Darana fell to the floor with a thud, pain shooting throughout her body. Keeping her eyes closed, she began tracing the source of the pain through an already open link. She let out a scream as as someone forced her arm behind her and wrenched down on a set of chains. There were others present, but Darana's vision was limited to Serris' view. She did notice that her captors were all dressed in Alliance uniforms and the man now standing directly in front of her wore the insignia of the 33rd Rogor Slashers, Mechanized regiment. The unit commanded by Major Rose. The connection began to fade as the man fastened a collar around her neck. Darana tried to call out to Serris but couldn't the contact was gone and everything was black. Darana doubled her efforts and found that there was another present. Rachel had also felt Serris' pain. Together they tried to locate Serris and failed. ********** Darana came back to herself, realizing that someone in the household had moved her from the practice gym to the medical bay. She tried to sit up but thought better of it when pain once again shot though her body, this time her own. "I wouldn't if I were you." It was Rook. "You had a nasty fall from about 20 feet resulting in..." he consulted the medical reports,"a couple of broken ribs, a broken arm, and a broken vertebrae. You aren't going anywhere for a while." "Serris..." "We know," Rook cut her off. "Rachel filled us in. You need to stay here." "My body may need to stay here," she replied stubbornly, "but I don't." Rook understood her intent perfectly. It had been some time since Darana had been in one of the other bodies. He wondered if transferring now, with the effort it would take, was a wise thing for her to do. "We'll see about that," was all he said. ********* Rachel heads unerringly for the medical bay. She moves blindly, threading her way through the corridors by practice and instinct alone. Her Force senses enable her to easily evade anyone in her path. All she can see is Serris' body in chains, bloody and battered, arm twisted behind her back...Serris' face, jaw clenched in agony, as the man in the uniform of the 33rd closes the COLLAR around her slender neck. She does not stop for anything or anyone, driven by the need to be as close as possible to Darana--physically as well as psychically. Since the moment the vision hit, Darana and Rachel had been united in mind and intent. Now, Rachel reaches out along the link, using her own strength to cushion Darana from the shock as well as to support her single minded purpose. She is aware that making the shift to one of her clone bodies could be dangerous for Darana so soon after the reintegration of her soul. But there is not a thought in Rachel's mind of treachery. With utter disregard for herself, she fiercely suppresses her own terrible, echoing memories of slavery: the choke of the spiked collar, the mindlessness of the pursuit, the chill emptiness in her own mind... Instead, she channels the horror of those memories into strength: strength for Serris, for Darana, and for herself. All she wants in the world is to help Darana find and free Serris, whose pain sings as shrilly in Rachel's own soul as it does in the soul of Serris' foster-daughter. *We should have killed Rose when we had the chance,* Rachel thinks furiously. *That mockery of a trial should have made Rebel Intel the laughingstock of the galaxy. Now their failure has cost Serris her freedom. I do NOT think much of this marvelous new Head of Intelligence who General Branwyn hand-selected, if _this_ is her legacy! *Before, I was a Jedi student, shackled by the niceties of Alliance law and tradition. Not anymore. In my Darkness, I am free as a bird, limited only by the loyalties which I have freely chosen. At Darana's word, the full forces of Dark Order will be brought to bear against these charlatans and traitors. I will die before I see Serris locked up like a rabid dog again, choked off from the very life-force of the universe. We will make them pay for the torment they have caused my former mentor, Serris, foster-mother of Darana...and soul-sister to my own beloved foster-mother, dead these four long years.* ************* Shade, feeling Darana awaken, reaches out with a feather-light Force touch. *Master?* Confusion reigns in Darana's mind as Shade feels the memories of Serris' pain mingled with her own. Feeling her intent to transfer through the link, Shade begins to move toward the body storage. "I will bring it, since you will not be deterred." *Good,* thinks Darana. "Now rest while I prepare the clone body. We will get her back safely, or avenge her." Darana mentally smiled, satisfied that Shade is supporting her and not tyring to pull his usual recent 'for the good of the household' litany. It hurt too much to talk; so she reached out to Rook through the link, informing him of Shade's actions. Rook kept tight control over himself as he tried to shield himself from the residual pain flowing through Darana's link. It had happened quite a few times in recent memory (though he wouldn't admit that to her) and he had some practice, just as he had practice at being head of the household. As far as he was concerned, since Darana was incapcitated things fell to him...and they would just wait and see if Darana was jumping anywhere. Rook spoke into