A Heritage of Power 3: Jay's Story 9.99:
The Price of Survival

by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for M/F, M/M, F/F, M/Herm sex, Violence and a bunch more
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Tes relaxed against her mate in the warm morning. She was still absently surprised she still didn't really feel her eighty years most mornings, and that her mate definitely didn't feel his years. It brought her drifting mind back to the kitten that had drawn them together and to the Temple five decades before.

"Love, why is Jay still a Knight?"

"He doesn't want to touch a Padawan with a ten-foot pole, for one thing," Doruth pointed out, kissing her lightly. They both had more gray in their fur than they had in prior years, Doruth especially. His fur was still mostly black, but there was a liberal helping of salt in with the pepper of his base-coat. "And you know him as well as I do. Does he really strike you as the Master type?"

"He strikes me as the type who excels at anything he sets his mind to, and he did that in becoming a Jedi." She said softly. "It just seems odd. Not many his age are still Knights."

"No, not many are, especially not with the Artisans," Doruth admitted, snuggling up to his mate. "But I've talked to him, from time to time, and ... he's enough of a Jedi to make it as a Knight. Not as a Master. A Jedi Master is a teacher, or at least somebody who has an understanding of the Force that's beyond that of a Knight. Jay can teach, but he hasn't trained a Padawan, and he doesn't have ... well, the faith, for lack of a better term. The Jedi are warrior-priests, after all. When you make Master, the emphasis goes to priest a bit more than warrior, in some ways."

"Faith?" She cocked her head a bit. "Not something you have had much of."

"I didn't have faith in the Jedi," he pointed out. "I had faith in the Force, and that it was telling me I had to leave." He sighed, trying to think of how to explain it. "Acid test. You know something about fixing up ships, so let's put it in those terms. You have to fix the engines on the Gurath. There are two methods which, at first glance, are each equally valid. If you pick the wrong one, you and everything you care about is destroyed as the engines of the ship explode. How do you pick?"

"I go with my gut," she answered easily. "It's the best way to choose when there isn't a clear choice."

"That's it," he said. "You'd go with your gut, which is about one-step removed from saying you'd trust the Force. I'd do the same. Jay'd check again, see if he missed something, and if that didn't work he'd have the engine tell him which method would do it. He'd fall back on his own skills and abilities. When push comes to shove, Jay trusts his own abilities before he trusts the Force to see that things work out for the best."

"I can't blame him, but I do understand." She nodded slowly. "The Force hasn't been very kind to him."

"Arguably, no," Doruth admitted. "But that's the biggest reason the Council never decided to promote him to Master based on his experience. He has the experience and skills, but he doesn't really have what it takes to be a Master at this point."

"The trust," she murmured. "At least he doesn't seem to be taking it too hard. And he has taken on an Artisan apprentice. That's almost as much work as a Padawan. Harder to do to, given how few of them there are."

"I think he was just focused on making Knight," Doruth explained. "Master would be nice, but it's icing on the proverbial cake for him. And it is, teaching-wise, but the skill-set is very different. I'll bet he'd be the first to explain that," Doruth chuckled.

"Not much philosophy." She chuckled. "It's all practical lessons."

"Exactly, though I think he had some choice words for their definition of 'practical' early on," Doruth chuckled. "Come on, I think we had an appointment to pick up one of the missions my old Padawan left for us when he retired."

Shivasta and Jay stepped down the Sharufa's landing ramp as they settled down at the quiet spaceport that served as the central camp for the archaeological expedition on Beldin Prime. A Wolf not much older than the two of them was there to greet them, starting up the ramp to meet them with a grateful expression and a welcoming handshake.

"We've been waiting for your arrival," the Wolf said with a smile. "We were glad to hear that the Council was sending somebody so quickly after we sent word."

"You are welcome, Dr. Tosh" Jay smiled slightly in return as the three of them walked down the ramp. "It is good to have a mission in my favorite subject again."

"Well, this should be an interesting one to get back into the fray with," the Wolf chuckled. "After we found the ruins, we contacted the Jedi as quickly as we could. I've worked with Sith sites before, but never quite like this."

"Sith?" Jay raised an eyebrow, even as Shi's concern went up significantly. "That we had not been informed of."

"I didn't send the message, I'm afraid," Dr. Tosh said apologetically. "I suspect that Dr. Kell didn't want to risk losing the site to a small army of Jedi researchers. It actually pre-dates the Republic, from our best guesses and tests."

"Which would predate the Sith as Sith." Jay nodded with an understanding of just how rare such a thing was. It also meant it predated the Jedi. Any such site with Force associations would get a lot of attention from the Council.

"I didn't think any sites like that existed anymore," Shivasta said with a slight frown.

"They didn't, as far as we knew," Dr. Tosh explained. "From what we've been able to gather, they were all destroyed between the time when the Sith as we know them arose and the Great Hyperspace Wars. Add that to the difficulty even reaching most Sith sites, and ... well, I'm sure you can gather that we don't get very many opportunities to prove conventional theory wrong," the Wolf chuckled as he led them through the docks.

"Yes, it is quite an opportunity." Jay nodded. "Potentially a significant risk as well to those here."

"Which is why I insisted on contacting the Jedi," the Wolf nodded. "Legal issues aside, I'd rather have a Jedi or two around if we find out that the Sith we know were only pale imitations of what they were before."

"I do hope that is not the case." Jay said quietly. "They are bad enough as it is."

"I have a hard time believing they could be much worse," Shi agreed. "They already worship the Dark Side. We haven't found every group of Force users, but we've never found anybody who delved into that part of the Force as much as the Sith have."

"I don't think they were that bad," Dr. Tosh pointed out. "I've actually isolated a few words in the inscriptions that don't even exist in Sith as it's been spoken since the rise of the Republic. To judge by context, I'd say they're words for a number of concepts the Sith tried to stamp out of their religion, things that were worthwhile about life besides strength and power."

