You can contact me at any point if you wish to speak of peace"
"Thank you, Emperor"
"No, thank you, milord"
The hologram disappeared and the group continued onwards. They entered a large office at the top floor of the building that had been readied for the meeting between the Lord and the Chief of State. Tepe sat down behind the large desk and looked out of the window at an approaching speeder.
"Aide!" the Lord called out and an aide came in. The aide was one of the Sith species, actually.
"Yes, milord?" the sith aide asked as he entered and bowed.
"Contact High Command and order them to get the fleets ready. If we do get into a war, I want to be ready to face the enemy" Tepe noted before looking at the aide
"Yes, milord. The spies are trying to dig up possible threats from bounty hunters. Thus far nobody has come up to accept the Sith offer, but it is only a matter of time" the aide reported and bowed before leaving.
((Is it cool if I be one of your guards?))
((It'll be boring for you to RP someone who's quiet and just follows Tepe most of the time. Of course you can RP a guard. That's wholly up to you, but just remember that the guards are trained to be cold, silent and deadly when needed to))
Name: Aislin Dantes
Appearance: Aislin Dantes
Occupation: Bounty Hunter
Weapons: burnt-orange lightsaber, assorted blaster pistols, rifles, two sniper rifles, assorted explosives, assorted knives
Ship: Cerulean Eye
History: Aislin Dantes was born on her fatherís ship, the Cerulean Eye in 102 ABY. Her parents were looking for a place to settle after a situation they still donít speak about. For this reason, Aislin has no knowledge of her family history. But Aislin Dantes could not care less. She lives in the present and she always has.
When she was seventeen, Aislin stole her fatherís ship and left her family, intent on making her own way in the galaxy. At that young age, she publicly announced herself as a mercenary for hire, but after two near-death experiences, she realized she could not continue living so unprepared for danger. Three months after she left her family, Aislin found her way to the Jensaarai and requested training. They were hesitant at first, but Aislin convinced them she was intensely interested in becoming one of them.
Over the next five years, the Jensaarai were continually astounded at Aislinís connection to the Force and her ability to use it. At the end of the fourth year, she constructed her own lightsaber. During her final year with the Jensaarai, they noted that her interest in their issues began to decrease. Then, at the end of the year, she left without warning. But they soon heard what she had done.
The next four years were devoted to establishing Aislin Dantes as a successful and near-untouchable bounty hunter. Occasionally compared with the legendary Boba Fett, Aislin is a force to be reckoned with. She has taken jobs from all of the governments of the galaxy, even a few from the Jensaarai. She just finished collecting the bounty for a senator of the Galactic Alliance.
Now, sheís open for a new job... and she has already had several offers...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"What's the point?" Aislin Dantes demanded of the figure cloaked in black. "Do you want galactic instability?"
"We will create the stability in the absence of the Oligarchic Imperial Monarchy of the Outer and Mid Rim Dominions," the figure answered.
"And you believe that the death of their leader alone will destroy them?" Aislin clarified. She shook her head. "Power of a government like that does not rest with one person alone. With that knowledge, are you asking me to destroy their entire government structure?"
"If you feel you can do this, you will be paid extensively to do so," the stranger answered. "Thank you from the Sith Dominion."
"You believe I'm going to agree to this?" Aislin asked, smirking slightly.
"Yes, I do," the man answered. "Because you love a challenge." He withdrew, saying, "We'll be in trouch, Ms. Dantes."
Aislin laughed softly. "I suppose we will." With that, she headed back to her ship to prepare.
The doors opened with a hiss and the Chief of State walked into Tepe's office within the Embassy with two senate guards of his own that stopped to stand next to Tepe's guards by the door. Gar Stazi sat down at the other sie of the table and looked at the Lord on the other side. The two stared each others down for a moment before Tepe finally nodded.
"I am glad you could come with such a short notice" Tepe said as the Duros man infront of him nodded also.
"You have been a great benefactor to the Works and the poor of Coruscant as well as the rest of the Galactic Alliance. I am honored to meet you in person, milord" Gar said and looked outside at the traffic rushing past the tall tower.
"Indeed. My men have done a great work with the Works. We managed to cut the amount of homeless people into 2/3 of the original amount. But I did not invite you here or come here myself to speak of such matters. I came here because I feel obliged to try and solve the war you and the Empire have engaged in. Now, I have already spoken with Emperor Fel and..." Tepe said but was abruptly cut off
"And he promises to comply with any peace traty there is. However, the Galactic Alliance cannot stand by idly as a large amount of systems held in the Emperor's grasp are being occupied and the civilian population tortured" Gar Stazi said and hit his fist into the table.
"Admiral! I do not appreciate being cut off. I also do not like people destroying my furniture. I fought against the New Republic, Imperials and Galactic Alliance. All that because the Jedi urged you to attack me because I used the title of a Sith Lord. Thousands of lives were lost, planets ruined and families torn apart just because the democracy you so much speak of discriminates someone over their title. Emperor Fel is no Palpatine" Tepe said as he stood up and leaned towards the man infront of him. The Senate guards took a step forwards but Tepe's guards blocked their way from getting any further. As the Lord began to circle the table to get around to the Chief of State, the men changed cold looks.
"If you think I will stand your democracy's discrimination against someone who calls himself Emperor, I will not do so. If you wish to continue your war, you can do so without my resources" Tepe said before walking to the window.
"I will give you three days to think about it, then all trade contracts between our nations can be deemed worthless. If you wish to take my resources by force, you can try. I will wait to hear from you again" the man said as he raised his hand and gave the sign to escort them away. The Chief of State and his guards were escorted back to the speeder while the aide entered the office once more.
"Milord, it is done. High Command is preparing all fleets and armies and gathering reservists for extra training" the sith said and Tepe nodded, still lookig out of the window.
"Send word to our spies to dig up the whereabouts of a certain Strider Flamehart. Get them to spread the word Tepes Dantes wsiehs to see him as soon as possible. He'll know what it means" the Lord said and withdrew into his private quarters just next to the office.
"Yes, milord" the aide said as the door was closing and then left to fill out the order. Tepe set himself down on a very simple, round chair into a meditative position. He fell into a deep meditation
"Welcome back, Aislin," the AI aboard her ship greeted. "Did you have a satisfying meeting?"
"No," Aislin answered. "The Sith Dominion wants me to bring down the Dominion. Problem number one, that's damn near impossible."
"But you can do impossible," the ship answered. "You've done impossible before."
"Point taken," Aislin admitted. "Alright, so problem number two, I don't know anything about them."
"I am connected to the galactic database, including secret intelligence information," the ship answered. "Problem number two solved."
"It is a challenge," Aislin admitted. "Alright, let the learning begin."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
For a week, Aislin did nothing but study Darth Tepe, his rise to power, and the restructuring of his government. She learned everything she could about his guards and determined they would not be a problem. It would be the man himself that would give her the most trouble.
Then, there was the matter of his queen. Charna was not as dangerous as her husband, but she was still a powerful threat in her own right. Every one of their children and grandchildren posed a threat, though the more distant the relation, the less of a challenge there would be.
"Ceru, this is a nightmare," she muttered to the ship. "Bombing's the most logical answer, but with a bomb, you can't guarantee that you're getting everyone."
