Lionette’s ship arrived at the royal landing pad. The ship had barely set it’s landing gear on it’s surface when Lionette had leapt from the hatch and ran to her fathers bed chamber.
Maxis Ty had known his wound was mortal and refused to be taken to a hospital to linger. He would not be remembered as an old fool that feared death. He had always knew he would not die of illness or old age. He and death were old friends and he wanted to greet it face to face with his eyes open.
Lionette was wearing her warriors clothing. She wanted to appear as a strong leader now and not a pampered princess. If the worst happened the clan needed to be able to see a warrior was taking command. Guards threw open doors as she ran down the long hallways and up massive stair cases. Upon reaching her fathers room she pushed open the doors and rushed to his side. In the room was her younger sister Cheena. She was holding her fathers hand and weeping. Lionette stopped at the edge of the bed. Maxis Ty had gone to the halls of his ancestors. Lionette took a step back and placed her hand on Cheena’s shoulder.
“How long?” Lionette asked.
“Moments, he was at peace when he went sister.” Cheena said through her sobs.
“ The others?” Lionette asked.
“Mundis is in the next room, they are on the trail of the assassin. Furonious is still on route, he will arrive tonight. Mundis knows but Furonious has not been told.” Cheena answered and kissed Lionette’s hand in a gesture of loyalty.
Lionette saw movement at the door, it was Timtam, she had caught up to Lionette. She had known better than to enter the room without permission. Lionette extended her hand to Timtam bidding her to enter. Timtam shook her head in the negative and glanced at the guards. She was right. Lionette must not appear to need Timtam at her side, it might be seen as weakness. Lionette withdrew her hand and nodded at Timtam.
“I will speak with Mundis in the next room. Please inform our brother Furonious that our father is with our mother now.” Lionette said looking as calm as she could. Lionette looked out into the hallway and saw Timtam sitting on a slave bench with her head down. She was truly sorry for Lionette. Lionette was moved by this since Timtam most likely never even knew who her father was.
Lionette walked into the next room. Mundis was at Maxis Ty’s desk listening to his security chiefs briefing. As soon as Lionette entered the room he stood and stepped away from the chair. It was Lionette’s chair now.
“Please brother that is not necessary, you are exactly where you should be right now.” Lionette said as she crossed the room and stood by his side.
“What do we know so far?” Lionette asked Mundis.
“We are certain this was not a vendetta or blood debt. This was not done by Feloid hands.” Mundis said.
“The weapon was found at the place the shot came from. It was left by circumstance and not on purpose to throw us off. It is not a Feliod weapon.” one of the advisers said.
“Our security forces had arrived only moments after the fatal shot was fired. There was a brief gun battle and two of our security officers were killed.”said another of the advisers.
“We were able to check a sample of blood that was left from one of the assassins, it is not Feloid.” Mundis added.
“Outsiders have been used before for assassinations.” Lionette reminded them.
“I believe you will agree when you have all the information.” Mundis said respectfully.
“How did they make their escape?” Lionette asked.
“They had a specially designed ship that they had brought to the area before the attack. It was left in a nearby warehouse in a shipping container. The ship was built just for this mission.” Mundis said.
“ It seems these assassins were very well funded.” Lionette said.
“We think it is worse than that.” Mundis turned on a holo projector. There in the revolving image was a drone. Lionette had seen one before. It was designed to mimic the ship that launched it so any one following the ship would not be able to tell if they were following the ship or the drone.
“This ship carried twelve of these drones.” said Mundis waiting for Lionettes reaction.
“Twelve! I’ve never heard of any ship carrying more than two!” Lionette said stunned. It slowly began to sink in what Mundis was trying to tell her. The assassin’s ship and the specialized drones could only have been funded by a government body of some kind.
“The Empire.” Lionette said coldly.
“Our father’s death was meant to be a message to all Feloids. The Emperor wanted us all to know what happens to any one that would hide the Jedi no matter who or where they are.” Mundis said.
