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  1. #81
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva Xolte

    "Observe without being seen, hmmm?" the Zabrak's eyes drifted around the cockpit to rest on an optic sensor. "How about a surveillance droid? As a rule, I am as hands on as possible, so I don't have such a droid...but what I do have is a ship full of components and an extra pair of hands. Though, no. What if they meet on the ship? We're going to need something less noticeable than an obviously hand-crafted robot." Neva returned her focus to the real world. "We'll just have to commandeer one. Trystan, would you mind pulling that transmitter from behind the auxilliary panel? I'll get us a volunteer."

    The Zabrak sprung from the cockpit and picked up a few tools along the way. They needed a common droid - one that performed routine inspections on most ships - and one that she could easily overhaul. She pulled up her hood automatically as she stepped from the ship, not that it would necessarily keep anyone from recognizing her. It bothered her that the people they were chasing knew her ship and thereby knew who she was - while she knew nothing of them. A small general labour droid zipped past her feet. Looking about briefly for its owner, she followed it between some crates before giving it an electrical blast from her multitool. Now, she just had to set it up to do what she needed it to do. Upon her return, she plugged the little machine into the Wayfarer's systems and promptly wiped its memory. She then downloaded simple command sequences into it small processor. While that was underway, she installed the transmitter onto the housing. Sure, it looked a little odd, but people were so used to seeing droids all over the place, she doubted anyone would look at it too hard. Connecting the transmitter, she practised sending commands to the machine and found it to work admirably well.

    "Not bad for a quick fix. Let's get it outside and we can wait for our friends to show up."

    Hopefully they would get the information they needed to put an end to this fiasco, however Neva felt that Siralai was right to consider that things could be much bigger than they looked. She had a rather bad feeling about this.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  2. #82
    Siralai and Trystan Mahr

    Trystan was clearly impressed by the repurposed droid. "Well done!" he said.

    Siralai was too. Perhaps as a former Jedi, she should condemn the petty theft - but one had to keep a sense of proportion. They were trying to prevent a war that had the potential to kill billions. This minor breach was nothing compared to the damage if they failed.

    The old, nagging voice of her teachers rang in Siralai's head - that train of thought was the path to the dark side. But she dismissed it. Inflexibility and fear were surely a far greater risk to a Jedi's self-control.

    "That should serve well," Siralai agreed.

    The little droid made its way to an appropriate eavesdropping position.

    "...Worked like a charm," the newly arrived captain of the unmarked ship was saying. "The colonies are at each other's throats. Each of them believes the other attacked them. Before long, they'll be duking it out. The only question is whether the Republic or the Empire will declare war first - doesn't matter, really."

    "Such a provocation requires a response," the Advisor agreed. (Siralai mouthed his name to the others so they would know who was speaking.) "Good. You've done well."

    "And the Senate?" the captain asked.

    "None the wiser." For a moment, Siralai was relieved - at least the Senate wasn't corrupt, as they had feared - until Advisor Mekarak added, "Except our patron, of course."

    Siralai turned to the others and whispered urgently, "We have to get this evidence to the Senate right away! Before these people really do manage to start a war!"

    The implication that there was at least one corrupt senator worried her. But right now, there were more pressing matters.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #83
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva Xolte

    "Right. I'll retrieve the droid so we have physical evidence to take with us." She looked a bit embarrassed for a moment, but covered it with a grin. "I forgot to back up its files before I wiped its memory, so unless someone puts a call out for a missing droid...yeah, we have ourselves a droid." Neva turned the droid and sent it off away from their ship at first, then doubled it back around to nudge up against the Wayfarer's ramp. She picked it up and tucked it under her arm, turning to address Siralai.

    "I guess now we just have to hope that this 'patron' isn't your sister, right? Are you going to be able to get access to some other Senators without her knowing? We don't know who we might be tipping off if we just grab a random person. I mean, you, not me 'we'. It's probably best if they don't see me. Heh." She shrugged and chuckled to herself. Not that they'd be any happier seeing Rossi, but at least the girl was connected to an almost Jedi with Senate ties.

    "I have a feeling the ship here is going to be a sitting duck if they have any intent of looking for us. You're probably safer to go by speeder. I'm tempted to move the ship, but that might look even more suspicious than just leaving it here." Neva bit her lip and glanced up and down her vessel. "I'm not sure I can. Leave her here, that is. They sabotaged my cargo...what would they do to my ship if I wasn't here to stop them?"

  4. #84
    Siralai, Trystan, and Rossi Mahr

    "Could I have the droid when you're done with it?" Rossi asked hopefully. "I could work on it and... it could be a friend for me."

    "It's fine with me, if it's alright with Neva," Siralai said. "It won't be of use to its owners anymore. We'll send them some credits to pay for it. We can just... say we're paying because we damaged it while we were docked, and leave out the details of how that damage occurred."