"Stealth may be another option," the ship suggested. "Crash land, get admitted to their home. Gain their trust... then flip the switch."
"Too long term," Aislin objected. "But it's the better of the two options. They'd catch a sniper right off. Barging in, guns and saber blazing is suicide." She shook her head and muttered a string of curses in various languages. "What have I got myself into?"
"Start simple," the ship told her. "Worm your way into the family. Be an historian with a personal curiosity."
"That'll never work," Aislin objected. "The personal curiosity would be the surname we share. But they'll all have heard of Aislin Dantes. I've worked for the Dominion before."
"Alright then," the ship said. "That's your in. You're getting low on cash. You need a job and you want to work for them, but you want to deal with the royal family."
"They never deal with the hunters they hire," Aislin pointed out. A slow grin came to her face. "But I don't just want jobs from them, do I? Casual interest. Dantes may be a widespread family name, but... a girl can be curious."
"Off to meet potential family," the ship suggested cheerfully. "Course set, and off we go!"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"My darling," Charna said softly, tapping lightly on the door to the office. When he did not answer, she entered. Her eyes darted around the room until they fell on the door to the private quarters. Again, she tapped lightly and entered.
"We've just received word that the bounty hunter, Aislin Dantes is on her way to meet with us," she said. "And she's not acting herself. She's requested to deal with our family this time... no middlemen."
As the knock sounded throught the door, Tepe opened his eyes like he was coming back from a dream he did not want to wake up from. Standing up as his loved one entered, he looked at her with a smile.
"The Sith have offeed a bounty on me. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I am a certain target. Taking she isn't going throught normal procedure, I'll take a wild guess she got an offer she couldn't refuse. I will meet her. Take the children and go to Naboo. The lake country should be beautiful at this time of the year. I can't let yoube threathened by the Sith Dominion's assassins. Your guards will keep you safe" he said as he walked to Charna and placed a hand on both sides of her head. With a soft kiss, he bid her adieu for now.
It was later that night when the Works were gleaming a red, misty light when Aislin was permited entrance into the embassy. Normal soldiers escorted her to the top level where she encountered the firstof Tepe's guards. They might've not seemed like much as holograms or as data, but in person they were very intimidating in their own way. They had traditional, rather silly uniforms and the weapons looked old, but the sheer size and the mysterious aura around them and the covering cloaks made them something else completely than scrawny guys playing bodyguards.
The guards escorted her further inside from the elevator and into a dark room where the only light was that coming from the skylines. The guards left the room after showing her a seat where she could wait. Several miniutes later, a door opened and the lights lit up in the room. The man she saw was a rather old-ish man. Not one who would be thought as over a 150 year old ruler of a whole nation. The man's clothing was simplistic even if the Dominion heraldry was splashed around his cape on silver prints.
"I was told you wished to see a member of the royal family?" the man asked as he took a step forth from the door. The cape was wrapped around his body, letting no glance at what he was wearing or armed with while a dark hood covered the view to his face. She must've been quite astounded at the entire security setting, as she was not asked to give her weapons to anyone or to even leave them in the ship.
"You are quite strong with the force, aren't you? You think you can kill a former Sith Lord. I know who you are and why you came here" he said before drawing back the cape that had covered his face in shadows. It was indeed Lord Tepe himself facing her mere meters away. His nearly entirely white eyes looked at her curiously, like waiting for her to do something
Slowly, Aislin drew one of her blaster pistols and aimed it at Tepe. Just as she'd expected he did not move, instead staring at her with such curiosity. It was highly unnerving and after only a moment, Aislin lowered the gun.
"Not when you're expecting it," she answered, looking away. When she looked back, she was smiling. "It's a challenge, you know. And I just can't resist a challenge."
She holstered the blaster and drew her burnt-orange saber. "Shall we call this an experiment of my ability? I think we both know you'll easily overpower me."
But as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she took a step back and switched the saber off. "No?" Another step back. "Perhaps another time."
This was just too unsettling. Aislin had to get out of there. She turned and fled, but she'd never been this far into the embassy and soon she was lost, as she'd determined it would do no good to leave by the same way as she'd been led up. With a little sigh, she stopped to collect her thoughts and try to regain her cool.
"I can't do this," Aislin murmured to herself, hiding away in what she guessed may have been a closet of some sort at one point. "Can't do this, can't do this, can't do this... oh, I can't do this..."
But it took her a moment to realize exactly why looking Tepe in the face was so unnerving. It wasn't the sheer power rolling off him. Nor was it the fact that he'd lived longer than a human ought to. It was how... familiar he looked.
Suddenly, there was a rattling on the other side of the door. Aislin burst outward from the closet with such power that the guard on the other side was slammed into the wall behind him. "Out, out, out, out!" Aislin mumbled to herself, sprinting along the corridor toward the window at the end. Just before she reached it, she sent a powerful surge of Force lightning toward the window, shattering it just as she reached it and leapt out.
Then, she fell, but the fall was more like gliding. Was someone... protecting her fall?
A man with short, platinum hair and bold blue eyes was walking to the embassy just as the bounty hunter went flying out the window in another direction. He raised his eyebrow curiously, wondering if it had been an assassination attempt on Tepe's life, however, continued on at his leisurely pace. After all, he was almost there already. He wore a decorate, royal-looking tunic of black and red, as was his style. He marched right up to the front doors and smiled at the guards, who stepped forward to stop him. The man had not been in vicinity of the Dominion for such a long time, as he was constantly on meetings as the Dominion's Ambassador, and was unrecognizable to the guard.
"Allow me to pass, friends," the man spoke, holding up a hand. "I am Strider Flamehart. Lord Tepe asked to be graced with my presence, so here I am," he said in a humorous tone. It was a running joke between him and Tepe that they honored each other with their arrival, not that either was ever "summoned," simply because both refused to feel like a lap dog to the other, and was done so as a matter of respect.
The guards allowed him to pass and Strider quickly ascended to Tepe's floor, entering without knocking. Tepe already knew his signature, and knew of his arrival. He saw no reason to knock.
"Evening, good friend. Excuse my new look, I think it makes me look younger and a bit more intimidating for the time being. You called? It took them awhile to track me but they found me sure enough. You train your men good, almost too good. I have to try harder," he said with a smile to his old friend.
Tepe looked out of his window at the traffic, silently concentrating on something as Srider entere. As he had to speak with the man, Tepe broke his concentration and so sent the bounty hunter plunging down towards the lower levels of the Works. However, he had managed to get her above a traffic lane, so making it possible for her, if she had any skills or survival instincts, to land on a speeder and commandeer it if she may.
So the Lord turned to see Strider and smirked quietly.
"Indeed. You have become too easily accessable" Tepe laughted and sat down, covering his face with his hands in despair, if you can call it that.
"I sent my family to Naboo. I fear the Sith have put bounties on many heads in my government and to people who have close ties with it. The Alliance is stubborn on waging a war when the Empire would want to stop it while the Sith are still making threats to the Alliance and trying to enter the war. I fear we might have a galactic war ahead of us, my friend. And as much as I hate to say this, I need the aid of the Sith Hunters so we can stop this right from the beginning" he said and sighed, leaning forwards in his large, well decorated chair.
