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Old 04-14-2006, 02:21 AM   #4
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Chapter 2: Tricks and Orders
General Miklos Korin was leading a reconnaissance team into a system already occupied by the Separatists. He was one of the generals appointed by friend and mentor Ashira-Li to command the group of warriors involved in reconnaissance and covert operations. Occasionally, he directed troops in battle and did so upholding the principles of Bushido like his brother but drew more closely to the principles of the Jedi. Most of his missions involved scouting of potential threats from the Separatists. Of all the missions assigned, this one was the most dangerous and daring, the business on Ugnaught was more of a rescue mission than recon. His lieutenant, a young Jedi Knight from Belos named Secura and the most reliable person he had met since the war started nearly two years ago, was watching his back. She had saved his butt more than once and on Ugnaught, she narrowly saved him from becoming one of General Grievous’ casualties while trying to rescue captured Jedi. Secura was a devote follower of Bushido and was willing to face the most fierce of the Separatists, namely Grievous, if given the chance.

This particular mission had them scouting Rendili, the home of critical shipbuilding operations. It worried the Republic that they had joined the Separatists willingly but Commander Ollin Trask of the home fleet defenses had not yet decided whether or not to pledge allegiance. It was Miklos’ job to infiltrate and determine which way the commander would sway. He was to send the information to General Starlighter. She would then relay the information to the Jedi Council on Coruscant though he suspected that the Council did not authorize some of these missions and he was surprised at her daring. He kept his opinions to himself unless he felt the need to state them and keep to the sworn oath of loyalty that he and his brother pledged. It really wasn’t hard to get infiltrated and it was feasible because he had a small crew.

His crew had gotten themselves jobs as part of the fleet at various jobs depending on their talents with Miklos as an aide to the commander and Secura as a communications and security officer on the bridge of the flagship. Miklos would gather information that the commander would give him concerning the Separatists or anything about the war and would pass it to Secura. She was to pass the information along a coded data stream that would be virtually undetected. Full detailed reports he would code himself directly to Ashira. He sensed that she could find even the most mundane of tasks full of information. He didn’t question but rather watched as all children are taught and learned even though they were a distance away.

On this day, it was different and Miklos and Secura could feel it. It had started with the change in the usual routine in debriefing. The fact that the commander mentioned that a visitor would be visiting but one not ‘officially’ with the Separatists sent a warning signal down Miklos’ spine. What disturbed him more was when the commander held him up after debriefing, “Michal, I have something on my mind. Do you mind if we talk about it?”

Miklos knew better than to refuse and gave his consent and allowed himself to be guided down the corridor to the commander’s private quarters. He asked, “What is it that you need me for sir?”

“As you know about our visitor that will be arriving soon. I need you to make sure that head of security has all possible measures enabled but that is not really what I want to discuss with you.”

“Yes sir?”

“My main concern is that I’m being spied upon. Now I don’t know who it is. Maybe our visitor is trying to check out our operations or it could be the Republic.”

“What would you have me do sir,” Miklos responded. He had begun to feel uneasy that they might have to pull out.

“I want you to find out who it is, if there is one. I can’t afford anyone not authorized getting into the locked databanks especially with the war going on.”

“I’ll do my best sir and keep you updated.”

“Good well, attend to your duties and feel free to involve the security officer. I hear that she packs a mighty strong punch.”

“Yes sir,” and Miklos saluted and left to attend to the normal duties that he had during the day. Miklos felt uneasy that the commander was suspecting something. He sensed that the mystery visitor was the key behind it and wondered if it was an attempt to root out all the Avalonians involved in the war. He tried not to dwell too much about it as he sent a coded message for Secura to meet him in his quarters after evening debriefing. Somehow he got through the day at his normal duties and preparing to establish his ‘team’ to hunt down the spies.

