An End, And A Beginning - House Satele Shan
Written by Mako Henymory and Turel Sorenn
Jedi Council Chambers
The Jedi Council was just beginning their session when the doors to the chamber opened slowly. Sheepishly a young black haired woman slipped into the chamber. Although all eyes were upon her, the pale skinned Mandalorian declined to meet any gaze. Slowly and deliberately she made her way to the only empty council seat, the one belonging to her Master. As Lilly sat in the chair Turel simply sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. The Consul stared half amazed at the new Quaestor’s gall, skipping out on the Council meeting and obviously sending this woman in his place.
“Lilly where is Mako?” The question was direct, the Togruta’s tone indicating she was not to be trifled with.
“You won’t like the answer Ma’am,” the former Arconan Fade’s voice was quiet and subdued. She was more used to sitting in front of a terminal cracking security codes, or getting in a good fight. Being the sole focus of this group of powerful Jedis’ collective ire was not her idea of a good time. The fact that they were all still staring at her was making her uncomfortable, and when she got uncomfortable, she got angry.
“Just tell us Lilly, A’lora won’t bite your face off,” Turel piped up sensing the Human’s discomfort.
“Fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn joo. My Master regrets to inform the Jedi Council that he will not be able to attend this meeting as he is too busy researching something that has come up,” the Mandalorians voice and anger rising as she spoke and her confidence returned. The Jedi immediately started whispering to each other, their eyes judgmentally looking upon the woman.
“I swear the crap I go through for that man! I’m just `ere ta deliver the message, so if you Jedi would kindly refrain from your pretentious self righteous judgement!” Her screams subsiding, Lilly promptly turned, kicked over Mako’s chair, and stormed out of the meeting. Leaving a room full of shocked looks and slacked jaws.
Several hours later Turel half walked half drug himself out of the council meeting. His head hurt, things hadn’t gone well after the scene Lilly had caused. The meeting had been in an uproar with one faction in the council calling for Mako’s immediate dismissal. Another faction had defended the Quaestor for taking care of his members first. They were of course assuming that was what the Krath was doing. After several hours of back and forth A’lora had dismissed them all until the next day, to let cooler heads prevail. In truth though the Togruta was simply fed up with the inability to cover the day’s issues.
So Turel found himself walking alone in the hallway. His assumption was that he was alone, the Proconsul’s senses were working less than optimally after the long meeting. What his senses and eyes missed as he left the Praxeum were three figures moving in the darkness. It was not until Turel was near to the landing pads that he felt the tingle of the Force working it’s way through his spine. The hairs on the Human’s neck stood on end as his hand instinctively reached for his lightsaber. As his fingers touched the metal hilt he heard heavy footsteps, too close, and the icy hiss of a lightsaber igniting. Turel could feel the heat as the tip passed were his neck had been but milliseconds before, the yellow glow of a Sentinel’s blade in stark contrast to the blackness of the night.
Turel spun around his purple blade ignited, ready to defend his life. The Proconsul’s eyes widened to the sight with which he was greeted. A Sentinel Network agent stood, saber deactivated. Through his chest protruded the pure yellow and pure white blades of another. Turel had not sensed the still hidden individual or even heard his lightsabers ignite. The Sentinel made a gurgling noise from behind his mask as the offending sabers pushed further through his chest. Then in a flash of white and yellow and agent fell into multiple pieces, revealing an individual in all black robes. A hood pulled deep over the man’s head hid his identity, the dual sabers deactivated and once more clipped to his belt.
“You really are tired, aren’t you Turel,” the Satele Shan’s Quaestor said with a flat even tone.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in Seher right now taking care of a thing?”
“The thing came here after word of Lilly’s scene in the council meeting got out.”
“It literally just ended, and that is not possible. Those meetings are closed and secret, wait you used Lilly as bait!”
“Aaaaaand tired boy catches on finally,” Lilly said with a giggle as she poked her head out from behind Mako.
“I found a nest of rats in the network of your house, So naturally I baited the trap and laid in wait.”
“Wait, you baited the trap. Was I the trap or the bait!”
“What do you think? I made mince meat not you.”