"I don't know what to do. A hundred years back I knew my opponents and my allies, now they confuse me more than poorly planned riddles. Please, walk with me. I have to catch myself a bounty hunter before she leaves the planet" he said as he stood up and walked towards the door. There was always speeders ready on the hangar level, so all he really needed along were a few of his guards.
"Do you remember the times when the Works were a dark place used by Palpatine? Those were bad times. Now some cal the Works the Dominion Distrcit since I built this all over again into an image of the ancient times. All the buildings are fashioned after the buildings of my youth. I still remember what this exact spot looked like when I was a padawan. And that is what I tried to get throught again. Now they are trying to tear it all down. The same with the peace I and the Jedi of Ossus have been trying to accomplish. Now everyone seems to be readyin for war. Even I need to start to launch some more fleets to the border planets" he said as they walked to the hangar with four of Tepe's guards following silently. Before they entered a speeder, he looked at Strider and shook his head.
"What should I do, old friend? I don't want to enter a war that would accomplish nothing but destruction and hatred towards one another even more than there is now"
A modified Valcyn-class shuttle left the hangars of the Embassy, circling around it before heading for space. It was a rather amazing sight. The nearby areas of the Embassy had been aquired by a company called OIM corporation at the turn of the century when it seemed like the Dominion would be setting against the Galactic Alliance once more. So the Corporation had bought the areas and the buildings and turned them into docking stations. Every second building had been demolished to give more room for ships docking. Short pipes protruded from each building's sides with strong tractor beams above each one to help guide larger vessels to the docking ports. Even as the shuttle left, several Dominion warships were docked on these buildings for refueling and repairs. Only two decades after the areas were bought and transformed by the corporation heavily associated with the Dominion, Galactic Alliance as well as civilian ships were allowed to dock with them, before that being exclusive for Dominion ships. Even if the buildings cost the removal of hundreds of people, they were relocated and given jobs within the buildings to make it worth their while. This only proved that the cunning wit within the driving forces of the Dominion had not died out just yet.
As the shuttle reached upper atmosphere and prepared for hyperspace, Charna's guards kept patrol on the long corridors. Indeed, the shuttle was heavily modified into a much larger one from the standard shuttles with the additions of a guard's post, guards' quarters, more cargo space as well as heavier sensor arrays and a cloaking device. The intercom opened to inform of the jump to hyperspace. The pilot and co-pilot were both of the sith species. Indeed, after the True Sith had made peace with the Dominion, many of it's people were hired as aides, pilots and serveants of the Government officials due to their absolute loyalties with Lord Tepe. The Head of Guards and the aide of Lady Charna entered the lounge where the family was currently located and bowed, removing his helmet and placing it on the table next to the door. He sat down, as he was the personal bodyguard of Lady Charna and would stay by her side at most times.
"Lady Charna, my men will take good care of your security on Naboo. We got strickt orders from the Lord not to let anything happen to you. He is very concerned of your safety, it seems. There are rumours flying about that High command got orders to raise the alertness level of all garrisons and fleets" Jony, as he was named, said and smiled, the scar going from his temple to his cheek twisting slightly. That was how he had managed to get the position of Head of Guards, actually. Once on one of Charna's shopping sprees, a group of thugs took her and the few guards she had taken with her by surprise. A vibroblade had cut throught Jony's helmet, scarring his Rattataki face before he could unleash an attack of his own against the thugs, giving time for the other guards and Charna to flee. Just then one of the younger kids came up to pull his cape, breaking his memoirs. The young girl smiled sheepishly and ran off again after gaining the man's attention, hiding behind her mother's back.
"You have beautiful children, milady. I wish my duties could give me the time to get some of my own" the guard said and smiled at the Lady, trying to engage in any kind of chatter for the rest of the journey
Charna smiled faintly and told Jony, "Children are a handful and a half... but well worth the effort. Children lead to grandchildren... and to great grandchildren." She shook her head thoughtfully. "It is truly amazing to see a family grow into such a widespread group."
With a little sigh, she looked down at the Embassy as the shuttle which held her departed from it. With one hand, she absently reached back and brushed gently at her daughter's hair. "I'll tell you one thing, though, Jony... all this political garbage and diplomatic duties I find myself bound with are really getting to me. I haven't had a good fight in near a hundred years..."
Shaking it off, she smiled cheerfully. "But why would I need one when I have such fine guards?"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
As she was guided to the traffic lane, Aislin focused all of her energy on discovering who was aiding her, but though she had tracked beings successfully before, this one was eluding her. It was because of the helper's concealment that Aislin managed to discover who it was. After all, who else could hide himself so efficiently?
At that moment, the guide vanished and Aislin again began to fall. She shifted her position just a little, anticipating the oncoming speeder... and landed solidly on her feet in the back seat of the open-roofed speeder. The frightened driver swerved abruptly, frantically trying to get the stranger out of his speeder, but his swerve took him into a crash. With a small huff of frustration, Aislin leapt away, falling two more layers of traffic before landing on a public transport bus. As it was traveling the correct direction, Aislin took a moment to breathe, but then the bus began to slow and she knew they had discovered her.
One final leap took Aislin to the roof of a nearby building and there, she stopped. After a moment to determine her location, she crossed the roof and forcefully dominated the mind of a passing speeder pilot. He swerved sharply, swinging around and landing his speeder atop the building, next to Aislin.
"Sleep now," she told him. "This is all a great and terrible dream."
Obediently, the man crawled into his back seat and fell asleep. Nodding her approval, Aislin took the driving controls and lifted off, going back to her ship. When she reached it, she abandoned the speeder and its pilot, who would not remember anything of the trip.
"I couldn't do it, Ceru," she told her ship as she boarded. "I just couldn't do it..."
"Too great a challenge, perhaps?" Ceru questioned. "This is the royal family of the Dominion we're talking about. Most if not all of them are highly Force sensitive."
"I know..." Aislin mumbled. "I studied them in depth, remember?"
"Maybe you didn't study enough," Ceru suggested.
"Or maybe I'll never be capable," Aislin countered. "No matter how physically capable I become, I do not believe I'll ever be emotionally capable... looking at Darth Tepe, the man himself... it was so... unnerving..."
"It's hard to always change with the times. Take my word for it, I've got a leg up of four thousand years on you," Strider remarked. While there was humor in his statement, he said it with a solemn tone, as if he was admitting to the hardship they would be facing.
"Good choice on where to send your family. They should be safe there," he said. "How is your family doing anyway, Tepe? They been okay these past years?" He asked as he walked with Tepe, trying to promote some idle chatter to help Tepe's troubled thoughts.
"The Sith Hunters huh? They've been tough to get in contact with, even for me. I can still get ahold of Katherine, but the others are a bit more troublesome. But you know how we work Tepe. Once trouble starts, they show up late, but they show up. But don't worry, I'm here from the start, I don't think there'll be much that can stop the both of us," he said with a grin, trying to instill some pompous between the two of them.
Finally, Strider stopped avoiding the topic and looked at Tepe square in the eye. "The only way I can see to fight this war safely, is to either remove the instigating party, or force negotiations between them, even if it causes a few battles to get ahold of them. Or, if we entered the war, we could do as we did before - play the defensive, protect our planets, ensure minimal destruction on the worlds we control. We have the wealth for any of these actions Tepe, it's just spending it properly," Strider counseled. "Whatever you choose, myself and the Ragnarok will be at the forefront of your fleet, my old friend. All you have to do is ask."
