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Private A Family Affair

Adelle Bastiel

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Character
The throng of festive party-goers felt no less oppressive than the Empire's usual Dark-sided stoicism. Adelle wove her way through the guests, slipping past Sith, Dark siders, and people who just liked to watch the world burn. Despite them all, she had someone more pressing on her mind. She finally made her way from the dance floor to a balcony where a woman in glittering scales spoke quietly with a man. Adelle hesitated, not wanting to interrupt, but the man left shortly after she set foot on the balcony. The emotions rippling from Na'an spoke volumes about that conversation and on any other night, with any other purpose, Adelle would have changed her mind and left Na'an alone. She took a deep breath and steeled herself. This had to be done.

"Na'an?" she asked. She stopped a few feet away, trying to give Na'an as much space as she needed. "Do you have a moment?"

Adelle ground her teeth. "There's something you should know."



Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an | Eliana Shan Eliana Shan
 
Wanderer Lost, Wanderer Found
Character
The conversation with Mr. Ajahn had long since lapsed into silence. For a time, she stood next to him, leading on the bannister and looking out into the city below, waiting for him to find something, anything to say. But there was nothing. He just kept looking out into the city, then back into the ballroom, then back again.
Had she managed to break this boy's shining view of what the Family was---what it had already been--or just his view of her? He was, perhaps, at his Vyra's wedding. Maybe it was all too much to take in.So she waited with him, leaning against the bannister, listening to the jangle of festival music below...until Adelle came out onto the balcony.

"Na'an?" she asked. She stopped a few feet away, trying to give Na'an as much space as she needed. "Do you have a moment?"

Adelle ground her teeth. "There's something you should know."
Na'an had, regretfully, gotten used to a near-constant look of stress on Doc's face since they arrived on Kalidan. She imagined that on the days when she wasn't as calm as she was now, when she was being carried through the moment by the odd green dream, she had much the same expression on her own face.
This, though, was entirely different. What was creasing Adelle Bastiel's forehead and making tight lines around her mouth wasn't the constant low-level stress of being trapped on a hostile world awash in the Dark Side--it was sharper, more immediate.

"What happened?"


 

Adelle Bastiel

Character
Character
"Who," she corrected. Adelle eyed the stranger with some concern then turned back to Na'an. "Privately, please."

She cracked her knuckles on one hand as she moved further away from the man leaning on the balcony, waiting for Na'an to join her. How would Na'an react? Violently? She seemed pretty calm, all things considered. Silara's eventual wedding had upset her when they found out and this ceremony finalizing things between Silara and the Sith Lord could have reignited that. Hells, she was even wearing the dress Silara put her in far more comfortably than Adelle would have thought. Adelle cracked the knuckles on her other hand, watching Na'an's face and movements. It was a shame Elly had shown up. Na'an should have been told she looked stunning tonight.

"You might want to brace yourself," Adelle said quietly. She took a deep breath. "Eliana Shan is here."



Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an
 
Wanderer Lost, Wanderer Found
Character
The air suddenly felt much colder.

Eliana Shan was here on Cattamascar. Within spitting distance of the Empress.

Of the Emperor.

Of Leigh.


Even through the strange calm that had settled on her soul, Vidalu Na'an suddenly felt very naked. If only she had her shoto.

She closed the distance between her and Adelle quickly, shooting a quick glance back at the other gentleman on the balcony to ensure he couldn't hear.

"Where, exactly?" she said in an urgent whisper. The fact that two Family members were here at the same time, drawn to the wedding by the identity of the Empress herself, was impossible to ignore. Did Ajahn know about any of this? Had he planned it? Had VYRA? Would that even be beyond her? Either way, this had to be handled. NOW. "Has she met with the Empress yet? Does she know that Elly's alive, that she's here? And Leigh--please tell me she's safe--"


 

Adelle Bastiel

Character
Character
One hand clasped Na'an's shoulder firmly while the other cradled her jaw. "Na'an. Breathe."