“I could have DIED!”
“Doubtful,” The Quaestor said with a shrug.
“Was that a Jedi?”
“What do you not understand about your NETWORK has rats?”
“So just like the war again for you, killing Jedi, acting like a demon. You never change.”
“TUREL SORENN, my Master discovered a network of traitors plotting to kill you and other members of the Jedi council, that they view as corrupted. They think you and Mako were planted here by Arcona. This is why you brought us here, because you suspected something like this. Now that it turns out to be true you chastise this good man for saving your life!” As Lilly’s words seeped into the Proconsul’s exhausted brain a sheepish look covered his face.
“So where do we stand?”
“Not here, get in the shuttle we need to go to Seher to review my research, that wasn’t the only Sentinel that has gone rouge.”
“You Krath and your research I swear,” Sorenn muttered as they turned to leave.
As Turel strode through the Citadel with Mako and Lilly, he was amazed at how quickly the atmosphere had changed in Satele Shan’s home. Having rested on the flight to Seher, Turel was able to observe everything with his full mental capabilities. The Citadel was buzzing with members of the house going about their morning rituals. But they moved with a purpose now, not a lazy meander like before. The Aedile, Kah Manet, fell into pace beside Mako.
“Wesa got to dah traituhs corpse beforesa he was noticed,” The Gungan spoke quietly as not to be overheard outside of present company.
“I trust the package was disposed in a way unrecoverable,” his Quaestor’s voice while emotionless held a certain authority and tone of command. The Gungan nodded in reply.
“Dah Morning report, sah,” the Ranger said as he handed over a datapad.
“Very well, send these 5 to the Commons today to maintain our presence and voting block with the locals. Everyone else, take on a run then have Sa Ool continue lightsaber training with them. Let Sa know if they give him any issues to send the trouble makers to experience a personal training session with Lilly tomorrow,” Henymory said as he highlighted 5 names on the house roster and handed the datapad back to the Gungan.
“Pop, pop, watchin spark fingers drop,” the young woman giggled from under her Mandalorian Armor, her fingers gently caressing two of her blasters.
“Messa tinkin’ dem Padawans gonna die tomorruh,” the Aedile muttered as he cautiously eyed the Quaestor’s companion before taking his leave.
“Are you preparing for a war?”
“We are tasked with defending Seher, we can not do that if we do not maintain a state of combat readiness.”
The Quaestor came to a stop near where Sa Ool was training a few younglings armed with training sabers. With a nod to Sa, the Human kneeled down next to the children.
“Younglings, why do we carry a Lightsaber?”
“To protect ourselves and others.”
“Why do we activate it’s blade?”
“To eliminate the threat, Sir!”
“And what is it to eliminate the threat?”
“To do what is necessary to ensure that the threat can never harm innocents again.”
“If that threat rises again?”
“Then we failed and must finish our job, to protect the innocent!”
“Hold those training sabers with pride younglings, in battle show no mercy, as the evil we fight will give us none. You are on the path to becoming great Sentinels.” Standing once more the Quaestor looked to Ool, “Instructor Ool, you and your younglings are to report to Aedile Manet, the house training has been set for the day. The whole house is to be in attendance.”
With a nod Sa Ool and the younglings took off for the courtyard. Mako raised his voice enhancing it with the Force so it would be loud enough to reach all ears.
“OOROO TO MY OFFICE NOW! THE REST OF SATELE SHAN GET THE KRIFF OUT OF MY CITADEL, YOU HAVE TRAINING TO DO!”
The illustrious Strike team Ooroo stood at attention in room while as Lilly handed Turel , one at a time, a stack of datapads that seemed more like a mountain to the Proconsul.
“At ease Ooroo, Aaleeshah, report on your team’s pick up at the deli last night.”
“Sir, the pickup was a success, unfortunately the minced meat was unsuitable for consumption. So we burned it until no trace remained,” the Togruta said in a level voice before she wiped one last ash smudge from her face.
“Mako, does she --” Turel began only to be cut off.
“Rule number one in our line of work here. We do not discuss the details with the boss. The less you know the better,” the Battle Team Leader said with a smirk.
