To Press One’s Luck – February 2003

Ginna Wilcoxen and Dana Terry

Xanatos left Tara's rooms. Nothing had gone the way he had expected it and worse ... it was getting worse. He needed to get out of the house, needed to think, find a way to release some of his pent up anger. Maybe if he did something productive. He headed down the corridor and watched as Alida stepped out of Nyssa's room.

"Lord Du'Cruet." Alida watched as he walked past her. He didn't stop to talk to her or even acknowledge her. Striding toward him, she closed the distance quickly. She could feel the pure anger as it rolled off of him in waves as she came up next to him. "Lord Du'Cruet."

Xanatos ignored her as his personal guards stepped back away from him. "What do you wish, Master D'med?" His voice was almost a growl.

"First, drop that title," she said, her voice even. "Second, you're going to the marketplace, are you not?"

"I'm heading in the direction of the town, the marketplace might be where I will end up."

"Amazingly, so am I." Alida looked up at him. "You're going to terrify the villagers and the merchants."

He looked at her sideways. "You are free to walk where you will."

She shrugged. "When was the last time you were in the marketplace?"

"A few months ago. What does that have to do with anything?"

"Because you're going in now, looking like some avenging deity... not exactly the reassuring planetary leader. I know you're... upset. Force, I can feel it. Everyone here can feel it. Between the situation on Arridor, Darana Cairnfell, Alzoc... you're letting it affect you."

"What do you expect me to do, throw a party? Jinn has disappointed me, she didn't keep me informed."

"I expect you to act like you've got some control over yourself." Alida frowned.

"YOU expect. I'm to measure up to what you want?" Xanatos looked at her. "Typical Jedi reaction."

She shook her head. "You're not to measure up to anything I want... you ask what I expect... the Xanatos I've come to know over the past few months seems to have disappeared. The one I would expect to stay in control of his anger is losing ground to the Xanatos I learned of as a child."

"The Xanatos I used to be would have evicted that bitch long ago."

"I said one was losing ground to the other, not that the old had won."

Xanatos took in a breath. "If you wish to talk, we can go to the Governor's office. I know he's at home."

"That's up to you," she said. "I wouldn't mind talking."

"I'm sure you wouldn't. Then the Governor's Office it is." He whirled on the guards. "Return to the house, you aren't needed."

"My Lord," one stated.

"I SAID return."

"We will fall back, My Lord, but Lord Alderson made it clear that you are not to be without protection," the guard insisted.

"Lord Alderson isn't here." Xanatos growled, but watched as the grounds held their ground. "Very well, what authority do I have anyway?"

"Cairnfell is gone?" Alida questioned once the guards dropped back.

"Lord Alderson is seeing her off."

"I see."

"Then he is retrieving Jinn." Xanatos smiled at the thought of having her in his hands, if anyone should feel his anger it was the spawn of his former master.

"Kyrsk," Alida corrected.

Xanatos smiled. "Whatever name she goes by, she is still a JINN and a Jedi. More so, she still thinks like one."

"Why do you say that?" she asked

Xanatos continued to walk. "I will discuss no more in public." He pulled his anger around him, brooding as he walked.

She followed silently, radiating calm.

He glanced back once in a while, checking on the guards. He headed for the Governors office, the door opening at his approach. He waited until Alida entered, then shut the door behind them with the Force, locking the guards out.

She stood, her arms over her chest, watching him, biting back a comment about using the Force for trivial matters. "Lord Alderson will not be pleased you've cut the guards off."

Xanatos walked over to the window and watched as people moved toward the market place. "They're outside ... I have nothing to fear from you ... after all you're .... property, just as I am, aren't you?"

"Cairnfell's comment upset you."

"Of course it upset me!" he whirled. "I know how and why I'm still alive. I don't need an Imperial puppet to tell me that."

"Then why do you let it bother you? Words, nothing more, Lord Du'Cruet. She is as much property as you or I, only she does not seem to recognize that."

"That puppet destroyed ships and men! Captain Wilson's ship was lost, what his condition is ... is unknown at this moment ... 19 ships, Alida, 19 SHIPS! Do you know how Arridor will view this?"

"As a costly battle fought on their behalf," she said, walking toward him. "Do you think this is the first time so many have been lost over a world? Especially a world so 'ripe for the picking' as Arridor? New to the galactic arena, suffering from a deadly disaster..."

"All because transmissions were intercepted, transmissions that shouldn't have been sent. I agreed to her Master Skywalker ... trusted her judgment."

"Why shouldn't they have been sent?" she asked. "She was doing as you requested, keeping you informed."

Xanatos looked at her. "Then tell me, Alida, how does 1 Jedi turn into 40?"

"When that one Jedi makes assumptions and acts on them without notifying the other party." She shook her head. "Come now, Lord Du'Cruet. Even the Jedi of our time were prone to such things."

