By: Ginna Wilcoxen, Amanda Wilcoxen, Dana TerryPart 1

This takes place during the Shardakour Dinner end of September

Formal dinners. Alida kept herself from sighing as she glanced toward her Padawan. While the exercise in diplomatic relations was good for Medenna, this was perhaps not the best time for them to be away from Yavin.

Medenna seemed to be handling herself quite well, wandering from group to group, listening, paying attention to her surroundings without appearing to be overly alert. Alida was pleased. She sent a wave of approval toward the teen as she mingled.

Her gaze fell upon Xanatos DuCruet, where he was talking with other guests. He looked over at Alida. She met his gaze squarely as she shielded her emotions from him.

He bowed to her, rising with a smile. She returned the greeting with the barest incline of her head at the man, knowing her Padawan was aware of the surprise Alida felt at seeing DuCruet among the guests.

Xanatos excused himself from the ones he was talking to and walked over to Alida. "Master D'med, what a pleasure to see you again."

"DuCruet." Alida took in his appearance, noting the absence of any weaponry. "What an unexpected surprise."

"I'm sure it is." Xanatos looked around. "So how do you find Shardakour?"

"A hospitable planet."

"That it is, though some find the heat uncomfortable. I see you brought your young apprentice along. I hope she is enjoying the trip as well."

Alida's eyes strayed toward Medenna, then back to Xanatos. She decided to ignore his comment about Medenna. "The heat is tolerable."

Xanatos smiled. "Don't worry, I'm not going to attack the young one."

"You'll understand if I take your promises with a large grain of salt, DuCruet."

"Of course, but I will do nothing to bring shame on the Alderson house while I'm here, and you are guests." He glanced over at some foliage. "So, how is your former Padawan? Daroa, wasn't that her name, and Octavia?"

"I have not had contact with them in a while."

"Ah, such independence."

A waiter passed by with a tray of drinks. Alida selected a slender glass of sparkling wine. "As Jedi were trained to be."

Xanatos took a drink as well. "Really, I thought they were trained to submit to the Council." He kept his voice calm.

"Submit?" she asked. "An interesting choice of words."

Xanatos smiled. "I remember how Qui-Gon didn't like going before them. They were ... so restricting."

"Never without cause."

"In their opinion, I'm sure."

"You were far from the model Padawan."

"Perhaps, but Qui-Gon was far from the model Master." Xanatos looked over at the other guests. "Be honest, Master D'med, you would rather have me in a cell or dead."

"I would never wish death upon any, not even my greatest enemy," she said. Alida took a sip of her drink. "Be honest with me, Xanatos. You know you have no right to be here, that what you did is deserving of imprisonment."

"What I did?" Xanatos questioned. "True, I did kill Rionni, but that is hardly enough to imprison me forever. As for my rights, I have every right to be here."

"That wasn't all you did."

"Ah, the attack on Octavia, you still hold that against me?" Xanatos shook his head. "That is really between me and her."

"And the attack on Kaliandra?" she asked, her hold on her glass tightening slightly.

"I make no apologizes Master D'med, the Jedi and I are not exactly friends." he looks at her and her grip. "The glass will shatter if you keep that up."

She gave him a tight smile. "Because you are not a friend of the Jedi is no reason to attack."

"For me it was," Xanatos hissed.

She arched her eyebrow. "And what did you gain by doing that?"

"Unfortunately, nothing at the time. If I had gained anything you wouldn't be here." He paused. "And your former apprentice and Octavia Jinn would not be in the hands of the Empire."

Her jaw clenched a brief moment. "What do you know of that?"

"I know they were on Telos spying, and the late Governor Brimmer turned them over to the Empire."

"You say you 'know' they were spying. Do you have proof of such an accusation?"

Xanatos smiled. "I know what Brimmer had in ways of surveillance. They didn't announce themselves as Jedi, instead as investors. Investors in my labs." Xanatos' eyes narrow. "What interest do the Jedi, especially those two, have in the labs?"

"Perhaps they wanted to know what interest you had in them."

Xanatos chuckled. "That is no secret. It's named after me, it's on Telos, surely even the Jedi can add two and two."

"You misunderstand me, DuCruet. I meant your interest in them -- Jinn and Daroa."

"I have no interest in your Padawan-turned-Knight." Xanatos grinned. "As for Jinn, she knows my interest in her."

"You'd have her dead because of the blood that runs through her veins." Alida shook her head. "At best, a sad attempt at revenge, Xanatos."

Xanatos shrugged his shoulders. "For now, I'm past that. She has other concerns right now, and I'm not one of them."

"And just what is it you are doing now?"

"Now?" Xanatos questioned. "I'm busy with governing Telos, as well as Off World, not to mention my upcoming wedding and birth of my children."

Alida was taken aback. "I see."

Xanatos smiled, knowing that Alida was shocked. "I hope you found the dinner enlighten."

"With such stimulating company, how could it be otherwise?" she asked, regaining her equilibrium quickly.

"I hope to be able to introduce you to Christine, she is quite amazing."

"Christine is your bride-to-be, I take it?"

