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Old 02-01-2009, 11:20 PM   #12
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Alright, so there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for why this story has been dormant for six months... umm... just give me a few hours to come up with it

Actually, I've been rather busy up until lately and now that I've come up with time on my hands, I've managed to complete the entire story and will therefore be adding it on here in pieces to keep up the suspense. Hope you enjoy your next dose

Chapter II: A Sudden Reversal/The Hunt Reborn

The public transport landed on Naboo and, as he had no other immediate sources, Sean went with the two women, Dana and Vikka. But the direction they led him was not exactly what he'd had in mind. It was as if they knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish... and that made him uncomfortable. They led him straight to a computer terminal in a public library and, after several moments of heated, whispered debate, the two girls turned to him.

"We've read up on Casey Vale," Annika whispered to Sean. "Your photo came up a couple of times... Sean Casey. Please... don't run off on us. We can help you."

"Who are you?" Sean demanded, thinking very hard about running.

"That's not the issue of this moment," Reibe answered. "Finding Casey Vale is. More importantly, why do you want to find her?"

"Are you Imperials?" Sean asked, breathless. He'd been so absolutely certain they couldn't track him down. Annika laughed.

"They like to think so," she said. "But they have no real power over us."

"A Rogue and a Hunter alone in a dark room," Reibe sang softly. Sean's heart nearly stopped.

"But..." he stammered, "but that's a myth."

"Just like lies, some of the greatest myths are founded in truth," Reibe told him. "I am the Hunter. More properly, Sith Hunter."

"And that makes you..." Sean said, turning to Annika, "... the Rogue?"

Annika smiled faintly. "He has the head knowledge. Let's see him try to work this around the mental blocks I see him running into..."

"This is ridiculous," Sean spat. "You honestly expect me to believe that two young girls such as yourselves are the twins the Emperor has locked away for his special missions?"

"Oh, we aren't twins," Annika countered. "Reibe's my elder by nearly two-thousand years. And we’re clearly not ‘locked away’, am I right?"

"Thanks for making me feel young, squirt," Reibe quipped. To Sean, she said, "But she's right... on both counts. And think of it this way... if we truly worked for the Empire, you'd be dead by now."

"Maybe not," Sean shot back. "If Casey's guards turned against the Empire and all five of them are on the run, you may be using me to track them down."

"No offense, kid," Annika said, "but you were easy to find. We caught up with you just before you left Corellia. Been tailing you for a week now. If we were really after Casey, we'd have gone straight for her... not after you first. We're here because we believe as you do... that Casey had some ulterior motive for getting herself arrested."

"Then you know the Empire's stories..." Sean began.

"Were complete fabrications," Reibe finished for him. "She arrived at her parents’ house, as she'd promised. The feds were waiting there for her. It was all planned."

"So we're asking the same question you are," Annika concluded. "Why would a girl who's been hacking into things all her life suddenly mess up and then drop into a metaphorical prison? She'll tell you..."

"Now, see?" Sean interrupted. "You're sounding like Imperials again."

"What would it take to prove to you that we're on your side?" Reibe asked. "Go ahead and think hard on that. Make it a challenge. We like challenges."

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

"We like challenges, huh?" Annika asked, staring at the viewscreen before them. Reibe, standing next to her was grinning.

"We do indeed," she replied. "How many screens affected, you think?"

"It'd be easier to answer how many planets," Annika said. She looked to her other side, where Sean Casey was staring, open mouthed at the screen.

"How many planets?" he asked faintly.

"Most of the habitable ones," Annika answered. "You like it?"

Sean Casey wasn't sure exactly how to express his feelings over this particular stunt. Within three hours of his challenge being issued, most of the viewscreens on most of the habitable planets in the galaxy were showing this?

It was a simple black background and, in bold, white letters, it proclaimed,
[Free Casey Vale!]

"That's... amazing," Sean finally concluded. "So what's next?"

"Well, right about now, we get a call from the Emperor or his watchdog, demanding to know how we let this happen," Reibe answered.

"And that's 'cuz they'll believe you pulled it off and we were supposed to stop you from doing something like this or worse," Annika added. At that moment, Reibe plucked her comlink from her belt.