Lionette put her hands behind her back and paced back and forth across the room in silence. There was a tension in the room as they waited for Lionette to speak.
“ I fear I have brought this danger to our homes my friends.” Lionette said. She awaited their response.
“ My lady, we have always harbored our Jedi friends in difficult times. You have only up held our honor by protecting these Jedi. The only response to this barbaric act is to continue to aid our Jedi friends as much as possible.” Mundis said. The others in the room all joined in with words of encouragement for the decision to continue the protection of the Jedi.
“Thank you for your support my friends, and especially yours Mundis.” said Lionette relieved in their show of support.
“Long live Lionette Ty, leader of the clan!” Mundis cheered as he thrust his fist in the air. Every one in the room cheered for Lionette and to show respect for Maxis Ty who fathered her.
Lionette put up both her hands to quell the cheering, they must remain focused.
“Do we have any idea were the assassins have gone, could they be outside of Feloid space and across the border yet? Lionette asked.
“It is not very likely as none of the drones have left. We think they will link up with another group to be smuggled out.” said an adviser.
“What we really need is time to gather leads on their whereabouts.” Mundis said.
Lionette paced across the room again.”How many in the palace know Maxis is dead?” she asked.
“Just us and his attendants.” Mundis said.
“We will have to cause the assassins to stay in Feloid space. We will not let anyone know our father is dead for the next three days. We will not have any contact with anyone for those three days unless it is in person.” Lionette said as she looked each and every one in the room in the eye.
“The assassins will not be able to leave until they know if Maxis is dead. In the meantime we will see if any scheduled ships that were to leave Feloid space have delayed their departure for those three days. Those ships will be allowed to leave but we shall stop them just short of the border. If any of them try to run we will have our assassins.” Lionette said.
She suddenly remembered the advise that her teacher Verasia had given her not that long ago. She remembered her fathers advise as well.
“Does any one disagree with this plan?” Lionette asked. “Does any one wish to say something about my handling of this crisis?”
“What if the assassins did not plan to leave? What if they have a safe haven here already. It would be possible they mean to continue to harass us from within our own borders.”said a young female in the back of the room.
Lionette spun and glared at the girl. She pushed past the older members and stood directly in front of the girl. The girl went white with fear. She did not realize she had spoken out of turn.
“Who are you that you would question my plan? What is your name?” Lionette said coldly.
“ My name is Ruhla Feytan my lady, I only meant to answer your question honestly.”the girl said timidly.
“Everyone! This girl has challenged my plan. Me, a clan leader has been challenged by this girl.”Lionette said as she took the girl by the hand and lead her in front of the rest.
“You all will learn today what happens to those bold enough to question my plans.”Lionette said.
“ Ruhla Feytan, I now give you full appointment to this security counsel. You shall always have a place here from this day forth. This girl was absolutely right to question my plan. Her loyalty is to her people first and to me second. As your leader that is what I should always do. It is your duty to make sure I always put my people’s welfare before my own.” Lionette said as she put her arm around Rulha’s shoulder. Ruhla smiled bashfully at Lionette.
Mundis laughed out loud at the act that Lionette had just put on.
“Splendid sister.” He said. “We shall all remember Ruhla Feytan and this lesson whenever she is in the room.” He clapped his hands together.
“Enough, I believe I’ve made my point, I want you all to put forth your ideas for approval to this counsel, we must hurry, the assassins are well prepared and funded we must all think of any plans they may have and come up with ways to prevent those things from happening.” Lionette said in a calmer more friendly tone. She hoped she had made her position clear on her leadership. She was the leader but she wanted to hear all the information she could no matter how she felt about it.
“Now if you will excuse me I must see to my sister and give her my orders.” Lionette bowed slightly to her security counsel members and went back into the bed room.
