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Old 04-21-2006, 12:44 PM   #8
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Chapter 4: Search and Destroy
Lord Dragus was on the bridge when his ship docked at the spaceport. He was welcomed aboard by Commander Trask, who informed him that Count Dooku would be arriving later to hear his proposition concerning a carefully laid plan. Miklos recognized Lord Dragus and hid himself among the ranks so that Dragus would not have a chance to look at his face. Commander Trask was beside himself as he was saying, “My lord, everything in your quarters have been readied to your specifications and we hope that you are going to enjoy your stay.”

Miklos slunk behind listening to Dragus, “Excellent. Have your suspicions been confirmed? You know about what I told you.”

“Not yet but I have a top officer working on that with chief of security. If we find any trace of a traitor, they will be ‘taken’ care of.”

Miklos chose to make himself noticeable and walked in a manner to make himself noticed by Trask. Commander Trask took note, “Ah here is my special aide Lieutenant Michal Koros. He is the one in charge of the investigation.”

“Really? I hope he is adept enough to seek what we are looking for.”

“I always follow orders,” Miklos replied. He kept his gaze down so as to seem subservient to Commander Trask.

Pleased, Trask said, “Our meeting will be held tomorrow at 1000 hours, the way that was agreed upon. You may go Michal.”

With a salute, Miklos turned smartly on his heel and went as if he intended to go to the command center. He instead went to go find Secura and told her in a hushed whisper, “Be on the alert. We may have to pull out. I’ll notify the general.”

Ashira-Li hid her tiredness the same way she hid everything else from everyone. Her recent communication revealed what she had long feared, that her own people were divided and the dream she had the night before confirmed it. She had a determination in her step as she went to the communications tower, anxious to contact the masters. She was met by Obi-wan whom she greeted with a civil reply. Obi-wan thought she was still angry with him and he decided to accompany her to the tower.

Once inside she activated it and her end revealed Masters Windu and Yoda. Biting back her nature she spoke, “I have received a transmission from the team. Jedi Korin reports that the visitor is one called Lord Dragus, a former Jedi. I also have word that Count Dooku will be arriving shortly. I have a strong feeling that some plot is about to be unleashed.”

“Do have any information as to specific details in mind?” Master Windu asked.

“No master. They are keeping things under wraps. It’s strictly ‘need to know’ basis but Jedi Korin won’t be able to get inside. I suspect that there are others that are going to be there but no one will speak of it.”

“Suspect danger do you?” Master Yoda asked.

“Lord Dragus may recognize some members of the team. That is most likely the reason why the fleet had been put on alert for espionage. There may be a risk of hitting a system close to us, possibly an attempt to disable my people due to the support we give to the Republic,” then taking a breath she said, “I believe they should pull out.” Ashira-Li had stressed the last part. She did not know how long Miklos could keep up the act and chose not to voice that.

“Have the rest of the team pull out but Jedi Korin should stay. He is close enough to find out what is being planned. It is a risk that must be taken,” Master Windu responded.

Yoda looked at his padawan and saw that she was in two minds about it. She would never leave one of her people in a position to risk getting caught especially if it was an adopted brother. She respected all life and it was something about her that made the other padawans respect her and want to learn from her. She was a natural leader and she knew it for she tried to discourage the younglings and the padawans from listening to her instead of the masters, no matter if she was right or not. He saw that she was going to obey, at least in part. Knowing her, she would add in something extra when she relayed the message to Miklos. Obi-wan spoke, “If this is right master, we cannot afford to lose the Avalonians. They provide the rear defense for the Republic.”

“I agree,” Yoda said.

“Obi-wan, go to Avalon, the closest planet to the Republic and advise them of the situation,” Master Windu said.

“If I may Master Windu, the whole team should be pulled out,” Ashira-Li said.

“Miklos is strong in the Force and a skilled Jedi. Find a way he will,” Yoda said, warning her.

“Ashira, go to the station outpost near the system,” Master Windu said. He had guessed right that she would do something.

“Yes master. I will inform Miklos immediately of your decision,” and Ashira ended the transmission.

Setting the signal to Miklos, Obi-wan spoke, “I know that face. You are going to defy the council yet again.”

“No. I am giving him his instructions and leave for the station, exactly as the council instructed,” she replied.