That reaction reinforced Adelle's dread to have this conversation. The way Elly carried herself, her controlled presence, that moment speaking with her screamed that she wasn't the same woman Adelle had forced to be silent. Uncertainty and vulnerability replaced the arrogance and self-righteousness. As much as Adelle mistrusted Elly, there were others now that she could trust less. And if Elly stayed, everything they worked for would be in danger.

"She's in the reception hall. She didn't know that either of you were here until she met me," Adelle said quietly.Internally, she grimaced at the next thing she needed to say. "And . . . I . . . kinda blew it. I accused her of following you both here. Far as I know, she hasn't talked to Silara yet. Some giant Sith or darksider was hogging the Empress' attention."

Now for the really hard part. "I'm meeting up with her later. To talk to her and try to make sure she leaves the Unknown regions altogether."

Her hands fell back to her side, although she still didn't know if Na'an would go marching into the hall to hunt down Eliana herself or make a scene. Granted, she'd almost done the same thing herself. But they also didn't need a murder at a wedding reception; not when the whole thing was to establish Imperial authority on Cattamascar.

She didn't bother telling Na'an about Elly's differences. She could scarce believe it herself and it wasn't likely that Na'an would ever believe it.



Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an | Eliana Shan Eliana Shan | Vyra Silara Vyra Silara
 
Wanderer Lost, Wanderer Found
Character
"Of course. That's the only option we have here, if she makes contact with Vyra then everything's karked." Na'an rocked back on one foot, the edge of her scaled sleeve at her lips. She gnawed at it absently, thinking fast. "She tells the Emperor everything. Everything. So he probably already knows what Elly's capable of even if neither of them know she's alive yet. If Vyra finds out she's here, she'll tell him, he'll take her, and--"

She bit on one golden scale hard enough to bend it. "If he has Elly, he finds Leigh."

And that could not happen. Not for a hundred thousand reasons. Not in a hundred thousand years. Not ever.

Under her mask, Na'an could feel her face settling into familiar hard lines.

"Tell me what you want me to do, Doc," she said firmly. "This needs to be handled without distracting Leigh from the weapons pickup."

 

Adelle Bastiel

Character
Character
That . . . wasn't exactly the response she expected but she'd take it. Better than Na'an rushing off to try and solve things now. Adelle placed a hand on Na'an's shoulder and gently pulled the assaulted glove away from Na'an's angry teeth. A wince ghosted over her face at the sight of the bent scale. How many credits had this outfit cost? Too many, if she had judged the Empress accurately. Certainly too many to endure such abuse.

"You know I'm not really the planning type," she said, still holding Na'an's hand. "If I'd had my way, you and Leigh would never have known she was here and she'd just be one more ghost of a memory for you. But you needed to know. So. While I'd like for you to take the damn night off and go find some fun on this planet while you can, you are perfectly capable of making your own decisions."

Adelle released her holds on Na'an and pulled out a chronometer on a chain from her jacket pocket. "I told her to meet me in front of the palace in about four local hours. I'll be dressing down and taking her to a bar for a private conversation."

