This story will be written by Shadow32951 and will focus on the return of Caden Ferran, the believed dead son of SPARTAN Commando Ethan Ferran. This story will take place in mid-2274.
...and the death toll from the bombings have reached 53, with another 148 wounded. As the loss of life mounts, the Coalition says that it is putting top agents on the case in an attempt to find and subdue the terrorist organization.
"We are pulling resources from across the Coalition in an attempt to gets leads on this terrorist threat. Our sources, some of whom are the best in the galaxy, are working non-stop trying to find us what we need to stop this organization and allow our citizens to sleep peacefully again," Ethan Ferran, leader of the Phantom Legion, said to reporters on the issue of a terrorist organization attacking targets in the Coalition Core Worlds.
These brutal attacks are believed to be the doings of the J-
Aurora turned off the television as pictures of a burning spaceport appeared on the screen. She knew all about the attacks, as she was helping her father investigate them on a regular basis. Whoever organized and led these attacks was great at covering their tracks, as the amount of information on their movements had been scarce. And what info they did get, which usually came from the Ferran Clan based on Mandalore, was either out of date or wrong entirely.
Aurora got off of the couch in her house and began walking down the hall to her room. As she walked down the hallway, she saw an open bedroom door. Inside stood Ziva Harper, a nomad that had stayed in their home for the last few days. She was leaving that day to fulfill a mercenary contract, something that she rarely does now that she has begun training in the ways of the Force. Ziva noticed Aurora and gave her a friendly nod before going back to packing up her stuff. Aurora returned the nod and continued on the way to her room.
As she laid down on her bed, she opened a journal that sat on a desk next to her. She opened it up to a random page and saw an entry from nearly two years before. As she read it, tears filled her eyes as memories of her long missing brother filled her mind.
"Sir, a new target has been located. Small spaceport. Filled with mercs, killers, and other like scum. It's surrounded by walls and auto-turrets," said a man, standing next to the captain's seat on the destroyer floating through space.
"Easy pickings. Should be fun," another man, this one sitting in sed chair, answered. As he answered, he closed a holo-video being played from a projector in his gauntlet computer.
"More reports on our strikes?" the standing man asked his superior.
"Yes. We aren't very well received by the public, I must say. But, it is for their betterment, even if they do not know it yet," the high-ranking male retorted, getting up from his seat, cloak swinging as he got up. "Ready the men. This time, we strike at the heart of the Coalition's power."
"Earth, here we come," grumbled the first man, turning to walk off the ship's bridge alongside his superior.
Chapter 1: Enter the ImperiumEdit
Ziva walked through the small African town, listening to the venders advertise their items as small freighters flew overhead. She had arrived there only a few hours before and had already completed her contract. Now, she was just waiting for the time to come where she could leave and get back home again, wherever that home be. As she reached an open area in the crowded town, she decided to simply lay down and allow the hot African sun to beat down on her for a few minutes. As she lay there, she watched as a few armed soldiers ran by her towards the way that she had came.
They must have found my handiwork already, Ziva thought to herself, thinking nothing else of the matter. As she let her mind wander, she head various noises in the distance. She sat up, watching as turrets on the city's wall turned and adjusted themselves. As they did, four black fighters flew low over the town as extremely high speeds, becoming mere blurs in the sky. The people that had been surrounding Ziva on the streets moments before stopped dead as they watched them fly by. Besides the sounds of the distancing fighter jets and the commotion on the turreted walls, the entire city seemed to dead silent, at least for a few seconds.
Four explosions went off in a quick succesion. Boom. Ba-boom. Boom. Screams of terror filled the air along with fire and smoke from the four explosions, two of which came from the spaceport on the other side of the town. Ziva sprang up and ran to cover by a vendor stand as civilians scattered for shelter. The turrets on the walls opened up into the clear sky, seeming to fire more as a deterant than as to actually hit something of value. After a moment, every turret stopped firing altogether, unmoving on their mounts. Silence again filled the air, with only the sound of fire and sirens off in the distance to fill the ears of anyone still outside. Ziva bent out from her cover to look at a completely empty street leading all the way down to the gate of the city. She sat there, starring at the gate just as it began to buckle inwards.
She could hear something on the other side of that wall, and it continued to crash into the gate, attempting to break through. With each thudding sound, the wall bent and cracked inwards a small bit more until, finally, it broke off its hinges and was thrown into the street. Before it could even land, what looked like a large armored personal carrier drove into the city, followed by similar vehicles and what looked like a type of battle tank. As the armored convoy entered past the walls, soldiers began to fire onto the column of vehicles from both the top of the wall and from buildings flanking the streets.
As the firefight began to rage, Ziva heard a familiar sound coming from the above her. She saw dropships beginning to land ontop of some of the taller buildings and in fields. But, that wasn't the sound she was focused on. She turned around and saw as the four fighters from earlier returning for another round. Before she could run for cover, a bomb landed mere feet from where she had been laying down a couple of minutes before, exploding in spectacular fashion. The explosion rocked the ground and threw Ziva into the air, the last thing she remembered being her crashing through what felt like wooden beams.
Ziva awoke to both darkness and a sharp pain in both her head and back. She put the pain aside long enough to try and get up, pushing broken wood and ripped cloth off of her that must have belonged to a store not to long ago. As she did, sunlight poured over her as she shielded her eyes. As she adjusted to the light, she heard no gunfire. No screams. Just fire and the rumbling of engines. She lifted her head out of the rubble and saw nothing but destruction. Buildings were destroyed and there were bodies covering the street. It looked like a massacare. She slowly crawled out of her spot and began to sneak from cover to cover, hoping to find anything. After a few minutes of stealthy manuevering, she hit a courtyard, filled with people, soldiers, and tanks.
From her cover, she could see the majority of the courtyard; the tank's main guns aimed at buildings, people keeling in the streets with their hands tied, and the soldiers walking behind them clad in black and silver armor. She could hear them clearly.
"Ma'am, shall we start the purge?" asked one of the black armored soldiers to a woman in what seemed like modified SPARTAN armor.
"Why can't we do this like everyother time? This seems like to much," she responded, running an armored hand over young's boys head. He pushed his head forward to escape the touch, and Ziva could hear a sob escape his mouth.
"Ma'am, there are to many here. It's not as simple. We all hate it, but it must happen," he answered. A long sigh was released from the woman as she turned and walked away from the kneeling civilians.
"Alright... Let's get this over with. Number one, Samantha Unidas. Clean," the soldier said, reading off a datapad in his hand. As he moved onto the next person in line, another soldier gently grabbed the kneeling woman and walked him over to one of a few parked APCs and put him in there before returning.
"Jonnie Unidas, clean." The words escaped the soldiers mouth just as the armored woman returned. This time, she picked up the young boy who only moments before had shunned her and brought him over to the APC where his mother was.
"Thomas Unidas. Murder, 1st degree, three convictions. Escaped," as the soldier read this man's name, another one put a rifle to the back of the civilian's head. The sound of a sole bullet rang through the air. Ziva shuddered as the lifeless body fell to the ground and was carried away, out of view of the other civilians.
Chapter 2: First EncounterEdit
As the so-called 'purge' continued, Ziva began to move towards the city gates, hoping to get away from whoever these guys are. As she continued forward she passed two more areas with similar actions being committed. Finally, she saw a destroyed gate, unguarded and hopefully leading to safety.
Seeing no one, she decided to make a break for it, knowing that she may lose this chance to leave if she took too long getting out of the city. As she moved down the street, an uneasy feeling came over her. She slowed down just the slightest bit and watched as the three bullets cut through the air right above her shoulder and impaled the ground infront of her. She stopped dead in her tracks and turned around as she watched the woman from the first courtyard jump down from a balcony above her.
"Stop right there. Don't think you're escaping here in anyhing other than a bodybag," she said, aiming a sleek, compact sub-machine gun at Ziva. As she said that, Ziva drew her tomahawk and readied herself.
"I don't think so, girl," Ziva said, ready to fight. As the woman took her first step forward, she stopped and looked to the side of the street. As she did, two people entered the roadway. One carried a longsword and was covered head to toe in armor, just like everyone else she had seen. The other walked out, cloak moving in the desert wind, hood up and a mask covering their face.
"Sir, who gets to have the fun this time?" asked the man with the longsword, taking a couple of steps forward, obviously itching to fight.
"Neither of you. I doubt she is a threat at this stage," answered the cloaked man, holding a hand out as to tell the other two to stand down. His voice was metallic, obviously being changed by some kind of voice manipulator.