Cheena was standing in the room talking to Adda Beddo. She had accompanied Lionette and Timtam on their trip home. Adda was a Jedi healer and had offered her help but they arrived to late. Adda was also a gifted scholar and spent most of her free time studying history and current events. She had decided to wear her robes as to draw less attention to herself. Lionette looked around for Timtam but she was still out in the hall sitting on the bench. It was just as well, she could always call her if needed. Lionette thought of Drethas and his attempt on her life not so long ago. Could the two be connected? As far as she knew they still did not know why he did it.
“Lionette, I am so sorry I couldn’t have helped your father. If there is anything I can do just ask.” Adda said turning towards Lionette.
“Yes there is Adda.”Lionette said as she walked to the door.
“Timtam, I will be a while longer here, if anyone comes into this hallway alert me at once.”Lionette said.
“Yes mistress.” Timtam said as she stood up as to gain a better vantage point to the hallway. The guards in the hallway looked at one another questioningly. Did Lionette mean she trusted this slaves word more than theirs?
Lionette closed the door and turned back to Adda and Cheena.
“Cheena, have you spoken to Furonious yet?” Lionette asked.
“No I have not.” Cheena said.
“Instruct the command center to have no more contact with anyone unless it is to give permission to take off or land, is that understood, no one.” Lionette said.
‘Yes, it will be done without question.” Cheena said. She gave Lionette a hug of reassurance and left with her instructions.
Lionette took Adda by the hand and lead her to the couch and had her sit down.
“Adda we believe this was done by the Empire. The plan was well thought out and funded. Who could have done this. I don’t feel it was Imperial troops that did this. I think the Empire used professional assassins for this but the assassins were funded by the Empire.”Lionette said.
Adda looked at the floor and thought. Lionette stood by patiently waiting for her answer. She had watched Adda many times as she had tried to dig deep into her vast stores of knowledge. It was remarkable to watch. Adda would just stare at the floor and concentrate on the problem not moving or even blinking. It would seem as though she had gone inside herself and was traversing great halls of stored facts and items and slowly putting them all together until she had assembled the answer.
“I believe this was done by a group of rouge Mandalorians. They are the best mercenaries in the galaxy and the Emperor would not choose a group that would not succeed in it’s mission. I believe he would choose the Black Star assassin group for this mission.” Adda said looking up at Lionette.
“The Black Stars are all dead. The Jedi hunted them down twenty years ago.” said Lionette. She was surprised at Adda’s answer.
“Unless that is what the Jedi were lead to believe.” said Adda.
Lionette began to pace across the room. “ So you’re saying that t he Black Star assassins have been hiding all these years only to come out to commit this act ?” Lionette asked.
“Not exactly, I’m saying they may have been committing assassinations for years but have been much more careful about it. If they were almost wiped out the survivors would have learned to be more secretive. I suggest you discuss this with people that are more familiar with these things.”Adda said.
“You mean Tarin and Baltis.” Lionette said looking out of the window. Both Tarin and Baltis had been hired assassins before they took a side in this war. They were valuable allies so their pasts had been put aside for the time being.
“You’re right, I should have thought of that sooner. Thank you Adda you have been a great help to my people and myself.” Lionette said.
“I shall remain close by in case you need me again.” Adda answered.
Lionette nodded in thanks.
“ I think it would be best if you were to contact them and ask them to come here, I’m afraid they may think I suspect them of some complicity in my fathers death.” Lionette said as she once again began to pace across the room.
“I agree, their kind are often not so trusting.” Adda said giving away some of her feelings towards the two assassins.
“You don’t like them do you Adda? I always sensed that about you but I never quite realized how much until now.” Lionette said a little surprised.
Adda looked down. She felt ashamed.
“As someone that has spent their life training to help the injured and the sick I have never been able to understand that mentality. For someone to take money to end a life is beyond my way of thinking. I can only feel they have something lacking inside.” Adda said.
“Some people become broken as they grow and they do loose parts of their humanity. I guess we should feel fortunate that we have not had such ordeals to test our inner strength.” Lionette said as she looked out the window once more.
“You’re right Lionette, I guess that is one way to look at it.” Adda said.
