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Rumour Has It...

Posted on Thu May 14th, 2020 @ 2:53pm by Thane & Bomoor Thort & Zenarrah Sozo
Edited on on Thu May 14th, 2020 @ 2:54pm

Chapter: Chapter VI: The Last Bastion
Location: Red Raptor, berthed on Alba
Timeline: End of Week Four, follows "Commitment"

ON

"It says it is being transmitted through the Belsmuth Relay Network," Thane observed cynically, examining the details of the pending transmission with narrowed eyes. He glanced back to Bomoor, not trusting the details of the communication.

It would not have been the first time lately that they had been communicated with in such a peculiar manner, what with the sudden and unexpected communication from Theon - who would need to be informed of their minor delay. Inwardly and silently, he also wondered on that. Would he still have an apprentice with him after they found Capo, for instance. Or, more believably, would Amare's rediscovery of her adopted sibling lead to disappointment and resentment? The Nautolan's complicity and responsibility for the death of her family was going to be far from a poignant matter to address.

"Someone is trying to conceal their point of origin," the former Jedi added to his Ithorian friend."

"Then we must ensure we do the same," Bomoor commented, his friend having become perhaps too familiar with the art of subterfuge in these last few months, having to shield themselves from numerous interested parties. The equipment Thane had purchased at great expense for this communications room could utilise similar relays and other misdirection quirks to fool most trackers, partularly if they kept moving.

"There," the Öetragan Force user clicked a few dials before accepting the call. Checking the readout, his naturally-creased brow furrowed further, "It would appear it is our mysteriously vanishing Nautolan matriarch,"

The holoprojector flickered and distorted a moment until a familiar middle-aged Nautolan face appeared, the stress lines seemingly deeper than when they last saw her which wasn't long at all. The image was not steady as there appeared to be some level of interference from the transmission.

"I am pleased you have accepted my call after the way I suddenly disappeared back on Naboo," Zenarrah Sozo, Jedi Outcast had said. "Please forgive the unreliable transmission. I've returned to Hutt space and I had to apply an ample layering of encryption to be sure the Cartels could not intercept what I must share with you."

"Madame Sozo," Thane greeted the avatar of his apprentice's mother, and their brief shipmate aboard the Red Raptor. He felt no need to challenge her explanation; her murky history and her relationship with the Jedi Order and beyond was enough to justify such subterfuge in his mind - an art they were all becoming quite reliant upon and adept at. "What is it you think that requires our attention, so soon after your leaving?"

"The unraveling of the Reborn Jedi Order for starters," the mother of the first Sith Apprentice in over a thousand years replied. "You've no doubt heard the news about your former masters being dismissed from the Council? Well, it seems my own former master, Rynseh Lahan, somehow survived Korriban. According to my source, he had a hand in Sotah's and Thurius' removal. He even went a step further and convinced Quellus to strip Ryn's own daughter, Rusasha, of her Knighthood after an unsanctioned mission to Caanus. She did something there that drew the ire of nearly the whole Council and jeopardized Caanus' membership in the Republic. Rumour on the HoloNet has it that Senator Vuul was more than a little angry with our former colleagues in a recent committee meeting."

"So, Rynseh did survive," Bomoor shot his head sideways as though the news stung him, "He is going to keep making trouble like this for us. He told me as much on Korriban, saying we either joined him or became the enemy."

He then turned to Thane, "But what of Senator Vuul? I thought the man was simply content to sit in your Father's place on Caanus. What could Rusasha have uncovered that disturbed him enough to raise it to the Senate?"

Thane was frowning at the revelation from Zenarrah. Whilst the HoloNet news broadcast on Alba had informed them of the politically-driven and underhanded decision to remove their masters from their positions, being a fact that was haunting both of the former Jedi Knights since they had learned of it, the mention of his homeworld troubled him in a different and more primal way.

During their time together, Thane had often spoken about Caanus to Bomoor, reminiscing positively about fields of deep-vermillion grass, stormy skies crowning the jagged mountains in the near-distance. That had been more frequent during their earlier years, as the memory of his mother and family and been fresh and painful, but had been spirited away afterwards by his Jedi training - although it always lingered, close by and ever-looming in his mind. Recent developments had changed that, and Caanus seemed to ever-haunt him, always stalking in the corners of his thoughts, glaring from overhead, like the planet itself when they had visited the moon of Vaa.

"I don't know a great deal about Vuul. He was just the warden of a nearby historical keep in my youth, but even then I recall his slithering presence during my father's council sessions," he finally said to the other two, although his eyes were cast down in thought. "In later years, his reputation as an opportunistic-but-absent senator became fairly commonplace on Caanus, enough for me to hear about it as the would-be prodigal son, not entirely forgotten by the old vassals. He struck me as a snide and thankfully ineffective regent, keeping the planet clear from either calamity or fortune."

The Sith now looked up to the others. "Rusasha was Loren's apprentice," he said, more pieces of Quellus' nepotistic puzzle falling into place in his mind. A barely-restrained anger was simmering beneath his words, which were delivered in a cold baritone. He knew he was not keeping the sensation from Bomoor, their bond making his thoughts and feelings plain the circumstances, but he was content to allow it this time. "Whatever her discovery, this is another slight against Sotah; this is another excuse to lay blame at his feet for others' decisions."

It also meant, Thane had deduced, that his old master was taking a subtle approach to learning more about his own circumstances, seeking to find kernels of wisdom or truth in the rubble of his past and heritage. And it had cost another of his Jedi lineage their position.

