Chapter Eleven

COROTIS MINE, APATROS 2 DAYS AFTER STRIFE MAKES DEAL

Night on Apatros covered the town like a blanket, where the only lighting was brought by the soft glow emitting by a floating streetlamp that, unlike the others, had not been caught in any recent firefights. Beyond the town—if it could even be called that—was the entrance into the old corotis mines. It was undoubtedly closed, but nobody had cared enough to put up a sign after the last one had been destroyed in the previous hurricane. Therefore, it wasn't really restricted, but those who entered carried a death wish.

The entrance was built into the rock, just an ordinary door where the miners entered and exited through. A form, barely outlined in the black night, approached the entrance and pulled on handles. Nothing moved. He was locked out. Rogan pounded on the door. "Open up!" he yelled hoarsely. After three more seconds, he pounded again, causing some dust to fall from the upper ledge. "Hey! Wake up!"

Fussing could be heard from the thin doors, telling him, in very accurate details, where to shove his karking attitude. Rogan gave the door one more swift pound, and waited for a few more seconds while the lock slid back and the door opened, revealing Ramm, dressed in nothing but some heavy-duty pants that covered his feet, and a long lab coat. Transparent goggles hung around his neck, and bags were under his eyes. The old scientist squinted into the darkness, trying to make him out. Cursing, he fumbled for something on the wall, and the lights turned on inside, revealing a long hall carved out of the mountain rock. Doors that bridged off to different sections of Ramm's lab decorated the side. The old man looked tilted his head back to look at him indignantly. "Do you know what time it is?" he grumped.

"Past one," Rogan said off-handedly. "Just the right time for me to fit you into my schedule."

Ramm glared at him. "This better be good, Strife," he said in a dangerously low voice. "I need to sleep, god dammit."

"It will be, it will be," Rogan said, placating the man's nerves for now. He realized he'd have to be careful, because his own Force abilities weren't up to the Kalanese levels—not yet, anyway—and he had to keep the old man happy until he got his purchase. "Care to let in a pirate?"

Ramm looked at him with a mixture of distaste and queasiness. "Fine," he spat. "Come in, and bolt the door."

"Thank you," Rogan said pleasantly. As he entered, he slammed the door behind him, and took special, deliberate care when replacing the locks Ramm had taken off to let him in. He smiled cheerfully at Ramm, and said, "Politeness counts for everything."

Ramm flinched at his gaze, and turned away. "Of course, of course," he said rapidly. "You know if you wanted some sort of time range, you could have called. It's in the dead of night, for Force's sake!"

Rogan shrugged indifferently. "I didn't want to disturb you," he said innocently.

"Well, you're disturbing me now," Ramm snapped. He turned and pointed half-heartedly to a door on the right. "Nearest to the exit, just in case the thing gets out of hand."

"How did my gift work out?" Rogan inquired as Ramm typed in the access code into an ancient-looking durmaplast panel beside the doors. "Any complications?"

"Leave it up to you to filch somebody off of the streets," Ramm muttered. "Yeah, he's working out alright. Dead now, though. Started frothing at the mouth during the third test and went into cardiac arrest. The third proved to be a massive stimulant, and I'm not sure how Jedi would take it." He looked quizzedly at Rogan. "You are after the Jedi, correct?"

"That's my secret," Rogan said, amused. "But, yes, I am. What's the estimated time for the toxin to be ready?"

"By the way this is going?" Ramm opened the door and gestured inside, where many vials, beakers, test tubes and paper cluttered the spacious room. Rogan's eyebrows were dangerously close to disappearing into his hairline. He whistled. Ramm laughed. "You might think that I'm nearly done, but I'm not. Now that I know what you're aiming against, you just pushed whole schedule back two more months. It's hard work, Strife… six months and a lifetime supply of caffa."

