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"Perfect Square Act III" Pt. 7


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

 

Mischa calmly studied the Chiss before her. She felt he was speaking honestly, or at least what he felt was honestly. She turned to the Knight, briefly ignoring Cipher 16, "You spoke before of what you sensed in him. Tell me Knight; now he stands before you, what do you sense?"


"Something unnatural," the Knight replied. "Most Jedi would say Sith, I have faced enough Sith to know the difference. I sense fear, anger, hate, the emotions of the dark side, but these emotions aren't twisting the Force the way Sith use them. It's...different. I cannot explain why. I can sense the mind of the Chiss, but he's composed. This isn't the work of a Force illusion either, or else I wouldn't be able to detect the dark energies." "My new powers are beyond your comprehension," Cipher Sixteen cut in. "They are the instruments by which I can stop the Emperor, or you, if my hand must be forced."


Mischa narrowed her eyes on the Chiss, "Regardless of any degree of truth that may or may not be behind your words; that is not why we are here. You have gone rogue and acted against your own. I do not need to be Force sensitive to see the corruption in you; but if it is as the Knight says and you in fact not under the influence of the dark side, then I urge you to lower your weapon and turn yourself in to our custody." Fan powered her weapon as she objected, "Actually agent, I'd much prefer he held his weapon high. I've no intention of letting him leave this world with first hand knowledge of the Senator - be it in chains or otherwise. If you all have to die to achieve this; then so be it"


"You do not know what is going on here," the Chiss stated. "The strength I have demonstrated here is nothing compared to the destruction that the Emperor is capable of. He does not seek conquest of the Republic, he seeks the complete annihilation of all living things. When you have seen what I have, then you will understand. I can share this power with you, this knowledge." "He's clearly gone mad..." Kelly murmured.


"And deaf!" Mischa joked as reference to his failing to answer her challenge. She turned back to the Chiss, "The fact that you can even measure this newfound 'strength' of yours to that of the Emperor is in itself testament to it's corrupting nature. But power and knowledge are... tempting..." she added, her stance softening as she looked to him thoughtfully, "You can truly share this with me?"


Cipher Sixteen nodded, and raising his unarmed hand he summoned a small piece of dislodged metal before him. It hovered below his palm, its shape slowly contorting until it transformed into a makeshift bowl covered in creases like poorly folded paper. With the knife he sliced a gash along the back of his own hand, allowing several drops of red blood to fall into the container before he levitated it towards Mischa. "I would perform the transfer on you myself, but you would surely perceive it as a threat," he said. "Join my blood with yours, and you will see truth." "Don't do it. This is some sort of Sith alchemy," the Knight warned her.


Mischa silently cursed his ingenuity. She had absolutely no intention of participating in his ritual, but had to think fast. Moving to take the bowl, she hesitated, "Wait... I need a blade to draw my own blood..." she suddenly looked back to the Chiss while discretely sheathing Hanna's blade through the back of her belt.


"Very well," the Chiss nodded, sending his vibroknife at her as well, allowing it to slowly drift through the air so it did not look like an attack. It came to a halt in front of Mischa's chest, still slightly ominous as it stayed in the air, resting perpendicular to her body, neither tip or handle pointed at her.


Mischa cursed silently again as he once again avoided coming into range. However this move presented an opportunity as he was clearly over focused on performing his alchemical ritual and dropping his guard to his surroundings. She watched tentatively as the blade approached and presented itself to her; she needed someone to intervene but had no line of sight with the Knight and so, she looked to Fan, then the blade, then back to Fan and hoped that the Twi'lek could read the look behind her eyes. Fan not only caught Mischa's glance, but had noted her sheathing her first blade to encourage this ploy - and she approved. Her instinct told her that Mischa was working to undermine the Chiss and when she saw the look from Mischa as it hung there she pounced into action; the abrupt movement catching everyone off guard as she suddenly reached out and swung her hand in a rapid sweep across her front - reaching out through the Force to yank the lightly held blade from Cipher 16's grasp and send it hurtling back at him as fast as she could. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, she also lunged at him with the tip of her black and pink dualsaber extended forwards. Mischa mentally thanked Fan's understanding and followed suit; she threw the makeshift bowl to the ground and dove forwards into a roll. As she landed further behind the Chiss she stood and drew her blade with the intent of quickly moving in to slit his throat if the first two attacks failed...


