Date: Monday, May 13, 2002 9:15 PM *Tara!?* Octavia replied in shock.. *My, my. A Jedi wanted for murder.* Tara's voice resounded in Octavia's mind. *We committed no murder, and I will find the proof I need to clear our names.* Octavia replied quickly. Her tone was sharper than she wanted it to be, but she didn't have time for this. *What, then, did you do?* *We came here looking for another Jedi, and stumbled onto Force users being taken. Why are you here? To gloat along with your Imperial scientist?* Octavia questioned. *My reasons are my own ... Force users are taken? For what reason and by whom?* Octavia took in a breath and calmed herself. For whatever side Alderson sided herself with, she was a woman who had a sense of honor, Octavia had felt that before when she met her. *I don't know the full reason for it. I only know it has something to do with Lexor and HIM!* Octavia stated. *I think they were used to help Xanatos in some way.* *Xanatos? The labs?* *Yes, him. He should be dead by all rights, from all I learned. But he's very much alive and they are responsible for the deaths. NOT us.* Octavia's tone changed slightly. *Who's with you?* *My daughter,* came the simple reply. A dark presence was soon felt by both Octavia and Tara, intruding on their 'conversation'. Tara reacted naturally to the darkness, she herself being dark. She also felt a slight dread from Octavia. Octavia turned in the corridor, expecting to see Xanatos standing there. The hall was clear, but his presence was strong in her mind. *I would suggest you keep her close then.* Octavia tried to turn her attention back toward her task at hand, yet the presence only worked harder to distract her. *Always ..* Tara placed herself directly in its path, giving Octavia the breathing room she needed to clear her mind. *I have no quarrel with you,* the voice said. *Ahh, but you invaded my privacy, I dare say you do.* The presence felt. . . amused. *Brave little mouse.* Tara smiled to herself, but said nothing. *I have an execution to plan. This one's. * *This one? This one is claimed by the Emperor, what right do you have to deny him?* *I worry about the rights of no one but myself.* *Apparently not even your own life.* Laughter echoed in their minds. Octavia wondered who or what was worse, Xanatos or the Emperor. Tara rolled her eyes; overly dramatic dark lords were nothing new. Xanatos backed away. He was aware of them and that was all that he cared about. Tara did not pursue anything further. She would find out what she needed to. Tara went to her room, followed by Victoria. and looked up at Topaz. Topaz raised his eyebrows at her approach. "We are visiting the labs early." "Why?" "Something interesting is happening." Topaz picked up his heavy blaster... "How interesting?" he asked in a business-like tone.. "A potential traitor to the Empire." "I see." She knew that was not what he meant. ~*~*~ "Good evening, Jedi," came a voice from behind her. Octavia turned and stared at the owner of the voice. Xanatos stood there, flanked by guards. He smiled wickedly. Instinctively she moved her hand, allowing the Force to send the guards backward, some knocking Xanatos off his feet. Turning, she fled down the corridor. She silently cursed the distraction from Tara, now any evidence that she might have gotten was closed to her. *Alida, you'll have to check his office. I've been discovered.* *Get to the forest, Octavia,* the older Jedi called. Xanatos growled at the guards' clumsiness. He gave pursuit she would not escape him this time. She would bow before him and beg. *I'm sorry, Alida ..* Octavia sent. *I was distracted.* *Just go, Octavia. Force be with you.* Xanatos flew down the corridor. The woman wouldn't be hard to find, exhaustion painted lines through her Force presence. Octavia could feel the exhaustion threatening to overtake her. She couldn't rest, not yet. Moving, she headed for what she hoped would be a way out of here. Xanatos directed guards toward the exits. She would not escape. Coming upon a door, Octavia opened it to find Tor sitting there. He looked like he had taken a severe beating. "Are you able to walk?" He nodded, climbing painfully to his feet. "Are you alright?" "I'm fine." Octavia leaned against the door. "You have to help Alida. The proof of our innocence is in Xanatos' office." Quickly she explained directions. "Go, please. You have to help her get out of here." "What about you?" he asked, concern lacing his voice. "I'll be fine. I just have to catch my breath." Octavia smiled at him. "They are following me, that will give you time to help her. I'll meet you both in the forest." He nodded. "Be careful," he said as he moved out. Octavia leaned against the door she closed her eyes briefly. Then she turned and moved off toward a new corridor. Freedom -- or at least the forest -- lay not far from where she was. All she had to do was find an open door and make her way outside. Behind her, she heard angry shouts. Masking her presence from them, she continued to move. Her limbs felt like they were on fire. Using the Force to push the pain out of her mind, she moved toward the door that would lead to the outside and freedom. She was so close, so very close when blaster bolts rang out around her, some finding their way to the durasteel wall behind her. Somehow she avoided them. Reaching for the door, she opened it and she could feel the air seeping in. She would rest until Alida found her in the forest. "If she escapes, it'll be your heads Lord DuCruet will demand!" she heard someone shout. Octavia stepped out onto the area that led away from the labs. As she approached the steps, she felt a presence behind her and heard the hum of a saber. She turned slowly and stared at Xanatos. "You are annoying," she cursed. "Am I supposed to be insulted?" he asked, toying with the lightsaber in his hand. Octavia stared at the man before her. Images of a younger boy came to mind; one that was the focus of his master. "What happened to you Xanatos?" she asked softly, watching the saber's movement. "He had such faith in you. Why?" "He never understood the power the Force offers," Xanatos said. "Just like you don't." A light blazed into his eyes. "There is such power there. Don't you feel it?" "Yes, there is power there," she replied. "but it extracts such an awful price. The galaxy has changed since you last walked it. Why not come back and help correct the damage? Why add to it?" He shook his head. "Like the old fool in the prison cells?" "He is the last of an old age." Octavia replied calmly. "You don't have to hang on to that. YOU have a new life, why cling to the old hatreds. Everything that once was is gone. Start a new, let me help you." Octavia didn't know how she knew the information on this man, yet she did. He shook his head. "You're as brainwashed as he is. As I once was. You don't see what the power can do for you." "I've seen the destruction, Xanatos. I've seen the evil of the Emperor, the way is consumes. YOU believed in the code once, why not again?" "Only because I knew no better. Do you think he would approve of you? You will never be his equal." he spat. "Take her to Commander Lexor," he told the guards. "She'll know what to do with her." Octavia used the last bit of the Force she could make contact with and threw the guards away from her. "NO!" she hissed and for a brief instant, Xanatos thought he heard the voice of his old Master mixed in with hers. She turned to jump over the edge of the small balcony/porch area. Once below she would be covered by the trees.
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