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[FIN]Betrayal and Retribution: Percieved Reality


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Prologue Summary


Jeez and Miranda are now at the age of 19 and have been assigned to Jedi Masters as Padawan Learners about 3 years ago. Miranda was assigned to Tsunin Uralai and Jeez was assigned to Mace Windu. As Tsunin is still quite young, Miranda is her first Padawan. Jeez, on the other hand, is one of many Padawans that Windu has trained. Both Jeez and Miranda are nearing the final point of their training: the Trials. On the planet Illum, Jeez and Master Windu are about to begin a sparring session to further Jeez's skill with a lightsaber.




Percieved Reality


"You need to concentrate on the Force. Don't focus on my lightsaber, focus on the Force," Windu stated. Jeez breathed in deeply for a moment. Although sparring with Master Windu was one of his favorite parts of the training, it was becoming more and more difficult as Windu would adopt newer and more powerful techniques each time.


"This time, go for a katana stance and close your eyes. Use the Force to feel my strikes," Windu stated. Shaking his head in confirmation, Jeez closed his eyes and raised his lightsaber above his head. The emitter was pointing directly behind him, and the abnormally long hilt allowed Jeez to space his hands out by about 6cm. Igniting his blade, Jeez stood ready with his eyes closed. Mace then ignited his saber and immidiately struck at Jeez towards the midsection.


Sensing the strike, Jeez quickly swung his saber down by pushing with his top hand and pulling with lower hand. The result was an incredibly quick parry that had a lot of strength behind it. As Jeez pushed Windu's blade downward, Mace pulled his blade out of the parry and swung the blade around to strike towards Jeez's left shoulder. Sensing the motion, Jeez very quickly brought the blade back up to the starting stance and brought it back down in another parry.


The spar continued in this fashion for another couple of minutes before Windu pulled back. "Now, you go on the attack. Keep your eyes closed and continue using the Katana stance," Windu stated quickly. Without hesitation, Jeez quickly rushed at Windu and began to attack with quick, high strikes. As Windu began to parry the strikes, he also performed a number of counter-attacks off of Jeez's strikes. Jeez was able to sense the counter-attacks and parried them. The spar then became a match of attacks and counter-attacks by both Master and Padawan.


After almost 15 minutes of continuous sparring, Windu stepped back. Jeez's last couple of attacks had used an incredible amount of strength that he hadn't sensed before. "Enough! Excellent work, Jeez," Windu stated while switching off his lightsaber. Still in the katana stance, Jeez breathed in deeply. Opening his eyes, he then sensed that a bit of anger was just starting to diminish. Realizing that, Jeez quickly switched off his lightsaber and relaxed. Bringing it down, Jeez bowed lightly to his Master. Returning the bow, Windu walked over and patted Jeez on the back. "You've just taken your first steps into the final lightsaber form: the Vapaad. As you've noticed, there is no emphasis on acrobatics or parrying or any other specific part of lightsaber combat. Instead, the sole focus is on relying completely on the Force to guide your every move. You have some questions?"


"Well, I was just wondering why I began to feel a bit angry during those last few minutes," Jeez stated. Shaking his head, Jeez knew that it had to have been a mistake on his part. "Actually, that's quite normal for anyone new to the Vapaad. Your emotions will come to the surface; there is no stopping that. The point, however, is not to supress those emotions but rather to control them instead of letting them control you. If you let your emotions get the best of you, you are bound to come very close to the Dark Side," Windu responded. "Then why are we even bothering with learning the Vapaad if it can lead to the Dark Side?"


"There is always a danger, but given enough practice, the danger is minimized. You've done well today, so clear your mind of anything that remains. We'll do this again tommorrow, so rest up. I would also like for you to meditate on getting yourself as one with the Force as possible before the spar. It will help you with the other basic techniques that we'll be going over tommorrow. I have some other things to take care of while we're here, but I'll be available if you need help. May the Force be with you, Jeez."


After they exchanged bows again, Jeez hooked his lightsaber to his belt as he watched Master Windu walk off. Turning around, Jeez headed for the room that he had been assigned to for the next couple of days. Stopping for a second, Jeez finally began to realize how cold he was. Although Illum was a frigid world, Jeez hadn't noticed the cold since he had removed his outer cloak for the spar with Windu. Picking the cloak off the crystal spire that it was hung from Jeez started to put it on as he turned around.


"Hey!" Jumping almost a mile, Jeez quickly breathed in deep. "For once it would be nice if you didn't use the Force to sneek up on me," Jeez stated while finishing putting on his outer cloak. "Oh, but where would the fun be in that?" Miranda replied. "I'd bet that it wouldn't be any fun at all," a Jedi stated while decending the circular ramp that led to the top of the Illum temple. "Master Uralai, its good to see you," Jeez stated. "And the same here as well. I trust your training with Master Windu is going well?"

"It is. We're finishing up with some final lightsaber training while we're here."

"Well, it is most appropriate for this place. With the crystals we recieve here providing the basis for our lightsabers to even exist. Still, I was under the impression that you were finished with your lightsaber training."

"Yes, I had completed the training on the fundamental forms, but Master Windu thought it was necessary for me to complete training on several of the more advanced forms as well."

"I see. Well, Miranda and I have some training that needs to be completed here as well, so we'll be heading off. Its been good to see you, Padawan Jeez."

"Likewise, Master Uralai."


As they exchanged bows, Tsunin headed to another part of the temple, leaving Jeez and Miranda alone. "So, what exactly are you getting training for here?" Jeez asked as he turned to Miranda. Smiling, Miranda replied, "Lightsaber techniques. Ironic, isn't it?"

"Maybe just a little," Jeez stated while returning the smile.


"Well, I need to get some meditation completed in preperation for tommorrow, so I need to get going," Jeez said as the smile faded. "Mind if I join you? Me and Master Tsunin just got here, so we won't be getting to our sparring until tommorrow. Besides, I could use a bit of focus myself," Miranda replied. "Sure, lets go."


As they headed towards Jeez's room, Jeez reached around Miranda's shoulders and gave her an affectionate hug like he always did. Smiling, Miranda looked over at Jeez for a second. As Jeez brought his arm back around her, Miranda reached for his hand and grasped it firmly as they walked together towards the room.

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On Coruscant, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine looked outside of the large panoramic window in his office. On his desk, a paused holoprojector showed the glowing image of Count Dooku. The fiery rhetoric that was recorded on the holoprojector had been delivered just two months prior had ignited a powerful movement throughout the galaxy. Turning around, Palpatine reset the projector and made it play through again. As the blue image of Dooku appeared, Dooku began to speak.


"Citizens of the Republic. Defenders of freedom, lend me your time for there is little time left to act. The Republic has failed us all. For countless years, the Republic has done nothing except to build up an impenitrable beauracracy that chokes and constrains all hope. Our worlds lie in utter ruin due entirely to neglect and insufficient action. For too long we have paid our taxes only to fill the coffers and pockets of greedy Senators instead of seeing action and resolve on our worlds. Crimes fill our streets while decay forces us into hopelessness. Trade routes have become choked with tariffs, and our own livelihood is choked in the process.


Peace is nothing more than a distant concept further polluted by the Jedi's unwillingness to promote it. Riots over food; rampant slavery and prostitution fill the streets of our most heavily urban systems; murder over spice deals gone wrong; these are but a few symptoms of a restless galaxy searching for peace. Yet, the Jedi are content to sit idlely by inside of their temples. Content to do nothing more than to discuss and debate than to show action, they accomplish nothing. Missions may be dispatched during the most straining of crisis, but they acheive nothing outside of further bickering among the Council. They then seek their own peace inside of endless meditation. But it solves nothing!! We stand at the brink of our own collapse while those that can help isolate themselves in meditation.


What is your citizenship worth, you people of the Republic? Is it worth your peace, your livelihood, your morals, your ambitions? Is it worthy of your life? Certainly not! Your citizenship is nothing more than a control to make you think that you are apart of the government, but yet it does nothing for you. It is time that the people of this galaxy realized the truth: the people are subject to their government, but the government must answer to its people. It is time for the Republic and its worthless Jedi defenders to answer to their people. Rise up and cast down the oppressive Republic!! It will answer to us for its crimes!! Seperate yourselves from helplessness and support a new galaxy: a galaxy devoted to peace and justice. Join our Confederacy and be free from the ties that bind you to the fate of everyone else. Join our Confederacy of Independant Systems and help us overthrow the shackles of beauracracy that bind us all to the fate of destruction. Become the free people that you were born to be."


With that, the holoprojector shut off with a brief flash of light. At the corners of Palpatine's mouth, a smile began to curl. Then, the door opened to his office, and Palpatine looked up. His face had already changed, and his serious demeanor was undeniable as several Senators entered his office. "Ahh, Senators Organa, Zar, Amidala, and Dio. Thank you for coming. I realize that your time is valuable, so this meeting is all the more important. Please, do be seated," Palpatine addressed them. As the Senators sat down in the seats provided for them, Palpatine also sat down opposite them behind his desk.


Leaning forward onto his desk with his hands folded, Palpatine began. "As you are all well aware of, this growing Seperatist movement is causing a very large number of problems for the Republic. Entire systems are declaring their independance with minimal violence while others are beginning to become mired in violence. According to a report that was given to me this morning, over 3000 systems are reporting that some form of rioting has taken place with at least 1200 of those systems reporting that utter chaos has broken out among the people in widespread rioting. The death rates among those systems vary somewhat, but what is more important to note is that the death rate has been intensified by a general lack of medical supplies."


Leaning backward into his chair, Palpatine then stated, "This is where you come in. Suitable amounts of medical supplies are currently unavailable through normal channels. Thus, alternatives have to be sought after." Tilting his head to the side, Senator Organa looked at Palpatine quizzically. "If I may, Chancellor, but what exactly are you refering to with these alternative channels?" Organa asked. With a somewhat reserved look on his face, Palpatine replied, "Well, unfortunately problems aren't going to just go away by attempting to force bacta or kolto shipments to increase. Thus, the only real alternatives are to look towards certain underground sources."


All of the Senators knew exactly what that meant and were immidiately uncomfortable. Padme Amidala was the first to speak up, "You don't mean looking towards black market sources? The scandal would be catastrophic at best, and if word gets out among the Seperatists-"


"Yes, I am perfectly aware of the implications, Senator Padme. That's why I brought you here. In a case such as this, the ends definately have to justify the means. On your way out, one of my aids will give you each a datapad that outlines a bill proposal. It rather discreetly states that the Senate will authorize the Supreme Chancellor to assume the duties of appropriating medical supplies for this present crisis. Thus, if any implications come out of this deal, they will fall on my shoulders and not the Republic itself."



"Well, I am a bit concerned with our Padawans, Master Windu," Tsunin replied. Tilting his head slightly in a bit of confusion, Windu replied, "Concerned? Is something wrong?"


"There is a possibility, yes. I'm sure that you have noticed over the years their strong affection and attraction for each other. From my observations, it appears to be more than just a simple friendship, and I am a bit concerned about the implications."

"You mean 'love'?"


Breathing in deeply, Tsunin paused for a second. "I think so," she replied. Looking down, Windu began to think deeply. There had been several cases in the past where a Jedi had 'fallen' in love with someone else. Each time, the resulting action from the Jedi Council had been swift and somewhat severe. However, a case of two Jedi loving each other had been unheard of for centuries. Strong friendship wasn't uncommon among the Jedi, but love...


"I think it would be prudent for the both of us to be mindful of this 'bond' until the situation can be more evident. Until that time, I suggest that the both of us make time to meditate more on them to make us more aware of them," Windu responded. Thinking for a second, Windu then added, "This is coming at a strange time. The Dark Side is beginning to cloud judgement more and more among all the Jedi. Its starting to blind some of us."


Pausing for a second, Tsunin then replied, "I know. I've felt much darkness on the roads ahead. Hopefully, it will pass and times of peace will return."

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  • 2 weeks later...



Qestar Rincks looked carefully out the cockpit. His ship, the Yewvii, was about to land at the docking station. It wasn't a very large ship, but at one time, it had served several very successful smugglers. Qestar wasn't the first owner, but that was usually a given with men such as himself. It was officially classified as a gunship platform, but it had since been heavily modified to become a small frieghter. Granted, its weapon systems had either been left intact or heavily modified. Sometimes, an underworld operator such as Qestar needed a bit of firepower.


As he approached the cargo bay, which also doubled as a common room, Qestar cam into view of his men. Several scars were present on his face, and most people often mistook his facial injuries to be a permenant scowl. It was all the better for Qestar since it made dealings go a bit more smoothly. His men were just as mean looking. One would be quick to describe them as simple thugs, but in reality, they were all former military of some sort. Mercenaries would be more the term for men like them: they were cold, tough, and very well trained.


With a shudder, the Yewvii landed at the bay. Pressing a button, the outer hull opened, and the mercenaries fanned out to secure the landing bay. Walking outside before the all clear signal was given, Qestar spit on the metal walkway as he pulled out his heavy blaster pistol and brought it to bear next to his face. Near the entrance to the landing pad, a scuffle was taking place between two of his mercenaries and an unknown man. Walking calmly towards the commotion, the scuffle was already over with the mercenaries restraining the unknown man by the arms.