"Right on time," she said. With that, she answered the call. To Sean's surprise, it was the Emperor himself.

"We sent you and the Rogue to take care of Sean Casey because you were supposed to be able to get to him before he did something like this," he snarled.

Reibe tapped a few commands into the computer terminal before her and then replied, "We almost did. The Rogue is on his trail. I've just cut the hack from this end. Give it a minute or two for the termination to reach you."

"Do not fail me again, Hunter," the Emperor growled. Reibe laughed.

"Or what?" she asked. "You'll send Vader after me? Neither of you intimidate me, Palpatine. You know that."

The comlink went dead and Reibe laughed. Turning to Sean, she said, "You see? The Emperor is afraid of me."

"Why?" Sean asked slowly. Annika wrapped her arm around his shoulders.

"Because either one of us could almost overpower him," she said. "And with both of us together, he wouldn't stand a chance."

Though he suspected the statement was supposed to put him at ease, Sean Casey couldn't help but be decidedly uncomfortable with it...

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

"Casey, how many times have you hacked in to see its progress?" Max sighed, looking over his charge's shoulder. Casey flinched at his observation and quickly terminated her illegal access.

"At least fifteen," she answered carefully, "... this week. How many times do you think I've been noticed?"

Max managed a small smile. "You haven't," he answered, "but this can only go on so long before you do get caught. And while they wouldn't be able to trace a roaming signal, the fact that we're always on the move would give them an idea of who's doing it... which throws our paychecks into question. Not that it really matters now, not with your little attention-grabbing stunt, and pulling all our money out and all that... but still..."

"Yeah, sorry," Casey muttered, staring at the console. "I just... I'm nervous, you know? Empire comes up with something like that and I just know that it'll take Sean's help to get us past them to drop the news where it'll be of greatest benefit. And anyone he can scrounge up...”

"We're leaving enough of a trail for him to follow," Max offered comfortingly. But Casey was still worried.

"What if he gets caught first?" she asked. "He never was known for his evasive skills... just his ability to lie his way out of anything. But if it's Imperials... and who knows who they'll send?"

"We do, actually, remember?”

Casey groaned. "Sean doesn't stand a chance," she murmured. Jattic grinned.

"He stands a better chance than he would alone," he told her. Casey shot him a puzzled glance.

"But he is alone..." she protested. Then, a light clicked on. "You mean... they..."

"Check the private news channels," Max encouraged, coming in behind Jattic. He eagerly reached over Casey's shoulder and switched one on.

"... is in uproar today as viewscreens around the Empire flashed a proclamation to free Casey Vale. The hack lasted exactly thirty minutes. We have not yet received any reports of suspects in custody, though Sean Casey's name was mentioned. A total of one hundred and fifty planets were affected, as well as numerous spaceliners and cargo freighters..."

"Sean couldn't do something that big on his own," Casey mused. "I couldn't and I'm a better hacker than he is. No one could do all that alone..."

"And now to the conspiracy theory channel," Jattic announced, changing the channel.

"... wasn't really Sean Casey's doing. The Empire would just love to pin the blame on him, but we had someone on Naboo at the time of the hack. Our eyewitness watched Sean Casey depart public transportation with two women. These two women have been all but confirmed as the Hunter and the Rogue. They were responsible for the 'Free Casey Vale' hack, which brings us to wonder just exactly what they're up to..."

Max grinned and switched the viewscreen off. "There you have it," he said. "Your friend has some exceptional help. Not only will he find us; he'll find us fast, and he'll bring two of the most accomplished warriors and pilots in the galaxy with him."

Casey's heart lifted and she laughed. "Gentlemen, this may just be possible."

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

"I heard the news," the Emperor said slowly as Vader bowed before him. "The Hunter and the Rogue are no longer to be trusted. I am sending you with a bounty hunter, Lord Vader. Kavrik Zall is his name. Find Casey Vale before her allies do. This information cannot get out."

Vader bowed lower. "As you wish, my Master." Then, he rose and went to find the bounty hunter.

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

Have a read, give a review, yah?
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