“Turel you were privy to my classified deep cover Dajorra Intelligence Agency files in Arcona where you not?” The Quaestor probed.
“I was, I read it but once. You’re a real piece of work Henymory.”
“Agreed, then you know my ability to gather intelligence is unquestionable. You are also aware of Lilly’s unique skills with technological means. Keep this in mind as we fill you in on what she is currently burying you in. Lilly if you would be a dear.”
“Only for you. Turel you are worried about the Sentinel Network, or SenNet, and their loyalties. This is why you brought us here, so we could do what you could not. Due to Mako’s brother, Sight, once being a Sentinel we dove into this with our full attention. With the assistance of Ooroo we were able to uncover many troubling things about the current state of SenNet,” as she spoke Lilly pushed a few buttons on the holo projector, in response to her commands the holoprojector lit up and began to display several detailed dossiers of specific SenNet members.
“The Sentinels that Lilly is showing to us now are ones we have verified as being traitors. Also of note I was contacted by an old DIA contact. He was concerned as he found evidence that indicated some of these Sentinel’s, ones we know to be traitors now, had been able to gain access to 3 specific DIA files. The ones concerning Lilly and yourself, Turel. They were also able to access my file, just not the one hidden behind enhanced security,” As the Quaestor spoke he leaned back in his chair. Lighting a smoke with a concentrated arc of Force Lightning, the Human inhaled deeply. The Proconsul nodded as he absorbed the large amount of information that had been presented before him.
“The issue is that we are fairly certain we have not identified the mastermind. The master manipulator that is causing these loyal Sentinels to turn against us.” Mako spoke slowly as he smoked, making sure each word he uttered was in the purpose of this information.
“Inquisition agents?” Turel inquired.
“Perhaps, but we can’t verify anything just yet. Whomever it is they had plenty of help from the inside. Also they would have to be experienced with these types of things.” Mako replied.
“Understandable,” Sorenn said with a sigh, the realization that his fears were in fact truth.
“With the attempt upon your life last night, and the failure of the agent. We believe that this group, whomever they are working for, will not wait for much longer before they attempt a multifaceted attack upon the Jedi Council,” the Mandalorian said her tone grim. Switching off the holotable Lilly tossed a data disk to Aaleeshah.
“But why target me first,” Turel asked his eyes turning to his old friend.
“It became apparently evident last night that you are the traitors primary target. They are most likely targeting you due to your primary role in the Arcona and Odan-Urr treaty, as well as your prominent position in the Odan-Urr military. With your voice silenced first the Council would be unable to act quickly to a clear and present danger. While they could mobilize the military quickly it is doubtful that they would be able to do it with an effective degree of coordination. This leaves us at a distinct disadvantage when swift violent action is the only solution.” The Satele’s Quaestor took a deep breath before he continued.
“Turel, Lilly and myself, with the help of Aaleeshah and Ooroo have devised a strategy that will allow us to purge the traitors we have identified in SenNet. While we have not discovered the identity of the mastermind that is turning these Sentinels to the dark side, we believe that this will expose the individual or cause them to flee to prepare another angle of attack. This will give us the time to prepare the clan, and the Council time to debate the ethical ramifications of our actions. There is also the distinct option that one of the Council members is this mastermind. The thing about the plan is, you are not going to like it,” with a final drag of his smoke Mako emphasised his last words by crushing the cigarettes cherry through the Force.
“What do you have in mind?”
“We need a wet work team, operating unknown and undetected from the shadows. They need to have the autonomy to make critical decisions on the spot, and also the plausible deniability for their actions not to be the responsibility of the clan. Ooroo has volunteered to take on this important task.”
“They are a part of us, we would have to expel them from the order.”
“We understand this, but we also understand that darkness threatens this clans very existence from every side. To combat this, there must be a necessary evil. Our enemy doesn’t care what fancy words are said. They only care about how many of us they can kill,” Aaleeshah’s voice was strong as she stepped forward.