The Chiss' reaction was faster than anyone could anticipate, and upon seeing the knife flying back towards him, he gave up his hold on the weapon, allowing Fan to hurl it at him. Instead, he turned his head to the side and the large plate that had crushed the Private floated up once again, flying into place before him to act as a makeshift shield. The bulky metal moved too slow to block the knife, forcing the Cipher Agent to twist his body to the side to evade it. The followup attack had just as little success; though the lightsaber pierced straight through the plate with minimal resistance, it was positioned far enough from the Chiss that Fan's hand hit the metal before the tip of the plasma could reach its intended target. In the meantime, Kelly had activated her concussion grenade and tossed it across the bridge, but not before Cipher Sixteen had established his barrier. The round ball bounced off the plate back at their group, forcing the Knight who had just retrieved his weapon to abandon any thoughts of attack and instead intercept the grenade with the Force. Despite Fan not managing to impale the Chiss, her distance to him after the lunge was too close to detonate the grenade safely, and the Knight instead telekinetically knocked the sphere off the bridge for it to go off harmlessly in mid-air. Seeing the futility of their attack, Kelly moved behind the cover of the tall armoured man, taking out her datapad and typing what was presumably instruction to ADIN. The now weaponless Hanna similarly backed behind Mischa. Having thwarted their offense, the Cipher Agent made his move. Pushing one palm outwards, he sent the plate forward, and with Fan now pressed up against it this forced her to either back away from it or swipe her lightsaber and cut the plate apart. Either way, it blocked Mischa's advance, and the only way she could reach the Chiss now was by first moving around Fan. This provided him ample opportunity to rearm, though he did not retrieve his own sniper rifle, instead calling upon the Force to send the Private's military grade blaster into his waiting hands. With a weapon more optimized for close to mid-range engagements in his grip, he prepared for their next assault...


Fan forced the impaled blade downwards to shear the plate in two around her. As it broke through she stepped into the swing and swung the weapon over to sweep the second blade down across the Chiss aiming to slice his weapon if he was fast enough to evade a direct blow. Mischa saw her intended path blocked and darted sideways around the moving plate as it hurtled towards her. Landing prone she immediately pounced sideways again counting on Fan to serve as a distraction so she could manouvre out of Cipher 16's field of view. As she got into position, Mischa attempted to slip the blade into his side.


Once again, the Cipher Agent moved with supernatural speed, launching himself into a backwards roll and swiftly evading Fan's advance. He landed in a kneeling stance with the Private's rifle at the ready and opened fire without hesitation, a burst of three bolts flying towards Fan. Despite his hurried movement, all three shots were made with pinpoint accuracy, likely due to the guidance of the Force. One bolt went directly for her head, one for her chest, and the third towards her leg, seeking to cripple her if the others failed their task. The increased reach of her double-bladed lightsaber allowed the Twi'lek ex-Jedi to parry all three with enough skill and concentration, but it would certainly slow her down. While the roll increased the distance between Mischa and Sixteen, it did nothing to prevent her from continuing her attack on her fellow agent, though she would no longer be fast enough to strike him down in sync with Fan's attack to serve as a distraction. It also caused the Chiss to lose control of his sniper, formerly at his feet and now some distance in front of him. Spotting this opportunity as he closed in, the Knight once again stretched out with the Force and yanked the weapon backwards into the group. Being the closest person not currently engaged in combat, Hanna caught the rifle in her hands before turning and sprinting away. Kelly dropped her datapad and met the doctor halfway, exchanging the vibroknife for the long-ranged weapon which she immediately began to take aim with.


Fan's blade hummed furiously as swung it left then right then left again in quick succession to deflect the bolts. As she parried the last of them she lunged her hand forwards and hurtled a wave of Force energy at Cipher 16. She knew he was too composed to be immobilized by the weaker blast but aimed purely to unbalance him. Mischa saw Fan create the new opening and launched her blade across the stnned Chiss' legs with the aim to further immobilize and slow him. She did not wait to see the success of her attack before darting around behind him to follow the line of her thrown blade and retrieve it from its landing the other side of him. She hoped that the extra moments would be enough for Kelly and the Knight to take him down...


