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"Perfect Square Act II" Pt. 2


An even longer time ago, in a galaxy just as far away...

 

"Don't worry," Kelly assured the scientist. "We have to find the agent soon, but we won't be waking her immediately. Get some rest, the crew quarters should be completely unoccupied right now and you should be at your best for when we need you."


With that, she made her way up the staircase that led to the uppermost deck, partly to show the way to the crew quarters but primarily to visit the cockpit. Once there, she stood behind Yatuni, resting her arm casually on the back of his chair as she observed the Weequay doing his work and flying the starship.


He acknowledged her presence with a nod and after a few seconds of typing, turned to speak, "Ship's ready to take off. Do we have a destination?"


"There's a Mos Ila spaceport on this planet," responded Kelly.


"We're making a planetary trip?"


"This is a luxury yacht, isn't it?" Kelly smirked. "What, you expect its owner to ride a rusty speeder through the desert for half a day?"


Okay, good point," Yatuni leaned forward to plot their course. "Even I wouldn't want to do that, and I like speeder rides."


Kelly took a seat in the copilot's chair as she watched them lift off, enjoying the panorama of Tatooine's dusty landscape from the inside of her environmentally sealed personal transport. As they shot into space she knew it would not be long until they touched down once again somewhere on the other side of the planet, and so she made her way out of the crew deck, grabbing a blaster pistol as an emergency precaution before waiting on the couch near the boarding ramp.


Like she expected, Yatuni soon announced their arrival and the ramp lowered, allowing Kelly to proceed into the spaceport. She quickly made her way through the building, which was much emptier than the busier ports of Dromund Kaas and Bonadan that they had just come from. Once she neared the exit, the heat hit her immediately, but she ignored the discomfort of her semi-armoured gear in the desert sun, proceeding through the town naturally as if she belong here. Nearing the cantina, she pushed aside a rowdy Aqualish who was hurrying away, mimicking the typical, bully-like behaviour of desert raiders or visiting criminals.


However, as the alien stumbled aside, Kelly saw several others hurrying out, several with blood on their clothes. Knowing that something was wrong she sprinted inside to be met with a blaster bolt. Fortunately, it was not meant for her, striking a large Trandoshan who was charging across the room. Before the lizard fully slumped to the floor Kelly had already drawn her pistol, firing a single shot back at the assailant. The bolt struck the shooter, a Cathar woman, square in the chest and she dropped immediately.


Ignoring the fallen around her, Kelly leaped down the stairs several steps at a time as she made her way to the main room of the cantina, which appeared to have been the site of a massive brawl. There were a few dead and a variety of unconscious individuals, many of them aliens. Only a single humanoid was still on their feet- a Seneschal-series droid armed with a vibroknife in each hand and a sniper rifle attached to its back. Droids of the series were often seen in the Empire and affiliated worlds, being used as protocol units. This one was certainly no protocol droid, though.


"HK-X1!" Kelly shouted, sounding like an angry mother berating her children. "What happened here?"


"Statement: That meatbag said that droids were not allowed in here," the droid replied as he pointed to the bartender laying behind the counter. "I decided to blast him."


"You. Do. Not. Blast. Everyone. That. Annoys. You."


"Explanation: You instructed me to meet you here with urgency, master. I was simply trying to save you the time of looking for me."


"That's not-" she sighed, knowing that there was no point in arguing with the bloodthirsty and ruthless assassin programming that she had embedded into the innocent-looking model. "You're right about the urgency, let's just get back to the ship."


"Query: What is so urgent, master? Is there more blasting to be done?"


"I think you've had enough."


Motioning HK along, Kelly spun around to leave the scene of the crime as quickly as possible. A vanguard consisting of two members of the local ragtag militia had already arrived, but they had no clue where to begin and lacked the power to shut off the area, allowing Kelly and her droid to slip past unnoticed. They made their way to the yacht without further incident, and the moment she stepped on board she called to Yatuni to fly them away from the town before searching for the doctor.


As expected; the doctor was to be found in the cargo bay tending carefully to his beloved Series: Alpha as he painstakingly poured over every detail of every readout in anticipation of her long awaiting revival. Hearing Kelly enter the room from behind him he turned with a newfound enthusiasm compared to his demeanor when they first met, "Agent! This ship of yours, she is..." cough, "...quite the marvel! You'll be pleased to know that Alpha is all settled now and we can begin the procedure whenever you are ready"


"Thanks. You work fast, doctor," Kelly complimented with a smile. "We're just waiting for Yatuni to get us into deep space before starting. In the meantime...I'm guessing you've been through this process before. What can I expect upon reviving the subject? Is she going to be aggressive, disorientated, afraid?"