"Have you found out what they called themselves before the Sith took over?" Jay asked as they walked towards the dig site.

"Actually, the Sith took the name from them," the Wolf explained. "The Massassi and the Sith were one and the same until a number of Dark Jedi took over and turned Sith into the title of their religion, with Massassi being the name of the race. It's a little complicated, and based on some fairly fragmented records, but we're putting it together as time goes by."

"Hopefully this place will fill in some of those blanks." Jay nodded easily.

"That is the idea," the Wolf nodded. "Come, I'll introduce you to my colleagues here. We're a somewhat eclectic bunch," he chuckled. "And probably only going to become more of one once word of this site gets out."

"No doubt." Jay actually chuckled. "Your Jedi are hardly the usual kind."

"Oh? What does that mean?" The Wolf asked with a chuckle.

"Well, for one thing, we aren't miffed at the Council for giving us this mission," Shi chuckled.

"I'm not an expert by any means, but I do have a liking for archaeological missions and exploring the past." Jay added easily.

"Which is always good to have on-hand," the Wolf nodded with a smile. "There are some Jedi who aren't bad to work with, but sometimes you get the more hot-headed ones and ... well, sometimes I worry that they're going to break something if we don't take their lightsabers away," Dr. Tosh chuckled. "No offense, of course, but some of your colleagues can be a little trigger happy in places like this."

"I'm familiar with them," Jay cracked a smile. "I went through that phase too. Some just prefer to never leave the hot-headed warrior way of doing things. It is effective on the right missions."

"And it's not so much hot-headed as nervous, sometimes," Shi chuckled. "Telling a Jedi that you're poking around an ancient Sith tomb or temple is a pretty good way to get us ready to at least snap at anything that moves suddenly."

"True," Jay nodded. "Unlike you, we tend to associate 'Sith' with 'it's going to try to kill us now,' and it doesn't have to be alive to do it. Sith Spirits are serious trouble."

"Fortunately, I doubt we'd have anything like that to deal with here," Dr. Tosh smiled. "If it is, it's over 20,000 years old."

"If something survived that long, we're seriously out of our depth." Jay told him honestly. "That's the kind of thing you call in the Council itself to deal with."

"Here's hoping it didn't then," the Wolf nodded.

"And here's hoping the site itself isn't as bad," Shi murmured. Places could be almost as bad as spirits sometimes. Even worse, in ways; you couldn't destroy a place nearly as easily if you had to.

"I think I'll introduce you to Dr. Kell first," Tosh mused. "He's the one who's really in charge here. He's just a little old to be meeting Jedi at the docks."

"How far have you gotten in the excavation?" Jay asked as they neared the ruins in the work going on.

"We stopped when we found the Sith ruins, but we've made it down through thousands of years of debris, silt, and subsequent settlements already," Tosh explained as the two Jedi looked around the tropical world they were on. "Once we found that ... well, when you identify inscriptions in Sith, it's best to wait for backup before opening the doors they're on, especially when you can't read all of them."

"Understandable," Jay nodded seriously as an aged Wolf came out of one of the temporary buildings to greet them in a repulsor-lift chair.

Compared to him, Dr. Tosh was young; Dr. Kell looked to be well into his early 100's, his fur pale grey. Despite his advanced age and physical state, the Wolf had the bearing of an Alpha, one who wasn't quite ready to give up the ghost just yet.

"Welcome to our little camp, Jedi," the aged Wolf said graciously. "I hope you'll excuse me if I don't stand up."

"Of course, Dr. Kell." Jay said easily.

"Jedi Clawson, I believe?" The Wolf asked him. "And Master Shivasta," he added with a nod towards the Ice Walker.

"Yes, Dr. Kell," Shivasta nodded. "The Council told you who was coming?"

"Yes," the Wolf nodded with a slight chuckle. "I'll admit, Knight Clawson, that I'm a little surprised to find out you have an interest in archaeology to go along with your interest in technology. I wouldn't have guessed from your papers on hyperdrive technology; you seemed far more focused on the future than previous breakthroughs."

"Without the past, the future means much less," Jay smiled slightly. "Not many archeologists have enough interest in technology to know my name from there."

"One of my theses was on the subject of archaic hyperdrive technology," Kell chuckled. "I keep an eye on modern developments as well; it's interesting to see where things go once you know where they've come from."

"How archaic?" Jay perked up. "I haven't found much by way of credible advancements since records started."

"Since the earliest known designs," the Wolf explained. "It depends on what you mean by credible advancements, but I'll admit that most of what we've seen is efficiency-related rather than methodology."

"True," he nodded, thinking back as they walked slowly towards the dig itself. "Have you gotten a chance to read my latest article on the next leap in hyperdrive technology? It was in the last Bramista."

Shi just smiled slightly at how animated her mate could be when he found someone new to talk about his hobbies with and followed along with Dr. Tosh.

"The Aristal design?" Dr. Kell asked him, nodding slightly. "I haven't seen theories like that in some time, but it seemed feasible. I found what was hinted at more interesting; if I hadn't known better, I would have expected to hear that an Arkanian had written it."

"It wouldn't be the first time I've been called that." Jay chuckled softly. It was an item he usually took some pride in that anyone would think he was that brilliant, mad scientist-like or not.

"I believe this might be a good time to introduce you to the others and let our friends talk," Dr. Tosh told Shi with a chuckle.

"If you two don't mind?" The Ice Walker asked politely with a smile.

"Not at all," Jay smiled slightly to her, an amused apology offered silently. "*My apologies for becoming distracted, Master.*"

"*You know better than to call me that,*" Shi chuckled mentally.

"Go ahead, Master Shivasta," Dr. Kell said easily. "I won't keep your partner for too long, if I can help it."

The other Wolf left with Shivasta, leaving the two academics to talk.