“We need your approval before we set this into motion Turel, old friend, and we don’t have time to debate it with the Council. If we are to succeed in driving away this evil before it destroys us then we need to move now. Our purge of SenNet must happen tonight,” As he spoke Mako stood, leaning forward slightly. His emerald eyes seemed to take on an inner glow as they gazed into Turel’s.
“They are still Jedi,” the Odanite protested, his conflictions from the last great Jedi War eating away at him. His fear of being a monster, of being one that accepted it as easily as Mako did, as Sight used to, coming to bear, “You are asking me to authorize the killing of Jedi. You may as well have put the weapon in my own hands.”
“The have fallen from the light, brother, there are reports we uncovered of these individuals slaughtering the innocent. These are no longer Jedi, they are not Sith either. However they are dark, they have our own resources to use against us, and they are not only willing but preparing to do so as we speak. If you have ever had a moment to trust my judgement it is now.”
“I know I can trust you and Lilly, but who else would help us besides Ooroo?”
“We will involve no others in this. My Aedile only thinks there was one traitor. Thankfully you suspected quickly, and we caught this breach early and we have been able to identify the majority of the group. Of these 10 individuals 9 are left. Ooroo can deal with that many in a single night, and if you and I return to Menat Ombo they will undoubtedly send a few our way.”
The Proconsul sighed as he mulled over the presented information. The plan seemed sound, Mako had far more experience in this type of work than he did. Ten years as a deep cover agent, Turel could not even imagine what that would be like.
“If we do this, can you guarantee it will be over in a single night?”
“When the sun rises tomorrow we will be free of this darkness and have the time we need to prepare ourselves in case it attempts to return.”
“Then make it so,” Turel’s words came slowly, this decision weighed heavily upon his heart. “But capture and interrogate any of these rogue agents you can in a secure facility, I want to know who’s behind this.” The Quaestor nodded in affirmation. Turel had reservations about signing the death warrants of nominally loyal agents but he knew Mako and Lilly, they would not have wasted his time with this unless they thought it was important. It was important, but the Proconsul could not help but feel torn. To kill a fellow Jedi, even one that had fallen from the light. It reminded him of Korriban far too much, the dust turned to mud from the sweat and blood. He had been forced to kill Jedi himself then, this was only different in that here his enemies were formerly of the light. He knew it had to be done. An enemy agent had already brazenly attempted to assassinate the Proconsul, it was only a matter of time before they struck again. This threatened all the people he cared about and everything he believed in. The survival of the Council, the clan and the peace of New Tython depended on swift, decisive action.
“By my authority as Quaestor of House Satele Shan. Strike Team Ooroo is hereby decommissioned, and its members expelled from House Satele Shan. Let it show in the record that I make this decision with a heavy heart. Signed and Sealed on this day, Mako Henymory, Quaestor.” The Quaestor read from a prepared datapad, pressing his thumb upon the surface to make it officially signed. Lilly took the datapad and handed it to Turel.
“By the Authority of the Proconsul of Clan Odan-Urr. On this day the members of the now defunct Strike Team Ooroo are expelled from the Jedi order and Clan Odan-Urr. Signed and Sealed on this day, Turel Sorenn, Proconsul.” Pressing his thumb upon the datapad as Mako had done before him, Turel handed it back to the Mandalorian. Upon receiving it, Lilly plugged a cord into the device and uploaded the two decrees onto the Odan-Urr network, thus making the expulsion official.
“You have your orders team. Disappear until it is time to carry them out,” Mako’s voice was heavy, his eyes closed as he contained his emotions. In his short time as Quaestor he had come to be quite fond of both the Battle teams in his command. Lilly Gave each of the now former Ooroo members a hug. Stepping back she smiled at them, her perfect white teeth gleaming.
“Use slug throwers, dem spark finger lightsabers can’t reflect them,” Lilly’s advice was sound, yet she seemed to gleeful about the topic. With one final salute the former Ooroo members departed.
“Lilly fetch Vincent, we need to be going as well.”
“Isn’t it too soon to return to Menat Ombo?”
“No, we need to talk to A’lora.”
