Y'know... it's taken me way too damn long to write this chapter. I'd randomly get a message saying 'Story Alert added' and I'd go bwah? But.. after over a year of sitting on my thumb and constant interruptions... here it is. Chapter Seven will hopefully soon follow.
A Job Well Done...Sort Of
They had returned to the Jedi Temple and were immediately summoned to the Council Chambers, despite it being rather late at night. Everyone looked as neat as when they had departed for their mission…except Twilight. His clothes were disheveled, scorched, and riddled with holes. A sleeve of his jacket and shirt were torn accordingly, revealing the skin from his shoulder to his elbow and his hair was loose, having come undone when guards had ganged up on him. The group walked into the council chambers and he immediately felt singled out as many of the Jedi masters hid how surprised they were at his scraggly appearance.
"Our assignment is complete, so to speak." said Kit Fisto, bowing to the rest of the council. He gave them a detailed report of everything that had transpired from the moment they entered the Glimmering Palace Casino to the very awkward silence shared while they left and stopped by a place for a bite to eat before returning to the Temple, as Twilight urged they might have been followed. They did not see any signs of anyone watching or following them as they left Dex's Diner. The Jedi masters looked around at each other, as if talking to one another through the expressions on their faces.
"So you established that Sargesso was indeed the one we suspected before his life was terminated?" asked Windu, the word "terminated" emphasized coldly.
"Yes..." said Twilight, equally cold. "He mentioned Count Dooku as I was approaching his booth. I held him hostage for a few moments, we exchanged certain unpleasant words, and I had decided on not hurting him until he attacked me from behind. More unpleasant words were exchanged. After I...returned his knife he cursed Dooku's name aloud saying, 'This isn't what you promised.'", said Twilight. "Deserved what he got, the arrogant prick." he added in a mumble. Aayla seemed to be the only one who heard him, or made notice they heard and elbowed him in the side. It made Twilight jump slightly as he was too preoccupied staring back coldly at the stern Jedi Masters interrogating him to sense it coming.
"Shaak-Ti, would you please wait in the hall with Twilight? And send in Dr. Lazarus." asked Ki-Adi Mundi. Shaak-Ti nodded and she escorted the maverick out of the chambers, the pale woman striding past them. She hurried to pass Twilight, too afraid or too ashamed to look up at him. Twilight had made no acknowledgement that she had left Sargesso's residence with them, hoping to avoid any uncomfortable moments as well as any conversation that might spark rage in him. She stood in the circle before the council members hesitated before bowing slightly to them, which Mace Windu nodded in return.
"Your full name, would you state for us please?" said Yoda, looking up from his chair. The Jedi master noticed that Aayla had a grim look on her face and even felt disgust for the woman standing beside her. He could tell that she was upset about whatever had been done to Twilight, and knew she was responsible.
"C-certainly…my name is Dr. Isabelle Lazarus. I'm a genetic researcher formerly of the Republic's Medical Research and Development based here on Coruscant." At first, Dr. Lazarus felt frightened about confessing to her wrong doings, but in the middle of her sentence she began to gain confidence that while Twilight had not necessarily forgiven her for what had happened, he did not hold her personally responsible. She looked back when he discarded his weapon, she knew it was not out of concern that Fisto would shoot him.
"How were you involved with Sargesso?", inquired Windu.
"My..husband disappeared on his way home from the Senate Chambers..he was one of the Guard Captains who oversee their meetings, you know that of course..." she mumbled, wiping her eyes with a thumb. "I received a holomail the next day saying he would be killed if I didn't resign from my work with the Republic and work for Sargesso's bio-engineering team. I would have called the authorities...or come straight to the Jedi, but they threatened against that as well...I felt it'd be the only way to save him if I just gave in and did what they asked..." She lowered her head, her glasses slipping down a bit on her nose. Dr. Lazarus looked up again, straightened her spectacles and took another deep breath. The little green Jedi Master already knew from the glimpses of Twilight's memories of what happened, but the rest of the Council would need to hear it straight from Lazarus.
"The work you were put to at Sargesso's bidding, elaborate for us?"
"He had me working with what appeared to be an already assembled team of the best Bio-engineers and geneticists from across the galaxy. They wanted to enhance subjects, I always thought they were to be used as weapons, but never a galactic war."
Adi Galia glanced down at the data pad in her lap, studying it for several moments before clearing her throat. "How many subjects were there, can you recall?"
"I wasn't brought in at the beginning of the research…it's my belief that there were hundreds of attempted experiments, most of which failed. Twilight was one of only a handful that survived all of the genetic augmentation processes." Dr. Lazarus held both hands out in front of her. Ki-Adi Mundi tilted his head a bit and peered at the scientist.
