Surprise, It's a Girl


John Medkeff


Rebecca Miller


Renee Gunn

The taxi drove down a tree-lined street in a quiet upscale neighborhood. It stopped at the gate of a small walled mansion.

A guard stepped out of the gatehouse.

Mikala leaned up to the window. "I have an appointment."

"Miss Volaris?"

She nodded. "I should be expected."

"Yes," The guard disappeared into the gatehouse and the gate opened.

The taxi pulled up to the front door and stopped.

Zeruah exited the taxicab holding the door open for Mikala.

Mikala exited after her and waited for the cabby. She paid him. "Wait for us."

"Yes, ma'am."

She nodded and headed for the door and knocked.

Zeruah followed her, watching her carefully.

A young man dressed as a footman opened the door. "Miss Volaris?"

She nodded. "I believe I'm expected."

"Come in. The master is expecting you."

Zeruah followed, studying the building, surroundings and staff carefully.

The door led to a front hall. In front of her to the left was a stairway leading up to a second floor balcony. There were doors to her left and right. The sound of a piano came from the open first door on the right.

The footman led the way down the hall.

Mikala followed the footman. She glanced back at Zeruah, making sure she was keeping up. Zeruah was directly behind her, not faltering, ready for anything.

The footman led her to a door under the stairs that opened into the dinning room. One end of a large table was set for five. There was something sitting on the other end that looked like it belonged in a medical lab

Mikala raised an eyebrow. She made a subtle gesture to Zeruah. *Interesting.*

Zeruah nodded. She assumed it was the testing device. She motioned to a chair and held it out for Mikala.

Torin Stellas was sitting at the head of the table reading from what appeared to be a scroll.

Mikala waited until he looked up.

"Hello Mikala, do sit down. He indicated one of the chairs. He set the scroll down.

Zeruah motioned to the chair again, holding it out.

"Lord Steele," Mikala nodded, moving to the chair. She sat, carefully

covering the discomfort the movement brought.

"Good morning. I hope you feel better today."

The room was archaically decorated with real wood floors and paneling. The table was set with china, crystal and sterling

She nodded. "I apologize for my outburst last night. That was uncalled for."

"No need. Though I am curious about why you are so exhausted."

Mikala grimaced a little. "As I said last night, I have been ill recently. I'm not completely recovered as yet."

A servant appeared and set to pots of tea and kaff on the table.

Zeruah studied the servant's motions, standing slightly behind and to the side of Mikala.

"Very well."

Torin poured himself a cup of tea.

Mikala sat back, watching him.

The door Mikala had entered by opened and Tarna joined them. "Good morning, Tor, Miss Volaris."

Mikala rose. "Lady Stellas."

Tarna sat down and poured her self, some kaff. She nodded to Mikala.

The door opened again and a tall dark haired woman in a green jacket walked

in. She set the bag she was carrying on the table. "Sorry I'm late, Tor. You wouldn't believe the traffic between here and the star port." She tossed her jacket to the footman.

Zeruah bowed slightly.

"I trust you kept your temper."

"I was good." She walked around the table, ran her fingers though Torin's hair and sat down next to him.

Mikala kept her reaction to herself. This must be Lady Steele.

The servant appeared and filled the newcomer's cup.

"Yes, this is Sandy."

Mikala moved to stand. "Lady Steele," she said bowing politely.

"No need t...," Sandy started to answer. Then she just watched Mikala get up. "What's wrong with your leg?

Mikala stiffened. Sith. "Nothing, just a little stiff. I must have twisted it a bit."

"That doesn't look like a twisted ankle. And your not moving your arms right either. Someone your age shouldn't have that kind of stiffness."

Zeruah watched the woman and watched Mikala knowing that somehow they knew.

Mikala struggled to hide her discomfort. "I have been ill recently."

Sandy pointed her hand at her bag. It flipped open and a medical scanner jumped out of it and flew to her hand.

Mikala struggled to hide her surprise. Okay. Obviously, she was a Force user.

"The way your moving looks familiar." She pointed her scanner at Mikala and turned it on.

Zeruah watched her body stiffening slightly unsure of what they were going to do.

"I'm fine, Lady Steele. You need not worry yourself with it."

"Your heart is beating way too hard and your blood isn't moving, well."

"Once she gets started there's no stopping her." Tarna said.

Mikala frowned. "Lady Steele, this isn't necessary."

Zeruah watched Mikala thinking that it was, but not saying anything.

"You are not fine." Sandy set the scanner down. "You have some how gotten a very deadly toxin into your system. One that is quite new." A small vial jumped to her hand from the bag.

Zeruah watched her carefully.

"I'm only aware of one source and she's dead. Have you heard of a scientist named Mira Lexor?"

Mikala nodded. "I am familiar with the name."

"You have her poison in your system right now. It is slowly killing you. I wonder how that happened. You had no symptoms when I watched though Tor's eyes last night."

Mikala kept her face neutral. Oh, Sith, this was not going well.

"Fortunately, I have the antidote." She held up the vial.

Mikala watched her. "I see," she said. "And at what price?"

"Price?" Sandy looked puzzled. "No price."

Zeruah raised a brow and watched wondering how they could be sure it was the antidote.

Mikala's eyes narrowed. "What's the catch?"

"There is no catch." Torin interrupted. "If Sandy decides to make someone pay I'm sure it'll be Mira."

"Mira's dead, dear," Sandy pointed out.

Two servants entered with a cart full of dishes. They started putting the dishes on the table.

Zeruah spoke softly, "How can we be sure it is the antidote?"

Mikala ran over her options quickly. She shifted in her chair and bumped her arm. She winced before she could cover it.