Rogan was sincerely dismayed. He showed no outward signs of emotion, but already gears were clicking in his brain. The merc wouldn't stay quiet for long: the Jedi would have him talking faster than you could look at an Ewok and say 'cute.' They'd be looking for him, if they weren't already. They'd start looking for the easiest means to get to him.

He tried to think. What got to him? A lot of things, but they'd have to procure a bait to draw him out of hiding. He wasn't a Jedi, and didn't care much about other people's lives. He felt bad about killing, but it was his job. He needed the money to survive. Possible the only people he would try and rescue would be Leela and Ramm. The latter because he was producing what the Kalanese told him to procure, and the former for…

Rogan liked Leela a lot. It would only be logical they would go after her, first, under false pretenses that it's time to 'bring her to justice.' Word would get out, and he'd know by the end of the hour that she had been captured by the heroic Jedi Grand Master Vieux! He tasted metal. They wouldn't try to get Ramm at all, since Rogan only came within talking distance the other night. So it had to be Leela, then.

An urge to go and check on her overtook him, and he almost turned on the spot and left right then. "Alright," he said, nodding, "But on a good day how fast could you go?"

"I wouldn't know," Ramm said blandly. "For another mil I could work faster. And another mil and I'll have it packaged and sent with flowers and kisses."

Rogan didn't care much about price: he was rich. Leader of the HawkBats had its quirks. He even got a little Force Sensitive bodyguard who he had grown a liking to. He heard the men talk when they were off about how things ran more smoothly under him, Rogan. The Rogue. Rogan the Rogue. He almost smirked at the childlike name he had given himself, no matter how true it was. He did smirk at Ramm's offer. "Do you think I'm made of money?" he asked.

"I did some research on you," Ramm sneered, taking a seat at one of his many lab stations. "Don't play me for a fool, Strife. I could turn you in as easily as that!" He snapped his fingers for emphasis.

"You'd be a dead man," Rogan said, letting his hand rest casually on his blaster to show that he was indeed serious. "I can give you two mil, but if you ask for any more I'll keep all the money and make you do it." He did the little act of inspecting a fingernail, pausing enough for effect. "You used to be a leading scientist, isn't that right? Rammrod Cormak, Leading Scientist in the Study of Pathogens, Toxins, and Biology. Don't think I don't know everything about you."

Ramm was silent. Rogan let his meaning sink in before continuing. "Anyway, Vieux deserves to take a little fall from grace, don't you think? He's the poster boy for the Republic and the Jedi, always surrounded by the media, and the parents around the galaxy reprimand their own children by using their little walking lizard as an icon. The galaxy loves him, and VeeVee knows it. He's over-confident, with a whole population of Jedi at his back."

Rogan crossed over to Ramm and placed each hand on the sides of his chair, leaning in so the scientist could the mad, almost feral gleam in his eyes. "I'm doing the Jedi a favor," he hissed. "This power is going to his head. After I did him in on Harrun Kal, did he ever show his face to the media again? No, not until he blasted my buddy's brains out on Tepheron. Then he's back on top because he killed my first mate. Everyone goes on and on about him, and the Jedi don't even see it. I didn't join their little ranks for a reason, and one reason alone: their leader."

Ramm's eyes searched Rogan's face, and he noticed his jaw start to tighten up in suppressed anger. "They wouldn't take you anyway," he spat.

"So what?" Rogan hissed. "I have a lightsaber. It proves Vieux isn't as all-powerful as he seems! Ever since Harrun Kal, he's been too embarrassed to think straight! He's going to look for me personally, I swear it."

"Then why kill the rest of the Jedi?" Ramm inquired. "Some of them have the right idea."

Rogan took his hands back off of the chair and started pacing the room, managing to get some of his anger under control. He stopped and looked at his left arm—it was shaking. "Vieux twisted their minds," he muttered fiercely. "If I kill their precious Grand Master, what do you think will happen, eh? They'll all come after me. I need a back-up weapon, and you're the only one who can give me one."

A small pause followed. "I think the smells in here are getting to you," Ramm said shakily. "Leave and let me make your little poison, but don't ever ask me for anything else!"

