Hello My Lady

By Dora Furlong and Phaedra Whitlock

The Valassian body was now healed. Darana was pleased. She hated
relying on her human body...it seemed frail...somehow weak to her.
She smiled baring her fangs to the world. Once more she felt strong
and powerful. Ready for the fight to come. Fiery red eyes had
snapped the challenge to the leaders of the Rose supporters. "Rose
is Dead and I have Matthews. Deal with me!" She had told them. It
was a twist they had not expected and Darana counted on that. They
had no idea what they were about to be hit with.

She entered her office and began to assume a combat stance. She had
not sensed anyone's presence, nor did the house or security register
any alerts or intrusions.

Slowly the person in her chair turned their attention away from the
window to her. A smile crept across Darana's face as she relaxed her
stance, "Hello My Lady."

"Darana," Raven rose from the seat and smiled as she did only to her
few close friends, not often enough. "It is good to see you."

Her head dipped taking in the style of dress and motion as she came
around the desk. A quick grin at odds with her formality came and
went. "You seem to be pleased today, the House is functioning
smoothly? You have an hour or two free?"

Darana shook her head, "I'm sorry. I have little time right now.
Serris was kidnapped and we have just located her." She paused her
voice trailing off. It was good to see Raven again and they had so
much to catch up on. "It's been too long. Look...if you're up for a
fight...we could use the help and it would provide some time for us
to talk."

"Of course. I'll call Wilder from the air, or meet you en route." She
stopped, fingers stroking the cool surface of the desk reflexively
to still her inner doubts. Perhaps it would be best they didn't
discuss... Her mind shied away, and came to rest on Darana's
features, above her own. "That is, how far away is she being held?"

Immediately Darana was concerned for the Princess. Of Course, there
must have been a reason for her to show up on her doorstep
unannounced like that. More likely that it wasn't just a surprise
visit on the Lady Palpatine's part. Darana's brows furrowed, Her
voice was low and quiet as she spoke, "Rendezvous is half a day's
travel...The meet takes place tomorrow mid day....Raven," She
started, "Is there something..." She paused, not wanting to intrude
upon the other woman's privacy.

"Of course not." She made certain to say the words while holding
Darana's gaze. A mild lie, not really a lie at all. But she did need
help. It could keep. She swung around to pick up her cloak and
settle it over her shoulders with fluffing motions. Darana deserved
better than that, she knew, and turned back.

"Nothing terrible at least. Possibly even good, I don't know yet.
But the servitors can watch the children until Sam returns. She's
spending the night in the capital." Her face softened slightly. "I
didn't know about Serris, I'm sorry. You know if she has been hurt,
you have my utmost cooperation, and assurances punishment will be

Darana bowed her head slightly. Grateful that Raven had not withheld
the truth. The two of them knew each other far better than that.
"Thank you My Lady." She rose and caught Raven's gaze once more, "I
will do everything within my power should you deem the," she paused,
looking for an appropriate word for an unknown circumstance,"'event'
less than acceptable."

Raven shook her head and smiled. "Serris is yours, I know you take
care of your own, I'd only like to help. You'll want to arrive early
to scout the location, and set up your people."

Darana nodded, "I have already sent an advance team to scout the
area." She moves aside allowing Raven to pass by her. "We are
mobilizing to get our strike teams in position early. Before Major
Rose's supporters notice the." Almost forgetting why she had
returned to her office in the first place, Darana paused and grabbed
the comm link off of her desk. She turned and grinned at Raven,
"Can't forget this."

Raven chuckled, and stood in the door. "No you cannot. And I can
show you my latest baby pictures on the way."

She had almost forgotten that Raven had triplets. "They must be
what...three or four at least by now? You also said Sam was back? Is
that true?" Darana thought back to the trouble she and Raven had
gotten into over and because of Sam. In fact it was Samantha
Connelly who had 'captured' Darana and turned her over to the
Alliance. Not that Sam hadn't done the right thing...the Emperor had
ordered Sam to be in the Alliance and Darana and Raven had tried to
get her out and out and put her into a boarding school. It had
back fired and at the last minute the sixteen year old Sam pulled
Darana onto the Alliance shuttle and took her prisoner.

