Homecoming (Taras at the Hotel)
There was a knock on the outer door.
Zeruah crossed the suite's antechamber and opened the door. She stood in the threshold. "May I help you?" She said in a slow soft voice.
"My name is Gerta Balsa, I believe you wanted to see me." A short
middle aged working class woman was standing in the hall. She was well but plainly dressed. "About Torin Stellas"
"Zeruah, show her in," Mikala called from the sitting room.
Zeruah motioned for the woman to move into the sitting room. She closed
the door and watched the woman carefully, studying her body language.
Mikala was sitting in a large lounge chair by the window. She rose and offered the woman a seat. "Thank you for coming."
Gerta walked into the room without hesitation. Then she paused and looked at Mikala for confirmation.
Lower servant, Zeruah thought, probably with the same family all her life.
Gerta sat rigidly in her chair and waited to be spoken to.
Zeruah took another seat and watched, listening and observing, but not seeing any danger.
"I heard a very interesting story on my way here from the spaceport." Mikala began. "I'd like to hear the rest of it," Mikala says, moving back to her chair.
"What story would that be?" the woman asked.
"About Torin Stellas. There seems to be some disagreement if he is dead or alive." Mikala clarified.
"I believe Master Torin, Sir Torin he should be is alive." Gerta answered.
"And where would he be now if he is alive?"
"I don't know. But I've seen him several times since his parents were murdered." Gerta paused, then she hesitantly finished. "At least I think it was him."
"His parents were murdered?" Mikala asked casually.
"Yes, everyone knows that. Governor Arricar ordered it. He claimed Sir Logan was an important rebel. The Imperial's said they'd killed the whole family. Sir Logan, Lady Maia, Torin, Willa, Lyric, even little Tarna."
"But I saw Master Torin two years later." Gerta continued.
Mikala gave Zeruah a look.
"I think Sir Lon knows where he is." She added.
"What relation is Sir Lon to Torin?" Mikala asked.
"Sir Lon is Torin's uncle, his father's brother."
Mikala nodded and pulled a chain up from around her neck. She unhooked the chain and slipped the ring off it. She handed the ring to the woman. "Have you ever seen this before?"
Gerta looked at the ring. "It's a Stellas signet."
"Those must be pretty common around here."
"This one came form the either Sir Lon's or Sir Logan's household. May I have a piece of paper?"
Mikala nodded to Zeruah.
Zeruah stood up and retrieved a piece of paper and handed it to the woman.
The woman pushed the signet into the paper then studied the mark. "See the demi-quaver. That means its Master Torin's. I remember that he lost it just before the murders. How did you get it."
Mikala stared at her. Up to now, this was just a fool's errand, a whim. She sighed. "How I got it is my own business."
Zeruah watched Mikala. Here was a very important piece of the puzzle now.
Gerta gave Mikala a puzzled look.
"How long ago was it you said you saw Torin?" Mikala asked.
"It would have been about twenty-five, twenty-seven years ago. The first time, if it really was him. He's been back several times over the years." Gerta
"One day Sir Lon went into his study and found Master Torin sitting there. Him and the dark-haired girl." She continued. "I know because Sir Lon had me bring them tea."
"Did you hear any names?" Mikala asked, her voice sounding a bit strained.
"No, only Sir Lon spoke while I was in the room and only to me, but
Master Torin was playing his recorder, like he often did when was just
sitting. He and the girl both wore cloaks, with hoods."
Mikala nodded, turning away. "Has the woman been back with him?"
Mikala nodded again. Then it wasn't her mother. "And you've never heard her name?"
"No, I never heard her name. But I once heard Sir Lon call her M'lady.
And she acted like a high born lady." Fear crossed Gerta's face. "I think
Sir Lon was a little afraid of her."
Mikala raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Yes, at first. I don't think he is any more. And Master Torin wasn't
Mikala nodded. "How long ago was the last time you saw him?"
Gerta thought for a moment. "He was last here a year ago."
"Oh," Mikala said softly. She cleared her throat and held her hand out for the ring.
Gerta returned it.
"Thank you for your time," Mikala said, nodding for Zeruah to pay the
"But I could have missed him. He always surprises the security people."
Zeruah pulled out a substantial quantity of credits, pausing as the
woman continued to talk.
"The first time the house security people were upset. Whoever the man
and woman were they must have had all the codes. They walked right though
all the security systems."
Zeruah paid the woman who took her leave and departed.
Mikala took a slow deep breath. "So he's still alive."
Zeruah nodded. It appears so.
Mikala huffed. "I need to talk to this Sir Lon."
"I do not think it'll be that easy." Zeruah replied.
Mikala nodded, fingering the ring.
"Though the ring may assist us in that." Zeruah suggested.
Mikala looked down at the ring. "But how?"