Later in his quarters, he had changed to a simple tunic that was similar to a Jedi tunic but looked more civilian, in terms of Avalonian dress. He was studying a datapad with a copy of the latest orders from Ashira when he heard the familiar soft knock at the door. Putting the datapad down, he opened the door of his quarters to find Secura dressed similarly in a simple tunic. He quickly ushered her inside and checked to make sure no one was around and double-checked with his Jedi senses. When he was finished, he closed his door and sealed it, an indicator not to be disturbed, and went to speak to Secura.

Secura herself had been feeling uneasy that day. In fact she sensed that something was about to change their situation there on Rendili. She waited in an at ease position as Miklos began by giving the report update from Ashira, “The General has instructed us to continue giving her information and to give urgent news immediately.”

“Yes commander. I sense that today was not normal, excluding the war.”

“That is true Secura. I believe the commander suspects that there are spies within the fleet. He as asked me to assemble a team to seek them out. Well, he said that head of security would be appropriate.”

“Why would he have reason to suspect? No one has blown their cover by carelessness.”

Looking into her dark eyes, Miklos replied, “I sense that it has to do with the visitor that is to visit the fleet within a few standard days. This reeks of something that is dark side in nature.”

“Should I relay this to the General on the special coded channel or the usual?”

“The special. I’ll try to fix things so that it will force attention away from us. That should buy us enough time to receive instructions and find a way to pull out.”

“I’ll get on it right away sir,” and Secura made her way to the door. Miklos stopped her with a gentle grasp on her arm before she touched the lock. His soft brown eyes gazed into hers as he said gently, “Be careful, there has been enough death in this war.”

She looked at him and replied, “I will. I always make sure my tracks are covered,” and she turned towards the lock again but not before he placed his hand under her chin and lifted it to give her a kiss on her forehead. She left with a smile to send the coded data stream.

Sitting on a chair within a darkened chamber, a dark figure was pondering while reading a datapad. His trusty pet, a small draigon, lay next to the chair looking asleep but was alert and ready to defend his master with his life. The draigon did not stir when the door opened and a young lieutenant stepped in very frightened. The lieutenant made the respectful salute and said, “My lord.”

The dark figure, hidden by shadows replied in a rather deep voice, “Are all the preparations made?”

“Y-yes milord. The fleet is in position per your instructions and are prepared to make the jump into hyperspace.”

“Good. My shuttle will be ready by tomorrow for our ‘meeting’ yes?”

“The final checks are being run as we speak,” the lieutenant was trying not to tremble.

“You have done well lieutenant. Leave us and make ready.”

Saluting, the lieutenant replied, “Yes Lord Dragus,” and he backed out, relieved that he didn’t have to be in Dragus’ presence anymore.

Lord Dragus leaned down and began to stroke his draigon. He smiled to himself as he talked to it, “All is going as planned. I’m surprised Lord Sidious hasn’t discovered our presence. Maybe it’s because we have a tendency to hide behind doubt and in the shadows.”

The draigon began to growl in pleasure and Dragus stood up and walked to a desk. The draigon raised its head and watched its master with an intent look. Dragus continued, “Soon Dooku will learn of us through the fleet commander. I’m sure that any of her undercover teams will be discovered by the time we arrive and soon we shall have the revenge on the blood of my ancestors against the one who defies even the Jedi,” and Dragus began to laugh at the prospect of his carefully laid plan coming to fruit. The draigon gazed at his master intently for a moment more then put his head down to sleep.

Secura was worried, both about the impending investigation that could expose the team and what had transpired in Miklos’ quarters. Miklos was never one to share his emotions, something he learned from the Jedi and he never spoke much of what happened after their last encounter with General Grievous. She tried not to think of it but her own feelings kept invading her thoughts. The many missions the General ad sent them on, she grew to have feelings for Miklos. Until now, she had never known what he felt in return. She was glad but worried that this sudden change could make him careless but then she remembered that he was not like his brother. She said to herself, “Keep on the mission. The General is counting on us.”

