Life....an amalgamation of twists and turns that can plunge a person along a path so completely unexpected it makes them stop and wonder what is really happening. The event itself could be such a minor thing that the individual shrugs and gets on with their life or it could be something large enough to stand up, slap you in the face, and force you to take notice. An event had definitely occurred, but as of yet the individuals involved really hadn't considered the long reaching ramifications and chain of events it was unleashing in the Galaxy. Imperial plots countered by Rebel plots countered yet again by Rebel plots....now become subplots countered by subplots with contingency plans. But that belongs to the future. *********** The conference room was full...every available member of the house was present including Kylie, the Jedi trainee. Darana watched as Kylie and Rachel intently searched through planetary charts. They were looking for systems that could match the one both Rachel and Darana saw. It wasn't much to go on but it was something. That combined with potential members of the 33rd Rogor Slashers, Mechanized Regiment. The unit commanded by major Rose was another clue. They had another hope for Serris; Rachel's psychometry. ********** Rachel gazes at the map through half-closed eyelids, barely seeing it. My mind's eye is firmly focused on the images I received from Serris, irregardless of the pain; my concentration is adamantine. A flicker of memory intrudes on me; and for a moment, I see myself as a child, sitting crosslegged opposite my favorite "aunt"--the gentle Jedi healer whose dark skin and startlingly blue eyes are framed by long, white hair. Her mind is firmly shielded against the telepathy I've been using for as long as I've been speaking, and with the same ease. Thinking hard about the piece of candy I've been promised, I touch each of the Jedi's closed fists. Something seems to lights up inside me when I touch her right hand. I tap on that hand and straighten, looking expectantly up at my mother's best friend. Her slender brown hand opens to reveal the piece of candy, which I snatch up triumphantly. It's hard to tell which one of us is more excited about my having managed to focus my wild talent... Impatiently, Rachel stuffs the memory in a drawer and slam it shut. I have no time for such sentimental nonsense now. Nothing matters now but Serris. I trace the patterns of the star systems lightly with my fingertips, fiercely willing myself to *feel* which planet the Jedi healer's cry for help might have come from. It doesn't matter that my psychometry is an untamed, unreliable Gift: I will force it to do my bidding. I will accept no alternative. ********** Kylie felt the slight frown on her face as she watched Rachel work, and let it fade on her next exhale. "Work" was the right word, and in Kylie's opinion that was the problem; but her opinion had not been solicited, nor would it be helpful to express it at this point. The fierceness and grim determination with which Rachel seemed to approach the Force, and indeed her own identity, were more in evidence than ever--and, to Kylie's mind, setting up even more of an obstacle to the woman's goals and destiny. But this was the wrong time to speak. ********** Eric caught Darana's attention and handed her a Data Pad. "Avon's trying to get a trace but it is unlikely. The signal was too short and travelled through too many transmission points." Darana frowned then paled as she read the message. "Can I have everyone's attention please," She paused briefly then began reading the transmission. Good Morning Rebel Alliance: My group has obtain six of your personnel. One being a Major as well as a Jedi knight by the look of her. We have one Captain and one Lt. The rest are unlisted personnel. If you would like to have them in one piece you release Rose and Kyra Matthews into our custody. Otherwise your personnel will be sent back to you once piece at a time in a body bag. You have one day to respond before we start chopping and killing. Please respond to X215215885545. Have a nice day. Supporters To Free Rose X215215885545 If anyone ever questioned Darana's darkness, they wouldn't now. The thought of these terrorists making such demands infuriated her. Her muscles tensed, making her mood obvious. Slowly she scanned the room looking for everyone else's reactions. Shade, as usual, was considering the situation carefully, "They don't specify what condition Rose and Matthews need be in. Kill them both, Rook and I will deliver the bodies and begin the slaughter as the rest of you get Serris back." Eric glanced at Shade, a smile touched Eric's lips and he shook his head. "That might be a little rash, Shade. For Matthews at least I need her alive, and you should know it. She is currently working for me, or rather us and it would be very wastefull to kill her out of hand considering the information we've been getting from her. I would rather not see her destroyed, at least not yet." Eric looked toward Darana. ********** Rachel remembers the capture of Cololonel Kyra Matthews very well: It was part of the final proof of her loyalty to the Household and the Empire, and her break with the Alliance. It was Rachel's knowledge of her inner demons that enabled us to take her down. Afterward, I'd visited the Colonel in her cell. A flicker of grim amusement almost passes over her face as she recalls the little playlet the two of them acted out. Rachel is sure she freaked her out a bit with the cruelty of some of her words. But she'd also deliberately left the Intel operative with the impression that she might not have joined the Household of her own free will. It seemed like a good idea at the time... On the other hand, while she know that Eric was handling Kyra, She doesn't know anything about her current situation. Rachel imagines she was re-educated and sent back to Intel to spy for us. It's what she would've done with her. anything about her current situation. ************** Darana noded her agreement. "The Colonel is too useful to waste in this manner. Rose on the other hand, I have no such use for." Eric shruged, "couldn't care less about him." Rachel glanced up from the map. "That Rose should have been plucked a long time ago," she agreed darkly, remembering the visions of his people slaughtering the two Alliance captains and their units. Anger emanated from her in nearly palpable waves, causing nearby Kylie to wonder at the sudden increase in temperature in the room. "The only problem is digging him out of whatever hole the Alliance has been hiding him in. I know they had to put him under incredibly tight security just to avoid anyone from the _Alliance_ assassinating him. If we can't trace this transmission," she continued, with a brief glance at Avon, hard at work, "how are we going to find *him*?" Shade once again spoke up, "Darana, how difficult would it be to show me how to inhabit Rose's body? I'd go in as him, keep Matthews alive and get a signal to you as to where I am. *Then* begin the slaughter once Serris is safe." ********** Rachel stares down at the map. From her time melded with Darana's darker half, she knows that this is a skill she does has never taught! And back when Darana was first put back together, Rachel suspects that Shade had been getting closer to her than Darana liked. Would Darana really allow him close enough to learn that devastatingly powerful trick?