    In truth, Siralai thought it would be good for Rossi to have a companion, even if that companion was only the simplest of droids. Their daughter was having a lot of difficulty making friends. Siralai couldn't blame her. Not only was Rossi a Sith Pureblood teen trying to make her way in the Republic, but her life prior to adoption, including her training in the dark side of the Force, had been profoundly traumatic. It was difficult for her to find peers who could relate to her experiences on any level. At least a droid wouldn't judge or reject.

    "I know a number of senators," Siralai said. "One benefit to being a Mahr, even if my ties to the family are only loose. I'll go to one who has little connection to my family, though - one who I believe will be impartial."

    She sighed, and steepled her fingers - a very characteristic Jedi mannerism that she tended to settle back into when her mind was occupied.

    "I do have a feeling that my sister is involved. A very, very strong feeling. But I will not accuse her without evidence. The word of a Jedi - even a former Jedi - is powerful. I cannot risk the harm it will do if I am wrong. For now, I think we have plenty of proof to bring the immediate matter to a close. Once the Senate views this recording, surely they will bring the perpetrators to justice - and when the Empire sees that the matter has been dealt with internally, neither side will have grounds for war."

    Trystan said, "As for the ship, I think I have a solution. We'll go straight to the Senate Tower, so arousing suspicion here is irrelevant. My friend Jasper and I have a repair shop nearby where we work on speeders and light craft. Our largest bay would accommodate your ship. I'll call ahead and have Jasper get everything out of the way so you have a place to land. Your ship will be safe there. Perhaps you will be willing to share a meal with our family once Siralai returns from her Senate business?"

    Siralai regarded the Zabrak thoughtfully. "Actually, I think you should come along to the Senate Tower, Neva. I think you all should. The Senate needs to see who truly saved all those lives. That a Zabrak, and an Imperial, and a Sith Pureblood all risked their lives to protect our galaxy. It will be instructive for them, I think - and they should not be spared that lesson simply because it may be an uncomfortable one for some of them to learn."
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 01-05-2020 at 03:02 PM.

  5. #85
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    Neva Xolte

    A smile crept across her face with Rossi's request and Siralai's 'explanation' for the droid's fate. Sometimes excuses were necessary. It was nice to see a Jedi understand that sometimes things couldn't be totally above board - not when you wanted to catch criminals, anyway.

    "Sure, Rossi. The droid's yours. I'm glad it's going to a good home."

    Siralai's plan was sound, though it bothered Neva that they couldn't act on the Jedi's 'strong feeling'. It was good enough in her books, but she also realized that she didn't run the world. Especially not this world. And this world that Siralai's sister existed in definitely needed tangible proof.

    That Trystan's shop could house her ship was a relief. It showed plainly on her face and she was about to thank him when he invited her stare a meal. They were inviting her to their home. Certainly they'd lived together well enough on her ship, but she never expected any relationship outside of confines of what the job required. A deepening gratitude filled her and wasn't chased away by the idea that she'd be going before the Senate. These people had her back. They were going together. It was almost...almost like being with family. Strange.

    "I see your point. In which case," she took a moment to remove her hood in a somewhat dramatic fashion, "better call up your friend. We have a date with a Senator."

  6. #86
    Siralai and Trystan Mahr

    Their little group certainly turned heads and raised eyebrows at the Senate Tower. Siralai thought it was probably good for them - set in their ways as some senators and members of their entourage were. She could only hope they might learn something.

    When they presented their evidence to the committee, their identities were no longer at the top of anyone's agenda. The group of senators listened with rapt attention to the story of the planetside attacks, trailing the perpetrators, and finally heard the recording.

    There was a brief discussion. Then the chairman spoke for them all. "Guards, arrest Advisor Merkarak and that ship's crew at once. We will inform our counterparts in the Empire that this action has been taken."

    He turned to the group. "To you - to all four of you - the Republic is in your debt. You have our gratitude. No one wants a return to war. We are honored to call you friends."

    The 'patron' remained unknown. Officially, no one had been accused. But rumors had started. It was known and undisputed that Advisor Merkarak worked for Senator Keela Mahr, and it stood to reason that she was the one he would serve. It was enough to begin chipping away at Senator Mahr's reputation.

    Back at their home, Trystan prepared a lovely meal for the group - he was the cook in the family. (If pressed, he would diplomatically describe Siralai's cooking as "adequate.") He genuinely seemed to enjoy working in the kitchen.

    Neva was introduced to the other children - Shalmus, Maialin, and Ebben - and to their friend Jasper.

    As they sat around the table to eat, Siralai said, "Neva, we owe you particular thanks. This would not have happened without you. I know this has been more of a commitment of time and expense than we led you to believe, and we will fully compensate you."

