The Hunter and the Hunted (Month 7, 24BBY)

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:24 pm

Ranik Zane finally woke. His head hurt badly and his mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton. His comm link was buzzing but he had a feeling it had been going off all morning. He had just returned from finding Kalien Ortoz, an assassin who had tried to kill Senator Alauni, a Twi-lek Senator from Saleucami. She had thanked him personally and as she stirred he lifted up his head. Her head was at the foot of the bed and when he lifted up the sheet that covered them her feet were there under his arm. Bottles of Acarian Brandy were all over the floor. He reached to the table next to his bed and he nimbly pulled out a Cigarra from the pack he had on the table. He lit the end of it with a small igniter he had next to the pack then set it back down as he took a long drag from it. He answered the commlink.

“Ranik this Adi Gallia from the Jedi Council. Your presence is requested as soon as you are able to come. The Council has a job for you, an important one,” Adi said and the commlink went dead. By then Alauni began to stir. She sat up and held the sheet up to cover her nakedness. She looked over at Ranik and smiled.

“Well, It looked like we both had a good time last night,” she said. “I assume you are feeling...suitably compensated for finding the assassin?” she said then looked at him. As she looked at him though the corners of her mouth curled up into a grin. She tossed the sheet aside then moved toward him. He moved his arms to forestall her but she just pushed them up out of her way as she began to kiss his chest and undo the buckle of his pants. “I think...maybe...I should...thank you..again.” she said as he felt her mouth on him.

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Ranik stood in front of the council. Hark, his reprogrammed HK-51 Assassin droid stood behind him with his DC-17m blaster. The DC-17m was interchangeable in that it could be used as a pistol, expanded into a rifle, a sniper rifle and it also threw ordinance. In the hands of Hark, it was devastating. They all looked at him and most did not really like him all that much. He was one of the best hunters in the business and he did not work for the Hutts or for crime syndicates but he had been a Mandalorian. A foundling until his helmet was forcibly removed. Now he was just a bounty hunter.

“We’ve uploaded everything we know about Jedi Knight Kaia Kaldera. We want her back alive,” Mace said as he looked at him. “As you wish,” Ranik said but he wasn’t fooled by this dog and pony show. They were worried about this Kaia and if Jedi were worried that usually involved the Sith in some way. Ranik didn’t much care fore the Sith. On 2 separate occasions he had fought them and the last time he barely survived the encounter and he had the scars to prove it. He had alot of scars. He stepped out of the temple toward the shuttle that would take him back to the Fury, his Modified VCX-100 Corellian Light Freighter. It had better engines, newer, automated gun systems, more armor and better shields and sensors. Its astronavigation computer was state of the art as well. Most of every credit Ranik made had gone into that ship and it was literally his home.

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He spent hours reviewing the information the Jedi provided. Her parents and brother were Sith and her mentor had been Zavian Aldari. He didn’t know the man well but he had heard of him. He figured that if she ignored the council to return that would mean that she intended to either disappear, which he doubted or she wanted to go after who kill him. The information did say that she was in a relationship with Zavian. His death likely hit her hard. So likely she intended to go after who killed them. The intel from Alrbrion City said that a Sith named Darth Maul might have been involved. He had heard that name too. Had something to do with a Jedi Knight’s death, Qui-Jinn. He decided that it would be easier to find the Sith than Kaia. He had a photo of her printed and he looked at it now. She wasn’t just pretty, she was downright gorgeous. Well, the council had them going after separatist leaders so he began cross referencing separatist leaders with systems close by. Three came up as most likely targets for Kaia to choose. He didn’t know it but while he looked at the 3 systems his mind began to use the force.

Mina Bonteri had been the mentor of a popular republic senator Padme Amidala. She was friendly with the Jedi as well. Hark sat in the co-pilot’s seat. “Hark, get the ship ready for launch and prepare a course to Naboo,” Ranik said.

---------------------------------

As Kaia looked at her navcomputer one planet, ‘Naboo’ jogged her memory. Senator Mina Bonteri was aiding the separatists but she was also friendly with the Jedi Council. It wasn’t a sure thing but it was possible she might help Kaia. And Kaia had met Padme Amidala twice.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:41 pm

Kaia knew that she needed to get to Raxus. That was the separatist's capital and likely where Darth Maul was. However, she knew that she wouldn't be able to just fly into Raxus. She would be attacked immediately. She needed to find a way to sneak onboard a ship going to Raxus. She had been trying to think of which planets might be sending ships to Raxus that were already involved in the Separatist movement. She had brought up her navcomputer and was looking at various planets. Suddenly, one of them caught her attention and jogged her memory. She knew that Senator Mina Bonteri from Naboo was aiding the separatists, but was also friendly with the Jedi Council. There was a possibility she might help her. It wasn't much, but it was all she had at the moment. She had R2 set a course for Naboo.

