Chapter 1: To The Rescue
When Lagoruthel opened her eyes, she saw vast darkness, nothing more. All her senses alerted her to reach out and find a source of light. She was trapped; there couldn’t be any other explanation, as she most certainly was not dead. Not yet anyway. But where was she trapped? Attempting to make out her surroundings, she extended her left hand slowly. There was nothing to grasp, no matter how much she tried. She clearly was floating in the air.
The Jedi master just barely closed her eyes when she heard the unmistakeable voice of an old man. The voice that used to reassure her, dissipate all fears and doubts clouding her mind. His raspy baritone sent familiar soothing waves of harmony through her entire body.
“You need to focus, padawan. The galaxy needs you, now more than ever.”
Lagoruthel inhaled deeply and tried to pay attention to her former master’s words.
“Master Orgus. What is happening?” She managed to maintain her poise, and keep her voice steady despite the brewing discomfort and slight fear.
“You are dying, my young friend. Your body is fighting hard to resist the poison, but you’re slowly fading.”
She let out a low groan from the sudden pressure on her chest. “Valkorion said he’s done all he can to preserve my life. Was he lying?”
“He did what he can, but it seems to be insufficient. You need to buy yourself time, padawan.”
“How, Master Orgus? I can barely feel my limbs.”
She heard a light rustling sound before a chill ran down her spine as her master’s ghost placed his hand on her forehead.
“Focus, my friend. Reach into the depth of the force. Concentrate on positive memories. On peace.”
There is no emotion, there is peace.
Lagoruthel did as her old master instructed her. She focused inward, on her happy memories when she felt the most at peace. Channelling all her remaining strength, she could evoke the most significant events in her life. The deep forest of her home planet, Cularin. Her first successful Jedi mind trick at the age of 13 on Nar Shaddaa after Zale Barrows was captured. Her arrival on Tython. Stopping Bengel Morr with the help of Teeseven. Being granted the title of Knight. Training her own padawan, Kira Carsen. Stopping Darth Angral from destroying worlds. Meditating with Lord Scourge. Fighting the Emperor on Dromund Kaas. Saving Makeb from the Hutt Cartel. Killing Darth Malgus after the Battle of Ilum. Teaming up with Theron Shan and Lana Beniko to stop Revan.
She could see the Sith stand right before her as if she were there. She was sporting an unfamiliar magenta robe, which was hugging her form delicately. Her glowing yellow eyes were full of mirth, and a gentle smile danced on her lips, as she extended her hand for Lagoruthel.
She warily took the few steps that separated them from each other and slowly raised her hand to take Lana’s, but when Lagoruthel tried to reach for the hand, her own gloved one simply went through the Sith’s as if she were a hologram or an apparition.
“Life is as empty without terror as it is without love.”
The deep voice of the Emperor resonated through the dimly lit space. Lagoruthel eyed him suspiciously from the corner of her eye.
“What are you even talking about?”
“You forget I exist in your head and so I see every single thought that crosses your mind,” he made a dramatic pause to glance between the two women. “I can also see your heart.”
“Then you know my heart belongs to the Jedi Order and our code of conduct.”
Valkorion snickered loudly at her statement.
“You try so hard to fool your own self ever since this Sith woman entered your life.”
“I adore her for her pragmatism, and how she’s willing not to follow the Sith ways to the letter. She’s a fierce warrior and a very dear friend, but that’s all.”
The former Emperor shook his head in disbelief and pressed on.
“Look at me. Abandoning my past let me experience pleasures I denied myself before. I have known love on Zakuul. Who knows? Even you may find it. If you’ll let yourself find it.”
“Jedi cannot love. It leads to attachment – and that leads to the dark side.”
“Your thinking remains limited. A pity.”
The Jedi let her eyes linger on Lana for a bit more. Maybe she won’t ever see her again, maybe this is the end for her. She knew Valkorion was right. Her feelings for Lana went further than simple adoration for her, but she also knew there were no room for messy feelings in such an important Jedi’s life as hers. Not to mention the fact Lana served the enemy. So she did what she was trained to do: rid herself all attachments and personal feelings that surpass the necessary limits. Compassion and mercy above all other in association with love.
A piercing pain in her abdomen dragged her from her contemplation, and she doubled over clutching her stomach. The vision of Lana slowly faded away like a cloud of smoke.
“I’m dying,” she cried out, writhing on the floor.
“No. We are being rebor,” Valkorion declared with a malicious smile on his face.
Lagoruthel’s vision became hazy once again. It felt like she was falling through a tight hole and her insides were on fire from the poison. Her surroundings started to brighten all of a sudden, and she felt the cold air hit her skin. She fell limp into someone’s arms.
It was all a blur. Everything seemed to be too quiet and too bright for her own liking. The image she couldn’t make out due to her current lack of vision was talking to her.
“It’s okay, it’s okay. Don’t try to move. You’re dying. I may have your cure, but I’m not going to lie…This will hurt.”
The voice she still couldn’t recognise in her delirium kept talking to her, and while Lagoruthel tried to find the right words to say something she all of a sudden felt a sharp sting in her neck where a needle punctured the skin. She let out a ragged gasp, but all her pain evaporated as soon as the antidote coursed through her veins.
“That wasn’t quite so bad, was it?” The familiar silvery voice had her heart jump to her throat in an instant.
Instinctively she reached out with one hand to touch her rescuer’s face.
“Lana? Is that really you?”
“That’s right, Master Jedi. You’re safe,” Lana grabbed her probing hand and held it against her cheek with her one that wasn’t holding the trembling Jedi. She’s never seen the Battlemaster this vulnerable before; it was a bit bizarre experience for the Sith.
“I can’t believe you’re truly here. You saved my life.”
“I saved you from dying this instant. We’ve still got quite a ways to go. Can you stand?”
“I can barely see a thing.”
“That’s just the after effect of the hibernation. Don’t worry, I’ll aid you.”
Lana managed to lift the weakened Jedi to her feet and support her with a hand thrown over her waist.
“Vault guards = arriving / / Lana + Jedi = get ready!”
The familiar beeping put a smile on Lagoruthel’s face.
“Teeseven! I missed you, pal.”
“Jedi = still in danger! / / Everyone = still in danger!”
“The Empire and Republic have all but fallen to the man who imprisoned you. You’re our last hope.”
Lana tried to maintain a steady jogging pace while propping up Lagoruthel, but trying to avoid the Skytroopers and also drag the Jedi along proved to be quite a challenge. Teeseven’s successful false security alerts in other sectors gave them a slight advantage, but Lana still had to ignite her crimson red lightsaber from time to time, and battle the advanced troops that blocked their escape route.
“What kind of prison is this?” Lagoruthel asked when her vision became clear enough to actually see again. The question seemed to take the Sith by surprise as she inspected a locked blast door.
“It’s no prison. This is where Arcann keeps all his most prized possessions.”
“Yes, don’t you feel special now?”
Lagoruthel caught sight of the little smirk that graced Lana’s lips for a moment before her comlink buzzed and the voice of Koth Vortena seeped through it.
He sounded impatient, but Lana remained her usual composed self, and explained him that they just need a few more minutes before reaching him.
While she updated the pilot, Lagoruthel noticed a feminine figure on the console.
“Lana, we might have a problem.”
The Sith turned her attention to the image and gritted her teeth in frustration.
“We’re not ready. Not for Vaylin. We need to keep moving.”
“You won’t get any argument from me. Let me help with the door.”
“Are you sure? You need to preserve your strength.”
“I’m fine, Lana, really.”
To be completely honest, she still felt wobbly a bit, but she wasn’t famous for letting her emotions and physical pain get the better of her. She saw the hesitation on the Sith’s face, but there weren’t any room for objections right then, not with the threat of Vaylin catching up to them.
They reached an elevator after eliminating three dozens of Skytroopers when the comlink signalled again. Koth had to change his position so now they too had to keep marching for a further location.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” the Jedi remarked.
“Love the enthusiasm. Always love our little excursions, Lana. Back with you shortly.”
Lagoruthel’s first instinct was to inquire about the nature of their relationship, as they seemed to have known each other for quite some time. How come she never heard Lana mention him before? Surely they were acquainted during the Revan mission already. A slight pang of jealousy found its way to her heart and she felt ashamed.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
“Let’s get going.”
When the elevator started its descent, they remained silent for a brief period. The view of Zakuul at this late hour was beautiful and Lagoruthel found herself enthralled with the innocence that radiated from the sight.
She was broken out of her spellbound state with the clear sense of Lana’s intense gaze at her. The Jedi swore she could see a slight blush paint the blonde’s cheeks upon being caught.
She folded her arms over her chest. “What?”
“It’s…good to see you.”
“The feeling’s mutual.”
They both felt a little tug of the force for a brief moment when their eyes locked. It was unusual and strange, but neither thought much about it right then.
“I have a million question right now.”
“I know, but the answers will have to wait.”
Ducking through two towers, a Skytrooper droid factory and risking their lives – much to Lana’s disapproval – by stopping a reactor blowing up half the city, they finally arrived at the skyhook where Koth was supposed to pick them up. The only problem was that there was no sign of the pilot, and Vaylin cornered them on the ledge. It seemed like the end of the race, when out of nowhere a shuttle appeared behind them and opened fire at the enemy.
The door to the small ship hung open for Lana and the Jedi to board, but an unexpected blow from Vaylin swayed it in the air, and that nearly cost Lagoruthel her life. She was just an inch away from falling to her death, having almost missed the ramp.
Lana grabbed the hand she was holding onto the ledge with, and managed to keep Lagoruthel from slipping.
“HK, give me a hand!”
A man-sized combat droid appeared by Lana’s side at once, and grabbed the Jedi’s other hand.
“Declaration: Meatbags can’t fly.”
Lagoruthel stumbled into the cargo compartment of the small shuttle with Lana and the droid close behind.
“HK, stay with Master Lagoruthel while I help Koth,” the blonde instructed, when they were all secure.
“I’m fine, really,” the Jedi insisted, even though she was clearly out of breath.
She would never admit it, but it felt nice to sit for a few minutes after all the ordeal they had endured in the past few hours, since her rescue from her prison. Her eyes finally readjusted themselves to the lights of the world, and the dark spots that had been swimming before her vision for quite a long time now vanished at last. She still felt some other after effects of the carbon-freezing, like slight dizziness, cold, and fatigue, but she had to ease back into her old full-of-energy self if she hoped to survive. There was no way she would let Lana or Koth carry her everywhere on their backs.
HK brought her some water to rehydrate and tended to her minor scratches she got during the fights.
She couldn’t really make out what Lana and Koth were bickering about in the cockpit, just caught some words like “engine” and “problem.”
“I told you we’d succeed,” Lana beamed. She was never one to brag about her accomplishments, but her tone gave away the fact it has been a very difficult mission to complete.
“You forgot the part where I’d lose my ship,” Koth lamented bitterly.
Lagoruthel carefully shuffled to the front and stood in the door way silently. Lana most probably sensed her presence because she turned to her rescuee with a slight frown on her face.
“Is everything all right, Master Jedi?”
“Yes, and please, Lana, you don’t have to be so formal. We’ve known each other for some time now. Just Lagoruthel is fine.”
Lana silently nodded at the request. “Of course. My apologies.”
“I was with the others when Arcann attacked. What happened? Why were you and Teeseven the only ones to come for me?” the Jedi Master asked the Sith confusedly.
“I can only tell you as much as I know, my friend.”
“Better get started. It’s going to be a short trip, and you’ve got five years of galactic hell to cover,” Koth added from behind the wheel.
Lagoruthel felt as if someone just stabbed her in the chest. Her mouth fell agape, her brows furrowed from the sudden shock.
“Five years? It can’t be. I’ve only been gone…”
Lana put a reassuring hand on her upper arm, but it didn’t cease her bewilderment. Releasing an audible gulp, she returned to the back of the shuttle. She needed to meditate and calm her mind.
Chapter 2: Five Years
You probably noticed I use canon dialogue as well as canon scenes. Fear not, there will be alterations and added complications along the way, but I also want to depict certain existing scenes from KOTFE cause they're essential to the story and are good stuff. And not every single chapter story will be detailed, so hopefully you'll bear with me. :)
Thanks for the comments, kudos, bookmarks, and all the positive feedback on Tumblr too! ^^
May the force ever serve you all! xx
Lagoruthel’s head swirled with conflicted thoughts. Thanks to her thorough Jedi training, it was usually no challenge for her to do away with these bothersome feelings by meditating. Right then it happened to be impossible for her. Given her condition and distraught mind, she couldn’t concentrate inward. It didn’t help her case at all that Koth was shouting instructions to both HK and Lana to keep the shuttle in the air for a bit longer so they could make a safe landing.
Five years of her life just evaporated without her even being present in it. She had no idea what was going on in the galaxy, nor where her little crew had been. Did they make it back to the Republic safe and sound, or have they been long dead? Her mind was so closed off, she couldn’t even reach out through the force to find out. At least Teeseven was all right.
Master Orgus, where have you gone? I need you.
The Jedi stood from her sitting position and reattached her green lightsaber to her belt before heading over to the captain’s cabin. There was no use in waiting around when she could do something productive instead.
“Is everything okay?” she asked the frantic pilot. Koth quickly glanced at her.
“You might want to buckle up. We’re coming in fast.”
For the next two and a half minutes, the four of them struggled to stay on their feet while Koth landed the ship in the swamp. They didn’t have to bother opening the door since the impact managed to rip it in two.
“Are you all okay?” Lana asked. She was already – or rather still – on her feet and gathered everything that remained intact from their belongings.
“It could’ve been worse. Nice piloting, Koth.” The Jedi patted him on the back to emphasize her gratitude.
“Thanks. I tried my best.” He grinned proudly and turned to Lana. “I told you it will be-“
Neither of them noticed that HK and the Sith had already exited the wreck and started scanning the area. There wasn’t much to see: It was a seemingly endless swamp with various nasty creatures, plants and lots of debris.
“Is there anything on your sensors, HK?” Lagoruthel asked, stepping beside the droid.
“Confirmation: I’ve detected a large metallic object nearby. Analysis suggests a technological construct, but there are no energy readings.”
“Whatever it is, it’s got better chances of flying than this shuttle,” Koth commented, going through the scrap to look for usable components.
“The Skytroopers can’t be far behind us. We need to hide the evidence of our landing.” Lana added after retrieving her macrobinoculars from under a metal plate.
“I have a kind of déjà vu feeling.”
“Arron Prime, perhaps?”
The little exchange made Lagoruthel a bit uncomfortable and reassured her previous suspicions about the two of them knowing each other for a considerable time.
“I get the sense you two have been working together for a while.” She remarked with just a slight hint of bitterness in her tone. Nobody seemed to take notice of that.
Koth’s vague answer only seemed to fuel her uneasiness. Was she really being jealous? Is this what that feels like?
Lana reassured the Jedi she’d answer her every question once they were safe. She needed to clear her head, so Lagoruthel offered to assist HK in finding the mysterious object while Lana and Koth disposed of their wreckage.
The several vicious predators that blocked their way were nothing compared to the nastiness of the swamp. She was grateful her boots were made of one of the best kinds of leather in the galaxy and she didn’t need to worry about getting soaked to the skin. This part of Zakuul she wasn’t very fond of. She even started to miss the cold glaciers of Hoth.
HK proved to be a pretty fierce bodyguard on the way deeper into the marsh. Some Skytroopers managed to spot them while trotting through the mud, but they defeated them without breaking a sweat.
“So. You’re Lana’s assassin, right?” The droid was crouching beside a large metal box when the Jedi Master asked.
“Confirmation: I was primarily assigned to aid Master Beniko, but when Master Vortena joined her, my assignment altered. That I have kept them alive despite their high-risk activities is my greatest achievement.”
This revelation in a way eased the Jedi’s mind a little bit. It could’ve meant that Lana acquired this droid after the events of the Revanite threat and the destruction of Ziost. She was certain that otherwise she would’ve met him before today. A small chance, but possible. That would mean Lana met Koth sometime around her and Marr’s disappearance.
“The two of them seem close.” She mused.
“Deflection: I am not programmed to assess or discuss the emotional matters of meatbags under my protection.”
Lagoruthel was slightly disappointed by his reaction. She thought she would get some more straightforward answers. Apparently there was no other way but to see how things turned out. Maybe Koth wasn’t Lana’s boyfriend, just a close male friend. Like Theron, perhaps. But what if not and she was stuck there for a long time, and had to watch them make out in front of her? It’s not like Lana showed any explicit interest in her before anyway. Doc was always so obvious with his constant flirting and compliments it started to annoy her after a few weeks. She was never interested in him, however. She was never interested in men in the physical way. Stars, she was never interested in anyone this much before Lana. The honourable Jedi. The Hero of Tython.
Valkorion’s words echoed in her head. You try so hard to fool your own self ever since this Sith woman entered your life. She’s been fighting tooth and nail against these growing feelings, but she seems to slowly lose the battle.
There is no emotion; there is peace.
They reached the technological object five minutes and some more iknayids later. Lana and Koth caught up to them just when Lagoruthel began to worry the Skytroopers might’ve captured them.
“Is this the object you picked up on your sensors, HK?” Koth asked him when they were within earshot.
The droid confirmed that it had been rotting there for several centuries already and that it didn’t match any previously known technology from Zakuul’s history. Koth suggested they all investigate the ship-like object more closely. It was their best shot at actually escaping the planet. The inside was heavily infested with various creatures that did not really put up much of a fight. The team easily made their way to the bridge where it finally became clear for Koth that the ship they’ve discovered was the infamous Gravestone. The only ship that ever managed to successfully defeat the Eternal Fleet.
After some exploration on the ship, Lagoruthel decided to lend Koth a hand in searching for some usable parts in the swamp. She thought it would present a great opportunity to get to know the pilot a bit better – and also his relationship with Lana.
When they found the needed parts, Koth started to babble about destiny and how they will defeat Arcann.
“It’s not that simple, Koth,” Lagoruthel argued.
“Don’t tell me you don’t believe in it either.”
“No, that’s not what I meant. I do believe certain people are destined to do great or terrible things. But that’s not enough. You must be willing to follow the path that’s been assigned to you. If you’re not aware of this path, there is no way one can fulfil their destiny. Nothing is set in stone. The future is always in motion.”
Koth didn’t say anything for a moment, he just savoured the Jedi’s words.
“Wow. You Jedi sure are a whole other level. Lana’s told me about all the things you’ve done. More than once. Half the reason I agreed to this crazy rescue mission was to see if you were actually real.”
Her mind began its race again from his words.
“She did? Really?”
“Yeah, that’s all she’s basically been talking about in the past five years. It was like a teenage girl rambling about her crush.” He chuckled at his own words before going back to salvaging. Had he been paying attention to her reaction, he could’ve witnessed the shy smile that found its way to her lips. Lana’s been telling stories about her. A Sith has been telling stories about a Jedi. It sounded like a ruse.
“I’m finished. Let’s get back to the ship and install these.”
Lagoruthel tried everything in her power to stop her racing mind, but she failed miserably. Koth’s words started a chain reaction in her that threatened everything she stood for as a Jedi Master. Could this mean she had a chance with Lana?
No. There is no emotion; there is peace. Never forget. Rid yourself of these thoughts.
“You’re back, good. I was thinking about going out for some fresh water. Care to join me?” Lana asked when they arrived.
“You go ahead, I’ll need some time for these beauties to work,” Koth announced, then patted Lana gently on the shoulder. The gesture managed to make the conflicted Jedi uneasy again.
“Let’s get going then. It’s starting to get dark out there.”
As promised, Lana explained everything that’s been going on in the past five years. How Arcann invaded the core worlds after Lagoruthel assassinated his father, how neither the Republic nor the Empire was any match for the Eternal Empire and its forces. Hearing about the atrocities, the Jedi felt a faint amount of anger brush past her. She should’ve been there to help. It was her duty to serve and protect, yet she was lying half dead in a carbon cage, like a damsel in distress.
“So the galaxy basically surrendered to Arcann,” Lagoruthel remarked when they located a freshwater spring not far from the Gravestone.
“There were no other options. The treaty was our best chance at surviving. We were short on resources. Empire and Republic both,” Lana explained, standing before the spring, typing on her datapad. She was completely unaware of Lagoruthel’s eyes on her – or at least pretended to be.
It was the first time she could truly take a look at Lana since her rescue. Five years had passed, but Lana looked just as vivid and beautiful as she remembered her. Dozens of fireflies swarmed the area, illuminating the water, the trees and the Sith’s face as well. Lagoruthel stood there, completely mesmerised by her companion. She found herself unable to take the distance between them anymore, her legs started to move on their own accord towards Lana.
“What do you know about my crew?” she blurted out, halting just before her. The Sith turned towards her with a serene expression.
“I have allies looking for them, but it will certainly take some time, given all the chaos of the last five years. For now, we make do with ourselves, Koth, and HK.”
“With you by my side, there’s nothing we can’t handle.” She blurted out without thinking. It was merely for a second, but Lagoruthel noticed Lana blushing the second time now since she rescued her.
“The feeling’s mutual. It truly is a relief to see you again.”
“Is that why you went into so much trouble to rescue me?”
Maybe she was pushing her luck, but the Jedi was on a roll, and she felt a certain amount of confidence pulsing through her. Lana seemed to be thinking about what to answer, judging by her furrowed brows.
“You accomplished things no one else was capable of before. You changed the galaxy more than once, and right now that’s exactly what we need.”