the watch he had rigged to act as a communications device within the household. Well...that and a high yield explosive. You could never be too careful. "Shade. When you have finished preparations, you are to hold before attempting anything further in the process. Darana is not to try 'jumping' until she has been given the okay by the medical staff." ********* "Do you truly think you can stop her?" Shade asked Rook. "She can and will jump from where she is. It is safer and less traumatic for her to be in contact with the body. You will not be able to stop it and you know it. I suggest you get her to agree before I get there. You have about ten minutes." Shade began to warm the body. To himself he thought, shielding the thoughts from his link to Rook, *Do not make me choose, brother. It really is no choice. And while it would feed my anger even more to have to fight you, she will be as safe as I can make her. Even if she's being foolish and impulsive. She has accepted Serris into the house and the house has been attacked. I WILL defend it. Using EVERY asset available.* *********** Darana was furious. Nothing and no one was going to stand in her way. Instinctively, Darana opened the link between her and Rook completely. There were no shields to stand in the way. Her energy gathered; and she was about to jump into _him_ when she felt a stinging in her right arm. The room began to spin and every muscle in her body began to relax. She looked up to see Rook looking down at her. "Fast-acting sedative." He held up the syringe. "I figured you would try something like that. You're going to wait for the medical staff to clear you." Rook stood by her until the sedative had taken effect completely, then gave the order for the room to be Force-damped. He wasn't taking any chances with her safety. ********* Takara is just finishing up some droid repairs when the sick feeling hits, followed by a short burst of pain in her head that makes her vision blur. It is not unlike the effect of staring at Tattooine's twin suns without protecton. She knows that since there was no coherent message attached to the link from Darana, she assumes the worst and calls Rook on the comm to find out the bad news...after her head stops pounding. "Rook. It's me. What's going on?" "A lot. Darana's in the Medical Bay right now. Where are you?" "Droid shop. I was just finishing up, since you've got me scheduled to start working in your office this week." "Good. Head up there now. I'll fill you in on the details when I get a chance." "Understood. She okay?" There is a pause. "Hello? Rook?" "She's fine for now." Takara can hear the distraction in Rook's voice, and decides to let the matter be. After all, there are other ways of finding out what's going on... "Okay, I'll be there in a few minutes." After she shuts the comm off, she activates a screen that locates all the service droids in the house, then transmits the same message to each one. "Locate Shade. Locate Rachel. Locate Rook. Locate Darana." The answers come back in moments: Darana - Medical Bay - secure area Rook - Medical Bay Rachel - In transit - to Medical Bay Shade - In transit - to lower levels *I love this place, never a dull moment,* she thinks to herself, then shuts everything down before heading for the office. *********** Kylie had needed a break. Not surprisingly, she hadn't gotten it. Not that this unofficial "ambassador" situation wasn't much better than she'd expected. Thus far, Darana had been true to her word, allowing her people free access to the Jedi's Light-side instruction, and making no attempt to persuade her guest to alter her views. And although their agreement stipulated that Kylie likewise refrain from actively trying to convert the Sith students, she was surprised and a bit confounded by two exceptions: Avon and Rachel, it seemed, disturbed even the manipulative Dark Lady, who felt that the two women's current Dark Side mindset was unnatural for them. Kylie had had little contact with Avon thus far, but she certainly agreed in the case of Rachel, whom she knew as Jedi student Rachel Summers. It wasn't just the name that had changed; even the woman's Force-signature, though recognizable, had altered. She commanded far greater power now than she had evidenced in what Kylie presumed to be her proper persona--greater power than Darana could comfortably control. Little wonder she wanted a Jedi to put Rachel back the way she had been. There was a great break in Rachel's mind that desperately needed healing, something outside the scope of the Sith teachings that dominated the Cairnfell household. Kylie's mother had specialized in such things, but healing was her own weakest area. That had to change; the need was too great. So fate found her meditating on the problem, seeking the source of the break, when pain hammered down on her...and, she realized a moment later, anyone else nearby who had been at all open to it. It took fractions of a second to identify Darana as the source. Then a wave of power, pain and fear swept through in its wake: Rachel, sprinting down the corridor past Kylie's guest quarters. Her specific mission was unclear, but the iron-willed determination with which she was pursuing it was unmistakable. Kylie was on her feet and following before she had consciously decided to do so.
On to Part 2