"We? You speak like you and I were running the Dominion together" Tepe said with a grin as he entered the speeder with the guards and Strider. Even thought he joked about it, he truly did want the council of the much older and wiser man.
"I could get involved in the war by announcing a formal decleration of such, but I don't want to lose soldiers because I want to push both parties into peace. he population will not have such and would take it as a sign of me trying to dictate what the Galaxy can and can't do. he fact that the Empire and the Galactic Alliance are at war would be a minor matter when the civilians want to make me a scapegoat of all their pain" Tepe said and looked out of the window of the speeder and at the view as they flew out of the small landing are beside the main hangars.
"And remember that the instigating party here is the Galactic Alliance. The population wants to have a democracy, and by standing against the GA, I would still look like a dictator in their eyes. I can't lose the civilians' trust in me. I just can't. And by entering the war, I have no moral ground in keeping the Sith Dominion from entering either, which would cause even more trouble in the Galaxy" he said and sighed quietly as the speeder sped off towards the landing platforms nearby. They had managed to track down the bounty hunter and were now trying to get to her before she managed to lift off. The sith driver pushed some buttons and announced that they were getting close. Tepe nodded silently and looked forwards at a landing platform in the distance where a lone ship was.
"Sorry, old friend, but we must continue this later. I hope the GA and the Empire will see that the war is pointless when the Dominion's Armed Forces reach the next alertness level as a whole" Tepe said as they arrived and the doors opened so they could get out. The guards took out their blasters immediately, checking the abandoned speeder first where the man slept, then approaching the ship. Tepe stepped out of the speeder and looked at the familiar ship. Noticing the dirt on the sides, he moved his hand slightly, blowing the dirt off with the force and so revealing the Dominion insignia. It truly was one of his family's. But how? Just then the guards rushed inside throught the manually overriden ramp. The shout 'This is the Dominion Guards. Come out with your hands up' was heard from inside as the guards started to sweep the insides of the ship.
Jony smiled and looked at the Lady.
"That's why I joined the Guard Academy instead of involving myself in politics. It's easier to just guard someone and shoot anyone who threatens the person without thinking about it or the political consequences. For me the worst thing they can do is fire me, in which case I'll go back to Rattatak and fight in the Gladiator fights. With what I've learned thus far in the Academy, I'll be a superstar in there" he chuckled and looked at the floor for a while quietly before smiling and looking up again.
"Althought, I really don't miss my homeworld. Such a cruel and crude place..."
"So I see. Yes, that would be nice. The recognition of this pointless war would make things easier, but as you know, things don't like to go easy," he reminded. He stood beside Tepe while the guards went in, wondering curiously how this bounty hunter got this far after leaping out the window.
Aislin had closed her eyes in a moment of meditation, but that was broken when the Dominion guards came charging up the ramp.
"Ceru, we prepared for this!" she hissed softly. She leapt upward and the ship caught her, pulling her close to the ceiling and completely concealing her. Taking a deep breath, she called on the Force to slow her breathing and her heart rate. Soon, she was pale white and, if anyone were to see her, it would appear as if she were dead, even to medical scans. Her hair color darkened to brown and her facial structure changed a bit. Now, no one would recognize her for being Aislin Dantes... if the ship allowed them to see her.
"Welcome to the Cerulean Eye," the ship told the guards. "Come aboard and look around. You'll find no organic life aboard, I'm afraid. Just a dead bounty of my master's."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Charna laughed. "For me, there was no choice," she said. "Love leaves no choices in matters such as mine..." Her smile faded. "But even if there had been a choice, I..." She sighed. "As frightening the idea is to me, I think I may have ended up in politics regardless. They need a mind that has thought in all of their various ways, as mine has. I could not deny them that."
"Mama?" the little girl behind her asked. "I'm bored!"
Charna smiled. "Go find your brothers and sisters," she instructed. "You can all entertain one another."
"I want you to do it," the little girl insisted stubbornly. "Please, mama?"
Charna laughed softly and began to exert a small portion of her mental energy to create an illusion around her daughter. It was of a peaceful garden with so many things to look at, smell, and taste. Though, to anyone but the little girl, it seemed as if she were walking around the shuttle, sniffing at the air and plucking imaginary fruits to taste.
"The Jedi of Coruscant have reverted to the Old Order's way of doing things," Charna told Jony. "That change was beginning, even before I left them, so I know the way. When I first met Tepe, he showed me how to channel my emotions into terrible purpose. Watching Kaoin work reinforced those ideas. Then, Tepe began to change and I changed with him. A more compassionate, less violent, less dominating Dominion arose and I adapted. I took traits from Tepe and from the Sith Hunters."
Charna nodded. "So you see, I am an ideal diplomat, an ambassador, for I know how all sides think of a situation. I can translate for them, as it were."
She glanced away and watched as her daughter skipped away to another part of the ship, still inside her illusion of a garden.
The guards swept throught the ship, one of thm arriving into the room where Aislin was hanging from the roof. After going throught the room, the guard looked up and noticed the body due to the light enhancement device on his vizor. He pointed his blaster at it just in case and contacted the only guard that had stayed behind who was also the Head of Guards.
"Milord, we found a body hanging from the roof. This one's a masochist" the Head of Guard said after recieving the report. Tepe gave a silent nod and then headed up the ramp.
"Computer, Bacta Boy. Override secondary commands" Tepe said as soon as he got inside, walking throught the ship and into the room where the disguised Aislin dropped from the roof only to be caught by Tepe with the force so she floated in air. After Tepe looked around the room, he dropped her down on the floor.
"This Bounty Hunter is truly and idiot. Managing to steal one of my ships and not even finding the main override codes" Take the body and dump it off the side of the landing pad, then fly the ship back to the Embassy hangars. Tepe said, knowing just as well as Aislin that the body was her. He was attempting to get her to reveal herself prematurely.
"I thought the Jedi of Coruscant detatched from Skywalker's Order after the Formation Wars began all over again. Was the rift so clear even before that?" Jony asked and looked at the Lady much more curiously than before. He was a history freak if you will and the schools and academies always have slightly biased information. And his duties never seem to give him enought time to go to visit the libraries either. So he usually just questions anyone older than him about anything that has happened in the past when he meets them. Especially if it comes up in the conversation.
"Your ship?" Aislin grumbled, her heartbeat returning to normal, though the physical appearance did not revert to her natural self. She opened her eyes. "Since when is this your ship?"
She stood, ignoring the fact that all of the guards now had their weapons aimed at her. "This ship has been in my family since before I was born!"
"That's more true than you realize, Miss Aislin," the ship told her. At that, Aislin allowed the illusion to fade, revealing herself... and the lightsaber hanging at her belt.
"Dantes..." she muttered.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"The Formation Wars marked their formal detachment," Charna answered. "But Coruscant and Ossus were two different schools of thought for as long as I can remember."