The Jedi’s confidence dissipated just as quickly as it came. Why did she ever think there was anything more to this than strategic thinking? Lana knew how powerful a Jedi she was. She witnessed it first-hand more than once. There were no personal feelings involved in her rescue.
She stared at the circling fireflies above the water when she felt Lana’s hand run through her brown hair.
“Love your new haircut by the way,” she confessed with a little smile.
It was Lagoruthel’s turn to blush. Her cheeks were on fire, and her brain momentarily shut down from the unexpected compliment and intimacy.
“T-thank you. It makes combat easier. My long hair had always been in the way, even in a ponytail.”
“Good decision. I think it suits you.”
The sudden shift in the air between them was palpable and the Jedi’s heart was thrumming in her chest rapidly. Had Lana not turned away to check on the barrels, Lagoruthel wouldn’t have noticed she was holding her breath for some time now.
“There is something else. I’ve felt it since the moment I freed you from carbonite. There’s a power in you, something new…it’s elusive, but I know it’s there,” Lana added hesitantly.
“You’re right, Lana. I think the Emperor, Valkorion, is in my mind.”
“After he died, there was a storm of energy. I can’t even remember being thrown into carbonite, and while I was in there, I saw things. I saw him. He was talking to me.”
Lana’s concern was written all over her features. “That can’t be true. If he were controlling you, I’d know it. I certainly saw enough of it on Ziost, and you, too.”
“I don’t really think he’s trying to control me. Not in a direct way, at least. I know what it’s like to be under his influence and this is nothing like that.”
“What do you mean?” Lana asked puzzled.
“It was a long time ago. I was reckless. We tried to capture Vitiate in his Fortress with my crew and some of the most powerful Jedi of the Order, but we overestimated our abilities. All of us fell to the dark side. I’d been doing terrible things under his influence for almost a month before I managed to break free with the help of my former master.”
“I’ve heard rumours on Dromund Kaas back then about a Jedi puppet. I had no idea it was you.”
Lagoruthel thought she detected remorse in the Sith’s tone, even if her face remained stoic.
“I believe in you, Lagoruthel. And I appreciate your honesty. I’ll remain watchful over any influence he might have over you.”
Lana’s words warmed her insides with affection.
“Like a guardian angel?” she offered.
“I doubt a Jedi as powerful as you would need one,” Lana retorted playfully.
They locked eyes once again, a gentle smile dancing on their lips. Lana took some wary steps towards the Jedi before coming to a halt. She was only a few inches smaller than Lagouthel, but that meant she needed to tilt her head a bit up when they were this close to look into her eyes properly. It took a lot of willpower not to dip down just a little and close the distance between them, but Lagoruthel knew it wasn’t the best place or time for taking a risk like that. Lana grabbed one of her hands and squeezed it lightly, before her comlink buzzed.
“Request: Please rendezvous at my current coordinates at your earliest convenience, masters. I require assistance.”
“Strange. We should hurry,” Lana noted before she started to gather their newly gained supplies.
Lagoruthel exhaled sharply and recited the Jedi Code in her mind again.
There is no emotion; there is peace…
Chapter 3: In Control
“See this metallic ball right here, little one?” the smuggler asked the girl crouching next to him with a wrench in her tiny hands. She nodded zealously.
“This is a transpacitor. It’s a very important part of the ship. This device transfers heat away from the hyperdrive and thus prevents it from overheating.”
The little girl hung on his every word while he spoke.
“Why do I need to know all these stuff, captain? I’m just a girl.”
The smuggler flashed her a toothy grin.
“Because you’ll never know when a knowledge would come in handy, Lagoruthel. And one day you’ll have a vessel of your own,” he playfully ruffled her dishevelled hair. “So now, you’re going to unscrew this baby, and I’ll show you how to clean it, okay?”
The Jedi Code explicitly says it is foolish and bad to dwell on the past, because you won’t be able to see what lies ahead. Lagoruthel strictly followed this concept, but she could not just dismiss everything in her past. Her time with the smuggler Zale Barrows and his crew inevitably formed her personality, value system, and equipped her with knowledge she made use of later. After all, it wasn’t thanks to the Jedi training she was able to repair broken parts of her ship, or know what an inertial damper was. She wouldn’t be there fixing a centuries old vessel in the swamps of Zakuul if it weren’t for the smuggler. This was the first time Lagoruthel’s mind wasn’t fixated on Lana or the resurfaced feelings she had for her.
Koth tried his best to refurbish the tumbledown Gravestone. Lana helped in every way she could, while HK patrolled the area non-stop.
Lagoruthel almost finished adjusting the turbolasers when she felt a familiar presence.
“You know I can sense you, right?” She asked, not bothering to turn.
“I didn’t know you were so good with your hands.”
The comment almost caused the Jedi to drop the tools in her hand. She didn’t dare to face Lana; her cheeks and ears were burning from her embarrassment.
She quickly cleared her throat to buy herself time to regain her composure. Lana seemed to notice her unease, because she stepped closer and asked further.
“When did you learn to repair ships?”
Lagoruthel stood up and turned towards the woman, wringing her hands together.
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”
“True. We didn’t have enough time to get to know one another back then. It was a little intense,” she stopped for a moment to run her fingers along the console. “We should get some time soon to catch up.”
The Jedi smiled softly at her. “I would love that.”
“But I don’t want to rob you of your time now, you should probably rest. It’s been a tiring day.”
Lagoruthel nodded, and made her way past the Sith to her quarters. She really needed some shut eye.
The Gravestone was a huge ship, and unlike any the Jedi has seen before. The three different levels provided enough opportunity for everyone to get completely lost, not to mention the various rooms that formed a part of the vessel.
Lagoruthel’s quarters were located not too far from the bridge, making it easier for her to consult the captain if an emergency situation came up. The room wasn’t too big, but comfortable enough. She never was a fan of spacious residences, most probably due to the way she used to live as a child. Smuggler ships weren’t exactly renowned for the quality of their rooms, she learned quite early on.
HK was still in the small quarters, doing the finishing touches when she entered. He immediately stopped in his tracks, and saluted before the Jedi.
“Declaration: The room and all its comforts are ready for your presence, master.”
“Thank you, HK.”
“Query: Is there anything I can do for you?”
Lagoruthel hesitated for a moment, then shook her head. “No, that is all. You are dismissed.”
She unclipped the lightsaber from her belt, and kicked off her boots before crawling under the blanket. It felt like ages since she had a good sleep – well, not counting the five years spent in carbonite. Koth told them earlier they’d be able to leave Zakuul in a few hours, provided all modifications worked the way they should. That meant she could relax, even if only for a bit. Her body was still drained from the poisoning, and she needed some time to replenish herself. She fell asleep as soon as her eyes were shut.
“Assaulting my cruiser alone. Very careless of you, Orgus Din,” the tall, wrinkled shadowy figure said to her bent over master.
“It’s not too late, Angral. Do the right thing for once. Surrender.”
The Sith’s cackle sent unpleasant shivers down Lagoruthel’s spine.
“Pity you didn’t bring your student. I could kill you both.”
It was the first time in years she felt fear finding its way into her heart. Her breath hitched in her throat when Darth Angral activated his blood red lightsaber and she could do nothing to stop him.
“Tell me, Jedi. Are you afraid to die?”
“There is no death. There is only the force,” her master answered without missing a beat. He was not afraid. He was ready.
“If there is no death…”
“No!” Lagoruthel screamed, but it was already too late. Angral thrusted his weapon right through Master Orgus’ midsection. The old Jedi fell limp on the floor in a second.
“…then where is my son?”
Kira let out a muffled ‘no’ next to her. Both of them stared numbly at the holoprojector. Sorrow washed over the Jedi. Her mentor was no more.
Lagoruthel woke up sweating profusely. The covers were kicked off her body, her heart was racing.
“It was just a dream,” she reminded herself and sat upright, rubbing her eyes.
“Your mind is disturbed.”
The voice came a few feet away from her by the door. She recognised it instantly.
“I thought I left you in the carbonite prison cell,” she grumbled.
Valkorion took some steps to be closer to her shaking figure.
“Don’t look so surprised. Where you go, I go.”
“There’s no need to be so hostile. I am on your side.”
She scoffed at his statement. “Forgive me if I don’t believe a word you say.”
“You can only defeat my son if we work together, and you know that.”
“What makes you think I even want to defeat him?”
The Jedi stood from her bed to put her boots back on, but she didn’t miss the amused grin on Valkorion’s face.
“I know you Jedi would never let ‘evil’ rampage in the galaxy. It’s not in your nature. And you proved it time and time again you’re not one to leave those in need without help.”
That was true. Lagoruthel valued gallantry and generosity very much. She’s sworn an oath when she was knighted, and she would never break that for as long as she lived.
The old man spared a moment to study her features and movements.
“I couldn’t help but notice you aren’t yourself since my death. Your mind is torn apart, you’re battling your own thoughts. You’re not in control, and it makes you vulnerable.”
She was about to deny his claims, when Koth’s voice came from the speaker.
“They’ve found us! We need you on the bridge, Outlander, now!”
Lagoruthel didn’t hesitate a second. She grabbed her lightsaber and sprinted down the long corridor that separated her from the bridge. She heard the nearby Skytroopers’ blasters hitting the metal walls of the Gravestone. They were already swarming the area like vicious jaggalors in the Corellian jungles. She spotted three troopers at the corner and activated her weapon. She defeated them with ease and resumed her march to the others. The sound of Lana’s lightsaber and Koth’s wailing indicated the Skytroopers have already found their way to her companions.
“Sensors show those blasted droids are breaching the entrance. You need to drive them off or we’re doomed!” Koth bellowed as soon as she entered the cabin.
“Are you ready to fight, Lagoruthel?” Lana asked.
“Yes, Lana, I am. Stop treating me like a child,” the Jedi snapped. “I am always ready to defend.”
She was already on her way out before Lana even had the chance to react to her sudden outburst.
Two dozen Skytroopers were waiting for them in the swamp, ready to strike or take them captive. Lagoruthel couldn’t let either of those things happen. She and Lana didn’t hesitate a moment before leaping at the enemy. Their combined strength proved to be too much for the droids to endure. They fell to pieces one by one. It almost felt too easy.
“Reinforcements incoming,” Lana warned, keeping her lightsaber close to herself.
Two dozen more Skytroopers and two huge walkers appeared not far from their position. The Jedi bounced on her feet back and forth, trying to maintain her composure.
“We’re overwhelmed,” she complained, crestfallen.
“No, we have backup.”
Out of nowhere a feminine figure headed their way on a speeder. She leaped on the enemy with such ease and gracefulness Lagoruthel almost let out a soft ‘wow.’ The knight – that much was obvious, judging from her armour – ignited her blue lightsaber and killed six or seven troopers in one go. Then she rushed towards Lana and the Jedi.
“You’re late,” the Sith demanded.
“You turned one of the knights to our side?” Lagoruthel asked in pure astonishment.
“Not all of us blindly follow Arcann,” the knight interjected calmly.
“Let’s see then what we can do with these nuisances,” Lagoruthel proposed, and the others nodded, lightsabers already in hand.
It was nice to fight alongside such great warriors as Lana and the Zakuulan knight. The Jedi Master felt the adrenaline coursing through her veins, enhancing her every sense. She could finally let go of the chaotic thoughts that just wouldn’t leave her be.
Lagoruthel thought they had the upper hand when a knight captain ordered the others to form something they called Zildrog’s wedge. She didn’t have to wait too long to find out what it meant. Two gigantic metal plates were planted into the ground, separating her from her comrades.
“We have the Outlander. You may kill the others,” one of the knights announced.
“Get out of here. Save yourself,” Lana shouted from the other side of the wedge. Lagoruthel was ready to make use of her force jump ability when time suddenly seemed to have stopped. Nothing was moving, except for her. Valkorion’s figure appeared next to her, his hands clasped behind his back.
“What is this?” She asked impatiently.
“An opportunity. You are outmatched. Death is all but certain for your Sith friend…”
He purposefully stopped to examine the Jedi’s face. It was written all over her it: concern, disbelief, slight anger.
“I could save her. I only require the briefest moment of control. Accept my help…or watch her die. Choose quickly, time has not stopped.”
Even if time has not, Lagoruthel’s heart sure seemed to have stopped for a second. What if Lana indeed was in mortal danger and he was the only option to save her? But what if Valkorion was only toying with her already ambiguous feelings and sought to gain control over her body? She still didn’t believe a word he spoke.
There is emotion.
“Take care of it,” she responded finally.
She let her wavering emotions take control over her conscience for the first time in almost ten years. Will she have to pay a high price for her recklessness?
“It’s okay, my young friend,” she heard Master Orgus’ voice somewhere from above.
Time seemed to be flowing again, and Lagoruthel’s hands glowed with purple and faint red colours. She felt Valkorion’s power surge through her. Unwittingly, she lifted both her hands, and the sudden wave of energy that erupted from them blasted the barricade with every single Skytrooper and knight away.
Lana was lying on the ground motionless when she spotted her, and Lagoruthel immediately sprinted to her side. She dropped to her knees beside her and checked her vitals.
“Lana, can you hear me?” she gently touched her cheek with one hand while the other rested on her waist. The Sith groaned briefly before sitting up.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m right here.”
The knight announced from behind their backs. She was unscratched and as stoic as ever.
“We need to go. Koth, prepare the engines, we’re taking off,” Lana informed the pilot immediately.
“This ship will never lift itself from the muck,” Senya insisted, crossing her arms.
Lagoruthel scratched her chin, pondering. “Then we need to give it a little push.”
They stood in a line with their palms to the Gravestone and channelled all their power into lifting it. The ship screeched and wavered before finally rising to the air. Lagoruthel heard Koth’s happy ‘woohoo’ through her comlink.
“You better get on unless you want to be left behind,” he said.
Lana, Senya, and Lagoruthel boarded the Gravestone just before another team of reinforcement arrived. They tried to shoot the vessel down, but it was a laughable attempt at best. The ship quickly and steadily rose higher and higher in the sky, and the team were closer and closer to their desired escape by the minute.
Leaving Zakuul’s orbit safely and intact, they gathered on the bridge where the bickering began as soon as Koth laid eyes on Senya. Apparently, he already knew her, since she has been hunting the pilot for deserting his post years prior, and his grudge didn’t lessen in the least.
“You can’t be serious. There’s no way I’m letting her stay on this ship,” Koth argued vehemently.
“Koth, please, couldn’t you just-“
“No, she’s been hunting me like an animal for years,” he interrupted Lana’s attempt at defusing him. Lagoruthel was standing beside them, glancing briefly at the Sith when she sighed in frustration. Senya seemed to have enough as well and strode away pissed. “You could’ve at least consulted with me first,” he added, turning to Lana fully.
“Yes, I wonder how that might’ve gone,” she scoffed and trotted away as well. Lagoruthel almost felt like a child who ended up in the middle of her parents’ bickering. Koth angrily pushed past her, leaving the Jedi completely alone and confused on the bridge. She needed to talk some sense into the three of them, or they would be doomed. They had to function as a team, and if they don’t all trust each other, the price will be a high one to pay.
She eventually decided to check in on Lana first, as she knew her the best, and Lagoruthel thought the Sith woman was the most mature of all of them. Not to mention she got injured not too long ago, causing her nurturing side to show itself once again. Jedi were no stranger to compassion and care.
She followed the force’s path that lead her to Lana. She was never one to pay too much attention to force connections; she had many of those in the past: Master Orgus, Kira, Jomar Chul, and even Nomar Organa. Never with a Sith, however, and never this strong. She wasn’t sure Lana felt it as intensely as she did, but there was no way in Hutta there wasn’t something similar to her experience. Force connection is a two-way street, either both of the participants feel it, or neither. Not that Lagoruthel was an expert, but that much she knew. For some weird reason, the Force connected them.
She found Lana in a nearby store room, her hands emitting bolts of lightning at a pile of already disabled Skytroopers. The Jedi remembered Lana had the habit of turning to training when an intense situation emerged and she couldn’t let the steam off any other way. She saw her doing it on Rishi when Theron was captured.
There was no need to announce her presence, Lana immediately stopped when she arrived at the door.
“How did you defeat all those Skytroopers back in the swamp?” she asked, her voice laced with concern. Lagoruthel knew there was no way she would keep the truth hidden from the Sith.
“Valkorion offered his help, and I accepted.”
Lana didn’t turn to her just yet and she hasn’t moved from her spot by the door.
“I hope you realise the use of his power must come with a cost. A very personal cost.”
The Jedi was very much aware of that. It was the reason she hesitated in the first place, but she didn’t feel any change in her condition or anywhere else.
“You were in danger. I couldn’t just let you die,” she blurted out honestly. The confession finally had its affect because Lana turned to her and looked her in the eyes. Despite what the Jedi was expecting, there was no anger or disappointment in those glowing yellow orbs.
“No life is worth the risk. Not even mine. The galaxy can’t afford to lose you. I can be replaced, but you cannot. Don’t forget it, please.”
Lagoruthel needed all her willpower not to blurt out ‘you are worth it to me.’ Instead, she started to make her way towards the Sith. Lana seemed to do the same. They were like two magnets, gravitating towards one another.
“Are you okay, by the way?” the Jedi asked her eventually.
“A bit sore, but otherwise intact.”
Lagoruthel smiled briefly at her.
“The question is: Are you all right?” Lana added quickly.
“Yes. Nothing has changed, Lana. And…,” Lagoruthel stopped, sighing heavily. “I’m sorry I snapped earlier. I appreciate your concern for me, I really do. It was irrational for me to act the way I did, and for that I am sorry.”
“I am sorry, too. I am very well aware of the length of your abilities. I shouldn’t have pushed. You’re one of the strongest people I know.”
The sincerity radiating from Lana’s eyes stunned the Jedi. She wasn’t expecting to hear those words.
“Who would’ve thought a Sith would ever compliment a Jedi like that,” she smirked playfully.
Lana only nodded and hummed in agreement. “I was right to reach out to Senya, I hope you see that.”
“She fights well, and was there when we needed her, so I don’t see a problem with her sticking around. She can be an asset.”
“We met shortly after I arrived in Wild Space. Senya was hunting Koth, I was hoping to learn your fate…We exchanged what information we could. This was all before I really knew Koth, of course. Years ago.”
Hope once again found its way to Lagoruthel’s heart. Lana’s revelation meant she met Koth in her absence. Surely that didn’t exclude the possibility of them being an item, but the flicker of hope appeared anew.
“You were looking for me all that time?”
Judging from Lana’s rapidly reddening cheeks, the Jedi must’ve hit the nail on the head.
“In spite of our differences, you’re my ally. I would even venture to call you my friend.”
Is that all you’ve ever seen in me, though?
“Lana…I…,” she started, but stopped herself quickly. The Sith made it clear: She only saw her as a friend. Despite her rose-tinted cheeks, Lana maintained her composure, and the look on her face was unreadable. Maybe it was for the best. She could forget about her feelings faster this way, if she wasn’t too invested.
“Yes?” Lana prompted.
The Jedi gulped audibly and forced a smile on her face before finishing her sentence.
“Nothing…I think I’ll go check in on Senya and Koth. Knock some sense into them if needed.”
She didn’t leave Lana a chance to stop her, even though the Sith opened her mouth to respond.
There is no emotion. There is peace.
Chapter 4: A Friendly Encounter
Three days have passed since Lagoruthel’s rescue from Arcann’s prison. She and the team made it safely to the skyport of Asylum where the crew was supplemented by Koth’s previously left behind comrades. They provided both muscle force and engineering proficiency thanks to Len and Tora. Their addition was essential to the inevitable battle against Arcann and his Eternal Fleet that kept terrorizing known space. Just like the addition of SCORPIO, even if some of the crew members were very much against it. The highly advanced droid managed to make significant improvements regarding the Gravestone in a short period of time and that – no matter how much Koth despised her – was a notable step forward. Lagoruthel had her suspicions about her too, but right then their options were very limited, and SCORPIO seemed genuine about her intentions. What caused headache for the Jedi was Senya and the truth that spilled a few hours prior. They were summoned to a hideout in a remote sector of Asylum, where Senya’s associates, the Scions, almost killed them. The Zakuulan knight revealed in the end that she was in fact Arcann and Vaylin’s mother. The truth shook the already unsteady team, and also hit the Jedi hard. There were no guarantees Senya would do what was necessary if the situation demanded action.
Lagoruthel needed some alone time to think. She told Lana and the others she was off to explore Asylum a bit more thoroughly. Nobody objected, expect for the Sith. Lana believed it wasn’t too wise for her to be alone, not after the previous trouble with the Scions.
“I won’t be long,” she reassured the pacing Sith who eventually relented, but insisted the Jedi wore a cloak to disguise herself.
She knew Asylum was a safe haven for refugees who fled Arcann’s Empire, but seeing them in such huge groups was a whole different experience. Families torn apart, starving children with barely any clothes on. It broke her heart. Empathy was a positive trait, but at times like that it only resulted in sadness and inertness. There was nothing she could do for these people, other than ending Arcann’s reign.
She spotted a food stall not far from her. A little boy was standing on his tiptoes to reach the top. He was talking to the vendor with his extended hand where a few coins rested.
“I’m truly sorry, young man, but these credits are not enough for anything I’m selling.”
“Please, I don’t have anymore, and I am really hungry.”
His pleading voice and the tears in his eyes didn’t soften the Rodian, who kept telling him to leave.
Lagoruthel dipped her hand in her pocket and grabbed the remaining credits she still had on her. She strode to the vendor and slipped the money on the stall.
