TWILIGHT OF THE OLD REPUBLIC

CHAPTER 2:

DANTOOINE

The shuttle landed at Spaceport number twelve in the capital city of Khoonda. Vaya stood and stretched. She cracked her neck then knuckles. "Damn I hate shuttle travel." Vaya yawned as she exited the shuttle. "This sucks…"

Illiana glanced at the others then ran at Vaya leaping onto her back. "Forward slave."

Vaya leered at Illiana over her shoulder. "Since when am I your slave?"

Illiana smiled. "You know I'm worth it Vy now come on pick up the luggage and walk."

Vaya picked up the luggage, which was all Illiana's, and sighed. "Why me?"

Vaya walked with the Alderon princess on her back and sighed.

"Hey Vaya since when are you a pack mule?" Grinned Kliak, a Zabrak.

Vaya leered back at the Zabrak. "Look horney one shut up." Vaya growled then spoke in Sith. "You're lucky you're my friend Illy or I'd be forced to kill you."

Illiana bopped Vaya on the head. "No more funny talk got it."

"Shut up Illy or you can walk."

Illiana pouted. "Bitch…"

Mar Del sighed. "…I need a drink…"

Vaya glanced at Mar Del. "Me too."

The group walked into the capital building and sat down in one of the many large conference rooms.

Mar Del took his leave of them and ventured out of the conference room, leaving them to sit in the suffocating silence. It felt like an eternity had passed when Mar Del returned with a middle aged human male, dressed in a uniform that suggested a rank within the Republic government.

"Ladies and Gentlemen..." Mar Del nodded to the man. "This is Chairman Ferendo of the Republic Concerns Agency..."

"Thank you Mar Del..." He looked to the group. He smiled little and held a distinct no-nonsense air about him. "No doubt you're wondering why I've called you here..."

Vaya retorted in Sith. "No shit you stuff shirt asshole…"

Ferendo arched a brow. "...I'm afraid I don't speak the dialect, Miss Nhil. Regardless, you all have been gathered due to your talents and reputations. The Galactic Historical society has requested our aid in one of their archeological digs near the Mosorran Mountains. Before we send our own agents to have a look at the place, we need Scouts."

He punched a button on his computer, the holoprojector displaying the image of an elderly scientist. "Doctor Jardin Krauss, head of the Dantooine branch of the Galactic Historical Society. He was the one who put in the call for us, and is the head of the dig in question. He'll be your first stop. Doctor Krauss will provide you the details of your mission. Any questions?"

Vaya spoke crossly. "Just two. Why us? What talents and or reputation makes us so special to go scout for you?"

Ferendo shrugged some. "Who can say? You were chosen, regardless. However, I cannot force you to take on this job as you are not RCA operatives. If that is the case, then by all means, the door is where you came in...Any other questions?"

Illiana stood. "I think I speak for everyone when I say this but I don't work for free. How much this job pay hmm? Money talks. That's what makes Vaya and me listen."

"You train your Padowan well, Master Mar Del...Miss, the RCA is willing to pay 500 credits apiece for your services, and will provide transportation. That seems fair, wouldn't you say?"

Vaya kicked her feet up on the table. "We're listening."

"Good...now, you are to meet with Doctor Krauss at his estate on the far side of Khoonda. He'll be expecting you. It's not an interrogation, if anything he's your superior, so you would do well to pay attention to him. Now, if there's anything else, a transport has been assigned to take you to his estate."

Vaya stood and walked from the room muttering in Sith. "I only interrogate."

Illiana looked back at her friend the back at Ferendo. "Um you know she has a nasty temper so um lets hope your boy doesn't piss her off."

"For your sake, it better not turn into a disaster. No one is above the law of the Republic, let's all remember that...dismissed."

Illiana looked at Mar Del. "You know Vy will lose it she doesn't give a rats ass about the code. She follows some code she said her mother taught her before she died. What's the real reason you brought her on?"

"Because she goes where you go. She would have followed regardless...This isn't something so complicated like storming a stronghold, or to defend the front. We're investigating a matter. I AM a Jedi Investigator, if you recall...Extra arms were needed, however should it get messy."