"Sir, I think this man has something to say to you," one of the mercenaries informed Qestar. Nodding his approval, one of the mercenaries twisted the man's arm around and threatened to dislocate it. Howling breifly in pain, the man looked up at Qestar. "You can't land here-aurgghh!! This is my landing pad and someone else is due here soon," he yelled out while struggling to control his composure. Walking slowly and deliberately, Qestar came to within inches of the man's face. "Who's pad did ya say this was?" Questar asked slowly and deliberately.


"Its my pad, and I'm telling you to leave," the man replied. "Well, I was under the impression that I could land just about anywhere I wanted too. Besides, if you can't keep your pad secure, then its anybody's pad, now ain't it?" Questar replied. Not letting the man respond, Qestar then stated, "Well, since it is your pad, I guess we'll have to pay ya so we can use it. So, here's the deal: we use your pad whenever we feel like it and we'll pay you with your life and the lives of whatever little bugga's you've got for a fam'ly. If you prefer credits, then we can always trade off one of fam'ly either as slaves or as some enjoyment for my boys. So, our payment options are pretty flexible, and I'm sure you'll find them satisfactory."


Nodding his head to the side, Qestar holstered his pistol as his mercenaries roughed him up a bit and tossed him aside. Taking a nearby speeder, Qestar and his most trusted mercenaries made for a nearby cantina. Its always good to be back in Nar Shadaa. These people are easy to work with, and its my kind of town, he thought to himself.

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"You won't regret this, I promise," Captain D'tillis told to a Hutt that was standing in front of him. "I had better not. It's not often that I give loans out, and it's even less often that I help out with legitimate business," the Hutt replied. "Now get moving before I change my mind."


With a quick bow, D'tillis turned around and entered his ship. His ship, the Siege of Taris was one of several Corellian Corvettes that could be seen running errands for official Republic assignments. However, this assignment was obviously quite unusual. The Republic has long since made it standard practice to avoid dealings with the underworld, particularly crime lords or the ruthless Black Sun. This, however, was a special case. Orders had just recently been given directly from Chancellor Palpatine himself to start searching for possible methods of aquiring medical supplies from black market operators.


Dealings between the Republic and black market operators was actually fairly commonplace. Cutting through beaurocratic measures were difficult, and by acquiring supplies through black market operatives, things were made much easier. However, those purchases were often made first through private dealings and then 'donated' to whatever the supplies had been delegated for in the first place. It was a wonderful loophole for small shipments, but massive shipments would be far too conspicuous. With such a high requirement for medical supplies, the recent measure in the Senate now gave Chancellor Palpatine the wieght he needed for such 'illegal' purchases.


In order to avoid such serious implications, Palpatine did have one move to help cover the dealings. Whenever a record of the deals had to made, the matter was to simply refer to the buyer as an 'Anonymous Private Party'. It made things very ambiguous, but it did keep anybody watching the records from raising a red flag.


The only real problem was going to be explaining to the Senate why the Republic was paying almost 4-5 times the standard amount for medical supplies. With the Republic already mired in debt, many finacially minded Senators were likely to protest. Still, it is difficult for anyone to protest the procurring of medical supplies for systems in need of them.


With the deal that Captain D'tillis just made, the Republic now had its hands on vast amounts of medical supplies. With payment already made by D'tillis, the only thing left to do would be to inform Chancellor Palpatine and to start making the shipments. However, such large shipments of very valuable medical supplies cannot go unnoticed by others that desire more money and, above all, more power.

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  • 2 weeks later...

And to think, we never did get to the meditation, Jeez thought for just a second. In the dim light of the room, one could barely make out the outline of Miranda and Jeez holding each other in their arms while lying on the floor. Sleeping softly with her head lying on Jeez's naked chest, one could barely make out a content smile on Miranda's face. Jeez, on the other hand, was wide awake.


Very gently, Jeez stroked the back of Miranda's head while he thought to himself. It had been some time since Jeez realized that he loved Miranda more than just as a very close friend. He often times had found his meditations to be confused or interrupted by thoughts of her. He loved just being in her presense; she was always vibrant and full of vitality. It was those qualities that really distinguished her from the other Jedi that were always caught up in a religious pretense.


Unknown to Jeez until that night, however, was Miranda's love for him. Jeez had always been a strong figure to her. Whenever they had played pranks or were simply being a bit too rowdy, Jeez had always been the one to take responsibility. Although she didn't really like being sheltered in such a manner, it was comforting to know that Jeez was always there whenever she needed him. However, it was more than just Jeez taking the blame for things she had done. Jeez would often times help her in situations that had gone out of her control. He was almost always the one that came to help her when no one else would whether it be a physical or morale dilemma.


And that night, Jeez had finally confronted her about his feelings for her. It was a tough situation in that if she admitted her feelings, then their relationship would blossom into something different. If she had pushed him away, then they would never be the same again, but she decided that it would be best for the both of them to be honest with each other. Through the outpouring of emotions, they were swept away.


Now, Jeez wondered, what happens next?

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"So, lets go over this in my terms. The Republic is lookin' for some medical supplies from the Hutts, and you want me to put together a team that'll intercept the transports. Of course, those transports are likely to be Republic transports; so, we could be lookin' at about 20-30 years of hard labor or worse if something goes wrong. But, the potential reward is somewhere between 20,000 to 50,000 credits if i can get them to the highest bidders," Qestar went over with a man sitting across from him.


"That would be idea. Can you do it?" the man asked in reply.

"I could do it, but the credits need to be higher."

"I can arrange it. Are you in?"


Leaning back in his seat, Qestar thought for a moment. It wasn't often that he was the one raiding a transport. As a former smuggler turned minor crime lord, he was the one doing the transporting. Although he would welcome the challenge, there was the one nagging problem that it would be a Republic transport. He had never cared about it before, but with the Seperatist movement gaining steam, they might be armed better or escorted. Still, if he could get higher than 50,000....


Taking the drink in his hand, Qestar quickly downed the bit that remained in the glass. As he set the glass on the table, he looked across the table back at the man. "I'm in."



Jeez finally managed to wake up. It had been a long night after yesterday's intense sparring sessions that had ended up being over 12 hours long. Getting up from the mat on the floor, Jeez walked over to the bathroom station and started to wash up. It was strange, though. It had been almost a month since that night with Miranda, and he found himself concentrating less and less on her. It wasn't that his love for her had diminished; rather, it was that he could now cosistantly feel her presense which was something he could not do before. Miranda, however, was back on Coruscant while Jeez was still on Illum with Master Windu. Still, Jeez could feel Miranda even over the distance.


Turning on the shower, Jeez began to clean himself up. It didn't take much, really. Al he needed to do was to wash up, shave, and get started on his meditations for the day. Jeez wondered, though, how long it would be before Master Windu declared him as being ready for the Trials. Surely, it wouldn't take too long. After all these weeks of working on the Vapaad training, Jeez felt more at one with the Force than he had ever felt before. Still, Jeez knew that he still had some work to get done before the trials.


As Jeez finished cleaning up, he dried off and put on a fresh set of robes. Noticing the time, he had several hours before he would need to report to Master Windu. So, Jeez sat down on the mat and concentrated on the Force. As he began to concentrate, Jeez drifted off into his Jedi meditation. Initially, Jeez began to concentrate solely on the Force and becoming one with it, as he was trained to do. Suddenly, he felt a bit uneasy as he felt something brush up against him. It was cold and dark, and Jeez recognized it to be a part of the Dark Side. He tried to move away, but for some reason, he felt drawn to it. He brushed up against it yet again, but this time, Jeez pushed into it.


Very quickly, Jeez was enveloped by it, and Jeez felt completely surrounded by darkness. Opening his eyes, Jeez could see nothing, but yet he felt so cold and alone. His emotions quickly began to rise to the surface, and Jeez could fell an intense pulsing of fear, anger, and hatred swirling around him like a fog. Coldness bit at him as he began to struggle with his emotions. Unnaccustomed to such feelings, Jeez started to revert back into his Jedi training to push them away, but the more he pushed, the more the emotions and the coldness intensified. The feeling of life began to float away, and Jeez shuddered in fear as he could feel death coming upon him.


Slowly, the fear began to intensify. As each second passed, Jeez slowly felt the fear reaching around his heart. Images began to play in his head as they were aroused by the fear. Images of old friends that had died began to toy with the underlying anger Jeez had; Images of the ones responsible for those deaths coddled his hatred for them. Even with those emotions arising, Jeez felt helpless to change the situations, and the icey grip of fear began to tighten around his heart. Pain began to shudder through Jeez's body, and he tightly closed his eyes as he winced in both fear and pain.


Opening his eyes for just a second, Jeez could suddenly make out a large planet covered in filth. There was a moon orbitting it, and although Jeez could feel life coming from it, every voice on the moon was crying in both pain and terror. Slowly, however, one voice could be heard above all the rest. The fear tightened its grip around Jeez's heart, and his breathing quickened and quivered as it turned into outright terror. Suddenly zooming into the moon, Jeez could see massive urban decay everywhere. Images of people began to swirl around him, and the voices he had been hearing suddenly became frighteningly real. Terror began to slowly grip him as he could see these people dying horrible deaths. Torture and mutilation filled the images, and they began to overwhelm him. "There is nothing you can do," a voice whispered behind Jeez. Turning around, the fear suddenly tightened to the point of bursting around Jeez's heart. His breaths heaved in groans as the terror became almost unbearable.


"Don't you lie to me!!! Now scream!! Scream for mercy!!!" a man shouted at a woman. Jeez couldn't make out who she was, but his heart began to beat ever faster despite the grip of terror as he watched helplessly. "Please!! You've done enough!!" the woman shouted back in agony. Jeez instantly recognized the voice, and the terror tightened to an almost unbearable point. "A Jedi asking for mercy; heh, I always knew you're a bunch of cowards," the man replied. Suddenly, the image changed, and Jeez could see the bruised and battered face of the woman. It was Miranda.


Then, Jeez's heart suddenly burst. As he began to writhe helplessly, Jeez watched as several men began to brutally and mercilessly beat Miranda. Another man stepped into view and faced Jeez. Jeez couldn't see the man's face, but he knew it was the man responsible for the torture as anger suddenly began to rise in Jeez yet again. "So, we have yet another Jedi here. Come to rescue her, then, ehh?" he stated directly to Jeez. "You can't achieve anythin'!! You're just as broken as she is! You are helpless, my dear Jedi. There is nothing you can do."


As Jeez's breathing continued to heave in his chest, the anger continued to swell inside of Jeez. "Gettin' angry, now, ehh? Go on, let your anger come to a boil. Come on! Let us see you engrossed in your rage!!" the man began to yell out tauntingly. "Yes, sit there writhing in your helplessness. Oh, you want so much to do something, but yet you can't. Let your frustration heat beyond its flash point; let your rage rip you apart!!" The man suddenly stepped closer into a bit of light, and Jeez suddenly felt his rage melt into hatred as he made out the face of Mace Windu.


"Your responsiblities are holding you back, Jeez. Let go of yourself and do something about it!! Give into your anger, Jeez, and this can all end!!" Windu stated at Jeez. "Don't let the Jedi continue to mire you any longer. I did all of this!!! Look at the bruises on her face!! Feel her broken bones!! Feel her broken spirit that crumbled as I stole away her most precious gift!! I am her torturer, and I am the one who will take her life from you!! Now DO SOMETHING!!!" The hatred began to boil over, and Jeez could see himself igniting his lightsaber and decapitating Windu in another image. Yet, Jeez just remained on the floor heaving in frustration. It was wrong; it had to be. He couldn't give in to his hatred, but yet there Windu was, standing over Jeez. The frustration continued to mount, and Jeez was mired in conflict. Closing his eyes yet again, Jeez desperately pushed the hatred aside, and he collapsed in exhaustion.


Finally, Windu backed off and just nodded his head. "So be it, Jedi. Her blood is now on your hands," Windu stated ominously. Jeez then opened his eyes and looked up at Windu with a broken and voiceless plea of mercy. Mace Windu then pulled out a small dagger that was already encrusted in dried blood and turned to face Miranda. In an instant, the rage and hatred suddenly fell upon Jeez yet again. "NOO!!!" Jeez yelled out as he began to pull himself up off the ground. Windu then placed the dagger next to Miranda's throat. Everything began to move in slow motion as Jeez struggled to get to his feet. The dagger pressed into Miranda's neck, and blood began rise around the edges of the dagger. Jeez then began to unhinge his lightsaber from his belt, but the blood began to bead up and run down her neck as the dagger slowly went deeper. The blood continued to run down her neck until it came to the edge of her torn robes where it was slowly absorbed into the fabric.


Jeez suddenly lunged forward and banged his head on the floor. Opening his eyes, he was back in his room on Illum. Getting up off the floor, Jeez began to rub his head as he noticed that his palms were sweaty. He was still breathing deeply, and Jeez knew that he had gone too far. Getting up, Jeez felt sick to his stomach. Heading over to the toilet, he vomited. Still breathing hard, Jeez felt terrible. Looking into the mirror, Jeez could see the sheen on his face from the sweat. Turning on the sink, Jeez quickly splashed himself with some cold water.

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Qestar looked outside the Yewvii's cockpit window. Two days of planning and hiring mercenaries would now all come down to what was about to happen. The Republic had already made several shipments of medical supplies from a Hutt named Ja'rott, but this next shipment wasn't going to be going anywhere outside of Qestar's personal storage facilities he had just 'aquired' from a local businessman. The funny thing is, Qestar thought, those storage facilities are Ja'rott's own storage spots.