“I believe this should suffice for whatever the boy wants to eat,” she quipped.
The Rodian eyed her for a few seconds than accepted the money and gave the boy his Squallburger.
“Thank you,” the boy chimed before taking a mouthful of his food. His big blue eyes never left the Jedi’s while she escorted him away from the crowd.
“You’re welcome. What’s your name?” she asked crouching down next to him.
“Zeckory,” he mumbled.
“Nice to meet you, Zeckory. My name is Lagoruthel. Where are you parents?”
“My mother died when I was a baby, and I got separated from my father when we fled Balmorra. I am alone.”
Lagoruthel smiled at him sympathetically and put her hand on his shoulder for comfort. Arcann will pay for his crimes. How dare he tear families apart?
“Stay safe for me, all right? I promise things will change very soon. I swear on my life.”
He nodded and lunged himself into the Jedi’s arms, squeezing her tightly. She ruffled his shaggy blonde hair before he ran back to a group of people he clearly was familiar with.
Her gaze followed the boy’s retreating figure when she spotted a masked creature not so far away, seemingly eyeing her. They turned tail and fled the scene to a less-crowded sector. Lagoruthel went after them as quickly as she could. The stranger kept glancing over their shoulder to ensure she was still following them, that much was obvious because they didn’t try to lose the Jedi with a change in pace or ducking behind crates, taking sudden turns. They kept walking on. This could’ve been another trap.
“Lana will definitely kill me, if I get into trouble again,” she thought to herself.
With one final glance at her, the masked stranger vanished inside a room on the far end of the alleyway. Lagoruthel removed her cowl so that it wouldn’t block her peripheral vision. She didn’t want to lose the trail while it was still hot so she didn’t waste too much time before stepping inside the blackness. Her right hand automatically swung towards the lightsaber resting on her belt, safely hidden under the cloak. She heard a shuffling movement before the lights were switched on. Without missing a beat, she ignited her lightsaber and pointed the green blade right at the throat of the still masked figure.
“You’re just as quick as I remembered,” he said with a hint of laughter. What was he talking about?
“Who are you?”
“Oh, the mask, right.”
He slowly lifted the covers of his face, and the Jedi gasped in surprise when she saw who stood in front of her.
“Jed? What are you doing here?” she quickly resettled the weapon to her belt loop and lunged herself at the smuggler.
“Good to see you too, Lago. It’s been a while.”
He returned the tight hug and patted the Jedi on her back a few times. The tall, blond smuggler and Lagoruthel went way back to their early childhood while she was roaming the galaxy with Zale Barrows. Jed Shaw was one of his crew members and also his nephew. Smuggling ran in the family, so to say. Jed was Lagoruthel’s best friend for over a decade. They grew up together.
“I haven’t seen you since you took down the Voidwolf,” the Jedi lamented after she detangled herself from him.
“It’s not like you were so eager to stay in contact either, Battlemaster,” he purposefully accentuated the last word with his signature lopsided grin. “I was kinda heartbroken you didn’t even ask for my help against the illustrious Revan.”
“I figured you’d be too busy helping Risha taking back the throne of Dubrillion.”
“Yeah, well, that proved to be more challenging than we anticipated. Plus our plans got thwarted with the invasion of the Eternal Empire. We had to flee Dubrillion.”
“I’m sorry, I know how much it meant to Risha.”
The smuggler grimaced and nodded his head, then motioned for the Jedi to follow him to the back. Lagoruthel studied him intently while Jed paced in the small storage room.
“You have no idea how grateful I am that I ran into you. Knowing you’re alive, and seeing you today when I was looking for help have me wondering if this might be fate.”
“I don’t understand, what sort of help do you need? Are you in trouble, Jed?”
“No, Lago. I was looking for potential recruits who might want the Eternal Empire’s downfall just as badly as I do. I heard about a guy here, who has a very useful contact. I was trying to get to him. But this is so much more perfect,” his hands landed on the Jedi’s shoulders, squeezing lightly.
“Would you start making some sense, Jed?”
“Lagoruthel. I need you to help me on a mission on Zeltros.”
The Jedi shot a quizzical look at the smuggler who kept smiling at her.
“I thought we discussed I’m not going back to that world again. And…why would you need my help there?” she took a few steps back, frowning.
“I know, and believe me, I wouldn’t be asking you if it weren’t important. Please, just hear me out, okay?”
Lagoruthel eyed him warily before relenting.
“All right, but not here. I don’t trust this place one bit.”
“So let me get this straight: you want to raid the royal treasury on Zeltros while the King and Queen are hosting an annual party in the palace with thousands of guests?” Lagoruthel asked, massaging her temple to ease her frustration.
“Well…it sounds kinda crazy if you put it that way…”
“Because it is, Jed!”
“No, trust me, it’s not.”
Lagoruthel sighed lowered her head. The entire team gathered on the bridge after she and the smuggler arrived. Koth was sitting in a chair, scratching the tip of his chin, seemingly deep in thoughts, while Senya, SCORPIO, HK, and Teeseven were silently paying attention to the exchange. Lana kept glancing between the Jedi and the smuggler with her hands crossed behind her back.
“I know the risks may be high, but believe me, I already have an elaborate plan on how to pull off this crazy mission,” Jed reassured her, with little to no success.
“So you admit this is crazy...”
“And how exactly are you planning to execute this heist, Captain?” Lana inquired as an attempt to stop the Jedi from grilling him further.
“I have a contact that owes me a favour, and he knows one of the best forgers the galaxy has seen,” Lagoruthel opened her mouth to respond, but Jed quickly raised his hand. A silent request to let him continue. “The plan is that with the false identifications, two people can slip into the party without any trouble, and map out the area. Then we would get an eyeful of what exactly we’re up against.”
“Once we know how heavily guarded the place is, how would we proceed?” Senya asked suddenly.
“My friend and I would slip in as well, posing as one of the guards. It would clear us a way straight to the money. Meanwhile, our Queen and her Ambassador would keep me posted on the party’s progress.”
“Hold on. Queen and Ambassador?” Koth interjected.
“Oh, did I leave that part out? I need you to pose as the Ambassador, Lago.”
“Of course you do,” she mumbled almost inaudibly.
“And who would be the Queen, then? Senya?” Koth laughed. Senya briefly glared at him.
“Actually, I was hoping it would be Lana,” Jed said, stepping closer to the bewildered Sith.
“You’ve got the perfect height, hair colour and posture. You’d be just about perfect as Queen Talia of Onderon.”
That roguish smile of his crept its way on his face again, causing Lagoruthel to involuntarily clear her throat. She started to get annoyed with her old friend.
“I’m not a pirate anymore, Jed. I detest acts like theft. Zeltros needs its money,” the Jedi sighed. She tried hard not to snap at him.
“They have more than enough. Besides, it’s one of the last few worlds that’s not under the influence of the Eternal Empire, but that’s only a matter of time, Lago. We need to act quickly. If Arcann gets his hands on Zeltros and its wealth, we have no chance left at stopping him.”
“Despite the probability of a huge failure, the plan has a 47.4% chance of success. I believe it’s a risk worth taking,” SCORPIO said.
SCORPIO’s words did not reassure the Jedi a bit. Their chances were low, and she didn’t want to endanger the people she cared about. Especially not Lana.
“The decision is yours, Lagoruthel,” the Sith said eventually.
“It’s not just my decision. You heard him, I’d have to drag you into the mess, too.”
“Has there been any mess before we couldn’t handle together?”
Lagoruthel finally looked at Lana. The Sith was smiling at her, genuinely smiling, and it sent a familiar buzzing through the Jedi’s body.
“Fine then. We’re in.”
Jed happily rubbed his hands together and pursed his lips, thinking. “There’s just one thing.”
“Lana’s eyes. Don’t get me wrong, they’re beautiful, but also gives away the fact she’s Sith.”
Lagoruthel furrowed her brows, seemingly deeply immersed in her thoughts.
“I have an idea for that,” everyone stared intently at her on the bridge when she spoke up. “I heard about a technique back on Tython that could work.”
“Could work?” the smuggler asked with one eyebrow raised.
“I’ve never actually done it before so, yeah. It could work.”
“So it’s settled then! We’ll depart tomorrow morning. My ship is docked at these coordinates. Don’t be late.” he winked one last time and left without another word.
The team stood there in complete silence for a few minutes, processing the events of the last hour. Koth was the first to break the spellbound state.
“Sooo…we doing it?”
“Lana, HK and I are doing it. The rest of you stay here and watch the Gravestone, and update me on Arcann’s moves.”
Koth simply nodded, almost as if he was relieved he didn’t need to go on a possible suicide mission, but Senya seemed outraged.
“You’re leaving me here? With him?”
“I don’t have much of a choice, Senya. You breached my trust when you chose not to tell me you’re Valkorion’s wife, and the mother of his offspring. I need to know I can trust you, and for that to work, you have to follow my orders. You will stay here, and help Koth with whatever he needs.”
Koth snickered slightly upon seeing Senya’s eyes widen from Lagoruthel’s words. She complied eventually without further fight.
The Jedi stepped beside her astromech droid and crouched down to his level. “I need you to keep them in line while I’m away, Teeseven.”
“Jedi = don’t worry. // T7 = good soldier!”
“I knew I could count on you, buddy.”
She then went back to Lana, who was standing in her previous spot, watching the exchange.
“I’ll go back to my quarters now, dig up some information about this technique. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Lana gently nodded, and followed the Jedi’s retreating figure until the door closed behind her.
Chapter 5: Moments
Just a quick thank you for everyone who's still with me on this journey. I appreciate all your lovely comments and encouragement! (:
May the Force be with you.
The old datapad sat unused on the top of the bed. Lagoruthel ran through the files she managed to find and had access to in the Jedi Archives on Tython. There wasn’t much regarding this mysterious technique she heard of in passing, which could help their case now. She went to bed early the other day after some research to have enough time to revise in the morning before Lana arrived. She wanted to be ready.
“You’re wasting your time with this nonsense you call a mission.”
Lagoruthel opened her eyes, but didn’t move from her sitting position on the floor hearing Valkorion’s voice. It has been days since he last showed himself. The Jedi hoped that meant he was no longer there to grace her with his presence.
“I knew you wouldn’t approve.”
“Zeltros has never been a point of interest for the Eternal Empire. The natives are too dangerous for outsiders. But I thought you of anyone else might be aware of the fact.”
She snapped her head towards the old man and slowly emerged from the floor.
“I know enough of them.”
“You should be gathering your strength against my son, yet-“
“That is exactly what I’m doing. Securing a neutral world so that your son cannot put his hands on it.”
She was facing Valkorion now, who seemed to be torn between wanting to object and letting the conversation go.
“The last three paragraphs on the first page are faulty. Dark side corruption cannot be visibly reversed with that method,” he said grimly, eyeing the turned off datapad on the bed. “I have no doubt you’ll figure out the correct solution though.”
A light knocking sounded from her doorway, and the Emperor vanished before Lagoruthel had the chance to say a word. She glanced on the timer on her bedside cabinet. It was time.
“I hope I’m not early,” Lana said as soon as she was in the room. Lagoruthel shuffled around a bit before turning fully to the Sith.
“No, of course not. I was just running through the steps again.”
Lana closed the door soundlessly behind herself and sauntered to the Jedi. She ushered Lana to take a seat on the floor after putting a pillow on the same spot. The Sith obediently lowered herself on her knees.
“So, I’ve dug up every bit of information I could in the evening. Hopefully it’ll suffice,” the Jedi announced and chuckled nervously. She joined Lana on the hard surface. “I’m going to give you instructions, like how to breathe and stuff,” the Sith nodded thoughtfully. “If everything goes as planned, your eyes should turn back to their original colour. Temporarily.”
“I cannot guarantee though, Lana.”
“It’s fine. As I’ve said it many times before: I have faith in you, Lagoruthel.”
Lana smiled softly at the Jedi which she returned eagerly. She was amazed by the amount of trust the blonde showed her in the past, as it turned out, more than five years. They were supposed to be enemies, yet it was Lana who took the energy to bust her out of her death trap. With the help of Teeseven and Koth, of course. None of her crew members seemed to care about her enough to try, however. They vanished. Scourge, Rusk, Doc, even Kira. But Lana was there.
“I also need to hold your hands, if that’s okay.”
Lana blinked once or twice before her brain registered what she was asked. She was too busy staring into the Jedi’s deep brown eyes, trying to read the emotions hidden in their depth.
Lagoruthel watched her removing the gloves covering her hands. It was the first time she actually saw Lana’s bare hands. She inhaled sharply and took them in her own. It was also the first time their hands touched ungloved. The Sith’s were the complete opposite of her own. They were tender, small, and warm, as opposed to the Jedi’s slightly calloused, big, and usually cold hands.
“Shall we begin?” Lagoruthel asked, clearing her throat to alleviate her unease. Lana gave her a fierce nod and squeezed her hands reassuringly.
“Close your eyes. Concentrate inward. Let the Force and the good energies flow through your whole being. Let go of your anger.”
The sudden silence weighed heavily on the dimly lit room. The only sound that filled the space were the two women’s slow but steady breathing. Lana lightly furrowed her brows from time to time, concentrating. Being this close to her friend created an opportunity for the Jedi to scrutinize Lana’s face: the sharp edges of her jawline, her refined nose, and the lightly shaded red lips that demanded attention.
Involuntarily, Lagoruthel started to rub slow circles on one of Lana’s hands. Her eyes opened a few seconds later.
“I’m sorry. I-it was kind of instinctive,” she began awkwardly.
“Don’t apologise, please.”
The reassuring smile Lana shot her dispersed her now often recurring bashfulness. This whole extreme shyness was new territory to the Jedi and she didn’t like it. It made her feel vulnerable and powerless.
There is no emotion.
“It doesn’t work,” she deflated, dropping Lana’s hands and running her own ones through her tousled hair.
“What if I keep my eyes open and you try to pass me some of your “good energies”, as you call it?”
A simple nod was the answer from the distressed Lagoruthel. She knew she had to calm her mind if they wanted this to actually work.
Lana grabbed her hands again, this time more firmly, and stared straight into her eyes.
Valkorion’s last few words echoed in her head when she looked into Lana’s eyes.
“The last three paragraphs on the first page are faulty.”
“Concentrate on good memories. But not just any good memories. The best you’ve ever experienced. The ones that aren’t associated with hate, anger, or deception. Where you acted on your on your accord,” she began, now a bit more confident in her actions. “Think of childhood memories, of places…people who made you or make you happy now.”
Not daring to break the eye contact, Lagoruthel took a quick, deep breath and channelled a portion of good energy to transfer to the Sith through their joint hands. Lana inhaled sharply before she started to glow in a light shade of blue. Her mouth fell slightly agape, eyes flickering a few times. A sudden wave of energy erupting between them knocked Lagoruthel straight back into the side of her bed. She gasped for air from the impact, a sharp pain shooting through her spine. Clearing her blurred eyesight, she spotted the Sith laying on her back on the exact same spot as before.
“Lana!” she exclaimed, crawling towards the motionless woman. She hovered above her, checking her pulse on her neck, and putting a hand to her cheek. Lana groaned lightly, frowning from the mild pain in back of her head.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Your eyes…” the Jedi breathed.
Lana burst out in the most gleeful laugh Lagoruthel has ever heard from her. She ended up cracking a smile too.
“And here I thought something terrible occurred,” Lana said when the laughter died down. They haven’t noticed the position they were still in until they fell silent.
Lagoruthel’s breathing started to become shallow and ragged. The fact that Lana was practically lying underneath her, in a room with only the two of them, plus the close proximity and intimacy of the situation was doing things to her whole system. The Sith’s now-vibrant green eyes were glued to the Jedi’s slightly parted lips. The hand that was resting on Lana’s cheek moved into her blonde locks.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
Had they not been so occupied with each other, they would’ve heard Koth’s knocking on the door. The pilot burst into the room fretfully and almost tumbled over the two women still on the floor.
“Oh, I’m sorry I…I heard a loud noise from here and you weren’t replying…I’m sorry,” he babbled, clearly embarrassed he walked in on them. Or at least thought he did just that.
Lana and Lagoruthel stood abruptly, dusting off their robes, cheeks scarlet red.
“It’s not what you’re thinking,” the Jedi blurted out.
“Yes, it was just the ritual, actually.”
“Woah, Lana. Your eyes! It worked!”
“I had no doubt it would.”
Lagoruthel cheeks burned even brighter from the quick smile Lana sent her way.
“I’ll leave you two then. Sorry for the intrusion again.”
“I was just about to go anyway. There are some things in my quarters I need to gather before we leave.” Lana excused herself and brushed past Koth.
“Sorry again,” he offered and left after the Jedi waved dismissively.
Lagoruthel slumped into the nearest chair and muffled a groan in her hands.
Half an hour later, after reciting the Jedi Code for the hundredth time, she was finally on her way to Lana’s room; ready to meet up with Jed in the dockyard. She stopped in front of the door to knock, when she heard Koth’s voice coming from inside. Her hand lingered in the air, but never made contact with the durasteel surface.
“But she’s a Jedi, Koth…”
“So? You don’t know their philosophy. There is too much at stake. We’re too different, it would be a disaster. I…I can’t do that. It wouldn’t work out, and I don’t want to risk a friendship. The most important thing now is stopping Arcann. Everything else is secondary.”
A gut punch usually felt better than the feeling coursing through Lagoruthel when she heard Lana’s words. The sweet aftertaste of their private moment and the uncharacteristic giddiness turned into a bitter and disheartened feeling. Not wanting to hear anymore, she silently made her way to the main door.
The light fog that greeted her when she stepped outside gave a mystical vibe to Asylum. The dark brown cloak she was sporting from the other day provided enough warmth against the chilly morning air. She wished there were time for her to meditate before leaving. Her mind began its recently developed unbearable race. It started to get on her nerves. Lagoruthel yearned for the times when she didn’t have to carry so much weight on her shoulders, when she could be a simple Jedi who occasionally did great things. When she could follow rules without second thoughts. When she wasn’t attached to people. When she hadn’t even met Lana Beniko yet.
“Dammit…there is no emotion,” she whispered angrily.
Angrily? That was a bad sign.
She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly, calming herself.
Lana and HK joined her a few minutes later, already geared up and ready to go.
“There you are! I was looking for you everywhere,” the Sith told her. Lagoruthel barely opened her eyes.
“I was just organising my thoughts.”
Lana never said another word, but she clearly sensed the Jedi’s tense posture, because she lowered her head, frowning.
“Be careful and look after each other, will ya?” Koth pleaded, giving a stern look to all of them.
“Reassurance: No need for dread, master. I’ll have everyone’s back.”
“Good to know, HK.”
“Keep the ship safe, Koth, and alert me if something is out of order,” Lagoruthel commanded, and put on her cowl.
This would certainly be a challenging mission. For everyone.
Chapter 6: The Return
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Jed has already been waiting for them when they arrived, ready for take-off whenever he was given the green light. He was standing on the ramp, looking into the distance as if he was on a photo shooting session. Lagoruthel shook her head slightly when she spotted him, a smile accompanying her movement. He hasn’t changed a bit since their early childhood.
“Ladies and not so gentleman! HK, right? Welcome aboard the Redshifter. Make yourselves at home, please.”
“When are we leaving?” the Jedi asked him impatiently. She wasn’t in the mood for his little plays.
“Whenever you’re ready.”
He looked around a few times, making sure nobody followed them, then closed the door.
When the captain arrived in the lounge, Lagoruthel was already circled by his present crew members. Guss kept thanking her for a Jedi trick she showed him almost a year prior to her capture.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again, Master Jedi,” Akaavi said, bowing deeply to her.
“Indeed. And who is the lovely companion you came with?” Corso inquired, looking Lana up and down.
“Lana Beniko,” the Sith told him with such gracefulness that everyone remained silent for a moment.
“Corso Riggs. How come Lago never introduced us before?”
“We haven’t known each other for that long, to be honest,” Lana explained to him.
The smarmy grin that appeared on Corso’s face caught Lagoruthel’s eyes, awakening the green-eyed monster sleeping soundly, deep in her core. She knew the mercenary for years now, and the way he treated women – with annoyingly unwanted chivalry and a constant need to protect them – irritated the young Jedi very much. It took a few attempts to stop him from thinking she needed his help on those few joint missions they had in the past. Lagoruthel thought she showed immense patience towards him all those times, but seeing him making quite an explicit move on Lana just spurred on her irritation.
“Okay, Corso. That’s quite enough,” she barked at him as soon as he opened his mouth. Everyone stared at her oddly, but nobody said a single word.
It was Jed who broke the silence. “So! Not to skip the formalities: those who might not already know, the lovely Sith Lord present is Lana Beniko. And this is her almost as lovely assassin droid, HK. This is my crew. Akaavi Spar, Guss Tuno, and Corso Riggs.”
“A pleasure to meet you all,” Lana said with a polite nod.
“I’ve never thought I’d have the chance to team up with a real Sith,” Guss exclaimed excitedly, stepping closer to the blonde, as if he just discovered something unique and new.
“Where are Risha and Bowdaar?” inquired Lagoruthel, turning her attention to the captain.
“They’re already planet side, waiting for us to arrive.”
“I suggest not wasting any more time then,” Lana chimed in emphatically.
“I like her,” Jed whispered to Lagoruthel, who just followed his lead without a response.
Everyone gathered around the big holoterminal in the middle of the lounge, where the briefing took place. Jed outlined the plot that all of them were already familiar with. Slip into the party unnoticed, scan the area, create a distraction, and make a run for the treasure.
