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Old 11-10-2006, 08:33 PM   #82
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Chapter 20
The streets of Coruscant could be merciless or pleasant, depending on what level you were on. There were some areas that were worth going to and others that were fit for the scum in the universe. You could either blend in or stand out but it was better to blend in. That was the goal of the woman walking briskly through the streets to the nearest cantina. Dressed like a smuggler, she gave the impression that she was not to be messed with. That was certainly the feeling when she entered the Hunter’s Bounty, a shady cantina that was known for conducting all types of business.

The air was dank and heavy with the smell of cigarra smoke and the vintages of several alcoholic beverages. The woman’s nostril’s flared slightly at the smell but she gave off a content smile and headed towards the bar. The barkeep, upon seeing her, brought out a bottle of rare spirits. She called it saruke but he knew it as Shreyite brandy and that it came from Avalon. When she laid down the credits for the brandy he gave a slight nod and motioned his eyes to a corner. Taking her cue, the woman gave a smile and sauntered towards a booth near the rear. She was greeted by a familiar sight that greeted her with a smile.

Kirabaros was a nervous wreck though he was much too prideful to show it. After being kept in the dark for the past week, he and his sister would finally appear before the Senate. It had taken Senator Amstar that long to convince the senators that they weren’t going to cut and run and to not badger them. He knew that there were some senators who disliked him because he was adamant in his last session with them and that he was a Jedi. It irked but didn’t surprise him that there were some who still didn’t trust Jedi at all. Not that he blamed him. Then there were the others who thought him to be a hero, like the senator from Ryloth. None of that mattered except for the feeling of dread that he had ever since he accompanied Senator Amstar to Coruscant.

He was staring out the glass window, watching the air traffic flying along as if nothing were out of place. Watching the organized flow reminded him of, of all things, the organization of the fleet that he planned during the war. All he saw was the grace and the dance that came when they flew in, out and about. It was magnificent to see but hanging at the back of his mind it was a dance of death. He was watching the sight when he was brought out of his reverie by a gentle touch to his shoulder and a pleasant voice asking, “Hey, you awake?”

“Today’s the day Lethe. They will be heading to the Senate.”

“What would I do without you Mission?” Michaela, or rather ‘Lethe,’ asked with a smile.

Mission just beamed at Michaela. For the past week Michaela met with Mission regularly to get an update on what was happening. She knew that Mission had a way of finding out things and visited the senator when the chance presented itself. It was a lot of work but it was better than not knowing what was going on. Mission knew this and did it willingly. She gazed at the woman that she hardly recognized as the cultured woman she had met four years ago and said, “Yeah it took a lot of the usual greasing the wheels but he’ll be able to better keep an eye on things. He asks about you and I tell him that business is good.”

Michaela smiled at the blue Twi’lek across from her. She took a polite sip of the brandy that she had picked up and replied, “Tell me, does the droid know what to do?”

It was a lonely ride to the Senate arena, and it didn’t help that Rowan insisted that Kirabaros maintain a meditative state to keep a sharp eye out for trouble. Revan felt lonely since Kirabaros ended up shutting her out and Senator Amstar was too deep in her own thoughts to be much of a conversational companion. Instead Revan turned to her own thoughts.

She had found Kirabaros staring out the window wearing that look he always wore when mesmerized by battle. She had first noticed it when he dueled with Jolee long ago. It was then that she realized that he was different and that he would never be the same. She was thinking this when she asked him if he was awake. He just turned and smiled at her and said, “Well, today’s the day.”

“Yes it is,” she replied.

“Ready?” His eyes were searching her person as if trying to determine if something were wrong.

Looking him up in the eye, she smiled and said, “Talk nice with the senators. Piece of cake.” She then turned to say good-bye to her daughter and husband but not before she noticed the etched lines of worry near the corners of his eyes.