What the Republic didn't know was that Ja'rott had just gotten done working out a deal with Qestar. Ja'rott had sold the medical supplies to the Republic for a very hefty profit. However, the plan was that Qestar would take the supplies from the Republic transports and then sell them back to Ja'rott at a discount. Although Ja'rott wouldn't be making a very large profit off of the medical supplies, he would make an even better profit later whenever he sold the medical supplies off yet again. Qestar, of course, would reap a very tidy profit given that this operation really didn't cost too much to pull off.


The target ship's name was the Gauntlet. It was another Corellian Corvette like the Siege of Taris, and that meant that it was a very fast ship. The Corellians always did like their ships to be fast, and this one was definately not an exception. The one exception, though, was that if the ship took damage to the engines, it wasn't going to be moving very quickly. Not only that, but a Corellian Corvette was a rather prized vessel that would fetch quite a good price. Thus, taking the vessel without destroying it was an even greater challenge.


"That's it. They've just finished loading the Gauntlet. It should be taking off in just a minute," an operative informed Qestar over a comlink. "I copy. All ships prepare for assault. Remember, you're not getting paid a single credit if this ship is destroyed, so don't screw it up," Qestar ordered to the other ships he had hired out. Qestar was actually a bit more concerned with the possibility that one of his mercenaries might try to double cross him than the actual part of taking the Gauntlet. "Alright, they're taking off. I repeat, they're taking off."


"Get ready boys, this is where the fun begins," Qestar then stated over the comlink. As Qestar studied the sensors, he saw the beacon that somebody place on the Gauntlet. Already, the ship was leaving Nar Shadaa's atmosphere. It would have to contend with traffic around the planet before it could enter hyperspace, though. And that was just the opportunity Qestar was counting on.


Looking up, Qestar could see the Gauntlet coming straight towards him in the opposite traffic lane. Before the ship had a chance to maneuver out of the traffic lane, Qestar quickly charged up the weapon arrays on the Yewvii and targeted the Corvette. "Interceptor in position." Just behind the Gauntlet, a freighter could be seen following the Corvette just a bit too close. "Interceptor, open fire... NOW!!" Qestar stated. Without any hesitation, blue bolts streaked from the freighter. As they impacted the Gauntlet's engines, the ship quickly began to decelerate as the ion bolts began to fry the engines.


As the Gauntlet began to decelerate, the Yewvii barrel rolled out of its traffic lane and opened fire on the Gauntlet. Blue ion bolts impacted on the Corvette and quickly began to fry various components. As things finally dawned on the Gaunlet's Captain, red point defense lasers streaked out towards the Yewvii. Most of the shots missed while the rest simply bounced harmlessly off of the Yewvii's shields. As the Yewvii flew past the Corvette, two other ships joined in on the action. The Interceptor had already performed its part: the last of the Gauntlet's engines had been taken out of action. It was nothing more than a sitting duck as it streaked through space going entirely on its own momentum.


Coming around, the Yewvii quickly activated its lone tractor beam attachment. As the tractor beam locked onto the Corvette, the Yewvii suddenly lurched forward a bit as the Corvette began to drag the Yewvii along. The three other ships concentrated their firepower on the lone laser cannon and took it out of action. Reversing the engines on the Yewvii, Qestar slowly began to bring the Gauntlet to a halt. The strain on Qestar's relatively small ship could be heard as the hull groaned in protest. Finally, the Corvette came to a halt, and Qestar deactivated the tractor beam. Flying towards an airlock on the Gauntlet, Qestar transferred the flying controls back over to his copilot.


Heading into the cargo bay, Qestar grabbed a handle located near him in preperation for a sudden stop. "Good work boys. We're preparing to board her now. Keep performing the arial security for a while. This shouldn't take long," Qestar stated over the comlink to the other three ships that were now flying in escort around the Gauntlet. A small thump reverberated through the Yewvii's hull as the magnetic locks achieved a seal on the airlock. Looking around the cargo bay, Qestar's personal mercenaries finished checking their weapons and armor. They were ready for an assault if they needed to.


Opening the rear hatchway, the airlock on the Gauntlet was locked. One of the mercenaries quickly attached a small explosive on the lock and closed the hatchway back up. As the explosive went off, the mercenary then reopened the hatchway and forced open the airlock door. However, the other door to the airlock was also locked. That one, though, would be easier to handle. Closing off the internal hatchways on the Yewvii Qestar then turned its cargo bay into an extension of the airlock.


Another of the mercenaries then started hacking into the airlock controls. Activating the pressure equalization, the Gauntlet's pumps began to go to work. With the expanded size of the airlock due to the Yewvii's cargo bay, it took a bit longer than it normally would. Once the pressures were equal, the mercenary then further hacked into the console. "Get ready..." he warned. "And, now!!"


The door opened, and the mercenaries aimed their weapons forward. Blaster fire began to erupt everywhere as the Gauntlet's teams opened fire. Unlike Qestar's mercenaries, however, they were poor shots. They were quickly cut down, and the mercenaries advanced into the hallway with Qestar just behind them. With his blaster pistol drawn, Qestar was ready for the unexpected. Suddenly, the ship lurched a bit as Qestar felt the Corvette begin to accelerate.


"What's happening?" Qestar asked over the comlink. "I think they got a couple of their engines back online," one of the pilots of the other three ships responded. "Do you want us to take them out again?"


"No!! Not with my ship still attached and with me on board. We'll take care of them from within," Qestar replied angrily. "Alright boys, we got to move a bit quicker now," Qestar then stated quietly to his men. Moving a bit more quickly, the mercenaries then began to work their way through the Gauntlet's interior. Coming to the central hallway, the team then split up: one group to check the cargo bay and the engine room and the other would check on the crew quarters and the bridge. Qestar went with the group heading for the bridge.


As they made their way down the hallway, a burst of blaster fire erupted as one of the crew members turned a corner and opened fire. One of the mercenaries was hit in the chest, but the bolt didn't do much more than to heat up the armor. Another mercenary then quickly took aim and shot the crewman in the head. As they continued down the hallway, they came to the crew quarters. "The cargo bay is secure. We're continuing down to the engine room," a mercenary notified Qestar over the comlink.


The crew quarters were empty, so the team continued to the bridge. Once there, they found three people in the room. As the mercenaries entered, they simply stood up and put their hands behind their heads in surrender. "Yes, you're indeed the typical Republic cowards. There's always a way to handle you, though," Qestar stated to the three men. Walking up to the highest ranking man, Qestar raised his pistol up so that the barrel was within inches of the man's face. The pistol then went off, and burning flesh suddenly sprayed out the back of the man's head. The other mercenaries quickly opened fire on the other two men and killed them as well. "Sir, we've secured a prisoner in the engine room. He claims to be the ship's engineer and has offered his services in exchange for his life. Do we have an order?" a mercenary stated over the comlink.


"Keep him alive. We'll need him to help us repair this thing. In the meantime, is everything secure?" Qestar replied.


"Aye, everything is secure, sir."


Sighing in a bit of relief, Qestar then informed the other three ships hovering around him to escort the captured Corvette back to a secure docking pad on Nar Shadda. One of the mercenaries then took the controls to the Gauntlet and began to slowly turn her around. It took quite a bit of effort with just two engines, but it was possible. Well, here's to a job well done, ehh? Qestar thought to himself as he sat down in the Captain's chair on the bridge of the Gauntlet.

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  • 1 month later...

It wasn't much of a shelter, but it had done its job for the past month. After turning on a couple of heaters around the two Jedi Starfighters, Jeez and Mace Windu waited for the ice and snow to melt while sitting under the tent. "Well, Jeez, this is going to be your last chance to ask any questions before the Trials. So, is there anything on your mind?" Windu asked.


Thinking for a second, Jeez sighed for a moment. He had wanted to ask Windu about the dark vision he had recieved earlier, but so far, he had been unable to bring himself to ask his Master about it. Looking by the Starfighters, Jeez noticed that although the ice was starting to melt off of the fighters, there was still quite a ways yet to go before the meter or so of snow was melted down to a reasonable level. Dropping his head down, Jeez decided that now would probably be a good enough time to ask. "Actually, I do have something on my mind, but it doesn't have anything to do with the Trials. I-I saw a vision the other morning during my meditations. It was Miranda, and she was about to be murdered," Jeez stated a bit nervously.


"Murdered? Hmm," Windu stated as he paused for a moment. Sensing Jeez's thoughts, Windu then said, "It was the Darkside, wasn't it?"


"Yes sir."


Pausing for yet another moment, Windu delved a bit further into Jeez's thoughts. "Your afraid? Your afraid that she might die, aren't you?"


Looking over at Windu, Jeez calmly replied, "Of course I am. Aside from you, she's one of the few friends I have. She's very precious to me."


"Well, I know that I should just tell you not to be afraid since she'll join with the Force, but I can't do that. I've lost close friends before, and I understand how you must feel in this situation. But something that you have to understand for yourself is that the Darkside will purposely try to cloud your judgement. The fear you have is real, but the Darkside is what brought it to bear. Let it go, Jeez. It will only cause you further pain and bring destruction. Such is the way of the Darkside."


"I know, but it would be a loss that I don't think I could handle."


"Like I said, Jeez, let go of your fear," Windu stated as he suddenly paused. Thinking for a second, Windu then came to a bit of a realization. "But your fear is different. Your afraid to let go of the fear because you think it might diminish the relationship you have with Miranda. You're in love with her, aren't you?"


Suddenly feeling uncomfortable in his seat, Jeez shifted around a bit. Searching himself, Jeez knew that his Master had hit the head right on the mark. Jeez then replied nervously, "No, it isn't that. Its just that she's such a close friend. You know how close we've been over the years and throughout our training. It would just be difficult to handle, that's all."


Nodding in agreement, Windu decided to put aside the realization as being a bit too bold of a conclusion. Looking over at the Starfighters, the ice was finally melted enough for flight. Looking outside the shelter, the weather was nice and calm for the moment as well. "Well, this is as good a time as any to get all the gear stowed and then to take off. Come on, lets get this done before that storm gets here," Windu stated. Putting their hoods on, they both started to pack up the heaters and take down the shelter.

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Miranda awoke suddenly and sat straight up. Breathing hard, she looked over next to here as if she was expecting Jeez to be laying next to her. Collapsing back down onto her pillow, Miranda closed her eyes and tried to relax. Instead, the images floated back as if a ghost was attempting to haunt her. Shaking her head, Miranda threw the covers off the bed and headed towards the washroom.


Turning on the hot water in the shower stall, Miranda stripped down as she waited for the water to heat up. Leaning back against the wall, Miranda closed her eyes again. The images began to come back yet again, and Miranda slowly began to drift off into a Force inducted reverie.


Inside of the dream, Miranda looked down to see blood covering her hands. Suddenly disgusted, Miranda tried to wipe it off of her hands and onto her robes only to discover that she was still naked. Looking around her, several bodies were strewn about the room. It was their blood on her hands. The only problem, though, is that Miranda felt a bit unusual. Looking down at her bloody hands yet again, Miranda began to laugh lightly to herself.


Slowly, the laughter began to build as she nonchalantly reached down and tore a piece of fabric off of one of the dead men. Still smiling to herself, she wiped the blood from her hands as she looked around for clothes that weren't stained with blood. Suddenly, she felt something. Looking over at one of the men, he was starting to breathe and struggle. Walking up behind him, she layed down on top of the man, who was starting to wake up, and reached around his head. As soon as he woke up, Miranda grabbed the opposite side of his head and twisted it around.


With a sickening crunch of breaking bones, Miranda suddenly woke up. Looking down at her hands, they were indeed clean, but she could still feel the blood on her hands. Heading over to the sink, she began to scrub her clean hands as if they were forever stained with blood. Her breath came in heaves as she struggled to maintain her composure. Finally realizing the insanity of scrubbing clean hands, she turned off the faucet in frustration.


Leaning her head back, Miranda closed her eyes yet again. Pushing aside the fresh vision, she headed into the shower to try to clean herself yet again.



"And these are today's daily reports," the man stated as he handed over a datapad to Chancellor Palpatine. "Thank you. You can be dismissed," Palpatine replied. Looking down at the datapad, Palpatine didn't activate it right away. He knew that it would be more of the same that he had been reading for several days now.


The Seperatist Movement was gaining steam not only by the masses but also in the Senate. Several Senators had already given their disapproval of Palpatine's urgings for more emergency powers for the crisis, and several others were rather vocal about the Republic needing reform in order to stay afloat during the Seperatist Rising. However, even talks of reform were being put down by higher ranking Senators that most people recognized to be apart of the Republic's tight beauracracy. Those that wanted reform were becoming frustrated at the beauracracy, and more and more Senators began to recognize the need for a stronger central authority that could bypass the beauracracy. Some were even bold enough to think that a strong central power could even remove the beauracracy all together.


Palpatine smiled at the thought. The Techno Union and the Banking Clan had already turned in Letters of Intention that confirmed that they were threatening secession. Other massive corporations had already shown their support for the Seperatist Movement in Senate Proceedings, and Republic Loyalists were rightly concerned over them. They were the ones that would be able to generate massive armies, and a militant Seperatist Movement would provide him with the steam to take the role of the strong central power the Senate was already starting to look for.


Deciding to go ahead and read the report anyway, Palpatine noticed that attacks on the medical supply transports was increasing. Several planets were missing desperately needed medical supplies, and several systems were relying solely on the medical supplies he had ordered from Ja'rott. This wasn't the way things were supposed to go. Putting down the datapad in a bit of frustration, Palpatine knew that something had to be done about the situation.

