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Old 07-06-2008, 02:04 AM   #9
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Chapter I: Living Legends on the Hunt

Chapter I: Living Legends on the Hunt

"Sean Casey has gone hunting for Casey Vale," a nervous messenger reported to Darth Vader. The Dark Lord nodded once and then the room was dropped into near-silence, with the only sound being Vader's mechanized breathing. Finally, he turned away from the balcony and faced the messenger.

"Send the Hunter and the Rogue after him, if they can be interested," he ordered. "Inform Casey Vale's guards that he is coming."

The messenger bowed and retreated.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

It was a small room, not more than six by six feet. But that was all that was needed. The Hunter and the Rogue used it for meditation, though today only the Rogue was there. Both of them were extremely Force sensitive. And that was part of the reason people were so afraid of them. On the one hand, you never could know what to expect with them. Another issue was the... feeling around them. It was as if you were in the presence of someone or something very old... and yet, neither of them looked old enough to have that feeling attached to them.

The Rogue's name was Annika Venn, and she was called the Rogue for a number of reasons. She claims that years back, she was a Jedi, "back when it meant something," she says. Then, she joined the Sith, "when that meant something more, too." Finally, she gave up on the extremes and became a 'Grey Jedi'. In essence, she became a 'Rogue' to all parties. Though her stories would put her age at least in the two-thousands, she scarcely looks older than twenty-five. Now, she works for whoever pays most... unless it contradicts her sense of justice.

And then, there's the Hunter. The title was shortened from Sith Hunter when she pledged her allegiance to the Emperor. Her stories are even more outrageous than the Rogue's. Reibe Vailar, the Hunter, claims that she met Revan, a claim which puts her age nearer to four-thousand, when she would appear to be just twenty. Recent events have brought her allegiance into question and she's been difficult to contact, for she's been traveling a great deal. But the Empire knows how to contact her.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

"What is it?" Annika Venn asked softly from the center of the small, dark room.

"You have been hired, Rogue," the messenger stated, trying to sound brave. Annika laughed, a sound that made the messenger far more uncomfortable than he'd been just standing in the doorway.

"I have been requested," she corrected. "What's the job?"

"Tracking down a man named Sean Casey," the messenger replied. "Connected to Casey Vale."

"Ah, the Galaxy Hacker's best friend," Annika murmured. "Why?"

"He's going after her," the messenger said. He held out a datapad into the darkness and it was lifted out of his hand. It reached the center of the room and dropped into Annika's hands. She looked it over and tossed it back.

"Intriguing, but no," she said abruptly. The messenger took a step back.

"We're trying to get the Hunter involved," he offered, hoping the Rogue would reconsider.

"If she accepts," Annika sighed. At that moment, Reibe Vailar shoved the messenger roughly aside and entered the little room.

"She does," she announced. The two women embraced. Then, Annika turned to the messenger.

"Inform your master that you have done very well," she said. "The Rogue and the Hunter are on the job."

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

“We got incoming,” Jattic told Casey. “First, your friend Sean left the Imperials a message. Told ‘em he’s coming after you and there’s nothing they can do about it.”

Casey groaned. “Idiot! All they have to do is get to us and he’ll walk right into a bad situation when we finally meet up.”

“It gets worse,” Jattic said. “That mystery informant we’ve been testing has contacted us. She says the Hunter and the Rogue were hired to get to Sean.”

Casey cringed. “That’s... not good news.”

“No,” Jattic agreed. “I’m thinking we’ve just been thrust into a situation we’re not coming back from.”

For several long seconds, Casey did not speak. Then, she nodded. “I always thought that might be the case. It still has to be done.”

Jattic nodded. “Then, it’s time to let the Imperials know we’re not on their side any longer.”

“I’ll get started, then.” Casey stood and left the main room. She walked back to her ‘office’. In this room, they had managed over the years to assemble all of the same hacking technology that Casey had used to pull off the Galaxy Hacks. And now, she would use the same technology to force the Empire to realize that the hacker they pushed down wasn’t going to lie down and do what they wanted. And neither were the guards they’d assigned to her.

“Hey, Case.” Casey let out a yelp of surprise at the voice of Katera Vincent. The female guard’s head popped into view from behind Casey’s desk.

“Kat,” Casey breathed. “You startled me.”

Kat blushed and shook her head. “Sorry,” she said, brushing a strand of curly brown hair out of her face. “I was just checking out that power fluctuation you were talking about last time you logged on.”

“You figure it out?” Casey asked. Kat shrugged and grinned.

“How good am I?” she teased. “You should be good to go. What’s up this time? More sneak peeks?”

“No, we’re going for full-on attention grabbing this time,” Casey answered. “Sean got my message and he got off Coruscant... but he tried to do it with flair, so the Hunter and the Rogue are after him.”

Kat winced. “Ooh... so what’s the plan?”