"As you command." As the duo answered their leader, the man sheathed his sword while the woman lowered her weapon. Ziva stood there, confused and ready for some sort of catch.
"We don't need to worry about one person, she can't do anything of harm to us," the cloaked man loudly said, obviously trying to edge Ziva on. It worked.
"Watch me," she replied, charging the trio of soldiers. None flinched as she neared. Only once she was within arms reach did they even react. The cloaked man, whom she guessed was the leader, grabbed her wrist, which was attempting to land a strike with her tomahawk. Instantly, his other arm came up high, his elbow hitting her in the neck and making her fall backwards to the ground. She dropped her tomahawk to the ground as her arm was released.
"Sad, just sad. Leave her, we need to get back," commanded the cloaked man. They began walking away from Ziva, who was lying on the ground, coughing. She could hear both their footsteps distance and a chuckle coming from their direction. The laughing sent her over the edge. She grabbed her fallen weapon and struggled to get up. When she did, she saw that the trio had their backs turned to her. She grabbed for her hand cannon, knowing that she was going to blast the one's head to peices. However, as she felt for it, it was not there. Confused, and not seeing it anywhere on the ground, she decided to test her luck with her throwing abilities. She launched her tomahawk through the air, and as it flew, she knew she was dead on.
At least for a second. The cloaked man had managed to grab it out of the air before aiming his other arm at Ziva. She felt her legs fly out from under her and then fell the ground again, knocking out all the air she had just regained. The two armored figures turned around, surprised at Ziva's will to continue.
"Foolish kid. You don't know when to quit, do you?" the cloaked man asked, examining the tomahawk.
"Can I take her now, sir? She did just try to kill me," asked the second man.
"Russel, how is the Purge coming?" his superior asked, ignoring his question.
"Excuse me sir?" the man, apperantly called Russel, confusingly asked.
"The Purge. Where is it in terms of completion?"
"It is, um...nearly done, sir. A few more minutes," Russel answered.
"Good. You two fall back and begin evacuating. I want to be out of here before actual troops enter the area. I'll stay here and make sure she doesn't follow you," the man explained, adjusting his cloak so he could sit down on the ground, legs crossed. He listened as Russel let out a long sigh.
"Yes sir, whatever you wish," he said and began jogging away, the woman right on his heels.
"Good luck, sir," she yelled back to him as she followed Russel. Ziva just watched as the man sat there in the middle of the road, her tomahawk sitting in his lap. She continued to stare at him for a few more moments before being unable to bear the silence.
"So what, you're just going to sit there?" Ziva asked. She watched as he ignored her, like she didn't exist. "What, you're just going to ignore me? Hello?!"
"You should keep better tabs on your weapons, this is close to breaking, right below the head. A few hits from a strong opponent, and you are left without one of your weapons," he said, sliding the tomahawk across the ground towards her. She bent over and picked it up, indeed seeing a crack in the handle.
"So what, you're an expert in weapons now? Who are you?" Ziva asked taking a step forward.
"Who cares. Let's just say that I...know...some of your associates," he answered, closing his eyes as another gust of wind came over them.
"Associates? Like who?" Ziva kept pressing with the questions, hoping to break through and get a good answer.
"Doesn't matter. Besides, I wouldn't tell you anyway. Especially not to some weak, sad person like you," he said in an attempt to push her over the edge. Her fists began to clench. "Someone like you, it's pathetic. You should just go home and leave the fighting to the big boys. I'm sure there is someone willing to fight your battles for you. Ha, what am I talking about? No one would fight for you, child." She had enough. She charged at him and, even though his face was covered, could feel that there was an evil smile hidden behind that mask.
As Ziva neared within feet of him, he somehow moved to the side at seemingly impossible speeds. She turned just in time to block a strike from a pair of hidden blades that appeared from the topside of his right gauntlet. She jumped backwards just in time to avoid a strike from the dual blades coming at her from the left side. As she looked back at him, he was jumping over her head, putting his arm around her neck as he was landing.
She struggled to get out of his grasp, feeling the sheer strength of his one arm. After a couple of seconds, he used one arm to throw her behind him and to the side, where she skidded to a stop and charged right back at him. This time, he grabbed both of her wrists above her head. As she struggled to lower her tomahawk down onto him, he easily held her arms above her. She starred at him straight in the eyes and instantly felt all her energy drain. She didn't know why or how, but his eyes made her hesitate for just the smallest second. This was long enough. He flipped her over his head, throwing her across the street into a dumpster.
"I told you, you aren't strong enough. Too bad. That was fun, however. Find me whenever you wish to have a rematch, as it is time for me to go," he said, looking up into the sky. Ziva followed his gaze just in time to see a destroyer slowly uncloak above the city, being trailed by dropships attempting to dock. One such dropship came towards them and hovered above them, releasing a rope to the cloaked man. He grabbed it and began to ascend, only to stop after a few feet.
"And by the way, you may want this back," he said, tossing down to the earth a small, pistol sized weapon. Ziva looked and saw it to be her hand cannon, stolen right out from under her. She struggled to get up as the dropship began to fly away. She retrieved her hand cannon and watched as the ship flew away. After a couple of moments, she started limping towards the gate of the city, tired and defeated.
A few hours later, Ziva sat on a Coalition transport on her way back to Kaven. She sat there, licking her wounds. All she could think about was how she had lost so badly, and how he had just drained her when she looked him in the eye. This all went away, though, as she drifted off into the emptiness of her dreams.
Chapter 3: Gather the HuntressesEdit
And the Janzi Imperium has struck again, this time on the Coalition capital world of Earth. After the devastating attack, which included fighter jets, tanks, and even a destroyer sized combat vessel, the death toll is believed to be 'at 143 dead and only 12 injured. 'While some deaths were due to the firefights that took place throughout the city, the majority of them were caused by aircraft bombing raids and then by executions in public squares. Coalition leadership declined to comment on the incident, but it is known that they are now in a heightened state of alert, and plans for a swift counterattack is most likely in the works.
Ziva turned off the T.V. in the Ferrans home and looked over at Ethan, who was leaning against a wall on the other side of the room. He simply shook his head and walked into the kitchen, out of Ziva's sight. She began to stare at the ground before letting out a long sigh. She jumped up and followed Ethan into the kitchen.
"I want to help you guys go after them," Ziva said, more as a command than anything else. Ethan just looked at her. "I know I don't officially work for anyone here, but I want to do it."
"Ok," Ethan answered simply.
"I know I can really help, and I think that it would be good for you guys to-" Ziva continued.
"Ok," Ethan said again, but Ziva just continued.
"And I'm really one of the only people who've fought against them, and-" Ziva started to ramble before being cut off.
"Ziva, Ziva, Ziva, calm down! I said ok," Ethan assured her, getting her to take a breath.
"Thank you. I just need to know where to start, and I'll go find them," Ziva said. Ethan let out a long sigh.
"One condition, though. The search team is led by my daughter, Aurora. You need to talk to her if you want to chase after them. If she says no, you have to do stuff here on Earth. If you still go after them, you're on your own," Ethan explained to her. "She should be over near the training facilities. Try to find her, see what she says. If she goes for it, you can go across the galaxy and try to find the bastards and have all the fun."
"Thank you very much. Don't worry about a thing," Ziva said and ran off.
Ziva found the training facilities after a few minutes of searching and went about finding Aurora. After another few moments of searching the different rooms, she found Aurora in a large gymnasium, kicking and punching a large punching bag hanging from the ceiling. Ziva ran over to her, stopping only a foot or two from her.
"Hey Aurora, I'm coming with you!" Ziva said in an excited tone of voice.
"What are you talking about?" Aurora asked, wearing a confused look on her face, but continuing to train against the punching bag.
"Hunting down the terrorists. I'm coming with you," Ziva explained. Aurora stopped hitting the swinging bag and looked at Ziva, wondering what she was thinking.
"What makes you think that?" Aurora asked, crossing her arms.
"Well, have anyone of your guys fought them before?" Ziva asked.
"Well, no. But then again, I do believe you lost," Aurora shot back. She watched as a blank expression came over Ziva's face for a split second.
"There's that, but I can also do this," Ziva responded, turning her hair a bright red and her skin tone black.
"Touche. But, how can I trust you?" Aurora asked, tilting her head to the side.
"I've been living in your house on and off for the past three years," Ziva said, surprised at that.
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I trust you if there is a gun to my head," Aurora answered harshly. Ziva looked at her sadly, and a few moments past before she answered Aurora.