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The two Jedi Starfighters pulled out of hyperspace above Coruscant. Heading towards the hyperspace docks, the two starfighters quickly docked the hyperdrive rings in the designated space. With a quick release of latches, the Starfighters entered the traffic stream heading into Coruscant.


"All this time as protectors of the Republic and we're still subject to traffic laws," Jeez stated over the comlink with a smile. "Well, its nice to know that some things in this galaxy have some semblance of order to them," Windu replied as he returned the smile.


As traffic stream circulated into the atmosphere, the skins of the starfighters glowed briefly. Slowly, the traffic began to dissipate as they split into other traffic streams that constantly moved above the planetwide metropolis. However, this is where the Jedi Starfighters finally had the special treatment as they were now able to use the lightly travelled government stream towards the Jedi Temple.


It was going to be a while before they would arrive at the Temple, but the traffic stream would take them past the Senate Chambers. Suddenly feeling a bit sick to his stomach, Jeez knew that something wasn't quite right. "I feel it, too. Something's going on up at the Senate. Let's check it out," Windu stated over the comlink.


As the two Starfighters picked up speed, they quickly began to maneuver around the other speeders in the stream. Suddenly pulling up, Windu exited the stream briefly to get a better look. Even in the distance, Windu could make out a swarming crowd of people around the Senate Chambers. "Follow me, Jeez," Windu stated.


Following suit, Jeez formed up just behind Windu's Starfighter as they very quickly made their way over to the Senate Chambers. As they approached, it was plainly obvious that hundreds of thousands of people were attempting to march on the Senate. "Master, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Senate in session right now?" Jeez asked over the comm.


"I think so. Whatever is going on down there, we need to be there. We've been given clearance to land at the Senate Docks, so lets get there quickly," Windu replied.


Below, the demonstrators were chanting and yelling loudly. Large signs were being held to show their support for the Seperatists, and a call for the Senate to disband was heard loud and clear. The Coruscant Police Force had been called in to keep the peace, but it was certainly not going to be enough as they were outnumbered almost 25 to 1. To make matters worse, the demonstrators were growing increasingly violent as some of them made attempts to attack the barracade the police had set up. Looking up at the sky as Jeez and Windu flew overhead, several of the demonstrators recognized the Jedi symbols on the lower side of the two craft. "They've sent Jedi here to kill us!" one demonstrator yelled out. Other demonstrators came to the same conclusion, and quickly things began to spiral out of control.


A large mob suddenly rushed forward in a to attack the barracade. The large metal barracade was quite large, but the mob was quick to start trying to climb over it. In response, the police tried to shoot gas canisters out towards the rushing crowd, but several of the canisters landed past the mob and into the main body of the crowd. People began to scream in a chaotic combination of fear and anger. The crowd rippled away from the gas canisters as many suddenly became downright violent. The small mob was nothing compared to what was about to happen.


The large majority of the angry crowd suddenly began to attack the barracades as a whole. The police began throwing as many gas canisters into the crowd as they possibly could, but it wasn't going to be enough. Setting up a firing line, the police quickly raised their rifles towards the crowd. Although the rifles were set to stun, they were still afraid to pull off a volley as it would probably spark a stampede. Suddenly, blaster fire range out, but it didn't come from the police. Several of the demonstrators had pulled out hidden blaster pistols and were starting to fire at police. More and more demonstrators quickly followed suit, and blaster fire from both sides suddenly increased in intensity.


Out of nowhere, two lightsabers finally appeared in the midst of the police as Jeez and Windu arrived on the scene. Rushing forward, Jeez and Windu began to reflect blaster fire off of their lightsabers from the crowd. Already, hundreds of demonstrators had climbed over the barracade, and most of them had some form of a weapon. Suddenly lashing out with the Force as he approached, Windu knocked the people that were past the barracade down. Finally able to disarm some of the crowd, the police rushed forward to take away the weapons and to start making arrests.


As Jeez and Windu continued to run towards the barracade, they quickly gathered the Force inside of their legs and released it. As they vaulted over the barracade, they landed in the midst of the crowd. Both of them lashed out with the Force as soon as they landed, sending a large number of the demonstrators hurtling through the air. As angry demonstrators approached them, they were quickly cut down by Jeez and Windu. Although they had been cut down, they were very specific about where they cut the demonstrators in order to ensure that they were merely injured and not killed.


The angry demonstrators began to step away from the two Jedi as they realized that they weren't going to be able to either hurt them nor get past them. Order was finally being restored as the police were able to arrest most of the demonstrators that had gotten past the barracade, and any that were still trying to get past the barracade were sniped out with stun blasters. "This demonstration is over!!! Go back to your homes!!! Enough blood has been spilled on your account today; now leave!!!" Windu yelled out above the crowd.


Overhead, other starfighters and transports began to arrive, and that meant more police and more Jedi. The demonstrators slowly began to realize that they weren't going to be able to accomplish anything, so they slowly began to dissipate as word traveled through the massive crowd. The demonstration was indeed over, at least for the time being.



As the connection was confirmed, the hazy blue image of Yoda appeared in on the comm's holopanel. "Ahh, Master Yoda. Thank for your time," Chancellor Palpatine stated. "A problem you have, Chancellor?" Yoda stated as if he knew what was coming.


"In a manner of speaking, yes. As you are well aware of, I began to order medical supply shipments for various systems in the Republic that have absolutely dire needs for them. However, there have also been a number of attacks on many of the transports to the point that I might as well not even bother with ordering the supplies in the first place."


"Want us to escort these transports, you do?"


"As much as that might be helpful, it would not solve the problem. My request for you is for the Council to assign a mission that would root out and halt the attacks. I will be sending you further details in a data file if you would be so kind as to take me up on the offer."


"Hmm, further discussion this topic needs among the rest of the Council. Bring this up in today's session, I will."

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As Jeez stepped outside of his Starfighter, he finished taking off his gloves. Windu had left the Senate a while before Jeez had as he had things to take care of at the Temple. Just arriving at the Jedi Temple, Jeez was looking forward to some rest. Jeez grabbed a couple of tools from the storage locker on the Starfighter first. He was wanting to finish some work he had done before they had left for Illum on the faulty computer terminal that was in his quarters


As he left the hangar, Jeez walked into the side hallway just above the main floor. Looking up, Jeez remembered whenever he was about 10 years old, and he had hid with Miranda up on the ledge above the pillars to throw water at some Senators that had been at the Temple that day. Jeez smiled as he remembered how he had suspended the water with the Force as he poured it out of a bottle, and then used the Force to fling it at a Senator. He also remembered Miranda doing the same thing right along side of him. However, they were soon caught, but Jeez decided to take all responsibility.


Shaking his head a bit to himself, Jeez continued on down the hallway. Suddenly, someone appeared from behind a pillar. "Hey, you," Jeez stated to Miranda with a smile. "Hey," she replied as she returned the smile. As they closed the distance, they embraced. Moving apart, but still holding onto each other, Miranda was the first to speak, "So, I take it things went well down by the Senate this morning."


Letting go of each other, they began to walk side by side down the hallway. "I guess so. This whole Seperatist Movement is starting to get out of hand. I can understand some of their claims; politics are a bit too complicated for things to get done quickly enough. But that demonstration this morning, I just can't bring myself to think that it was *just* a demonstration. At least, not whenever half the crowd was carrying blasters," Jeez responded.


"Yeah, I heard about that part. Makes you wonder if there wasn't more motive behind it than just making a statement."


"For some, yes, I can see them wanting to storm the Senate while its in session and force the Confederacy into existance, but for others, well, perhaps it was just a demonstration."


Arriving at the living quarters of the Temple, Jeez and Miranda continued on inside. "Well, I'm just glad everything turned out OK," Miranda said with the smile returning to her face. As Jeez looked at her, he had to return the smile. "So am I," Jeez replied. Finally arriving at Jeez's quarters, Jeez pressed a quick sequence into the datapad to open the door.


Heading inside, Miranda locked the door behind them. "You know what the most difficult part is going to be?" she asked.


"Hmm? What do you mean?" Jeez asked as he set the bag of tools down next to the computer terminal.


"Sorry, I meant us. You know, us having to hide our relationship from everyone, especially here at the Temple. Most people know that we're good friends, but keeping love out of their equations isn't going to be easy."


"Well, if you want to get technical about it, we've been in love for a long time. And I'm not just talking about romantic love. Love between friends to the point of, well, I guess you would say kinship is something I would've definately used to describe our relationship before we admitted our romantic interest in each other."


"That's true, but you know what I meant," Miranda replied with a light laugh.


Returning the smile, Jeez headed over to the window and looked outside. In the distance, the sun over Coruscant was beginning to descend over the horizon. Tall buildings reached out from the artificial surface as they tried to touch the sky, and their silhouettes burned out from the sun's rays. "There's a huge galaxy out there. Hiding in it would forfeit our responsiblities as Jedi; so, there's really only one option we can take," Jeez stated. Coming up behind him, Miranda wrapped her arms around his shoulders in a loving embrace. "I know. I just want us to be free from its constraints," Miranda replied.



"The Council is now in session," Mace Windu stated. "To start today's proceedings, we will discuss the Seperatist Movement. Master Tsunin, who heads our information on the Senate, will present the report. Tsunin."


"Yesterday, a motion was filed in the Senate for secession by the Trade Federation. The motion was a bit abnormal concerning voting procedures in that a positive vote would confirm secession from the Republic and a negative vote would confirm a desire to remain in the Republic. The motion was debated extensively with the main opposition to the motion coming from the Naboo and Alderaan Representatives.


Supporters of the motion included several of the represented corporations including the Techno Union and the Banking Clan. Citing outbursts on both sides of the debate, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine ended yesterday's Senate Proceedings prematurely. Also cited in his statement was yesterday's pro-Seperatist demonstration.


Earlier this morning, the motion was recalled by the Trade Federation, and a subsequent walkout was staged by Senators from the Trade Federation, the Commerce Guild, the Intergalactic Banking Clan, the Techno Union, and the Corporate Alliance. It is not known if they will secede immidiately, but it has been predicted as highly likely given Count Dooku's promise of low government interferance in business affairs. However, it is known that they will not return for further Senate Proceedings for an unannounced duration.


As a result of the walkout, several Senators were quick to point out that the monetary and manufacturing capabilities of the walkout members would provide the Seperatists with an unrivalled military force. Mentioned specifically by several Senators that the growing galactic unrest was becoming too much for the Jedi. Thus, a debate ensued as to the creation of a Republic Military to assist the Jedi with both peacekeeping duties and as a counter to the possibility of the Seperatists fielding an army. Many systems opposed the creation with the majority of the vocal opposition coming from the Naboo and Alderaan Representatives.


As the proceedings ended, Chancellor Palpatine decided to adjourn the Senate for two weeks," Tsunin stated from memory.


Looking over at Yoda, Master Windu then stated, "The Senate is right. We are being spread too thin."


Looking blankly forward for a moment, Yoda scratched his chin as the wrinkles above his eyes moved downward as he thought to himself. "And what of the Seperatist Supporters? Known are their numbers?" Yoda asked Tsunin.


"I cannot give you direct numbers, but their supporters are over 3,000 systems strong. If a war was to break out, it is likely that over 10,000 more systems that are ranked moderate on the issue would also put in their support," Tsunin replied.


After a couple of seconds of several of the Council members exchanging glances or thinking to themselves, Master Windu looked up. "If there are no further questions, you may be excused Master Tsunin," Windu stated. Looking around for a moment for any of the Council members to speak up, Tsunin then bowed to the Council and left.


"Disturbing this news is," Yoda commented after the door closed. "And more requests for deploying Jedi the Chancellor has. Informed me of attacks on medical shipments to systems in distress he has. These shipments he authorized come from one of the Hutts on Nar Shadda."


"A Hutt from Nar Shadda? I thought the Republic didn't deal with crime lords," Master Ki-Adi-Mundi stated quizzically.


"In dire need the Republic is. Through normal channels, these supplies are hard to come by. I do not approve of the method, but truely needed these supplies are. Help we must if war is to be avoided," Yoda replied.


"I agree. If we don't help these systems, then they would be more prone to join the Seperatist cause," Master Plo Koon stated.


"Then we shall have a vote. In favor?" Master Windu asked the Council. All of the Masters agreed to the vote. "Then it is decided. Of the available Jedi, there are few that can go. I would take it, but my Padawan is scheduled to undergo the Trials this week. I recommend that Master Tsunin and her Padawan, Miranda, undertake the assignment. Miranda is also scheduled to undergo the Trials, but not for another month."


"Then done it is. When finished this session is, I will inform Master Tsunin of the assignment," Yoda stated.

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With a hiss, the hatch opened on speeder. Qestar stepped out along with two of his most trusted bodyguards. Looking over at the cantina entrance, Qestar was slightly nervous. Usually, an unscheduled meeting with your employer was a good indication that something had gone wrong. Heading towards the cantina, one guard remained behind inside of the speeder while the other remained with Qestar. Nar Shadaa was definately a smuggler's paradise, and Qestar didn't want to take chances in case one of those smugglers turned out to be a bounty hunter.


Heading inside the cantina, Qestar noticed that the cantina was quite busy. A lot of people were inside having a good time getting drunk. If there was another thing Nar Shadaa was good for was the easy availablilty of smuggled wines, ales, and beer. The people on this moon loved to drink. Picking out a spot in the back of the cantina, Qestar sat down as his bodyguard picked out a table nearby that had a good line of sight to Qestar.