Raven led the way through the hall in step with Darana's controlled
grace. "Three, and yes. She's been helping me take care of them.
They seem to respond to her..." And Sam responded to them. It was a
problem, her sister was old enough to have children of her own. Sam
wasn't a lesbian, of that she was certain, but Sam's near fanatical
quiet avoidance of men in any romantic fashion, any emotional
fashion at all, was bothering her. Far more than it did Sam.

Darana led the way to the waiting craft, while she relayed the
latest stories from Sam on her sons. In so many ways it was easier
to let Sam mother them than to touch the small lives with her own.
And hard to reach out after so long alone with herself.

The trip up to the Topaz would be relatively short as the Star
Destroyer awaited her arrival just outside the planets orbit. So
Darana settled into the shuttles seat and quietly listened as Raven
related the most recent trials of raising three strong willed force
sensitives. There was a hint of sadness behind her words. Darana
noted Raven's continued use of "we" and wondered to whom the we
referred..her late husband, Lord Vordis, now missing in Action and
presumed dead, or to Samantha. Or perhaps Darana read more into the
statement than was there. She doubted it though, there was much the
Emperor's daughter had to keep locked away. 

As they navigated the planetary security systems, Raven excused
herself to make arrangements for her own household in the next few
days. Cancellation of appearances and meetings, rescheduling those
that were the most pressing, delegating a proxy to those that
required it. Recording holomessages of regret to be sent out. As she
keyed the last for transmission she reflected not for the first time
on very different her life had become.


The Bridge of the Topaz bustled with quiet efficiency as the crew
performed final system's checks before the jump to hyperspace.
Darana gave the order to get underway and left the bridge. It was
best not to interfere with her personnel.i They knew thief jobs and
they knew them well. It was her turn to sit and wait and patience
was not one of her better virtues.

"I hate this." She told Raven on their way to her quarters, "The
wait, it's awful. But," She smiled, "it will give us a chance to
talk. So what was it you came to see me about?"

"Advice. A second opinion. I don't know which yet. It is...
complicated. And not something I can discuss with many." Raven
stepped past a trio of officers into the turbolift and clasped her
hands loosely, they were cold. "I'm not certain I can discuss it
with anyone, it is a little frightening."

Darana hit the button for the residence level and waited for the
doors to close before turning to Raven. "That seems to be the way
our lives go these days. I will what I can for you."

Raven smiled, "I never doubted that. But it isn't quite so easy. I
keep wondering how secure the Topaz really is. I can't seem to help
it. Daniel and (Kyra?) showed that our enemies can reach us no
matter where we are. Even the Palace. But the Palace is such an
obvious target. I don't know. I don't know... I'm procrastinating.
When will you hear from your advance teams?"

"We haven't had a major breach of security since those times...They
were," Darana paused, "interesting to say the least. It's not like
you to procrastinate Raven." She stepped through the door and headed
down the hall. "But still if you prefer..."She switched from
vocalized communications to the Telepathic touch that now came so
naturally to her, 

Raven nodded, carefully arranging her thoughts behind her shields
before replying and followed Darana into the hall. 

 In an agony of indecision Raven
speeded up. 

Darana picked her pace up, falling into the smooth gate Raven now
set.  If he was even a force user at all, he
could be rebel or have rebel sympathies. It could also be he simply
wanted his life to be calm and quiet, not harried by the life of an
Imperial Royal. Darana furrowed her brows as she reached the door to
her quarters. She feared that if the man in question were a Force
User or a Rebel Sympathizer then it was possible Raven was be being
used. Darana did not want to see Raven hurt that way. Darana became
very concerned. Raven was right, it wasn't as easy as that. 

We have not discussed the Force. I haven't even told him who I am.>
But he knew, and she knew, that he'd seen past her mind tricks and
let her sit at his table anyway.

Inside the quarters, Raven unhooked her cloak and draped it in her
lap to sit, collapse, into one of the seats. "Darana, Anelis ordered
me killed once before. Eventually she'll find out. I've tried to
keep it quiet but secrets don't last. And it wasn't like this with
Vordis. You were married, what was it like?"