The evening sun cast an orange and red glow across Menat Ombo as the city began settling in for the evening. The glow was comforting inside the Consul’s office. A’lora sat behind her desk as Turel and Mako entered. The two had left Lilly and Vincent with the shuttle. As they walked to A’lora’s office they had noticed several individuals tailing them. They were being watched by the traitors as Mako had predicted. The two Humans were certain that the Togruta’s office was bugged in some fashion as well.
“Where have you two been,” her voice was tired, strained, as if she had been arguing all day.
“Well you know the local brothel was running low on glitterstim, so I had to borrow the Fey’lya’s Last Stand to go get some more. Turel being such a pal decided to help me out. We may have some paternity suits coming our way. Turel got a little bit too hammered and took a rather large group of women to bed with him.” As Mako gave the ridiculous story, Turel handed their Consul a datapad. Looking at the screen the woman read.
Play along. We are making up what we are saying. They are watching us, and probably have your office bugged. We have discovered traitors within SenNet that are targeting the lives of the Jedi Council. There is a plan in motion to lure them out and take them down. Stay near us once we leave but keep hidden.
“Are you sure about this?”
“Most definitely, they were at it for hours, on the bridge no less. We are still trying to get the stains cleaned up.”
“Very well, take care tonight and report to me in the morning.”
“Aye, Aye Ma’am,” Mako uttered while throwing up a salute. Then with a slight nod the Humans took their leave. The Consul, in turn, concealed herself and followed them at a distance. She didn’t know Mako very well but he seemed trustworthy. Turel on the other hand, she had grown to trust his judgement, even if she was often irritated by his uncouth and sarcastic demeanor. If he believed this to be true then it most certainly was and he must be on his way to confront and obtain a confession, one that he needed her to hear.
As the light grew darker, Mako checked his chrono. Nodding to Turel the two stopped, they had purposely picked the hangar bay. It was open while providing little cover, it give them an excellent view of any approaching foes. A’lora would be able to find a good spot to observe the interaction with the traitors.
Checking his chrono one final time Mako placed his hand on Turel’s shoulder. As they ignited their sabers the distinct sound of slug throwers firing and screams could be heard, barely but still it was there. Ooroo had begun the purge.
“Show yourselves traitors,” The Quaestor yelled as he and Turel stood back to back.
“We can sense your presence,” Sorren continued.
“Your fellow traitors, We are purging them. Those screams are the sounds of them dieing,” Mako spoke slowly, the words echoing across the empty hangar bay, “Your concern for them, it gives you away!” The Krath yelled as he reached out with the Force, grabbing hold of the Sentinel, and pulling him out of hiding. The man skidded across the floor toward the two Equites.
“The other one is yours, brother,” Mako said softly before he stalked toward the man.
Mako crossed his white and yellow blades for a moment before dashing forward. His sabers creating deep gashes where the Sentinel had been but a moment before. In a single fluid motion the Quaestor pivoted, his feet pushing off the ground he lunged at the recovering Sentinel. The former Arconan’s dual blades hummed with the promise of the traitor’s death as they struck forward. The Sentinel’s own yellow blade catching both strikes. Using the Sentinel’s own strength Henymory pushed off the traitor’s blades with his own. His feet rising then quickly lashing out into the other man’s chest, sending him once more to the ground.
“NOOOOOO,” the cry came from behind the Quaestor, another traitor exposing himself. The man rushed to defend his comrade with a saber strike aimed at the Krath’s back, only to blocked by a beam of purple. Turel gave the traitor a mischievous smile.
“Not today big boy,” the Proconsul said as he kicked his opponent in the chest.
“Thanks Turel,” Mako said as he looked up quickly, then back at his opponent, “So why turn against us?”
“Truth was right you truly are evil. All of you corrupted, tarnishing the good name of the Jedi!” the man screamed as he stood once more. Reaching forward the Traitor launched a continuous stream of Force guided electricity at the Quaestor. Chuckling, the Krath expertly maneuvered one of his lightsabers to catch the lightning.
“You will wish you hadn’t done that,” Mako chuckled as he spoke, gesturing at the traitor with two of his fingers Henymory reached deep into the Force, his mind focusing on his task. The Sentinel staggered backwards in surprise as the lightning crackled then fizzled out.