Cipher Sixteen held his ground against Fan's push, his own immense command of the Force blocking the wave entirely and causing it to dissipate harmlessly. He did not even budge, which proved to be more of a detriment for him as Mischa's knife slashed its target, leaving a deep gash in the Chiss' thigh. His leg weakened from the sudden damage to the muscular and nervous structure, forcing him to his knee. No expression of pain was visible on his face despite the wound, and he stretched both hands in front of him, launching a massive shockwave of energy forwards. Several times the strength of Fan, Cipher Sixteen's attack covered the entire length of the skybridge and sending almost anything not bolted down into the air. It impacted as far as Kelly, knocking her on her back and ruining her well-aimed shot, which flew up into the sky. The only one to completely escape the impact was Mischa, who had moved out of the shockwave's radius by going to retrieve her weapon...


Mischa caught sight of the powerful blast put out by Cipher 16 and in that moment knew with absolute certainty that her actions had been just; for any knowledge so immense as to instill power of this magnitude into one who - at least so far as she knew - was not previously Force sensitive, had to be too dangerous to be left unchecked. She quickly retrieved the blade and spun on her heel; knowing she mere moments before his exertion was passed, she lunged at him once more with the blade aimed for his side, thought it was a feigned attack that she planned to fail. As she extended the blade towards his midriff, she preemptively shifted her weight and where she appeared to be reaching for a grasp on his shoulder to emphasize the momentum of the blade; she was in fact reaching to push off his shoulder as he moved to counter her attack and spin herself once more. In doing so could pirouette tight behind him - almost rolling her back across the length of his arm - and buy herself precious more moments to close to a lethal distance before he could react. Coming out of her move, she anticipated that the blade could swing effortlessly across his throat and end his threat once and for all.


As the blade dug into his neck, a sphere of energy emanated from the Chiss' body, launching Mischa back. The retaliation came a moment too late, and a stream of blood flowed down from his neck, adding another colour to the palette of his rusted armour. Before Mischa could get back up, a shrill noise overwhelmed her and everyone else; even stronger than the tearing apart of the bridge's walkway, it drowned out not only other sounds but all thought entirely. She could only hear one thing- Cipher Sixteen's voice. With his throat slit it was unlikely that he spoke, but the telepathic echos of his last words. "This isn't over..." When Mischa regained her senses, the Cipher Agent had still not fallen, despite his fatal wound. A dark mist surrounded his form, and out of it rose several tendrils. As they took shape and extended they lashed about ferociously, one of them whipping a vertical line along the floor. The metal dissolved away upon contact, and with more of the bridge's already weakened structure gone it began to sway precariously. Kelly opened fire, but a tentacle arched over, absorbing her bolts and heading towards the Knight, who leapt back just in time. It kept going, taking with it the wall of the maintenance tunnel. Another severed what was left of the bridge's bottom support and the structure snapped, with Mischa on one side and the rest of the group on the other. Cipher Sixteen finally collapsed, the dark side tendrils around his body continuing to thrash as he rolled off the broken skybridge and down the void between the two towers. While Mischa's side was for the moment stable, the further damage inflicted by the Chiss' final throes caused the half near the unfinished building to crumble...


Mischa watched desperately as her she saw her allies stranded on the other side of the failing structure, her eyes scanning wildly for a means to aid them. Fan did not need to worry so however; quickly sheathing her hilt as she hunkered down, the Twi'lek rushed forwards with Force imbued speed as launched herself across the abyss to land comfortably at Mischa's feet. She could not deny a newfound respect for the Imperial as she looked up from the extended hand into the eyes that looked down on her. Taking Mischa's hand and pulling herself up, Fan quickly turned to see the others. They were rocked as another large plate crashed down across the edge of the structure that remained for them to stand on, "You next Doctor!" Fan called out, having to project her voice against the sharp winds that whistled by at this altitude. She could see Hanna give an uncertain glance to the Knight but a nod from him seemed to reassure her. "Just jump Doctor; I have you" she insisted. Mischa could barely watch as the innocent civilian she had already resolved to keep safe took a running jump across the abyss. She winced and closed her eyes without thinking of it, opening them again a moment later to see Fan's arms outstretched and gently pulling in a highly controlled manner. Beyond this, she saw Hanna floating elegantly across the abyss towards them, seemingly quite fascinated by the experience. As the Doctor was brought to their side, Fan released her grasp and Mischa took a hold of Hanna to pull her back to safety from the edge, "Alright... just give me one sec..." Fan called out, panting having clearly exerted herself to retrieve Hanna safely against the fercious winds while avoiding the debris and unbalancing of the structure.