The next day, both Jedi were at the ruins along with Dr. Tosh and a number of other researchers they'd met after their arrival. Dr. Kell was nearby, but waiting in his chair some distance off so the repulsorlifts wouldn't disturb anything at the site.

"Do the two of you want to take a last look at it before we open up the ruins?" Dr. Tosh asked them. "You might recognize something we don't."

Both Jedi nodded, knowing it was more request than offer, and went to investigate. Shi mostly by her gut feeling, Jay by touch and the soft murmur that creations even this old remembered of their creation and purpose.

He got a feeling of a culture that wasn't nearly as corrupted by the Dark Side as it would eventually become. They were close to the Force in a way few industrialized people were, with priests who were as strong as the Jedi in certain aspects of the Force. Their touch was all over the ruins.

A proud people, a race of warriors and conquerors ... that was on the verge of being conquered. The ruins were a memorial, established before the event they were being built for. The ancient Sith had seen what was coming, and what would happen to their people. The equally ancient inscriptions told the story of their downfall millennia before it happened.

Jay forced himself to remember what he was doing, and quickly confirmed that there weren't any traps waiting for them if he opened the doors. Then, with a quick request to the place's doors, they slid open, letting out the musty, dead scents of a place abandoned for thousands of years.

"It is safe," he said quietly. "At least from intentional traps." He paused and stepped up next to Dr. Tosh. "I can probably translate most of what you don't know yet. It's beyond ancient, but the essence of who was here and the reason the built this is still strong in this place."

"That would be helpful," the Wolf nodded. "Though we'll need to confirm what you've found through more traditional means."

"I understand," he nodded.

"Ready to go in?" Shivasta asked everybody, her hand close to her lightsaber, just in case there was something they'd missed.

"We are, Master Shivasta," one of the younger archaeologists, a Raccoon, told her with a nod. The Ice Walker and her mate led the way in, their eyes adjusting to the darkness as the researchers brought in lights to make the process easier. They were greeted in the very first hallway by a number of chiseled statues of ancient Sith warriors, detailed down to scars on the chitin beneath their armor.

It was easy to tell where the skill that created the statue on Yavin 4 had come from; the statues here were of equal craftsmanship, though they didn't have as many Force-imbued artifacts. They all carried lanvaroks, the pole-axe disk-throwers that were traditional for their race and class, and wore their style of distinctive armor. A handful of them, farther down the corridor, had artifacts that had been treated with alchemical processes to work Force effects into them, both Light and Dark side.

Heroes and villains alike were here, a last reminder of the greatest warriors of a race of warriors.

"This is incredible," Dr. Tosh murmured as he looked around. "I'd read the legends, but never ...."

"*I think I can almost touch their souls here.*" Jay whispered to his mate, his own awe overriding just about everything else. "To do this as a last act of your civilization ...."

"*The last bastion at least,*" Shivasta agreed, doing a good job of hiding her own reaction from everybody but her mate. She was just as in awe of the work around her as he was, sensing the history behind the place now that she was in it. Each of the statues had been meticulously hand-crafted, prepared as a last testament to a race doomed to be forgotten as anything more than brutes and monsters.

This last temple of the true Sith had been designed to stand long after their usurpers had faded into obscurity.

"This place is incredible," the Raccoon from before murmured, looking around.

"And would have been forgotten forever, if the Sith had had their way," Dr. Tosh agreed.

"Which might have been a good thing, in the long run," Dr. Kell pointed out, his chair floating down after they confirmed that he could do so without causing any harm.

Shi glanced sideways at her mate, the flash of rage flaring hot and bright for a moment before he got it under control. She was a touch relieved that he managed to keep it inside, off his expression, much less his actions. Decades as a Jedi had improved his self-control to an incredible extent, but hadn't managed to still his instinctive hatred of lost history. He just kept it completely to himself now, deep enough that only the bond allowed her to sense its real intensity, and most Jedi didn't even notice.

"Dr. Kell?" The younger Wolf asked, looking back with a perplexed expression. "That's hardly what I'd expected to hear you say."

"The Sith still have adherents, though they try to stay hidden after the war a thousand years ago," Dr. Kell explained. "Despite the fact that they're remembered for butchery on a galactic scale, for not having a single redeeming feature, people are entranced by their image of rebellion and strength. Imagine what could happen if somebody were to make this display known? We, the academics, would recognize it as being a different breed of Sith, the Sith before they were what we know.

"The rest of the Republic? They would hear that the Sith were misunderstood. That they were really a race the same as any other, not a religious sect that wanted to enslave them. The modern Sith would undoubtedly try to claim reparations for the 'misunderstandings' represented by the ancient wars, claiming ancestral worlds like this one to begin training a new generation of Sith warriors."

"Ignorance of history and the facts is never a good thing." Jay said a bit more sharply than most Jedi would approve of, though it was still an even tone to most people. "If the academics can not explain this to the people, it is still no excuse to deny it exists to those who can understand it."

"I don't mean to bury it, Knight Clawson," the old Wolf pointed out, drawing himself up in his chair. "I would never approve of such a measure. I simply question whether or not it was meant to be found now. The Massassi deserve a fair portrayal; history barely remembers them, and what memories they are given are most unfair. The only problem is the difficulty separating the Sith as they are known from the Sith as they were meant to be known."

"If people hadn't let history be forgotten in the first place we wouldn't have this conversation." Jay shook his head, cooling off some. He was still riled, just not at anyone in particular. "It would still be common knowledge that the Sith are the sect and the Massassi a race they enslaved, usurped their name from and eventually destroyed."

"Things are found when they are meant to." Shi added more quietly, hoping to stop the pair from getting any more antagonistic towards each other. "Whether it is because we are ready, or because of what they will do if we are not."