"This Rusasha," he asked of Zenarrah, crossing his arms, blue eyes swimming with the molten taint of darkness and ire. "Where is she now? Could we contact her?" Opportunity lay with the young Cathar, whom he and Bomoor had been aware of, but from some distance, their ages disparate.

"If I can win back an old ship lost to a Syndicate boss," Zen replied with a smirk and a nod, "then it may possible, yes. I will take the vessel back to Coruscant and try to help her escape her confinement in the Temple." Zen's expression then melted into a slight frown, "So shameful...they took away her title, her lightsaber, and her dignity. She toils away like a convicted criminal performing menial labours all day every day. They even forced her into an oath of silence, and all Jedi, young and old, are forbidden to speak with her, or even look at her, except her supervising master from the Corps. Such a waste of power and intelligence. I should've cut Ryn asunder when I had the chance."

News of this punishment was troubling to both Thane and Bomoor, with even the Ithorian demonstrating a flair of anger as he spoke, "Have they gone mad? An oath of silence is not meant to be some kind of punishment or shaming. Must they twist every doctrine of the Jedi into something vile? If you, can Zenarrah, then you must take her from them. We will surely give her sanctuary if she wants or elsewhere, if you have somewhere in mind. Just don't let her rot in there. I only wish we could save more poor souls from their misguidance."

"The truth is I've already intended to help her leave the Order before any of this happened," Zen explained. "Young Ru was trained as a Shadow, and she was assigned to monitor and report on my activities to her father. When I found her stalking me, I promised to train her towards a new path in discovering her true power, one that is neither Jedi or Sith. Had Amare not escaped Nar Shaddaa the night she found the two of you, my plan was to take the girls to a hidden sanctuary I found before Amare was born. It is a mystical place unknown to the Jedi that is balanced in the Force, a place where the earth itself is alive and has a consciousness. Someday soon, when the time is right, Amare will find a way there, and take you both to experience the mysteries of that place; the place of her birth. In the meantime, how is my daughter doing? Has she received the message regarding Capo?"

Thane catalogued his concerns around the revelations of more of Zen's scheming against the Reborn Order to one side for the moment, all the while processing the brief mention of this 'hidden sanctuary'. His arms remained crossed, with a finger and thumb stroking the edge of his chin in contemplation. His irritation over his and Bomoor's masters had not abated since returning to the ship, and the additional commentary from the elder Nautolan had only dug into that anger more deeply.

"Take Rusasha to this place if you care to, but I would appreciate speaking with her, when you locate her," he said, not yet answering her queries regarding Amare. "Whatever she found on Caanus was obviously sensitive and important enough for the book-burners to add her to the pile. I would very much like to hear what she has to say." Thane paused, struggling to take his mind from Caanus and the collapse of Sotah's Jedi 'kin'. "We are headed to find the pirates now."

"Very good," Zen said with a satisfied nod. "I've been looking for Captain Vorgunn for years. A vile Advozsec male with the blood of Zara's adopted parents on his hands, and almost forty other adult civilians on the small colony ship the Wolphs owned. I've eliminated the last of his closest allies recently, so he is more vulnerable than ever. I hope Amare savours the kill when she cuts him down. As for Rusasha...she is a broken thing for now. No guarantees if she'll talk to you. If she does, prepare to answer some questions about Loren. If you know anything about her current whereabouts, even the tiniest lead would help. My contact can pass whatever you can share to Master Sotah. It would be excellent to have someone of Loren's power and skill on our side now."

"She died at Jericho," Thane assured his one-time combat tutor, mustering certainty into his voice. "If she had survived, Sotah, Rusasha or I would have felt it; she would have presented herself, been discovered or offered as a bargaining chip." He frowned a little, the lie sinking within him like lead in his stomach, the taste it left on his tongue vile. "She would not have joined us," he said, this time speaking honestly. "A free spirit, perhaps, but more Jedi than the three of us ever were."

Zen allowed her gaze to fall slightly, a look of disappointment accented by the hair-thin age lines on her face. "I see...I did not know Loren well, but it's regrettable that she is forever gone. That will not be easy news to share with her former pupil."

The Human glanced over to Bomoor quickly, considering what else to tell Zenarrah of their objectives, of where they sought to go. Whilst she had proven herself a leal companion between Korriban and Naboo, he still mistrusted her truest intention. The fact she even permitted, perhaps encouraged, Amare to remain his Sith apprentice still sat oddly with him. Prophetic words or a belief in destiny aside, there was a lot of faith from this woman in Thane - in Serus - as well as much in turn from the would-be Dark Lord to this former Temple Guard.

Outside of the Red Raptor, she was the only one who knew the true identity of the Sith and their return.

"We may be out-of-range of contact for a time after dealing with this Captain Vorgunn," he told her finally. "In Bastion space. If you do not hear from one another within two standard months, I would ask that you contact Rift Knight Theon. Mention The Regal Hotel, if he is cagey."

Zen nodded somberly, the news of Loren's demise still clearly affecting her. "Understood. May the Force..." she hesitated for a second, and concluded, "...keep us strong."

Rusasha shall accept this reality, Thane thought darkly of Loren and her disgraced apprentice, or discover mine.

"The Force, Madame Sozo," he said aloud, inclining his head, a dour look on his face, "shall free us."

TBC

 

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