As the waitress came by, Qestar ordered himself a drink and waited. This contact didn't make a lot of sense. Already, Qestar had dones some research into this employer given the high profile potential this operation had. He had turned up some interesting information, and the hidden recording device he had on him would help out even further.


Finally, the employer entered the cantina. Running a bit early, Qestar thought. Probably going to scope out the place a bit first before he gets to me. Indeed, the man sat down by the bar to order a drink. The man was actually fairly professional about the situation. The average person would naturally look around the room to study the various people to identify whomever they were looking for after they sat down. However, this man had already found Qestar and was simply waiting a bit to throw off anybody that might be following him. The waitress arrived at Qestar's table and set down his drink. It was just the house brew, but it was some pretty good stuff none the less.


After a couple of minutes, the man finally got up and approached Qestar's table. "Tromba! It's good to see you, old friend," the man exclaimed as he reached Qestar. Realizing that this man was being followed, Qestar needed to act things out himself. Getting up, Qestar then stated, "Wonte! How ya been, you ol' rascal?". Getting out of his seat, Qestar got up and gave the man a brief hug. "Bah, I've been better. Darn spice running is getting harder and harder every year. Those darned inspectors keep coming up with all sorts of different ideas to throw you off. At least the pay keeps getting better," he replied as the two sat down at the table.


"Oh really? I didn't even know you were still in that spice runnin' gig. Still got that ol' garbage heap you call a ship?"


"Ahh, come on. That old gal is still running better than your ancient scrap heap ever did. Hehe, at least I've got myself a good mechanic this time. He don't know jack about smuggling, but as long as he can work a hydrospanner, that's all I ask from him. What about your crew? They've been up to the job's I hear you've been running?" the man asked. Qestar knew, however, that the last question was a real question. This employer wanted to know how well Qestar thought the operation was running.


"Bah, some of 'em are, some of 'em ain't so good, but at least the job's gettin done right. That merchendice we been runnin sure is fillin up my coffers real nice like," Qestar replied to say that some of the men he hired were hit and miss, but the job is still getting done.


"Well, that's good news. Credits in the pocket is always a good feeling. Oh, did ya hear the news about those Republic Medical Shipments getting robbed? I heard that the Chancellor is getting downright pissed about the whole thing. Word has it that Jedi are on their way to check it out," the man stated. At that statement, Qestar almost lost his composure. This was the real reason for the meeting: the Chancellor was trying to get the Jedi to look into his operation.


"No, I hadn't heard. Must be some pretty sensitive stuff for a Jedi to get involved," Qestar stated.


"Oh yeah, somebody's in for some big trouble if they can't keep things handled professionally," the man stated. Looking down at his watch as a show, the man then stated, "Oh well, its time for me to head back to my ol' girl. Oh, and if you're in still in town tommorrow, I wouldn't mind if you came over to the pad to check on my new crew," he stated. Pulling out a datapad, the man typed in a message on the pad and slid it across the table to Qestar. With one last swig from his drink, the man stood up.


"Well, it's been good to see ya, Tromba. I'll be here for a while, so I should be able to show up tommorrow," Qestar replied.


"I'll see you then," the man stated as he turned around to leave. Sitting back down, Qestar took the datapad and went over it. Qestar shook his head as he set it back down on the table. Looking at it again, it read,

  • Qestar, my Master is quite pleased with your work and would like to speak with you in person tommorrow at a location we deem to be secure. A drop behind the Moon's Peak bench will provide you with further details.
    My Master would also like to inform you of a development. The opposition has requested backup. We have a contact for you that can provide you with the gear necessary to take care of these backup units. You will be compensted double plus an extra 5000. More information will be available in the drop.


After pocketing the datapad, Qestar left a couple of credits on the table and left the cantina.

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  • 1 month later...

Looking around, Miranda was quite perplexed. Everywhere she turned, all she could see was a deep, heavy fog as if a shroud were draped around her. There was no sound, not even the deep drone of the nightly traffic on Coruscant. It was almost as if something had swallowed up every sound that could be produced. Even her breaths sounded short and shallow in the fog. The fog itself was a dull gray as if the Sun was in the sky but yet hidden behind the clouds like a dull and dreary day.


Turning around again, the fog suddenly parted, and Miranda found herself immersed in a perfect darkness. It was as if the shroud of fog had suddenly been exchanged for a shroud of darkness. Bringing her hands in front of her face, she couldn't distinguish the outlines of her hands against the darkness. And all the while, the silence remained just as stifling as it had been.


Without even noticing, Miranda started to wrap her arms around her chest due to a chill in the air. As she suddenly tightened her arms, Miranda finally noticed that she was completely naked. Her breathing quickened as a chill ran up her spine. Looking around, Miranda began to curl forward as she began to feel even colder. Clinching her eyes shut, Miranda began to shiver in the cold, and although she couldn't see it, wisps of fog escaped from her mouth and nose with each quick and deep exhale. Finally succumbing to the cold, Miranda opened her eyes as she knelt down onto the ground and curled up.


Then, she felt something behind her. A very light breeze caught her hair from behind and blew it forward with small strands gently gliding across her face. Her spine chilled yet again, and she turned her head around. Again, she could see nothing in the crushing darkness. Turning her head back around, Miranda again clinched her eyes shut as she hoped that it would all end as she began to shiver in the cold.


Then, Miranda heard a light wisp off to her right. Turning her head, there was again nothing there. Then, the wisp sounded off again, only this time, it was longer and slightly louder. Miranda felt outwards with the Force, but all she could feel was a pressing weight all around her. Again, the wisp sounded off, but this time, it sounded off to her left. Snapping her head around, there was again nothing there, but Miranda could've sworn that the wisp was really just a sharp whisper. Then, the wisp sounded off again, only this time, Miranda could somewhat make out that the wisp was indeed a whisper.


"Who's there?" Miranda asked although her words seemed to be swallowed by the silence. Then, the wisp sounded off again, but this time Miranda faintly understood what the whisper was: "Miranda". Again, the whisper sounded off her name, but now it was getting closer. The voice that had stated it was sharp, and Miranda couldn't help but to feel its sinister edge. The cold was becoming more intense, and Miranda huddled even tighter to herself. "Miranda," the voice whispered sharply yet again.


"I'm right here! What do you want from me?" Miranda answered in a bout of frustration. Almost as if to answer her, a dot of light suddenly appeared way off in the distance. Before Miranda could react, however, the dot rapidly moved towards her and expanded in size at the same time. As it reached her, Miranda turned her head away and shut her eyes out of instinct. Opening her eyes, Miranda then found herself on a ledge inside the Jedi Temple. She quickly recognized it to be her one place of refuge that she used when she was much younger.


"You know that the Council doesn't want to send anybody after her, especially since she's just a Padawan like yourself," a familiar voice stated beneath her. Peering over the ledge, Miranda spied Master Windu and Jeez standing beneath her. "I know. Besides, I can't go running off after her with the Trials in the way. Her fate is death," Jeez replied to Master Windu.


Miranda didn't completely understand as she watched them turn and walk off. Then, Miranda suddenly felt as if something were pushing her off the ledge. As she fell forward, she tried to grasp the edges of the ledge, but her grip failed. Falling forward, Miranda flailed her arms around as she tried to brace for the impact with the marble floor. She then hit the ground with much greater force than she anticipated as she landed on her chest.


"Don't make me continue to ask these questions again and again, Miss Overwatcher. Why did you kill them?" a man asked her. As she tried to get up, her hands slipped forward on the wet ground. Realizing that her eyes had shut during the fall, Miranda opened them to find herself laying in a pool of blood. "Well, I'm waiting," the man asked yet again. Looking over, Miranda saw the man crouching next to her. She quickly recognized him to be Jeez, and she noticed that there was no blood on him.


"Waiting for what?" she asked spitefully.


"Why did you kill them?!?" Jeez yelled at her angrily.


Looking past him, bodies littered the floor. Again, Miranda remembered her past dream, and the scene was the exact same. Looking over at her hands, they were again soaked in blood. Suddenly afraid of what she had done, tears began to form at the corners of her eyes. Before long, her breaths came in deep groans as she layed there weeping in the blood.


"Well?? What do you have to say for yourself, murderer?" Jeez stated accusingly.


Miranda then started to say, "I... I didn't..."


"LIAR!!" Jeez screamed out at her as he stood up and stepped backwards. "I have no place with a liar," he stated in frustration as he quickly turned and walked towards an opening in the room.


"Wait!!" Miranda yelled out in tears and desperation. Jeez stopped just as he reached the opening, but he didn't turn around. "Why can't you help me? Don't you remember that night on Illum when we declared our love for each other?"


Turning his head slightly to the left, he looked backwards at her. "It was infatuation. Nothing more," he stated in hushed anger. With that, he turned and walked through the opening.


"NOO!!" Miranda screamed out after him. She tried to get up to go after him, but she again slipped in the blood and collapsed on the floor. Lying there, Miranda became overcome by all kinds of emotion. Her head swelled with a mixture of anger, fear, hatred, and grief. Finally, she broke down and began to weep uncontrollably.


After a couple minutes of crying, she slowly began to calm down. Carefully, Miranda managed to bring herself to her feet and looked around the room. A red hue lit the room as a small fire in a corner threw dancing shadows across the room. Almost a dozen bodies laid on the floor, and all of them had been mutilated in some fashion. Spatters of blood coated parts of the wall, and Miranda could feel nothing but anger emanating from the bodies. As she began to calm down even further, Miranda noticed that she was no longer afraid. Instead, she could feel herself absorbing the anger around her. Tilting her head back, Miranda tensed up as the anger began to manifest itself in her. In a way, she was becoming the anger itself.


Then, a groan came from a corner in the room. Snapping her head down, she glared at the source of the groan. One of the bodies began move on its own. The man had managed to survive, and now he was following pure instinct to escape from Miranda. The man slowly crawled towards an opening in the wall. Gingerly stepping over the bodies, Miranda then made her way over to the struggling man. The man groaned again and started to mumble in fear as he noticed Miranda coming towards him. As she reached him, Miranda knelt down and picked him up by the hair on the back of his head.


As the man groaned in pain, Miranda heaved in hatred. Near death, there was nothing the man could do to stop Miranda. In one quick motion, Miranda then dropped to her knees and slammed the man's face against the floor. She then began to repeatedly pick his head off the floor and slam it back down onto the floor. In her rage, Miranda didn't even notice the man had died, but yet she continued to beat his head into the floor. Finally, she slammed the head down for the last time and quickly stood up over him in a rage. Looking up through the opening the man had been crawling towards, Miranda found herself looking down a long hallway.


As her eyes looked down to the end of the hallway, something swayed in the middle of the hall. Whatever it was, it was hanging from the ceiling. Heading through the opening, Miranda slowly walked towards the object as her anger quickly began to subside. As she got closer, Miranda recognized the object to be yet another dead body. As she continued to get closer, Miranda's pace slowed as she studied the body a bit. It was facing away from her, so she couldn't identify it. However, Miranda did notice that there was no blood anywhere to be found around or on the body.


Finally, Miranda slowly reached the body. The person had been hung by the ankles, and the body was hanging downwards with the hands of the person just barely rubbing against the floor. Turning the body around, Miranda finally made out the face. It was Tsunin Uralai, her Master. Miranda suddenly recoiled backwards in surprise whenever she made out the face. Looking at Tsunin's face, Miranda suddenly made out a single singe point on her forehead from a blaster. Whoever killed her had done so with the barrel placed against her forehead.


Then, the entire hallway and the body disappeared, and Miranda found herself in an open area lit by nothing but a jagged circle of fire all around her. Miranda could make out nothing but darkness beyond the flames, and she could feel fear tugging at her. However, Miranda realized that the fear was just an illusion, and she pushed it aside. Standing alone in the jagged circle, Miranda breathed in deeply as she found strength within her buried anger.


"Good, my young Jedi. Embrace your passions, and it can all be yours," a deep voice stated from beyond the flames. Closing her eyes and tilting her head back in exhilaration, Miranda breathed in deeply. The voice then quickly stated "Now go!!"


Slightly startled, Miranda then opened her eyes. She found herself back in Jeez's room back in the Jedi Temple. Feeling a cold sweat over her, she got up and walked to the lone sink. After splashing some water on her face, she looked back down at her hands. They were clean, but she could yet feel the blood on her hands from her dream. Closing her eyes, Miranda couldn't help but to start shaking all over. Then, a pair of hands gently held her shoulders. Surprised, Miranda turned around rapidly.


"Hey! Are you alright?" Jeez asked her.


"Yeah. Uhh, just a bad dream, that's all," Miranda stated while trying to convince her self of the same thing.


"Oh, come on. I can always tell when you lie to me like that. You had more than a bad dream. Just calm down; you're shaking all over," Jeez stated calmly.


Inside, Miranda could see nothing but all those dead men in the room from her dream. A tear formed at the corner of her eye as she felt a wave of emotion starting to come over her. "It's ok; it's ok," Jeez calmly stated as he gently reached over and embraced her in his arms. Resting her head on his shoulders, Miranda stopped holding back the tears and wept in his arms.



As the elevator began to quickly rise up the shaft, Ja'rott could feel some of his insides shifting downwards from the momentum change. It always had the same effect: he was starting to feel a bit queasy. Holding his head back in a bit of defiance to his own urges, the Hutt did his best to ignore the feeling. Besides, the meeting he was about to have deserved something, even if Ja'rott didn't think of Qestar as an equal.