She considered the question. It seemed like eons ago, a different
life time altogether, when she had been married. She closed her eye
remembering, reliving it. The little things came to her first, the
way he would dip his head just before he laughed or the certain way
he would hold his fork. Then the larger things their escape from the
Coruscant the night of the coup, the way he had protected her when
the mercenaries captured her on Avalon. The way she had come to care
for him. It was all there locked away.

"It was...bitter sweet..." her voice trailed off, "At first it was
convenient for both of us....but then...well when the Emperor
ordered me into the Alliance...I truly cared for him." Darana sat in
a chair next to Raven's. "Times were openly dangerous then, not like
they are now where it is all covert and politic. It was better that
he left with his family." She was unable to meet Raven's eyes, lost
in memories and emotion. She had never truly admitted to anyone how
painful the loss of her husband had been for her.

Bittersweet, that she understood for the things she had lost and not
thought about in years, but did now. The taste of the breeze on her
face and sound of her mother's voice across the water. Her son.
Wincing at the pain her eyes jerked open and she breathed deeply.

Darana was the closest friend she had, perhaps the only friend, she
laid her cloak across the table and rose to fetch drinks. 

 Darana agreed. 
Darana laughed at the irony as she accepted the glass of blood from
Raven."Here's to Life."

"And vengeance." She touched her glass to Darana's and sat back to

Darana nodded, "Vengeance." It was a nice avoidance Raven had
managed. Most likely he was at the very least a sensitive. 

Raven doubted that would be a problem, and now that she could think
clearly again it was only a matter of deciding how to minimize and
maximize results in her favor. Still, he had to know who she was,
why HAD he let her stay in his life this far, rather than

She nodded and continued sipping evenly. 

 She had avoided mentioning
Kylie or Rachel, Rachel, Darana knew, did not belong there and
Kylie, well that was a different matter altogether. she reached for
Raven's glass and went to refresh their drinks.

Without the glass Raven regarded Darana's retreating back

Darana's heart skipped a beat. Not sure how to reply,  She smiled
to herself as she poured the amber liquid into Raven's glass, it was
more complicated than that, but it was true.  She turned and held
Raven's gaze, 

There was no easy way to reply to that. The Emperor and the Third
Circle demanded loyalty and obedience, and it was likely to be true.
For several minutes Raven drank and considered her options, letting
the alcohol warm her. The wisest course would be to stop now, do
nothing to make Darana's prediction come true. But as usual, it
wasn't as easy as that. "Have you spoken to Sam since her
return to Coruscant?" 

Darana settled herself back down into the chair and smiled uneasily,
"No I haven't. I wasn't aware she had returned." She stared down at
the glass she held,  She asked, almost afraid to hear the

Raven adjusted her angle towards Darana. "Oh yes. Several months
ago. She's enrolled in classes and of course, the children take up
a lot of her time. I know she hasn't been out very much beyond those
occasions. This evening at the Capital will be the first in a long
while. A bit of a surprise actually. I hope it does her some good,
Wilder will have a report ready when I return."

Darana nodded, trying to calm her thoughts. "Of course, it will be
good for her to get out." Sam was no longer the sixteen year old
ward full of questions and surprises. She was older and most likely
more cynical now. The Jedi had done little to help the young girl.
Darana doubted Hawkwood's death and Dral's disappearance helped
matters any either.  She stopped, trying to
remember the history and yet not wanting to remember either.It was
all so difficult and confusing now. Sam had touched everyone's life
back then. It was never easy where she was concerned. That was
probably why the Emperor had ordered his ward into the Alliance all
those years ago.

Darana nodded, not taking her eyes off the glass, "She deserves that
much." She sipped at the blood, for a bit.  Darana
went on considering the possibilities, finally she shhrugged and
looked up at Raven. It showed in her eyes how much this meant to
her. Darana sighed and finsihed her drink, 

I don't know either, she may not even agree but I will try to
persuade her. At least *you* can reassure her there are no yeti
loose in your halls...>

Darana chuckled. Baron Blacky had provided some interesting

Raven smiled with satisfaction. Soon they would have the exchange
completed and be on their way home. Sam would listen and eventually
give in, and there would be one less loose end to deal with.

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