The movement only caused the state of the bridge to worsen and the damaged segment dropped steeply, forcing Kelly to grab on to something to prevent her from tumbling off. The Knight extended his left arm and shot his fibercord grapple, wrapping it around what looked like a still sturdy beam, suspending himself there for a moment as he looked for Kelly. She had began to clamber up the slanted surface, making slow progress until another plate dislodged and fell towards her. Kelly reacted just in time and pushed herself to the side while letting go of her current handholds. She slid for a moment before finding a broken railing to grip onto. It managed to hold her, though she was slipping on its smooth surface, and she could find nowhere else to put her hands for her to continue the climb. The Knight noticed Kelly's predicament and swung down, hooking his lightwhip on his belt before seizing the Imperial with his free arm. However, their combined weight proved too much for the beam, whose bolts snapped off. The armoured man could not retract the cord in time and the beam flew off the bridge in its entirety, causing him to lose his grasp on Kelly. He quickly tapped his wrist, cutting off the fibercord and disconnecting himself from the debris before reaching out with the Force to slow both their falls, but he could not do so indefinitely...


Fan gasped as she saw events unfold in apparent slow motion before her eyes. Knowing she had no time to think, she concentrated and summoned all the power she could muster; reaching out towards the falling pair. Within a moment she clenched both fists of her extended hands and quickly yanked them upwards, bringing her recovered ally to land at the Twi'leks feet. She slumped to her knees as the exertion completely overwhelmed her, looking up over her shoulder as both Mischa and Hanna stepped forward to help the saved ally back to their feet. Fan's heart slumped, she knew it was already too late to try and reach the other; her only hope was that she would not come to regret her decision. She slowly opened her eyes and looked upon the Imperial now getting back to her feet before her and turned to Hanna, "I am sorry; but he was willing to sacrifice himself to save her, I must honour that decision and trust in his judgement. If anyone could have found a way to survive; it is him with his power and gadgets" Mischa knelt and wrapped an arm around the weakened Twi'leks shoulders, easing her back to her feet, "It can not have been an easy decision to reach. For what it is worth; I think you made an informed decision and I am personally grateful"


Hanna nodded solemnly, "I understand. I've heard stories of Jedi surviving impossible situations. I don't know how true any of them are, but I suppose you do, so it's only logical to risk him." "Thanks," Kelly said as she rose fully to her feet and dusted herself off, wincing at the various minor injuries she had sustained, such as the grazing blaster bolt and numerous cuts from scaling the broken bridge. "Not that I don't appreciate the save, but...he was your ally, and a fellow Jedi at that."


"Don't remind me!" Fan hissed at Kelly, "...and don't make me regret the decision! Saving an Imperial... what was I thinking..." she recoiled suddenly as Mischa thwacked her around the back of the head, "Saving your former ally - and ours - in that Chiss would have been the mistake. Just be glad that his threat is ended, now... not that I'm one dampen these jovial spirits and all but... we are two Imperials in the centre of the Republic capital; one of our escorts dead, the other and a Jedi missing and presumed dead at least... oh, and stood atop a collapsed major structure with no doubt every local security operative in range baring down on us..." she shakes her head, "...this is far from a comfortable position so I suggest we make haste and save the debate for later."