"Indeed. It is very unwise stealing from the Dantes family, even if you are one by your last name" Tepe said before looking at her more intensly, taking a step forwards and then beginning circling her. The guards lowered their weapons when the Lord went past them so they wouldn't hit him if there was a misfire. After the man had passed, they raised the barrel back up to point at the bounty hunter. The dark cape of the Lord moved as he circled her with his hands behind her back. If you had ever seen Darth Vader walk, you could imagine the mask on him. That is exactly how menacing he looked as he walked around the woman.
"Indeed... You are one yourself, aren't you. Your father was Iliad and grandfather Edmont. That's how you still have the last name" Tepe said before stopping infront of her and ordering the guards to lower their rifles. The Lord gave a chuckle before staring into her eyes quietly for a while.
"So, my own great grand daughter tried to kill me" he said with a chuckle.
"So... After Lord Tepe ordered the execution of the Master's Council, the Jedi of Coruscant elected those of themselves to the Council that were loyal to their ideology instead of those who would follow Skywalker. Then when the war began, they detatched themselves completely from Ossus and declared war on Tepe, which was when the Dominion took Ossus under it's wing" Jony said, by the end of it all speaking more to himself than Charna, but noticed his error soon enought and apologized.
"Excuse me... I get excited easily when it comes down to history. I could sit in libraries for hours if I had the time. What troubles me most of all this that is told of the Dominion history is that it never speaks of you and Lord Tepes affair. Or more specifically when did you get married" he said, leaning forwards on his seat like a child eager to find out more. He knew he was going out of line as the Head of Guards, but he was sure she would tell him if it bothered her.
"Well that's interesting," Strider piped in from the back, watching this all from behind the guards, not wanting to get in the way. "Family reunion, I see?" Strider asked, stepping forward just a little. Even with his new look, he was still recognizable as the legendary Sith Hunter and a well known member of the Dominion.
"A strain in the family," Aislin murmured faintly, her eyes wide as she stared at Tepe. "Unfinished business, my father used to say."
Slowly, she nodded. "It explains why my father..." She smiled faintly, "he looks very much like you." She frowned, puzzled. "But he does not speak of you. The last time I saw him, I sensed hate rolling off him. He really hates you, though his grandfather you are."
"And as to your accusation of trying to kill you..." Aislin hesitated. "I confess it is what I was hired to do. You and your queen and your children and their children... even down to your great-grandchildren." She smiled faintly. "But I can't do that now, can I? To end the lives of your great-grandchildren would also mean ending my own. No self respecting bounty hunter would agree to that."
"Bounty hunters would consider killing other family members, though," the ship said. "Which is what you now come to realize you have done."
"But I do not approve of that," Aislin said. "It's idiocy. Though I never got along with my parents, I see no reason I could not learn to coexist with my great-grandfather... if he is perhaps more interested in relationships than with an attempted - and failed I might add - assassination."
It was the wise thing to do, Aislin told herself. It was clear now that she could not escape, especially not with a Sith Hunter in the audience. Besides that, anyone who had so angered her parents as to make them steal a ship and vanish might actually be someone of great interest to Aislin.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Charna smirked. "Who said we ever married?" she asked. Then, with a little laugh, she shook her head. "It was a private wedding in the lake country of Naboo. Just my husband, a priest, the Sith Hunters, and my first child, just a baby then."
"Your father was a fool" Tepe barked when she had finished and waved his hand as the command for his guards to leave him. The Lord looked at Aislin and grunted quietly to himself. Strider was of course free to stay, taking neither of them had ever really had any control of the other.
"Iliad thought he could escape his force sensitivity by using death sticks. I had my men follow him around for a while before finally leaving him alone when Edmond asked me to do so. Seems he got clean after that as when I last saw him, he was in no condition to get any woman to be with him" Tepe said, starting to circle her again before stopping behind her and looking at Strider silently for a moment, sencing the force aura around Aislin.
"Computer, set coordinates for Mjolnir and lift off as soon as you've got the engines warmed up. Open intercom" Tepe commanded and the intercom crackled open.
"Guards, take your positions. We're heading to Naboo. Inform the Embassy I won't be around for a while. Tell the rest of my guards to get to my ship as soon as they can" Tepe said before walking over to Strider and placing a hand on his shoulder.
"I understand if you want to get off, old friend. But if you wish to come and find out just how powerful this little girl is and to see Charna, this might be your chance. I trust your ship can find it's own way to my ship?" he asked and looked at Strider with a friendly smile, hoping he would take the chance.
Strider smiled. "I'll check it out, but don't be upset with me if I'm not terribly impressed, you already know I'm always improving my own abilities," he said with a joking smile. "I'd love to come, I can sense the potential in her, I'd like to see all of it," he said in a more serious manner. He patted Tepe's shoulder in return, and then stepped off the loading ramp.
"Ragnarok. Arrive at my coordinates," he spoke into a comlink. It wasn't long before a ship uncloaked overhead and lowered, opening it's ramp. "Ready when you are Tepe," Strider said with a grin, and climbed into his ship.
"Probably not much cleaner," Aislin muttered. "A fool? Absolutely! I hate the man and everything he represents... a waste of what could have been a life full of purpose." She scowled. "He is a full twenty-five years my elder and yet I have accomplished at least five times what he has."
"As for his deathstick addiction, he never broke that," she added. "When I left eleven years ago, my parents were fighting over the money I made from working so my father could buy deathsticks and my mother could buy shoes!"
She rolled her eyes in disgust. "A pitiful excuse for parents. I've done much better without them. And would you believe they left the Cerulean Eye to rust in a garage heap twenty levels below ground?"
Tepe glanced at Aislin as she badmouthed her father, then closed the door so nobody would see it. Even Strider shouldn't see it. Tepe's eyes flashed pure white as he stepped towards his great grand daughter and raised his hand. The smack sounded nasty as the Lord's knuckles hit her cheek.
"You never badmouth your own father! Never! He may be worth nothing, but you must have some respect for your parents" he said and looked at her with a look that he hadn't given anyone since he was still the Dark Lord of the Sith. Tepe walked to the door and walked out, closing and locking the door before giving a guard the order to not let her out of the room. After that, the Lord continued to Strider, softly touching his knuckles. The Dantes family was a hard headed one in all means of the word. He got to the ramp just when the Ragnarok had docked and then gave the command for the guard acting as pilot to lift off.
"Good. Mjolnir should be ready any minute now. After we land in the hangar, it should be ready to jump into hyperspace. I don't believe you've been to my new ship yet. I haven't had the chance of traveling with it many times" Tepe said as he led the Sith Hunter towards the cockpit so they could relax their old feet for a while.
"It must be nice to go back there then" he said and smiled before the comlink in his helmet beeped, forcing him to put it on and recieve the message. Afterwards, he put the helmet back on the table and nodded to Charna.
"We're arriving in the Naboo system soon. The pilot just recieved word that Lord Tepe will be joining us with some company later on, possibly even still tonight if speaking on Naboo's time" he said and leaned back on the chair again, waiting for comfirmation that the shuttle had left hyperspace
Aislin had just been preparing to launch herself into a further rant about her parents, but the slap brought her up short, knocking her head around and brought tears to her eyes. Slowly, she turned her head to watch Tepe leave the room.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, though she was sure no one heard her. Truth be told, it frustrated her that her parents would not live up to their potential. But despite that, they were still her parents and she loved them, no matter what. But their actions had hurt her and insults were her way of dealing with hurt. Apparently, she'd have to be careful about that around her great-grandfather, she decided as she touched her cheek gingerly.