"Wh-why not? You're going to need as many helping hands as you can get, and I'm just as good if not better than most of the people on this base," Ziva said, quietly hoping in her head that this was enough for her. Aurora pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a long sigh.
"Because..." Aurora started before taking a long, drawn out breath. "...fine. Fine. We'll see how this works out."
"You won't regret this, Aurora! I can also do this," Ziva said, then proceeded to deliver a hard kick to the punching bag Aurora was using, breaking the chains holding it to the ceiling. They both watched as the thing fell to the ground, the sound echoing through the room.
"I was still using that, Ziva..." Aurora said as she put her hands on her hips, exasperated. Ziva quickly uses the Force to pick the bag back up and reattach it to the ceiling.
"Thank you. I'll...call you when we head out next," Aurora said, going back into her fighting stance to continue training.
"Awesome, thanks!" Ziva said as she turned to walk away.
"Yeah, okay... And turn back to your normal...color. It's weird seeing you like this," Aurora said, kicking the bag again. As she does, Ziva turns back around and turns her skin tone back to normal.
"Should I go blonde, blue, black, or red?" Ziva asked, switching her hair color everytime she said a new one. Aurora stops kicknig the bag again and just looks at her, raising her arms.
"Wha-what? Nevermind..." Aurora answered, shaking her head. "Uh, black or blonde. You'll blend in better." As Aurora says this, Ziva changes her hair color back to blonde and smiles at her.
"Ok, see you!" Ziva said excitedly before running out of the building.
"Wow. She is a peice of work, big brother," Aurora said to her self, shaking her head again. She went back to kicking and punching the bag, hoping that the repairs would hold up long enough for her to finish her workout.
Chapter 4: On the ProwlEdit
Ziva had read the note nearly thirty minutes ago, but the adreneline was still coursing through her veins. It was from Aurora, saying that their contact had gotten them a lead, and that they were heading out that day. She was estatic as soon as she finished reading it, and got ready within minutes. Now, she was on her way to the landing area, ready to meet up with Aurora and the rest of the people that were going. After a few minutes of walking, and the occasional excited jog, she saw the landing pads. Sure enough, sitting on the main pad was a small ship being fueled. And sure enough, Aurora was standing right by the entrance ramp.
"You're late," Aurora said, leaning against the ship. Ziva continued to walk up to her.
"Sorry, sorry...a lot of tools..." Ziva said, adjusting the hockey bag that was slung over her shoulder.
"Heh, don't worry. I'm just kidding," Aurora said, letting out a small laugh.
"Phew. Scared me a bit there," Ziva said, relieved.
"C'mon, let's get inside. We're about to take off," Aurora said, walking onto the ship. Ziva followed her on.
"Alright, where to?" Ziva asked, dropping her bag on the floor of what seemed to be the crew areas.
"Nice little port in the middle of nowhere. Lots of pirates and slavers. No government out there. Perfect place to hide, but also uncreative," Aurora answered as she played with the cockpit controls.
"Ever been to one before?" Ziva asked.
"A few times. Mostly while hunting these guys. Once when trying to find....," Aurora started to say, before trailing off at the end of it.
"I won't press. Been to a couple of these. Fraid to say we will be nothing but tits and ass to the people we meet. And trust me, they won't hesitate to grab at both," Ziva warned Aurora.
"Thanks for the warning," Aurora answered, still messing with the computers.
"Where's the rest of our squad?" Ziva wondered aloud, seeing no one, or even any other equipment, around.
"What squad? It's just you and me," Aurora said, bending over to fix a quick problem with a console.
"Should be fun. Only one ass to watch," Ziva said jokingly. Aurora shot upright and waited a second before saying anything.
"Easy now, kid," Aurora said, sitting in the pilot's seat. "You better buckle up back there, this thing has some-," before she could finish, the ship lifted off, causing Ziva to fall backwards. "-kick." Ziva groaned as she got up, rubbing her back and elbows. Aurora turned back and laughed.
Aurora and Ziva were walking through the pirate infested scum hole, trying to find any sign of their targets while avoiding the many whistles and grabbing hands. They continued to walk for a while, until finally, Ziva couldn't stand it anymore.
"What are we even looking for?" Ziva asked, annoyed at just walking for the past half an hour.
"A terminal. I can hack it, then hopefully, we can find ship records. If we are lucky, the bastards are still here," Aurora answered her, swatting away another drunken hand.
"Ok then. That works I guess," Ziva said, kicking a small rock as they walked.
"Here we go, this is what we need," Aurora said, seeing a small terminal sticking out of the ground near a docking area. "Watch my back."
"No problem," Ziva said, leaning against a wall across from her. Her eyes drifted from person to person, sometimes to Aurora, sometimes to people on the bridge above them. After a minute or so, Aurora spoke up.
"Got it. I think we may have them. Other side of the port," Aurora said, moving a few steps down the street. "You coming?"
"Of course," Ziva said, following her. However, as they ran off to another dock, Ziva looked back up at the bridge above them. She quickly shook her head and continued to run after Aurora.
From the bridge above the main street, he watched them as they played with the terminal. He couldn't believe they got here this quickly. He watched as they got up and began to run down the street until he heard something behind him.
"Sir, is there a problem?" asked Russel, helmet in his hand, drink in the other. The Cloaked Man simply looked back down at the street for a minute, his two targets lost.
"Not a big one. Get everybody back on the ship. It's time to go," he said, pushing past Russel. Russel sighed and took one last swig of his drink before throwing it off the bridge into the near infinite depths below and following his commander.
Fifteen Minutes Later
Aurora and Ziva walked onto a bridge connecting a large, heavily armed ship to the station. On the other side of the bridge, they watched as small trucks loaded crates onto the ship, as well as men disappearing into it's depths. They walked forward, looking side to side at the piles of scrap metal and boxes, somewhat to watch for an ambush, and partially due to natural tendency.
"Watch your back, don't get caught off guard," Aurora told Ziva, turning to look behind her.
"I'd rather watch what's infront of me," Ziva retorted. As she spoke, the pair stopped and Aurora turned around, spotting two figures about ten meters away from them. Ziva recognized the pair opposite of them as two of the men from Africa. The armored man on the left being the man who had laughed at her, and the other being the one who bested her in combat.
"You two had to interrupt our shore leave, didn't you? I just wanted my crew to spend a few days relaxing, but you have to ruin it, don't you?" asked the cloaked man in a calm, steady voice. Ziva just stared at him, not caring to talk. Aurora, on the other hand, was.
"You two are under arrest. But, I think I know how this will end," Aurora said as she drew both her lightsabers. She heard a muffled laugh come from the cloaked man, right before his body was engulfed in a red aura. Aurora and Ziva took a small step back in astonishment.
"Hey Z, that wasn't in your debriefing," Aurora said, not taking her eyes off of the man infront of her.
"That's new..." Ziva responded before the pair jumped backwards as an explosion erupted a few feet from their feet. They looked up to see the cloaked man, with his hand held out, as a cloud of red quickly disappeared from the impact area.
"Yep, that is definatly new," Ziva added to her previous statement, drawing her own lightsaber.
"Who are you?" Aurora asked the cloaked man, straightening herself. She watched as he lowered his arm before answering.
"I'm your opponent. I don't care what you call me. John, Tim, Bruce, it doesn't matter the outcome of this fight," he said, not moving from his spot.
"Alright then...Bruce. I don't care who you are, you aren't leaving this place unless it is in our ship's brig," Aurora said, igniting both of her lightsabers along with Ziva. Bruce looked to his side at Russel, and they both nodded towards each other. They female pair watched as Russel removed both his sword and it's sheathe from his belt and slide it in their ship's direction, leaving himself without a weapon.
"Surrendering?" Ziva asked without a hint of doubt at the answer.
"Nope," Bruce replied, ripping his right arm through the air towards the ground. Ziva and Aurora turned around to see a speeder flying down towards them. They dove forward just as it crashed into the ground and skidded off the bridge. The pair looked back at the terrorists with looks of sheer anger on their faces.
"I'm done with this," Ziva said and ran forward, with Aurora right on her tail. Russel and Bruce simply nodded to each other once again and waited for the two Jedi to reach them. Bruce watched as Aurora neared him, with Ziva only a few feet behind her. He swung his arm again, bringing Aurora sliding across the ground. Ziva jumped over her and switched her target to Bruce, as Aurora was nearly thrown to Russel's knees.