Rogan scowled. "Remember what I said: two mil. I expect that toxin done in six months, no later… Or I'll find other ways to motivate you." He nodded formally. "Good night."

"Hey, wait!" Ramm yelled, calling after him. "I'll try hard to meet that deadline, but it's real hard to locate the midichlorians. I'll need you to get me another guinea pig with enough midi's I can replicate to figure things out. It'll move a lot faster without Republic Intel breathing on my neck. Some idiot in the Senate decided to pass a law that study midis would be classified as illegal med research, and I don't think there's bail for that, kid."

Rogan nodded to himself, letting out a breath of air that was his nonverbal, Oh great. "Yeah, yeah, expect one in the mail today or tomorrow. You gonna kill this one?" Rogan only asked, not out of the welfare for the 'guinea pig', but because there were plenty in the HawkBats who had a high enough midichlorian count to be considered at least half a Jedi, and he didn't want some wacky old scientist messing up his reputation with the others.

"No, I don't think so. Just get me about a liter of blood and it'll do," Ramm said thoughtfully. "No mixing the blood types either… Hey, is Vieux B positive?"

"How should I know?" Rogan half-turned to glare at the old scientist, who chuckled to himself. "I'll get you the blood. Can't promise you a type, but I'll get it."

"Good… Bye."

--

Rogan trudged to the cantina Leela owned, hit with a need to make sure she was still safe. He had already decided to assign his own personal bodyguard, Zia, a shapeshifting Gurlannin, to guard her and make sure she would be safe. Gurlannin were traditionally marble-black, but had a small degree of telepathy, and Force Users wouldn't be able to sense them until it was too late. She would be the perfect asset, and could watch over Ramm while he was away.

It was just as well he had Zia's undying loyalty. He'd hate it if she was his enemy. He smirked as he considered putting her on Vieux. What a funny sight that would be.

As he approached, he was surprised not to see any lights on. Surely she must have waited for him… He knew it had been a long time since they had laid eyes on each other—a year—but that didn't mean she had to close down the place so early. Curious, he tried the doors, even more surprised that they were locked. His fingers brushed a cardboard sign, and he frowned, taking out his glowstick and holding it up to the door, washing it with orange light.

Closed

Hours: 7AM-10PM

Rogan sighed, and decided to approach her in seven hours. It was long, but he didn't feel like she was going to die in the next seventy-eight hours, and left it at that. He walked back to his rented hotel room, weary to the bone. He slipped in his card, opened the door, and turned on a small light. The room was small and smelled like cooked Rancor, but for once Rogan didn't mind the atmosphere. There was a small, ancient television set, a side table with a phone, and a bed.

Rogan liked things simple. He didn't flaunt on like Vieux about spending every credit on lavish little surroundings—he held himself to higher standards than that—and reveled in it. He took a small transmitter and sent a coded burst to his second-in-command over on Nar Shaadaa, where his little friends were hiding out and gathering supplies. Rumor got to him that the firearms specialist, Khonvor, was getting friendly with a pretty Mando gal he met in the Refugee Sector, and he couldn't wait to see the potential crewwoman. Mandos were hard, especially the woman.

Don't worry, guys, I'll be home soon.

He hated being away from his HawkBats. They were his family. He had adopted them. Or, better to say, they had adopted him. Thinking of the HawkBats brought an ache to his chest. He wasn't all-sentimental or anything, but he hated being away. He wanted to get back soon. It was the only place that felt like reality to him now these days, besides Leela. Between the Kalanese shifting his backside and grumpy old men with access to highly dangerous and stomach-turning chemicals, Rogan felt like somebody had put him in a box, shook him around, and expected him to find his way home.

How had he even gotten into this mess, anyway? It had to have started at least a year and a half ago. Vieux had been chasing him around the galaxy—as usual—and had boarded a ship he had thought he was on. Rogan had later found out he killed all the good men and woman on that one HawkBat ship, and had been sent into a rage. After that… he didn't really remember. But something happened, and he couldn't jump out of it and run.