"Least he didn't kill me," she muttered.
"So that's it then?" Ceru questioned. "You're not going to kill him?"
"No, I'm not," Aislin answered. "Even if I could, I wouldn't."
"Good," the ship said, "because if you decided you were still going to go through with it, I'd have to become your enemy. After all, I am one of his ships."
"Hope he gives you to me," Aislin muttered. "I do so love our conversations."
"Me too, Lin, dear," the ship replied. "Now off you go, like a good little great-granddaughter."
Nodding, Aislin entered the cabin she'd been using and began to meditate on what had just happened.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"It's always good to go back to Naboo," Charna agreed. Then she smiled. "And even better to have my husband join us. And I think I know who his 'company' is... and I look forward to meeting her as well."
The shuttle jumped out of hyperspace, immediately getting contacted by a customs ship for clearance. The intercom of the shuttle crackled open and a hort announcement came throught from the pilot:
"We have exited hyperspace and are starting landing procedures. Landing destination, Dantes Manor, outer Lake Country" the pilot informed and the intercom crackled shut again. Jony took his helmet, stood up and put it on. It was time to get back to work and so he became the silent bodyguard once more.
When the shuttle had landed, he swung his rifle behind his back and made sure everyone supposed to come out got out. The manor was a very beautiful place, made specifically for Lady Charna by the first Queen of Naboo who agreed to raise the Dominion banner above the Palace. It was raised a few meters from the ground as it was located in an easily flooding area, the landing platforms located at the same level but on solid ground as the further inland areas were higher than where the Manor had been built. Vines and plants decorated and hid the place from aerial view except for the landing platforms, which were easily covered by a cloaking device if it came to it. Ramps from the landing platforms led to one of the entrances to the house and directly at the other end of the house, a small private pier, which was customized to raise and lower according to the water level by having steps extending and folding, was located so they could go swimming and boating if they wished. The Manor itself was a three-floor house decorated with whatever Charna wished it to be, as Lord Tepe had given it to her as a little project to keep her busy. The top floor was small and meant for the Guards.
As the family was getting out, some Tusk cats walked by the fence of the landing platforms, heading for their daily hunt. Jony glanced at them, not giving much notice to them anymore after so many visits even if at first the animals had managed to intrigue him more than enought. When Charna herself stepped outside, the Head of Guard stood into attention.
"Milady" he said as a greeting and got ready to escort her until he as given leave
Strider gazed and smiled at the tranquil manner. "Sure know how to build a house, Tepe," he commented, his hips at his side. "This'll be interesting, I've been so busy I haven't seen Charna since the peace," he said, smiling at Tepe.
The Mjolnir silently orbited Naboo, resting it's crew and giving them well earned shore leave, leaving only a skeleton crew and the marines onboard. The trip had been swift and Aislin had been detained onboard the small ship for the entire time, not risking any chance of escape while Tepe and Strider were preoccupied and speaking of the tense situation.
Now the very same Syren-class Luxury Yacht Aislin had been using for her bounty hunting landed next to Charna's shuttle on the landing pad, opening the ramp for everyone to get outside. Tepe and Strider were the first to walk out, escorted by two of Tepe's guards and being followed by four more guards escorting Aislin. She had been disarmed and her lightsaber had been given to Tepe for safekeeping so she wouldn't try anything.
"Sure know how to build a house, Tepe. This'll be interesting, I've been so busy I haven't seen Charna since the peace" he heard from his side and nodded, looking around.
"Too bad I'm not the architecht here. The Queen of Naboo started construction especially for Charna. She's the one who has kept Naboo mostly untoutched and flourishing. So, as appreciation, they built this for her to retreat to when the pressures of Galactic matters were getting to her. And during these many years, I've managed to use it once or twice myself. and as far as Charna goes, she hasn't changed a bit from what she was back then" Tepe noted as he started to lead them towards the entrance.
Jony rushed to Charna within the house when the ship was landing and getting ready to let the important people inside it out to the landing platform. He rushed into the room where Charna was and bowed.
"Milady, Lord Tepe has arrived with Ambassador Flamehart and the Bounty Hunter Aislin Dantes" he informed her while straightening himself up
((I hope you don't mind me making it a Syren-class. If you have a problem with it, just say so and I'll change it))
Charna smiled. "Thank you, Jony," she said. "We shall go out to meet them."
She rose and, flanked by several of her younger children, moved toward the landing pad.
"Welcome to Naboo," she said, bowing slightly to Tepe and those that followed him. She stared for a long moment at Aislin before smiling at her.
"And you, Aislin Dantes," she said, "you have your father's eyes."
Aislin shifted uncomfortably under her great-grandmother's gaze. "And he has his grandfather's face," she answered, nodding her head in Tepe's direction. She smiled faintly. "Rather unnerving when the man you were sent to kill resembles your own father so closely..."
Charna raised a single eyebrow. "Indeed. So it was not merely his charm and power that made you flee from him at your first meeting."
"No," Aislin answered. Her hand went subconsciously for the lightsaber that wasn't at her belt. Though they were older than humans had a right to be, Aislin did not think her great-grandparents had a right to be so... emotionally intimidating.
Charna could sense the emotional turmoil within her great-granddaughter, but said nothing of it. She turned to Tepe. "She is no danger to us," she told him. "Let her have her weapons back. She'll feel significantly more comfortable with them within reach."
Tepe nodded silently to Charna, took out Aislin's lightsaber and twirled it in his hand unignited before giving it to his great-granddaughter so that the blade emitter was pointed towards the young woman just incase. He then walked to his wife and wrapped an arm around her waist, dismissing his and her guards before turning to see Strider.
"Please, Strider, enjoy our fine house. You will find out the high-end sensor and communications relays might help you in your find for the Sith Hunters when they are needed, which I suppose are soon. I just wish trusty old Emukiel has managed to get the new law to pass in the Governors' Council" the Lord said before looking at Aislin and her slightly swollen cheek caused by his hit.
"And you. You better behave yourself. I'd hate to kill someone of my own blood in one of the last sanctuaries of my family. You will be handled with in due time" he noted before removing his hand from Charna's waist.
"Excuse me. I need to check the news. I need to know what the Galactic Alliance has decided on my recent proposal. Then I can join you" the man said, gave a kiss on the Lady's cheek and going inside and straight into his office where he put on the Dominion HoloNet News, looking at the holoscreen coming up from the table.
"Good evening from everyone here in the DHHN. Our headlines today: New Law in the Thule System, Empire and Galactic Alliance in Negotiations, Sith Dominion Uniting, Terrorist Attack Against the Bogan Amphitheater" the Ubese newsreader said. only moments later a report came in about the Terrorist attack, then a spy report of the GA-Empire negotiations and the Sith Dominion's apparent unification from the traditional bickering government into a sort of fascism. This was interrupted by a pair of the younger kids rushing inside, not noticing it was the office until they were already inside and looking at their grandfather sitting in the room alone, more thoughtful than usually before he noticed the children, smiled and walked with them outside of the office, closing the door behind them.
"Whatever happens, you to need to promise me that when you grow up, never forget who you are. Even if it would be the middle of a war zone" he said and the grandchildren looked up at him.
