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Old 10-30-2009, 05:57 AM
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Meanwhile, on Corellia....

"Here you go, Ella," Xavia said with a smile, handing her a small box with a disproportionately large bow. "I hope you like it!"

El'layn giggled. They both knew what was inside the box: the "official" concert video of their recent trip to the Corellian Sector. She had been waiting to see the holovid, but her schedule and her recent indisposition had kept the two of them from being able to sit down with a cup of naris-bud tea and a sweesonberry roll. It hadn't always been this difficult to find time to catch up, she thought ruefully. She peeked inside at the disks and grinned widely at her friend. "Could you be a dear and put the water on? I'm still feeling a little dizzy."

Xavia was already halfway to the small kitchen before she was even finished speaking. Somehow during one of their tour stops on the Outer Rim she had managed to pick up a nasty case of Findris Flu, and had been fighting it ever since. The last few weeks had been brutal, but Xavia had been checking in on her constantly. There were a few times she thought she'd gotten over it, but it seemed to wait for her to get stronger then come back again just a little bit meaner.

"Did you hear back from the organizers in Dearic?" Xavia's voice drifted out of the kitchen over the clink of teacups against their saucers. "I hope they were able to repair all those booths."

Despite her best efforts, El'layn wasn't able to contain the laugh that escaped. Three weeks prior, the Queens of the Clone Age had done a show at the request of the Talusian Travel Bureau as part of their "Rediscover Talus!" tourism campaign. The organizers had expected a decent crowd, but they were unprepared for the actual turnout. Hundreds of people had taken them up on their offer, and the Dearic cantina was packed. "They did finally get back to me, but were a little terse," she said lightly, "I did say I was very sorry for all the fighting outside of the cantina." She was sure they could easily put the fountains back together - it was just a little bit of major structural damage.

Her friend leaned around the corner and raised a well-manicured eyebrow at her. "Of course," she said with mock sincerity. "Did you have a chance to visit Dantooine for the graul hunt? I heard it went well." She made her way back into the main room carrying a full tray of tea and rolls. "I don't think I've ever actually seen a graul outside of the zoo in Coruscant. I remember them being enormous."

"Well, yes and no," El'layn helped herself to a steaming cup of tea and contentedly sank back into the couch cushions. The sweet smell of the naris -buds always relaxed her right away, and she smiled happily. "I went to play afterward, but I missed most of the hunt. Well, most but not all." She took a small sip then replaced the cup on the table. "Quite a few of the largest ones took issue and made quite a mess at the outpost. Luckily, they were repelled, but I still wonder what made them do that."

Xavia shrugged. "I couldn't tell you. I don't know that much about their ecology." She slipped the holovid into the projector and settled onto the couch next to El'layn. "There have been several strange incidents lately, though, now that I think about it. The grauls attacking the outpost, that fight on Dathomir..." Her voice trailed off into a thoughtful silence. "Do you believe that story going around? About the jedi?"

Somehow, El'layn managed not to jerk her head up in surprise. "What rumor?" she said quietly, forcing her voice calm. A jedi? That was impossible. They were all gone. Her mind raced, but she kept her face still and thoughtful. Next to her, Xavia shook her head and took a small bite of her sweesonberry roll.

"Not really, to be honest. I think it was just a prison riot. Everyone knows there aren't any jedi left." She punched the projector button and the sounds of raucous singing filled the flat. "I think," she paused for a moment while the camera panned over a group of people wrestling in the middle of the cantina floor. "We have enough to worry about already."

El'layn grinned. "Xavia, you're the wisest friend I have."

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Panting, she crawled through the ventilation shaft cradling her shattered left arm. Behind her, she could hear the running steps of her pursuers rounding the corner, their voices harsh over the starport's ambient music. Strange, she thought with a painful smile, it didn't seem to be calming her nerves like it was supposed to. Forcing herself to breathe smoothly again, she stretched out with the Force, finding the metal grate that she had pulled open and carefully setting it back in place.

Please miss it... please miss it.....

Their minds were like raging streams as they ran past. A gentle touch, and they paid no heed to the ventilation shaft. Their minds were focused solely on the corridor she had been escaping down. She waited for several long minutes, scarcely breathing and willing the pain in her arm to subside before she chanced a glance at it. The wound wasn't pretty, but at least she'd managed to dodge the blaster bolts. The stun baton had been more difficult to avoid.

She tore off a section of her once-fashionable tunic and tied her arm tightly to her chest. If she was going to make it out of Dearic in one piece, she needed to focus on the here and now, not on something as transient as pain. This had only happened once before, she remembered painfully. She had been careless then, thinking that there was no one around while exploring the wildlands of Corellia. She had been quite wrong, and the scars on her good arm had been a constant reminder of the need for vigilance. It had taken weeks of practice to regain her fighting edge again. What had happened this time? She had been so careful!

With a start, she remembered the windstorm two nights ago: someone must have glimpsed her saber while she was helping that merchant store his tent. That was the only time anyone could have seen. She unhooked her saber from her belt and studied it for a moment. It was beautiful, of course, but she took a great risk even carrying it in her pack. She must be more careful in the future.

Carefully, she crawled down the shaft as silently as she could manage. Her ship was close, she could sense her sister nearby. She must be sick with worry by now. Ah, there it was! She could see the cargo ramp from here, and as expected, Tall'lith was pacing up and down trying not to look overly concerned. All she had to do now was get from here to the ramp. Quietly, she pulled aside the grating, and readied herself to jump down to the hangar deck as soon as it was clear.

She stopped just short, her eyes glued to the figure who just entered the docking bay. Oh no...
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