As Ziva came down to land, she tried to bring down her saber on Bruce, but he simply slid to the side. She landed and watched her weapons sink into the ground. Without even looking at Bruce, she ripped her saber sideways, leaving a long, glowing cut in the ground. Before she even got a good footing, Bruce was within inches of her. Her arm was blocked by his, and he was mere inches from her. She continued to attempt to land a strike, even trying to punch him, but everything she tried, he simply blocked while keeping their bodies mere inches from each other.
Aurora looked over at her friend, knowing her struggle. She was in nearly the same position. Every time she tried to hit Russel, he simply moved out of the way and dodged, not even attempting to attack her or even block. Frustrated, she quickly thought of something that might help.
"Ziva, switch!" Aurora yelled, throwing one last attack at Russel before jumping backwards towards Bruce. Ziva heard the yell, and force jumped upwards and over in Russel's direction, tired of the futile effort she was putting up against Bruce.
When Aurora landed, she saw Bruce engulfed in red Aura again, with his arms and hands glowing brighter than the rest of him. She ignored this and ran straight at him, dropping both her sabers down on his head. Bruce quickly threw his arms up, connecting with Aurora's wrists and blocking the blades' path towards his head. He pushed her arms away, but she didn't allow him a chance to rest. She quickly tried again, but this time she wasn't met with his strong arms again. She was met with nothing.
She looked up to see him soaring above her head and landing next to her. Before she could even bring her weapons back up, he kicked her double-bladed lightsaber into the air. She tried attacking him, but he slid under her blade with ease and grabed her falling saber out of the air. He caught it, turned, and threw the hilt all in one motion, with it ending in Russel catching it as he dodged one of Ziva's thrusts. Russel ignited the lightsaber just in time to catch Ziva's blade.
"My turn," Russel said, his face and voice masked by his helmet. Ziva felt a change in his demeanor change as soon as he said those two words. He began to attack her, forcing her to become the one dodging and blocking everything. It only took him a few seconds to have her on her heels, and after a few more, he delivered a kick to her abdomen that sent her flying onto her back, lightsaber out of reach. She opened her eyes just in time to see his metallic boots land on either side of her, Aurora's commandeered lightsaber held like a spear infront of her face.
At the same time, Aurora was having just as much luck with Bruce as she did with Russel. Everything she tried just seemed to fail. But, she saw as Bruce's gaze glanced away for a millisecond, and she took advantage. She thrust her blade forward, only to have the tip be caught by Bruce's palm. She continued to press on, bringing her opponent to one knee, but the blade still being held steady. She watched as it even hardened and broke in some places, small peices of molten material falling to the ground. She looked at him, both of them making eye contact with one another. When she looked into his red eyes, she felt herself melt away, just like Ziva described back on Earth.
But, this feeling was replaced by curiosity as she saw him look in another direction, his eyes becoming bigger, but not exactly widening. It was like he was noticing something that he didn't like, and tried showing his disapproval from a distance. She followed his gaze, and her heart jumped as she saw Ziva looking up at the blade of the lightsaber that was stolen from her moments before.
Ziva's eyes were glued on the blade for only a moment, before she closed them and held her breath. She felt her neck and head move slightly, as well as a searing pain in her ear, a pain similar to that one ould feel when standing to close to a fire. She slowly opened her eyes and saw the blade burning the ground where her head once was to molten metal. She looked at the blade for a few moments, then looked over at Aurora. She knew that she must have used the Force to move her head, as the change of position was not her own doing.
She saw Aurora staring at her, wide eyed, as well as Bruce with an extended arm, ended in an open hand. He closed his hand and lowered his arm, while his other continued to block the lightsaber. Ziva looked at him confused, while the gazes of both Russel and Aurora also came onto him.
"Russel, you know how we operate," Bruce said, acting as if the two women weren't staring at him. He heard Russel give off a long sigh, but anything else was cut off from the destroyer releasing itself from the docking bridge behind them. "Hmm, our time to go," Bruce said and kicked Aurora's legs out from under her. As she fell, she was thrown backwards into a pile of crates. Russel simply turned off the lightsaber and ran torwards the ship, picking up his sword as he ran. Both he and Bruce jumped up onto one of the ship's ramps, with Russel handing Bruce Aurora's lightsaber.
"You should hold onto this better," Bruce called out to Aurora, who was rubbing her head. She saw as he threw it off the ship and onto the ground infront of her. As she picked it up, the ship turned and flew away, without any chance of being followed. Aurora watched as it flew away, punching the ground as it went out of sight.
"That was to close, what were you thinking giving them that so early?"
"I'm sorry, I didn't think that they would react that fast."
"And what about them? How is it them?"
"I don't know. You knew she was looking. The other one...I don't know when that happened."
"I need you in the loop, you're my only contact. But more importantly, I need to know that I can trust you. I can't let something like that happen again. I'm not losing my friends."
"I know, I know. Listen, I will go watch over the rest of this personally. They won't know what is going on."
"Alright. Thank you. If anything happens, let me know."
"I will, don't worry. I'll make sure you're out of reach for as long as you want. When you feel ready, just give me a call."
"Thank you. Good to know the rust hasn't set in yet...you still have it."
"Yeah, I do. I'm the best for a reason."
Chapter 5: Unsettling ReturnEdit
Ziva and Aurora walked back to their ship, spirits broken and bodies defeated. Ziva sat down and watched as Aurora took the ship up into space. She watched her the entire way, up until Aurora slammed her fist down on a button. At that time, her eyes drifted to watch the stars stretch across the cockpit window and disappear as they started the journey home. Aurora jumped down from the cockpit, which sat a few meters above the crew compartment, and sat down a seat across from Ziva, head in her hands.
"Someone messed with our ship. It'll take a little longer to get home than it should." Aurora looked up as she said this, but it felt like she was saying this to nobody inparticular. It was the first time either of them had spoken since they watched the enemy ship fly away into the void. Aurora's head sank back into her hands almost immediately.
"You ok?" Ziva asked her friend, leaning her elbows on her knees.
"Not at all," Aurora answered, deciding to not even look up at her.
"Probably a dumb question, but how come?" Ziva asked, feeling as if she already knew the answer.
"Why? Because we just got our asses handed to us. Because our ship got messed with. Because I miss my brother... Why wouldn't I be upset?" Aurora said, clearly holding back tears.
"They didn't kill us, and now we know more about what they can do. Maybe whoever messed with the ship left something we can find?" Ziva questioned, hoping to keep Aurora's mind positive.
"It's an engine thing. I don't think either of us want to go outside and check on it right now," Aurora answered with sarcasm dripping from her words.
"Well, when we get back then. Will we crash and burn from it?"
"No, we'll be fine. It's just an annoyance," Aurora said in a half talking, half sighing type of voice.
"Then we should be ok," Ziva said and then waited for a moment before starting again. "I miss him too..."
"We all do... Hey Ziva, I'm sorry," Aurora mumbled, her voice steadying out as she continued.
"Don't worry, I get it. When you live with Dinaya a good chunk of the year, it happens a lot," Ziva responded.
"No, I mean... I'm sorry if I acted hostile when you offered to help. To be honest, I didn't want you here with me, and I'm sorry for that. I really am."
"Don't worry. Looking back, you didn't have a lot of reason to want me to come along. I would have probably said no myself," Ziva said, smiling at Aurora, feeling the sadness in the room start to dissipate.
"Heha. Trust me, there were plenty of reasons for you to come along. There was only one reason not to," Aurora retorted, looking up at Ziva for the first time.
"I'm almost afraid of what it is," Ziva shot back, half jokingly, half worried.
"It's nothing bad, or even about you. It's just that whenever I see you, it just reminds me of him. That part of it is just hard." Aurora sat there, staring at the floor for a moment before going on. "He spoke very highly of you, and I see why." She saw Ziva start to smile again.
"Well, thank you, and sorry."
"Don't be, nothing that you can do about it," Aurora said happily, returning the warm smile. At this, Ziva got up and walked across the room, sitting down next to Aurora.
"So, now what?"
"I don't know. We have a while until we get home," Aurora said, leaning her elbows on her knees, making her lean closer to Ziva. Ziva looked down and saw an opening in Aurora's shirt. When she looked back up, she noticed a tear still crawling it's way down her cheek. She moved herself to the same position as her friend and gently brushed the tear aside and off of Aurora's cheek. Aurora felt something overtake her body, and she felt herself lean in close to Ziva, her head tilted to the side.
Ziva sat there, confused as what was happening, but made no moves to make it stop. Aurora leaned in more, giving Ziva a kiss before pulling back, with a mix of anxiousness and worry on her face. She watched as Ziva's eyes and mouth widened simultaneously. Aurora felt a moment of panic overcome her, but then was relived as she saw Ziva move herself closer to her.