Revan had mixed apprehensions about leaving Lilah at the apartment alone since Carth had to report to the High Admiral’s office and then he was going to watch the proceedings. She didn’t have to worry for HK-47 was left with Lilah and Caelos would be coming from the Temple to keep an eye out along with Dustil who declined to attend the proceedings. Recalling that Kirabaros had ‘fixed’ a few things as well as she, she relaxed and concentrated on her surroundings. It was then she felt a warm feeling, a feeling of reassurance.

“I suppose all the arrangements are made for the cargo?” Michaela asked Mission. It had become necessary to refer to Kirabaros and Revan as if they were cargo or a smuggling job. It was less risky since all sorts of business like that were conducted there anyway.

“Yeah. Don’t worry about it. You do your job and I’ll do mine,” Mission replied.

Kirabaros had to shut Revan out if only to center himself when Rowan urged him to but he realized that she was apprehensive and sent a warm feeling of assurance. During his meditation, he received a spine prickle at the back of his neck. It was the same feeling that he felt the split second before being hit with the blaster bolt to the abdomen. He had a feeling that it was getting closer. He immediately cut his thoughts off and started thinking of some nonsense or other for Revan was looking at him with an inquisitive look. She said softly, “I know that that face.”

Kirabaros looked at her and attempted brevity, “What face?”

Not fooled by it, Revan responded, “That face that says something is bothering you. Specifically the one that you get when you have a feeling something is going to happen.”

“There is no face. Just my face,’ Kirabaros replied with a serious face that given other circumstances would have brought laughter.

“You know what I mean. You try to hide it but it shows.” Revan gave a kind look but it held a deadly serious look, the one that she used when she commanded the armies. It was a compelling gaze and would take a strong will to not be intimidated by it.

“Just being my usual paranoid self,” Kirabaros replied, mimicking unconsciously Carth when he teased Revan. He briefly wondered why Revan chuckled at him and took it to mean that she realized that he was joking. He smiled at her and turned to watch as the transport landed at the port. He was unaware that he was in a hunter’s sights, the hunter waiting for the shot. This time it was to wound.

Michaela and Mission left the cantina, stopping to give some friendly advice and exchange some news. Mission was telling Michaela that Kirabaros missed her and Tulre and hoped that everything would go well in the Senate. Neither of noticed how a group wound their way around them until Michaela turned around and saw the same men that had attacked them before they left home. Mission was hidden behind her so they didn’t see her push a button on a comm to signal Atton. The leader of the group said, “Well the Force be praised. It took a while to find you.”

“What do you want?” Michaela replied firmly withdrawing a katana that she had with her. Mission had drawn her vibroblade and was poised to attack.

“Now don’t be hasty. Perhaps we can settle this in a mature fashion. You hand over what we want and you can go on your merry way,” the leader responded with a smile.

“We know what you want core slime and you ain’t gettiin’ it!” Mission blurted out.

“Oh, I always get what I am after. You are merely extra baggage,” the leader had a sadistic grin on his face. He made a motion and his men began to move in. “You see, we already know where they are, all three of them.”

Undisturbed by the comment, Michaela drew up her blade. She had known that they couldn’t hide forever here in the Core Worlds. Mission knew that too and had brought back every piece of information that she could get. As the group closed in, they twirled blades ready to fight.

The entourage had been met up with the Fleet brass for pleasantries and Kirabaros hid his boredom at pomp and circumstance. He greeted Carth with the proper respect and recognized Keegan from when he was first there. Something was off about him but Kirabaros couldn’t figure out what yet. They all turned to go into the Senate building when Kirabaros felt it. With a quick dive, he pushed Revan and everyone in front of him down, out of the way before the transport exploded. Rolling on the ground, Kirabaros unsheathed his lightsaber and scanned the horizon.

Jaqrand watched as the Jedi made his move. He was amused and surprised that he could move that fast. He fired a few more rounds to watch as Kirabaros deflected most of them. The others hit the building hard and sent debris and sparks. He watched as Kirabaros directed everyone inside while facing out. Now it was time to get serious.

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