Lagoruthel still wasn’t convinced she made the right decision when she agreed to this mission. A bad feeling was coursing through her entire body, ever since she ran into Jed. She was experienced and wise enough to know she could trust her own gut. Why did she go along with it then? It couldn’t be Valkorion’s influence; he made it obvious he was against the whole idea. The answer was unclear for the time being.
“I don’t know if all of you are familiar with Zeltros or not, so I’m just gonna give you a quick heads up. The planet is basically considered a party world. They live quite a hedonistic lifestyle. Luxury and wealth is the basis of their happiness, and to everyone that visits the planet. It’s been a long time since Lago and I were here, but as I’ve heard, nothing’s really changed throughout the years. The Eternal Empire never set foot there. Why? Probably because of the locals. Zeltrons produce potent pheromones that enhance their attractiveness and likability. Many outsiders never leave the planet due to this fact. They get attached to the people and the atmosphere on Zeltros. Planetary invasion is almost impossible.”
“Do these pheromones affect non-sentients as well?” Lana butted in briefly.
“I hope not, otherwise we’d have to deal with a love-struck HK,” the smuggler said. The joke earned a quick laugh from Corso on his left. The others simply ignored the remark.
“If there are no more questions, I say it’s time for us to leave. We’ll probably reach Zeltros in about an hour. Lago, you come with me. Akaavi, please show Lana her quarters.”
She followed him to the cockpit and closed the door behind herself. Everything looked the way she remembered. The Redshifter saw a lot of action in the past decades. Ownership passed on from captain to captain before she ended up with Jed Shaw. Prestigious scoundrels like Nico Okarr and Zale Barrows roamed the galaxy with her for many years. The ship might’ve looked old and rusty, but she still worked like in her finest days.
Jed applied the perimeters into the nav computer and turned to the still standing Jedi.
“Are you going to sit down or do you plan on admiring the interior all the way to Zeltros?” he asked jovially.
She took a few wary steps towards him. The captain playfully patted the seat next to him, in an attempt to ease the Jedi’s tenseness.
Lagoruthel settled into the offered chair and kept her eyes on the switches in front of her, no matter how much she felt her friend’s gaze burn holes into the side of her head.
He didn’t say a word until the ship ascended into the air and left Asylum’s orbit safely.
“So…,” he started, keeping his focus on the consoles the whole time. “Lana Beniko.”
Lagoruthel swallowed thickly, tapping on the sensors to gather information to their hyper jump. She knew where this conversation was going.
When Jed received no immediate answer from her, he pressed on.
“You were quite protective of her back there. Never seen you like that before.”
“Corso overstepped. She’s a Sith Lord, who should never be disrespected like that.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t just jealousy? I mean, I can understand-“
“What in the force are you talking about?” Lagoruthel asked him with her brows furrowed.
“Oh, come on! I’ve known you for eighteen years, you can’t hide things from me. Especially not this. You think I don’t see the looks you give her?”
“I don’t…give her…looks…” she mumbled bashfully.
“Wow. Jedi can actually blush?”
Jed watched Lagoruthel slump back in her chair, and the crooked grin on his face disappeared in an instant, seeing the lethargy cast its shadow on her.
He quickly jumped to hyperspace when the sensors beeped with permission, and turned to the crestfallen woman.
“Look. We don’t have to talk about this if you don’t wa-“
“It’s not that.”
“Then what? Tell me. You know I’ve always seen you as a younger sister. You can talk to me.”
Jed turned on the autopilot and put a hand to Lagoruthel’s knee. The gesture earned a brief smile from her.
“I feel like I’m betraying everything I stand for, Jed,” she started. “For years, my days consisted of training my body and my mind. How to control them both. How to obey orders. How there is no emotion, or passion. And then…I met her.”
The smuggler didn’t try to interrupt her once. He listened intently to every word that left the Jedi’s mouth.
“At first I thought my feelings were merely fuelled by respect for her, or that it was a passing infatuation. But uncovering Revan’s plans and working closely together for months, I realised it won’t just go away. Every minute I spend by her side it feels like my soul is cracking into pieces. As if I’m losing the parts that make me who I am.”
“Would you rather that you never met her?” he asked, raising one eyebrow curiously.
Lagoruthel shook her head in response without missing a beat. “Of course not.”
“Then trust your heart for once, Lagoruthel.”
“Even if I did, it would never work out. I’m a Jedi and she’s-“
“Sith? So what? Risha is royalty and I’m just a scoundrel who bends whatever way is beneficial for him. Besides, you know what they say: Opposites attract.”
He stood up abruptly to check on the nearby consoles. Lagoruthel silently followed him with her gaze, savouring his previous words.
“Don’t overcomplicate things. Life is too short not to let yourself be happy, and if anyone deserves happiness, it’s you,” he said softly before leaving the cabin, and Lagoruthel was once again left alone with her thoughts.
The Jedi was so used to the clearance code system of the Core Worlds that when the Redshifter entered Zeltros’ atmosphere without any resistance or difficulty, she almost complimented Jed’s skills of landing unnoticed.
Zeltros looked the same as it did the last time she set foot on the planet. Rivers running kilometres long, evergreen forests covering a tremendous number of regions. Enormous buildings looming over the capital, neon lights encasing every sector from nightfall till sunrise while giving them an enigmatic atmosphere. No wonder outsiders considered it a paradise even to a point where it proved to be impossible to leave. A real smuggler’s den nobody truly supervised.
Lagoruthel often thought about the possible reasons why the Zeltrons never wanted to expand their territories in the galaxy. They seemed to be happy with their world, only relying on outsiders with trade and income. She reached the conclusion that perhaps not all sentient with considerable power intended to become a galaxy-wide ruler.
Her mind briefly wandered to Vitiate. Or Valkorion, whatever he likes to call himself. He fell silent ever since their previous chat. Not that she minded it, but it obviously didn’t help her continuously growing bad feelings about their mission.
Jed landed the ship within the next five minutes close to the city centre, and powered down the engine.
“Time to gather the team,” he announced, patting her on the shoulder quickly.
Lagoruthel just stared out the windows minutes after the captain left the cockpit. She was back where she swore never to return.
A light knock broke her out of her stupor.
“Everyone is ready to roll, Lagoruthel,” said Lana from the doorway.
“Let’s not keep them waiting, then.”
The Jedi involuntarily wrapped her hands around herself when they stepped out into the chilly early afternoon. She saw Lana and Guss do the same. Zeltros was a typically warm planet, but the sun’s rays were blockaded by thick layers of clouds, resulting in a colder weather than usual.
Jed never actually told them where this mysterious contact of his they’ll meet, but Lagoruthel had a feeling it will take place in a nearby cantina or casino.
The streets brought up memories of her time back on the planet when she was young and reckless. Him being the older and confident one, she never questioned anything stupid Jed did and dragged her into. It took some time for her to realise how foolish it was to blindly follow her brother like friend. Why was she letting him do it again now?
“I sense a familiar presence here,” Lana spoke up, only for the Jedi to hear.
“I sense it too. More than one,” she confessed, looking around. She didn’t see anyone following them.
A few minutes later she spotted the cantina they were obviously headed to. The word ‘Paradise’ was engraved into the banner on top of the fancy building. Jed urged everyone inside and entered himself.
The place was only mildly crowded due to the early hour, but those present knew how to live large. In the middle of the cantina sat a gigantic oasis-like pool, with several-story-high waterfalls that provided additional water. Everything swam in purple and blue neon lights. A soft tune coming from the other end filled the air with lightness.
Jed turned to Akaavi, Guss, and Corso, whispered something to them that seemed like instructions before ushering Lana, HK, and the Jedi to follow him to the far end of the cantina. They stopped in front of the bar where a man in red jacket and brown pants sat, alone.
“I thought you’d at least wait for us before ordering,” the captain said, feigning disappointment.
The man turned in his seat, picking up the datapad laying on the counter.
“Theron?” Lagoruthel and Lana gasped in unison.
“Nice to see you too, but please, keep your voice down, and follow me.”
Chapter 7: Oh, can you see what I see?
I apologise for the big gap between the last chapter and this one. I wasn't home too much lately, and my laptop was also out of reach.
Hopefully, the content will make up for the delay :D
Next chapter will be the most action and emotion-packed so far, so keep an eye out for the following update ;)
Thank you for your support again, it truly means a lot!! xo
Several hours and a few rounds of Corellian whisky later, Lagoruthel and the team were heading to a back room on the upper levels of the cantina, away from prying eyes and drunken people. The briefing went according to their plans, and somehow Theron’s unexpected appearance managed to dispel a bit of the Jedi’s scepticism. She was glad her old friend was a part of their little ‘strike team’ and considered him a good omen.
“So…how long have you known each other?” she asked the spy nonchalantly. They purposefully fell behind the others to cover their backs. Theron didn’t waste a second with his answer.
“I was on an SIS mission on Nar Shaddaa when I ran into him. He was in trouble, as usual. I pulled him out. Before you ask, this was way before I knew you.”
“He said his contact owed him a favour, but from what you’ve just told me, it seems like he owes you a favour.”
“Yeah, well, we happen to have a quite strange partnership. Technically he’s an outlaw and I’m a trained Republic spy. As long as he doesn’t cross a line, I’m willing to overlook his swindles. I help him out, he helps me out when needed. But that’s basically what it’s about.”
Silence fell upon them on the rest of the trip to the hideout, especially the Jedi. Lana and Theron occasionally exchanged a few words, but Lagoruthel couldn’t make out the majority of them. The growing bad feeling forced her to turn inward and think. It felt as if the more time she spent on Zeltros, the worse it became. The urgency to leave the planet behind strengthened in her by the minute.
The smuggler entered the six-digit code into the security console in front of the big metallic door at the end of the corridor, and ushered the team in.
Lagoruthel had a feeling her friend would never opt for anything less than a suite. Even for such a big team it was a bit of an exaggeration.
“I started to think you’d gotten lost or something,” Risha emerged from a shadowy corner. “I almost sent Bowdaar out to look for you.”
The Wookiee growled something about the woman pacing so much back and forth in her room that it annoyed him a great deal.
“Aww, you were worried about me,” Jed replied, stepping close to his wife and placing his hands on her waist. Risha shook her head in response, seemingly annoyed, but kissed him nevertheless.
Everyone politely averted their gaze from the intimate moment.
“As far I know, Risha has all of our disguises. Right, Risha?” Theron asked after clearing his throat loudly.
“That’s correct,” the woman assured him while Jed glared at Theron for the interruption.
Risha disappeared behind an automated door for a moment to came back bearing three sets of clothes. Two palace guard armours that were the exact same as the official guards’ garments, for Jed and Bowdaar, and a mildly fancy black set with golden plated chest and shoulder pieces, accompanied with a few streaks of red on the lower back for Lagoruthel. She expected it to be somewhat heavy because of its outer appearance, but it weighed just about the perfect amount for her to move in it easily.
“Lana, yours is still in the back. We assumed you’d like some privacy for the change,” the smuggler said, already peeling his jacket off. Risha motioned for the Sith to follow her into the furthest room.
Lagoruthel retired to the bathroom in order to have some privacy, even though she was never one prone to being prudish in front of her peers. She splashed some cold water on her face after she was fully dressed and took a good look on her own reflection in the mirror. She certainly looked a lot better since taking a shower on the Redshifter than she did on Asylum.
She let out a long sigh and closed her eyes, leaning against the sink. When she opened them again, the ghost of his old master stared back at her in the mirror, startling her.
“I don’t have much time, padawan. I came only to remind you: Be careful. You might be in for a few surprises on this world.”
“Wha-what do you mean?” she asked frantically, putting a hand on the glass in an attempt to get closer, but the ghost was long gone.
“Are you okay?” came Theron’s voice from the doorway. Lagoruthel took one final glance at herself and pushed past the spy.
“Is everyone ready?” she inquired nonchalantly.
“Only waiting for Lana. Risha is with her to lend a hand.” Theron said, stepping next to her. “Apparently her dress is putting up a good fight, so to say.”
“What about the others? Corso, Akaavi?”
“Already in position.”
An incoming call broke the silence, filling the apartment with Theron’s deep, distinct voice. Lagoruthel watched him pacing every once in a while, then coming to a halt when she least expected him to. He was just the same as five years before: always working, always worrying.
She didn’t notice her smuggler friend sneaking up on her. He almost gave her a small heart attack when he asked her what’s on her mind.
“Isn’t my scar a problem for my role?” she asked, gesturing to the nasty slash across her nose and cheek. She got it a long time ago from none other than Darth Angral himself.
Jed shook his head dismissively and took off his helmet to look her in the eye.
“Ambassador Raymus doesn’t really exist. She’s made up, and the recently appointed Ambassador of Onderon. Nobody knows how she looks. I mean, she looks like you, so …,” he said, smoothing out the wrinkles on the Jedi’s shoulders.
It was barely a second later that Risha stepped into the room, rubbing her hands together in satisfaction. Everybody stopped in their tracks to pay attention to the woman. Even Theron ended the call.
“Attention everyone! I’d like to present the extraordinary ruler, Queen Talia of Onderon herself.”
“Please don’t laugh..,” they heard Lana’s voice from the doorway as she approached.
“Why would we la-,” Theron asked, frowning.
All of them fell into complete silence when the Sith appeared in front of them. Her hair was framing her face perfectly with slight curls at the ends, her make-up was a bit more than usual, and her long, off-shoulder magenta dress accentuated every curve of her lean body.
“You clean up nicely, Beniko,” said Theron, who recovered first from the initial shock.
Bowdaar roared loudly in approval, which sounded very strange coming from under his helmet.
“I have to agree with the guys here,” Jed added quickly and turned to his friend who seemed to have frozen in place. “What do you think, Lago?”
The Jedi stared at Lana with wide-eyes and her mouth slightly open. The view was too much to take in at first for her. A flashback popped into her head suddenly, where she was walking in the shadows and the Sith appeared in the exact same attire, extending her hand.
She couldn’t muster out a single word, she was rendered completely speechless and it felt odd. Odd on the one hand because she never experienced this state before, and odd on the other hand because she kind of liked the fact someone could have such an effect on her.
Jed wished he could record the scene and the look on the Jedi’s face to show her later and prove a point to her friend. She kept opening and closing her mouth, holding Lana’s gaze.
“Observation: Judging by the expression on her face and the awkward demeanour she’s displaying, I believe Master Lagoruthel finds Master Beniko’s attire satisfying and/or arousing,” HK commented objectively.
“Totally what I was thinking, HK,” Jed added with a hint of laughter, and winked encouragingly at the profusely blushing Sith. Theron was standing there with his hands on his hips and a smirk dancing on his lips.
“Stop drooling over her, you all, and let’s get going. The party is about to start,” Risha snapped and ushered them out the front door.
A million thoughts swirled in Lagoruthel’s head on their way to the Grand Palace. She was nervous and sceptical. The mission had a 47.4% chance of success, at least according to SCORPIO, which she found rather troubling. Every fibre of her being was against the operation. They should’ve been spending their time finding ways to end Arcann’s reign of terror, not sneaking into royal parties on Zeltros.
To maintain their cover, Lagoruthel, Lana and HK travelled in an open landspeeder while Theron posed as their chauffeur. According to the plan, he would stay outside and monitor everything from a safe distance, while HK pretended to be their personal bodyguard, which wasn’t too much of a stretch.
The sky cleared out during their time at the cantina and the setting sun enveloped the province in orange light. The palace itself wasn’t far from the city centre, but just enough away that the neon lit streets of Zeltros – similarly to Nar Shaddaa – didn’t reach the place, giving it more of a natural ambiance.
Lagoruthel sensed the tense and fearful aura that surrounded Lana on her right side. Because she was Lana, her facial expression and body language didn’t show any sign of her distress, but the strong affinity to the force they both had, and the strange bond by that point the Jedi was certain they were sharing, gave the Sith away. Glancing at the woman next to her from time to time during their ride Lagoruthel also noticed how Lana’s eyes flickered back to their usual bright yellow shade, as another indication of her rising fear, and perhaps anger.
Out of pure instinct, Lagoruthel reached across their seat and placed a hand atop Lana’s. Neither of their attires had gauntlets and the skin-on-skin contact immediately sent a familiar buzzing feeling through her core.
“Are you all right?” she asked, turning towards the Sith. Judging by the sharp inhale, Lana seemed to be caught off guard by the sudden contact and question.
“I must admit, I’m a little nervous.”
“I am, too,” Lagoruthel said, squeezing Lana’s hand gently. When the Sith finally looked at the Jedi, and they locked gazes, her eyes slowly turned back into that lovely shade of green Lagoruthel thought she fell in love with over the last ten hours or so.
Neither of them realised they’ve been holding hands for the remaining of the ride. They only let go when the vehicle came to a halt in front of the Grand Palace.
“This is it, ladies. I hope everything goes according to the plans. But if things get messy, get out of there. I don’t care about Jed and his treasure,” Theron clarified, turning in his seat to face them. “Oh, and Lana. Remember to ditch the Imperial accent, ‘kay?”
“Of course, Theron,” she said with a perfect Republic-like accent.
“Show off,” the spy scoffed.
“Keep an eye out,” Lagoruthel added and hopped off the speeder.
“Always. And good luck. You’re gonna need it.”
Already in character for her role she politely opened the door for Lana and extended a hand to her. They made the short walk to the front gate without trouble. Hundreds and hundreds of guests were pouring into the palace. Some looked like them, some vastly different, but they all had one thing in common: They wanted to get into the ballroom as fast as possible. Lagoruthel was constantly glancing around the place warily. She felt uncomfortable among all these Zeltrons, as the last time she had anything to do with one, it ended badly. Lana gently tugged on their linked arms when she sensed her alarmed state.
“Everything’s fine?” Lana asked so quietly that only the Jedi could hear it.
Lagoruthel cautiously scanned their surroundings again, then turned to the Sith. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
“Don’t worry, nobody’s going to hurt you here. Not on my watch.”
The Jedi looked at her companion with a peculiar expression. “What do you mean?”
“It’s clear this planet makes you anxious. I’d even venture to say you experienced something traumatic here,” she stopped when Lagoruthel opened her mouth to protest and raised her unoccupied hand to shush her. “I’m not asking you to tell me why you feel this way if you don’t feel comfortable enough to. I won’t even get offended if you felt like our relationship wasn’t intimate enough for you to tell me, I fully understand and respect your decision. I just want you to know that if you want to, you can talk to me.”
The Sith’s kind words sent warm waves all over Lagoruthel’s body and elevated her bad mood. Lana and she were so different in so many aspects, yet it never ceased to amaze her just how much they seemed to understand one another. She decided that whenever they freed the galaxy, she’ll write a book about how the Sith and the Jedi are not completely polar opposites.
They were too preoccupied with each other to realise it was their turn to show IDs. They could only hope Theron’s associate did a good job with forging the papers. When they were finally given the green light to enter the party, their jaws almost dropped to the floor in astonishment. The Grand Palace truly lived up to its name: the seemingly endless corridors, the ten feet tall halls, and the spacious ballroom all proved it wasn’t an exaggeration when they decided on the ‘grand’ attribute. Both women were impressed and blown away by the infamous palace.
The ballroom was fully packed with guests, waiting for the Royal couple to open the night. Lagoruthel only glanced away for a moment, but an Earl from House Alde of Alderaan already appeared next to Lana, striking up a conversation as if they’d known each other for years. The Sith politely kept the discussion going with almost the same level of eagerness.
Lagoruthel and HK stood not too far from the two, but didn’t interfere, no matter how much the Jedi wanted to.
Fornaak Alde – as it turned out – was a fairly handsome man presumably in his early forties, with a neat moustache and shoulder-length, dirty blond hair. She was pretty confident he spent at least an hour every day in front of a mirror, primping himself.
When the King and Queen finally arrived on the podium, Lagoruthel thanked all existing stars in the galaxy that she didn’t need to listen to Fornaak’s jabbering anymore.
The speech itself was short but concise, and as soon as it ended, live music filled the huge chamber. People began dancing around happily to the soft waltz-like melody, and when the Earl asked Lana for a dance, Lagoruthel almost threw herself on him.
“There you are, darling,” she said as soon as she was near them. To ensure the effectiveness of her little charade, the Jedi placed a hand around Lana’s waist possessively. The action seemed to have the proper impact on the man, because his smarmy expression quickly turned into one of someone’s who was just caught red-handed. “I’m not interrupting something, am I?” she asked innocently.
“I was just about to ask her majesty to the dance,” he began.
“Oh, that reminds me: You promised the first dance to me, am I correct?” the Jedi pressed on. She swore she saw Lana’s eyes fill with terror from her words, but there wasn’t any time to protest, because Lagoruthel gently nudged her away from the annoying man and straight to the dancefloor.
“Lagoruthel, I’m not sure this is a good idea,” said the Sith, once they were safely away from prying ears.
The Jedi looked at her with a puzzled expression. “Why not?”
It was obvious Lana kept avoiding eye contact, she was looking at everything but the woman in front of her, and it remained unclear to Lagoruthel what the cause was for her sudden discomfort.
“I…I can’t…dance,” Lana muttered, clearly embarrassed. Lagoruthel blinked once and twice before her brain registered the problem.
“I can’t say I’m an expert myself either.”
“No, I mean…I really don’t know how to do it.”
“I can show you. If you’ll let me.”