It just didn't make much sense. Qestar just didn't have the reputation among the "heirarchy" of the underworld to start making demands to a Hutt such as Ja'rott. Qestar was a rising operative, sure, but that didn't make him anything too terribly powerful nor special. When somebody demands an unexpected meeting, its usually an indication that either something had gone wrong or that somebody was about to attempt negotiations for a better deal. Neither of the two options was very attractive for Ja'rott. And if something had gone wrong, well, there was a solution to that as well.


The elevator then began to slow, and the queasy feeling subsided. Finally, the elevator came to a halt. As the doors opened, four of Ja'rott's bodyguards entered the room. The room was one of Ja'rott's own hangars where two stolen Corellian Corvette's were being stored. Both of the Corvettes were sitting side by side with little room seperating the two. Several crates of parts and machinery littered some of the space between the Corvettes.


Emerging from the elevator, Ja'rott looked around for himself as two more bodyguards flanked him. His bodyguards hadn't noted anything suspicious, but no Hutt was ever very trustful of anyone. As he slithered down between the Corvettes, there still wasn't any sign of Qestar. A bit annoyed, Ja'rott looked over at one of his bodyguards. "We aren't early, are we?" he asked.


"A couple minutes. And, not to be rude, but these are your hangars anyways, right?" the bodyguard replied.


Breathing in a bit deep, Ja'rott realized that the comment did make sense. "Yes, these are my hangars. Even so, a meeting is a meeting none the less."


Then, a side hatch opened on the left Corvette. A man then jumped out of the hatch and landed on the ground. It was Qestar.


"A bit early, now, aren't we?" Qestar stated rhetorically. "Now for some business."


"What this, none of your professional bodyguards this time? You seem rather trusting for this sort of a meeting," Ja'rott replied.


"That's quite all right. They're handling something for me at the moment. Besides, this is just business after all."


"Fair enough. What seems to be the problem?"


"Well, to put it bluntly, you are. You see, I can normally appriciate a policy of playin' the fences; having a bit of play one side at the sake of another. It can be quite profitable, but at the same time, it can also be quite dangerous. If one of the sides finds out, the entire operation is a bust, and then you have to high'tail it out of Dodge. Such is the case with you."


A bit surprised at the statement, Ja'rott became a bit concerned. If Qestar was hinting at was true...


"That's okay. I can understand your silence, but even you have to realize that situation is about to become that dire. You see, I've been havin' a bit of a look'see at who you've been talking to for these deals of yours; you know, the same deals that you've made me directly responsible for. And now, I've got some things coming down on my head that neither of us want."


Growing a bit impatient, Ja'rott then stated, "Well, spit it out already, boy. I'm growing tired of waiting for you to tell me what you seem to know about me."


"Fair enough. I've known from the beginning about your deal with the Republic as that part was in my contract. However, what I didn't know was that you had another queen up your sleeve: you had a Seperatist Agent on your payroll. That same Seperatist Agent is the same one who approached me about getting this whole operation started. That's where the fence playin' part comes in. But, there is a part that I don't quite understand. Why did you hand out my name to a certain Republic Agent the other night?"


A bit taken aback, Ja'rott now knew that he was going to have to take care of Qestar right now. "Come now, my dear boy. Business is business, afterall. You honestly couldn't come to the conclusion that I would let something come down on my head, would you? Its all about business. I'm sure you can understand," Ja'rott replied.


Pulling his head back slightly in realization, Qestar looked at the Hutt sideways for just a moment. Smiling, Qestar then began to laugh slightly to himself as he discreetly tapped a button on the side of his belt. "Oh, I understand how business works all right. And you know? Here's another part of business that I understand: if you can't hold up your end of the contract, then you don't put your imprint on the datapad. Otherwise, there could be rather grave consequences."


Then, a hail of blaster fire suddenly erupted from the roof. Within two seconds, all of Ja'rott's bodyguards were dead on the floor. Surprised by the sudden attack, Ja'rott looked around and was about to make a move back towards the elevator. However, the elevator doors suddenly closed as three of Qestar's mercenaries blocked his path. Turning back around, Ja'rott found himself staring down the barrel of Qestar's blaster pistol.


"You see Ja'rott, I am a good businessman. I always hold up my end of the bargains. Something else that I know is that if anybody that hires me wants to suddenly turn tables and put my head on a platter, well, there's definately going to be hell to pay."


"What do you think you'll acomplish with this? I have a high standing among the rest of the Hutts. You only prove to the rest of the Hutts how much of an unreliable and backstabbing sort you really are," Ja'rott replied angrily.


"Me a backstabber?? Oh, I don't think so. I do know what I'm getting into, and if I can't shut all of the gaps closed now, then I'm a dead man anyway. Last I heard, I've got two Jedi that are about to leave the Temple back on Coruscant so that they can eliminate me. They have my name, and that's all they'll need. And besides, I can live without giving my business to the Hutts. There are other resources out there, and I intend to use them. However, there is still just one thing standing in my way."


Holding his head up high in defiance to Qestar, Ja'rott waited for the inevitable. Another hail of blaster fire rang out in the hangar. The sound of it echoed around the large space as it continued for several moments. Then, the last blaster was heard. It echoed briefly, and then, the sound died out at last. All that could be heard now was the sizzling flesh of a once highly feared and respected creature that was no more.



In a flash, the blue hyperspace field quickly subsided into streaking white lines and then into stars. Opening her eyes, Miranda then knocked her head lightly against the window in a bit of frustration. She hadn't slept a bit since the nightmare back in Jeez's quarters, and she felt terrible. If she hadn't experienced it before, she probably would've equated the experience to that of drinking too much Ondorian Rum in the morning with a full day's work ahead. Her entire body ached with over 40 hours of sleep deprevation, and the worst part about it was what was keeping her awake. She was afraid of the nightmares.


Throuhout the entire trip to Nar Shadaa, Miranda had kept to herself and apart from Master Tsunin. The fear of the nightmares had been eating away at her the entire trip, and Miranda had trouble focusing on anything else. Images of her bloody hands and the sight of pain permenantly etched into the faces of the dead men on the floor played in her mind almost constantly. Its not supposed to be this way, she thought to herself. I can't go down this road. I am a Jedi. So, she yet again tried to clear her mind of the images and to put the fear aside, but like every other time, the images would play through yet again. Then, the fear of the nightmares would return anew.


Then, Miranda felt her seat shift a bit as someone sat next to her. "You didn't get any sleep at all, did you?" Tsunin stated as she observed the tired frustration on Miranda's face.


Without looking at Tsunin, Miranda just shook her head. Feeling a little cold, Miranda wrapped her arms around her chest and sighed to herself. "Well, we're almost there, so we'll think of something soon enough," Tsunin stated softly.


The transport had finally entered Nar Shadaa's atmosphere and was heading towards one of the few public spaceports on the planet. As most of the planet's ports were private owned, there were weren't many options for the transport to land in which made security a bit of a hazard, but traveling indiscriminately helped to keep things under wraps for those that wanted to be left alone.


Finally, the transport circled in over the landing pad and slowly decended. With a light bump, the transport landed and opened its doors. Several other passengers disembarked before Tsunin and Miranda. Once they left the transport, Miranda and Tsunin looked around. The place was as advertised: a bustling spaceport that was heavily weather stained and unkept. Trash and empty cargo canisters seemed to be hastily shoved to the side of the walkways, and most people paid little notice to them. The place looked ancient, but it still thrived with life. Feeling around with the Force at all the life was just as breathtaking as it was to see it all first hand. Tsunin had been to Nar Shadaa many years ago with her master, but the place still felt the same: dark and brooding.


"First things first: we need to ask around discreetly in a couple of local cantinas. The locals here are a very good source of information provided that you have the credits to get their tongues loose. If you want, we can get some lodging first so that you can get some rest. You're exhausted, and I can tell that by looking at you," Tsunin stated.


"I'd appriciate that, but I'm not sure if will help. Its the nightmares again, Master. I can't sleep with the nightmares," Miranda replied.


"Well, this discussion can wait till we get some lodging. Come on, there has to be a transport that can get us there."


It didn't take long for them to find what they needed. Within several hours, they arrived at an old apartment complex. The owner wasn't too happy about renting out the place to a couple of what appeared to be refugees, but with a couple of credits, that problem was remedied with little hassle.


Walking inside, the apartment wasn't much. It was a standard one room apartment with a basic cooking station, one bed, a couch, and one holopanel projector. "Its not much, but it'll do. You stay here and try to get some rest. If you think it would help, try to use the Force induce a peaceful respite. I'll hit up the local cantinas and try to get some information. If I'm not back within eight hours, come and find me," Tsunin stated as she turned to leave.


"Master Tsunin, may the Force be with you," Miranda stated behind her.


Turning around to look at her Padawan and friend, Tsunin then replied, "May the Force be with you."


As the door opened and shut, Miranda then sat down at the edge of the bed. Closing her eyes, the images returned to play another round. This time, Miranda winced away at the fear the images brought on and tried to concentrate on the one thing that always gave her comfort. I really wish you were here, Jeez. I really do, Miranda thought to herself. As she began to think about how Jeez was able to comfort her in other previous times, Miranda laid down on the bed with her eyes still shut. Then, for the first time, Miranda finally fell asleep both out of exhaustion and out of the thought that Jeez could be there to ward off the nightmares.



"Then you have heard about the transport attacks," Tsunin replied to the man.


"So what if I have? I bet there ain't a soul on this planet that hasn't heard about them. Just like that incident with the one Hutt that got gunned down in his own hangar just yesterday. Everybody knows about it," the man replied with a bit of a drunken stupor.


A bit perplexed, Tsunin suddenly realized that something had to be related between the two. It wouldn't have been the first time Tsunin was about to use the Force to guide her intuition. "You wouldn't think the two are related, would you?"


"Hmm? What, you think that the Hutt had something to do with the transport attacks? You must be really new to this system or something. These kinds of things happen all the time; just not at the same time, mind you. I think the big news about that Hutt was his name, you know? Nobody ever thought of Ja'rott as making enemies that would gun him down in his own hangar, but it happened anyways. You just have to expect the unexpected, that's all."


"Well, thanks for the information. I guess I'll just have to get used to it here. Its just not like home, though," Tsunin replied as she set some credits down at the counter to cover the man's drink she had bought him. As she turned and left, Tsunin felt a couple of eyes on her through the Force. As she walked away, though, she didn't feel anybody following her.


Heading over to a different cantina just down the walkway, Tsunin knew that she wasn't far from the truth, and this next cantina would prove to be a very good source of information. The first cantina had been a very run down place, but this next one definately wasn't. It was really more of a casino than just a simple cantina.


Once inside, Tsunin could make out light jazz playing in the backround. "Ma'am? Can I help you?" a butler asked Tsunin. He was dressed rather well for such a place, and Tsunin recognized the place to be rather exquisite for a casino. "Yes, I'm trying to contact a certain friend in this place for some information. Perhaps you could see if they're available?" Tsunin stated lightly.


"Could I have your name, please?" he asked politely.


"Its not my name you need to concern yourself with. Rather, its the contents of this," Tsunin stated as she discreetly palmed her left hand to reveal a 5000 credit note.


"Of course, ma'am. I will inquire my master right away. Please feel free to enjoy a bit of refreshment while you wait."


As the butler walked off towards the 'Staff Only' section, Miranda calmly took a seat near the entrance. The place was quite opulent, but it didn't even begin to rival the opulence of some of the Senator's Retreats she had attended to gain her rank as the Political Advisor of the Jedi Council.


A waitress finally approached her table and offered her a drink, but Tsunin politely refused it and used the excuse that she was waiting for someone. It was service that the wealthy would appriciate but not admire.


Then, Tsunin felt someone approaching from behind. Turning around, she caught sight of two security guards and the butler approaching. "My master has agreed to the meeting. This way, please," the butler stated politely.


As she entered the 'Staff Only' section, Tsunin started to feel that something wasn't entirely right. As she tried to probe the feeling, Tsunin found herself repulsed by the Dark Side. As was with recent times, the Dark Side was once again interferring with her connection to the Force. As the entourage headed down the hallway, they came to a door that opened up into an elevator at their arrival. It was guarded by one lone guard who Tsunin recognized as being former military by his stance and demeanor.


As they entered the elevator, not a single word was spoken as the elevator began to rise. It didn't rise very quickly like most elevators, but it still arrived at the top floor quickly enough. As the doors opened, Tsunin was momentarily stunned at the incredible opulence of the room. It was a beautifully designed room that was filled with white stone. At a lone desk sat a woman in a bright red dress that was looking right at her. With a quick nod at one of the guards, Tsunin found herself being searched with the barrel of a blaster pointed at the base of her skull. The guards quickly found her lightsaber as well as the container that she kept her credits in.


The guard then brought the items to the woman and laid them down on her desk. "A Jedi coming to me for information? That's a bit out of the ordinary," the woman stated as she nodded yet again. She felt the blaster pistol move away and heard it holstered. "Have a seat, my dear."


Tsunin then quietly walked over to the desk and sat down in one of the white stone chairs. "Now, what can I do for you?" the woman stated.


"I want to know what happened to Ja'rott and the relationship between that Hutt and the transport attacks," Tsunin replied.


