"But our connection to the ancient Sith is rather tenuous. Palpatine claims that he and Vader are the latest in series of pairs of Sith who have passed the tradition down from one master to one apprentice for centuries. Is he right? I don't know."
"I don't understand a lot about that. I guess the more I see of it, the more I think what my Grandmother taught me was based on Jedi teaching. Some of the things she told me when I was little sounded a lot like what Alidar was telling me."
"I suspect that what she said about the Sith was just what was taught to younglings by Jedi who didn't know them at all. And it was derived from the ancient Sith. We share only the name and the Darkside with them." Taras said "Otherwise we are something new."
She nodded slowly. "But she lied to me just the same."
"What she said about the Jedi would however be based on her own experience."
She sighed. "I'd like to talk to that Alidar again sometime when I really knew I was talking to him."
"Perhaps that can be arranged." Sandy said. "But we need to know more about him. Starting with where he is."
Mikala looked away a moment and then back at them. "Yavin or he was."
"That makes it both easier and harder." Taras said. "Darien told me he doesn't know Alidar."
"And what could also complicate it is that he's Alida D'med, the current head of the Jedi Council's brother."
"Maybe. But I know Alida. I think she will at least listen to me. She knows Darien is here, and was our guest briefly last summer." Taras pointed out.
"She was here?" Mikala asked. She looked at him. "You better not mention me if you talk to her. I'm not one of her favorite people."
"I suspect Alidar will do that, if you're right about them. Did you tell him who you are?"
She nodded. "I did, but I don't know if he knew who I was."
"So you told him you are Mikala Volaris?"
She nodded. "I told him that and...I told him I was your daughter," she said, watching for his reaction.
"What did you call me? When I came for you, you called me father. That wouldn't have told him who I was."
A faint blush rose to her cheeks and she started radiating uneasiness. "I thought I was dreaming. I didn't refer to you by anything except as 'Father', but I...I told him my name was Mikala Volaris-Steele," she said softly. "I--" she let her voice trail off and closed her eyes, flinching slightly waiting for his reaction.
He paused, lost in thought for a moment. Then he smiled.
She opened an eye and looked over at him.
"That might or might not tell him who I am. But he knows enough about me that his sister will recognize us if he talks to her about you. She's met Lonnie, Tiri, Attiles, Jan and Goldie. And she knows where Darien is. So, yes, he can find out who I am."
She bit her lip a moment. "Are you angry with me?"
"No. We are not angry." Sandy answered. "Just a little amused."
She gave Sandy a puzzled look. "Amused?"
"Yes, amused. Don't worry about what Alidar has learned about us. It's nothing we won't announce at some point anyway." Taras explained.
Her cheeks colored again.
"Think about what he knows. That you're Tor's daughter, and that your siblings came to rescue you." Sandy explained.
"And that Darien is here as well." Taras added.
"He'll know where I'm at," she said softly.
"And that matters, why?"
"I guess it does, but--" she sighed. "I've always been so careful to cover my tracks. I've been leaving a blazing trail that even a blind Gamorian could follow."
"I don't think so. Alidar is the only one who knows your here who not part of either your organization, or ours." Sandy suggested.
She nodded slowly and started rubbing her forehead.
"He can't tell them anything Darien won't when he gets back. Or have you really made enemies of the Jedi? If you have Darien doesn't know about it." She asked.
"I have," she said faintly. She closed her eyes. "The Jedi DuCruet took were Master Alida D'med's Padawans, current and former. DuCruet destroyed the foot of the one girl, Daroa. She was in pretty bad shape when we let them take them back. Larose was injured as well, but not as badly." She sighed. "I tortured Daroa. I needed to test something and was I trying to elicit an anger reaction out of Larose to do it."
"I see." Taras said. "That was rather over done."
"I can fix the foot if that will help." Sandy interrupted.
"They already have with cybernetics," she said. "She lost a good part of her foot."
"I can clone her a new one. Just like your back. But she might not like that idea. As I recall she was a bit inhibited."
Mikala couldn't help but smile a little at that. "She's a very 'old fashion' Jedi."
"I think you've been upstaged when it comes to being blamed for Kali's problems." Taras said. "Vader has her."
She nodded. "I had heard that."
"You said you were working for Xanatos when you did that?"
"I was," she said. She grimaced. "Sandy could I have something for a headache?"
Sandy puts her hand on Mikala's forehead, nods and picks up a pill bottle from the nightstand. She goes into the bathroom and gets a glass of water. "Here, take this."
Mikala nodded and for once didn't argue about taking something. She sighed. "Why do I still hurt if what happened was all--" she groped for wording. "Well, if it was all in my head?"
"It wasn't all in your head. On the astral plane, your demons sometimes become real. They can hurt you. And there are demons that live on the astral plane. They are as real as we are."
She looked at him. "They can physically hurt you?"
"Yes," Sandy answered. "In the morning, I will check Darien and the kids to make sure they aren't hurt." She looked at Goldie. "Specking of which."
Sandy went over and examined the cat.
Mikala frowned and struggled to sit up.