Her voice sounded uncharacteristically soft even for herself, but it resulted in Lana finally looking into her eyes. Taking a step back she bowed before the blonde and extended a hand to her.
“Can I have this dance, your majesty?” she asked with a playful smile, and the best puppy eyes she could manage.
Lana let out a slight chuckle, but took her hand anyway. “Of course you may.”
They stepped closer together just when the band started to play a new, softer melody. The Jedi took the lead and situated themselves in the classic waltz position. Even though Lana was wearing high heels, she was still a bit smaller than Lagoruthel.
The first few steps proved to be challenging for the both of them, but after swinging and swirling in the crowd for several minutes, Lana started to get hold of the whole dancing thing. They felt carefree, joyous and giddy in the moment. Lagoruthel knew that dancing compels the body to release endorphins, but she also knew that sharing this experience with someone she cared for increased her happiness tenfold. Pressed so close together they both could feel the other’s increased heartbeat when they occasionally picked up the pace just a notch, and when the music died down to create space for something a little more upbeat, they remained in their close embrace, gently swaying. Lana rested her cheek against the Jedi’s shoulder and closed her eyes in contentment.
If she could’ve stayed in that moment forever and never do anything else in her remaining time, Lagoruthel would’ve gladly agreed to that. She inhaled slowly, savouring the pleasant and soothing smell of the Sith Lord Lana Beniko in her arms. It all seemed so surreal. Had anyone told her a few years ago she’d fall head over heels in love with someone she probably would have laughed into their face.
Yes, she was certain she was in love with this woman, and for the first time since forever, her own feelings didn’t frighten her.
“Tell me about your parents,” she asked all of a sudden. Lana leaned back a bit to look her in the eyes.
“They were quite famous entrepreneurs on Dromund Kaas, but there really is nothing special to tell about them. They loved and supported me when I needed them. But I can’t say they were happy about me being sent to the Academy on Korriban at the age of eleven. Part of me believes my early display of force sensitivity was one of the reasons why they never had another child.”
“You talk about them in past tense…”
“They died two years ago.”
“I’m sorry, Lana.”
“It’s fine. But why did you ask?”
Lagoruthel didn’t maintain the eye contact anymore with the Sith, her gaze was unfocused when she spoke again. “I never knew my parents. They abandoned me when I was born, and I have no idea why. A local Tarasin family on Cularin took me in and raised me for eight years, before the Jedi came for me. But of course, things weren’t going smoothly, as it never does with me. One of the Jedi claimed to have a vision when he touched me that showed me turning on the Order. So he decided to go ahead and execute me on the spot. I was saved by the smuggler Zale Barrows who eventually took me with him. I travelled with him and his crew for the next eleven years. That’s why I know how to repair ships, and that’s how I know Jed, too.”
Lana was taken aback by the flood of information at first, but she quickly snapped back into the present and threw her hands around the Jedi’s neck without second thought. Maybe it was due to their already emotional state, but she felt that was the right answer for everything she just heard. Lagoruthel hugged her back with the same enthusiasm. It was the first time they ever hugged one another, and the very first time they were truly alone – HK didn’t count this time, at least not too much.
Glancing over Lana’s shoulder, Lagoruthel spotted someone in the crowd not too far away. At first, she thought she was only hallucinating, but when the figure started to make her way towards them, her breathing became ragged and her heart started to race. Lana noticed the sudden change and untangled herself from the Jedi to look at her. She was hyperventilating.
“Lagoruthel what’s wrong? Breathe, breathe.” Lana said anxiously, trying to calm the panicking Jedi.
The last thing she saw was the woman being only few feet away from them before her knees gave in and she blanked out.
Chapter 8: Breach of Trust
Apologise for the huge delay, gentle-readers. Life got in the way of writing, but now it seems I'm back on the right track!
Here's the longest chapter so far! Enjoy, and don't forget to leave kudos, comments, otherwise I don't know how much you like it. (:
Thanks for reading!
May the Force be with all of you, and have a wonderful day! xo
Out-of-the-blue fainting was something that never happened to Lagoruthel. Maybe once in her whole life up to this point and she was sort of proud of herself for it. So why did she lose consciousness now in the middle of a ballroom with Lana in her arms?
“Don’t worry she’s going to be all right,” an unfamiliar, yet familiar, voice said. Lagoruthel opened her eyes abruptly upon registering the sultry tone. Lana immediately reached for her to steady the wiggling Jedi in her seat.
“Easy, easy,” Lana murmured, crouching next to her – as much as her dress allowed – and rubbing her knee soothingly. “You’re okay. I’m here.”
“What happened?” Lagoruthel croaked, scanning her surroundings. They were no longer on the dancefloor, but far away from the guests near a corner.
“You fainted all of a sudden. Lucky I was nearby to help her majesty carry you away from the crowd.”
The voice of the other woman pulled the alarm in the Jedi’s head, and when she finally looked at the Zeltron, her fear became reality. So her senses did not betray her after all; it really was her former lover from her youth.
“Are you all right? You look as if you’ve just seen a ghost,” the woman remarked, stepping closer and putting a hand on her shoulder. The action only made Lagoruthel wince and further widen her eyes.
“Observation: I believe the Ambassador looks paler than she usually does,” HK chimed in from the side.
“You’re right. I’m gonna grab something to drink to freshen her up,” the woman told Lana, then walked off to the refreshments table.
“I’m fine, really,” Lagoruthel insisted when the woman was out of earshot.
Lana scoffed at the Jedi’s statement, shaking her head. “You just fainted! How can you say you’re fine?”
“Lana, listen to me,” the Jedi started, and turned fully to the Sith. “I know this woman, and she’s-“
“What a bunch of pigs men can be…” the Zeltron said exasperated. “Here, this should help.”
She handed a glass to Lagoruthel, who reluctantly took it from her, in order not to look suspicious. How come she never called her by her name until now? Did she not remember her at all? Did she change that much over the years?
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” Lana said, standing up and smoothing out her dress.
“Oh, where are my manners? My name is Tazanna Harinar, your Majesty. I’ve always been an admirer of yours.”
Lagoruthel watched their little dialogue intently, trying to read the Zeltron woman’s mind. She really did not recognise the Jedi in front of her, that much was clear after using her skills on her.
She glanced at the drink in her hand, and grimaced involuntarily. It was an odd reaction considering she couldn’t detect any smell of the beverage. Looking around the room she noticed that not a single soul paid any attention to her previous display of helplessness. She wouldn’t have minded a little attention right then, though. It would’ve saved her from the unwanted company of Tazanna.
“You should probably drink that, Ambassador. It will make you feel a lot better, I promise,” Tazanna encouraged the reluctant Jedi with a genuine smile.
She still looked the same as ten years before, not even a bit older. If she hadn’t known her, she wouldn’t have thought for a minute she was older than Lana. Her long blue hair and flawless pink skin still made her an attractive woman, while that alluring smile of hers brought up memories of a young and naive Lagoruthel who fell for that exact same smile once upon a time. There were so many occasions where she wished she had not, though.
She brought the glass to her lips and downed the drink in one go. It was the opposite of what she expected: There was no sign of alcohol in it and it wasn’t sour or bitter. It was completely flavourless.
At first it felt like her body just got a lot lighter, and slowly but surely the slight dizziness that bothered her senses vanished.
“See? Works like a charm!” Tazanna said proudly, trying to catch the Jedi’s attention.
“How do you feel?” Lana asked with her brows furrowed, and a clearly worried expression on her normally relaxed face.
Lagoruthel blinked a few times to clear her blurry vision, taking in her surroundings. The confused look on her face disappeared as soon as she locked eyes with Lana, and was replaced with a bashful smile.
“Wow…am I…dreaming?” she asked, standing up slowly. She smoothed out her robe and struck a pose, leaning against the wall casually. “You look incredible. I mean, you always look amazing, and you should be appreciated more.”
Lana was taken aback by the sudden bulk of compliments. She wasn’t used to it, and especially not from the reserved Jedi.
“Are you okay?”
“Of course I am, love. Never been better!”
She pushed herself away from the wall, and sauntered close to the Sith. Tazanna cleared her throat loudly next to them. She was still standing there, glaring at the two for unknown reasons.
“I see, you’ve regained your strength.”
“Yeah, yeah. Thanks for the drink. I owe you one.” Lagoruthel said, not even bothering to look at Tazanna, who then strode away furiously.
Lana watched her retreating figure for a few moments, wondering what could’ve provoke the sudden change of attitude in the Zeltron. She was so eager to help them, and now that Lagoruthel seemed to be herself again, her whole demeanour changed for the worst. It didn’t add up at all. The Jedi’s voice pulled her out of her state.
“Are you an angel?” she asked with such a soft and genuine expression that Lana never witnessed from anyone in her thirty years. It started to worry her.
The Jedi stepped a bit closer, shooting her a lopsided grin, and repeating herself. “An angel. They're the most beautiful creatures in the universe, and when I look at you, I can’t help but wonder…”
Lana’s heartbeat picked up its pace when she realised Lagoruthel started to slowly lean in, her eyes glued to the blonde’s lips. All her senses screamed for her to stop this and take a step back, but she couldn’t bring herself to do so.
The sudden buzz of her comlink startled Lana and forced her to step away just in time. Another second and they might’ve done something they both would’ve regretted afterwards. She knew there was a spark between her and the Jedi ever since Rishi, but neither of them acted on those feelings at any point for various reasons. Lagoruthel had obligations towards the Republic and the Jedi Order, and Lana was loyal to the Empire. It was clear something was really off with Lagoruthel, for she would never behave like this or make such explicit moves on her. The Order was too important for the Jedi, a relationship would never work between them.
Lana, blushing profusely, took some steps back and tapped her earpiece. “Yes?”
“Hey, just wanted to check in and update you on the happenings,” said Theron on the other end.
“Jed and Corso just reached treasure chamber level. How’s the party going? You forgot to brief us on the area’s defences.”
Lana mentally slapped herself. “It completely slipped my mind, I’m sorry. There was just a minor inconvenience and I forgot about the mission objectives.”
“What do you mean inconvenience? Did someone recognise you?”
“No, but Lagoruthel passed out for a few minutes without any reason, and I had to take care of her.”
“What the hell…is she okay?”
“Yes, I mean…I think she’s not, Theron.” she glanced at the Jedi, who was sticking a finger into one of the puddings on the nearby table, and deliberately licking it off her finger while holding Lana’s gaze. “She’s definitely not okay,” she corrected herself, and walked back to the Jedi. She grabbed her hand and led her out of the ballroom.
“What happened to her?” Theron asked worried.
“I’m not sure. She fainted, some Zeltron woman came and helped me carry her. Then she gave her some drink that would make her feel better.”
“I have no idea, but she started to act weird after drinking it…”
“Could she have been drugged? What do you mean by ‘acting weird’?”
“She’s…hitting on me.”
“Hitting on you?” Theron repeated, as if he didn’t hear it correctly the first time.
“Yes…she called me an…angel. And tried to kiss me…” Lana’s face heated up again from the mere memory.
“Okay that does sound weird,” he admitted.
It was no secret to anyone who knew Lana and Lagoruthel – even just a bit – how they felt about each other, but Theron also knew that his friend always took the Jedi Code seriously, and rid herself of serious attachments and feelings. He also knew it would take the end of the world for Lagoruthel to admit her feelings for Lana; that’s why attempting to kiss the Sith and openly flirt with her gave serious reasons to question her state of mind.
“She must be under some spell. I’ll try to think of something. Back with you shortly,” he said, ending the connection.
Lana let out a long sigh and adjusted her dress. She was starting to get annoyed with the garment.
“Lana, I need to tell you something,” the Jedi said, walking up to her cautiously.
“Please, Lagoruthel, not now. You’ve been drugged, and you cannot think clearly.”
“On the contrary, I’ve never been able to think more clearly than I am now,” she said with a nervous chuckle.
Lana stepped back on purpose. “Please…we can’t do this, and you know it. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.”
It took a lot for her not to let her voice break at the last sentence. She had an inkling of what the Jedi might want to say to her, and it was both terrifying and a dream come true.
“No, please, I have to say this. I can’t keep this to myself anymore, and I don’t want to live a lie,” Lagoruthel admitted and proceeded to take Lana’s hand. The Sith considered pulling away, but she relented eventually, feeling the tug of the force bond both of them were aware of. How could it be possible that two almost completely opposite people were so strongly connected through the Force?
“There they are. Those are the two fugitives,” they heard the familiar voice from the doorway. Lana peeked over Lagoruthel’s shoulder to see two Palace Guards in the company of Tazanna.
“Halt! You’re under arrest.”
“There must be some mistake here,” Lana tried. How could their cover be blown?
“I can assure you, there is no mistake, Lord Beniko,” Tazanna said smugly. “What, did you think nobody knew who you really were? The HoloNet is full of your portraits. ‘A wanted fugitive of the Eternal Empire’, quite fascinating if you ask me. How you managed to escape their fleet is beyond me, but it’s not like it matters now anyway.”
The Zeltron eyed her for a few silent moments. “Stand down, and you’ll be treated fairly.”
“Don’t make me laugh. Arcann has no idea what fair means,” Lana shot the woman a disdainful look. “Let us go, and we’ll forget this minor incident.”
“I’m afraid that’s not possible, dear. You see, my boss wouldn’t appreciate me making deals with you. It’d ruin his plans. And mine.”
“So you’re not working for Arcann,” Lagoruthel pointed out. Tazanna turned her attention to the Jedi, and started walking to her with a sly grin on her face.
“You were always so smart, baby. Even at such a young age…” she sighed dreamily, tracing a finger on Lagoruthel’s jawline.
“What are you-“
“Oh, so she hasn’t told you yet? We were lovers. A long time ago. Until Lagoruthel was forced to leave Zeltros. But you’re here now, and the deal says you’re staying with me. Like you were always meant to.”
“I’d rather rot in a carbonite prison than stay here with you,” the Jedi seethed, stepping away from the Zeltron’s prodding hands.
“I won’t let you take her,” Lana commented in a confident tone. “You’d have to kill me first.”
Tazanna let out a wicked high-pitched cackle. “I would gladly do that. My boss let me have my creative freedom anyway, as long as Lago stayed with me and he safely got away with the treasure.”
Lagoruthel’s blood froze in her vessels hearing the revelation. It couldn’t be.
“Oh, yes. He stood you up, my dear. Did you really think your ‘brother’ loved you? He’s only ever loved himself.”
The crushed expression on Lagoruthel’s face nearly broke Lana’s heart. The Jedi trusted her old friend with her life, and he betrayed her. She clearly wasn’t used to the feeling of being betrayed by someone close to her. The citizens of the Republic weren’t notorious for their treacherous ways.
Lana reached out for the Jedi, but quickly retreated when one of the guards pointed their blaster at her.
“Make this easy for all of us, Lagoruthel. Don’t fight. Come with me, and we can have the life we always wanted. Just the two of us.”
“And what happens to Lana?”
“Free to go. My only stipulation is that she never returns to Zeltros, ever.”
“Lagoruthel!” Lana exclaimed with her eyes wide. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“This is the only way, Lana.”
“No, this isn’t-“
“The galaxy needs someone capable to stop Arcann. If they take you out of the equation too, there’s no hope left.”
“Don’t be ridiculous! It’s not me the galaxy needs, it’s you.”
“If I don’t take this deal, you will die, and I will be taken either way. Be reasonable, Lana. You still have a chance.”
They held each other’s gaze for a long moment before Lagoruthel turned back to the Zeltron, who already expressed her impatience in the meantime.
“I don’t have all day. What is your final decision?”
“You have a deal. I’ll go with you peacefully, and you let her go unharmed.” Lagoruthel repeated the terms. Tazanna nodded her head in agreement, then gestured for the Jedi to join her. Lana watched the exchange without any objection, even though every fibre of being opposed this deal.
“How unfortunate the elixir didn’t produce the effect I intended it to…Oh well! Shoot her,” the Zeltron ordered her guards without hesitation.
“No!” Lagoruthel screamed when several shots fired and voices cried out in agony. The sudden jolt of fear that coursed through her body rendered her unable to move, but when the fire ceased, she ran towards a bent over Lana clutching her upper arm. “Are you all right?”
The Sith groaned in pain, but nodded her head reassuringly. “I’ll live, it was just a scratch.”
They both whipped their heads around to the noise of footsteps approaching. They spotted HK and a Palace Guard running to their direction. Lagoruthel out of instinct stepped protectively in front of Lana.
“Apology: Truly sorry for the delay, masters. I have run into an ally back in the ballroom. He advised to stay behind until the time is right.”
“Who is he?” asked the Jedi, while she helped Lana up to her feet.
“An old friend,” the guard said after he removed his helmet.
“Zale?! What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same, kid.”
He smiled warmly at her and engulfed her in a bone crushing hug.
“Look at you, all grown up and a Jedi Master even. Who would’ve thought when you joined my crew as a little girl, huh?”
“Interjection: Not intending to be rude, but the Zeltron woman escaped justice and probably plots her next evil move, masters.”
“HK’s right. We can’t let our guards down. We need to move, now,” Lana added, standing close to them.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect you, Lana,” Lagoruthel lamented, eyeing the blonde’s injured arm.
“It’s not your duty to protect me. I can take care of myself.”
“I know it’s just…ugh, I still have so much to say.”
With a quick step Lagoruthel threw her arms around the Sith and hugged her gingerly. Lana was completely taken by surprise, but hugged her back.
“Is she okay?” Zale asked with concern.
“She was given some elixir by that Zeltron woman, and has been acting really emotional ever since.”
“Elixir…” he scrutinized the Jedi for a moment before coming to a realisation. “The Elixir of Infatuation!”
“It’s an elixir invented by the Zeltron for the sole purpose of keeping off-worlders on the planet. If someone drinks it, they become infatuated with the first person they lay eyes on.”
“How long until it wears off?”
“Two days at least.”
“We don’t need to wait until the time frame is up, though. You just need to slap her real hard.”
Lana blinked a few times, comprehending what has been said. “I beg your pardon? Slap her?”
Zale nodded firmly, gesturing to the Jedi.
“Are you insinuating I only have feelings for Lana because of this drink? That’s impossible! Look at her!”
“I’m only saying the drink can make anyone fall for anyone, kiddo. But you can’t think properly under the influence, so that slap better come soon, or we might end up stuck here forever,” he explained and looked pointedly at Lana.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized beforehand and slapped the Jedi hard right across the face.
At first it felt like someone dropped a huge weight on her head. Then her vision became blurry for a few seconds, and her jaw started to hurt from the impact. When her sight returned to normal, her eyes nearly fell out of their place from the surprise.
“Zale?! What are you doing here?”
“No time to explain now, kid. We gotta get going.” the old man ordered, patting the Jedi’s shoulder.
“Go? Where? Are we done? Lana?”
“Your friend betrayed all of us. He hired your, apparently, ex-lover to tie you here while he escaped with the heist. You were under the influence of a strong elixir, but there’s no time for details now. We need to catch that treacherous scum befo-“
“Lana, Lagoruthel!” Theron shouted from the doorway, sprinting towards them, completely out of breath. “I think something happened to Jed and Corso. Their comlink is not responding, and I can’t find the signal of their transmitters.”
“That son of a…I knew something was up with him. He won’t get away with this,” Lagoruthel hissed, emotions running high.
There is no emotion. There is serenity.
“Care to tell me what’s going on?” Theron grumbled, clearly on edge too.
“My nephew betrayed you, Agent Shan.” Zale proclaimed and proceeded to take a look around the corner with HK tailing behind him.
“Am I dreaming or is that really Zale Barrows, the famous smuggler slash Republic privateer?”
“Theron, focus! You can fangirl over him later.” Lana scolded impatiently.
“Yeah, right. I brought your stuff with me, it’s in the bag.”
The fully stuffed bag dropped to the ground with a loud thud. He knelt down and unzipped it, revealing its content. Lana’s eyes lit up when she saw her casual clothes and her lightsaber resting on the top. She handed Lagoruthel her own weapon, and hid behind a large vase to quickly change into her usual robes.
Zale and HK returned shortly from their little scout.
“Everything’s clear we need to go before-“
He was rendered silent when suddenly a series of loud explosions shook the entire palace.
“Oh my god…”
It wasn’t too long before the screams of the guests started to fill the air. Everybody began to run for the nearest exit, making it hard to navigate through the crowd.
“They’re trying to create a diversion. Make it harder for you to catch up.” Zale remarked. “We need to move before the whole city goes under lockdown, or we’re doomed.”
“Let’s not waste a moment then,” Lagoruthel suggested, and everyone agreed. “Time to catch a traitor.”
Chapter 9: Lacrimosa
Oi! Seems like sticking to schedules isn't really my thing...I'll try updating more frequently, otherwise people might lose interest in this fic.
For all those who are still with me (and the new ones also!), thanks a lot!!
Feel free to leave kudos, comments below! ;D
There is nothing worse than trying to catch sight of a deceptive ex-Republic privateer in a panic-stricken crowd, Lagoruthel concluded. Ever since the explosion a few minutes ago, the people in the Palace were frantically trying to find the nearest exit point. Everyone was bumping into each other, only caring about getting out as fast as possible, further complicating the Jedi and her companions’ plan. Any attempt to try to create a path in front of them was in vain; the force of the massive crowd was too much for them to navigate in. It felt like they were only going backwards, and also running out of time.
Lagoruthel was just about to lose her temper when a second wave of explosions shook the ground beneath their feet, increasing the intensity of screams and urging people to pick up their pace.
“Are you all alright?” the Jedi turned to her friends behind her.