"Straight to the point, I see. Can I get you some tea or something before we begin? I'm sorry, I really shouldn't forget my edicate at times such as these."


"I'd appriciate that, thank you," Tsunin replied knowing that talking while having tea was probably what this woman was used to. With another nod to a guard, the woman then looked right into Tsunin's eyes. She was studying her.


The guard soon returned with a tray with two tea cups and a pitcher. Setting it down on the desk, Tsunin then spoke up, "Well, do you know anything about it or not?"


"I do, as a matter of fact. Actually, I know quite a bit. I also know that its going to cost you much more than just a single five grand credit note for you to get the complete story. Like anybody else on this planet, business is always my first responsiblity," the woman replied as she poured some tea into the two cups. Handing one of the cups over to Tsunin, she then took the other for herself and leaned back in her chair as she nodded to one of the guards again. The guard then walked over to the container that Tsunin was using, removed the credits, and then counted them out.


"45, madame," the guard stated as he neatly place the stack of credits on the table.


"45 grand? Now that does get my attention and then some, but its definately too much. I'll take 15 and you can have the rest back for yourself along with the information I'm about to give you. Deal?" the woman asked.


Nodding her head in agreement, Tsunin carefully took a sip from her tea.


"Very well. This Hutt, Ja'rott, had made a deal with three parties concerning medical supplies. The one you probably know about was the Republic. They were the ones trying to procur the supplies for certain systems that needed the supplies.


Another party was an agent of an organization that is heavily growing in power; an organization that is heavily opposed to the Republic. They wanted Ja'rott to stop medical shipments to increase pressure on the Republic. However, Ja'rott understood that he could set the two at odds by allowing some of the shipments to go through and to prevent others from taking place.


For this, Ja'rott went to the third party to capture the ships carrying the medical supplies. It was a very efficient way to do business, if I do say so myself. Ja'rott got to keep some of his medical supplies while getting paid by the Republic for the shipments that he allowed through while getting paid by the second party for not allowing some of the shipments to be made. It was a three-way profit venture, and I'm sure he made off very well," the woman stated.


"And what of the other two parties? You never mentioned who they were," Tsunin stated.


"And I did agree to give you the whole picture, didn't I? Well, the third party is easy enough to understand: a mercenary with resources. This mercenary had the capability and the standing to hire the men he needed to capture the ships as well as equipment he already owned. He's very cunning, and he has the right connections. A rather dangerous combination.


He was cunning enough to discover that Ja'rott was getting spooked about the Republic looking into his operation. So, to cover his tracks, Ja'rott was about to make an arrangement with Republic operatives to capture this mercenary. In retaliation for betraying him, the mercenary killed Ja'rott yesterday in Ja'rott's own hangars.


This, of course, means that the second party, an agent working for the Seperatist Leader, Count Dooku, has already left Nar Shadaa with good news for his master.


However, there is still one part of the puzzle that has yet to be solved: the Republic's investigation into the situation. And now, here you are wanting to ask all the questions, which means that the puzzle is complete."


The woman then took a sip from her tea while Tsunin sat still in her chair. However, something was terribly wrong with what the woman had stated. If Ja'rott had given out the mercenary's name to the Republic Agent, then how come she didn't know the name of the mercenary?


Then, a click sounded behind Tsunin as she recognized the sound of a blaster being removed from a holster. Turning around to face the noise, she saw that one of the guards was about to point the blaster at her. Reaching out her hand to pull the lightsaber off the desk, Tsunin was suddenly stunned to notice that nothing happened. Confused, Tsunin tried to reach outwards with the Force to get a gage on what was happening, but she found that she couldn't do anything.


Looking back over at the woman, Tsunin watched as a door opened up behind the woman. Several men that weren't dressed like guards at all quickly came through with assault rifles at the ready. Then, the butler came in behind them with some sort of an animal that was laying on top of a hollow tube that was filled with a bluish substance. The butler then set the device with the animal on the desk and calmly took up the lightsaber from the desk.


Then, Tsunin noticed a man approaching the doorway behind the woman. Tsunin's breathing quickened as she realized that the mercenary that the woman had been refering to was that man. Tsunin knew what was coming, and she was defenseless against it. Pushing aside her growing fear, Tsunin then stood up as the man finally entered the doorway. Calmly pulling out his pistol, the man then pointed it squarely at Tsunin. She waited for him to pull the trigger, but instead, Tsunin suddenly felt a sharp wire around her neck.


Struggling for a moment, Tsunin began to grasp for the wire, but she couldn't get her hands around it. Feeling a knee in her back, Tsunin fell forwards. She normally would've fallen on her knees, but instead her neck caught her in the wire. Slowly, her vision began to fade as she struggled to breathe.


From the doorway, Qestar watched as life slowly ebbed away from the Jedi without pity as he reholstered his pistol. Then, the Jedi finally quit squirming as the last bit of Tsunin's life left her.

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((alright, here it is as promised. just as a fair warning, some of the depictions are a bit on the violent side, although everything should be in good taste. and yes, this is the final installment of this 'episode'. hehe... :) ))


Jeez sat calmly by himself inside the Temple’s Meditation chamber. It was just a couple of hours before he would begin the Jedi Trials, and Jeez wanted to make sure that he was ready. Concentrating on the Force, Jeez could feel it flowing and coursing through his body. As he stretched outwards, he could feel it flowing in the room like the currents of a stream. Concentrating on the currents, Jeez felt as if he was being swept away.


Following the currents, Jeez could feel every life around him. Each life contributed to the stream as it gathered into a much larger current like a wide and rapidly flowing river. Before long, however, the river suddenly began to take form. Jeez then fell into the river as it took form. Underneath the surface, Jeez opened his eyes to find himself immersed in water. Heading up towards the surface, Jeez gasped for breath as he was carried downstream.


Looking ahead, Jeez noticed that the river was churning and spraying up ahead, and that meant that he was about to run into a rocky section. Trying as hard as he could, Jeez made for the closest shore. However, the current was just simply too swift, and it was a matter of seconds before Jeez was dashed against the rocks. Blinding pain flashed through Jeez’s body as his back slammed into a large rock. Stunned by the pain, the current continued to carry Jeez downstream into another set of rocks. Going under, the dazed Jeez struggled to find the surface. Kicking his legs, Jeez did his best to find the surface.


Then, Jeez suddenly felt the current subside, and he simply floated to the top of the water. Reaching the surface, Jeez gasped for breath as he looked around. He noticed that he was now in a large reservoir of some kind. It was dark inside the reservoir, but Jeez could still hear the loud roar of water flowing into the large hollow space. The lighting was just enough that Jeez could make out an island of some kind within 20 meters of his position.


Swimming over the island, Jeez started to make out the shadowy shape of several humanoids on the island. Getting closer, Jeez was a bit surprised to recognize that the humanoids were members of the Jedi Council. As he reached the shore, Jeez noticed that all of the Councilmen were focused solely on him and nothing else. Getting out of the water, his own Master, Mace Windu, separated from the line of the other Jedi Masters and approached Jeez. Suddenly concerned about his appearance, Jeez looked down to notice that he was completely dry as if he had never been in the water in the first place.


Perplexed, Jeez turned to Windu as he stopped in front of Jeez. “Master Windu, what’s going on? What is this place?” Jeez asked.


“This place? Well, this is the gathering point of the Force within the universe. All parts of the Force come together at this point,” Windu replied.


“But why am I here with the rest of you?” Jeez responded.


“That’s a good question, but you already know the answer, Jeez. This is the beginning of your Trials. You’ve already taken the first step by coming here, and soon, we will begin a series of tests to determine a number of things. You’ve already passed the first part of this Trial by making it here. But now...” Windu stated as he was suddenly interrupted by an odd sound in the background.


The sound repeated itself, and Jeez’s heart jumped within himself as he started to recognize the sound. It was a bit faint and far off, but Jeez recognized the sound to be that of a woman crying out for help. Walking along the island in that particular direction, Jeez listened for it. After a couple seconds of silence, Jeez then heard the voice yet again. This time, Jeez’s heart jumped yet again as he recognized the voice to be Miranda’s. Turning to look back at Windu, he and the rest of the Council were gone. Then, Miranda’s voice rung out again, and Jeez instantly snapped his head around towards the sound only to come face to face with Windu.


“Don’t go after her, Jeez. As I stated earlier, this is the collecting point of the whole Force, both Light and Dark,” Windu stated ominously.


“But we don’t know if that sound is of either the Lightside or the Darkside,” Jeez replied. Hearing the voice again, Jeez turned to face it again.


“Either way, you are responding to that voice, Jeez. You are responding to Miranda,” Windu stated ominously yet again.


Realizing the depth of Windu’s words, Jeez gazed at Windu in silence.


“You wouldn’t respond to the voice if it didn’t mean something to you, Jeez. Tell me, what does that voice mean to you?”


Miranda’s voice then echoed out yet again over the surface of the water. Jeez then once again turned towards the voice and started walking in that direction. Following, Windu then stated, “If you go to her, you will fail the Trials,” Windu warned.


Not even turning to face Windu, Jeez just kept going once he reached the water as he felt his heart tugging him in that direction. Diving in, he began to swim as quickly as he could to where he thought he had heard Miranda. Pausing for a second to get his bearings, Jeez listened across the surface of the water. Off in the distance, Jeez could hear water splashing and yet another cry for help. Swimming quickly in that direction, Jeez could soon see some sort of a struggle up ahead.


Two people were fighting in the water. Jeez could just barely make out a man of some kind trying to force Miranda under the water. Suddenly worried, Jeez swam as quickly as he could to the spot. Upon reaching it, Jeez surfaced to find out where they were, but there was nobody around. Looking around frantically, Jeez then dived under to look around. He didn’t see anybody until he saw something glint in the background. Swimming towards the glint, Jeez could make out Miranda struggling under the surface. Swimming as hard as he could, Jeez tried to reach her, but all he could see was Miranda reaching out towards him.


Ignoring the searing pain in his chest from the lack of air, Jeez continued to swim down towards Miranda only to notice that she was slowly disappearing from view. After a couple of seconds, Jeez could no longer make her out under the water as she faded from view. In his final desperation, Jeez swam as hard as he could towards her despite that Jeez knew he needed air. Swimming harder and harder, Jeez’s vision began to fade, and he squinted his eyes out of instinct.



Suddenly opening her eyes, Miranda suddenly felt sick to her stomach. Getting up off the bed, Miranda heaved over a waste bin and vomitted. Something was incredibly wrong, and Miranda could sense it. Gathering her feelings, Miranda noticed that something was lacking. Miranda wasn't quite sure what it was, but she knew that it was a person that she cared for. After searching for a moment, Miranda suddenly realized that she could no longer feel her master, Tsunin Uralai.


Miranda didn't quite understand what had happened, but she could sense that it definately wasn't good. Checking the time, it had only been five hours, but Miranda was sure that Master Tsunin would forgive her given what she was feeling in the Force. Making sure she had everything she needed, Miranda gathered her wits and left the apartment.


Concentrating on the Force, Miranda pushed aside her previous fear as best as she could and focused as hard as she could on the Force. Once outside, Miranda paused as she could sense every person around her. Life itself seemed to glow and ebb everywhere like a heartbeat, and Miranda fed off of the feeling. Although Miranda didn't know where to go, she trusted her instincts and picked a direction.


Sensing that she needed to go for quite a ways, Miranda headed towards a speeder and hopped on board. Starting it up, Miranda heard somebody yelling off in the distance about stealing their speeder. Reaching into her pocket, Miranda pulled out her credit storage and tossed a 1000 credit note out the window which was caught by a man about to pull out a blaster.


Rising up into the air, an image of an opulent cantina flashed inside of Miranda's head through the Force. Dropping the speeder back down, Miranda turned to look at the stunned man who was still holding the 1000 credit note incredulously. "You wouldn't happen to know where I can find 5-star dining around here, would you?" Miranda asked the man.


The stunned man just looked at Miranda a bit funny, but he finally spoke up. "Well, there is this one spot, uhh, I think its called "Diane's Place" or something like that. Owned by this one really good looking broad named Diana. Really likes contrasts in colors and has some fancy tastes. It ain't exactly 'five star', but its as close as you'll get on this trash heap," the man replied.


"Thanks," Miranda stated as she hit the accelerator and took off. Looking it up on the navicomputer, Miranda quickly headed off in that direction. As she got closer, a feeling of dread began to play on Miranda's mind. However, with her sudden focus on the Force, she was easily able to identify it as the Dark Side. Images of her dream began to play in her head yet again, but this time, Miranda didn't let them play on her fears. She knew that it was long past time for her to let her fear take a foothold on her.


Nearing the location, Miranda was quick to find a parking spot. As the speeder landed, Miranda immidiately exited the cockpit. Looking around for a moment, a certain man caught her eye. Sensing with the Force, she knew that the man was watching her intently. Not only that, but she also knew that he had been expecting her. Feeling for her lightsaber, Miranda held back the urge to ignite it and attack the man as her fingers graced the cold metal.


Turning away from the man, Miranda then headed for the cantina. As she was heading towards the entrance, Miranda almost instantly recognized that she was walking into a trap. Stopping in her tracks, Miranda stood perfectly still. Nothing happened, however, and Miranda wondered exactly what was going on.


Miranda then once again made for the entrance. As she entered, Miranda didn't bother to study the opulence of the place. The only thing Miranda knew was that it was the same place that she had seen just a few minutes ago in the image. "Excuse me, madam, but we've been expecting you," a butler suddenly stated from Miranda's left.