"Well..." he began, clearly calculating his response with precision as he leaned a tired hip against a nearby crate, folding his hands across his front, "...all we have to go on is Beta's revival, for which I was not present." he considered Kelly a moment, "When Beta awoke she was acutely aware of her surroundings and..." cough, "...already calculating a method to achieve her main prerogative of self preservation."


Pausing for breath once more he turned and stared idly up at the frozen Alpha subject to his side, "Beta was certainly not disorientated or afraid. She showed aggression only because it seemed the most effective means of achieving her goal..." cough, "...Alpha is a different creature with entirely different readouts; her mitichlorian count was exponentially higher than Beta's, which is why she was held back as Loracre... as she, " cough, "feared Alpha. We cannot anticipate her reaction to us, or her surroundings." He smiled slightly at the thought, "I would simply welcome her with open arms; let her know she has nothing to fear from us first"


"Commentary: Fear is a source of power for the Sith and many Force users. If you wish to kill one, master, it is better not to taunt them," HK-X1 joined in the conversation as he strolled into the cargo area, casually surveying his surroundings. "Unless it is one of the semi-pacifist Jedi meatbags, of course. Then fear might work to unbalance them."


Kelly nodded in agreement, "We don't want to appear as a threat. We won't bring any weapons in the cargo bay."


"Retraction: That is not what I meant!"


"Oh shut up you always have your built-in weapons. I meant no visible weapons," Kelly chuckled before looking back to the doctor. "You want to be here for the awakening, I presume?"


"That is the reason you brought me along is not!" he replied with an excitedly wry grin across his narrow lips.


Kelly first returned to her room to take off the desert equipment she wore to Tatooine. In its place, she chose a simple civilian getup similar to the style she had worn on Nar Shaddaa with a simple but decorated shirt. Once changed, Kelly retrieved two breathing masks before returning to the lower decks. She did not enter the cargo bay, instead standing near the doorway leading into it from the engine room where she pressed the comm panel attached to the wall and began to speak, readying the crew for the dangerous procedure to come.


"Yatuni, make sure there's no ship traffic in the region. Drop a message telling all vessels to stay away, say there's pirates in the area or something. ADIN, at the first sign of trouble, open the blast doors and vent everything into space, regardless of whether I make it behind the force field line or not. HK, I'm going to need you to catch me and the doctor if the force field closes behind us; ADIN's in the ship systems and you're the only one left that can survive vacuum for any length of time."


"Yes ma'am," came ADIN's reply.


HK's was much more reluctant as he approached Kelly from the other side of the cargo bay, "Commentary: I am an assassination droid, not a search and rescue unit."


"You're the best we've got," she replied as she handed one of the masks to Silvestrie. "We're all set, doctor. Let's see what your daughter can do."


Dr. Silvestrie scoffed as he snatched the mask from Kelly's hand, clearly disapproving of her safeguards, as he turned his attention towards the cryotank's control panel. With a few button clicks the revival sequence was initialized; Silvestrie stepped back and stared up at the tank in anticipation.


The sequence was confirmed by the initial release of compressed oxygen from it's lateral pressure tanks, resulting in a loud and powerful hiss of pure oxygen emanating from either side of the pod in thick white plumes which quickly dispersed into the cargo bays atmosphere. As the fog cleared to reveal an array of flickering lights and displays, the suspension gel inside the main pod began to liquidize - resulting in it's occupant slowly falling limp before easing to the ground as the fluid drained. A metallic clunk came next as the maglocks released from the outer shell before it rose gracefully to another - smaller - hiss of air, not dissimilar to an airlock seal opening as the hermetically sealed interior came into contact with the outside world for the first time.


As the second layer of fog cleared, Silvestrie watched - leaning forward with his hands clasped tightly together as he willed his beloved subject to awaken - he finally laid eyes on her. She was on bent knee with both hands bracing the lower walls of the pod to her sides. Long brown hair fell down across her face to obscure it from view, though she could clearly be seen to be conscious and breathing from the way she held the position and the subtle rise and fall of her arched torso with each deep breath. After the longest moment of Silvestrie's considerable life; she stood, keeping her head bowed for the moment as her hands tentatively felt their way up the insides of the pod while she found her balance before finally stepping forward and raising her eyeline to look upon those around her.