She met the steely grey eye, noting that the light of Na'an's prosthetic could have been mistaken for a gem in the dazzling lights of the reception hall. "There'll be room for a third if you decide to join us."

~~~

The night air cooled off significantly the later it got. Adelle thanked the Force she'd had the forethought to bring along the dark blue jacket she had draped over her shoulders. Still wearing the tuxedo shirt from earlier, she opted for some of her more fitted pants--a casual look frowned down upon by most of her Imperial peers. She checked her chronometer again, even though she knew she was early and Eliana wasn't late. But the night wasn't getting any younger and she still had to wake up at Imperial time tomorrow, whether or not the Empress summoned her.



Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an | Eliana Shan Eliana Shan
 

Eliana Shan

Character
Character
Unlike the one who had invited her, Elly had not had the forethought to bring along a proper jacket to the ceremony. As the night air grew colder, she turned to regard the nearby festival, debating whether or not to spend credits on a new jacket. In the end, she reasoned that she had the time to make a pit stop, even if it would lead to a line of questioning she'd rather not have gotten into; and so she excused herself, making her long way back to her ship to change out of the obligatory formal wear.

Some time later, Eliana made her way through the streets, opting for her muted grey outfit of pants and a jacket tightly zipped over a plain blue shirt. It was a casual enough look to lend itself more to her comfort, but not so unkempt as to draw too much disdainful attention around the palace.. or so she hoped.

Stay out of the spotlight.

She was thankful that she had yet to spot anyone else she knew. As she approached, she saw Adelle standing there checking her chronometer; Elly knew a flash of panic, wondering if perhaps she had misjudged the time, but then the moment passed. She took a breath and tried her best to release it slowly, before she walked into view and raised a hand in polite greeting.

"H- Hello."

The nervousness in her voice was surely a continuation of the act from earlier, playing the part of a romantic recipient for those prying eyes and ears.

Surely that was it.


Adelle Bastiel Adelle Bastiel | Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an
 
Wanderer Lost, Wanderer Found
Character
Even if this situation was...awful, it was a relief to be out of that dress. Na'an sat at a nearby bar, hunched over the first drink she'd let herself trust all night. The hood on her current robe, bare-armed to the shoulders as it was, did enough to hide herself from anyone's notice that she wouldn't feel the need to step in right away. She might as well try to enjoy something simple before she had to say anything.

Unfortunately, Cattamascar's tihaar supply was apparently not up to snuff. Na'an swirled the drink unhappily, wishing that at least the bar had thought to stock the good stuff. She hadn't had good Mandalorian tihaar in years...not since the last time she'd seen either of the Shans, actually. Maybe that was why she'd thought to get some today--some kind of sick sense of misplaced nostalgia. Which was the only way to describe it, after everything the Family had put her through, wasn't it? Sick and misplaced? She was only here to make sure Leigh didn't have to get involved, that was all. Leigh deserved better than to have the past heckling her.

There was no reason to let Eliana Shan's presence put her out of sorts. None at all.

There was nothing for her to be afraid of here.

 
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Adelle Bastiel

Character
Character
Elly still seemed nervous even though Adelle hadn't really offered any hostility since their initial meeting. She nodded at Elly's approach and pocketed her chronometer. "Shall we?"

The bar Na'an had chosen still remained fairly active this late, due to the ongoing festival, but it wasn't so busy that they couldn't find a small table out of the way to have this talk. Festive patrons filled the bar with chatter and Adelle took a seat not far from where she could feel Na'an's presence, like a cold, miserable drizzle on a grey day. A waitstaff came by to take their orders.

"She's on my tab," Adelle said, motioning to Elly, after placing an order for the strongest drink she could find.

"So. Brass tacks and all that," she said, leaning back against her chair with all the exhaustion she had after the waitress walked off. With her mask off, it'd probably be very easy for someone like Elly to see the dark circles underneath her eyes, the lines now permanently creasing her forehead. "You have no idea the kind of minefield you've stepped into. Or the absolute shitshow you can trigger. I'm hoping that you're more . . . receptive to this conversation than our last."

No malice, no anger, just fatigue. Fatigue and a bit of desperation to salvage this whole night. Maybe she should soften that a bit. Elly herself was also in danger.