Fan nodded; though her initial reaction was to reach for her weapon as Mischa struck her, she soon realised from her tone that the Imperial was in fact being far more playful and familiar. She could not tell if it was a simple reflection of her attitude or a carefully calculated move to ease tensions and swing focus to her point. But either way she admired it in her, "Very well Imperial, just..." she held up her index finger to Mischa as though signing 'one moment' and turned to Kelly, "He was my ally - and I hope still is - but the Chiss was also technically an ally of the Shadow Guard and to you, just look how that turned out. Alliances are temporary measures at best, and rarely trustworthy in the game we play. All I know is that I saw him leap to save you knowing full well that it would likely mean his own demise. So whatever his reasons for that decision; it is not for me to find fault with it. Plus, as has already been stated; he is strong with the Force and far more likely to find a way to survive against the odds than you would have been able to. Maybe he will find his way back to you in due course..." she added at the end, turning to address the closing comment to Hanna as seeing her as more directly associated with the Knight.


"I hope so as well. He might've been our enemy at one point, but from when I knew him, he's done nothing but assist our cause," Kelly responded to Fan before she turned to Mischa. "Don't worry, agent. He should be here anytime now." She did not have time to respond before the flashing lights of a Coruscant Security Force transport broke from the lines of traffic, darting straight for the broken skybridge. Kelly took a step back but did not immediately flee nor ready herself to fight. Instead, she stood her ground, examining the vehicle as it came to a stop in front of the bridge's edge. The small shuttle's doors swung open upwards to reveal not a bay full of security officers, but a familiar face with a long mustache and thin beard- the Cipher Agent that they had encountered prior to their briefing on Dromund Kaas. "Ladies, you asked for a ride?"


"Well aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" Mischa made little effort to mask her elation as she turned to Kelly, "Good job getting ADIN on the case" as she spoke of ADIN she could see the questioning look forming on the faces of the others and she preemptively raised a hand, "Nevermind... we'll get to that later!" she chuckled, "Come on then, let's get out of here before anyone else comes looking" With that she stepped aside, helping Hanna with the precarious step into the shuttle before stepping aside to allow Fan to enter and could instantly see the look of trepidation on the Twi'lek's face, "Look, you are most welcome to stay behind if you wish, but you've proven yourself an ally and I think it is fair to say that whatever is going on behind all of this has something to do with your Senator if Cipher 16 was connected to him. I know you want to learn the truth as much as we do, so you have earned my trust in being allowed to come with us for now" Fan grumbled incoherently under her breath but after a further moments hesitation, she gave Mischa a firm nod and stepped into the shuttle as well. Mischa finally looked to Kelly, "After you, Ms. Haron!"


Kelly crossed the small gap between the bridge and the shuttle, holding on to a rail inside as she awaited for Mischa to enter. Cipher Four had already moved to the cockpit, and as soon as everyone was on board, the transport's door closed and it took off, emergency lights still flashing. Out the windows of the craft, several other vehicles with similarly blinking signals had entered the area, some encircling above the towers, some simply hovering in the air, their searchlights over the ruins. The Cipher Agent first reported in to the CSF dispatch before speaking to his passengers, "It won't be long before they realize that this shuttle's been hijacked. We're going to pick up your droid and head to the undercity. From there we can lose anyone that might've caught on and grab another vehicle." Pulling their craft downwards, Cipher Four contacted dispatch again to give the false excuse of 'going to check where the debris landed.' Their real goal was of course to retrieve ADIN, and the agent found a suitable angle where the other craft could not get a clear view of them. He opened the transport door only halfway, which was more than enough for the astromech body to fit through. Once ADIN rolled onto the craft, with a helping lift from his master, they were on their way into the depths of Coruscant. "I could use a new shirt," Kelly commented as she checked ADIN's status. "I'd ask how you lost your old one, but I'd probably get jealous," Cipher Four replied with a slight chuckle. "There might be a spare uniform or two here, but I wouldn't recommend it. A lot of the residents where we're going won't be friendly to local authority." "Thanks for the heads up. I'll just find something along the way." "What happened with Cipher Sixteen, anyways?" he inquired as he turned from the cockpit briefly, his gaze immediately drawn to Fan's weapon. "And what's this connection to the Senator you mentioned?"