“What, what did you do to me!” The man stammered as he tried to tap into the Force to regain the electricity. Unable to feel the Force the man staggered back from Henymory, eyes wide. The Krath stepped forward slowly at first, then quickly closing the distance.
“Wait Mako, don’t kill him,” Turel called out to late as the Krath’s white blade blocked the traitor’s horizontal strike, he stepped forward and plunged his yellow blade into the man’s heart. Sweeping the deadly beam of energy upward and out the top of man’s skull, Henymory turned as his opponent crumpled onto the durasteel plating of the hangar bay.
“Die you monster, you demons!” the dead man’s companion screamed as anger built up within him. Unleashing a flurry of strikes upon the Proconsul, the man pressed Sorenn backward. Turel expertly blocked the deadly blows, waiting for an opening, a slight misstep was all he needed. Parrying a strike, the Ranger took advantage of the opening, sweeping his blade upwards through the man’s upper arm, then down again relieving the traitor of everything below his other shoulder.
Turel extended his free hand toward the downed assassin, palm facing out. He closed his eyes and focused on the flowing currents of the Force that connected to the assailant’s mind. “You will tell us why are you doing this and who sent you.”
The Proconsul’s words reverberated in the rogue agent’s mind yet he said nothing. He gritted his teeth and shook his head, visibly resisting the mental intrusion. “NO! I will tell you nothing!”
“Why!” The Jedi demanded of the Sentinel, his voice echoing through the Force itself.
“You and your pet Quaestor have corrupted the Council, plotted against us. Truth showed me as much. You all are Dark Jedi now and must be removed from this clan!” The words came quickly, confirming Turel’s fears.
“So you were right,” stepping out from where she had been watching, A’lora nodded to Turel and Mako as she spoke, “Meet me in my office at daybreak, until then flush out the rest of these turncoats.”
The full force of Satele Shan had traveled to the Arca Praxeum during the night. The Disciples of Baas had set up a field hospital healing the injured and providing a rear guard support while the rest of the house cordoned off the Praxeum keeping innocents out and preventing combatants from leaving. Before first light Mako had meet with Aaleeshah in a darkened corner of the building.
“Sir, we have the confirmed death or capture of all traitors. Collateral damage was kept to a minimum. If any unknowns managed to escape it will be a long time before they will threaten us again.”
“Excellent work. Will your unit be returning an official status within the house now?”
“No, there is still work we need to do. We will continue to be the necessary evil to protect the clan.”
“Understood, investigate and work from the shadows. You will answer directly to me and work outside the purview of the house and clan. You and your team be careful of your actions, you must be certain before you take action. Be vigilant that you do not become what you hunt.”
The Togruta bowed before disappearing into the shadows.
As day broke Mako and Turel stood before the Consul in her office. The Satele Shan members were busy putting the Praxeum back in order before the majority of it’s workers arrived for the day’s work.
“The two of you have exposed a critical flaw in our information network and our defenses as a clan. While the council may not agree, I personally appreciate the quick actions you both took. What do you propose we do about this issue with SenNet?”
“SenNet needs to go through an overhaul and a restructuring to ensure this does not happen again,” Turel spoke first.
“House Satele Shan is ready to have a larger role than simply being the defenders of Seher. There are plenty of artifacts on this planet we have yet to discover, as well as in the galaxy at large. Some of these artifacts can be extremely dangerous. In the wrong hands they could bring great devastation and sorrow. I propose that Satele Shan combat this threat on two fronts. We discover and recover these artifacts as our first front. As the second we remove those whom are evil from power through diplomacy and or force. This will help us to preemptively keep the innocent safe. No longer wait until they attack, but actively seek out and eliminate the threat before they strike.”
“And the whole business with Ooroo?”
“That is classified Ma’am.”
“Very well, Turel, you will take a direct role in overseeing SenNet’s transformation and then how its assets are utilized. Mako you and Satele Shan are now a part of SenNet, your house will perform the job you just described. However you will stay in Seher and maintain our presence and protection as Satele Shan has been doing so far.”
“Mako, I will speak with you soon, Agent,” Turel said with a grin.
“I look forward to it, Director.”