“We need to hurry. Every moment we waste plays right into his hands,” Theron said, tapping his implants heatedly. The agent’s anger was pretty obvious over the betrayal. He knew Jed, maybe not as well as Lagoruthel, – even though now she questioned whether she knew him at all – but he worked with him over the years on several occasions and considered him a friend, sort of.
“Wait…where’s Zale?” Lagoruthel asked when they successfully exited the Palace. The smuggler vanished without a word.
They all looked around in hopes of finding the missing man, but all they could see was a blur of different coloured Zeltrons and other aliens running.
“This is not good,” Lana said while adjusting the lightsaber on her belt. Her hair was still slightly curly, bringing back memories of the three of them on Manaan, Rishi, and Yavin IV in Lagoruthel’s head. The brief eye contact they made gave enough time for the Jedi to notice that Lana’s eyes were already on their way turning back to their usual yellow colour.
“Theron, get back to the shuttle and stay alert. HK, stay with Lana and try to get a hold of Zale,” she instructed while scanning the open, but very heavily crowded area.
“Where are you going?” Lana asked a little irritated. The Jedi didn’t bother answering the question before running off to the direction of a vividly illuminating building. “Blast it, you reckless Jedi.”
Lagoruthel caught sight of Bowdaar and a certain blond-haired smuggler making their way to the same building she was running towards. They had a good advantage on her, for they were halfway across the street and just about to enter the lift when the Jedi was still pushing through the herd of people.
Lana, HK, and Theron tried to use the empty pathway she created to get on with their tasks. All the while, the Sith kept an eye on Lagoruthel. Even though the crowd made it kind of hard to do so, their force connection – of which she was without a doubt fully aware at this point – made it easy to know where the Jedi was. Her presence in the Force was very strong, and Lana decided upon exploiting this connection between them in the future.
“Theron, look!” she said, grabbing his arm.
Jed and Bowdaar were already making their ascent in the lift to the top of the thirteen storey big glowing orange building when Lagoruthel picked up her pace, and got rid of her chest piece, revealing her under tunic.
“Oh, this will be good,” Theron said enthusiastically, turning his full attention to the Jedi.
“Please don’t let me down now,” Lagoruthel muttered to herself seconds before her feet left the ground with a huge leap. The concrete beneath her cracked into halves from the sudden surge of energy.
She skyrocketed into the air, flying elegantly like an avian, and performing a perfect flip before landing on the top of the building.
“I heard the legends of her being the only Jedi capable of doing such a high Force Jump, but damn…this was amazing,” whispered Theron with a smug look on his face.
Lana, on the other hand was completely awestruck, her jaw hanging, and her eyes wide.
“I can’t believe she just did that!”
“Yep, that’s her. We better get moving, though. See you in a bit, and be careful,” he said before making his way back to the spaceport.
The Sith and HK were about to go in the opposite direction, when she spotted a familiar pink-skinned woman with vivid blue hair approaching the lifts with a blaster in her hand. Lagoruthel would be outnumbered against them. She needed help. Even if she might’ve been one of the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy.
“Change of plans, HK.”
“Objection: Master Lagoruthel told us to find Zale Barrows,” the droid remarked.
“She’ll need our help. Let’s go.”
She was running. Running for her life as fast as a ten-year old’s short legs could allow her to. Zale told them the lower sectors on Coruscant were dangerous and they should never go there alone, but of course Jed wanted that special delivery hold-out blaster for himself when he got wind of it. And he always got what he wanted in the end. ‘You’re smaller, you can easily get in without being detected’, the thirteen-year-old boy said with so much confidence and honesty that Lagoruthel never questioned his requests. This unconditional trust is what got her into this mess in the first place.
The six Black Sun adherents chasing her tenaciously were about to close in on her. The alleyway Lagoruthel ran into started to seem like a dead end. She was beginning to get scared. This wasn’t the way she pictured her final moments, and certainly not at such a young age.
Panic really started to settle on her skin when she reached the end of the alley. There was nothing but some garbage lying around, and a dead rat. She could hear the approaching footsteps and the angry voices of the syndicate members. The girl turned to the direction of the sounds and closed her eyes in defeat. She was still clutching the small blaster in her equally small hand. Without any previous sign, a hand grabbed her upper arm and tugged her into a narrow crack between the two walls on the left. Before she could protest, or scream, the same hand came up to cover her mouth.
“Shh,” said the slightly taller, blond boy, and held her flush to his chest to stop her panicky shivering. He only let her go when the Black Sun thugs left the scene.
“Are you all right?” he asked Lagoruthel. She handed him the weapon.
“I’m never doing anything for you again. Ever.”
“You were never really in danger, Lago.”
“Liar! They almost killed me! Why would you make me do this?” she asked, stepping away from the boy with tears starting to form in her eyes.
“You were really brave today. I am very proud,” he said while putting both his hands on her shoulder. “And I am never going to let anything happen to you. I’ll always look out for you. I promise.”
Lagoruthel ran across the top of the building, using all her strength trying to ignore the pain in her ribs from the lack of oxygen. Running was something she had always been good at. Growing up with a gang of smugglers demanded having good physical condition among many other things, but spending five years in a poisonous carbonite prison, and having just been drugged with a strong Zeltron elixir have taken its toll on her current state.
She finally spotted Jed, Bowdaar, and Guss on the far end of the rooftop, loading the haul into a shuttle. Igniting her lightsaber, she made the few final steps walking. The Wookiee and the Mon Calamari immediately raised their weapons at her to the unmistakable sound.
“End of the line, Jed,” she yelled flatly. The smuggler held his hand up to signal his friends not to shoot.
“You shouldn’t be here, Lago.”
“Your little deception ends here, you scheming scum.”
He dramatically put his right hand on his heart, feigning hurt offense. “I have no idea what you’re implying.”
“Quit the charade, I know about your plan, Jed. Your little accomplice told me everything.”
“Oh yeah? What did she tell you?”
“The truth,” said the voice from behind the Jedi. It was Tazanna, and she was pointing a gun at her back.
Jed let out a light-hearted chuckle, and shook his head with dissatisfaction. “This isn’t what we agreed on, Tazanna.”
“It’s not my fault, the elixir worked perfectly. The only fly in the ointment was that she didn’t look at me first, but that wench who came with her.”
“Don’t you dare…,” Lagoruthel growled vehemently, earning a satisfied, vile grin from the Zeltron woman.
“Aw, sensitive spot, Jedi? I thought you weren’t allowed to have feelings.”
“Give her the lightsaber, Lago,” Jed ordered.
She concluded there were no other choice but to obey. There was very little chance to defeat all of them without being shot, so she turned off the weapon, and handed it to the Zeltron.
“Atta girl,” the woman purred, leaning close to her ear. It sent shivers down her spine, and not the good kind.
Tazanna threw the saber to Jed.
“Why are you doing this?”
The sudden noise of footsteps approaching stopped the smuggler from answering, and he gestured to the Zeltron to turn and shoot. The unexpected move caught Lana and HK off guard, not being able to duck from the shots. The blaster made vibrating sounds as the beam enveloped both the Sith and the droid, rendering them motionless.
“Speak of the devil,” the woman said with the same wicked grin plastered on her face. Lagoruthel turned a bit to take a better look at the two stiff friends of her. The slight panic was visible in Lana’s eyes as they locked gazes.
“What did you do to us?” the Sith asked in a threatening voice.
“Observation: I am unable to move my limbs, Master. Conclusion: we are locked in some sort of stasis.”
“Captain!” Corso shouted from the shuttle’s direction. “I found this old dude sniffing around the maintenance panel. He was trying to sabotage the wiring.”
He was nudging a bruised and tied up Zale Barrows in front of him. The old man winced in pain when he was shoved a little too hard and lost his balance, ending up on his knees.
“This is hilarious, guys, I swear.” Jed laughed gleefully, clutching his stomach. “The whole family in one place after all these years. This is too good to be true.”
“Why are you doing this, Jed?” Lagoruthel asked again, trying to take a step towards him, which only resulted in Tazanna pushing the blaster’s barrel harder into her back.
“I’m doing this for my family. I can provide them stability, a home, Lago. Risha and I are going to have a baby, and I will not let the Eternal Empire ruin our future for us. We can get away and live in peace. You could have it all here, too, Lagoruthel,” the smuggler said, slowly walking a bit closer to the Jedi.
Lagoruthel scoffed sardonically when he stopped talking. Her face contorted with disgust and her hands balled into fists. “You’re a coward, Jed Shaw. Always have been. A scoundrel who bends whatever way is beneficial for him. Do you even care about your crew or just using them to your own benefit? Does this grand future you want involve them, or do you plan to ditch them, too? There is no future if Arcann isn’t stopped, can’t you see that? Stop being selfish for once in your life and open your blasted eyes!”
“Is this-is this true?” Guss asked with a wavering voice. “You planned to leave her here with the woman who abused her? I thought it was you who saved her from this witch!”
“It’s complicated, Guss, I-“
“No, it’s not!” Guss shouted, and pointed his blaster at the smuggler, while Bowdaar raised his weapon at the Mon Calamari at the same time, and knocked him out.
Jed let out a disapproving sound, shaking his head. “Languss, Languss…you just made the worst move possible. Now I don’t have any other choice than to leave you behind as well. It’s a shame really, I truly warmed up to you.”
“You don’t have to do this, son. Be reasonable,” Zale said before Corso snarled at him.
For the first time since their quarrel, signs of anger started to show themselves on the smuggler’s face. He took a sharp inhale and walked to his old uncle.
“Corso, start the engine.”
“Jed, please,” the old smuggler pleaded. “We are your family, too. We take care of each other, just like we used to-“
“Is that what you did for my mom? You took care of her? You protected her? That’s why you left her behind when the Eternal Empire attacked? Your own sister?” he growled angrily.
“I am so sorry, Jed. I thought I had more time to-“
“You’re sorry? So what, am I supposed to just forgive you?” he pulled the old man up by his shirt and held him close in a threatening manner.
“Don’t do this,” pleaded the Jedi from the distance.
“I promised I’ll always look out for you, and that’s what I’m doing. One day you’ll understand.”
He turned back to his uncle with a half-smile, releasing his collar. Zale wobbled a bit trying to find his balance with his injured leg.
“Lagoruthel…,” Lana said in a warning tone. She could sense the conflicting emotions in the young smuggler just like the Jedi. Neither of them had anticipated, however, his next action.
The familiar sound of an ignited lightsaber mixed with the uproar of the shuttle’s engine.
“No!” Lagoruthel cried out in horror at the same time. Zale let out an almost inaudible groan when the blade pierced through his stomach.
“This is for abandoning your family,” Jed whispered in his uncle’s ear, before turning off the saber and tossing it on the ground. He ran up the ramp with the Wookiee in tow, as Zale collapsed on the rooftop. Lagoruthel elbowed the Zeltron woman behind her in the stomach and knocked her unconscious. When her blaster collided with the floor, Lana and HK were released from their stasis prison.
The Jedi hurried over to the motionless old man on the ground, cradling him in her arms. He was breathing shallow, and his pupils dilated to twice their normal size.
“You’re gonna be okay, Zale, you’ll be fine,” she said in a shaky voice.
Lana checked on the recently conscious again Guss and remained by his side to give Lagoruthel and her old friend some space before his final moments.
“Ugh, this isn’t exactly how I pictured my exit.”
“No, no, no. You’re not going anywhere, Zale.”
He smiled wearily up at her, brushing his knuckles against her cheek lightly. “Look at you. Not that scared little girl I found on Cularin anymore, but a Jedi Master. I am so proud of you, kid. So proud.”
“No, no, stay with me,” she begged when his eyes started to flutter closed. The hand on her cheek dropped lifelessly to his side.
The Jedi stared at her fallen friend’s body in her arms. He looked peaceful, and died with a smile on his face. It didn’t lessen the pain that settled in her heart however. Not even the presence of her former Master’s ghost, and his hand on her shoulder.
Chapter 10: Fly, you fools
Happy belated New Year, dear readers! Yes, I am unable to update on time. No, I did not plan for this to happen, but life decided to butt in. Terribly sorry. :'D Hope some of you are still with me.
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Cheers, and enjoy! xx
The Twi’lek man was gesturing wildly with his hands, wearing a furious expression on his face when Lagoruthel arrived at the Matriarch’s home with Teeseven. She could feel the unsettling, negative aura around the man.
“She died in my arms. You should’ve seen what those filth did to her.”
“I’m sorry, Saylew. We all share your loss,” the young woman told him in a voice one would describe as truly sincere.
“For every one of us the Flesh Raiders butcher, we should kill ten! No, a hundred!”
“Will that return your loved one to life?” Master Orgus interjected.
“Don’t lecture me, Jedi. My wife’s dead, our people slaughtered! Where were you then?” Saylew growled angrily and Lagoruthel felt the urge to step forward.
“Nothing I say will make you feel whole again, but we truly are doing everything we can,” she offered.
“You’re right. Nothing you Jedi say is worth a thing.”
The Twi’lek trotted away with the Matriarch’s daughter in tow trying to calm him.
“People wonder why Jedi are forbidden to marry or have families. They don’t see how attachments always lead to suffering. Passion and emotion can destroy a person-and Jedi destroyed by passion become something terrible,” Master Orgus explained to his Padawan. Lagoruthel nodded in agreement, making a mental note of her master’s words.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
The world seemed to slow down, and everything was a blur. Lagoruthel could not even hear the sound of Theron’s shuttle arriving, nor count the number of times Lana called out her name. The Jedi just kept staring at the lifeless man in her hands, mouth hung open and hands trembling.
“Lagoruthel!” the Sith tried again, shaking her by the shoulders to snap her out of it.
“Uh, not to be that guy, but we have to hurry. Security forces are closing in on us in 30 seconds,” Theron chimed in through the comlink, and opened the shuttle’s door, but the Jedi did not show any signs of moving anytime soon. She completely froze.
“HK, get Guss and take him to the shuttle,” Lana ordered when the sound of siren was getting closer and closer. She picked up the Jedi’s lightsaber and knelt before her. “Lagoruthel, listen to me,” she started, but when the woman did not move a muscle, she grabbed her face with both hands and leaned as close as possible without being intrusive. “We have to go, now.”
Suppressing a sniffle, Lagoruthel finally looked at Lana. “I’m not leaving him,” she insisted with such determination in her eyes that for a flicker of a moment she thought they’d have to leave her behind too.
“Lana!” Theron whined from the edge of the ramp.
“He’s gone. Let him go. Please.”
The pleading eyes of the blonde eventually persuaded Lagoruthel to flee the planet, leaving her surrogate father’s body behind on a world she despised very much.
She placed a quick kiss on the old man’s forehead before whispering, “Please forgive me.”
The Jedi followed Lana up the ramp and stopped at the door, looking back to take one last final look at Zale Barrows while the shuttle started to ascend into the air. She only closed the door when the building became a blur from the massive smoke cloud that engulfed the area of the royal palace.
The journey back to Asylum seemed a lot shorter than expected. Lana and HK patched Guss up while the Jedi holed up in an empty storage closet, trying to meditate, and shut the world out that only brought her agony and bad feelings lately.
“How’s Guss?” Theron asked when the Sith joined him in the cockpit.
“He’ll be fine, but I don’t think Lagoruthel will be, Theron,” Lana said and took a deep breath before going on. “Zale Barrows is dead. Captain Shaw killed him right before our eyes.”
“She’s in pain, and angry, I can feel it. I’ve never sensed anger in her, and now it’s boiling deep inside her. Barrows meant a lot to her…”
“I know you’re force sensitive and all, but how can you feel her so much? I remember how you knew she was coming to Rishi hours before her actual arrival, and now you say you feel her every emotion. It’s curious,” the spy said, scratching his chin pensively.
“Not every emotion, but quite a lot, and I believe we share a type of force bond. I am aware of this for quite some time now. It only strengthened since I thawed her out of carbonite.”
“Speaking of carbonite. You went to great lengths to pull off that rescue mission.”
“I must admit, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But it was a necessary course of action. We can’t win this battle without her, Theron.”
“Oh, so that’s the only reason you risked so much?” he teased.
“What are you implying, Shan?”
“C’mon, you know exactly what I’m saying. You like her.”
“Of course I do. She’s a brilliant woman, and a fierce ally,” Lana said in a neutral tone.
Theron scoffed loudly at her statement. “I meant romantically, Beniko. And don’t even try to deny it. Every decent person with a good pair of eyes can see it.”
Lana shifted uncomfortably in her seat, something Theron noticed and took it as a cue to push on.
“She likes you too, by the way.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Theron. She’s a dedicated Jedi Master who values her Order’s teachings. You know Jedi are forbidden to form attachments.”
“You two have been dancing around each other for stars knows how long now, it’s starting to become hard to watch.” He landed the shuttle near the Gravestone’s docking bay, and turned to the Sith. “Besides, life is too short, there’s no guarantee of a future considering the circumstances, so why not live in the moment? She wouldn’t reject you, trust me. I’ve seen the way she looks at you ever since Yavin IV. Talk to her,” he squeezed her shoulder lightly, rising from his seat to check on the recently awakened Mon Calamari, leaving Lana alone with her thoughts.
The small, blue ten-sided die swirled slowly in the air in front of the meditating Jedi. She was aware of their landing, but decided against breaking her concentration. Her mind was a flurry of different emotions, something she fought hard to overcome, but was so far rendered to stay in a losing position.
“Now’s not a good time,” she mumbled through gritted teeth.
“It seemed to be the time for me to announce my presence once again,” Valkorion said, standing behind the Jedi on the floor.
Lagoruthel took a deep breath and pocketed the die. A knock could be heard on the metal door at the same time. She stood and opened it to reveal a seemingly nervous Lana.
“I don’t want to bother you, just came to say we’ve arrived back on Asylum,” the Sith explained, regaining her usual posture.
“You’re never bothering, but thank you. We should probably check on the others at the Gravestone,” the Jedi told her, brushing past. “Who knows what damage SCORPIO must’ve already done to that ship? That is, if Koth let her-“
“-can we talk?”
“Maybe we should do it later. Guss needs to rest-“
“-Theron and HK already escorted him back to the Gravestone. It’s just us here,” she inched closer to Lagoruthel in a cat-like manner, almost as if testing her reaction. But the Jedi did not show signs of hostility or rejection. She simply stiffened when Lana stopped just a hair's breadth away.
“I’m fine, Lana…,” she breathed. Even if her voice was steady, her eyes betrayed her.
“You’re not among Jedi, you don’t need to act as if you had no feelings. You’re allowed not to be fine.”
The warmth that radiated from Lana’s eyes alone soothed the younger woman, but when the Sith pulled her into a tight and protective embrace, she finally broke down in tears.
By the time they got back to the Gravestone, everyone was gathered around the main console on the bridge, contemplating whether to give SCORPIO full access or not. Most of the team - like Koth, Senya - found that a really bad idea.
“Focus on the hyperdrive first,” Lagoruthel told the droid.
“Acceptable for now.”
“Was everything okay back here?” the Jedi asked, raising an eyebrow at Koth and Senya. She half expected them to be bickering again – or still – but they seemed to be on good terms.
“Nothing out of the ordinary. We managed to patch up the Gravestone as much as our resources allowed,” Koth explained with a satisfied look on his face.
“Excellent work, Koth, thank you,” she said with a grin. As much as she still felt down, her little time alone with Lana helped immensely. A huge weight was lifted off her shoulders. She never was the crying type, but so much pent up emotion was stored for the last few years – excluding her carbonite induced sleep – that it was inevitable the gate would burst open eventually.
“I’m a bit exhausted. Think I’ll take a nap, if you don’t mind,” she added. Nobody protested.
Theron didn’t miss the quick smile the Jedi shot to Lana’s direction before disappearing behind the door.
“I noticed that cheeky smile. Did you talk?” the spy inquired with an amused grin.
“We did, but not about that.”
Lana let out a small sigh, “It wasn’t the right time. She’s in an emotionally unstable state right now, I don’t want to take advantage of it.”
“Trust me, she’d love for you to take advantage of her,” he scoffed with an even more amused grin than before. Lana simply rolled her eyes at his antics, but couldn’t hide the blush that crept up her neck.
Her hand brushed against the hilt resting on her hip, “Oh, I forgot to give this back to her.”
“Well then go after her. I heard for Jedi that weapon is-“
Lana didn’t even wait for Theron to finish his knowledge about Jedi weaponry before taking off. She caught up to her wandering friend rather quickly.
The brunette whipped around at the sound of her name, and a smile found its way to her face when she noticed the Sith.
“I forgot to give you this,” she explained, handing the weapon to her.
“My lightsaber,” the Jedi frowned, eyeing it suspiciously.
“I know this saber is a reminder of…what happened. But that wasn’t your, nor this lightsaber’s fault. This weapon is your life. You told me on Rishi it was a gift from your old Master before he died.”
“You remember that?” Lagoruthel asked, utterly surprised that the Sith remembered such an irrelevant information.
“I remember everything you told me,” she said, offering a soft smile. The Jedi returned it eagerly.
She reattached it to her belt, “Thank you, Lana.”
Both of them felt the sudden surge of Force energy flowing between them, almost as if they were connected by strings and occasionally pulled closer together.
The unexpected buzz of Lagoruthel’s comlink snapped them out of their stupor. Heskal’s form appeared via holo.
“Your presence is requested. Come alone.”
The short message surprised them both.
“Charmer, that one,” Lana quipped with a shake of her head.
“Senya knows how to pick them.”