She began to program the report hidden on her update datapad to fit into the coded data stream signal that she developed. She knew the General was on Azure and had access to the codebreaker there so she encrypted the signal with a simple code. Checking to make sure there were no holes, she sent it through the emergency signal so that it would make its way directly to the General. When it was sent, she carefully wiped any trace of the data she had sent and destroyed any chance of recovery and made it look like it was a system failure, just in case the investigation had any reason to suspect the local communications. That done she sighed, “I hope we will make it out of here alive.”

The communications tower at Azure was a little crowded as Obi-wan, Anakin and Ashira-Li were standing there to communicate with the Jedi Council on Coruscant. The meeting was going fairly well considering the ripple of intense emotions circulating about the room. Ashira was working hard using the Force to make sure it wasn’t visible to the masters. She gave her report that she had just received from Secura, “The fleet is still in an indecisive mode but there is suspicion that this ‘visitor’ they are receiving may change the commander’s mind,” she deliberately left out the fact that the team may be in danger.

Master Yoda replied, “Sense a darkness do you?”

“Jedi Korin does feel dark ripples and sensed that the atmosphere is about to become charged. He reported that the fleet is performing all sorts of special requests.”

“Hmm. Danger approaching it is,” Yoda replied.

Master Windu seemed to be pondering what she just reported and chose to respond with, “Do you feel that the recon team is in any way to be compromised?”

Ashira considered lying but knew that from the looks of the masters that she was in enough trouble. Instead she replied, “The commander is suspicious of espionage, more so now that they are expecting this ‘visitor’. The team is on standby until I can send orders to pull out. I can assure you that Miklos is of sound judgment and will inform me of any problems and if he feels that they are about to be compromised.”

“Discuss this we must but not long,” Yoda responded.

“I agree,” Master Windu seconded.

The rest of the council decided that a discussion was in order. They had come to trust Ashira’s word and were willing to give her the benefit of a doubt when it came to her men. When the vote was completed, Master Windu said, “Then it is settled. Obi-wan, your apprentice shall return to Coruscant while you remain while we deliberate the situation. This session is ended. Ashira, remain.”

Obi-wan didn’t seem to care what was going to happen but Anakin was suspicious. He had noticed Master Ashira’s face and thought he saw the tinniest bit of knowing dread. It was by chance that he caught it at all as she hid everything from everyone. After he and Obi-wan left the communications tower, he doubled back with an excuse to go back. He stood silently outside the door and listened to the conversation that was going on.

“Your actions at Azure while commendable went against the instruction of this Council,” Master Windu was speaking.

“Yes my masters. I went knowingly and willingly.”

“It is good that you know this. In normal circumstances, you would have been exiled but seeing how that we are at war, it is not the time for this. Instead you will remain where you are and try to determine what is going on in that visit with the fleet at Rendili. You will take action after consulting with us. Find out if there is any connection with Count Dooku.”

“Yes master. Jedi Korin is reliable.”

“Good. We didn’t want to say this on record but we think it is best that the team stays in for as long as it can. More information is needed to determine the intentions of the fleet.”

“Yes master,” and Ashira ended the holotransmission. Anakin couldn’t see her face but thought that he could discern her mood, one of despair. He didn’t know however that it was not the rebuke that caused her to feel this way but something else.

The council sat in silence until Ashira’s image disappeared from the scene. Master Yoda gave a small, unnoticeable sigh for his old Padawan. Master Windu was the first to speak, “Much defiance in her. A constant problem.”

Master Ki-Adi-Mundi had been silent through much of the debriefing. He decided to speak, “Defiance is not what I sensed in the young Jedi. Something else, a wound maybe.”

“Hmm. Clouded her thoughts and feelings are. Impossible to see,” Yoda added.

“Her defiance has been a constant problem in the Order. She tends to follow her personal feelings than what has been instructed for the greater good,” Master Windu voiced.

“Out of loyalty to principles of her people, Bushida,” Ki-Adi-Mundi replied.

“Yes, a struggle more and more common among the Avalonian Padawans. The first she is but not the last,” Yoda added.

“Still let us hope that this assignment reminds her of where her duty lies.”

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