He didn't trust those stinkin' Kalanese, anyway. They were too high-and-mighty for him, always having to be the boss of everything, If he didn't deliver, they'd kill him, or worse. They'd burn the HawkBats alive, and Leela…

And he couldn't let that happen, either. Vieux would be looking for him, too. He'd have a whole string of his little Jedi hounds running around for him. Rogan hated him, but he loved thinking two steps ahead of him.

Leela needed a protector, and so did Ramm. Zia would have been the perfect choice, but she was his own bodyguard, not theirs. Zia was totally loyal to him. He really didn't know when she had pledged herself to him, but he could always trust her on just about any assignment. She was fast, loyal, stealthily—he had yet met a Gurlannin that wasn't—and totally focused on her job. If trouble started to rear it's ugly face, Zia would be there for them both.

And besides, he could go without her for a while, anyways. He wasn't helpless, and both he and his crew knew how to stay out of sight.

Rogan got into bed and turned off the light, smiling into the darkness. You going to get your ass over here soon, Zia. Just not tonight.

He went to sleep dreaming of smoky test tubes and shape shifting lizards.

--

The landing pad was quiet. Most had stayed in bed because o the frigid cold of the morning, but Leela stood where she knew Rogan would be, pink-faced from the chilly wind, expecting snow to start falling, even though she knew it never would. Where are you Rogue?

She had closed for the day just to be with him and talk, but he hadn't showed. She glanced at her chrono and let out a hiss of breath that immediately fogged the air. It was 9AM already, for Force's sake! She lifted both legs and bent them so they wouldn't become stiffened by the cold, and rubbed her arms. Her entire face felt numb from standing out in the cold for over an hour, and she was almost tempted to go buy some cigarettes just to warm herself up.

I know we haven't talked for a while, Rogue, but I need to see you… You scared me the other night… Are you so busy that you can't even come and say hi once and a while?

He couldn't have been that busy. So what if he had business with that mad scientist that basically lived next to the cantina? It wasn't her place to know, anyway. She never asked too many awkward questions. He should know that by now.

She was just about to go when she saw a black head emerge from the local inn. So that's where you're staying. "Rogan!" she yelled, jogging towards him. The figure turned and smiled at her, waiting politely for her to catch up.

She smacked him with all of her might. "You didn't even call," she snapped, her words as icy as the wind that tore through whatever clothes she was using for insulation. "I know this isn't exactly a cultural hub, but gee, it wouldn't take much to look up my number."

Rogan winced and held up his hands in mock defense. "Calm down, Lee," he said soothingly. "You know you didn't have to wait for me."

"Friends wait for each other," she said. "Friends worry about each other."

"You know better than to worry for me," he said softly. "Come on, I was just about to go find you. I have some hot chocolate at my place if you want some." He smiled suggestively at her. "We can drink up, and… catch up on old times, maybe?"

"Is that all yout hink about?" she asked. "I was worried sick for you, Rogue. You come in, start a fight in my bar, and disappear for two kriffing days! I thought you left, but your ship was still here, and you weren't on it."

"You make a habit of breaking into people ships?"

"I'd break into the Supreme Chancellor's quarters for you, Rogue. You really had me scared."

Rogan just sighed, and moved a bit closer to her. To any outsider, it might have look like they were bullying each other, not talking about interpersonal relashionships. "I'd never leave without telling you," he said. "When I do—and I will, it's inevitable—I'll leave one of my friends here to make sure you know that I'm alright." He cracked a smile. "I have to keep you sweet for information, don't I? You're an artist among computer hacking."

"Flattery doesn't work on me, but keep going if you feel you must."

He chuckled. "Fiery as ever," he muttered. "Now, how about this: You come into my room, and we… discuss a few things…?"