Aurora decided to take the gamble and went back in, this time not pulling back as quickly as she did the first time. She felt her confidence rise as Ziva made no moves to stop her as she moved in, or when she wrapped her arms around her partner's body. She closed her eyes and felt as Ziva's own arms engulfed her lower back, pulling her chest closer to her own.
"Sam'ika!" Ethan roared, embracing his brother. Samir, another Ex-SPARTAN, was Ethan's main contact on getting information on the Janzi Imperium. He decided to come and meet his brother on Earth personally, not only for bussiness, but due to the amount of time the siblings have been apart. The pair began to talk and catch up on the past year or so since they had last seen each other. Eventually, their talks led them inside, the Ferran home deserted except for the two of them.
"It's quiet in here," Samir said, placing his helmet down on a table, looking around at the pile of stone and wood he had called home for over two centuries.
"Yeah, even with most of you guys gone, it is still pretty noisy here. Friends will stay here a lot. Somehow, though, everyone is out right now," Ethan said, allowing the lack of noise to embrace him. That was one luxury that he did not enjoy often, even in sleep. "So, what was it that brought you all the way out here in the first place?" Ethan asked.
"Oh yeah, it's right here," Samir began to say, picking up his helmet. However, he was cut off by a noise coming from his comlink. He put his helmet back down and looked up at his brother. "I'm sorry, let me take this," he said, going outside. Ethan stared at Samir's helmet on the table. He got up and walked over to it, examining the tech. He decided to find out for himself what Samir had gotten for him. Turning on the speakers within the helmet, he began to play through different messages and recordings, trying to find the right one. He stopped on a current on, only a few days old. He began to play it, curious at what it contained, seeing as it was dated only minutes before Samir told him her was coming to see him.
That was to close, what were you thinking giving them that so early?
I'm sorry, I didn't think that they would react that fast.
And what about them? How is it them?
Ethan's eyes grew wide as he listened to the recording, easily recognizing the two voices in it. One was Samir's. The other, though, was troubling. It was a voice he hadn't heard in a long time. He let the rest play out, listening intently to make sure he was hearing correctly. As it ran out, he felt someone behind him. He put the helmet down and turned around, looking his brother in the eye.
"You weren't suppossed to hear that," Samir said, closing the door behind him.
"Is that who I think it is?" Ethan asked, deadpan.
"Are you two talking about what I think you are?" Ethan asked, somehow becoming even more serious then before.
"Yes, we are. I'm sorry."
"So, let me get this straight. First things first, you are giving the intel that I've worked hard to get to the people we are trying to catch? To the people that nearly killed my daughter? Your niece?" Ethan stammered, holding back his anger as he walked towards Samir.
"She wouldn't have been killed, I promise you that." Samir tried to calm Ethan down, but he could instantly tell it was useless. He began to walk towards the other side of the room, forcing him and Ethan to begin circling each other.
"That doesn't matter!" Ethan took a quick breath before continuing, trying to not bring attention to the home. He looked at the helmet again before bringing his gaze back to Samir, leaving only a pointed finger to watch guard over it. "That voice...that voice, was my son's... Correct?"
"Yes, it was Caden's," Samir calmly answered.
"My son is fucking alive, and you don't think...it's a fucking swell idea to tell me about it! How long have you known?" Ethan yelled, not able to keep his voice down anymore.
"Since the attacks began. I've known since the start," Samir said back, continuing to keep space between himself and Ethan.
"Why? Why didn't you tell me!?"
"Has it ever occurred to you that he may not want to be found?" Samir said, raising his voice for the first time.
"Well of course he doesn't want to be found! He's a murderer! A mass murderer and a terrorist, why would he want to be found!"
"It's not that bad," Samir retorted, becoming calm again.
"How!? How is this not bad?" Ethan asked, collapsing on the couch in the center of the room.
"Have you even tried inspecting this? Look at the people killed. Look at their backgrounds. Go ahead, it's all in there," Samir said, referring to the helmet laying on the table. Ethan rolled over and lifted the helmet onto his head. He found the file Samir had referring to. He began looking through it. It contained the name of every person killed from the terrorist attacks. He scrolled down, and next to nearly every name was the same thing; Murder, Rape, Conspiracy, Human Trafficing. He got halfway down the list before he threw the helmet off his head and onto the floor.
"Why? Why is he doing this?" Ethan asked, tears swelling in his eyes.
"He's doing this for you and Becca," Samir said. As soon as the words left his mouth, the outbursts began again.
"For me?! Why is he becoming the most famous terrorist in histroy for me?" Ethan yelled, overwhelmed.
"He is ashamed of what has happened, ashamed of becoming that slave for Draken. He is trying to make things right in his own eyes, make things up to you," Samir said, walking towards his brother, hoping to comfort him.
"Well, this is no way to do it," Ethan mumbled to himself. He got up before Samir could reach him and walked towards the door. Samir followed close behind him. Both stopped dead when they reached it. Ethan turned around, staring straight into Samir's eyes. "You are to tell no one about this. Only me and you. I am not telling Becca. I am not telling Aurora. I am not telling that Jedi that sleeps in our spare room. At least then they can still do their jobs in tracking him down," Ethan expalined to Samir, grabbing the handle to open the door.
"Et'ika, are you sure that is a good idea-" Samir began to question his brother, before being stopped by a simple held up hand.
"Samir, you are my brother. Remember that I will always love you, but you are no longer trusted. I never want to see your face here again. What you did is nearly unforgivable," Ethan said, opening the door. The move was an unspoken order to get out. Samir took the hint and walked by, laying a hand on Ethan's shoulder as her did.
"Goodbye, brother," Samir said. Ethan gave him no response. Samir walked out the door, listening as it shut behind him, quietly saying goodbye one last time.
Chapter 6: Hard ChoicesEdit
Ethan sat in silence, his body rocking back and forth on the couch, his gaze stuck on a point off in space. He was supposed to meet Aurora and Ziva at the spaceport an hour ago. As much as he willed himself to go meet them, his body refused to move. He didn't blame it. Only a couple hours before, nearly his entire world was turned upside down, shaken to the core. He learned that his son was one of the most wanted men in the galaxy, and more immediately, he had told his favorite brother to get out of his life forever. The tears welled in his eyes, held back only by sheer force of will. Now, he was just waiting. Waiting for something, anything to happen.
Two slams came from outside, sounding similar to that of car doors. The sound of an engine was very apparent now, it's rumbling fading to oblivion. Ethan waited, motionless, for the door behind him to open again. It was obvious who it was. The wrath of two tired, jet-lagged women descended upon him, a situation that a few hours before would have him running in terror. But now, he just didn't care. Behind him, the door opened, allowing two pairs of footsteps to come marching in, accompanied by the thudding of bags crashing onto the floor.
"'buir? 'buir! What's wrong with you, you told us you'd meet us at the spaceport over an hour ago! We had to hitch a ride with some booze smelling hick. He wouldn't know how to shut up if you put him in a cage with a blind tiger!" Aurora fumed, throwing her hands up in disgust. She walked around the room, circling the room as Ziva just sunk down into an upholstered chair on the other side of the room. Ethan didn't make any attempt at motion, content with moping in place.
"Dad? Dad, are you listening to me?" Aurora asked, her anger radiating outwards towards everyone in the room. She stared at him, her gaze nearly having the ability to burn a whole through his body without a second thought. "Dad!"
Finally, Ethan looked up at his daughter, his sad eyes meeting hers. As their eyes met, her anger dissipated enough for her to feel the turmoil within his mind. She tried to allow a cooling sense of calmness to overcome her anger, and sat down next to her father. With each passing second, she felt his anguish grow, peaking as she saw the tears barely held back.
"What happened? Dad, what's wrong?" Aurora asked, leaning closer to Ethan, listening intently. Ethan took a long sigh and looked over at Ziva.
"Can you give us a minute, Ziva? I'm sorry, but this is a little personal," Ethan said, trying to mutter the words without getting choked up. Ziva looked at Aurora, who gave her a slight nod. Ziva relented and got up, walking down the hall towards the room she stayed in. Ethan waited until he heard the door close before he continued.
"Aur'ika, what was...what was the last thing you remember of your brother?" Ethan asked, holding his daughter's hand. The question took Aurora by suprise, as while he was always in their minds, he was rarely talked about.
"I'd...have to say the day before it all started. We were outside the base, near the woods. We just watched the stars. We didn't talk much, just watched the stars," Aurora said, staring at the ground, letting the memories sink in.