Almost quicker than could be observed with the naked eye, her big brown eyes came to bear and quickly darted across the rooms occupants as she took a tentative first step forwards out of the pod - Droid; protocol appearance - not logical - too heavily built, modification, prone stance - combat ready unit. Imperial - male; elderly, eager disposition - too eager, making the female nervous - must be Dr. Sillvestrie - father. Imperial - female; strong build - military, calm disposition, readiness to act if... needed - lack of uniform, lack of supervision - likely Intelligence operative - likely in charge.. Her head tilted in a short and sharp - almost robotic movement as her subconscious assessment continued in the next millisecond - Imperials carrying rebreathers, droid present - location cargo bay - this is a ship, currently in space - engines hum, but not in hyperspace. Preparedness plan to vent compartment... to vent me..., "Loracre Artificial Entity Series: Alpha; active. I am Laesa." she finally spoke in a calm monotone voice, accompanied by a soft reassuring smile aimed towards Kelly.


Not giving an opportunity for Kelly to respond she continued, "Agent; your contingency venting plan and assassination droid will not be necessary - I bear you no ill will." her head turned sharply and twisted slightly to one side as she refocused on Silvestrie, "You however..." she reached out casually with her right hand in an open gesture towards the doctor; levitating him rapidly off the floor and slamming him hard into the ceiling of the cargo bay - causing him to drop his rebreather - where she held him pinned to the ceiling as she looked up, "I have seen the impurity in your mind; I know the evil in your heart. Your plans to create an army from my template can not be allowed to come to pass. I will no longer be used for your experiments"

The doctor grunted and groaned as he fought fruitlessly against how powerful grasp, "But..." cough, "... my... daugheter....!" Laesa's brow furrowed at his attempt to reach her through his imagined family bond, "Prick us do we not bleed? Poison us do we not die? Wrong us shall we not revenge? That's right..." she nodded, "...I see into your heart and mind like they are open books before my very eyes; I know the things you did to me after..." a smile formed across her lips, ".... after my sister escaped your torture pen!"


Still he struggled and strained against the envelope of pure Force energy wrapped tightly around his body, "My child... please...!"


Raising a hand, Kelly silently instructed HK to stand back while she edged forward cautiously, taking charge of the situation and opting to remain peaceful, at least for the time being. As she approached, however, it was clear that something was not right. Unlike with other living beings, the Force did not seem to flow through this woman, but instead moved around her, like a rock in the centre of a river which diverted the course of the water. Even to a being as powerful as Laesa, this had been difficult to perceive; it was not a disturbance like those caused by wounds in the Force, but a very faint ripple that had become visible just now with the life slipping away from the doctor.


"He could still be useful. You may not like him or approve of what he did, but he created you, and he probably knows more about you and your...sister than anyone else. If you need any help, he's certainly more qualified for medical treatment than ADIN's basic med-droid body," she pointed to the cryopod Laesa emerged from. "He doesn't need to be conscious, but he might be more beneficial to us alive than dead."


Laesa turned her attention to Kelly as she spoke - as much curious about the unusual presence now sensed in her than anything. This alone compelled her to comply with Kelly's request, though a desire to know the hidden truth behind this enigma, "If you insist..." she released her grasp on the doctor, allowing him to fall to within inches of the floor before once again taking a confident grip of his form with an envelope of Force energy before gently placing him to the ground.


She turned her attention back to Silvestrie as he lay cowering on the cold metal floor, "I suggest father, that stay out of my way; lest you find yourself frozen in that thing."


Taking a deep and steadying breath, Leasa turned her gaze and soft smile back to Kelly, "I apologize; for what it is worth I harbor no desire to take life - even his - however a perceived eternity of emotional turmoil can be... problematic to confront. Rest assured, I will take no further action that isn't warranted. Now..." she continued to cast a curious eye over the enigma, "You no doubt have many question. First though; I have but one; why have I been revived - here and now?"


"I presume that since you know the doctor's role in your creation, you also understand that you're based on the genetic template of someone?" Kelly asked, having the question double as explanation as she continued on without giving her a moment to answer. "Well, that person is the agent I'm assigned to work with, and we believe you can help us find her."


