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Aug 12, 2020 7:39 PM
Shortly post-Order 66, the galaxy is a very dark place (Tai and Sage self-inserts in Star Wars: Rise of the Empire Era)
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"You can use my ship's comms, if you'd like," Sage offers. "My specialty being what it is..." they shrug. 

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"That works, thank you," Diǎnrán replied.

"Do you want to give your two commandos a heads-up that I'm coming or should I just head over and explain while I'm there?"

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"No, I'll let them know." No need to startle them with an unknown Jedi. They tap their wristcomm to raise Snag, and explain the situation to him, nodding to Diǎnrán once they're finished.

"They know to expect you."

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Natasi, meanwhile, ushers Dune into a side room to take some scans. 

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"Thank you, in that case I'll head over immediately," giving a cursory nod, she turned to leave to room, sparing her Padawan a second, worried glance before stepping out the doorway and closing it behind herself.

Retracing her steps, she arrived back in the corridor outside of the hanger and continued onward into the hanger itself.

Seeing the sleek form of a Pathfinder Corvette, far rarer and more expensive than any medical research personnel could justify buying with their research grant, she headed towards it, nodding a greeting to the sniper duo stationed by the ramp before ascending it.

After some poking around, she finally found the holoterminal and keyed in the comm frequency that she had memorised since being first deployed at the start of the Clone Wars.
Steadying her breathing to the dull chime of the terminal attempting to establish a connection with the receiving terminal, she felt her fragile calm fraying with each repeated chime--

Unceremoniously, the terminal gave a quick beep and projected the hologram of a human woman and at once she felt her shoulders sag and her knees weaken as she took in her appearance: scuffled, bags under her eyes and a haunted slant to her face plain to see even through the blue hue of a hologram, but whole and alive.

"I--" She cleared her throat, suddenly dry, before trying again, "I'm glad to see you alright, 'Ria."

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"It's good to see you too, Diǎnrán," returning the greeting, Einaria took in Diǎnrán's holographic visage, noted the charred and half-melted armour stubbornly clinging to her body, the once-proud emblem of a twisted black snake impaled by a sword on her shoulder guard now charred and ruined with only the head visible as a clue to what it once was. She swallowed, feeling the world sway.

"When I heard about the clones I, I feared the worst," she admitted, squeezing her eyes shut.

"My senses aren't as attuned as yours, but you had one of the best attack battalions in the Republic -- even a company of Commandos! -- and when I couldn't raise you on your ship..." She trailed off, shaking her head.

Trying to collect herself, she refocused on Diǎnrán, before her eyes narrowed.

"Diǎnrán, where's Venina?" She asked, "is she alright?"

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Sucking in a breath, Diǎnrán have a tense nod, "she'll be fine, she took a shot while we were trying to escape the 802nd, but I managed to get us smuggled on a ship off of Drearia and to the Taris Medical Station, she's in a bacta tank being overseen by a doctor."

"You know our Venina, she's too stubborn for her own good. Doc said she should be out in a few hours, don't worry," she tried for a smile but felt it come off as more of a grimace.

 

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"That's ironic, coming from you," Einaria retorted, ignoring the pit in her stomach that formed, "you complain she's too stubborn as if it isn't your fault, I'd say she's too much like her Master."

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Giving a weak snicker, Diǎnrán quickly sobered as the memories of the escape threw themselves into the forefront of her mind again.

"Actually, Venom Company helped us escape, they seemed affected at the same time as my other troopers, but they shook it off and started responding to Dune's orders as per normal," she swallowed before continuing, "they didn't, didn't make it off Drearia though. Only Venina, Dune and myself escaped."

Quickly changing topics, she added, "I met another Jedi on the station actually, Knight Sage, their padawan, and commando squad Senth made it off of Coruscant."

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"Don't try to brush off what happened, Diǎnrán," Einaria replied, her brows furrowing in concern.

"Trust me I know when someone's bottling something up," she gave a self-depreciating huff at that, "I know you loved those boys, and that they loved you."