"Stars..." Ethan repeated, letting the word enter his ears through his own voice, not just his daughter's.
"We saw a shooting star. I think that was the only time he talked the entire night. He wished to do something great, to have everything he ever did be something that he was proud of...and that you were proud of," Aurora said, watching her father's reaction closely. She watched as he finally gave up and let the first tear slide down his cheek.
"What if...what if I told you that he may not have stayed behind in that base?" Ethan asked Aurora. Her eyes lit up, unable to comprehend what he had just said.
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying...I'm saying that he may still be alive," Ethan answered, trying to keep himself from completely breaking down. They sat in silence for a few moments, until Aurora finally broke it.
"I felt him, you know. Caden. I felt him at the spaceport on our mission. I thought I was going crazy. Are you telling me that he might have been there?" Aurora asked her father, looking hard into his eyes. He looked back at her and nodded, unable to speak. Aurora's body began to quiver, her head falling, the tears following right behind it.
Ziva leaned against the wall in her room. She was amazed at how easy it was to hear echoes when the house was nearly deserted. As she slid down to the ground, she felt the emotions rush over her, her head dropping inbetween her knees. She couldn't believe what she had heard. Part of her didn't want to believe it. She allowed herself to just sit there, letting the shock and emotions paralyze her body.
Chapter 7: GhosthuntersEdit
The next day, Aurora was sitting in her father's bedroom. He had called her in, no doubt to talk about what they discussed the day before. She watched him pace back and forth for a moment, his mind obviously wandering. Finnally, he stopped and looked up at her.
"This is all yours now, hun," Ethan said bluntly. As the words rang in her ears, she stared at him. He looked old. Granted, he was extremely old, but he had always looked like the supreme soldier he was made to be. But now, she could see it on his face. Dark under the eyes, the slightest sight of wrinkles showing up, his eyes seeming to always look through you and off into the universe.
"What do you mean?" Aurora managed to shake off the sight of Ethan long enough to ask the question.
"Your brother. If he is caught, he's a dead man. No court will release him, you know that. I can't live with that on my concious," Ethan said, sitting down across from her.
"So you want me to catch him instead?" Aurora asked in a nearly disgusted tone.
"No, I want you to get him out of there. Forget the rest of them, I will happily hunt them down. But not if our family is in danger. Find him and I'll finish the job. I just want you to get him out of harm's way," Ethan explained to his daughter. Aurora just rested her head in her hands, thinking it all over.
"What about Ziva? I can't really get him out of there without help," Aurora asked, wondering how her new friend fit into the plan.
"She can still stay with you, if you please. Might help draw him out, you know? Just...don't tell her about Caden. I don't know how she'd hold up, seeing how they were before this all started," Ethan stated.
"Hmph, alright. I don't like it, but fine," Aurora said, clearly upset about being forced to hunt down and capture her own brother, as well as lying to one of the only friends she could confide in.
"I know...I know this is hard for you. It is for me, too. But trust me, it'll be worth it when he is back in that room across the hall," Ethan assured her, putting his hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah, it will be..." Aurora said, smiling at the thought of her brother being home again.
Aurora watched as two more men fell in the ring, hurting and crippled. For the last twenty minutes, she had been watching Ziva spar against more experienced fighters. Most of them fell quickly, with a few others lasting multiple rounds. Finally, Ziva grabbed her towel, wiping sweat and blood from her face. She sat down next to Aurora, wrapping a cut on her arm.
"Hey Rorii, how'd I do?" Ziva asked her one and only spectator.
"You did good, kid. And Rorii?" Aurora was surprised at the name.
"Yeah, Rorii. It sounds nice, rolls off the tongue," Ziva explained herself.
"Alright... So, how'd you like to go for a little trip?" Rorii asked Ziva, her eyes bolting to attention.
"You saying what I think you're saying?" Ziva asked, wondering why she was even bothering. It was obvious by Aurora's look what was about to be said.
"Yep. Got some new info. Let's go get 'em," Aurora said, smile on her face. Ziva looked at her curiously. It looked like Aurora was hiding something behind that smile, or like it was being forced. However, Ziva let it go for now, and returned the smile.
"Of course," Ziva responded, wiping a new dose of sweat from her forehead. For a moment, they sat in silence. It was quickly broken however with a small chuckle from Aurora.
"So...Rorii, eh?" Aurora asked, as the pair chuckled at her new name.
Aurora jumped down from the her seat, landing on the deck below. The drop shook the ship, ripping Ziva from her sleep. She shot up, suprised by the sudden sound and vibrations.
"Where are we?" Ziva asked while rubbing her eyes. She looked out the ship's viewscreen, her eyes scanning the red and orange horizon, but only seeing desert and sandstorms.
"Welcome to Mars, the most boring place in the universe," Aurora answered, spinning her double-bladed lightsaber around in her hand before sliding it into it's holster on her back. Ziva kept staring out the window, watching as small sandstorms ripped across the empty desert. She let her thoughts wander, something that she knew would lead to nowhere good.
"Where do you get this intel, anyway?" Ziva questioned her friend. She felt something that she didn't like. It mixed with Aurora's uneasiness, creating a mixture of feelings she couldn't shake. She hoped that conversation would rid her mind of them.
"My uncle, actually. But it was wierd, my father did not seem happy when he got it," Aurora replied, continuing to grab various peices of gear. Ziva turned around as she saw Rorii hook a pair of grenades onto her belt. She got up, walking towards Aurora.
"Why not? Wouldn't he be glad we have a chance to get him back?" Ziva asked, continueing to walk forward. Aurora stopped what she was doing and turned around, looking at Ziva.
"Excuse me?" Rorii asked, confused at where these questions were coming from. Ziva stopped, sitting down again. She let the air die in the ship before talking again.
"I know he's here. I heard it when we got back last time," Ziva spoke the words quietly but smoothly before letting them trail off at the end. The conversing wasn't helping. If anything, the melting pot of emotion and feelings in her were growing.
"Who, Ziva? What are you talking about?" Aurora asked again, kneeling down next to Ziva.
"Please, Rorii, don't play this game. Be straight with me. We are here for Caden, are we or are we not?" Ziva looked her friend in the eyes, wanting to see Aurora's answer, not just hear it. Aurora knelt motionless for a couple moments, pondering what Ziva had just said. She finally sighed, giving in.
"...Yes. Yes, we are here for Caden. My father and I just want him back. The rest of them can get away for all I care. Family comes first, right?" Aurora let the question fall out of her mouth.
"...Ok," Ziva let the simple word leave her mouth. Aurora felt Ziva's struggle, but knew nothing in the ways of calming her feelings. She dropped her head and got up, knowing she could do nothing more. She stood up and returned to the gear crate, grabbing two items. Ziva saw her clip one of them to her belt, undoubtably her other lightsaber. The other, though, Aurora held out to Ziva. When she looked up, she saw her own lightsaber in Aurora's hand.
"C'mon, kid. Let's go save your boyfriend," Rorii said confidently, hoping that anything would perk Ziva up. Ziva took hold of the lightsaber, but stared at Aurora.
"He's not yet, Rorii," Ziva answered, the pair still holding onto the same weapon.
"Fine then," Aurora started to say, before pulling Ziva up from her chair. "Let's just go kick some ass instead." The pair secured oxygen masks to their heads before leaving the ship, even though it was only a short walk to where they needed to go. Once on the foreign planet's red surface, Aurora pointed off into the distance. Ziva followed her finger, but failed to spot her target. However, she nodded to Aurora, trusting that her friend knew what she was doing.
They walked through the desert for a few moments until Ziva realized what Aurora had pointed to. Mixed in with the sand and rock was a metallic entrance, planted into the soil. Ziva watched as Aurora quickly typed a code into a keypad on the door. For a moment, nothing happened. But then, the door began to shriek open, showing the group a staircase leading down into the planet's depths. Both of them walked down the white, polished stairs, the doors behind them creaking their way back together. As it shut, Aurora and ZIva ripped off their oxygen masks, finally able to talk with one another again.
"How did you know the code to get in here?" Ziva asked, tossing her mask on the ground. She looked around the halls as she talked, taking in the bright white and gray walls.
"This used to be an old IgR facilty. Me and Caden found it a few years back," Aurora took a few moments to take in the fresh air within the hallways before continuing. "Heh, over a hundred years later and this place is still in perfect condition. Those bastards build their crap to last. C'mon let's get moving before they learn we're here."