“I will go and make contact with them at once.” Adda stood up and went to the door. She took one last look at the new clan leader as she wiped a tear from her eye.
Lionette glanced at the door as Adda left and noticed Timtam peeking in.
“Timtam come in here.” Lionette said.
Timtam slowly came into the room with her head down. She sheepishly walked over to Lionette and knelt in front of her.
“Mistress I am sorry for your loss.” she said simply. She had been crying and was truly sorry about Lionette’s father’s death.
“Would you like to pay your respects Timtam?” Lionette asked.
Timtam just shook her head no as she knelt. She was just a slave and was not worthy.
“You know my father suggested I name you Timtam when he gave you to me.”Lionette said. “ He always liked you Timtam.”
Timtam looked up and smiled through her tears.
“ I think he would have liked it if you said good bye to him now.” Lionette reached down and took Timtam by the hand. She lead her over to Maxis Ty. Timtam stood for a moment and stared at him. She leaned over and kissed his hand. “Good bye my master, may you be with your wife for all time.” she said.
Timtam looked at Lionette not sure if she did the right thing.
“That was fine, my father would be pleased.” Lionette said.
The next day Tarin and Baltis were on route to the palace. They had been requested to come by Lionette.
“They’re all in the cockpit.” said Baltis. He had been watching the all Feloid crew and how they acted the whole trip.
“Don’t be so suspicious, if Adda asked us to come most likely there won’t be any problems.” Tarin said as she relaxed on the couch of the yacht. Lionette had dispatched her fastest royal transport to bring them to her.
“Just enjoy the ride and sit down.”
“You relax! I don’t trust these royal types. They’re long on smooth and short on mercy.” Baltis said as he walked over to where Tarin was lounging.
“Really Baltis, how often do we get to enjoy this kind of luxury? Stop worrying so much. They let you keep your weapons didn’t they? Tarin said as she sipped her drink.
“It still could be a trap.” Baltis said as he crouched down watching the door.” You should know that you and I are suspects in this shooting.”
“Don’t be absurd, we were at the base when it happened. How could anyone suspect us?” Tarin said as she calmly poured herself another drink.
“ They probably think we were in on it at least.” Baltis replied.
Tarin rolled her eyes and put her long legs up on the arm rest of the massive couch.
“ Do you really think they trust us? Do you really think we are part of this group like they are?” Baltis was getting annoyed at Tarin’s lack of concern.
“ Look Baltis, I don’t know why you’re so spooked by all of this. We haven’t done anything worse than they have in their past lives. Look at Bronski, he’s a damned killing machine. He’s probably killed more people than both of us put together. We were hired because we are killers that’s what they do and that is what we do. Now have a drink and calm down.”Tarin said as she poured Baltis a drink.
“Besides if something was wrong I’d know it.” she said as she closed her eyes and relaxed in the big soft couch.
Furonious walked angrily through the palace hallways. He was accompanied by two of his officers. He had been told that he was not allowed to have any information about his father until he arrived in person. He brushed past Lionette’s guards and burst into her office.
“Where is my father! “ Furonious said.
Lionette was seated at the huge desk which had been her father’s. Mundis quickly crossed the room to intercept his younger brother.
“Let him pass Mundis!” Lionette said angrily. “How dare you enter this chamber in such a fashion. You are the son of a clan leader, so at least act like it!”
Lionette and Furonious were never close. They had been born two far apart. Lionette was the heiress and he was the youngest. Of all the siblings they two had never seen eye to eye on anything.
“ I want to see my father! It has been two days and no one will tell me if he is alive or dead. What are you hiding from me.” Furonious was livid.
“ Calm yourself brother, it is the worst, our father is dead.” Mundis said in an effort to come between the two.
“Why was I not told?” he asked.
“You were not told because I decide when and where important information is metered out. Now I ask you to control yourself one last time or I will order you from this chamber.” Lionette said trying to control her anger.
Furonious stood silent and composed himself. He looked at his two attendants. They were waiting for him to take the lead, they needed to know what to do.