Illiana eyed him. "So you want her to lose it gotcha." Illiana looked at her master. "You do know Vaya's past and you do know what she is capable of. She's not afraid to get her hands redder." Illiana turned to leave but stopped and looked back at her master. "You know damn well where Vaya goes I go. I follow her she doesn't follow me. I'd follow her to the dark side if that's where she went. She's like family to me."

"I'll pretend I didn't hear that...you ARE a Jedi, remember?" Mar Del said evenly. He continued to walk with her as the group went on ahead. "Besides, let's not make this job any more difficult than it need be."

Illiana leered at her master. "You know damn well how this will end. She feels the council turned their back on her. Vaya's a fallen and she will do what it takes to win if I get in trouble."

"We're going to talk to a historian...a man of science...How can this possibly turn ugly? Hmm? Will he throw a book at us?" He was getting sarcastic now, meaning she was borderline on his ire.

Illiana chuckled. "You know how Vaya works master. You said we were checking out a Sith temple, who knows what will happen."

"It's ASSUMED it's a Sith Temple. But I don't doubt it. What would she hope to find there? It's probably been ransacked ten times over."

The group gathered at the transport, and they made their way through the afternoon traffic into the suburbs.

Vaya stared out the window at the passing scenery the image of the woman from the shuttle burned in her mind. Who was she? Why did she seem so familiar?

The trip lasted barely fifteen minutes. Soon, they stood outside the home of one Jardin Krauss, an esteemed name in the science community. However, there was an eerie quiet about the house. Something was amiss.

Vaya quickly engaged her lightsabers. "Lets go kill summin shall we." She looked at Mar Del and winked. "Quick tell me again what this Krauss looks like so I don't accidentally kill him."

"I never met him, but chances are he's old. Everyone, be on your guard." Mar Del took the lead into the house. The whole place was ransacked, tables overturned, paintings ripped from the walls.

Vaya twirled her ignited sabers and smirked. "Illy don't leave my side got it." Vaya smirked. "Come out come out where ever you are." Her voice took an eerie tone. "I know you're in here."

Illiana stood behind her friend seeings how she was unarmed she'd be no help. "I don't plan on moving."

The house was quiet, but they could sense that there was someone still in the house. A soft moan could be heard from a doorway up ahead.

Vaya took point and walked down the hallway and kicked open the door. Her lightsaber's at the ready she searched the room. "Who's here with you?" She asked the man tied to a chair.

In the chair behind the desk, Dr. Krauss sat with his chin to his chest, on occasion, uttering a soft moan. A knot on the top of his head suggested something heavy was applied with force.

"Easy now..." Mar Del slipped behind them.

Suddenly, from behind. "Drop it, Jedi."

Vaya grinned. "Make me fucker." She spun her lightsaber's and smiled as the red and cerulean blade's hummed.

The man smirked and ignited his own red lightsaber. "Do you really think you can beat us all?"

Vaya spun her lightsaber's in a cocky manor. "I know I can beat you all." A smirk formed on the lips of the young Sith girl as she took a fighting stance. "Out of respect you make the first move."

The man smirked and lunged at Vaya surprised to see her match him and block. "Nice, no more playing around now you die!" His blade once again came at Vaya and she again blocked and countered with her other saber. As they fought bounty hunters soon began to surround the others in the room. Vaya saw this and growled and in two swift movements she blocked his attack and removed his head from his body. Vaya then stood in a protective manor infront of Illiana as she looked at the guys surrounding the room. Vaya passed Illiana her mothers cerulean lightsaber. "Now you're armed. Becareful with that ok?"

"I swear I will Vy." Illiana took a few seconds to get used to the grip and feel of Tavion's lightsaber. Illiana smirked holding the Jedi weapon. "Ok who feels lucky?"

Vaya rolled her eyes and twirled her saber. "Who wants to die first?" Vaya and Illiana stood back to back with their lightsaber's at the ready.

Redblood and Kliak came running into the room to back up the two girls. Redblood was soon surrounded by three cloak wearing bounty hunters. Redblood did not see the one sneaking up on him. Vaya smirked and used her mind trick to make him place his disengaged lightsaber to his head and ignite it. After several failed attempts to kill the robed man he hits the man with his pistil. The last one throws himself on Redblood's blade setting off his personal self destruct devise. The blast caused all the fur on the front of Redblood to fall off.