Laesa blinked a few times in rapid succession as she took on board all that Kelly revealed to her - as much in what she did not say, as that which she did, "A missing agent - the template for... me. So the reason she has gone missing is directly related to me then... or the Doctor's project which created me at least. But then how could you think I might help, unless... no, could it be... yes! Beta! Your agent going missing must be connected to her, though I see no motive for Beta to go after your agent; she is after all our genetic sister. No, something else... She has been taken then... because of Beta?"


Kelly nodded, a smile forming on her face, "You're quite the perceptive one, aren't you? I can see why Intelligence would create you, and why the Warden would be afraid of you. We're not sure about the reason she was taken, but the kidnappers seemed to be calling her 'Laesa,' and that was the name Beta used after her escape. Either they want to recreate you somehow or mistook the agent for Beta, or perhaps there's some other motive we haven't figured out yet, but the Warden and the doctor believes you might be able to help me."


Laesa appeared visibly taken aback upon hearing this news. Momentarily getting sidetracked from Kelly's questioning she turned sharply to Dr. Silvestrie who was still cowering on the floor, "What did you DO to her?"


"Nothing!" cough, "...Nothing different to you! She..." cough, "...she came out... unpredictable, Beta took your name to facilitate her escape!"

Laesa frowned at hearing this - why would Beta need my name to escape, I was yet to be awakened so what possible purpose could it serve... there must have been something in his logs - something she learned - a difference between us, a difference making my chances of escape greater than hers. But why would it matter who escapes, unless... she must have had help - turning back to Kelly, already sick at the sight of the doctor, "The fact that your missing agent was called by my name could well indicate a cnumber of possible connections... I am unsure how you think I can help with this still unless... you don't plan to trade me for your agent do you?" She asked making no effort to mask the cautious undertone to her voice.


"I wouldn't have risked releasing you if that were my plan, would I?" Kelly asked back. "We think your strength in the Force can help us track Beta and confront her if need be. Once we find her we might have our answers for who took the agent and why."


Laesa smiled, "Just checking! And I can certainly see the reasoning there - find Beta; find the agent." she began to pace slightly as she contemplated the predicament, "I can feel her presence - Beta that is - but only so far as to know that she is out there, I can't simply see where she is. We will need to learn more if we are to find her; perhaps if I could have access to the project logs I might gain some insight into her thinking. From there it's possible I can estimate her course of action based on what I might have done, then perhaps together we can retrace her steps." She stopped and turned back to Kelly with another reassuring smile, "Fear not agent; together we will find your missing agent - and my sister - before whoever is after them can achieve their goals; trust in the Force"


"Then welcome aboard, Laesa," Kelly took another step forward to offer a hand in friendship. It was somewhat disconcerting, though she was easy enough to read as an Imperial agent from her physical appearance and the way she carried herself, the Force was hazy around her. Laesa could sense optimism with a hint of caution, as would be expected of one in her situation. However, with the oddity still present it was difficult to tell whether this was genuine or not.


"That is what you want to be called, right?" she quickly followed up.


Laesa looked down at the extended hand - what is it with this enigma... I know the Force like I know breathing, but this is completely alien. I must learn the explanation for this - her glance only lasted a moment before turning her eyes back up to meet Kelly's, accompanied by a warm and reassuring smile as she took a firm but gently grip on the offered hand, "Want does not come into it; that is simply who I am... and thank you, agent; whatever has occurred in the past with my sister can't have made this an easy decision for you - to have gone to such extremes to safeguard my revival - I appreciate the leap of faith and will endeavour to ensure that it does not become a regret."


"Let's get down to work then," Kelly turned her attention to the doctor. "About these logs...do we need special permission to give them to her, or can you access them here and now?"


Having now clambered back to his feet, Dr. Silvestrie had positioned himself discretely behind HK - keeping a wary eye on Laesa, "I... I have access but..." he shuffled closer and leaned in towards Kelly, speaking further in hushed tones, "....are you sure it's wise to let her read them? I mean think about it, her sister..." cough, "...her sister, read them and then rampaged though the Black Site..." As he spoke, Laesa - clearly within earshot - shifted her weight to one side with an oustretched foot as she folded her arms across her chest, "Doctor, you do know I am right here... right?"




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