"Yes, and Master Qui- Gon as well as Master Tahl were known for interfering where they weren't wanted." Xanatos' voice dripped.

"She's of his line, she is NOT her grandfather."

"She has not renounced the Jedi Order, the fact she accepted help, the fact she did not request it from Shardakour, Off World or me, speaks volumes." Xanatos turned on her. "I am many things, Alida D'med, deaf is not one of them. I WILL NOT allow myself to be betrayed by a WOMAN, especially one that is to SERVE ME."

"Let me ask you a simple question, Lord Du'Cruet." Alida faced him. "When you received notice of the Jedi, what did you do? I do not see Octavia waiting for any length of time before telling them to stay away. So, how long did YOU know about the Jedi before you told her to turn them back?"

"A few days ... perhaps."

"Then she had no reason to believe you had any argument with the change in plans, did she?"

"She is still responsible, as I am in sending her. SHE had no right to assume."

"Yes, she is responsible for contacting the Jedi. She was also responsible in notifying you of their changes, wasn't she?" Alida asked. "How can you hold her responsible for the actions of a Sith like Darana Cairnfell?"

Xanatos stared out the window in silence. "She will answer that when she gets here, Alida, as well as for her reasons to contact the Jedi in the first place." He turned his dark blue eyes toward her. "Her loyalty will be stated she will prove it ... or..." a dark smile crossed his face. "She will know what it is like to be in our situation."

"Her loyalty has been stated," she said. "Which is why I told you when she went to Yavin that if she were to stay, it wouldn't have been by her choice. Do you distrust her, Lord Du'Cruet?"

"Let's say at this point the trust is a thin line."

"Why should she trust you?" Alida asked. "Tell me that, Lord Du'Cruet. You *appointed* her and sent her off, knowing full well she was not ready for this. You had the training, Xanatos Du'Cruet, you know she did not. Did you sit and explain to Octavia *everything* that would be required of her? Somehow, I doubt it... after all, that took years to pound into your head... she wasn't even here when you appointed her, she was already in the field."

"YES, I explained to her what would be required, fortunately she didn't need things pounded into her head." Xanatos hissed. "She accepted it the position with the responsibility. SHE also took on the responsibility of the Jedi and anything that would happen to Arridor."

"Forgive me, Lord Du'Cruet. I did not realize you had time to test her knowledge and her skills."

"TEST!" Xanatos voice dropped. "This is real life, Alida, not some lesson at the Temple. You get as much information as you can and do what you can. I let her go without establishing a link to her, that is my fault. BUT she knew the Empire could and would be watching her. After all that was the reason for her remaining wasn't it ... the line she used in explaining her decision. Her heart is Jedi and that IS a dangerous place for it."

"Yes, it *is* real life, LORD Du'Cruet. And in real life, we don't let someone go off to practice what they THINK they might know in theory," she said, glaring up at him. "As for her being Jedi... don't you think she had serious reservations about any of that after Yavin?"

"I do not know what she is thinking, but I will ... I WILL know all she thinks soon enough."

Alida shook her head. "I see."

"YOU see what?" Xanatos hissed.

"I see a very angry, very dark man," she said. "I see someone Octavia will still face, regardless of that, because she *is* honorable and, for who knows what reason, I believe she does trust you."

"Let's hope she is honorable, Alida, because if she's not there, if she gives any resistance she will have reason to fear me more than trust."

"She is honorable," Alida repeated. "With all she has done for you, after all you have done to her in the past, you question that? It is you who needs to learn to trust."

Xanatos stared at her. "THAT depends on Octavia, though knowing her reaction in the past, I expect you had better brush up on your healing."

She shook her head. "Always physical violence, is that your answer to things?"

"I've never been passive, Alida. Do not expect that of me now."

"That doesn't mean you have to be violent."

"Perhaps," he rested his hands on the sill. "Look at the market place.... look at the damage."

Alida joined him by the window. "Those people down there trust you. They need to see you calm and in control now. The Darkness that pours off you right now... even if they're not Force sensitive, they may still feel something. It will disquiet them, worry them... give them cause to fear. Show them your strength, Xanatos, not your weakness. Give them something -- someone -- to put their faith in."

Xanatos turned and looked at her. "Why do you care how they view me?"

"Because I care about them," she said. "Why shouldn't I care?"

Xanatos looked out the window. "Because of Arridor, I know Octavia intervened where the Captain was concerned. But you… you have no reason to care what happens to me."

"Are you really that stubborn and thickheaded?" she asked. "Why would I want you to fail? These people have done well under your leadership. You have a wife, children on the way, a life most would be envious of."

Xanatos pulled his darkness around him, masking it as his thoughts went to Christine ... "And just as many people wish to destroy. I will listen to Octavia, Alida, but that is all I promise."

She looked up at him. "That's all I ask, Lord Du'Cruet. That you listen."

"I'm going to check the damage. Coming?"

She nodded. "Of course."

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