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"You don't know what was like, 'Ria," Diǎnrán said, just above a whisper, "how so many presences, bright and so alive in the Force, suddenly disappeared crying out in betrayal, and the clones, they suddenly felt so muted and emotionless, like droids but human and alive. The Force feels so empty now."

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Forcing her hand down from where it had instinctively covered her mouth, she fought to keep her voice steady, calling on her diplomatic experience despite her empty stomach rebelling against her.

"I'm so sorry," she replied, "but I'm also so glad it wasn't you. You're strong, you got through it and you survived."

Glancing down, she added teasingly, "also you might want to let go, having to explain to that doctor how someone managed to sprain their fingers on a holoterminal wouldn't go over well I imagine."

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Quickly releasing her fingers from the corner of the holoterminal, she gave a wet snort and flexed them, wincing at the ache.

"Thanks, 'Ria."

Stubbornly wiping at the tear that had leaked out and was sliding down her cheek, she pressed on, "but the Jedi, Knight Sage, they an encrypted file on their mission on Coruscant with a list of special Orders, their tech specialist is trying to crack the encryption now so there's no confirmation that's what made the clones turn on us but," she swallowed, remembering Order 37, "some of those aren't exactly squeaky clean stuff, 'Ria so we're pretty sure at least one of them has to do with what, what happened."

She took a deep breath to try and calm herself, "the doctor's doing a check on Dune right now to see if his chip has any clues why he managed to resist turning on me."

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"This hole keeps getting deeper and deeper," Einaria mumbled to herself, "first a set of suspicious chips in the clones none of us were told about, now morally dubious orders in an encrypted file that, most likely, contain a special Order to turn on the Jedi."

Shaking her head, she looked back up.

"I understand, I'm currently on Champala, but I can take the Hydian Way and make it to Taris in half a day. Even if I'm seen they'd have to check the whole Outer Rim leg of the Hydian Way, not to mention the possibility I made a two jump trip or more."

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"Alright," suddenly at a loss, Diǎnrán bit her lip before continuing, "be careful out there 'Ria, Your Consular's a tough old bird but it isn't nearly tough enough to survive a warship bearing down on you."

 

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"Do you have so little faith in me?" Einaria teased half-heartedly, "I'm not as good of a pilot as Master Plo is-was but I'm not half-bad either."

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"Perhaps not, you might've improved since the last time I saw you fly over Cato Nemodia," Diǎnrán japed, tactfully ignoring her verbal stumble, but quickly sobered again.

"Be careful, 'Ria," she implored, "come back to me safe." I don't know what I'd do without you, went unsaid.

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Einaria took a steadying breath to collect her thoughts.

"I'll try my best, as always." I know.

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"Venina'll be excited to see you again, I bet," Diǎnrán teased. We're both waiting for you.

"May the Force be with you." I love you.

 

 

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"And with you." I love you too.

Cutting the transmission, Einaria made sure to save the new transmission frequency before making her way to the cockpit, suddenly feeling lighter and less alone.

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Watching the blank terminal, Diǎnrán allowed herself to slump, overcome with fatigue and relief.

After a few more minutes, she returned to the med bay.

"Another Jedi should be joining us within a day or so," she announced in lieu of a greeting, "she's coming in from Champala."

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Sage, sensing her relief as she enters, offers her a half-hearted smile, "I'm glad to hear that she is alright," whomever she might be. They don't know much about Diǎnrán's social circle, being both older and specialized entirely differently. "Doctor Finos is still in the other room with your Commander," they add.

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"Right, well I guess it went well, she didn't trigger a berserk or self-destruct function at least," she commented before heading over to the room Sage pointed out.

She knocked once out of politeness before opening the door.

"So Doctor, any progress on Dune's chip?"

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"No," she says, turning away from a screen next to the bed where Dune is sitting, "None at all. I can't seem to find anything on any of the scans I've tried so far - I was about to ask if I might try a class five scan, which would require me to sedate you, Commander. It's the most detailed kind of medical scan I'm capable of with this equipment - if nothing shows up on that one, we'll know there's nothing to be found."

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"I'm not sure, doctor," Dune replied, "I wouldn't want to be dead weight if we do get attacked."

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