She gave him a halfhearted grimace. "Well, if we have to…"

"It's a small room with a TV, room service, and double bed…"

"You caught me on room service." She smirked. "Breakfast in bed, maybe, with a lot of holovids and popcorn…"

"I can make it happen." Rogan smiled knowingly at her, cleared his throat, and asked in his most official voice, "So, madame, would you like the lights on or off?"

She giggled. "Sexist bastard…"

--

JEDI COUNCIL ROOM, OSSUS 2 DAYS AFTER STRIFE MAKES DEAL

"… and I am formally requesting that both Evlyn and I go to Phaeda to track her down."

Jemayah frowned at her colleague. "Why not Talravin?" she inquired. "We're looking for Rogan Strife, not an ex-girlfriend."

"We think he only went to Talravin to throw us off," Evlyn answered. "It's only reasonable, even though Boyfriend isn't."

The Council Room was deathly quiet. Both Sanji and Evlyn stood in the middle of the assembled Masters. Jean, Devin, and Jaing stood clustered together near the doorway, while Auron was on the opposite side, chipping away at a fingernail in false indifference. Evlyn counted the twelve chairs, noticing for once how many Masters had died in the past two years. Now, only Hann, Jemayah, Lu Ten, Sanji, and Vieux were left, and Sanji didn't count as a Council Member now.

Only four seats were filled. Four out of twelve. At least a third of what the assembled strength should be. It gave her a hollow feeling to look at the scene, and set her jaw defiantly without realizing she was doing it.

"Strife is a handful," Jemayah said. She glanced at Vieux with a knowing look. "Isn't he?"

Vieux nodded. "He may be a handful," Sanji said quickly, "but I know the finer points of persuasion and stealth, unlike my colleague. Padawan Evlyn also has skills we'll need. We are the perfect choices for this assignment, Masters."

(You think you are. Have you examined all angles?)

"Yes," Sanji stated. "We will find Landyn. She'll lead us right to him."

"You plan to use her as bait?" Hann asked. "Sanji, do you realize he killed seven of our best?"

"I used to be a bounty hunter," Sanji said. "I can get a feel for my target and locate him anywhere. If Miss Landyn's intel is correct, then we'll both find him."

"How do you know he won't just barge in and kill you?"

"He won't get the chance," Evlyn said firmly. "I'm being practical, Masters. Master Taban has had some Republic Intel friends of hers set up a safehouse."

There was a small silence.

"If we confine you here, you still go?" Lu Ten asked Sanji in his scaly, reptilian voice. "You were part of Old Guard… even then you did not follow rules."

"If you were to send somebody else based on the intelligence we had dug up, I would be personally insulted." Sanji had an impassive look she reserved just for annoying insects. The way she had said it, without any hint of emotion or hardness, seemed to say instead: Make me, lizard.

Evlyn marveled at how the look worked on Lu Ten, and ducked her head to hide a smirk. Auron hadn't stop picking dirt out of her fingernails, but Evlyn heard a small giggle coming from her direction. Lu Ten leaned back in his chair, silent. "I don't agree with this," Hann said. "No matter what, I'm not sending two unprotected Jedi to find someone who's probably already fifteen steps ahead of us. He got away from Vieux so easily—"

Evlyn felt a flash of anger flare up inside of her. There was a sharp crack! sound, and everyone turned to the source of the disturbance. Auron looked into Hann's eyes, pressing her knuckles hard into her thigh to escape some sort of pain. It didn't take a genius to work out she had punched the wall in frustration. "With all do respect, Masters," she said calmly, "neither Vieux or Rogan Strife are omnipotent. If you stay here all day wondering what you want for lunch, you're not going to eat. Some thing goes for tracking. If you disagree, then send Jaing or one of the others to accompany them."

She held all of their gazes for a moment, obviously not afraid of the two Jedi Masters who looked ready to kill. Vieux and Jemayah merely looked amused at her daring. Evlyn was, too.

They're going to kill you and bury you, Auron. I hope you know what you're doing… Don't press it.