“Be careful. We need the Scions, but zealots are unpredictable by nature.”
“I’ve got you to rescue me. What more could I need?” the Jedi said without hesitation.
“I’m serious. If anything happens to you…”
The concern emanating from the Sith’s voice and body language nearly compelled Lagoruthel to just kiss her then and there, but she resisted.
“I will be fine, okay? Not going anywhere. Not yet,” she said, trying to reassure the blonde.
Lana looked deeply into her brown eyes, wanting to believe her friend’s words.
“This isn’t the time, or place…,” she sighed heavily. “One hour. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll rip that sanctuary apart.”
The Jedi chuckled at the last part, knowing damn well Lana meant every single syllable. She gathered all her courage and leaned forward, planting a lingering kiss on the Sith’s cheek. She heard how Lana’s breath momentarily hitched in her throat from the sudden gesture.
A growing bad feeling was making its way to the Sith’s heart as she watched Lagoruthel’s gradually disappearing form. It took all her willpower not to set after her. The only thing she wished for was that this time her senses were dreadfully malfunctioning.
Chapter 11: Sanctuary is Lost
I am finally back from my university induced hiatus, which feels awesome since the last three months have been a living hell with all the deadlines and stress-filled days from both uni, and work. But, if everything goes well, I'll get my degree soon, so yay! I'm hoping to update more regularly from now on.
Thanks for all the kudos, comments, bookmarks, and the lovely messages on Tumblr! I really appreciate all of them <3
Here's an action packed, emotional chapter for you. Enjoy! xx
Lagoruthel decided to take the longer path to the Scions’ hideout to have a little time to ponder on the events of the last 24 hours. Everything happened too fast since she was released from carbonite that she finds it hard to keep up. The escape from Zakuul, the reunion with Jed and his crew, the dance with Lana and the intensifying feelings for her, seeing Theron again, Valkorion in her head, Senya being the mother of Arcann and Vaylin, and the death of Zale…It all felt just too much to process in such short notice. The Jedi could only hope this little detour would let her calm down a tad, and regain her composure, because right now, she didn’t feel like someone who could set an example to a group.
Walking among the refugees here on Asylum reminded her of her early years with Zale Barrows’ smuggler band, the last time she felt human. Make no mistake, she loved being a Jedi. The order gave her a purpose to live, and guidance on how to become the best version of herself when she was probably at her worst, but at the same time she felt as if the Republic only saw her as a soldier who wields a different kind of weapon as opposed to the traditional military men. And soldiers are always expendable.
Teeseven’s excited whistling brought her back from her preoccupied haze. The little droid insisted on joining his owner on this trip so that he can discover Asylum a bit more thoroughly.
“Yes, buddy, most of these refugees had to leave their homes because of Arcann, but they are safe here,” Lagoruthel said.
“Jedi + Asylum = safe too?”
She involuntarily frowned from the question, and even though it seemed very unlikely that she’ll ever be safe, there was nothing she wished more.
The loud noise of children’s laughter filled her ears before Lagoruthel and Teeseven reached the corner that led to the Scion enclave. The Jedi whipped her head to the direction of four children playing happily on the ground. She spotted the little boy, Zeckory, whom she encountered a few days ago among them, and a smile immediately found its way on her face.
“I really hope, Teeseven. I really hope,” she answered, patting the top of the astromech.
“For the love of Dantooine, will you please stop pacing, Lana?” Theron pleaded with a loud groan.
The Sith has been walking from one corner of the room to another since Lagoruthel left the Gravestone, clearly on edge.
“I have a really bad feeling about this. What if she ran into trouble? What if she’s hurt?”
Theron rolled his eyes in frustration, starting to get annoyed with Lana’s overly concerned behaviour.
“You’ve been asking that for twenty-five minutes now. She’s fine, Lana. Don’t worry about her all the time, she’s a grown woman who’s perfectly capable of taking care of herself.”
“I know that, Theron. But that doesn’t mean I won’t fear for her safety. Not after everything that happened,” she let out a heavy sigh and looked at Theron. “I can’t lose her. Not now.”
“And you won’t, you hear me? You won’t,” he said, standing in front of the Sith to put both his hands on her shoulders.
Lana gave him a half-hearted smile before her comlink buzzed on her wrist. She frantically opened the channel.
“Lana? It’s me,” the Jedi announced.
“That was fast-“
“Arcann’s here! Defend the ship!”
Heskal’s call was just a ploy to lure her out alone, because Arcann knew very well that the Jedi was still not fully recovered from the carbonite poisoning, and that she was vulnerable on her own.
No matter how much help Teeseven’s presence meant, Arcann still proved to be a strong opponent. His agility and unexpected slashes coerced Lagoruthel to stay sharp every moment. One wrong step could be fatal.
She was about to leap on Arcann when suddenly a loud crash of a damaged ship shook the whole hideout, taking half of its roof upon collision. The falling debris provided an opening for her escape, as the Emperor also tried to save his own skin rather than fight her. Teeseven just barely rolled out of the door before a huge pillar blocked it completely.
“Are you all right, buddy?” she asked the dusty droid. He beeped reassuringly.
The Jedi had a few moments to adjust her heavy breathing when her comlink starting buzzing.
“Tell me you’re alive,” she heard Lana’s panic-stricken voice from the other end.
“It would be hard to answer you if I were dead,” she attempted to ease the tenseness of the Sith with the joke. “I’m mostly intact.”
“The Gravestone’s under siege, but we’re not leaving without you.”
“Hold tight. I’m coming as fast as I can.”
No matter how much out of breath she already was, Lagoruthel kept pushing on, running as fast as she could back to the others. The Skytroopers and Arcann’s fleet already laid waste to most parts of Asylum. Mass amounts of supply crates were burning brighter than Mustafar’s lava flow, and the people were screaming from sheer terror. Many have fallen victim of the attack, but surprisingly many of the refugees fought back with whatever resource they had, and seeing the passion in them only bolstered Lagoruthel’s volition to end this tyranny of Arcann.
“No…” the Jedi breathed, completely crestfallen when they reached the market place and she spotted the lifeless, fragile body of Zeckory among other fallen refugees. “I’m so sorry,” she kneeled beside him to close his still open, but glassy eyes. The sound of Skytroopers approaching, and Teeseven’s whistling compelled her to continue the journey back to the Gravestone.
It was hard to navigate in the thick smoke cloud that engulfed the whole platform, and the Skytroopers in the way didn’t make the situation any easier. Her desert green lightsaber was constantly activated to be able to defend her and the astromech from the assaults. Fortunately, there was no sign of Arcann at all on the battlefield.
Lagoruthel immediately caught sight of Lana and Theron when she reached the landing platform. They were fighting off Skytroopers that tried to get a hold of the Gravestone.
“Look! There she is!” Theron exclaimed after he finished off the last robot, pointing at the running Jedi. Lana reattached her lightsaber to her belt and rushed towards Lagoruthel. They collided from the impact, and the Jedi almost got knocked off her feet from the force of Lana’s hug. They clung to each other like a cephalopod to its prey.
“I was so worried,” Lana whispered, holding on to Lagoruthel with one hand on the back of her neck, and the other clenched into her upper robe on her back.
“Uh, sorry to bother your…whatever this is, but we have problems,” Theron said, avoiding eye contact with the pair.
“Tell me the hyperdrive isn’t one,” Lagoruthel pleaded after they abruptly broke apart with Lana.
“Don’t worry, SCORPIO fixed it, but Arcann’s forces locked down the docking clamps. We’re grounded.”
“But we can’t abandon the Gravestone! That fleet will tear us to shreds!”
“Koth and HK are en route to the Control Spar, but they need help,” Lana interjected when the natural colour of her cheeks returned.
“Then let’s not waste any more time.”
The path to the Control Spar turned out to be a really long and exhausting one. The team got split into four with Lana – reluctantly – staying behind on a lower level to hold off reinforcements, Theron stayed with Koth on another level, and HK accompanied Lagoruthel for the final steps to the station.
The huge area was completely empty, no Skytroopers, no security, but HK stood guard by the entrance nevertheless. Lagoruthel made quick work of the control system and released the Gravestone from its trap within a few minutes. It was imperative to finish fast, for their time was short before their positions would be overrun. The sound of war still raged on with full force outside which the Jedi haven’t heard for a long time (if we take the five years in carbonite into consideration).
“Now let’s get out of here,” she whispered to herself before she sensed the presence and heard the unmistakable sound of a lightsaber ignited. She leapt to the floor out of instinct, just barely dodging the slash of yellow energy blade.
“We have unfinished business,” Arcann growled more threatening than before.
He reacted quickly, and sent Lagoruthel flying a good fifty meters before she could reach for her weapon resting on her hip. No matter much her left arm ached from the impact of her landing, she swiftly stood and ignited her blade to block the incoming blow of Arcann. He only backed away a few steps because HK came in blazing, angrily waving around his blaster.
“You will hang on my wall for eternity,” Arcann seethed, and began another series of attacks.
Lagoruthel tried reading his moves, but his fighting technique was flawless, and never repeated the same sequence of moves twice. This meant that sooner or later the Jedi would slip up and miss a block, perhaps even get herself killed. She tried to change their roles and be the one on the offence, but Arcann once again resorted to the use of force push, and when he was about to strike the final blow, HK threw himself in the way of the energy surge. He fell to pieces all around the lying Jedi.
“I can’t wait to meet all your friends,” he hovered over Lagoruthel like a predator with a malicious grin in his voice. “Especially that hot blonde who risked her own life for yours.”
At that moment, something has broken in Lagoruthel. The white-hot anger, which she only ever felt when she was under the control of the Emperor years before, resurfaced with tenfold intensity. Arcann almost couldn’t block the incoming blows she threw in his direction. Her moves became frantic and quicker, leaving her more vulnerable for counter attacks, which Arcann didn’t hesitate to exploit. He was a much larger, more muscular person, and it gave him a slight advantage when it came to powerful blows. Lagoruthel stumbled a few steps back when she was hit with one, but before Arcann could continue his attacks, time stopped.
“My son is too strong. You need my power. Only together can we strike him down,” Valkorion insisted. He seemed to have impeccable timing when it came to showing up.
“You can’t tempt me. When Arcann’s done, you’re next,” the Jedi grumbled displeased. In her anger she didn’t notice when time started again. Everything happened so fast she couldn’t even react to Arcann pulling her in with the force. His lightsaber effortlessly went through her abdomen when she collided into it. There were times she often tried to imagine what it feels like to be put down by a lightsaber, but she never imagined that it would hurt this much. She didn’t even have energy to scream from the pain, she could only let out an elongated grunt. The Jedi collapsed to the ground when Arcann finally pulled the blade out. The pain she felt before was replaced by a different kind of agony, leaving her heaving on the floor, clutching at her abdomen.
She didn’t know when or how Arcann disappeared, her focus was completely on the unbearable ache.
Someone dropped down beside her hurriedly and took her in their lap, then cupped her cheek gently before speaking.
“Lago, hey. Look at me.”
“Lana?” the Jedi croaked, blinking with pain.
“I thought I’d lost you,” the Sith whispered, holding Lagoruthel closer.
“You might not be as far from it than you think.”
“Don’t talk like that. Please-“
“If this is one my last moments, I need to tell you something.”
Before any of them could say another word, Tora’s voice came from Lana’s comlink.
“The Gravestone’s free! Get back, or get left!”
“C’mon, I’ll carry you if I must,” Lana said, and helped the Jedi up to her feet. They stumbled out of the Control Spar in record time, while the Sith ordered the others not to even think about leaving without them. Lana was really worried when she realised how much paler the Jedi looked by the minute, and tried to keep her awake whenever she seemed to be on the edge of falling into unconsciousness.
They ran into an escaping Theron on the level’s landing platform. He immediately ran to their side when he noticed the Jedi’s bad condition.
“Lana, what happened?” he asked anxiously.
“We need to get back to the Gravestone as soon as possible, Theron. She’s been stabbed by Arcann, and I don’t know how much longer she has…” Lana explained hastily. Theron swiftly scooped Lagoruthel up in his arms and started running towards the nearby shuttle. He placed the Jedi on the medical stretcher, and hurried over to the cockpit, starting the engine.
“Be with her, I’ll fly us out of here,” he told Lana who – for the first since he’s known her – seemed to be in a slightly shocked state. She quickly regained her composure and strode to the lying Jedi, taking off her gloves to hold Lagoruthel’s hand in hers.
“I’m here, we’ll get you to the med bay. Just try to save your energy,” Lana said, stroking Lagoruthel’s hair gingerly.
Seeing the Jedi this vulnerable and in so much pain nearly made the Sith break out in tears. She could feel her eyes water from the sheer view of her friend in front of her. The light from Lagoruthel’s eyes were fading, and they became glassier by the minute.
“Don’t leave me. Please…not now,” Lana pleaded, her voice barely a whisper. She brought the Jedi’s hand up to her mouth to press a light kiss on her cold knuckles.
“We’ve arrived, c’mon!” Theron exclaimed, and rushed to pick Lagoruthel up in his arms again.
They landed in the middle of the firefight, and Lana had to use her lightsaber to fend off the nearby Skytroopers so that Theron can easily get the Jedi to the ship.
“Theron…” she said hoarsely.
“Hang on, Lago. We’re almost on the ship. Just hang in there, okay?”
“Please tell Lana-“
“Oh no. You’re gonna tell her when you wake up, all right? Because you’re gonna be fine, you hear me?”
He saw the tiny smile on her face before she fell limp in his arms.
“No, no, no! Stay with me. Just…someone! Help!” he bellowed when they were safely aboard the Gravestone. “She’s not breathing! Get the medical droids, now!”
Lana and Senya arrived a few moments after Theron placed the Jedi in the care of the droids.
“Where is she, Theron?” the Sith inquired in complete distress. Senya seemed quite worried as well.
The spy anxiously ran both his hand through his hair, unable to form words.
“She…she stopped breathing, Lana. I’m sorry,” he eventually said, and after one big stride, he pulled the Sith into a tight hug. He expected her to push him away, or scold him for being too physical, but she didn’t. Lana simply hugged him back, and they silently cried together for the life of their friend.
Chapter 12: Stay
“I just think it might put everyone at ease if you ditched the lightsaber,” Theron explained in a calm tone, gesturing with his hand towards the weapon on the Sith’s belt.
Lana let out an exasperated sigh. “Is that really necessary? Surely I’m not as intimidating as you imply?”
The agent seemed not to have noticed the Jedi entering the room, because he kept trying to convince his newfound ally to get her lightsaber out of arms reach. Lana, however, did not miss the moment Lagoruthel stepped inside the compound. The strong affinity to the Force made it possible for the Sith to feel the presence of anyone in her vicinity. The Jedi was no exception.
Lana whipped her head to her direction, catching sight of two droids, a Wookie, and the cloaked woman she briefly saw through the holo not so long ago. She was definitely taller than Lana expected, and looked fairly young for her reputation.
“Theron, they made it,” she asserted, cutting him short in his speech.
“Oh, thank the stars. Are you all right?” he asked.
“We’re fine,” Lagoruthel said with a reassuring half-smile, and turned towards the Sith. “Thanks for the save.”
It wasn’t at all what Lana was expecting. She hasn’t had much personal contact with Jedi before, but from the tales of other Imperials – which she of course took for granted –, she was counting on an ungrateful, self-absorbed brat that only saw the enemy in her. She’s never been more wrong in her whole life. This Jedi was warm and welcoming, with no indication of arrogance or hostility. Her gratitude sounded completely genuine, and the slight twinkle in her eyes put an involuntary smile on Lana’s face.
“Lana Beniko: dedicated Imperial citizen and fully-armed Sith Lord,” Theron quipped, pointing at the blonde.
“But you don’t need to worry about that,” Lana quickly added in an attempt to ease his tension.
The Jedi pulled off her cowl before answering, revealing her scarred but pretty features. She looked even younger than Lana initially thought, yet her posture and tone reflected confidence.
“Lagoruthel Corltro, and I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
“So this is the Jedi who – presumably – killed our Emperor…” Lana mused to herself.
It’s been almost three hours since Theron rushed in with Lagoruthel in his arms and handed her over to the medical units to perform some kind of miracle on his dead friend. His tears dried a while ago when he was asked to help their escape from the war zone that Asylum has become. They had no idea who survived the battle, other than a scarce number of people who were present on the Gravestone.
Theron trailed back to the medbay with a frown on his face that hasn’t left for quite some time. Koth wanted to accompany him back to check on Lana, but Theron quickly talked him out of it. The agent believed his friend would tolerate his presence better than the pilot’s in this situation.
He stopped by the corner of the corridor when he spotted Lana in the same position he left her almost an hour ago: hunched over, half facing the durasteel door separating her from the Jedi, and a pained expression on her normally neutral face. The agent’s already heavy heart sunk from the view in front of her. Lana Beniko, Lord of the Sith, who were always so composed and focused reduced to a crying, broken woman. Theron never had a sibling, but there were two women in his life whom he thought of as if they were his own sisters: Teff'ith and Lana. It never failed to amuse him how attached he got to these women who were the polar opposites of himself.
The agent approached her slowly, careful not to startle her, even though he knew she probably sensed him long ago. Theron put a hand on her shoulder to get her attention.
“Nothing?” he asked almost inaudibly.
Lana just shook her head in response, unable to formulate words. She felt horrible, and utterly helpless. Her emotions were a jumble of sadness, anger, and pain. She had no idea how much time had passed since they took the Jedi in, and the wait only made matters worse.
“Come here,” Theron beckoned, and pulled her in for a one armed hug. If he could take away her pain, he would gladly do it, because this is a state of Lana that he never wanted to see her in. “She’ll make it. She’s strong. Stronger than any of us, okay?” he gently squeezed her shoulder and pressed a light kiss to her hair.
They jumped apart when the door in front of them opened unexpectedly. The medical droid came to a halt before the two. Lana and Theron waited for his briefing with their breaths held.
“She’s stable now,” he announced in a monotone voice.
Both Lana and Theron let out a relieved sigh at the same time, but while the agent started to laugh hysterically, Lana burst out in tears again. This time, however, these were tears of a mix of joy and repression.
“She’s unconscious, however, and there’s no telling when she will wake up. She needs to rest.”
“Thank you,” Theron said when the droid finished.
“Can I see her?” Lana interjected hastily.
The droid seemed to be hesitating before giving the Sith permission. Theron decided to tell the others, and let Lana be alone with Lagoruthel for a bit before everybody pours into the room to check on her as well.
The room was a rather big one. Lana was sure she’s never seen it before after she entered. The Jedi laid motionless on a large, white bed, with patches on her chest to monitor her heart rate. Lana tentatively approached her resurrected friend, still a bit in shock from the fact that she was dead.
She died. Yet here she is: heart beating again, blood circulating in her veins, lungs being filled up with fresh oxygen continuously. Alive.
Lana pulled a chair beside the Jedi and lowered herself slowly, not tearing her gaze away from Lagoruthel’s unconscious form.
“I’m so sorry I let you go alone. I should’ve known Arcann would ambush you again,” she started, grabbing the Jedi’s hand in both of hers. Without gloves on, it was almost as cold as the weather on Hoth, but a bit more lively than that ice rock.
“Promise me you’ll wake up, please. The galaxy needs you,” she interlaced their fingers lightly, feeling the Force radiate from every cell of the Jedi’s body. “I need you.”
The next three days were spent in the same routine: the crew and Koth kept things in order and piloted the Gravestone through systems to the coordinates that he was given, Lana spent most of her time beside Lagoruthel’s bed, only leaving her to get some food into herself. Senya and Theron worried for both the Jedi’s and the Sith’s future, since Lagoruthel’s condition didn’t seem to improve a bit. She still did not show any signs of regaining consciousness soon.
The agent admired Lana’s unflinching faith in Lagoruthel’s recovery, but it also made him uneasy. She was prone to overwork and always forgetting to take care of herself, and even though it wasn’t the same situation, Theron feared that this constant state of worry might push her over the edge. Especially if the Jedi never recovered.
Koth tried talking to Lana to give Lagoruthel time to regain her strength, but she persisted nevertheless that just simply cannot leave her side. He and Theron usually went to check up on them, but always found the same view: Lana half asleep in a chair next to the bed, holding the Jedi’s hand in hers.
She was on her way back to Lagoruthel’s ward from having a shower on the third day – after a long conversation with Theron that included a lot of persuasion – when she ran into Guss. It was the first time Lana saw him since his injury.
“Ah, Lord Beniko. How great to see you! Lovely morning we have here,” he stuttered awkwardly, as if he was just caught red-handed.
“Good to see you too, Guss. Are you here to see Lagoruthel?”
“No, actually, I’ve just finished my visit to her. Agent Shan told me you were not in there for some time, so I thought I might drop by.”
“You can visit her anytime you want.”
“Oh, uh…thank you.”
Lana has already pushed the door half open when the Mon Calamari spoke again.
“I know it’s hard to keep your faith in times like this, but I’d bet my ships – if I had one – that she’ll see the end of this war.”
They shared a gentle smile before parting ways.
The Sith returned to her usual place in the armchair, but this time didn’t take Lagoruthel’s hand. Instead, she closed her eyes trying to focus on their connection, in hopes of speeding the healing process up.
What she didn’t expect was the Jedi bolting upright a few minutes later with a sharp intake of breath, as if she’s just come up for air.
Lana’s eyes snapped wide open from the sudden movement and her whole body froze for a moment. She couldn’t believe it.