As Lyn stabilized Redblood Vaya went around and collected all the robes and lightsaber's. Illiana just rolled her eyes as the group walked outside a bit bloody and bruised. "Mar Del can speak to the old man I need air." Vaya sat on the bottom stair and huffed clipping the lightsaber's to her belt.

Illiana walked back out of the ship. "Well the Wookie is in a tank." She sat down next to Vaya and wiped a bit of blood from the older girls cheek then wiped it on Vaya's pant leg. Vaya looked at her and cocked and eyebrow. "What it was your's." Illiana smirked then unclipped Vaya's saber from her hip. "Here's your mothers saber Vy thanks."

Vaya clipped the lightsaber to her belt. "Not a problem Illy."

Mar Del exited the house. "The Professor is fine…a bit shaken up, but none the worse for wear. I've put in a call for him to be put under protection. I wasn't able to get much out of him, but I think it's safe to assume there's more to this than a simple archeological dig."

"What's your call, boss?" Vaya crossed her arms. She had had a feeling in her bones that there was more to this trip than a couple of house calls. The ambushers, she theorized, were just the frosting on the cake of this delightful field trip.

"I already reported to Ferendo. We're to cross the plains to the small town of Mizhrahi, roughly a five hour drive if the weather holds." The Kel Dor Master gave the graying sky a token glance. "From the village, it's a simple cruise up the established path to the site at the base of the mountain.

"Great we're getting back on the shuttle." Vaya rolled her eyes.

The shuttle ride was uneventful, with nothing to grab the attention but gray skies and open plains. Mizhrahi was barely eligible to be considered a town, rather, it was a trading post along the main paths between Khoonda, and it's sister cities on the other side of the mountains. The buildings all had a very rustic look to them, made of weather stained plasteel and sheet metal, the most prominent building being the Cantina/Trade House. Mar Del had the shuttle drop them off in the middle of town. From there, they went to visit their RCA Contact...a field agent by the name of Aleihander Croix.

Croix had been staying in a small shack near the middle of town back behind the cantina. A human of tall and thin dimensions, his hair a silvery hue. His face was unremarkable, perfect for being just another face in the crowd, it's only saving grace was an expression that seemed to always be in a sour mood.

"Master Mar Del...Is this an investigation...or a field trip?" Croix's greeting hardly stirred the Kel Dor.

"Disregard their youth, they're what we could muster on short notice."

Vaya leered at Mar Del. "You're not funny."

Croix eyed the young Sith girl and smirked to himself. She'll prove useful to the Order, I'll have to mention her to the others. "Your pet's lead is a bit long don't you think?"

Vaya huffed and spoke in sith. "I really hate you…"

Croix's eyes got wide. "Mar Del are you crazy! You brought a Sith girl with you!"

Mar Del simply shot Croix a glare through the visors. A silent message that that particular subject was NOT open to conversation.

"Well then…to business…" Croix sighed and paced a bit. "My men have been missing a week. And the men under my jurisdiction in the RCA are the tops of their class. If they go missing, I get concerned. And when I get concerned, the RCA gets concerned, because I very rarely get concerned. That said, my role in this is to supply you with the address to the dig site so you can carry out the investigation, so you might find some clue as to what happened to my men, and the others at the dig site." He produced a datapad and handed it to Vaya.

Vaya took the datapad and smirked. "So why give this datapad to me huh?"

"Does it really matter? You're traveling together, so share the info, and get to it." Croix just shrugged, a days worth of anxiety and grumpiness becoming ever apparent.

Vaya smirked and spoke in Sith. "It bothers you that I'm Sith doesn't it."

The others began to file out of the small shack. Croix waited for that moment alone with the girl, before answering in the same tone and tongue. "Keep such words private, child. For they attract much unwanted attention." He then turned back to what he was doing before they arrived, refuting her presence further.

"I'll keep that in mind." Vaya turned and left the shack. Vaya looked back at the door. Why do I feel like I know him…