"That wasn't history forgotten naturally, Knight Clawson," Dr. Tosh pointed out. "It was the history of a people that, by the time we met them, had wiped out the majority of their ancient records and weren't interested in sharing what they did have."

"Very true," Dr. Kell agreed. "Let's continue further into the ruins; maybe we'll find the reason they did that. As I remember, it's an issue that has never really been answered satisfactorily."

"Maybe we will," Shi nodded, grateful for an opportunity to simply continue and hope that Jay would relax a bit. Of all the things the Wolf could have said, he just had to stumble across one that would get the kat riled up.

She was grateful too, that Jay seemed willing to let it all drop, despite the retort she could read in his mind; that it was known that the Dark Jedi Sith and Massassi race were not interchangeable and that it wasn't well-known even among Jedi, that academia had already seriously failed in it's duties as an educator.

Instead, the group just pressed forward, pausing from time to time to inspect a particular statue, looking at it, taking pictures, documenting measurements ... the part of archaeology that was both mind-numbing and exciting at the same time.

After the main group had moved on, primarily to lose Dr. Kell, Jay quietly signaled Dr. Tosh to stay behind with him at one statue with a Force-weapon.

"How much of this can you understand?" Jay asked as he turned on a light in his Glovatrix to shine through one statue.

"How much of ... hmmm ...." The Wolf looked at the pattern of bars and lines that was displayed on the opposite side of the statue. "Just looking at it, nothing. But I think I see what you do. You think these patterns are more than simply the result of natural marks in the crystal?"

"No way in hell they are." Jay shook his head. "If it's not ancient Massassian, than it's coded ancient Massassian. Probably names and personal histories, given what the rest of the place is. It wasn't in the Massassian statue we found on Yavin 4, but by then they were Sith property and had probably lost the knowledge of how to do this."

"Which means that each of these statues could basically be a giant optical record," Tosh murmured. "We'll need to move one of the statues to a full-sized scanner to be sure we got everything recorded, then put the computers to work translating it into language patterns that could be translated, but ... thank you very much for noticing that, Knight Clawson. We probably would have, but it likely would have been one of those awkward accidents about a year down the line."

"Pick a statue, doctor. I can move it faster than any equipment." He offered quietly, more than slightly pleased that Tosh was honestly excited and eager to explore the information here.

"One closer to the entrance that seems to be fairly dense with information," the Wolf said after a moment. "Less chance of disturbing or damaging something."

Jay nodded and they headed back up after he told his mate what they were up to. He kept his light on, flashing it into each statue to gauge the information load in each.

After a few moments, they picked out one just a few rows in from the entrance, a Massassi female that gave the impression of a noble bearing, one of the few who didn't have a lanvarok as her primary weapon at this stage.

"How do you plan on moving it out?" Tosh asked him.

"The Force," he motioned slightly with one hand and the statue smoothly lifted into the air, easily avoiding the few obstacles. "Now, where did you want this?"

"We can use the transport we came here in to get it back to one of the ships," Tosh told him easily, clearly impressed by the display of power but not letting it distract him from the new find. "Ladies first," he chuckled.

Jay nodded and moved the statue out ahead of them and to the transport, settling it down in the cargo zone without any help opening the doors.

Dr. Tosh and the Jedi made quick work of tying it down, securing it for the trip so that nothing would go wrong with the priceless artifact when they moved it back.

"Any plans for tonight, Jenna?" Kanna asked as the two Jedi showered after their evening workout.

"I was thinking of spending some time with Master Fenrik." She answered and turned the hot air blowers on. "He has been alone so rarely, and he doesn't usually like it."

"I'd just been thinking the same thing," the Ice Walker smiled. "For a while at least. Maybe kidnap him for dinner?"

"Sounds like a plan to me," she grinned at her co-conspirator of thirty-three years. "Out somewhere, or cook here?"

"Cook here," Kanna chuckled. "I've got a couple ideas I want to try out on him."

"Should I be careful?" She giggled, thinking of ryl and a few related substances that she tended to experiment with.

"No, I'm not going to help you end up in bed with your old Master," Kanna smirked, drying off so they could head back to their quarters. "Handsome or not, he does have a couple mates he couldn't check in with first."

"Spoilsport." Jenna stuck her tongue out, then quickly settled into a more appropriate demeanor when another Jedi walked in to clean up. "On another subject, I've been thinking about taking a Padawan soon."

"Syleece?" Kanna asked with a slightly knowing smirk.

"Yes," the Panther nodded and stepped out of the shower to grab fresh robes. Her partner didn't miss how she eyed the couple males in the room with them, even though nothing even came of it. "She's of age, and it feels right. Besides, I've been a Knight for twenty years. It's about time I took one on."

"True," Kanna smiled, grabbing some fresh robes of her own and following her partner out. "The same could be said of me, honestly. Should probably start looking a bit more carefully."

"Syleece does have a favored playmate." She said with a slight smile. "A Night Raptor. He's hot stuff in combat precog, might even have Seer talent."

"Cormoran?" Kanna asked with a nod. "I've met him. Maybe I'll have to talk with him a bit more. With those feathers of his, I'd almost feel guilty teaching him to use a lightsaber," she chuckled.

"Don't worry, his kin here are teaching him to use his natural weapons," she winked. "If the Temples thinks we're bad, they're in for a reality check with those two as partners."

"I meant for the people who have to fight against him," the Ice Walker smirked. "And I seem to remember our Masters said much the same thing about us. We will have to start taking larger ships, if we take on Padawans finally, but I think the Council will be happy."

"Trust me; Knight Clawson's been expecting it. He's not nearly as subtle as most when he brings up our Padawans." Jenna chuckled. "Sometimes I swear he must have precog talent no one knows about."

"No," Kanna chuckled. "He's just very blunt when it comes to pointing out what he sees; ask either of his mates or the Council. It's not like it's that hard to figure out we were going to do it eventually. Especially you," she smirked. "I've just been waiting for you to mention something."