Taras stood and helped her move the pillows.
MIkala grimaced. "Is Goldie all right?" she asked.
"There's nothing wrong with her that'd she'd admit to." Sandy answered. She walked over to the rooms com link.
"But I'm going to give you all something for astral damage. She turned to the com link and talked into it.
Mikala nodded. "If any one is hurt because of me--" she closed her eyes.
"If the girls hadn't been there I'd say the boys would be 'impress the girls' hurt." Sandy said as she came back.
Mikala sighed. "Darien and Alidar took on the thing that was chasing me."
"They did. That's what I'd expect." Taras said.
"It would have eaten me if they hadn't showed up when they did."
"That's what the demons do. But we'll leave what you need to do for your first real lesson." Taras said.
She frowned at him. "What do you mean?"
"I think we start your training with the basics of the astral plane. You need to learn how not to go there unintentionally."
"How do I do that if I keep doing it in my sleep?"
"That is what your first lesson will be. You seem to have too much talent for a beginner."
She grimaced and nodded. "It's like everything just exploded inside me when I was attacked on Silo's ship. Something just let loose in my mind and next thing I knew I had destroyed most of the flight deck trying to push her back out."
"I think you must have broken all the blocks your grandmother put in your mind." Sandy said. "Your father's mind contains some broken blocks as well."
Mikala frowned thoughtfully. "I use to dream about creatures like that thing that chased me tonight. I had awful dreams when I was very little and then suddenly they went away and I never had ones like that again."
"It sounds like you have a lot of talent for the astral. Your Grandmother must have blocked it when you were little. Wise of her. The astral plane is no place for small children." Sandy explained.
"Then when this Jedi attacked you she either knocked the blocks aside or your reaction to her did." Taras added.
Mikala sighed. "She wasn't a Jedi."
"You said she was. What made you change your mind?" Taras said.
She looked away a moment and then looked back at him. "I contacted the Jedi. They said she wasn't part of the Order, but they gave me her name. I was able to track her to Shardarkour."
"Well, whoever she is, she burned out the blocks."
"That's the other person I talked to on the Astral Plane," she said very quietly.
"Oh. And what did she say?" Sandy asked.
She closed her eyes. "That she hadn't intended to kill me, she had just wanted to hurt me. That it had been war. She said that I was out of my league trying to confront her, and she was right. I was angry and unfocused. Then she just tossed me back. Goldie and Darien found me just after that, that night I slipped out to Keiren's garden."
"She was probably right." Taras said. "One must not take war personally. Or you'll end up with grudges against half the Alliance."
Mikala squeezed her eyes shut. "But don't both sides have to know that there is a war for there to be one?"
"I think you may have walked into the middle of some one else's fight. Xanatos is running his private war with the Jedi. You were part of that. Which made you a target in that fight. I can't fault her on that one." Taras answered.
"I sacrificed so much trying to get him free and he just threw that back in my face," she said bitterly.
"I think you can ignore this grudge. Your fight appears to be with Xanatos." Sandy said.
Mikala rubbed her forehead with her left hand. "It's her fault all this came apart on me. She ripped apart my mind. I thought I would go mad from the pain. It wouldn't let up and it wouldn't go away. I had to try to function through that for over three weeks! Then Serris fixed that only to let loose all these emotions inside me that I can't even begin to understand."
"You will in time."
She sighed deeply. "Why does it still hurt inside? I should be over that, over him."
"Don't think about him for while. He's not worth tearing you mind apart over." Sandy suggested. "I've found that dwelling on ex-lovers is a bad idea."
"But I don't understand why it still hurts," she said softly. "I've had other lovers. Ones that treated me worse. Force, Bertil, fractured my skull when he got sick of me mouthing off to him, but I didn't feel like this inside."
"Think about other things, happier things." Sandy continued. Then she turned to Taras. "We need to find her someone to fill that hole." She finished in Sith.
Mikala sighed deeply and rubbed her hands over her face.
Taras hugged Mikala as Sandy quietly slipped out of the room.
Mikala hugged her Father back, relaxing into his arms. "Thank you," she said softly.
"Any time." He replied.
Sandy returned with a glass of juice. "Here, Mikala, drink this." She offered it to the girl.
Mikala pulled back a little from Taras and took the juice, sipping it. "Thank you," she said to Sandy.
"You're welcome. Drink up." Sandy replied.
Mikala drank the juice down and then yawned. She flushed a little. "Sorry," she said, the glass starting to slip from her grasp.
Taras took the glass. "That's alright."
Mikala sagged back against the pillows behind her, struggling to keep her eyes open. She rubbed her eyes with her left hand and yawned again. She looked at Sandy. "Oh, Sith, you didn't," she said in exasperation as her eyes slid shut finally.
"Good night, dear child." Taras kissed her on the forehead and tucked her in.
Despite herself, Mikala smiled sleepily and snuggled under the covers. "Night...Father," she said her voice fading into sleep.
"She'll feel much better in the morning, love." Sandy put an arm around him. "Best to let her sleep now."
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