"What sort of experiments were done on the rebel and the others that survived?"
"Skeletal structure reinforcement, neural enhancers, muscle density enhancers, gene therapy and splicing." With the last word, Fisto raised an eyebrow and raised the question.
"Yes…the technique is to take the genetic material of something, generally a species with desirable traits and combining it with that of the subject."
"And the young man was put under this treatment?"
"That's correct…his genetic material was paired with that of reptile indigenous to Tatooine, commonly known as a krayt dragon." There was a flutter of quiet talking amongst the Jedi Council members and Dr. Lazarus gulped.
"Can you tell us how this 'splicing' effected him?" questioned Rancisis Oppo
"Without all the enhancements done to his body, the genetic material introduced would have mutated him. Testing showed an increase of sight, smell, hearing, strength, speed, agility, reaction time, endurance, all of it was nearly tripled. He showed considerable resistance to heat, electrical, and energy discharge, though no noticeable change in cold tolerance."
"He can distinguish the drop of a pin in the middle of a crowded lower street, see in virtual darkness, and his skin became tough as a krayt dragon's hide. For some unknown reason, his eyes occasionally tend to shift color." Once again the Jedi Council members whispered back and forth, nodding and turning back to look at the woman with minimal expression.
"You said that the Zabrak Sargesso was not the project leader?"
"No, the research was only being funded by him…I cannot say that I know who started it."
"You also mentioned there were others who made it through your experimenting?" Lazarus cringed at it being called 'her experimenting' though she nodded and looked up.
"There were six others that made it through the augmenting successfully. I have data on five of them. Information on Twilight is limited, all I have left on him are basics and research data. I haven't anything on the sixth, only that he was a male human."
"What more about Twilight, can you tell us hmm" Inquired Yoda. He placed both hands on the top of his cane, leaning forward.
"I don't know anything about him before he was brought in. His real name is Ido Garrack and he had this with him." She pulled her purse from her shoulder and opened it, withdrawing the chipped and worn hilt of a lightsaber. "It doesn't work as far as I can tell…" Aayla, who had been staring ice at the scientist raised both eyebrows, finally poising a question of her own.
"Why does he wear that metallic face-mask?" Lazarus frowned, running a hand through her hair to straighten a few stray strands and spoke quietly.
"After the mainstay of the treatments and the splicing procedures, he became increasingly…reclusive and showed signs of mental instability. Ido grew irritable and hostile towards the wardens and scientists that came to move him from treatment. As a pair of them getting ready to move him, he lashed out and broke one man's legs with the chair in his cell.
Two orderlies came to restrain him…nearly tore out his throat. Since then, they had him chained and his face covered in a mask so that he wouldn't harm any of the other researchers."
Secura blinked at hearing the grim details. She had thought it might be something a little more mysterious, not nearly as simple as being treated like an animal. The Jedi council members began to stand one by one and they all bowed to Dr. Lazarus. Windu stepped forward and extended his hand to take hers, shaking it lightly before bowing his head.
"Thank you for your cooperation. We'll need all of the research data you still have and we'd like you to remain here until a time where we feel it's safe for you to return home. One more thing...may I hold on to that?" Windu held out his hand and gestured at the lightsaber in her grasp. Lazarus looked down at it as if it were her most precious trinket, though her shoulders slumped a bit as she placed it into his hand.
"A-alright…if you feel that would be best Master Jedi…" she lowered her gaze to the floor in front of her. Master Fisto escorted her from the chambers and Mace Windu, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Master Yoda all remained. They stopped Aayla from leaving.
"Aayla, you and Shaak-Ti will look after Garrack for the time being. He may be the only lead we have to getting more information." Aayla nodded and bowed her head. As they all turned to leave, she peered at Twilight. Shaak-Ti had her back turned to the maverick and Secura was given the same mental image as before. Ido 'Twilight' Garrack was floating in a bacta tank completely surrounded by a dark green liquid. The only life from the tank was the very slow rise and fall of his chest and the bubbles floating up from his rebreather. As if awakening from a nightmare, his eyes tore open and he looked around frantically, the heart-rate moniter rapidly increasing. The man began to pound on the inside of the tank, screaming at the top of his lungs, the the only thing that came out was a rapid jet of bubbles.
Aayla shook her head and blinked a few times, standing once again in the Jedi Temple. As she looked back at Twilight, she caught his eye. He was looking at them over his shoulder, his eyes practically on fire. His dark crimson gaze bore through her and she instantly knew that he'd heard everything that the Council discussed.