"What do you mean?" the other asked and Tepe merely shook his head before they approached the room where Charna was flooding the guests with hospitality.
"This will not last. Every time before something bad happens, there are negotiations. And now it seems we're off to fight the Sith Dominion" Tepe said before they finally entered the room and the Lord let the grandchildren run off
"Might as well try, but you know how they like to answer," he said, reminding Tepe, then went to the communications relay to attempt to get ahold of the Sith Hunters.
"Sith Hunters, if you receive this message, this is Strider Flamehart. Tepe has requested our assistance with the conflict facing the world powers. Please meet at his estate on Naboo if you get this message and wish to aid. The Ragnarok is near, so you should still be able to pick up it's signature if you need to track me. Strider, out." he said. He sighed. Getting them all together again would be interesting, too long had passed and they had not been out of content, as it often happened. Getting them together again would be more difficult, and now that there were actually more of them, they were more spread out than before. When it was just him and Riebe, it was easy to get ahold of one or the other in one way shape or form. He only prayed at least some would come to his call.
"It's good to hear from you again, Strider," came a message from Jahara Tal. "I've fallen out of touch with everyone... not heard from Reibe or Katherine in decades. Just letting you know I'm close, so I'm coming. See you soon."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Aislin was sitting quietly in a corner, watching as Charna flitted from person to person, laughing and talking. She entertained her children, grandchildren, and even the guards with equal concentration, even trying on a couple of different occasions to get Aislin to speak. But she quickly realized that the young woman was intensely intimidated by both Tepe and herself, so she backed off a little.
"It's a little uncanny, isn't it?" an unfamiliar voice asked. Startled, Aislin looked over to see a younger-looking woman standing next to her. This newcomer's blonde hair was pulled back from her face in what might be called a 'stylishly casual' bun. Her bright blue eyes were focused on Charna.
"What?" Aislin wondered.
"That one so old can look as if naught a year has passed by them," the other woman answered. She smiled down at Aislin. "I've not seen you before... what's your name?"
"Aislin." The young bounty hunter thought it wise to conceal her last name, as she suspected it may have been exposed at least to the family that she had attempted an assassination of their leader. But the other woman grinned.
"Aislin Dantes," she concluded. "Oh, I've been wanting to meet you! You're fantastic!"
Startled, Aislin stood, her hand subconsciously going to her lightsaber. "Fantastic?" she echoed. The other woman nodded enthusiastically.
"Fantastic!" she repeated. "I've kept an eye on your career. You've done surprisingly well for being in the game only four years."
Aislin blinked. She hadn't expected to find a fan in this family... then again, this woman didn't exactly look like a Dantes...
"Jahara!" Charna exclaimed and the woman standing next to Aislin departed from her side with a grin, rushing into a warm embrace with Charna. Aislin flushed bright pink as she realized the woman she'd been speaking with had been none other than the Sith Hunter Jahara Tal.
It was quite the number of children Tepe and Charna had managed to get during the century and it was quite weird to think that some of them had died of old age before seeing the newest addition to the family. However, most who knew the family had grown to accept the odd fact. Even the children.
Tepe sat down in the middle of the room, looking at Jahara and smirking. It was even more odd to see Charna and Jahara embrace each others like friends, even if they were enemies during the Formation Wars. That just showed you the human nature, which some species even after millenias of interaction couldn't figure out. The Lord looked at them silently, merely sitting there with some of the youngest children buzzing around him.
"Looks can be decieving, can't they Aislin?" he asked after a long silence from his part. With a smile, he stood up and the children screamed and ran off laughing. With a steady step he walked to her and extended his hand towards her to help her up.
"Come. Walk with me throught the forest. You have many questions which you no doubt wish to ask but cannot in this crowd" he said. Some of the guards got ready to leave with them, but the Lord gave them a look which denied them this duty. So the guards backed off again, marching to the top floor where they were normally stationed.
Jony, however, was sitting in the kitchen with Tepe's Head of Guards and a couple of his children that were nearing their twenties. They had engaged in chater about the Armed Forces and the Guards, as it was roughtly the time for the children to join the Dominion Armed Forces to serve the mandatory time of a standard year and after that possibly specialize in something. They even had the option to become Guards, but more probably Sunguards as the personal guards rarely were shorthanded. The main problem indeed was that what they wanted. The Navy was always shorthanded and had to use droids to keep the crew requirements to minimum, the Starfighter Corps weren't shorthanded but it wouldn't hurt to get some recruits there and the regular soldiers were always needed, as they were the ones who died most often. They had the plus side of it in that their father didn't demand anything of them with the choise they made about service, but he wouldn't help them get into the higher ranks either. He wanted his children to succeed on their own, not by daddy creating a new honorary rank which they could have. He didn't even name most of his sons Princes or his daughters Princesses, thinking that it would only create an aura of arrogance around them. The only time when he splashed the title around was posthumously and only to those of his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren that had managed to do something with their lives.
Strider came down from the communications. If anyone else got his message, they would be sure to arrive. He had already gotten another one from Katherine as well, who was on her way. He went down to visit the rest of the Dantes family and smiled upon seeing Jahara, who looked at him with an expression of confusion.
"Like the new look? I think it makes me look younger, you know, being over 4100 years old and all, I can afford to shave a few years once in awhile!" Strider exclaimed, smiling.
Jahara laughed. "Well, well!" she exclaimed. "Guess I can see how you've been spending your recent days... I scarcely recognized you." With a chuckle, she added, "After a few decades apart, it's not unusual to hear that said among friends... however with us, it means a little something different."
Then, she took a step back to examine his new look fully. After a moment of silent observation, she shrugged. "It does make you look younger, I suppose..."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
As they entered the forest together, Aislin was silent and thoughtful, seeming hesitant to speak to Tepe. In truth, she was more uncomfortable around him than she was around Charna, but after the encounters in which she was captured, she had gained a deep respect for him.
"I-I intended to [/i]kill[/i] you," she said finally, her voice low. "You knew that and you still met with me... and when I jumped through a window, careless of my own safety, you protected me." She looked up at him and he could see in her eyes a mixture of fear, respect, and trust.
"Furthermore, you provided the discipline I never knew as a child when I insulted my father," she went on. "And through all of this, I never saw anger or hate in your eyes. Your actions came of love..." Her words trailed off into a thoughtful silence. Finally, she shook her head.
"I don't understand you," she finished. "And I don't understand your wife, your children, or your friends. Now that I've spent even a little time observing all of you, I am nearly positive I shall never understand any of you and I'm okay with that. But I am absolutely positive that, even if I had the ability, I could not end your lives. There's a connection between us... here," She tapped her chest over her heart, "and here," she tapped her head. "I won't harm you because I am incapable of it... in more ways than one."
With a little sigh, Aislin shook her head. "And if I've made any sense whatsoever to you, I've got to give you credit for your interpretation skills... I don't think I made much sense to myself..." This thought amused her and she smiled. But then, a thought struck her.
"But what am I going to do?" she wondered. "I've already returned the initial payment the Sith Dominion dropped in my account for the job... but now, I've got no job and the depreciated reputation of having one job I could not complete..." It was obvious on her face she didn't like that, but it was equally obvious that even regaining her reputation of no failed jobs would not persuade her to change her mind.