"Ah, well, mostly because this isn't just about your safety," she added. "Do you still care about your LE models? Their well-being? As much as you claimed before in that last . . . 'conversation?'"



Eliana Shan Eliana Shan | Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an
 

Eliana Shan

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Character
Eliana had, in fact, made note of Adelle's weathered appearance. Clearly, whatever events had transpired since their last meeting had weighed heavily on her; Elly was curious, but she was also sure she was going to find out at least some details very soon.

Wonder if Na'an looks the same?

Stop.

When their order was taken, Elly put in for a Tatooine Sunrise, then smiled and thanked Adelle as the waitstaff was leaving. It didn't take long to get into business after that. When Adelle spoke, her voice reflected the fatigue written all over her face. Her weary warning did not fall on deaf ears, and despite the trepidation Elly felt around her, she made a point to keep her attention on the other woman.

When Adelle asked about the LE units, though, her response was immediate.

"Always."

Wonder how Leigh-..

STOP.

Her hand reflexively returned to her necklace. "Always," she repeated..


Adelle Bastiel Adelle Bastiel | Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an
 

Adelle Bastiel

Character
Character
"Then you should know," Adelle said, tapping her finger against the tabletop, "your very presence is endangering Leigh. Right now."

If she'd had her attention before, Elly ought to be fixated with that sentence. Good. Now to clarify, since Elly didn't have all the pieces she would need to figure it out. But she was smart. She'd understand. Hopefully.

"You're Leigh's creator. You're also Silara's friend. Silara has just married a literal Sith lord and is probably kriffing him right now," she said, touching a finger on one hand for each piece of the puzzle. "Na'an and I were Jedi. We now live on a Sith controlled planet. Leigh is our friend and cares. Since you created her, it shouldn't be hard to figure out what she's working on."

The waitress came back with their drinks and set them on the table as Adelle slid credit chits her way; a little more than just payment and the required tip. It always paid to keep bar staff on your side, she had found.

"So if you talk to Silara now, what do you think will happen?"

Adelle picked up her glass and offered a small cheers to the criminally genius across from her. She nearly choked when she discovered the drink was a double. An unexpected and slightly painful surprise, but not unwelcome. This night needed it. Adelle coughed, clearing her throat, and took a more cautious drink. She would have to really thank the waitress now.



Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an | Eliana Shan Eliana Shan
 

Eliana Shan

Character
Character
It didn't take a genius to follow this train of logic to its inevitable conclusion. Her presence was a danger to Leigh -- When wasn't i-.. -- and the Sith power here was undeniable. Adelle was scarcely on her third bullet point when Elly's face paled. She had invited disaster simply -- When don't you? -- ...simply by showing up here.

Really, when don't you?

Contro-..


Adelle Bastiel said:
"... Leigh is our friend and cares. Since you created her, it shouldn't be hard to figure out what she's working on."
Those words brought the turning wheels in Elly's mind to a sudden, terrible halt.

Well.

...

Must be nice, huh?

...

Having Leigh as a friend.

...Co-..

Not that you'd know.

Adelle's assumption was correct: it wasn't hard at all to put the pieces together. The arrival of their drinks provided the opportunity for a momentary distraction -- one that Elly almost missed, her blank expression snapping into a weak smile and a belated "thanks" to their server -- but that moment ended as swiftly and elegantly as a punch to the gut.

Adelle Bastiel said:
"So if you talk to Silara now, what do you think will happen?"
"Oh."

For a long time, Elly's only other response was silence. She didn't register the cold of the drink in her grip, nor the condensation gathering and sliding over her fingers. When at last she moved to take a drink, the water on the glass held the coaster for just a moment; the soft clatter of it returning to the table seemed to jar her enough to utter another sentence.

"I'm sorry, A-.. .. I'm.. sorry."

She hadn't yet called Adelle by her name here; she hadn't forgotten the last time she'd done so.

...

...Think there's any way to help them?


Leaving. Or are you bold enough to ask?

With that thought in mind, she took a long swig of her Sunrise -- the first sip, she suspected, of what would be many..


Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an | Adelle Bastiel Adelle Bastiel
 
Wanderer Lost, Wanderer Found
Character
"Oh, don't do that. Don't apologize when for once you're not actually the problem."

Na'an slammed down the rest of her tihaar in a few swift gulps, wincing at the sweet oily burn now coating her throat. When she turned to face Elly and Adelle, it was with the sharp, tired expression of someone who had been running far too long on far too little sleep. But this Elly was meek, terrified into near-silence; maybe the dark circles under her eyes would actually do this conversation some good.