Two days later the ship came out of hyperspace and Kaia found herself looking at Naboo. She had never been to the planet, but she could immediately tell that it was a heavily forested planet. She took over piloting the ship from R2 and found a place to land that was near the capital. She hadn't slept in days and was exhausted, but wasn't going to rest until she had cut Darth Maul in two with her lightsaber.

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:06 pm

It was a foregone conclusion that the Jedi council knew what kind of ship Kaia had. Ranik had put the word out with the promise of coin for the first person to tell him that such a ship was spotted. ETA-8 Starfighters were rare these days considering almost no one uses them besides Jedi. He guessed that she might try to make contact with Mina Bonteri so he announced himself to the Naboo authorities as soon as he arrived. He made sure Hark had his weapon set to stun but he had never brought back a Jedi before. With all of that...Force...stuff they did. Would she be difficult to keep penned up? It was a long flight back to Coruscant.

Ranik was met by one of Bonteri’s representatives. Talun Restle, an older man with just a tuft of gray hair on his head and tired blue eyes. He didn’t let on why he was really there. He only said he was there on Jedi business and he needed accommodations. Representative Mina Bonteri, through Talun offered him a room in the palace and an invitation to dine with and her family that evening. Ranik accepted her gracious offer and decided to avail himself of the room, Talun’s offer for a suit and went to get cleaned up. He didn’t really know when Kaia would show up and even if she really would. In either case he could not wait long. If she didn’t show he had 2 more options to try and he couldn’t dally here forever though his room was very very nice.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:15 pm

Kaia landed her ship in a heavily forested area. Because she knew the Jedi Council was looking for her she figured they had people out to bring her in. She wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible. She still wore her Jedi attire, but she covered it up with a cloak that was not Jedi brown. She instructed R2 to remain with the ship. The droid would draw attention as well. She used the hood of the green cloak to cover up her red hair and she left the ship and headed towards the city. She moved quietly, but quickly towards the capitol. She managed to get inside without any trouble and was met by the same representative that had met Ranik.

"I am here to speak with Representative Mina Bonteri. I need to speak with her as soon as possible."

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:46 pm

Talun looked at the woman and smiled politely. “Representative Bonteri is quite busy...Miss?” he asked expectantly. She looked like a commoner as far as he was concerned and Mina was far too busy for an idle visit.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:49 pm

Kaia had hoped to only reveal her identity to Mina Bonteri, but it was clear that that wasn't going to happen. She needed to speak to her so she was going to have to take a calculated risk. "My name is Kaia Kaldera. She knows who I am. I must speak with her."

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 7:59 pm

“I will see if she is available Miss Kaldera, wait with patience,” he said and gestured for her to sit. After about half an hour he returned. “Miss Kaldera, The representative cordially invites you to sup with her this even and she offers you the hospitality of the palace. It will be formal so if you require...appropriate attire I can help you with that as well. Your room is in the west wing of the palace, I can show you where,” he said and smiled then gestured for her to follow him.

The Naboo palace was extremely fancy. Gilt and lavish decor was everywhere. Her room was huge with 3 rooms and a large balcony that overlooked the lake. There was a huge bed and a massive shower that looked like it could fit 4 people.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:08 pm

Kaia waited about as patiently as she could. She was anxious to meet with Mina. She couldn't let Darth Maul get away. Finally, her representative returned and extended an invitation for her to join her for dinner that evening and a room in the palace. She was rather surprised by the offer, but accepted. She would rather meet with her now, but as long as she got a chance to speak with her that was all that mattered.

She was shown to her room, which was massive. It even had a large balcony that overlooked the lake. It was by far the nicest bedroom she had ever been in. All she had were the clothes she was wearing so she was brought a few dresses to try on. She chose a green one and as she looked in the mirror she could imagine Zavian coming up behind her and wrapping his arms around her waist. The thought brought tears to her tired eyes and she had to wipe them away. She took the opportunity to shower and wash her hair. She then dressed for dinner. She didn't like the thought of leaving behind her lightsaber, but she could not clip it to her dress. She also didn't want to bring a weapon to dinner with the Representative.

At the appropriate time she was led to the dining room. She felt nervous and hoped she would help her get to Raxus.