“My sister, forgive my out burst. I have no excuse for my behavior. I am your loyal servant and await your instructions.” Furonious said as he calmed himself.
“ That is better, forgive me for not communicating to you the events that have transpired here. It was meant as a security precaution and not an insult against you. I understand your anger but you must learn to control it, it does you a disservice when it controls you.”Lionette said trying to make amends. This was no time for childhood squabbles to arise.
“Cheena, will you escort our brother too were father has been laid out so he can pay his respects.”
“Yes Lionette.” Cheena had kept out of the fight as usual. She hated being so timid in a crisis.
“Furonious, I am sorry that we could not have told you more sooner.” Lionette said sincerely.
“ I am sorry for my behavior as well.” he said. Furonious left the room with Cheena.
“Why must he always test my limits Mundis? Am I doing something to provoke him? We all must show a strong front at this time. Can you talk to him and make him understand?” Lionette said as she stared at the door Furonious had just left through.
“ He understands. He is just angry about father.” Mundis said as he sat.
“ He has always been treated differently, you must realize that he feels like an outsider, as if he is not one of us.”
“Maxis meant no harm in keeping his distance from him. It was just too painful for him to be reminded of mothers death whenever he looked at him.” Lionette sat on the edge of the desk.
“You must make a gesture towards him. Give him an important position here at home close to us. He must feel this is a new beginning.” Mundis leaned forward in thought.
“ Who will take over the fleet? It has always been a family position.” Lionette asked.
“Me, I’ll do it until we can find a suitable replacement for Furonious.”Mundis looked at the floor with his hands folded.
The shuttle carrying Baltis and Tarin landed at night. Lionette had chosen a remote space port far from the palace were security was easier to control.
“ Lionette, we’re glad you sent for us. What can we do to help?” Tarin said as she stepped out of the ship. Baltis hung back for a moment. He still wasn’t sure they wouldn’t be arrested or worse.
Lionette had flown out to the sight in the Blood Claw. She had brought Adda and Timtam along to greet their friends.
“Thank you both for coming, we need your expertise in this matter. You two are the only ones I can trust for the information we need.” Lionette said sincerely.
Tarin looked over her shoulder at Baltis. She had an “I told you so.” look on her face. Baltis took his hand off the grenade in his pocket and stepped out of the shuttle. The friends exchanged greetings and climbed into the Blood Claw. Lionette had Timtam fly the ship back so Tarin, Baltis, Adda, and herself could sit in the back and have their meeting. Timtam had the rare privalage to be taught how to fly the Blood Claw. It was not for her sake but as usual it was to be more useful to Lionette.
Adda told Tarin and Baltis about her theory of who the assassins were. To Lionette’s surprise they both agreed.
“It would be quiet possible Adda is right.” Tarin said. Our lives depend on secrecy. To survive you always have a back up plan. For them to pretend they were all wiped out and then to continue to carry out missions would be a good back up plan.” Tarin said.
“What’s troubling you Baltis?” Adda asked. She noticed he had been too quiet and too hesitant to offer any input.
“ Damned Jedi, I was getting to it.” he knew Adda could pick up on his thoughts. “ I didn’t want to believe it because it makes me look guilty, like I knew about it. I know who did this. I know this group of assassins. I … worked for them a while back.” Baltis said. He had become very defensive and distrustful.
“ I do not believe you had anything to do with this Baltis. It was you that saved my life from those guards when the bounty hunters attacked me, I haven’t forgotten. Now please tell us what you know.”Lionette said as she leaned forward and put her hand on Baltis’s arm. She gave it a gentile squeeze as if comforting an old friend.
“ They are the children of the Black Star assassins. They call them “ghost children”. Before their fathers had their last battle with the Jedi twenty years ago they all made love to their wives. It is their tradition. This way if they are killed any child that was conceived before the battle is raised to avenge their fathers death.” Baltis said.
“A whole generation born to hate and do murder, how horrific.” Adda said sullenly.