"Look, it's easy to not be objective when it comes to Vyra," she said. "You know that, I know that, everyone knows that. It's always been her greatest gift. I don't blame you for wanting to celebrate her happiness..."
She waved at the bartender, who brought over the bottle again. Another two fingers of the clear liquor filled her cup; the dim light of the bar filtered through it, casting multicolored spots on the surface of the bar.
"Even if it means glossing over what kind of man she's chosen to give herself and her world to. Or was that not spelled out on the invitation? I wouldn't know."

Well, that sounded more than a little bitter. Na'an's lips pressed into a tight thin line, even as she brought the tihaar back up to them. Well, at least it was honest. "Honestly," she said as she took another drink, "if I thought she'd keep you a secret from him, none of this would be an issue."

 
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Eliana Shan

Character
Character
She had just opened her mouth to speak, to ask the first of many questions she'd need liquid courage for, when a voice sounded behind her, and everything in her mind came to a sudden halt. The thunk of her glass hitting the table -- thankfully only an inch above its surface, not enough to actually damage anything -- was the only sound that broke the silence, as Elly's grip momentarily weakened and the blood rushed out of her face once more.

This had been the setup. This had been the plan. She should have expected this. She didn't want this, not now. She had to face this, needed to face this, needed to.. didn't want to, but knew she needed to. Dozens of thoughts began forming, clamoring against her mind, fighting for the right to be spoken first: a sudden exit, an escape to comfort; an apology, and again, and again and again and again; fear, hesitation, anxiety.. but they all fell into silence. Elly brought her hand back up -- was it really shaking? -- to her necklace, gripping it tightly, and did not give voice to the panic or pleading.

Na'an -- gods, Na'an was here -- continued, and Elly couldn't help but notice the bitterness in her voice. She turned to look at her fr-.. former friend? -- she mentally winced at that one -- and as she did so, her eyes made a quick scan of the room.

Leigh wouldn't bother. Don't hope.

Another mental wince was her only response before she settled back on Na'an and noted that she shared Adelle's tired expression. Elly wasn't sure what to say, but here she was in the face of her own history; she couldn't just stay silent forever.

"If only," she heard herself say, and immediately wished she had opted for silence. What even was the correct thing to say here?

No. There was still one important thing to get out, before shame consumed her. "Still.. I'm sorry, N-.. ..."

Still stumbling over her name, too?

Thankfully, even the most awkward of silences could be covered up with a stiff drink. As she reached back for hers, she was grateful that her glass hadn't spilled.. she was going to need it.


Adelle Bastiel Adelle Bastiel | Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an
 

Adelle Bastiel

Character
Character
Adelle placed her hand flat on the table in front of Eliana Shan. "Elly."

The word would cut through the noise with unnatural clarity, tinged as it was by the Force. But despite the strength of its presence, the name carried a softness with it that Adelle had never used with Eliana before. The woman had changed; it was time her approach did too. First, the panic and fear and shame roiling across from her like Roman's tea kettle had to be stopped.

"Our concern is no longer you," Adelle said. "It's Silara. She will either naively inform her new Sith husband, or she will inform him knowing exactly what she's doing. Leigh would no longer be a person. She would be 'returned to your possession' with all the formality of someone handing you a tool they borrowed. She would be expected to follow your every order, your every command, like a slave. And that is the best case scenario."

"But,"
she said, a little quieter. "You can help."

Adelle gave Na'an a sidelong glance. "As long as other interruptions don't cause a further scene."



Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an | Eliana Shan Eliana Shan
 
Wanderer Lost, Wanderer Found
Character
Na'an was about to say something back to the two of them--what it was, she wasn't quite sure--when she froze. A prickle down the back of her neck, the scent of greenery and hot sand and and sickly sweet perfume, sent her bolting upright in her seat. She put down the glass, looking back towards the bar entrance. For a moment, a casual observer would liken the posture, the expression on her face, to that of an ash-rabbit suddenly scenting a fox.
"Aw, shab," she said suddenly, more to herself than to either Doc or Elly. "It's always when someone says something like that, isn't it. I should have known."