"It's taken me that long, huh?" Jenna shook her head. "Still, it's odd to have a Jedi that old be that blunt."

"You'll notice that he's not a Master, and that they try to keep him several parsecs away from any diplomatic missions," Kanna pointed out with a smirk. "And yes, it has. Though I'll admit, I had an edge on knowing it was probably going to happen."

"Quite true, though you must admit, it would be refreshing to be able to talk as bluntly as he does to those diplomats and leaders."

"I don't think there's a Jedi alive who doesn't agree with you there," Kanna smirked. "But let's face it, it's part of the job not to when we're doing that sort of mission."

"Which is why he's never sent on them." Jenna shook his head slightly and opened the door to her quarters. "Dinner in your quarters?"

"Sounds best to me," Kanna nodded. "You handle the Panther herding, I cook?"

"Will do," she winked and stepped inside to get ready for dinner and decide exactly how to get her former Master to agree.

Kanna hummed to herself as she set the table for three, her mind mostly on what she was doing, but wandering idly at the same time. She walked back into the kitchen to flip the meat frying for herself, her partner, and their guest, then paused. Her humming stopped, her eyes dilating slightly as she felt a chill run down her spine and the patterns of the Force around her begin shifting.

The Seer recognized the feeling; something was going to happen, she just wasn't entirely sure what yet. Almost instinctively, she held still, waiting to see if the impending vision would actually form up.

"Hey, watch the meat, partner." Jenna was there before anything more coherent happened. She was used to this behavior in her Seer partner. Fenrik looked more concerned.

"Sorry," Kanna blushed, pulling the frypan off and sliding the meat onto a nearby tray before it burned. "Bad habit of being a Seer; when a vision starts, sometimes I forget to finish little things like that before seeing if it'll finish. This one didn't," she shrugged, turning off the heat and bringing the tray of meat over to tip it into the bowl with a few fruits and about three other types of meat, mixing it all together.

"Dinner smells good, anyway." Jenna grinned, sniffing appreciatively at the main course.

"I hope it tastes as good as it smells," Fenrik agreed with a bit of a grin. "So, you're sure nothing's wrong?" He asked Kanna, taking a seat as the Ice Walker hurried out to fetch a bottle of juice to go with the largely carnivorous 'salad' she'd made.

"Yes, Master Fenrik," she nodded easily, pouring three glasses of it. "It happens once in a while. About half the time I don't get anything from it, one out of ten I get a solid vision of something, and the rest of the time I check with Master Zaian and she looks at me funny before telling me nothing happened."

"And usually asking you if you've been getting enough sleep lately," Jenna smirked.

"Which I usually haven't," Kanna admitted. "You'd be surprised how similar a vision can be to having too much to drink or not enough sleep."

"No wonder not many choices are made based on them." Fenrik shook his head and happily helped himself to a good portion of the meat and fruit dish.

"Exactly," she nodded, letting Jenna take her own helping before helping herself. "Even when they do form into clear visions, if they're of something that's going to happen, it doesn't always happen, or it's vague as anything. So, how have things been going for you, Jay, and Shi?" She asked.

"Fairly well. I'm waiting to hear if I'll be joining them on Beldin Prime or off on another mission. I'm sure Jay's having a grand time on the dig. Shi's probably bored, or trying to keep Jay from confounding the archeologists too much telling them what things are and were used for."

"Could be worse," Kanna grinned. "I could be along with them. I think that poor doctor was going to rip his hair out for everything Jay and I told him that he couldn't use, that first mission I tagged along on after my Seer talents were working well."

"True," Fenrik chuckled with a wicked grin. "And he couldn't do much, since he did ask for 'help'. That one was almost worth the boredom to get to watch."

"Even when Kanna tripped across the old courtship rituals?" Jenna asked with a smirk.

"Especially that one," he laughed. "I didn't really want to shut her up. There were fun ideas in there."

"Oh shush," Kanna muttered, blushing a light purple despite the fact that all three of them knew she wasn't that embarrassed by what had happened. Not nearly as much as Shivasta had been, at least. "Is it my fault nobody realized what that statue was really used for?"

"I expect Jay knew, and didn't think anything of it." Fenrik chuckled softly. "Your rendition was much more interesting, though."

"I'm just glad I'm not one of the Seers who ends up acting out parts of some of her visions," Kanna chuckled, eating her dinner. "That would have been very ... interesting."

"Shi would have passed out, I'm sure." Fenrik couldn't help but laugh. "It would have ruined the Jedi image for anyone there."

"And anybody who heard of it," Jenna snickered. "Though it would've fixed my reputation around here, that much is for sure," she winked at her partner.

"Oh, I don't know," Kanna smirked back. "You didn't see some of the bonding rituals between the new sisters-in-law."

"Why do I get the feeling that you learned more about sex in that vision than my Padawan did in all her years of experimenting?" Fenrik shook his head, amazed at how familiar the chat over dinner was here. He really had thought it was only his dinner table that was this strange.

Of course, these were the two Padawans who'd grown up around it.

"Oh, I only remember the highlights," Kanna chuckled. "Though that still puts me ahead of a lot of the people around here, especially the ones who didn't have the experimental years."

"Which, as I recall, includes you." He chuckled throatily. "Somehow I wonder how you came out as traditional as you have, given who raised you, and your partner."

"Hay!" Jenna faked insult.

"Don't you start. You're still as bad as Jay ever was." He smirked at her. "And don't think I didn't know you were usually watching us when you couldn't get a playmate of your own."

"Well, you never complained," Jenna smirked. "As for Miss Perfect Jedi, it was the only way she could get anybody to trust her enough to be a proper partner in crime for me," Jenna smirked.

"Guilty," the Ice Walker grinned.

"You two could teach the bothans a thing or two about espionage, you know." He shook his head.