"I'm sure you have, sir. How can I help you?" Miranda replied without turning to look at him.


"If you would be so kind, madam, but we have a special room prepared for you in the back. If you would follow us please," the butler stated as two security guards walked up next to Miranda. As the butler headed off towards the 'Staff Only' door, Miranda followed as she was flanked by the guards. Miranda knew that she was walking right into a trap, but she also knew that she could rely on the Force to get her out of it.


As they headed into the back behind the door and towards the elevator, Miranda suddenly sensed something very odd. It was as if a switch had been flipped in the opposite position, and Miranda quickly recognized that her connnection to the Force had greatly diminished. Fear momentarily welled up inside of her as she knew that the trap had already closed. However, there was something odd about the whole situation, and Miranda just couldn't quite place her finger on it.


As they headed into the elevator, Miranda did her best to maintain her composure. Tears started to form at the corners of her eyes as she knew it was already too late. Closing her eyes, Miranda did her best to be brave at what was about to come.


Slowly, the door motors on the elevator came to life. Metal grated silently against metal as the lubricants had long since worn out. Light slowly began to project outwards at the joint where the two halves of the door met. The halves slowly parted like curtains uncovering a window at dawn. The room itself finally became visible. The white stone shined and glowed brilliantly with no contrasting colors except for one. In the middle of the room on the floor was a bright red color. Its color seemed to be almost swallowed by the white sheen from the rest of the room, but it still stood out in stark contrast. Its consistancy seemed to be the same as molten lead or mercury, and it had been pooled fresh on the floor. Spatter surrounded the puddle, and finally, another drop added to the puddle with a thudding splash.


As Miranda stepped into the room, she was finally able to see the source of the red liquid. Hanging from the ceiling, Miranda almost choked as she instantly recalled the image of Master Tsunin hanging in her dream. This time, the only difference was the location and the blood. Strangely enough, Miranda was able to call upon a certain amount of strength from within herself, and Miranda stopped herself from revealing her sorrow to the two guards that were flanking her.


With a creak, a door opened up behind the desk. Out of it came a group of men that Miranda initially thought to be soldiers. Suddenly, the two guards grabbed Miranda by the shoulders and walked her over to a chair. Very forcefully, they then shoved her into the chair. Finally, Miranda noticed a man dressed differently from the rest of the men that had just entered. Miranda knew he was the ringleader, and she knew that he was responsible for all of this.


As the man entered, he sat down directly across from Miranda. "So, the final piece has come straight to me. I had a funny feeling that you would come for her since your supposed to be, like, 'linked' is the term. And I must say, you're a damn sight better looking than the other one. Its a shame you Jedi don't believe in lovin' and all that jazz," Qestar stated. Propping up his feet on the desk, Qestar folded his arms across his chest.


Laughing lightly to himself, Qestar then said, "I just can't believe that little bugga' was right about how easy these crittars make catching Jedi. Ysalamiri, I think is what he called them. Its almost unreal how these little things can push away this 'Force'. Sure, there're supposed to be 'shadows' and all, but the fact that you can't put up any sort of a fight is testament enough if you ask me. It isn't going to be alive for much longer for various reasons, but then again, well, nevermind. So, tell me Jedi, what's it feel like not havin' any power?"


Without warning, the guard next to Miranda suddenly slammed the butt of his rifle against her head. Crying briefly in pain, Miranda suddenly realized what was about to happen. A hand then grabbed her mercilessly by the hair on the back of her head. Opening her eyes, Miranda had just enough time to see another guard bring a roundhouse punch across her face. Finally, her hair was let go of, but someone else forcefully picked her up out of the chair and stood her up. Opening her eyes again, Miranda found herself face to face with Qestar.


"Its almost a shame, really. You such a pretty girl, and I would just hate the thought of wasting such an opportunity of, well, wasting you," Qestar stated with an evil smile. Pushing Miranda away into another one of his mercenaries, Miranda felt her clothes being ripped away. "Don't move too fast boys. I get the first piece," Qestar yelled out.


Force onto her knees, Miranda couldn't hold back the tears. She knew what was going to happen, and she felt absolutely helpless. Forced by her training, Miranda tried to bring some sort of focus onto the Force, but she couldn't sense anything more than shadows. As she knelt there, she suddenly thought of Jeez. Where are you? Why aren't you here? Miranda thought to herself.


In her agony, Miranda couldn't help but to think more and more about Jeez. He wasn't there, and he couldn't save her. Why couldn't he suddenly show up and save her? He had done so on so many occasions before, but now, he wasn't going to be there. Miranda couldn't help but to feel incredibly alone, and now that she realized that Jeez wasn't going to suddenly come to her rescue, Miranda began to see Jeez as a traitor. He couldn't rescue her because he didn't want to rescue her. Jeez no longer loved her, and there was nothing she could do about it.


Continuing to weep in her agony, Miranda just wished it would all end. Why wouldn't they just kill her? It would just make things so much easier, and it could be over for her. Anger began to flash in her eyes, and she began to scream out curses at the men. Miranda yelled out of her anger, and although she had felt helpless before, she now squirmed in the mercenaries grips as her anger surfaced. Struggling, Miranda began to do as much as she could to fight back. Biting, kicking, and squirming, Miranda almost managed to get an arm free whenever one of the mercenaries connected a punch across her face.


The punch only served to feed her anger further, and another soon followed. Before long, they simply flung her to the floor and began to beat and kick at her. Miranda groped in her pain as she felt ribs cracking and repeated kicks to her head. Finally, it subsides as she heard a distant voice call for them to stop. Quivering in agony on the floor, Miranda's breaths began to come in gasps.


Lying naked on the floor, Miranda's blood flowed freely from several cuts and wounds. Miranda just wished it would be over, but she knew it wasn't going to be. Her anger was still there, and she wished that she could do something. Miranda once again reached out towards the Force and felt the shadows once again. This time, Miranda did her best to focus on the shadows. Feeling around the shadows, Miranda felt a beating heart of a small animal. The animal was pushing the Force away, but Miranda could still feel its beating heart. Consumed by anger, Miranda then squeezed the shadows together around the heart.


Miranda felt the heart crush; broken the way Miranda's heart felt about Jeez. Miranda squirmed at the thought. Jeez, the traitor. He had called her a liar in her dream, but now Miranda could put a name on him: traitor. Oh, how she suddenly began to hate him. He was always trying to show everyone else how much better he was than she was. How he was always there to rescue her from his foolish little schemes. She hated him passionately.


A hand reached down and grabbed Miranda by the hair. Pulling her to her feet, Miranda was no longer a whimpering and helpless little animal. "What's this?? Enjoying our treatment, our we? Well, there's certainly a lot more where that came from," Qestar stated.


Qestar's fist flew out towards Miranda's face. In an instant, Miranda felt the blow coming and caught the fist in her hand. Circumventing a hidden strength into her arm, she then stopped the fist and held it still. Squeezing with all her might, Qestar cried out in agony as bones began to pop in his hands. "I am not some little weak Jedi, fool. I am Miranda Overwatcher, and I will become your deepest form of terror," Miranda stated darkly.


One of the mercenaries then began to go for an assault rifle that was laying on the floor. Other mercenaries quickly began to move to try to either retrieve a weapon or to just simply attack Miranda. However, they didn't know that Miranda could feel the Force again. Inside, Miranda's rage could no longer be held back, and the Dark Side beckoned from within her. Answering the call, Miranda had turned to the Darkside.


Gathering the Force within herself, she suddenly flung it outwards in every direction. Qestar and his mercenaries went flying in all directions. Moving quickly, Miranda ran up to one mercenary and delivered a flying kick to his back. Quickly moving behind him, Miranda quickly reached around his head and snapped his neck. Sensing a mercenary had reached his rifle, Miranda used her arm to grab hold of the man's neck with the Force. Squeezing tightly, bones within his neck snapped from the pressure. Whenever she released him, his limp body fell dead on the floor.


Other mercenaries began to reach their weapons, but it was definately too late. Miranda lashed out with the Force again and again. Utilizing either her bare hands or just the Force itself, Miranda began to slaughter each one of them one by one while Qestar watched from the floor.


Qestar wasn' quite sure what to do. This Jedi was somehow able to feel the Force, and now she was violently killing off everybody in the room one by one. Out of fear, Qestar slowly began to crawl towards the open door behind the desk. With a sickening crunch, Qestar heard a head being split wide open. Then, Qestar suddenly noticed that the only noise in the room was his heavy breathing. Looking behind him, Qestar was suddenly horrified. Miranda stood directly behind him and was looking down at him. She was naked, but she was dripping blood everywhere. Around the room, blood was spattered all over the walls from the violent deaths of his mercenaries. Qestar could tell that some of the bodies had been ruthelessly mutilated, and looking at Miranda, Qestar could only imagine the horrors she had wrought upon them.


Without saying a word, Miranda reached down and grabbed Qestar by the hair and pulled his face within an inch of hers. Reaching down, Miranda placed her other hand on Qestar's chest. Suddenly, Qestar felt a pulling sensation all over his body. Pain shot throughout his body in rippling waves. Screaming in agony, Qestar could feel everything in his body rippling towards Miranda's hand. Qestar's skin first began to ripple, and then it began to shrink down and dry up.


His body looked as if it was decaying rapidly, but yet his scream continued on. Finally, the screaming began to wane, and then it stopped altogether. Tossing the remains of Qestar's dried body onto the floor, Miranda stood up in the blood that was pooled everywhere on the floor. Closing her eyes, Miranda relished in her new found power. Opening them, Miranda remembered her dream and looked at her hands. Looking down at her bloody hands, Miranda began to laugh lightly to herself.



Opening his eyes, Jeez was back inside the meditation chamber. Breathing hard, Jeez knew that something was wrong with Miranda and that she needed him. Remembering the vision of Miranda fading under the surface of the water suddenly invigorated Jeez as he knew that he needed to do something. Making up his mind, Jeez got up and exited the Chamber. Walking quickly, Jeez headed down a hallway as he made for the hangar where his Jedi Starfighter was being kept.


Memories of several visions flooded Jeez’s mind as he headed for the Hangar. He remembered the vision of Windu trying to kill Miranda while he struggled in his convictions as a Jedi. He also remembered Miranda’s descriptions of her dreams, and Jeez began to pick up his pace towards the hangar. Before long, Jeez was running very quickly through the halls. Going past a lot of other Jedi, Jeez did his best to weave through them without running into them.


Finally, Jeez made it to the Hangar entrance and headed inside. Heading over to his Starfighter, Jeez started to jump into the cockpit whenever he remembered that he needed to open the bay doors for the fighter to get out. Stopping, Jeez then turned and headed to the console to open the door. Punching in the code, Jeez then turned back around only to see Master Windu sitting on his fighter. With his heart skipping a beat, Jeez froze where he was.


“Going somewhere, Padawan?” Windu stated with emphasis on “Padawan”.


“I’ve felt it before, Master. Miranda is in trouble,” Jeez stated while breathing a bit hard from the running.


“Well, I think that it’s rather strange that none of the Jedi Council have felt what you’ve felt. Don’t you think so?” Windu stated.


“Look, with all due respect Master, you just wouldn’t understand my situation,” Jeez stated urgently.


“Oh really? Tell me, Padawan, exactly why wouldn’t I understand your situation?” Windu demanded as he got up from his position on the Starfighter.


Jeez’s heart skipped a beat yet again as he realized exactly what Windu had stated.


“Your silence speaks for you, Padawan. You love Miranda. There is no more denying it any longer. No more hiding it from the Council or the rest of the Jedi Order. You are in love, and that is one of the most dangerous situations any Jedi could face,” Windu stated as he waited for Jeez to reply. However, Jeez remained silent as he knew that Windu was telling the truth.


“As you seem to be finding out, love is a dangerous path. Already, it has clouded your judgment. It has made you reckless and vulnerable. So, without any more lies, tell me the truth,” Windu stated.


Thinking for a moment, Jeez then looked at Windu and replied, “You don’t understand because you don’t know what the experience is. You’re just like the rest of the Jedi: a group of people that desire to do good for others without understanding love. You have compassion and sympathy, but since you haven’t experienced love, you cannot empathize with them nor can you ever fully recognize yourself among them. You stand there and judge me for something that you’ve never experienced because of your fear of it. I stand here in response to what I’ve seen through my experience, and I am not afraid of my experience.”


“Then we have come to a crossroads, my friend. Here we stand affirm on our separate grounds, but I stand in your way. I will always be here unless you take action, Jeez. Does it come down to us crossing each other and our sabers?” Windu stated.


Jeez was then well aware that Windu had thrown down an invisible gauntlet. The only way Jeez was going to be able to reach Miranda would be for him to fight Master Windu. Jeez thought about that for a moment. For years, Jeez had known Mace Windu both as a mentor and a close friend. They had fought together, and they had saved each other’s lives on multiple occasions. Jeez remembered every single situation and realization dawned on him.


For the first time, Jeez noticed that he was very tightly gripping his lightsaber in his right hand. Relaxing his grip, Jeez knew that just as he could not attack Mace Windu, Jeez could not abandon the Order on the basis of a vision. Tears began to well up in his eyes, and Jeez closed them tightly as he hung his head. In his mind, Jeez could once again see Miranda fading from view, and somehow, Jeez knew that it was the last time he would see her again.



Copyright 2006 by stingerhs All Rights Reserved

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