The pair began jogging their way down the hall, trying to find any sign of Caden, or even other people. Farther down the hall, they saw a grouping of doors, all closed. They looked at one another and shrugged, neither knowing which to take. They drew their lightsabers and cautiously walked through one of the doors, quietly closing it behind them. After they closed the door, an armored figure cocked their gun, walking the same path the pair had just traveled.
"They're here," the figure spoke into their radio, knowing the pair had no idea they were being followed.
"Alright. I'm going to make sure everyone is ready, then I will join you," another voice answered over the radio.
Ziva and Aurora looked side to side as they walked upon a catwalk, learning they had walked into an enormous hanger bay. They looked up, and they recognized the ship docked within. It was the same one that had evaded them back at the old spaceport.
"That is a big ship," Ziva commented, wondering how there was a hanger bay big enough for it underground.
"That is our ship, thank you." A voice came from behind them, and they turned to see what looked like a Spartan aiming their weapon at them. ZIva recognized her. She was the same one that had nearly fought her back in Africa. Before either Aurora or Ziva could answer, they heard a loud banging from behind them, followed by the entire catwalk shaking. They turned to see a large, robotic looking wolf blocking the catwalk's other way.
"You are surrounded. Surrender," the robotic Wolf's voice rasped and echoed in the chamber, it's eyes glowing red. Ziva and Aurora both ignited their lightsabers, ignoring the insulting offer. The Spartan began to pull the trigger, about to fire a hail of bullets at the pair of Jedi. As the slugs rneared Ziva, they flew off to the side, creating sparks all over the hanger. The Spartan stopped her burst, amazed at Ziva's reaction. She had pre-emptively punched the catwalk, sending a massive Force push up in all directions, throwing Aurora up in the air as it happened.
Aurora landed near the robot animal and swung both of her sabers at it, hoping for a quick end to the battle. The droid was quick, though. It easily moved back and forth, dodging attack after attack. Aurora was becoming increasingly agitated, wondering if every person in this organization was an expert at dodging attacks. She continued on, though, trying desperately to land a hit.
Soon, she tired. Her attacks slowed, and the droid seemed to only speed up. She felt a sharp pain emerge in her calf, bringing her down to one knee. She saw blood begin to stain her pant leg. When she looked up, she saw the droid standing there, blood dripping from a blade attached to it's leg.
It charged at her. She tried to bring her weapons up as fast as she could, but the droid was simply to quick for her. It tackled her, sending both of her lightsabers off to the side. She looked at the droid's face, it's razor sharp teeth and piercing red optics becoming a real life nightmare mere inches from her face.
At the same time that Aurora landed to fight the droid, Ziva had begun to walk towards the Spartan, lightsaber drawn. Everytime the Spartan began to fire a burst at her, she would implant her fist into the ground again, sending the bullets flying off into the distance. As Ziva neared the Spartan, the bullets stopped coming. She could hear the gun clicking. The Spartan threw it off the catwalk, knowing that it was useless now.
Ziva brought down her lightsaber on the Spartan, but watched as her arm was caught in her hands. The Spartan pulled Ziva's arm forward ferociously, tearing the lightsaber from her hand. They pushed Ziva back, now wielding her own weapon against her. Ziva jumped over the Spartan, landing in time to catch one of the Spartan's own attacks. Ziva began to wrestle for the blade, hoping to retrieve the weapon and end the fight quickly. As she started to gain the upperhand, the Spartan pushed Ziva against the catwalk's railing and delivered an armored elbow to her face. The shock and pain forced Ziva to drop the weapon, which fell to the floor far below.
Ziva's vision began to blur as the Spartan lifted her up by her shirt, only to slam her back into the railing over and over. Ziva, beaten and bruised, mustered the strength to Force push the Spartan backwards into the opposite railing. She spit blood out onto the floor and walked towards the reeling warrior. She grabbed the Spartan and began punching them, aiming for the softer bodysuit than the hard armor plating. After a few hits, she uppercutted as hard as she could, which was good enough to send the Spartan's helmet flying into the air.
Ziva watched as the Spartan brought their head back into a normal position, revealing long, flowing black hair, as well as a sole red iris and scar on her left eye. Ziva was shocked to see a woman under the armor, and this proved to be enough to turn the tide once again. She felt as the woman introduced her armored fist to Ziva's stomach, knocking the air out of her. Ziva stumbled backwards, only to watch the Spartan roundhouse kick her, sending Ziva's body flying, landing a few meters away, but still on the catwalk. Even though her vision was blurred and she felt the blood running down her forehead, Ziva could see the Spartan draw a knife from it's sheathe, spinnig it around in her hand.
As both Ziva and Aurora laid defeated, an explosion ripped through the catwalk behind Aurora and the droid. The droid and Spartan looked up and decided to run. The droid leaped upwards, sinking it's claws into a pipe before bolting off away from the battle. At the same time, the female Spartan quickly hopped onto the catwalk's railing before jumping down the floor below, combat rolling as she landed. Before Ziva or Aurora could get up, they felt the catwalk begin to drop on one side. They scrambled to get up, but a black figure, along with two red ones, went by them as a blur, cutting through the catwalk on Ziva's side. The metal walkway gave out, dropping down to the floor below.
Ziva and Aurora rolled off the platform in pain, slowly moving towards one another. They looked at where the blur had been, and they saw a man dressed in black standing there, their back towards the pair. The figure stood there, holding a pair of red lightsabers in it's hands. Ziva and Aurora looked at each other, knowing what the other was thinking.
"Caden? Is that you?" Ziva asked, gripping her left arm, as it felt as if it would fall off if she let go. The figure turned slightly and looked up, revealing only it's head. Aurora and Ziva saw the same eyes they saw at the spaceport, as well as the same cowl covering his face.
"Bruce..." Aurora growled, angry she had still failed to find her brother. The pair heard Bruce let out a soft laugh as he turned around to face them, hooking the lightsabers onto his belt. Both girls saw them, and instantly recognized them.
"Those aren't yours," Ziva said, motioning to the lightsabers on his belt. Both girls knew that they were Caden's, as there were none other that looked like them in the galaxy.
"They're mine now," Bruce answered. Even though they couldn't se his face, they could almost certainly tell he was smiling.
"Where is my brother?" Aurora asked in a demanding fashion. She still could not get up, as her leg continued to lose blood.
"He'll be here soon enough. Maybe," Bruce answered, crossing his arms in an almost casual and relaxed way.
"I will kill you," Ziva burst out, sprinting towards Bruce.
"Heh, let's dance," Bruce answered, running at her as well. As they neared, Ziva ejected her hidden blade, prepared to use it on the one target in the room she cared about. Once they were nearly in striking distance, Aurora watched as Ziva's lightsaber flew through the air, landing in Bruce's hand and igniting as they reached each other. Both let out a single strike, and then stood there, their bodies inches apart, appearing frozen in space and time. The near photographic stillness ended as she watched a drop of blood fall to the ground, followed by another.
Ziva turned her head, staring at her own lightsaber blade shimmering next to her arm. She felt the heat coming off the blade, which had cut through her sleeve only, missing her arm by millimeters. She sighed knowing she was unscathed and turned to see her own knife. She smiled as it sat imbedded deep within her target's cowl. Her smile was erased, though, when Bruce let out a long breath, like he was relieved. Ziva ripped her knife to the side, angry that Bruce did not surrender his life. She watched as he spun backwards, dropping her lightsaber while his cowl remained stuck on her blade.
Aurora and Ziva watched as he continued to stumble, his back to them. His hand was holding his face, undoubtably where he was cut. They heard him take a few more deep breaths before turning to face them, hands by his sides again. Their eyes widened as sparks flew out of where Ziva's knife had been impaled. As more sparks shot out, Ziva launched a Force push into Bruce, sending him backwards towards the back wall. He hit the wall, breaking panels off of it as he hit. Ziva walked forward, throwing Force push after Force push into Bruce, crushing him against the wall. Aurora watched as her friend continued to devastate Bruce's body. As Ziva kept at it, Aurora saw something black fall from Bruce and get thrown to the side. It sparked as it sat there, and Aurora's mind began to tick.
Ziva picked up her lightsaber as she neared Bruce. She was intent on finishing this now. She threw one last Force push, then watched as Bruce fell to his hands and knees. Behind her, Ziva heard Aurora call out to her, but ignored it. Ziva walked up to Bruce, igniting her blade and raising it high, all the while ignoring Aurora's calls. Ziva grabbed Bruce's hood and pulled his head up. She began to bring her blade down, until one terrifying call from Aurora got her to pause.