"Yes, she's a remarkable woman." He finished his glass and looked at Alida. "Can I get you another drink, Master D'med?"

"No, thank you," she answered. "Christine must be a remarkable woman if she is to be wed to you."

Xanatos smiled "Do I sense a hint of sarcasm?"

"Only if you wish to."

"Ah, I have forgotten how much the Jedi skirt the issue, never say what they want to, because it is bad for their image."

"I apologize," Alida said, looking directly at him. "I was fairly certain you knew how I felt about you and what you have done."

"And what would you like to see done with me?" Xanatos asked.

"You belong in a cell, not here, planning a wedding."

Xanatos chuckled. "I'm sure there are many who share that opinion."

"And you believe we are wrong?"

"Of course, you just don't' understand me or my goals. And you won't give me the benefit of the doubt."

"I am in no rush at the moment." Alida walked a few paces to an empty chair and sat down, her robes flowing out around her. "Explain your goals to me."

Xanatos took a seat across from her. "To control Telos, as it always has been."

"Why must you control Telos? You were raised a Jedi, you know better than most why power should not be desired."

"I was not raised a Jedi, my father was convinced to send me to the temple."

"And you were not raised in the crèche? Did you not train with the other initiates? Did you not hope and long for the day when you would be chosen as a Padawan?"

"I was already chosen when I left Telos, Qui-Gon had already chosen me."

"You had the same choices available to you as did any other. We were not forced to remain at the Temple."

"I didn't, I went back home to my father, and there watched my Master kill my father." He kept his tone low.

"You watched your Master protect a planet," she said simply.

"I watched a Jedi commit murder and get praised for it."

"You see things as you want to see them."

"Just as you do," Xanatos countered.

"You're still so full of anger toward Master Jinn, even though he has been dead these many years."

"You never get use to seeing your father die before your eyes, can you tell me you're not upset at the idea of other Jedi dying and you were unable to stop it."

"I felt my Master die. I felt the deaths of many I was close to. Every Jedi who still drew breath at the time felt the death of the children in the crèche. Does that upset me? Yes, of course it does. Does it anger me? No. Anger will serve no purpose. It is in the past. As much as I would have liked to have been able to keep that from happening, I was unable to. It is my job now to see that such a thing does not happen again."

"Perhaps the time of the Jedi have passed," Xanatos suggested.

"The time for those who are called to serve the Force will never pass."

"A noble gesture."

"And one you do not believe in."

"I believe in loyalty, Master D'med, loyalty to one's family."

"Even if what they are doing is wrong? The Jedi were your family. Your father gave you to the Jedi, you weren't stolen in the night."

"What am I doing that is so wrong, Master D'med?"

"It is what you have done. What you do in the future has yet to be seen."

Xanatos smiled. "The future is always in motion."

"That it is." She took a sip of her drink. "I'm sure you realize that what you do in the future will be carefully scrutinized."

"By you?"

"Does that bother you?"

Xanatos chuckled. "No, I don't answer to the Jedi. Or to you."

"As you've reminded me, you do not consider the Jedi your friends."

"No, I don't." Xanatos smiled. "Any more than the Jedi would consider me a friend."

Alida was quiet for a few long moments. "It doesn't have to be that way."

Xanatos gave a dry laugh.

"Why do you find that so amusing?"

"I find it so, because you know you and I are on opposite sides. Always will be."

"Didn't you just say that the future is always in motion?"

"Perhaps, but I don't ever see the Jedi or me seeing eye to eye."

"Not on any issue?"

"I doubt it."

"You have children on the way. You might find some of your beliefs and opinions changing."

"I see only one thing for sure, Master D'med, is that my children will never be sent away from me."

"Our parents did what they thought was best for us at the time. You will do the same for your children if you love them."

Xanatos looked at her. "You wish to bring the old ways back don't you?"

"I would prefer it, yes, but I was referring to doing what it best for your children."

"If the Jedi return to the old ways, no child is safe."

"Parents were never under duress to give their children to the Jedi. You make it seem as if the Masters dragged them out of their mother's arms against their will."

"Who would dare go against the Jedi?" Xanatos scoffed. "Even my father listened to them, though it pained him."

"Many refused," she said. "I was on many of those missions with my Master. Your father did what he thought was best, at the time. Do you not have memories as I do of parents returning for their children, still in the crèche? It was rare, but it did happen."

Xanatos waved his arm. "Regardless, to push that on the people now is unfair don't you think?"

"Why unfair?"

"Your time, the ways you lived with, are long past. You hang onto them like a security blanket."

Alida finished her drink. "The ways I lived with -- the ways *you* lived with worked for thousands of years."

Xanatos sat back and looked at his drink. "They did come to an end, if I remember history, there was a thing called the Purge."

Her eyes narrowed, indicating that he had hit a sore spot with her. "There have been other difficulties the Jedi have had to face. The Order is growing."

"You still have an opposing force, Master D'med, I believe it's called the Empire. Tell me, how do you think your two Jedi will fare in the Emperor's hands?"

"They will do as well as their training has prepared them for."

Xanatos shook his head. "Then I mourn your loss."


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