“We’re blowing their little plan of putting me to use in another couple of years,” Casey replied. “You know those bank accounts we’ve been using these last ten years? Well, we’re going to drain them... set up twenty smaller accounts in place of those ten. Hidden, so's even the Empire can't find them.” She moved around the desk and Kat stood aside to let her at the computer. With a grin, Casey added, “And we’re gonna send a message direct to the Emperor himself.”

“Whoa!” Kat exclaimed. “Sure takes the heat off your friend.”

“That’s the idea,” Casey grinned. “Hang tight. Soon as I’m done with this, I’ll send him a message. And after that, we have to go. Tell Max and Griss to get the ship ready, will you?”

“Gotcha,” Kat answered. “Have fun.”

Casey chuckled. “Yeah, will do...”

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

"Well that was almost painfully easy," Annika remarked softly. Reibe smiled but did not reply immediately, choosing instead to watch 'Jatt Greyson' sleeping fitfully in an uncomfortable spaceliner seat.

"So what would you rather do?" she finally asked. "Kill him off in such ways as the Emperor would be proud of? Or perhaps, we ought to befriend him... hmm?"

"I would be rather interested in learning what prompted his sudden, swift departure to chase after his old girlfriend..."

Reibe rose. "Glad to hear you say that," she said. "Come on, then. Let's go meet the man."

They moved toward the young man, laughing and talking in the manner of two young friends on a trip to somewhere that interested them... though the destination was not quite so very interesting as the events in their young lives. Sean was awake almost instantly as they approached and he watched them guardedly. Initially, they seemed to be ignoring him... but then, Annika asked him politely if the seats across from him were taken. Wordlessly, he shook his head and the two women sat down.

"So," Reibe said, breaking into the conversation she'd been having with Annika, "perhaps, if we are to be seat-mates, we ought to get acquainted." She shoved her hand out to Sean. "I'm Dana Vincent. This is my friend Vikka Wade."

Sean shook her hand cautiously and replied, "Jatt Greyson."

"We were just discussing the merits of our destination," Annika went on, grinning at Reibe. "Or rather, arguing. Dana thinks Naboo is better. Frankly, I prefer Felucia. What do you think?"

Frozen for half a second, Sean had to think quickly. It was far too early to blow his cover... he hadn't even begun to find Casey yet...

"I, uh... I'm inclined to agree with Dana," he offered slowly. Reibe smacked Annika's shoulder with a triumphant grin.

"Told you!" she exclaimed. "People like places where killer diseases aren't all that likely. People like safe."

"So what takes you to a comfortable little place like Naboo?" Annika asked, rubbing her shoulder.

"To get away from the stress of the workplace," Sean replied. The answer came easier, for that was a question he'd thought through.

"Alone?" Reibe wondered doubtfully. "What kind of attractive young man takes a stress-relieving trip to Naboo alone?"

Sean flushed a little. What kind of attractive young man indeed? But this was a good time for a subject change. He grinned. "You think I'm attractive?"

"Well..." Annika began. "You're... well, I'll be honest. You're what... thirty? A little over the age range Dana and me are considering. Not bad for your age, though."

"Ouch," Sean chuckled, wincing in pretended pain. "You cut me to my heart."

"And yet, isn't that what all beautiful young women do?" Reibe sighed, punching Annika's shoulder again. "Be nice, Vikka." To Sean, she said, "You are attractive. Don't let her tell you different." She grinned. "So come on... who you gonna meet up with on Naboo?"

Sean was stuck. That was far too direct a question to dismiss as he had done before. "I... well, I plan on... that is, I'm hoping to see... to see an old friend."

"An old... girl friend?" Annika asked with a sly wink. Now, Sean was uncomfortable. These two girls were hitting a little too close to the mark. Still, the best lies always had a piece of truth to them.

"Well," he said, "I... we never called it that. Best friend, I'd say. We spent more time together than apart, all through our school years. After college, we lost touch. I'm just trying to track her down again... give her a surprise visit."

"Ah, then she doesn't know you're coming," Reibe concluded. She grinned. "You ol' romantic, you."

"And what takes the two of you to Naboo?" Sean asked, eager for another chance to turn the discussion away from him.

"Chance to see something new," Annika answered, looking to Reibe.

"Just visiting home," she said. "I was born on Naboo, lived most of my teen years there." She leaned forward. "You need a guide of the planet, talk to me. I've been everywhere worth going. If your friend is here, I can help you find her."

"Dana Vincent, right?" Sean asked, searching his mind to see if the name meant anything to him. He vaguely recalled that one of Casey’s guards had the same last name... and that made him uneasy. Reibe nodded.

"That's right," she confirmed. Sean nodded.

"Thanks," he said. "I'll keep that in mind." But mentioning Casey Vale was the last thing on his mind.

Mom tells me I need brain food... but if writing ain't that, I don't know what is!

My work in progress:
Hidden Histories: The Galaxy Hacker

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