"It may prove interesting to them to know that you have it." Zeruah
Mikala nodded thoughtfully. "I wonder just how trustworthy that maid
Zeruah considered what she'd seen. "She was honest with us, even if she
was not comfortable."
Mikala nodded. "I picked that up as well. I was just wondering if she
would mention to anyone that she saw the ring. She seemed convinced it was
"She may." Zeruah said. If she does, it may assist us. They would
come looking for it. Then we do not have to look for them."
"Let's give it a day or two," Mikala said, dropping in to the chair
Mikala closed her eyes. "He really does exist." She snorted. "If my
mother didn't lie about him being my father."
Mikala stared out the window of her hotel suite. So, he was real and he was alive. Now the questions were; where was he and was he really her Father?
She fingered the ring she wore on the now mended chain around her neck. She had worn it there as a child until her Mother had ripped it off of her after she had killed her Grandmother. Such a waste, Her Mother hadn't needed to kill her. Mikala didn't understand why she had done it. She had never understood why. Her Grandmother was an old woman. She couldn't put up that much of a fight.
She shook her head and turned her thoughts back to her Father. She smiled a little remembering the fairy tales her Grandmother had spun about him. Maybe her Grandmother had really known more than she had let on. Torin Stellas apparently was some kind of noble even if he was in some kind of exile. She sighed, if he was a noble how was he going to react to a lowborn tramp like her as a daughter? Feelings she couldn't identify let alone understand flooded through her and an ache filled her chest so keenly for a brief moment she wondered if there was something physically wrong with her heart.
A wave of disgust flooded though her and she turned away from the window. What was she doing here? She gave a annoyed snort. What was she expecting of some slobbering noble who was going to think he was to good to acknowledge he had some commoner for a daughter? She didn't need him. She didn't need anybody. She had gotten along just fine on her own this far. It was his fault. It was all his fault, she would make DuCruet pay for what he had done to her. He would rue the day he betrayed her love. Anger flared though her and a glass on the small table beside her shatter with a startling pop.
Mikala Stepped off the elevator. She had spent the day seeing Loradon's sights. The most interesting had been Stellas Memorial Park. It was just a small neighborhood park. But his was named in honor of Torin Stellas and his family.
As she reached the door she felt the presence of some one on the other side of the door. Zureah was getting their meal from the kitchen downstairs. Mikala slipped her vibroshiv out of her boot and slipped it up her sleeve before opening the door to the room.
She heard music as she opened the door. Mikala raised an eyebrow, but continued in, squaring her shoulders. Outwardly she exuded self-confidence inwardly she was exhausted. She shifted her well-tailored jacket. She frowned at how loose it was on her, but then focused on the intruder.
A man and a much younger woman were sitting in chairs facing the door. The man stopped playing his recorder and put it into his sleeve. The woman continued plying her flute for a moment. Both wore expensive looking cloaks.
Hello Miss Volaris, the man addressed her.
"Hello," Mikala said, lightly, inclining her head. "I would tell you to make yourself comfortable, but I see you already have."
That's true. You have been asking some interesting questions. I'd be interested in knowing why.
Mikala's leaned against the side of the couch. "Personal reasons," she says, meeting his eyes squarely. She glances away quickly as she remembered what happened the last time she did that to someone. Alderson got inside her mind and she couldn't fight her. She moves quickly to a decanter of Corellian brandy. "May I offer you something to drink?"
Mikala poured three glasses and then turned offering him one of them and walking to offer the other to the other woman.
She nodded and turned to retrieve her own glass. "Now my turn. Who are you and what are you doing in my suite?"
I am Torin Stellas. This is my sister Tarna.
The glass slipped a bit in Mikala's grasp and she nearly spilt it. "You're Torin Stellas?"
"Yes. Now why have you been looking for me? I'd have thought that no one off Torion knew that name, at least not in this context."
Mikala had imagined several scenarios of meeting Torin Stellas, but him standing in the middle of her suite here wasn't one of them. She sat her glass down and slipped the ring on its chain over her head and held it out to him. "Do you recognize this?"
He took the ring and studied it for a moment. Then he closed his eyes.
Mikala felt a brief movement of the Force.
He opened his eyes.
"Is it yours?" she asked, feeling flutter of hope and just as quickly squelching it.
Yes, I haven't seen it in years. He handed it to Tarna.
"Its you signet, isn't it, Tor," Tarna asked.
It was his, but that still didn't mean he was her Father. Her Mother could have stolen it from him.
"How did she get it?" Tarna continued. "I'd have thought it was lying ignored in your dresser."
"No, Tal. Its been missing for years. Since just before the deaths. You were too little to know about that. It hasn't mattered since."
He turned back to Mikala. How did you get it? I think I know who took it.
She looked him in the eyes. "My Mother gave it to me." She paused, swallowing down the thrill of fear clawing her throat. "She said it belonged to my Father."