"Ziva!" Aurora's cry tore through the silent hangar. As it quieted, the humming of Ziva's lightsaber was the only noise left. Her eyes focused on Bruce, and her body began to shake.
"Ziva...," Caden's voice was shaky and blood rolled down his cheek from where Ziva's hidden blade had cut him.
"Ca...Caden?" Ziva could hardly muster the words. She let go of his hood and let her blade fall to her side, incapable of speech or movement. She heard Caden mutter something, but it was incomprehensible.
"Move...," Caden muttered, trying to get his message across. Ziva stood clueless, unknowing of what to do.
"Caden, I-" Ziva began to say before being cut off.
"Move!" Caden yelled the word at Ziva before Force pushing her backwards just as panels and scaffolding began to fall ontop of him. The area surrounding Caden had been so damaged from Ziva's attacks that they were beginning to fall apart. Caden looked up as they fell, and then everything went black.
Chapter 8: ReigniteEdit
Ziva walked into the hospital's waiting room, where Aurora sat patiently. It was a few days since the fight on Mars, and Caden was still in the hospital thanks to the collapsing building. Ziva and Aurora had been able to get him off Mars quite easily, as nobody stopped them. The rest of the Imperium personal seemed to have just disappeared, leaving no trace. Needless to say, they didn't care. Caden as back at least. Aurora stood up, noticing her friend. The two met in the middle of the room and embraced before talking.
"How is he?" Ziva asked, guessing Aurora had already visited her brother's room.
"He's fine, actually. He woke up, talked to me. He...explained what happened. It's a pretty good story. He'll want to tell you," Aurora explained to her. Ziva nodded, eager to see what has gone down the last two years.
"Did they find out what that device was that I damaged? The one that was on his face?" Ziva asked Rorii.
"Yeah. Some kind of voice distortion device. Nothing fancy, it just, well, changed his voice," Rorii answered, shrugging. Ziva nodded again and told her friend goodbye, as she knew that this may take a while. She walked through the halls of the building towards Caden's room. When she reached it and went in, she found it empty. She was puzzled and turned to see a secretary behind a desk across the hall.
"Excuse me, but where is this patient?" Ziva asked calmy. The secretary looked up from her papers, fixing her glasses as she did so.
"He wished to get some fresh air. We knew we couldn't stop him from doing so, so we let him out into the yard right there," she responded, motioning to a door a couple meters down the hall. Ziva thanked her and passed through the door, where she saw patients scattered through the courtyard, all of them in their white hospital gowns. She recognized Caden in the middle of it all, staring into the water of a fountain in the center of the grounds. She began walking towards him, thinking of what to do when she got there. As she neared, she took a deep breath.
"Hey," she simply said. He turned around, smile on his face.
"Hey, Z." As he spoke she noticed a scar running across his cheek. She winced, knowing that it was her fault he had got it.
"Sorry about that," she stated, pointing it out. He ran his hand over it as he responded.
"Don't worry about it. I kinda like it."
"I'll admit, it's kinda hot," she said to him, moving to stand next to the fountain with him.
"Hehe, thanks," Caden said. He rubbed the back of his head and ran his foot through the dirt. She could see his uneasiness building.
"So, I hear you have quite a story for me," Ziva said, trying to keep his mind going. He let out a long sigh before he answered.
"It's a long, long story," Caden began before pausing. He quickly added on, though. "I'm sorry you had to be apart of it."
"Trust me, worse has happened to me than what you dished out," she said to him in a reassuring manner. She didn't know if it would help, but it was worth a try.
"Ok, good. When we get back, I'll make sure to tell you the whole thing, popcorn and everything," Caden said. His head began to turn, though, scanning the rooftops. Ziva looked at him curiously, not knowing what he was doing.
"What you see?" Ziva asked, looking around as well.
"Rorii, that's the nickname you gave her? Well, she told me that IceBite...found out...where I was this whole time. Being watched now. See, snipers there, there, and there," he explained, subtly motioning towards three seperate spots. She turned her head slightly, spotting what he was talking about. There were three armed guards on the rooftops, all of them keeping an eye on them.
"Well, can't say I'm suprised, knowing him," she responded, off-put by the fact they were there. Caden sat down on the rim of the fountain, nodding.
"Yeah." He sat there for a moment, pondering what to say. Finally, he spoke. "You know, I've missed you these last two years."
"Despite the things you said in Africa?" She did her best, but Ziva couldn't tell if what she had just said came off as a jab at him or not. She waited and prayed. Caden's head dipped down as the words sunk in.
"I was hoping you'd forget those. Please don't take it personally, I couldn't let anyone think I knew you, or was going easy on you," he said somewhat frantically, hoping to make his case.
"Don't worry about it," she said, sitting down next to him. She let a moment go by before she whispered to him. "I missed you too, Caden."
"Thanks." That was all he said to her, letting his smile do the rest of the talking that could go unspoken. She rested her head on his shoulder, a feeling that calmed him instantly, making him feel at home.
"Y'know, any of those snipers get any ideas, and I'll gut 'em," Ziva said the words calmly and quietly, as if she was talking about her day. Caden smiled at it, though, letting his arm find it's was around her body.
"There's the girl I've missed."
The pair remained there on the fountain, talking, listening, or just sitting together for a while. Soon, though, Ziva could feel Caden getting antsy. She ignored it at first, but as it continued, she finally decided to speak up.
"You ok, Caden? You seem on edge." Caden let out a sigh before holding out his hand. He held out three fingers, and then they began to disappear one at a time. As he reached zero, she heard a group of small explosions. She looked up and saw three clouds of green gas come up from the hospital roof. She shot up and watched as people began racing around. When she turned back to Caden, he was slowly and calmly getting up as well.
"What's going on?" she asked him. Before he answered, a shadow overcame them both. She looked up to see a gunship hovering above them, the same type as the ones in Africa.
"I have a meeting to go to. Don't worry, I'll be back in a few days. One week, tops," he said, watching the gunship drop lower and let down a ramp.
"Where are you going? I can come with you, y'know, keep the politicians off your back," Ziva asked, forgetting about the gunship and explosions.
"I wish you could. But if the meeting doesn't go as planned, I don't want you caught in the middle," Caden answered, obviously sad he couldn't accept the offer. Ziva let out a long, disheartened sigh.
"Try to come back this time," Ziva said sadly.
"Don't worry, I will," Caden responded, placing his hand on her shoulder. She pushed it away and pulled him against herself in a bone crushing embrace. When she finally let go, she watched as he struggled to regain his breath. When he did, he gave her one last smile before jumping up onto the ship's ramp. It began to pull away before he yelled down to her.
"Don't worry about those snipers, by the way. Just gas," he called, his ship moving off into the distance before she got a chance to respond. But, she did have a chance to mumble to herself.
"If he doesn't come back, I'm going to crush his bones for real..."
And today, Jedi Knight and Hellcat Squadran member Caden Ferran was congratulated by Coalition leadership for his part in taking down the Janzi Imperium terrorist cell. He had been working undercover within the cell, doing all that he could to sabatoge their operations. Only a week ago, a strike took place on the cell's base of operations, destroying their capacity to wage war. All Coalition personal survived, while a large part of the terrorist's technology was captured. This tech will be studied, and possibly used, by Hellcat Squadran forces in the future. All Coalition members responsible for taking down the threat were given high praise by all levels of the Coalition's leadership.
An image appeared of Caden shaking hands with one of the Coalition's top leaders, IceBite. While both spoke happily and wore smiles for the audience and cameras, on the inside they were seathing with rage. At one point, a skilled lip reader could see IceBite mouth the words I'll be watching you to Caden. The cameras could only see Caden laugh in response.
Caden turned off the video, one that he has watched multiple times over the last few days. He couldn't help but smirk at the lies that were being told. Anyone knowing the real story would. He looked around the command deck of his ship, happy to see the spirits high. His train of thought was quickly broken, though.
"Commander Ferran, shall I set us a destination?" asked the pilot, one of Caden's close friends. His name was Wes 'Jester' Mauer, one of the most skilled ship pilots in the galaxy. He could make a cruiser dance like a bird, and that is exactly what he could do with the Jericho.
"Jester, take us to Earth. I have a good feeling we have a brand new, shiny parking space waiting for us there," Caden said, happy with how everything had worked out.
"Aye aye. Setting course for Earth," Jester said, leaving the comm open for a moment before adding. "I hope they don't shoot."
"They won't, Jester. They won't," Caden replied, watching the stars stretch out across the bridge's windows as the Jericho engaged it's drive core.