She flipped the hood back up over her face, tugging it back down to cover her eye as she turned to the two women. "So this conversation's about to become a lot less hypothetical," she said hurriedly. "Doc and I are gonna be in the far corner nursing a glass or two. She doesn't know I own anything that looks like this, and I'm not even sure she remembers Doc's name, so as long as we're quiet she won't even notice. If she asks, you don't even know we're in the region. Okay?"

She rose from the barstool, reaching halfway to Adelle to pull her into the smoky depths of the bar, before another pause took her. The hand she grabbed first, then, wasn't Doc's. Instead, she first gave Elly's fingers a swift, warm squeeze.
"This isn't what I wanted," she said, and to her surprise found it to be true. "None of it. Just...just smile and nod, whatever she says. Be cheerful. And don't leave with her, no matter what. We'll figure something out. I promise."

Then she reached for Adelle, and pulled her towards the corner--although she made sure to spare a hand for the tihaar.


 
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Eliana Shan

Character
Character
Adelle Bastiel said:
Adelle placed her hand flat on the table in front of Eliana Shan. "Elly."

The word would cut through the noise with unnatural clarity, tinged as it was by the Force. But despite the strength of its presence, the name carried a softness with it that Adelle had never used with Eliana before. The woman had changed; it was time her approach did too. First, the panic and fear and shame roiling across from her like Roman's tea kettle had to be stopped.
The sound of her name, so concise and so clear, cut through the cloud of emotion in her mind with the efficiency of a surgical scalpel. Her attention was grabbed, and held, by the woman across from her; the soft measure of her voice was different, and unexpected, but not unwelcome.

Adelle Bastiel said:
"Our concern is no longer you," Adelle said. "It's Silara. She will either naively inform her new Sith husband, or she will inform him knowing exactly what she's doing. Leigh would no longer be a person. She would be 'returned to your possession' with all the formality of someone handing you a tool they borrowed. She would be expected to follow your every order, your every command, like a slave. And that is the best case scenario."

"But,"
she said, a little quieter. "You can help."
"H-"

Adelle Bastiel said:
Adelle gave Na'an a sidelong glance. "As long as other interruptions don't cause a further scene."
"How?" she asked, leaning forward. "How can I help?"

Vidalu Na'an said:
"Aw, shab," she said suddenly, more to herself than to either Doc or Elly. "It's always when someone says something like that, isn't it. I should have known."

She flipped the hood back up over her face, tugging it back down to cover her eye as she turned to the two women. "So this conversation's about to become a lot less hypothetical," she said hurriedly. "Doc and I are gonna be in the far corner nursing a glass or two. She doesn't know I own anything that looks like this, and I'm not even sure she remembers Doc's name, so as long as we're quiet she won't even notice. If she asks, you don't even know we're in the region. Okay?"
Wh-.. oh no.

Vidalu Na'an said:
She rose from the barstool, reaching halfway to Adelle to pull her into the smoky depths of the bar, before another pause took her. The hand she grabbed first, then, wasn't Doc's. Instead, she first gave Elly's fingers a swift, warm squeeze.
"This isn't what I wanted," she said, and to her surprise found it to be true. "None of it. Just...just smile and nod, whatever she says. Be cheerful. And don't leave with her, no matter what. We'll figure something out. I promise."

Then she reached for Adelle, and pulled her towards the corner--although she made sure to spare a hand for the tihaar.
Na'an's last gesture shocked her, but the words attached to it were oddly enough. She was able to recognize a crisis situation when she saw one; everything she had just been told was a lot to take in, but she knew what she needed to do.

She nodded as the pair departed, then slammed back the rest of her drink, gesturing to their distant server for a refill as she did her best to keep the shudder off her face. It had been a while since her wilder days, after all; but as the warmth spread throughout her chest, she nodded again, picking apart what she had been told.

Smile and nod. Be cheerful. Don't leave with her. They were never here.

...Yeah. I can do that.


The warmth of the alcohol helped to quell what emotions Adelle couldn't, but she knew she would have to remain present and aware, to make sure the other two -- to make sure Leigh stayed safe.

A small part of her wished she could simply flip a switch and turn her emotions off for the time being; this sort of situation was what she had originally had in mind when she had designed the Mother Protocol.

The irony of her position now was far from lost on her, as she put on a smile and waited..


Vyra Silara Vyra Silara | Adelle Bastiel Adelle Bastiel | Vidalu Na'an Vidalu Na'an
 
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