"And that's before you've heard about our recent missions," Kanna smirked. "We do our best."

"Do I even want to know?" He raised an eyebrow, keenly interested.

"Hear about that near-rebellion on Malastare?" The Ice Walker asked, getting into one of her favorite subjects; the more exciting missions she ended up on when she was working with Jenna.

"Yes, and you two were there," he nodded, very curious about what had not ended up in the report.

"Well, the Council wanted us to make sure it stayed a near -" Kanna trailed off, and then sighed.

"Well, that's great timing," she murmured, standing up. "Sorry I have to run, but I just got a call from Master Charn. Councilors I don't want to keep waiting."

"Hopefully it's not the usual when another Seer calls you." Jenna nodded seriously. "I'll clean up."

"You two finish eating first," Kanna smiled. "With any luck, it won't be anything," she said, heading out the door quickly.

Despite her words, she knew full well things weren't going to be that simple.

Her belief was confirmed by the dark expression on Master Charn's face when she entered the meditation chamber he'd called her to.

"Hello, Knight Kanna." The heavily silvered Panther greeted her with a motion to sit with him. Master Zaian was already there, her own fur even more pale than the Councilor's. Kanna took her seat, slipping into a meditative position.

"Hello, Master Charn, Zaian," she said softly. "What is the matter?" She asked.

"The storm rises," Master Zaian said softly, her eyelids closed to hide the once-bright eyes that were now clouded with cataracts. "It has obscured our vision, but its presence is enough to be of concern."

"The vision I almost had," Kanna said, knowing that it was somehow connected to this.

"Yes," the ancient Panthress nodded slightly. "You came closest out of all the Knights; we need you to complete the circle."

"I understand, Master," Kanna nodded. "Is there any idea what it is that is causing the storm?"

"What always causes it, Knight Kanna," Master Charn rumbled, his voice deep and almost menacing. "The Dark rises; we must discover where, and how."

The three Seers joined hands, Zaian not fumbling in the least despite her handicap, her two younger colleagues closing their eyes and focusing on the energies interfering with their visions.

And, perhaps, signaled the return of the Sith.

Darth Tembris settled back in his room, closing his eyes and beginning to meditate. The Sith Lord had been planning this for some time, decades even. Delicate plans had been laid, contingencies put in place, countless assorted permutations of his arrangements laid out to bring the Republic and the Jedi to their knees in time.

If this plan worked, it would be within his lifetime yet.

He had no intention of letting the presence he had sensed earlier interfere with that.

"Who are you?" He asked himself quietly, stretching out his consciousness and seeking the presence in the Force and the Dark Side again. Whatever it was, it seemed to gravitate towards the Jedi who had arrived earlier, so he was going to start there.

Masking his presence, wrapping himself in a shroud of the Dark Side's energies, he began to explore, occasionally sending out a ripple through the Force that would only be sensed by the ... thing ... he was searching for.

It drew a response much sooner than he'd expected. With that came the realization that a Dark Side creature it may be, but it was also completely alien to this galaxy.

"*Who cares?*" It rumbled back defensively, the heavy accent in it's mind as much from being unaccustomed to being addressed by anyone it wasn't linked to as a minimal understanding of the language.

"*Somebody who belongs here,*" Tembris informed it. "*What are you, and what is your interest in the Jedi.*"

"*He is mine.*" The creature growled back, the demonic mental image coming more from what it knew others thought of it than any self-image it had. On the fringe of its mind, the Sith realize that this entity had never had a solid form.

And it was old.

A part of him wondered, in the back of his mind, if he was seeing a creature that wasn't a true spirit, but instead an embodiment of the Dark Side itself.

"*I do not dispute that claim,*" Tembris told him. "*But I have need of him.*"

"*What do you offer in exchange for that?*" It accepted the opening to negotiations cautiously.

"*To turn him to your purposes,*" the Sith offered. His own purposes required turning Clawson to the Dark Side; he doubted that this creature would object. After presenting that option, he reached out, searching the Force for some information that would make these negotiations possible.

What he found came as a serious surprise.

The creature wanted young by his 'charge'. Young that Clawson had steadfastly refused even with his mates. It had all but given up on turning the Jedi, but the next generation, a generation even more powerful than this one, presented it with a lure it couldn't resist.

"*You think you can turn him?*" It asked skeptically. "After all this time, he resists the Dark well.*"

"*As did I,*" the Sith pointed out. "*And if that fails, I can offer you something you want even more. Children, by his blood, of a Force-wielder. Children that can be raised to the Dark.*"

Tembris knew he had the creature's undivided attention now. He could feel it in the way the Force flowed and jumped in the eagerness of the Dark seeing a long-desired event coming to pass.

"*What do you intend for him?*" It asked with a slightly less possessive rumble.

"*Only that his 'gifts' be put to proper use,*" Tembris assured it. "*The Sith want the Republic and Jedi to pay for what they have done. With his assistance, I can accomplish what no other Sith Lord has truly achieved; the conquest of the Republic, and Sith domination. I imagine you could help me with this. I can sense how close you are to the Knight.*"

"*His family line is mine,*" the Demon nodded. "*It will take more than my connection to turn him though. You must make his mates go away. He is too strong with them.*"

"*That was already planned,*" the Sith smirked mentally. "*I have prior business with that Healer, and his other mate is across the galaxy.*"

"*Yes,*" it crooned, seeing the possibilities. "*How is she going away?*"

"*An old demon of hers is about to return in a nearby system. Nearby, but not close enough to let her return here when her mate finds he needs her. She'll be busy fighting a minor plague outbreak when the pieces come together.*"

"*A good plan.*" It nodded in approval. It wasn't certain it would work, but it didn't have any obvious flaws. "*I will leave him alone, so she is not so uneasy about leaving him here.*"

"*And I will arrange to fulfill my end of the bargain,*" Tembris promised. "*Worst case scenario, one of my hopefuls will carry his children within days.*"

"*And that is far from a loss.*" The Demon said with no small hint of the power and promise he expected of such a union.