    Sensing Neva might refuse, Trystan said, "Please. We insist. If you like, consider it a retainer for future jobs."

    "I haven't forgotten my promise to help you locate your family, either," Siralai said. "I have been meditating on it, and I hope I will have answers for you soon. Neva... thank you for being our friend."
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 01-11-2020 at 06:10 AM.

  7. #87
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Neva Xolte

    This had been one of the most satisfying jobs...no, the most satisfying job she'd ever done. Recognition by the Senate was fine, but not what she was looking for. Knowing that she'd helped stopped a senseless war alongside some fine people was the part where she realized this was the kind of work she should always do. However, she thought it might have more to do with the company than the work alone. Sitting at the table in the Mahr's home, she was utterly relaxed. She offered a knee to the youngest, who crawled up willingly. Jasper seemed a good sort as well; he and Trystan were laughing over some past shenanigans in the shop. The food was incredible. She'd been living off rations for far too long, she realized, and made a promise to start diversifying her skill set.

    She raised her glass, "You are right to think I would refuse compensation, but you are also right to understand that my motivation to work with you again is strong indeed." The Zabrak's face grew thoughtful. "I feel it is I who is in your debt, however. Your job was timely in reminding me of why I fly for a living - and your assistance in finding my family is most treasured. You...I...did not expect to find friends, but I have. Thank-you for including me in your circle."

  8. #88
    Siralai and Trystan Mahr

    "We are truly fortunate to have you as a friend, Neva," Siralai said sincerely.

    Trystan nodded and clinked his glass to Neva's. "To friendship!" he said with a smile.

    "To friendship!" the others echoed.

    ***

    The remains of dinner had been cleared up, and the younger three children were in bed. Plans were being made to finish the delivery of supplies to the earthquake survivors - when the door chime began ringing urgently and repeatedly.

    "Are you expecting anyone tonight?" Trystan asked Siralai.

    She shook her head, as puzzled as he was. Most people didn't even know they were home, since they would have to get back into the sky so soon. Siralai opened the door... and Senator Mahr and two bodyguards pushed their way inside.

    "What are you doing here, Keela?" Siralai said, sounding more weary than anything else. "I'm not going to rehash the Senate Tower incident with you. If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear from the investigation."

    Her sister waved her hand dismissively. "That will all blow over," she said. "I brought a bottle of wine. Peace offering."

    The resident Mahrs just stared at her. Siralai didn't think Keela would be so stupid as to poison them with a bottle of wine in her own posession, the culprit would be far too obvious - but she couldn't quite rule it out.

    If Keela noticed the hesitation, she didn't mention it. She blithely continued, "As a gesture of good faith, I also want to warn you about something. Ebben's biological father is planning to pursue custody."

    Siralai and Trystan exchanged a confused look. "We're Ebben's biological parents," Siralai said. "Trust me; I'm well aware that I gave birth to him."

    Keela smiled a fierce, unreadable smile. She looked like she thought she had the upper hand in some way, though Siralai couldn't fathom how. "Yes, Siralai, you're his mother," Keela said with the verbal equivalent of a flourish. "But Trystan isn't his father."

    Whatever reaction Keela was expecting to this bit of drama, it wasn't the one she got - which was Siralai and Trystan both laughing.

    "Trystan is the only person I've ever slept with, Keela, so unless there's some other method of procreation I'm not aware of..."

    "There are other methods, Siralai," Keela replied in a flat voice - and Siralai felt chilled. "Children can be produced medically, as well as through lust. The father need not even be present. That vaccine trial on Belsavis? You were out cold in the infirmary for a long time. And didn't you discover you were with child shortly thereafter...?"

    Siralai shook her head to clear it. "This can't be true."

    Keela smiled indulgently. "Didn't I tell you long ago that you would serve the Republic through your children, whether you cooperated or not?"

    Siralai struggled to pull her thoughts into some kind of order. "If this is true, what you've done is highly illegal! I'll go to the authorities..."

    "Will you?" Keela asked, an odd look in her eyes. "That seems to be your answer to everything - odd, since you've respected authority so little in your personal life. But truly... will you? Because that sort of investigation would give the biological father a great deal of leverage in proving his case. The genetic results would be telling. I imagine he would want Maialin, too - and I think he would have a solid claim on that also, despite not being related to her, since being raised among Imperials and Sith is not exactly a proper upbringing for a good Republic child. Are you willing to lose two of your children, to try to get back at me for something you have no proof I was even involved in?"

    "Get out," Trystan said. "Get out of our house. Now."

    Much as he wanted to throttle the woman, at this point anything he could say or do would only make the situation worse.

    Keela kissed Siralai on the cheek... then left her Jedi sister slumped on the couch as the door closed behind her.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 01-13-2020 at 05:51 PM.

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