"You talk too mutch" Tepe said with a smirk before looking at her properly.
"And to make you feel at ease, I rarely understand it all either. The terms 'family', 'children' and 'friends' are such strong words that nobody can really get what they are all about anymore. And have you taken into concideration that maybe it would be time for me to die. After over a 150 years of living, maybe it would be time for someone like me to step down from the opportunity for more?" he asked and chuckled.
"Too bad I'm stubborn and like my life, eh?"
"And to what you said about my actions, they are not formed throught emotions. That is why I made a bad Jedi. And an even worse Sith. Love, hatred, compassion... They never came throught in my actions. I am a man who works with his brains and memories to keep himself the man he wishes to be. I do not have an anti-slavery law because of empathy, but because my brains tell me that all slavery has done is cause major trouble to the nation. Brains are the most valuable asset to the human body, yet not many of them use it. Emotions are a bad place to find support and guidance. They are always biased" he said before kneeling down and touching the ground, using the force to feel the surroundings before standig back up.
"Let me show you something" he said and took her hand in both of his hands so she wouldn't move too far from him. The Lord closed his eyes to concentrate and cleared hs mind of thoughts before sending every important memory of his to be seen by Aislin as a slideshow. The fall to the dark side, finding Ruun, training in the junges, Darth Rythe, Welmin's Cantina, his first Jedi kill, formation of the Dominion, meeting with the New Republic diplomats and Sith Hunters, followed by a meeting with the senate itself, the launch of his fleets, several battles of the Formation Wars, the duel with Sith Hunters on Ruun, his walk throught the Sith Hunter machine, the first kiss with Charna and then after a long period of a feeling of calmness, Aislin's drawing of a weapon, her jumping out of the window, her meeting with Charna and then this very moment. Tepe released her hand and stepped back.
"After all that horror with only a few moments of happiness, would you trust your emotions?" he asked and smiled. He took out his ligtsaber and looked at her quietly for a while before igniting it. Unlike what it had been during the Formation Wars, it was a purple instead of red and the hilt was partly covered with electrum.
"It is time to test you. If you pass this test, I might give you the opportunity of your life" he said and lowered the blade into the starting form of Makashi, a form no more tought and replaced by a mere three forms of combat, which were easily conquered with the right knowledge of the right old lightsaber combat forms.
A young woman with short, shoulder length black hair and dressed in black and red clothes approached the group, her clothing reminded them much of the style Strider once wore in his early years as a Sith Hunter. Then again, considering her mentor, much of his habits had rubbed off on her to lead to that.
"Strider, what the hell have you done to your hair?" the woman asked in shock.
Strider laughed and responded, "Hey there, Katherine. Like it? What are you doing wearing my clothes anyway?"
Katherine shrugged, "Got me there," she said. "What, do you think it makes you look younger or something?"
"No," Katherine responded harshly, teasing Strider. She smiled and embraced him, then embraced Jahara. "Good to see you've been doing well lately too, where you been?" She turned and then gave Charna an embrace as well. "How's being married to Tepe going? Hopefully he's not too boring?" she said with a joking smile.
Sevral KE-8 Enforcer Patrol Crafts spread out, flying over the forests of Wayland, searching for something. A young psadan male sat immodible next to a tree as the airspeeders went over and put on a modified comlink, listening in to the frequency the craft were using.
"Sir, he couldn't have run further than this. According to HQ calculations, we should've seen him already on the radar"
"Yeah, we missed him. Let's go ten miles, turn around and try again on the way back"
The man waited for the craft to go over him again before continuing towards the mountains where a small shuttle waited. Once he reached the small clearing before the ground began to slope up against the mountainside, he was shocked to see nothing there even if his contact had promised to be there. However, before he attempted to return to the forest, a small seed-like shuttle no longer than twenty meters apeared, disengaging it's stealth mode. A ramp from the back of it opened and a Kel Dor came out, wearing the robes of a Baran Do sage. The man turned around andrushed to the Kel Dor, giving out a small disk and getting a lump sum of credits in return. After the transaction was done, the Kel Dor entered his ship and lifted off the planet, engaging stealth mode once again. One he reached space, he revealed another trick up the ship's sleeve by opening a large solar sail.
Inside, the sage sat down on a chair infront of a computer. Behind him was a very spartan sleeping section and next to him the door to the cockpit. The ship was piloted by a droid, when in space before it got ready to jump into hyperspace when an astrodroid took over the calculating. Meanwhile the Kel Dor placed the disk into a terminal, looking throught it's contents and forwarding them to Serenno to his master and employer, as he worked as an aide for a high-ranking official in the Sith Dominion.
"The information is quite impressive. We now know the weak spots of Lord Tepe's pathetic Dominion. It is like I have seen. The Sith can now take down a major opponent" he said into a note that he sent with the critical information the Inner Circle had wished to gather.
Name: Arlyn Krinn AKA Princess of Darkness or Lady Ivy
Age: apparently 27
Weapons: Crimson Bladed Lightsaber.
Ship: Vulture Claw.
History: Arlyn grew up among the Sith for as long as she can remember. Though she has always been a part of the lower ranks of the Sith, her capabilities have never been questioned. She has always favored using the force and has studied extensively the reaches of her power only rarely has she been seen using her lightsaber. She is often referred to as Princess of Darkness due to her beautiful features and smile. But also she has been known to manipulate and use her looks to get what she wants and she wants to rule the Sith.
It was cold in the night. Two men ran through the dim lit streets, breathing heavily and looking back often as if something or someone followed close. They soon stopped near a blast door to the entertainment district. Both had their blasters out and ready to shoot incase something came from the corner.
In the night sky a dark figured lept from building to building, carefully watching as to not make a sound. The figure closed in and looked at both men from above.
The men soon started to lower their weapons, clearly thinking they had escaped the fate they were going to face at the hands of the figure who still watched from the shadowed roof.
Once thir guns were holstered, the men started to make for the turbo lift to the entertainment district. Suddenly one of them drew his blaster pistol from it's holster and pointed it wildly to every corner of the hallway as he watched his fellow man suspended in the air clutching at his neck as if something invisible was choking him. The man with his blaster whimpered at the sight and tried to run away only to have a pile of steel canisters fall down and crush his legs so he could not move. The whimpers soon turned to cries for help. The man suspended in the air was slammed from wall to wall until his face and back were covered in blood. A steel pipe came loose from the side of the building and when the body of this man was tossed one more time, the pipe penetrated his chest and was left there to bleed out and die.
The other man continued to scream and cry for help, the tears rolled in his eyes as he watched his fellow man get killed and the blood of his body splattered all over the ally walls. The figure lept from the roof and gently fell over the ground as if something caught her and smoothly placed her standing on the ground. The figure walked slowly to the man and lifted an arm over him. The hand was clearly visible to belong to a woman. Her hand closed in a fist and the man clutched at his chest and started to scream in pain. As the woman tightened her fist the man's pain was bigger and bigger to the point when he spat blood. Finally with a flicker of her wrist, the man was lifted from the ground and suffered the same fate as his fellow mate. The woman kept walking away from the scene, never lowering her hood, taking with her a small datapad that was in the men's belongings. She then disappeared around a dark corner into the night.
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