Admiral Carth Onasi bent over the commlink in his office on Telos, waiting for her words--the first words she would speak to him after seven months of separation.
He heard her breathing first. "I love you," she whispered. Relief and memory swept over him, but she continued, and his hands tightened around the grip they couldn't quite get on the plastic desk's edge. She said, "I need to speak to Canderous."
"I love you, too," he breathed, then forced himself to sound and think professionally, even as his heart was beating in his ears-- "Yes ma'am. He'll be here via holo as soon as you land."
He rushed through the halls of the base, down toward the hanger. She was back, and that meant that war would follow in her wake. Whatever she had roused would turn its sleepy eyes toward the Republic, and she thought that the Mandalorians would be needed to force those orbs closed again. Separated from the strategies, from the curiosity about the identity of the True Sith, pure longing and joy occupied a secluded sector of his mind as the boxy ship glided into the hanger.
It came to a halt. When Carth descended the last flight of steps, the blue-shimmering holo of Canderous appeared, hulking in his gray armor. He had removed the helmet of Mandalore for her. The tubes and mirrored visor tucked beneath his arm bared his square-jawed profile and salt-and-pepper hair. Carth gave him a grudging salute, and the Mandalorian began to return it just as the ship's hatch creaked open.
The woman emerged, limping, curled around the hand pressed splayed across her stomach, unrecognizable. But after a moment Carth saw the shape of the face that he knew so well, obscured under tangled hair and a poorly healed tattoo that spiraled from her jaw line to her left eye, swirls and thorns inked across her cheek. Her right, loosely swinging hand was bandaged and red with blood; her black robes were clean. Not a recent fight or accident, then, but a wound which had not healed—The eye above the tattoo was slightly clouded over, but it was her eye, her lithe body, her smile. He rushed to her and they embraced, her head draped over her shoulder as though she were exhausted. "Carth," she whispered, then again, but the volume of her voice beside his ear rose when she spoke to the hologram behind him. "Ordo!" She cried. "Do you remember, you once told me about an alien ship, something you'd never seen before, that looked like an asteroid?"
"I do. Purplish thing, ugly, you seemed interested. Are you healthy?"
She drew away from Carth, running her free fingers over her marked cheek. "I found them. These aliens had an outpost just beyond the Outer Rim. There weren't many of them, by my ship got dragged in. They seemed appalled by it…but I could only perceive so much by their voices. No Force sense at all. But they knew us; they showed me pictures of the galaxy. The first thing they managed to convey to me was that they had revered me at first, for my galactic conquest. This," Her fingers curled on her skin, then fell back to her stomach. "is a sign of prowess. They all had tattoos, or scarifications. When they learned that I didn't want any…they took samples and let me go." She raised her right hand, and Carth caught the bandaged bundle, clumsily collapsing the cloth over the place where her last two fingers used to be.
"Are these things dangerous? They want to invade the galaxy?" Canderous growled. The Republic, Carth knew, would not withstand an invasion now. It still struggled to recover from the ravages of the Sith.
She said, "I don't know."
Carth said, "Let's get you to a med droid."
She complied; he supported her with an arm around her waist. She continued to speak, and to glance at the Mandalorian. "Rendezvous with us here, Canderous. I think the Republic is in danger. They're strong, these…outsiders I met. With just the little I know… they won't stop. It may take thousands of years, or days, but they'll get here. I tried to make peace, and they were too different, determined, watched over by their gods…"
"We'll call a council of war, when you're healed." Carth said, and meant it with all the determination in his heart.
"Thank you," she murmured. "It might take thousands of years…but we'll be ready."
A/N: This was the product of a dark and twisted mood, and of the fact that I was always intrigued by Canderous' description of the mysterious (coughVongcough) starship he once encountered. Feel free to send me a message via PM or review if you have a desire to continue this story from here. I'll be your consultant, but I'm not going to write any more of this plotline, and I'd be kinda cool if someone did.
Special Features: Creepy Alternate Ending:
"It might take thousands of years…but we'll defeat them. We'll show the galaxy the gods' truth."