Evlyn bit her lip hard, staring at the Council members, then at Auron. The staring contest between them lasted a good minute before Sanji broke in. "That's enough," she said softly. Evlyn glanced to the tall Zabrack next to her, and silently thanked her for ending the tension. "Auron's right about all she said. Maybe a little blunt," Sanji flashed her a prideful smile, "but she's the only one who has tried to make a point to you all in a long time. Jedi aren't omnipotent. I know I'm not. Our numbers have gone from twelve to five in less than five years, and you've kept telling yourselves you were too busy to make up the Old Guard again. Once she becomes a Jedi Knight, Auron Kae would make a great choice."

Evlyn saw Auron's questioning look, and Evlyn felt it, too. What was the Old Guard, anyway?

"This isn't a matter for Padawans to hear," Jemayah said firmly.

(Auron would make a good choice…) Vieux's eyes flashed in Sanji's direction, looking at her with such intensity that Evlyn was sure she would flinch and avert her gaze. (You trust your feelings.)

Not a question. A statement. A fact.

"I do," Sanji replied calmly, and Evlyn wondered whether they had some secret whispered conversation in their head. Vieux could do it, so why couldn't she? She dismissed the thought: Vieux couldn't read minds.

Could he?

(Then take my approval.)

"Master, you can't be serious—"

Hann was really starting to get on her last nerve, and she willed herself not to cry out in frustration or impatience. Instead, she went through a mental checklist. Ships are upstairs, I can pack in ten minutes tops, die my hair in twenty… Jean has a change of civilian clothes in her locker, maybe I can borrow that…

(Do you doubt me?) Vieux's voice was eerily quiet, and Evlyn felt a twinge of nervousness enter her chest. She shifted feet slightly, and her hand automatically started edging towards her lightsaber. Auron had stiffened. All three Padawans next to the door had gone completely still, muting their whispered conversation.

"No," Hann muttered, and slunk back into his chair, silent and sulking.

"What if something goes wrong?" Jean asked. "This is Auron's first mission—"

"Oh, so you think I'm helpless, do you?" Auron snapped. "Who gives a credit how old I am? I can do this mission, Jean. I don't want to be babied." She gave Jean one last resentful glance and bowed her head to continue cleaning her nails. She muttered something under her breath that Evlyn decided she didn't need to hear.

"I'm just…" Jean visibly struggled to find the right words. "I'm just concerned about their safety, is all. We can't expend so many Council members at once, can we? It'd be no more than a training mission. It wouldn't teach Auron anything."

"I think it would," Sanji said in a dangerously quiet voice.

Jean shrugged, made the 'hey-it's-your-choice-not-mine' gesture, and discreetly scratched her nose. Devin looked a bit uneasy, but Jaing seemed to be enjoying the standoff. "So… we can go?" Evlyn asked. Have a small backpack upstairs. Gotta dump out the books…

Vieux and Jemayah nodded solemnly. Lu Ten merely grunted, while Hann pointedly looked out the window.

Jean's voice drifted up again. "Talravin," she said. "When are we leaving, Master?" She glanced at Vieux, hoping for an answer.

(Jaing and I will be going to Talravin,) Vieux replied calmly. (You and Padawan Devin will return to normal duties, and be ready to leave in an instant if anything goes wrong. Devin, please make sure the lower Padawans and apprentices know what to do if anything bad happens.)

Evlyn felt bad for Jean, who had just let her back thump against the wall in dismay. She looked ready to speak up, and Evlyn hoped she didn't. I'll just get some clothes from Tiana instead… Jean's shoulders tensed up, as if waiting for some more orders. When none came, she resumed her normal, easygoing pose, a bit more subdued than before.

"Padawans, please leave the room and let us talk to Master Taban alone." Hann glanced around, noticing that they hadn't moved. "You heard me, thin out!"