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:46 pm

Ranik’s suit was white pants with a black strip up the sides and a dark gray and green coat. Not too flashy but it did look quite good on him. He shaved and washed and styled his hair. He decided not to bring a weapon, he was very good with just his hands and feet and besides...it was just dinner. He decided to be fashionably late. The servant and the guards let him in but everyone else had already been seated. He didn’t spend much time looking around the room. He just gave Mina a slight bow then he was led to his seat.the food looked and smelled fabulous and he was pretty hungry. Before he dug in though he looked to his right to the woman who was sitting next to him. The fiery red hair was a dead giveaway. He made no sudden movements and casually unfolded his napkin and set it on his lap. A bowl of soup was added to his setting.

“So husband,” Mina said as she looked over at Ranik and Kaia. “We have two distinguished guests. “Jedi Knight Kaia Kaldera and Ranik Zane a representative of the Jedi Council. I find it very interesting that you both came...today and you did not travel together,” she said then set about introducing her husband, her uncle, and their 3 boys. Talun was also there. Once the scrutiny came off of them Ranik turned to look at Kaia who did not seem to at ease as she had been just a moment ago.

“You know why I’m here,” Ranik said. “The question is, will you come quietly or will you make this difficult,” he asked. “Nice dress by the way,” he said belatedly. And she was quite lovely in it he had to admit.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:58 pm

Kaia had taken notice that there was a spot to her left that was open, but a place setting had been laid out. Clearly, they were expecting another guest. However, the soup was served and Kaia politely began to eat. She still didn't have much of an appetite after Zavian's death, but she did need to try and keep her strength up if she was going to face Darth Maul. Suddenly, the doors opened again and a man who appeared to be of a similar age to herself walked in and was seated to her left. She recognized him, but it took a moment for her to remember that they had very briefly crossed paths 8 years ago. He had been leaving the Jedi Council chambers as Zavian and herself had walked in. She could sense a sudden change in him, though he tried outwardly not to expose himself. However, as Mina introduced the two of them to her husband she glanced at Ranik. Just as she had expected, the Jedi Council had sent someone to find her. She had no intention though of going with him.

She glanced at him again when he spoke to her. She ignored his question and looked at Mina. "Represntative Bonteri, please know that I am not here as a representative of the Jedi. I am seeking passage to Raxus. I am looking for the man that killed my husband, Zavian Aldari, a week ago. I have reason to suspect he is there."

As Ranik looked at her, he would be able to tell that she likely hadn't slept or eaten much in the last week. She was upset and heartbroken and seeking revenge.

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:10 pm

Ranik blinked as Kaia spoke. Mina looked over at Kaia and all other conversation stopped. “Kaia, obviously you are...upset by your loss,” she said awkwardly. She knew that Jedi did not wed so Kaia saying that was quite a shock. She collected herself quickly though. “Though Naboo runs supplies to Raxus, if it became known that we helped you it might not look very good upon us. I myself am not certain if remaining in the republic is what Naboo needs right now,” Mina said. “May I ask what you intend to do with the man that killed Master Zavian?” She asked.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:17 pm

Kaia felt her desperation start to grow. Her strong exterior foundation was starting to crack. She tried to remain as calm as she could though. "Zavian was killed by a Sith named Darth Maul. I intend to kill him. You should know Representative that the Separatist movement is being led by Sith. The day he was killed we had traveled to see a woman named Esu who used to supply food to the Republic. However, she took a payout from the Sith instead to join the Separtists and drive the Republic into starvation. Whatever the Sith are promising it is a lie."

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:28 pm

Talun spoke up after Kaia’s outburst. “Jedi Kaldera, that is a rumor that has yet to be substantiated. Count Dooku is the leader of the separatist movement, one of your own,” he added. Ranik said nothing. The Jedi had not told him everything and he didn’t know Zavian had been her husband. How would he feel if someone killed his wife? He wasn’t married but he could imagine how angry and upset he would be. Against his better judgement he actually saw honor in what Kaia wanted to do.

Mina looked shocked. “Jedi Kaldara I find your intentions troubling and I must agree with Talun. There is no hard evidence that the separatists are run by the Sith. I feel the republic has become an ocean of corruption and apathy. I’m afraid I will not be able to accommodate you on this,” she said.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:34 pm

Kaia felt tears threaten to come to her eyes. She refused to let herself cry in front of these strangers. She stood up and looked at Mina. "I hope you see the truth before it's too late...for the sake of you, your family, and the rest of the galaxy. Thank you for your hospitality." She immediately left the table and walked back to her room. She had no intention of staying. She would need to find another way to get to Raxus and since Mina now knew about her plan she needed to figure something else out very quickly. She would need to stow away on board an outgoing ship.