"*Agreed,*" Tembris said. "*I'd been toying with the idea already, in case he should manage to be turned back after he joins us. We both have much work to do; it would be wise to begin doing it.*"

With that, the Sith pulled back towards his body, moving towards his console to send out orders to move ahead with the plan.

It was time for the Republic to finally fall.

A number of the researchers and helpers were gathered around to watch the two Jedi spar a few days later. Dr. Tosh and Dr. Kell were still asleep, so the younger archaeologists were taking the opportunity to watch the Knight and Master practice.

"This is a lot more interesting than working in the ruins," one of them, a lean Panthress, rumbled, her eyes focused mostly on Jay. Despite having a couple decades on her, he was still lean and well built, and not even close to showing his age.

"Speak for yourself, Ricki," a fluffy black-on-brown Tabby fem roughly the same age chuckled. "This is fun, but the work we're actually getting paid for is too. Though I have to admit, they are attractive."

"Pity they spends their nights together." Ricki chuckled softly. "Though it's good to know not all Jedi are cold fish."

"Mmm ... can you imagine what it'd be like to be between them?" The Tabby grinned at her friend. "Though I'd settle for the blue-skinned girl, myself."

"You would, Mina," Ricki chuckled, rolling her eyes a bit. "Pass up a perfectly good tom like that."

"I happen to appreciate toms in places besides the bedroom," the smaller woman shot back playfully, focusing on the sparring match again. "Besides, it'd be nice to get to know 'em both better, whether or not anybody ever made it to the bedroom."

"With the size of this dig, we'll get our chance. We'll be here for months at least." A male Sabertooth, hired for his muscle more than his skill, grinned at the pair.

"Very true," Mina chuckled, watching Clawson's fluid, effective moves with the realization that the Knight was a far better fighter than the Master in this case. "Still can't believe those ruins we found. That place is incredible."

"Yeah, it is. Just those statues are mind-blowing, never mind all the info they contain." Ricki nodded.

"Makes you wonder what any later statues they have are like doesn't it?" Mina asked with a bit of a grin. "Like just later, not the one that turned up on Yavin."

"Given how few have been found, I'm sure that they'll all be sent through a scanner system ASAP." The Panthress nodded. "Just these have already quadrupled our knowledge, and I don't think we've scanned more than ten percent of them yet."

"Hey now, give the linguists time to work girl," Mina smirked. "We can scan 'em pretty quick, but then we've got to get the computer to decode 'em and we have to translate from a Sith dialect that's older than the Sith. You think it's gonna go quickly?"

"No, but it's still exciting." Ricki grinned at her. "Imagine what this will actually give us in ten or twenty years when it's all been studied properly."

"Myopia," the Sabertooth smirked down at the two archaeologists. "At least from what I've seen of it."

"We're not that bad." Ricki rolled her eyes at him.

"I'll make sure to publish a large print version," Mina chuckled, looking up at him. "And to use easy words," she teased as the sparring Jedi started to slow down a bit.

"So they don't last forever after all." He grinned up at the pair.

"Close enough for me," Ricki chuckled with a wise-ass grin, Mina just rolling her eyes.

"They've been at it for close to an hour now, they're probably interested in breakfast," the tabby pointed out.

"So am I." Ricki nodded, though the look she gave Jay was not all that subtle.

"Somehow, I was thinking of a different sort of 'breakfast in bed' than you are," Mina deadpanned. "I'll go check with the kitchen, you have fun trying to flirt or something."

"Want me to try and save anything for you, if I get lucky?" Ricki winked at her co-worker.

"Why not?" Mina chuckled, shaking her head. "Not like you're going to. They might not be cold fish, but they're still Jedi. You are so not their speed."

"How would you know?" Ricki shot back with a bit of a smirk.

"*I think we need to try and be more quiet at night.*" Jay commented as he and Shi cooled down.

"*I don't know, it's almost fun listening to those two,*" Shi chuckled mentally. "*Imagine what it'd be like if Fenrik was here too.*"

"*Very fun,*" he grinned mentally and drew a deep breath to calm down. "*The comment about breakfast was right though. I'm quite ready to eat.*"

"*Agreed,*" Shivasta nodded, dropping back to the ready position and extinguishing her lightsaber. "So, shall we find our way to the cafeteria?"

"I think so," he nodded easily. "*We're not so sweaty we need a shower yet.*" He winked at her mentally.

"*That's because we already showered when we got out of bed,*" she pointed out with a mental smirk. "*Come on, let's look for subjects we can talk about out-loud politely.*"

"Found anything of extra interest in your part of the dig?" He went for the obvious, and to him, the most interesting one.

"Only that this is the weirdest Sith ruin I've ever been in," Shi said easily. "They really changed after they started to turn to the Dark Side, physically and culturally."

"The more I translate, the more I get to know these people, the more I hate those early Dark Jedi. They did so much more than just subjugate and warp these people." He shook his head. Despite the evenness of his voice, she had no doubt the emotions spoken of were very real and very strong. "They weren't Light-siders, but there was no need to steal their name, their very identity."

"It was a slower sort of conquest, I think," Shivasta pointed out. "By the time they did, they weren't Dark Jedi anymore. They were Sith. They didn't conquer them violently; they mingled, and twisted the culture to their purposes. Just like the Sith do with everything."

"I don't expect I'll ever understand how anyone could be so willing to give up their identity." He shook his head slightly.

"How did my people become the Ice Walkers?" Shi pointed out. "The first people didn't. There comes a point when you're not who you used to be though."