Evlyn bit her lip hard, bowed respectfully to both Vieux and Jemayah, and turned on one heel to walk out behind Jean and Auron. A deep anger coursed through them, even though they appeared as natural as ever. Something had shifted between them all in the Council Room. Even though they had only known each other for a short time, Evlyn knew Auron felt the same way Jean felt, for all the wrong reason.

It had to be a question of trust.

"C'mon, Aur, we have to start packing," Evlyn mumbled, scratching the back of her head just to do something. "Hey, guys? We'll see you soon. Soon, Jean, so don't get all pouty on me."

"I'm not getting pouty," Jean said with a grin that didn't meet her eyes. "Anyhow, you guys go ahead and get your stuff done. Don't let me keep you waiting."

Auron nodded. "May the Force be with you," she said, and left them without another word.

Jaing blew out a breath. "Is it just me, or does she have some serious social displacement issues?"

"Lay off, man," Devin said, giving Jaing a playful punch in the shoulder. "You better get ready for your mission. I think it'll be very educational…"

Jaing grimaced. "Vieux will probably find Strife and chop him up into some nice tatshui…"

Jean made a face. "Gross, Jaing…"

"Well it's true!" Jaing said. They continued at their own pace down the corridors, minus Auron. "I looked up 'Kalanese', and you know what they do when their dead finally die? They chop off the skin and eat them!"

Evlyn made a face, a bit put-out by the facts.

"I'm dead serious, Evvie. They say they want to feel as some use to their families even after death, so…"

"What's for dessert?" Jean asked.

"Well, I got to go," Evlyn said. She gave them a half-hearted wave before taking a turn towards the turbolifts. "I'll see you guys later! Dinner at Imbraani when I get back!"

"Save up money, Evvie, because I'm going to be pretty hungry!"

--

Okay, maybe she should have begged to go. Anything to get out of the Enclave. It felt constricting enough as it was. She wanted to go outside, to be somewhere. People thought of her as the person who liked to stay inside all day and tinker with machines and ships.

It wasn't.

Jean ran a hand through her hair, massaging her scalp with her fingertips as she did it. Jaing had excused himself already to go pack, and Devin even left to go do some meditating. Jean was alone, and the Council didn't trust her to leave the Enclave. What was their deal, anyway? What was this Old Guard crap she heard? Had to be something good, if Auron qualified. Everyone was going to be doing something good in their lives, and she was stuck here walking towards the MedBay for a daily dose of bacta.

Her life stank.

I've proved myself, didn't I? Should I have taken some initiative when fighting? Should I have taken him myself? It is because Jaing was wrestling on the floor with him that he's going with Vieux?

These weren't Jedi-like thoughts, but for once in her life she didn't give a kriffing cred about Jedi. Hann and Lu Ten were unreasonable… It was mostly Hann, but it felt just the same. Four was definitely wasn't enough to control the Jedi. They needed twelve again, just like last time. A lot of powerful members with good hearts had been on the original Council. Rogan Strife had managed to track down and kill all seven after the course of several years.

Ironically, those Jedi were sent to capture him.

Maybe it didn't work out that way. One of the dead, Kaya-Tii, was like a trigger-happy private in the Republic Navy. Maybe she showed a bit too much initiative and tried to kill the man. Assassination.

That's what we're all amounting up to be, isn't it? Cold-blooded killers. The Jedi are dying, I can feel it. Ever since Mama left, things had been going hectic…

Maybe… just maybe she could call her father. Vin would know what to do. He was taking a two year sabbatical on Dantooine to get away from the rest of the galaxy. He had asked her to come, but she had stayed. Vieux had talked her into it, anyway. He needed to do it alone.

Well, now she was the one doing things alone. She'd need help from someone who knew how.

A figure turned one of the narrow corners, almost colliding right into her. "Sorry," he mumbled, and tried to ease his way around her.

"It's fine," she said, distracted. As soon as he passed her, she turned to stare at his retreating back, stung with a sense of familiarity.

"Hey!" she yelled. "You're the idiot that sliced my leg open!"