When she reached her room she let her tears fall as she sat down on the edge of her bed. She put her head in her hands as she cried.

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:50 pm

Ranik watched Kaia go and the more and more he thought about everything the more and more he found himself, more or less, on her side. He excused himself soon after and he knew Kaia would likely try to leave as soon as she could. So he decided to just check on her and the guards told him where her room was.

The door was locked so he decided to knock. “It’s me, Ranik,” he said from outside the door.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:53 pm

Kaia heard the knock followed by Ranik's voice. She sighed and wiped away the tears from her eyes and cheeks. She stood up and composed herself as best she could. She walked over and opened the door. She did not invite him in but looked at him. "I am not going back to Courscant."

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:00 pm

Ranik didn’t say anything at first and let her talk. Once she said she wouldn’t go back to Coruscant An idea popped into Ranik’s head. “You realize that I did take this contract,” Ranik said. “But honestly, i don’t think you’ll find your Sith on Raxus. If this Count Dooku wants to keep rumors at bay, I doubt he’d risk being seen with Sith if his movement is important to him. Are you going to make me stand out here in the hallway?” He asked in obvious irritation. “If I wanted to take you I would have by now,” he said confidently.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:09 pm

Kaia blinked at the last thing Ranik said. She rolled her eyes, but allowed him into her room. "You honestly think that you could take me in? I've been training to be a Jedi my entire life," she said sharply. Then her tone softened and she looked away from him. "Zavian...he was my teacher and my only friend. He believed in me when no one else did. He cared about me when no one else did. I...I feel lost without him."

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Post by Conleth on Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:25 pm

“Look,” Ranik said plainly. “Put yourself in the council’s shoes. The deck has been stacked against the Jedi for years. Their numbers are dwindling and they are worried. If you go after this Darth Maul character and fail, what if they turned you against the Jedi? Its happened before and...well your family name doesn’t exactly inspire trust,” Ranik said. “And I’ve been training all my life as well. Your little mind tricks won’t work on me Jedi. And I am willing to bet your Lightsaber is tucked away somewhere,” Ranik said. “But I did not come here to fight you though I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy that,” he said honestly and smirked at her.

“I have to bring you in but there was no mention when. If I help you find this Maul, will you come in peacefully?” Ranik asked.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:31 pm

Kaia began to pace and rubbed her face tiredly. She thought about his offer and sighed. She really had no other choice. She finally sighed and turned and looked at him. "Fine, you help me find Darth Maul and allow me to kill him and I will let you bring me in."

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Post by Conleth on Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:19 am

“Deal. Now I do have a plan...how important is that ship of yours to you?” He asked. “The reason I’m asking is two fold. First I think someone here might try to kill you before you leave. “Secondly, if you’re ‘dead’ you can’t stick your nose into the separatist business,” he said. Her look of surprise made him smile. “I’m good at watching people...It’s a gift,” he said with a shrug in hopes it answered one of her many questions.

“They will want it to look like an accident. So my guess is if they haven’t already, they’ll sabotage your ship. If you can pilot it remotely or with a droid? That would work,” he said as he thought. His eyes had taken on a distant far away look just then. But it only lasted for a few moments.

‘Oh you’re going deep Ranik. What are you doing!?’ He asked himself. ‘When I figure that part out, I’ll tell you!’ Another part of him answered.

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After dinner Talun went to his office and shut the door behind him and sealed it. He opened up a large cabinet with a key and it suddenly came to life with light. On the inside there was a small panel and control box. He used it to make a call. After a few moments a cloaked holo image appeared and Talun went down onto a knee and bowed his head.

"My lord, there has been a development," Talun said. "Speak, my time is short Talun," Count Dooku said. "The Kaldera woman is here. She is searching for someone named Darth Maul. He killed Jedi master Zavian Aldari and she wants to kill him," Talun said. Count Dooku paused a moment. "I think she stands apart from the Jedi Council," he added. "Very well, kill her Talun. Make it look like a flying accident," Dooku said. Talun sighed. "Yes my Lord, it shall be done," he said and Dooku's image disappeared and the light winked out.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:45 am

Kaia was visibly surprised by Ranik's plan. The thought of losing Zavian's ship was upsetting to Kaia, but if Ranik was right then she needed to not be on it. It would also make her appear to be dead and so people would stop looking for her. She sighed and looked at Ranik after a moment. "I can set it to autopilot and then get off before the ship takes off," she told him. "But I need a few things off of it first." She made him leave while she changed back into her other clothes and he went to go change as well. She clipped her lightsaber to her belt and then they left the building and headed to where she had hidden the ship. She allowed Ranik to board the ship with her and she instructed R2 to leave the ship. She could sense that someone else had already been on the ship. She knew that the sabotage had happened. She grabbed Zavian's lightsaber and clipped it to her belt and grabbed anything else that was important to her and then began to set a course for Raxus. She turned on the autopilot and then held the doors open using the Force long enough for Ranik and herself to get off.