She shot Zeruah a look. *I do not want to be obliged to these people.*

"You really can't I guess." Sandy answered. "But it is."

Zeruah looked at her, *You have little choice madam.*

"You have my word on it, Miss Volaris." Taras added.

*I have my own supplies of the antidote. You are walking a very thin line.*

Zeruah wasn't sure about their word on it, but she didn't sense any form of deception. *We cannot be sure that they will arrive on time, and if they are delayed for any unexpected reason. This is here now.*

*And I know that and it is not your place to speak, so be silent.*

"Thank you, Lord Steele. I will consider it."

"I will point out that if we wished you harm we have easier ways to do it." Tarna interrupted. "Remember that on this planet I own the police."

Mikala nodded. "Thank you, Lady Stellas."

Zeruah nodded, knowing that Mikala's stubbornness had the best of her.

Taras looked at his wife. "Dear, that's enough with the battle of wills. She's not a child. Let's eat."

Mikala watched her take her sat and she sat back.

Sandy picked up her fork and took a bite. "Well she certainly acts like she's one of us. I've had this fight with all the kids."

Mikala struggled to suppress bristling at the 'kid' remark. That was the second time in two days she had been referred to as that.

She tried to shrug away the lightheaded feeling, making things a bit swimmy for her. She could deal with this. The antidote would arrive shortly from her stockpile on Nar Shaadda. That wouldn't take that long.

She cupped her hand over her injured arm under the table. It had started aching very badly. She knew a little about shunting pain away with the Force and started to do that.

Torin watched her for a moment. "You're thinking too hard. Remember you're trying not to feel something. That must be approached obliquely."

Zeruah watched her noting her discomfort as she stepped slightly closer to the back of her chair, hardly noticeable in the movement.

Mikala looked up sharply at him. She hadn't realized he would pick that up.

"Some times its necessary to think backwards when using the Force." He added.

Mikala sighed. "I've had very little training."

"I thought so. From who if I may ask?"

"My Grandmother for one, I've had a bit here and there from others," she


"Shall we deal with the main business then." Sandy said, standing up and moving around the table. She turned on the lab machine.

Mikala sat back, trying to still herself.

"This is a gene sequencer," Sandy continued. "I will take a small sample of your blood, put it in here and the machine. It will read your genes and compare them to Tor's."

She nodded. "Very well."

Sandy pulled a data cube from her pocket and inserted it into the machine.

Mikala watched her intently.

Sandy put on gloves. Then she took a small needle from her bag. She walked over to Mikala. "May I see your hand?'

Mikala held out her left hand to her.

Sandy pricked Mikala's finger. She drew a drop of blood pulled it into the needle and then put a bandage on the prick. "The poison will complicate this wound a little. Are sure you don't want the cure?"

"Let's wait and see the results, m'lady."

Zeruah silently wished that Mikala would accept regardless but bit her


Sandy walked back to her machine and put the blood into it. She pushed a button and a small screen popped up.

Mikala sat back, trying to do what Lord Steele had told her to do before. She felt it working this time as the pain in her arm eased. As she felt the pain ease, she felt the heaviness in her chest increasing. A memory came to her Force use made the poison worse. Oh, stupid.

"Very interesting. I know that gene, and that one. That's from you mother. No doubt at all, your paternal chromosomes match."

Zeruah watched seeing Mikala's increasing discomfort.

"Sandy turned back to Mikala. "Well, welcome to the family."

Mikala stared at her. Family, Lord Steele was her Father. Her mother hadn't lied. She took a deep breath and then another. It had suddenly gotten very hard to breathe. She tried to draw on the Force to calm herself, but she couldn't seem to control it. She felt a stir of the Force around her. The vase at the center of the table imploded with a loud crack and the flowers and shards of glass landed in a heap.

"I think we'd better deal with that poison now. It feeds off the Force and your feeding it." Sandy said as she prepared the antidote.

Zeruah moved towards her and looked at Lord and Lady Steele.

Mikala stared at her mutely. Suddenly, very cold and she couldn't seem to get her breath.

Sandy stepped up behind Mikala, took her arm and injected the mixture of antidote with a sedative she'd prepared.

Mikala felt the heaviness she was experiencing increase and she realized what she had given her. "No," she said, pushing Sandy away and struggling to her feet. Her vision started to blur as she staggered to the door. She had to get out.

"You're in no condition to be out of bed, Mikala." Taras had moved to block her route to the door.

Zeruah moved to catch her and prevent her from doing more harm to herself. "You need to sit and rest."

Fear blossomed into panic in her chest. Her heart thudded painfully against her breastbone. This was how it was. This was the catch. She had walked into a trap.

Sandy shook her head, summoned a tranquilizer from her bag, stepped up behind Mikala and injected it.

Mikala felt the bit of a hypospray and suddenly everything just faded into darkness.

Zeruah watched, "Thank you."

Tarna rang a small bell that was sitting on the table.

A servant appeared.

Zeruah watched over Mikala as she waited.

"Get a gurney," Sandy commanded.

The servant bowed and left.

Sandy picked up her scanner and walked over to Mikala. "Heart beat is a

little better. Temperature is dropping."

"She will be okay?" Zeruah asked.

Sandy turned to Zeruah. "The antidote is beginning to take hold. The drugs I

gave her should keep her out for a couple of days.

"Good. She needs the rest."

"Yes, we are in time to save her."

Zeruah nodded.

The servant returned with am antigrav gurney. Taras picked Mikala up and

laid her on it.

Zeruah stood and watched.

"Take her to the Rose bedroom." Sandy ordered.

Zeruah moved to follow then stopped. "May I stay with her, or do you need my

services elsewhere?"

"No, by all means stay with her." Taras answered.

Zeruah bowed slightly "Thank you."