Fan stared at Cipher 4 a long moment before silently turning her gaze out of the window. She didn't really trust those she had fought alongside and certainly wasn't about to trust another unknown Cipher. Mischa observed the Twi'lek and turned back to the Cipher, "Thats... a good question. I can confirm that Cipher 16 is out of commission; I don't know what had occurred but he was not the man he once was - corrupted to his very core by some dark alchemy. He was working with the Senator, though we don't yet know to what end or in what capacity..." she paused and looked again to Fan, "...we need to be careful how we proceed as whoever is behind this action could well be working both sides from within." She noted Fan visibly tensing at the thought of her organisation being compromised.


Cipher Four nodded and turned back to the shuttle controls, pondering their situation. The light coming in from the windows darkened visibly the further they dipped beyond the reach of Coruscant's star into the depths of the skyscrapers. Voices from the dispatch radio soon called in with more and more concerned tones as CSF began to suspect the status of their vessel. The Cipher Agent simply shut off the comm system and tampered around with a few panels, presumably to prevent any tracking that could be done. While they flew, Hanna unhooked a medical kit from the transport's walls, "We should take a look at these wounds, especially the cuts from debris as they aren't cauterized and could be vulnerable to infection." "Good point," Kelly agreed, reaching for the supplies inside the kit, but the doctor grabbed her hand and shook her head. "I'm a certified medical practitioner," she stated. "Let me do this. Any conditions I should know about?" Kelly shook her head, "I've used standard field aid equipment several times before without any side effects." Hanna reached over and loaded a spraying device, prompting a concerned look from Kelly which she noticed and responded to, "Don't worry, it's just a numb-spray to help with the pain. I'm just a doctor who's good with knives, not an assassin." "That fills me with confidence," the Imperial chuckled. "I can do without numbing." "I've been told the disinfectant really hurts otherwise..." "If you insist," Kelly undid the knot of the makeshift bandaging around the blaster wound, keeping her arm outstretched as the last remaining piece of her shirt dropped away. The doctor proceeded to use the painkilling spray, which was done very quickly, the method of delivery allowing multiple cuts to be covered at once. She waited for a minute to let the effects set in as she reloaded the can with disinfectant and also took the time select proper bandages of varying sizes to set aside for usage. Hanna applied the new spray when she deemed that enough time had passed, then finished up by placing regular patches on the cuts and one infused with the healing liquid kolto on the burn caused by the sniper shot. "So, what you mentioned about my father," Hanna said idly as she worked, "it's true? Was he an undercover Imperial this whole time, or did he get turned somehow?"


Mischa sighed, never one to enjoy being the bearer of bad news - not least when the girl has already suffered loss in that of the Knight not too long ago still - but she knew it would be better for Hanna to hear the truth and start coming to terms with it now, "It is true..." she confirmed in a slow, calculated tone, "...He was always an Imperial, and an agent of the Empire. I'm... sorry to be the one telling you this, Doctor; I wish I could say I knew him so I could offer you some insight into his true nature..." she shakes her head lightly, "...but I'm afraid I did not even know of him until he was declared MIA. What I can tell you is that deep cover agents require the highest caliber of personage, and knowing what it is required of them; I already know all I need to of your father and can tell you in no uncertain terms; he was a proud and respectable man"


"I'm not sure the Republic would agree with the respectable bit," Hanna replied as she finished with Kelly's injuries, sanitizing her hands when she was done. "I always knew he was carrying some kind of secret, figured he was doing illegal political business or cheating on my mother or something, but an Imperial spy? That explains why he was sometimes so paranoid. Maybe that's why mother...wait, does anyone else know about this?"


"Well... technically yes; those of us assigned to investigate, plus required superiors at HQ..." she turns to Hanna, "What are you thinking?"


"From the data we...accessed, quite a few SIS agents were looking at your father's case, including some high profile people" Kelly added. "If they don't know yet, I think it's safe to say they suspect his death to be more than the usual street murder." "That's what I was afraid of," Hanna said. "I can't say I know what my father was up to, but he made sure I had more self-defense training than, well...necessary for self-defense. I'm a Republic citizen, but if the Republic finds out that my father was an Imperial spy...I'm not sure what they'll think of me. We're not the Empire, but it's an espionage war, and I've heard the SIS are willing to bend the rules sometimes."

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