"Your mother?" Torin asked, "Who is your mother?"
"Trinity Volaris," she said, watching him.
"Trinity? I never knew her last name, but she called herself Trinity. I always assumed she was the one who took the ring."
"Tor," Tarna interrupted. "Is that possible?"
Mikala tried to digest what she was hearing. He had known her Mother. She hadn't lied, at least about that.
"Yes, its quite possible, Tal. Had you been ten instead of four..."
He turned his attention back to Mikala. So what your saying is that you're my daughter?"
Mikala tossed her dark hair back over her shoulders. "I'm just saying that is what my Mother told me as child. Are you saying you had kind of relationship with my Mother?"
"Not a relationship. A one-night stand between a bored older woman and a kid with too many hormones to control. But that doesn't matter. I think we should confirm this."
Mikala smiled wryly. She was the product of a one-night stand, why should she be surprised.
"Tal, call the Residence tell them to have the Piper ready to launch when we get there."
Mikala raised an eyebrow.
"I would like to invite you to my home. We have a great many things to discuss."
Mikala looked at Torin. "On Torion?"
"No, I haven't lived here since about the time you were born. We are going to Zoron."
Mikala frowned slightly. "Zoron?" She remembered something vague about some Sith Lord or such running that planet. How was her Father...how was Torin tangled up with him?
Tarna pulled a com unit form her belt and began to give orders about the ship.
"Yes Zoron." Torin answered. "I want Sandy to compare our genes
"Sandy?" she asked.
"My wife. She's an expect on genetics."
"Oh," she said softly. She cleared her throat her brain finally kicking in. "I have my own ship here."
"Then bring it. Give me its ID code."
Mikala looked at him. "Why should I trust you?"
"Good point, I imagine you don't. Very well, I will have a speeder waiting for you at Zorport when you land."
"And where exactly will that be taking me?"
"To my home, Steele Manor."
Mikala paused. "You work for Lord Steele then."
"To the galaxy at large I am Lord Taras Steele."
Mikala stared at him in frank disbelief. Then that would make her... She shook her head and dark shapes flitted at the edge of her vision. "I see," she said, moving to pick up her drink again. Her hands were shaking. She struggled still them so she didn't drop her drink.
"Are you alright?"
She drew herself up. "Yes, fine," she said flatly.
"Are you sure? You look terrible."
Mikala forced a smile, but it faltered as she felt the tremor in the Force. "I'm fine. I've just been ill recently."
The door opened and Zeruah entered with dinner. She frowned looking at the strangers in their room and then at the obvious distress that Mikala is experiencing. She moved quietly over to her after setting down the food.
"Tal, get a doctor up here now." Torin ordered.
Mikala turned toward the door and relaxed a little when she saw it was Zeruah. "You can put those in my room," she said. "We have guests."
Zeruah noded her brow raising, but she does as she is told.
Mikala made a subtle hand gesture. *That's him.*
"Have you seen a doctor about being sick. My wife says you look like you've been suffering from exhaustion."
Mikala frowns slightly. "How would she--" Her frown deepened a bit with memory. "I have been under a doctor's care until recently."
Zeruah nodded watching him and then her.
"I think you should lie down."
"I'm fine," Mikala insisted, defensively.
Zeruah looked. "He is correct. You should eat as well."
"You don't look it. And you're aura is pulsing. At least sit down."
"I've had to this argument too many times with too many kids to be fooled by it.
Tarna turned to Zeruah. "Hello, I'm Tarna Stellas."
Mikala shot Zeruah a look telling her to shut up. She was not going to show weakness in front of this man, no matter how lightheaded and sick she felt.
"I'm fine," she said, turning back to him, her expression darkening. "And I'm not a 'kid'."
Zeruah shook her head and moved to arrange things.
"Perhaps we should let you eat your dinner."
Mikala reined herself in. Angering a Sith Lord wasn't a good idea. "Forgive me, my reactions are a bit off right now."
"Perhaps we should postpone further discussion until the morning. That way we can both come to terms with the situation."
Mikala nodded. "I believe that would be a good idea."
"Shall we return or would you prefer to come to us."
Mikala shifted and stumbled a bit against the couch. "Where are you staying?"
"I have a house in the western suburbs. We can meet there. I think the Imperial residence would be more formal than we want."
She nodded. "If you would leave directions with Zureah, please."
"Tal, I think we should leave now. She needs to rest."
Taras and Tarna stood and took their leave after giving Zaruah the directions.
Mikala felt like the room was pressing in on her and she couldn't' quite get her breath. "It was a pleasure to meet you--" she paused. I didn't seem right to call him Father just yet. "Lord Steele."
"Good bye Miss Volaris."
She nodded. "Lady Stellas," she said to Tarna.
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