“You’re awake!” the Sith exclaimed in complete disbelief.
“Lana! What hap-,” she was cut off mid-question by the sudden force of Lana’s lips against hers. It all happened so fast Lagoruthel’s brain couldn’t even comprehend it. All she knew was that Lana was kissing her – like actually kissing her – while her hands gently but firmly framed her face to hold her in place.
“I…I’m so sorry,” Lana said in a panicking voice as she released the Jedi and backed away like an electrocuted Nexu.
“I need to…I’ll tell the others you’re awake.”
The Sith disappeared behind the door before Lagoruthel could blink. She kept staring at the durasteel surface, lightly pinching herself to check she wasn’t just dreaming all this.
She fell back to her pillow with a loud groan. “Why is this happening to me?”
Chapter 13: Rebirth
Another longer-than-planned hiatus over with this new chapter. :D
Life just keeps getting in the way, but as it seems now, from next week on I will have much more free time to write. Hope you didn't give up on this fic just yet!
As always, thank you for reading, leaving kudos and comments! I very much appreciate all feedback!
Hit me up on Tumblr if you want to chat! (same username) ^^
May the Force be with all of you! xx
Lagoruthel spent the last half an hour amidst of her relieved companions’ delight over her miraculous recovery. Theron and Teeseven’s joy was the most palpable of all. The spy almost managed to crush her bones with a hug so forceful that left him profusely apologising in the end. Teeseven came in whistling and whirling around with enthusiasm that was reserved only for his Jedi friend. Senya and Koth also voiced their relief with modest affection, while Guss shed some tears of happiness from the sight of Lagoruthel.
“Where’s Lana?” she asked when it became clear the Sith was not present.
“Probably in her room. Said she had to make some calls,” Theron informed her.
The Jedi shifted uncomfortably on the mattress with a slightly crestfallen look on her face.
“So…never met anybody who took a lightsaber to the gut and lived to tell,” Koth chimed in to lift the mood a bit.
“Don’t tell me it’s been another five years,” she said with a brief smile.
“No worries, just three days,” the pilot chuckled.
“What happened while I was out?”
“The Gravestone’s safe, but I lost some crew back on Asylum. If Senya hadn’t saved the day, it would’ve been a lot worse. Len can’t stop thanking her. It’s gotten embarrassing.”
“Lana told us this all started when Heskal summoned you,” Senya joined in from the other end of the bed.
“Heskal’s dead. He’s the one who brought Arcann to Asylum. Said it was destiny,” Lagoruthel faltered for a moment, frowning darkly. “He caused the death of so many innocent people, children…and for what?”
“I’m sorry, but I need to run some tests on her to make sure everything’s okay. Could you all step outside, please?” the medical droid said when Lagoruthel’s heart rate picked up its pace from her outburst.
“Holler if you need anything,” Theron added quickly before they were ushered out.
Lagoruthel was standing in her undergarments when the droid finished the check-up.
“It seems to me you are completely healthy, Master. Your vitals are remarkable.”
“Really? No internal damage? No traces of the carbon poisoning?”
“Negative. You’re as healthy as can be, Sir.”
It all seemed a bit unbelievable for the Jedi at first, but still didn’t feel as shocking as the memory of Lana kissing her just an hour ago. It all happened so fast her brain couldn’t really comprehend it. The last time she kissed anyone was so long ago she forgot it even exists as an intimate gesture.
She was looking for her undershirt deep in thought when the door opened.
“Oh my…I am terribly sorry, I…,” Lana said when she realised she walked in on the Jedi half-naked. “I don’t know what I was thinking barging in without knocking.”
“It’s okay, Lana. What’s on your mind?”
“I’ve received word from my uh…could you perhaps…put that on?” she gestured towards the undershirt in the Jedi’s hands. Her face was so red from her embarrassment she started to resemble a Sith Pureblood in her prime. Lagoruthel quickly pulled the garment over her head and sat on the bed to put her boots on as well, all the while trying hard not to grin from the sheepish look on Lana’s face.
“Thank you. I’ve received word from my network. The Battle of Asylum showed the galaxy Zakuul isn’t invincible. My contacts in the Core Worlds have thrown their support behind us. Behind you. You’re about to become the leader of an alliance dedicated to bringing down the Eternal Throne once and for all. Everyone’s waiting on a planet called Odessen. If you’re up for it, we should say hello.”
“This day just keeps getting stranger by the minute…” the Jedi mused loudly. “Are they really supporting us?”
“Yes, they have faith in our cause.”
“How many of them are willing to?”
“I don’t have an exact number, but expect quite a few.”
“Let’s not keep them waiting then.”
The Sith gently nodded and left the room without looking at Lagoruthel again. The Jedi did not call after her this time.
Odessen was entirely different from what Lagoruthel envisioned it would be. The vast oceans and forest covered terrains were a refreshing sight for the Jedi after the gloomy, grey Asylum.
She stood on the edge of the landing platform where the Gravestone docked with her hands behind her back, enjoying the gentle breeze brushing her hair. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. The fresh air filling her lungs and the unmistakable presence of the Force eased her mind. It was still a mystery how she healed so quickly, but Lagoruthel had a hunch that Valkorion had something to do with the fast recovery and her apparent resurrection.
“Odessen, huh? Could it be there’s really a place where no one wants to kill us?” Koth asked from a few feets behind the Jedi.
“Let’s wait and see,” Theron commented in his usual Theron-tone.
“I handpicked it myself. We’ll be safe,” Lana assured them when she joined the gathering with Senya beside her.
“So, why this world?” Lagoruthel asked a bit unexpectedly. They all thought she was so preoccupied with the scenery that she didn’t pay any attention.
“Remote, unsettled…and strong in the Force. But unlike Korriban or Tython, Odessen is altogether balanced,” the Sith answered, avoiding eye contact with Lagoruthel. They haven’t spoken since their encounter in the infirmary, and the Jedi failed to understand why Lana acts so unpredictable and distant. She only confused her even more than she was before.
“How did you find it?” Senya asked.
“I’ve always had a strong affinity with the Force. It’s what set me on this path to begin with. Led me to forge a certain alliance all those years ago.”
“With the Republic,” Lagoruthel said matter-of-factly.
The statement finally compelled Lana to look at her. “I meant with you.”
It was only a brief contact before the Sith tore her gaze from the Jedi and ushered everyone to meet the crowd gathered not far.
Lagoruthel was flabbergasted when she saw the mass of people from both the Republic and the Empire chatting peacefully. Jedi, Sith, bounty hunters, troopers, mercenaries from various species and ranks assembled.
“This is your new alliance,” Lana announced when they arrived.
“It’s not my alliance. We’re all in this together,” Lagoruthel clarified, looking at her companions to emphasise her statement. They were a team no matter what.
“That may well be, but they need someone to rally behind. Someone to motivate them.”
“Kept myself from flushing Senya out the airlock at least five times because of you. You’ve got a certain way,” Koth joined in, not so much to Senya’s amusement. “Show them what you’re made of.”
The next week was spent with the construction of the Alliance’s base of operations. Everybody worked day and night to reach the goal: a secure base with the option to accommodate hundreds. It was one of the hardest one week for Lagoruthel with all the coordinating and liaising to create something stable for the Alliance. Being the Battlemaster was not even remotely as stressful as regulating a bunch of people who never worked together before and came from different factions. She did her best to maintain the seemingly good nature of the fellowship that came about, but of course Lana and Theron helped her immensely to do so.
The Jedi and Lana still haven’t really spoken too much, there was an obvious tension hanging in the air, but no one dared to address it.
Lagoruthel was meditating in her quarters when Koth knocked on her door, wearing a goofy grin.
“Hey there, Master Jedi Commander! We were wondering where you were hiding,” he started, swaying a bit while standing.
“I was meditating. Koth, are you drunk?”
“Don’t tell Lana, please.”
Lagoruthel couldn’t help but laugh out loud hearing him. Of course he was afraid of Lana.
“I promise I won’t,” she said, bringing a hand to her heart in earnest.
“To where exactly?” she asked, standing from her sitting position on the floor.
“To the party, obviously?”
“There is a party?”
“Well, yeah! Everyone’s waiting for you! Okay maybe not everyone, but we definitely are.”
She peeled off her gloves, tossing them on her bed before turning to him.
“I’m not exactly the partying type, Koth.”
“That can change any time. But come on! You’ll enjoy it. Everyone’s there. Tora, Len, Theron…even Senya! Can you believe that?”
His joyful tone quickly changed to a serious one when all he received from the Jedi was a wistful smile.
“I saw Lana wandering around in the crowd as well, just so you know.”
Koth held his hand out in an inviting manner. Lagoruthel contemplated only for a moment before detaching her lightsaber from her belt. She wasn’t wearing her usual full outfit, just her white undertunic with her belt, and a pair of brown slacks tucked into her boots.
Koth got out of the way of the Jedi with an overtly courteous gesture that almost threw him off balance. Lagoruthel simply rolled her eyes at his antics.
The loud music immediately filled her ears the moment they reached the end of the corridor that led to her quarter. The view that was waiting for her was just a bit short of overwhelming. People were dancing around happily as if they’ve just won the battle against Arcann’s Empire.
“Guys, look who’s here!” Koth half shouted when they reached the counter. Theron’s face swiftly lit up, and even Senya allowed herself a smile.
“Hey, look who it is! Don’t worry, we didn’t really start without you,” the Agent told her.
“I’m scared how it’ll look like then if this is the ‘we did not start yet’ phase,” Lagoruthel said with a friendly snark.
“We have to bring her up to speed,” Koth noted and started pouring a drink for her before she could protest.
“I don’t drink.”
“Aw, c’mon! You gotta let go sometimes. I promise this is one fine Clendor ale.”
Lagoruthel held both her hands up in mock surrender. She didn’t want to be the party killer when everyone seemed to have a good time.
The four of them had a great chat, laughing and feeling weightless. For the first time in a long time, Lagoruthel felt free of burden, even though she wasn’t exactly. The hardest climb was still before them.
“Can you believe we’re actually relaxed? The last time was like two-point-six million years ago, and Senya was still a jerk,” Koth said, swaying so hard it was a miracle he hasn’t collided with anything yet.
“And to think I was going to sing for you all tonight…,” said Senya, gathering her things from the counter and walking away.
“You were what? Oh, come on! I have got to hear this!” the pilot moaned, and chased after the woman.
The absurdity of the situation left Theron and Lagoruthel laughing out loud. Neither of them were drunk, perhaps just a bit tipsy, but it didn’t stop them from enjoying their time.
“Do you think he fancies her?” Theron asked suddenly.
“Koth fancying Senya? More than likely,” she said, giggling a bit at the thought. Her eyes found Lana not so far from them, chatting with a – presumably – Imperial Agent. Theron noticed the shift in her focus.
“Do you like her?” he asked, mincing no words.
The Jedi pushed away her half-full glass, then met Theron’s gaze. “Was it ever a question?”
“Well, you Jedi aren’t exactly renowned for your honest display of emotions, so. I might’ve taken a bit of a risk with the guess. But it still wasn’t my most far-fetched idea ever.”
They fell silent for a moment. If there was anything in common with the two of them, it was their inability to properly express their emotions and verbalize thoughts that hovered on the edge of showing signs of sensitivity.
“You know she likes you too, right? More than you would imagine.”
“What, you don’t believe me?” he downed the remaining of his drink in one go, and winced a bit at the aftertaste. “Who do you think she went to first when you disappeared, hm? She was hell-bent on getting to you, and was maybe the only one who truly believed you weren’t gone with the wind. And after Asylum? Stars…she was frantic, spent day and night by your bed. She was crying, Lagoruthel. You were dead for hours, but you got another chance to live. Don’t waste it by missing out on love.”
“You know what feelings, love does to a Jedi, right?”
“Make you more human? Cause I don’t think it does anything other than that.”
“It makes you vulnerable, easy to manipulate. Look at your ancestor, Bastila! She fell in love with Revan, let her feelings make her weak and fell to the dark side.”
“Yeah, and it was also that love which saved her eventually. And him,” Theron countered, not letting the topic go. He was determined to make the Jedi see the light.
Lagoruthel let out a long sigh before burying half her face in her hand, shaking her head. The Agent studied her carefully, not saying another word.
There is no emotion; there is peace.
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no chaos; there is harmony.
There is no death; there is the Force.
She stood from her stool abruptly, scanning the room for the blonde woman. There was no sign of Lana by the far end of the large area anymore.
“Would you excuse me, Theron?”
“Go, get your girl already,” he winked and waved for her to just leave him. Lagoruthel was out of sight before he could say vrblther’s vibroblade.
Every corner of the main area of the new Alliance staging point was crowded with overly enthusiastic people who wanted to either hug her or high five on her quest to find the Sith. Lagoruthel searched all possible places for Lana, but she was nowhere to be found.
The last logical spot was her quarter. The only problem was that Lagoruthel had no idea where Lana’s room was located, and she didn’t want to go back to the crowd of drunken soldiers she barely escaped.
She closed her eyes, remembering there was a sort of Force connection between the two of them that slipped her mind in the chaotic last few days. It didn’t take more than a few seconds to feel Lana’s Force signature. The Jedi took off to the direction of the energy. It became stronger and stronger the closer she came to the durasteel door.
Running a hand through her messy, short hair, she let out a desperate sigh.
“Okay…you can do this, Lagoruthel. You’ve faced worse than your feelings,” she encouraged herself quietly.
The music was booming loudly from the end of the corridor when she knocked. She felt her palms starting to sweat with every single footstep coming from behind the door.
Lana was still wearing her day clothes when she opened the door, only her gloves and boots were removed. She looked confused by the Jedi’s sudden appearance, judging by her crinkled eyebrows.
“Lagoruthel, I wasn’t expecting you.”
“I need to talk to you.”
“Now? Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”
“I’m afraid not,” the Jedi said plainly. Her determined gaze must’ve made it clear for Lana that they will have this conversation no matter what. She stepped aside, letting Lagoruthel into her quarter.
“What did you want to discuss?” the Sith asked, turning to her guest. Lagoruthel opened and closed her mouth four times, unable to form sounds. The uncertainty in her eyes dissolved just before Lana wanted to say something, and with two quick strides, she closed the gap between them, kissing the blonde soundly. Their height difference only increased with the barefoot Lana, making her look tiny compared to the Jedi.
She pulled away after a few moments to check on the Sith’s reaction. The last thing she wanted was to make her feel uncomfortable.
“Are you okay?” Lagoruthel asked, still cupping Lana’s cheeks.
“I-I wasn’t…I’m just surprised.”
The Jedi studied her face: her flushed cheeks, the dilated pupils. Those were good signs, right?
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to make y-“
“Shut up,” she breathed before pulling the Jedi down by the back of her neck.
Lagoruthel let her hands drop to Lana’s waist and gently pushed, forcing the blonde to back against the door. The intensity of this kiss alone almost drove the Jedi crazy, but when Lana’s hands tangled in her hair, tugging just slightly, she involuntarily let out a loud moan. Their tongues met as a result, sending bolts of electricity down both their spines. Lagoruthel had no idea when Lana started to guide them towards the bed, but when the back of her legs hit the edge, they collided on the sheets with a gentle thud.
The sudden impact caused them to part for a moment before they dived back in. Lagoruthel’s mind raced from the massive release of endorphins in her body, she almost found it hard to function properly when Lana was lying on top of her and attacking her mouth with hers. She slowly sat up, letting the Sith straddle her hips to keep themselves close together.
“Wait, wait,” the Jedi said, breaking the kiss all of a sudden. Lana looked at her with a quizzical expression.
Lagoruthel sighed loudly, trying to calm her breathing in order to form coherent sentences.
“Are you okay?” Lana asked, dropping her hands to the Jedi’s shoulders.
“Of course, it’s just that…are you sure?”
Lana chuckled softly and cupped Lagoruthel’s cheek with one hand.
“No one has ever asked me that before jumping into the middle of action,” she murmured, her thumb brushing gently over one spot soothingly. “I am 100% sure. Are you?”
“Truly? We don’t have to do this if-“
“I am sure. I want this,” she paused for a moment to press a kiss to the palm of the blonde before speaking. “I want you.”
Lana’s face broke into a wide, toothy grin.
For a moment or two, they kept gazing into the other’s eyes. Lagoruthel noticed the change in Lana’s eye colour when she asked for her verbal consent. Now they sparkled in their natural green shade. The Jedi took it as a sign of honest trust in her, similarly to the trust Lana placed in her during their little ritual before going to Zeltros.
Lagoruthel gently leaned up to brush her lips against the Sith’s. This kiss was nothing like the others they’ve shared that evening: it was tender without any reservations or fear of being rejected. It was slow yet passionate in its own way, not the heated clash of teeth and tongues of a first kiss.
The Jedi let her hands slowly trail up on either side of Lana, bunching up her upper robe a bit along the way. She could practically hear the Sith’s heartbeat quicken with every inch. Lana’s hands drove into the lush brown hair of the Jedi again, grabbed handfuls of it to pull her closer.
Lagoruthel dropped her hands down to Lana’s belt, unhooking it in a swift movement, and pulling her robe up and over her head, revealing soft skin. She kicked off her boots without changing position and took a moment to take in the first glimpses of Lana’s bare body. She placed a tentative kiss against a healed scar on the Sith’s shoulder and unhooked her black bra with such professionalism that seemed pretty un-Jedi-like.
There was a moment when Lagoruthel expected to be warned by either her old master’s apparition or any other whisper through the Force that she is stepping over a line from where there is no going back, and in the end, a price will have to be paid.
But all her conflicting emotions vanished when Lana’s teeth sank into her neck. The low groan coming from the Jedi only spurred her arousal to a level where she started to feel like a hormonal teenager again.
She had no clue when did the Sith get rid of her belt, but she showed no resistance to be bereft of her under tunic and bra. She grabbed Lana’s butt, squeezing lightly and causing the blonde’s hips to buckle into her, their torsos melting against each other.
Lagoruthel lifted Lana with ease, balancing on her knees and flipped them over in a swift motion, not breaking their kiss for a second. She realised how naturally their bodies fit together, almost as if they were made for one another.
Crumbs of insecurity and bashfulness arose in the Jedi when her hand slightly grazed Lana's breast. It has been quite a long time since she was in a situation like this and no matter how much trust Lana put in her, she still doubted herself from time to time.
She stopped to look at Lana through half-lidded eyes, asking for reassurance that what she’s doing is okay. In response, the Sith pressed a loving kiss against her forehead, giving her a silent ‘it’s fine’.
The Jedi started palming her breasts in a slow, teasing way, squeezing just enough so that it would make her want more. The little whimper coming from the Sith encouraged Lagoruthel to be more daring. She latched onto Lana’s neck, sucking gently on a spot she assumed was her pulse point. Lana immediately grabbed onto her shoulders and started clawing at her skin. Lagoruthel started to think that anything this woman does might turn her on.
She replaced her hands on the Sith’s breasts with her mouth, engulfing the hardened nub in warmth and wetness. The way Lana arched her back as a response, burying her hands in the Jedi’s hair once again and pulling it a bit more roughly than ever before elicited an involuntary muffled moan from Lagoruthel. She wasted no time working the remaining clothes on the blonde off, while giving equal treatment to her other breast, earning the same reaction from Lana. Nothing else filled the room, but their ragged breathing and their louder-by-the-minute moans.
Lagoruthel descended along the Sith’s body inch by inch, leaving a trail of kisses on the taut skin. She heard Lana’s breath hitch somewhere in her throat when she kissed the inside of her thigh. All her senses suddenly came alive when she breathed in Lana’s scent and savoured her for the first time. It was completely new, yet somehow felt familiar. Deep in the farthest box of her conscious, she wished for this moment to happen so badly that now it seemed almost like a dream.
She hooked her arms around Lana’s thighs and pinned her down by the hips in order to stop her from constantly buckling into her face. Lagoruthel had some experience with women in a sexual way, but with Lana, it was entirely different. It wasn’t some silly one-night stand to let off some steam after a hard day. It was precious and real, and the Jedi wanted to make her feel special, to show her how much she cared, even if it was too soon to declare just how much she cared. She intended to provide the greatest amount of pleasure for the woman underneath her. Lana was writhing under her ministrations, muttering incoherent words and occasionally arching her back so high the Jedi thought her spine could snap any moment.
She knew Lana was on the verge of falling over the edge when her breathing became erratic, and her moans more elongated. It didn’t take a few minutes for the Jedi to witness Lana Beniko in the moment of sheer ecstasy. Her entire body trembled and her movements became hard to contain, but Lagoruthel tried her best to draw her climax out for as long as she could.
The Jedi waited until Lana stopped still, her slowing breathing the only sound now filling the room. She left one last kiss to her sensitive clit before climbing back up, towering over the Sith.
Lana immediately reached for her face to bring their lips back together, tasting herself on the Jedi. It was a bizarre thing to do after receiving oral sex, but Lana didn’t mind a bit.
“That was…incredible,” she said before going in for another long kiss. Lagoruthel hummed into it in agreement. “But I believe it’s your turn now, Battlemaster.”
“Who said I was finished with you, Minister Beniko?” the Jedi asked with a cheeky smirk.
Oomph, this was probably one of the hardest chapters I've ever written...
It was the very first time I've done a scene like this, and I'm really hoping it turned out acceptable. One issue that always floated before my vision was how realistic it would end up, especially as a non-native speaker.
Hopefully, I managed to create something as exciting for you as it was for me to write. Let me know what you think!
P.s. Very sorry for the late update (again...).