She stood next to Ranik as she watched the ship start to take off. "That was Zavian's ship..." she said in barely more than a whisper as memories of their time together in that ship came back to her. It had been where he had first kissed her...first made love to her...first told her he loved her. She had to turn away, she couldn't watch it be destroyed.

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Post by Conleth on Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:16 am

Images of Kaia with Zavian fluttered through her mind. The moment she had completed her own lightsaber and turned it on for the first time. Zavian was so proud of her.

The time they were both about to be trampled by a herd of Mudhorn. They both ended up using the force to calm the animals instead of killing them all.

To catch an assassin Zavian had jumped out of an air car. He fell several hundred feet and damaged the woman’s shuttle before Kaia saved him. They laughed about that.

Kaia was frightened from the images she had been receiving while she slept. She came to Zavian’s bed and he lifted up his covers for her to climb in. The images...the visions were about the Sith, her family and she found herself kissing him. It was borderline inappropriate, she was very young but once she felt him kiss her back she did not want him to stop.

The moment she passed the trials and their wedding.

He had never raised his voice and he showed her nothing but kindness, patience and love.

---------------------------------

Ranik wasn’t good with emotions. He could tell Kaia’s ran deep for Zavian. He didn’t know why but it felt right to put his hand on her shoulder. “He will always be apart of you Kaia. The loss will heal in time. I know it doesn’t feel like it will but it will,” he said softly. The ship began to pick up speed. Just after it reached the outer fringe of atmosphere it exploded. Like a meteor from space as it began to come back down it broke apart as it re-entered the atmosphere and the pieces burned up.

“Sometimes I really hate being right,” Ranik said honestly. And he looked at his wrist computer. Hark piloted his ship and it flew overhead. He spun it around and the landing struts came out as he began to descend into a landing. “Our ride’s here, hope no one saw us,” Ranik said as the boarding ramp came down.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sun Jan 19, 2020 9:30 am

Ranik would feel Kaia's body begin to tremble under his touch as she heard the ship begin to pick up speed. She winced and held back tears when she heard it explode. She put her hand on Zavian's lightsaber. A Jedi's lightsaber is, in many ways, a part of them. In that way she knew she still had a piece of Zavian with her. Since his death she had hoped he would come to her...to talk to her and tell her everything was going to be alright, but he hadn't. She began to wonder if he ever would.

She composed herself and waited for Ranik to board the ship before she and R2 headed up the ramp. R2 seemed confused and concerned but she reassured him that everything was going to be alright. She hoped she could actually trust Ranik. She wasn't entirely certain of that at this point, but her trust in him was all she had left.

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Post by Conleth on Sun Jan 19, 2020 12:42 pm

Ranik moved into the pilot’s seat and Hark moved back to the Navigator’s seat incase Kaia wanted to come up. Ranik did a cursory check of all his ship’s systems and he conferred with Hark about the ship’s security while they were gone. Hark had said he had all of the exterior cameras on and he saw no one approach the ship. That and he observed the refueling personally.

Just as he neared completion of his checks Kaia came into the cockpit. Ranik gestured to the seat next to him. As she sat Hark gave his report.

“I did as you asked sir and monitored all outgoing transmissions. Out of all of the encoded ones...well, I will use the word ‘encoded’ loosely in this report since it was a human that encoded them,” he said in a very derogatory way. In his view humans, most races were inferior to anything that had to do with computers or electronics. “You know my view about humans fixing things,” Hark said but before he could continue R2 spoke up and clicked and whirred in protest. ‘Kaia is very good at fixing things!’ He said. Hark turned toward the little droid and looked at him a moment.

“As I was saying...Only 3 were decoded and 1 was a holo message. It did not allow a recording but it did originate from the palace and received on Raxus,” Hark said.

“The other was very recent, perhaps after The Jedi’s ship was destroyed. That one was from the same source but received on Dathomir,” Hark said. Ranik looked at Kaia. Going to Dathomir was extremely dangerous. Maybe just as dangerous as Raxus.

“Dathomir...ewww, The nightsisters,” ranik groaned.

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