“How many of them are there?” Lionette asked.
“I’m not sure, they kept their new organization very hush hush, even I couldn’t find out that much about them.” Baltis said.” But I do know this, the best of them were five women that were all related. They specialized in disguises and infiltration. They could be in the palace right now and you would never know it. It is possible they have been there for quiet some time. They would have under gone surgery to make themselves look like Feloids. It could be one or all of them.
“There was a ship that escaped after the assassination. So you think some of them have stayed behind?” asked Lionette.
“I’m sure of it.” Baltis said.
“There are over two hundred slave girls in the palace. It wouldn’t be a freeborn or a noble because they could all be checked out too easily. We’ll have to narrow it down somehow. We can start by checking the girls that have been there for a year or less.” Lionette said.
“If you do that the assassins would know you are on to them.”Tarin said.
“Some one will have to go undercover and check it out from the inside, as a slave girl. Any other way will spook them.” Baltis said.
“ Who could we get to do that. We need a slave that is loyal and smart enough to pull this off.” Adda added.
“Or at least someone that could pretend to be a slave long enough to find out if the assassins are still here.”added Baltis. “finding a loyal slave might be as tough as finding the assassins.”
“What about Pep? No one knows her in the palace and she would be loyal to our cause.” Tarin said.
“ The girl has to many issues to be able to trust her judgment. Besides I do not think Matt would allow it.” Lionette interjected.
“It is worth looking into, maybe if you went under cover with her you could work together. After all you are not well known to the newer slaves because you have been gone almost all of this past year. Pep could teach you the ins and outs of being a slave.” Baltis was half serious and half joking as he spoke to Lionette. It would be worth it just to see Lionette have to dress and act like a slave.
“We should bring a whole new batch of slaves in and have you and Pep be with them.” Adda said. “ We could use the ones that Pep freed to help in this operation as well.”
“No, this is out of the question. I will not jeopardize this investigation by using a ragtag group of trollops.” Lionette regretted saying what she did immediately. “What I meant to say was these girls are not… qualified to do this kind of work. They are unstable and uneducated.”
“ All they would have to do is act like slaves, I’m sure they can do that.” Baltis said half under his breath.
“Lionette, is the real problem that they won’t be able to act like a slave or is it you wouldn’t be able to?”Adda said taking Lionette’s hands in hers and looking into her eyes.
“Stop it, leave my mistress alone! She will not act as a slave for any reason!” Timtam had left the ship on auto pilot and entered the rear of the ship to protect her mistress.
“Why are you trying to make her do this? My mistress should never act like a slave for any reason.” Timtam’s eye’s welled up with tears of fear and frustration. How could they suggest such a thing.
Everyone sat shocked for a second. They had not expected this from Timtam. She loved Lionette so much she couldn’t see her degrade herself even if it was just an act.
Lionette stood up and went to Timtam. “It’s alright, there’s no need to worry Timtam. Everything will be fine I promise.”
Timtam looked at Lionette with tear filled eyes. She looked at the others as if to say “Please don’t make her do this.” and went back into the cockpit.
“ She can be a bit overly protective. I’m lucky I have someone so close I can depend on.” Lionette went back to her seat.
They all sat in silence for a long time. It was a good plan but it meant crossing a lot of Feloid societal boundaries. It was a test for Lionette. Her very life and the clan’s security would be in the hands of the lowest of Feliod society. Could she except their help? Would she be able to take orders from a slave? Could they be trusted? Once Lionette experienced life as a slave how would that change her?
“I can see no other course of action. I must do this thing and hope for the best.” Lionette said raising her head.
“Adda, I will ask you to help setting this up.” Lionette looked at Timtam. “Have the slaves wait at the base for me. I will need their help learning a few things about our society and how they survive in it.
If you have enjoyed these stories please check out my first all original book series at Amazon.com. The title is Beyond the Crystal Heaven.
Once again thank you for your support.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 10 September 2013 01:46)