“I know that face better than you think. First chance you get you’ll head for Rendili.”

“I obey the council,” and she finished sending her message.

“I know my place. Do you know yours?”

The question was like a dart through her heart. She was not about to give Obi-wan the satisfaction of seeing how it hurt her. She left but at the door she turned, “I was expelled before and still am,” and she walked away. A storm was beginning to wage outside.

Miklos received her reply. He gazed at it but did not say anything. He knew her hand was being forced. He would do what he had to and try to make it out alive. He scanned the stars and heaved a sigh. He then put on a look of determination and strode out of his quarters to inform his team that they were to pull out.

Ashira-Li was in the quarters that had been issued to Siri when they came to Azure. She had come in through the vents because she did not want anyone to know that she was in there. She had spent hours after Siri’s death in there, just meditating and feeling for her presence. As she stood in the center of the room, Ashira-Li was drawn to a small panel that was hidden in the wall. Feeling along, she managed to trigger the panel to open. Inside was a treasure that Ashira was surprised to see.

Ashira-Li knew that the Belosian Handmaidens, specifically the Haida tribe and the fiercer of the warrior women, had adopted Siri. She was surprised that Siri kept that part of her hidden and began to rifle through the contents in a methodical manner. She found something that had been sent recently and realized that was why Siri was on edge before she left for Azure. Written in the tribal language of the Lordes tribe, it was summoning Siri, or a representative to the enclave for training. Apparently Separatist forces, unofficial ones, had invaded Belos or suspected of criminal actions. Not sure of what to make of this, Ashira-Li packed all the contents of the panel into a container and went back through the vents to her quarters. Once there, she thought about the dream she had the might before and made a connection that it involved Belos. It made sense considering that Belos had the larger body of able warriors. Ashira decided to think on it in her sleep and went to bed.

Obi-wan had looked everywhere on the spaceport the next morning for Ashira to apologize and ask what she meant. He kept searching until his fighter and the Ebon Hawk were prepped for launch to their respective destinations. He felt angry with her for her manner and was angry with himself for not apologizing. He was frustrated that she could detach herself from everything and yet still care. He did not notice that she was watching him as he walked to his fighter. He departed without so much as a farewell.

Ashira was wondering why she was so stubborn herself but, like everything else, she pushed it away from her mind as she boarded her ship with Andros. She did not say anything as she warmed up the engines. Without informing the council, she left a small contingent at Azure to provide security and to alert of any further attacks. The rest she dispersed to surrounding systems so they could provide reinforcements. Andros, sensing her mood, did not say anything until they made the jump into hyperspace.

“Something wrong?” he asked.

“Just the fact I am leaving a brother in a dangerous position,” she replied.

“He’s my brother too.”

Ashira-Li turned to face Andros and smiled. She replied, “I know.”

A sleek shuttle docked in the port and a hushed silence fell about the people. Count Dooku had arrived and he was most anxious to meet this Lord Dragus who expressed interest in joining the Separatists and had a plan to immobilize the biggest threat to them. Lord Dragus was most pleasant towards Dooku as they were shown into a secured room. Miklos had not been invited to attend but he had been ordered to prepare the room. He did ‘prepare’ the room and was in the ventilation shafts, just in case plan A failed.

“I understand that you wish to join us,” Dooku was speaking.

“Assuredly Count Dooku. Let’s just say that I have a vested interest in where the Republic is heading,” Dragus replied. He was laying hints that he was aware of Dooku’s association with Darth Sidious.

Dooku picked up on it and replied accordingly, “Excellent. I received word that you had a plan?”

“Yes, involving the biggest threat to our forces, the Avalonians. To be more specific, the warriors of Belos. If we could make sure they don’t interfere, the Avalonians wouldn’t be in a position to aid the Republic.”

“Interesting,” Commander Trask interjected. He was familiar with the Avalonians in general, particularly the senator who had a considerable amount of enemies against her.

“How would this work?” Dooku asked.

“Simple search and destroy. I already have landed troops on the surface and we will engage in a method most consistent in their nature,” Dragus replied, referring to the codes of honor that the people followed. He was rather pleased that it would work and he relayed the plan while the patient ears of Miklos were waiting and listening.

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