"I don't see how they did that either." He said very quietly. "To go that far ... they've all forgotten their past in becoming something new." He sighed. "Shi, you're talking to someone who still holds his family name and ways as central to his identity. I am a Clawson. Without that knowledge, there's nothing worth having." He closed his eyes and shook his head as they got close enough to see others at the entrance of cafeteria. "*I can't understand giving up what you are. Maybe you can. It's just not in me to do that.*"

"*You're in a place where being who you are still fits, in a way,*" she pointed out softly, taking his hand and squeezing it lightly. "*After a dozen generations, in a place where that's not true, you adapt or don't last that long.*"

"*But still, to forget where you came from, just to adapt?*" He wasn't really asking her, it was more just a statement of something he couldn't grasp at all.

"When it doesn't help you, or when you resent it, it doesn't matter as much," she pointed out. "And the Sith didn't forget, unfortunately. They tried to destroy the memory of what they took over, but they didn't forget about the Jedi."

"*I guess so,*" he acknowledged the truth of her words, even if he didn't understand how they could be true.

"Let's just focus on what we can recover of the past, hmm?" She smiled, leading him into the cafeteria and taking a deep breath. "Smells like they didn't char the bacon this morning," she chuckled.

"Always a good thing," he managed a slight smile, though the smell of good food always perked him up more than he showed. "Smells like there is fresh bread and fruit in the offering too."

"It is nice eating somewhere they aren't cooking for species that can't live on the same planet you're on," Shi smiled as they got into line. "Though the Kel Dor have some interesting dishes sometimes."

"True, though I do prefer Kanna's ideas of interesting dishes." He chuckled.

"No complaints there," she chuckled. "She learned to cook well."

"That she has," he nodded and picked up a tray, pleased with the selection available today.

"Any objection to company while we eat?" Shivasta asked, taking a tray of her own. "Looks like we have a tabby saving us seats," she explained, nodding towards Mina and the table she was at.

"Not at all," he glanced that way. "Mina, I think."

"I think so," Shivasta agreed with a nod, starting to walk over towards the table and the tabby who was glad to see she had their attention. "Looks like we might have another friend here before we leave."

"Never a bad thing," he chuckled softly before they were really in earshot.

"Thanks for saving us seats," Shi smiled as they took them.

"No problem," Mina smiled. "I figured I should get your attention before my partner realized you two were free and tried 'distracting' you."

"The Panther you were talking with while we sparred?" Jay asked.

"Yeah," Mina chuckled. "She's ... enthusiastic. I swear, she's living proof that not everybody who works digs is the calm, restrained intellectual."

"*Rather like how we're living proof not all Jedi are 'cold fish'.*" Jay snickered silently to Shi. "I think you'll find those exceptions everywhere."

"Most likely," Mina smiled. "But not usually to the level she's at."

"I wonder if it's a Panther thing?" Shi chuckled. "I've known several; most of them are as bad as she sounds like."

"*I've never heard you seriously complain about ours.*" Jay snickered silently. "It's possible," he nodded. "Though I thought that was supposed to be the domain of rabbits and Minervan Mink."

"Oh, the assorted Cats have their own reputations," Mina chuckled. "Just that most of us don't live up to them, leaving people like Rickie to fill in the gaps."

"Which they tend to do very enthusiastically," Shi chuckled, starting in on her breakfast.

"The universe does prefer balance," he nodded, almost not keeping a straight face.

"Mmm ... well, if Ricki's supposed to be doing something to make the universe happy, I suspect it has less to do with balance, and more to do with metaphysical pornography," Mina snickered. "I prefer to get to know people, myself."

"I do believe somebody's hinting," Shi chuckled.

"At you, as I recall." Jay winked at her.

"Oh, all right," Shi chuckled, taking a drink of juice and setting the glass down. "So, where do you want me to start?"

"How about with some of the things you two have done?" Mina asked with a smile. "All I know about you is that you're both Jedi."

"Okay," the Ice Walker smiled, thinking back and picking out an early story of theirs. "Think I'll start with what happened at the Kallarak ...."

Doruth groaned softly as he cuddled up with his shewolf mate late that night, Tes dressed in her harem costume after a day of subtle pampering that had him wondering what was going on.

"Mmm ... I'm getting too old for this," he chuckled, licking her cheek tenderly.

"You're not even eighty-five, Jedi." She nuzzled him back. "Shan and Surool still play, and I don't even want to know how old they are."

"You also tried to keep me going for about three hours," Doruth pointed out dryly, kissing her. "While you're worth it, it's just not as easy as it used to be."

"Ah, my poor warrior all tuckered out?" Tes teased him with a kiss that was gently serious. "You are worth it, love, every time."

"Mmm .... and so are you," he murmured. They both had as much grey in their fur as anything else by this point, and the familiarity of fifty years being mates behind them. Even so, they still did everything they had when they were just getting together.

Only somewhat more gently.

"So," he asked with a soft chuckle, "what is it you're trying to butter me up before asking me about?"

"It's been more than a year since we sent Neki, Verera and Kysi to the Crèche." She murmured softly, a look on her face that he'd seen many times before, usually with similar words.

"You're interested in bringing up another litter?" He asked her, honestly knowing he should know better than to be surprised. They'd already raised more children than any Jedi ever before, the majority of whom were already with the Order in one capacity or another. Nasim and Abayomi were already Masters now, as were all the Wolves she'd given birth too, except for Badru, who'd been killed as a Knight, and Shyin, who was running the family business instead of becoming a Jedi.

"Yes," she smiled brilliantly, a look that they both knew he could rarely refuse.

"You really do get along with being a mother, at least for the time we are," he murmured, nuzzling her neck. "Are you really sure we can keep up with another litter though? Honestly?"

"I'm sure," she smiled and rolled over to snuggle against him. "I've never doubted your ability."

"You know, the Kaminoans have got to adore us by now," he murmured dryly, nuzzling her neck. "Every few years, just about like clockwork."

"The Council hasn't complained yet either." She snickered a bit. "They may pay, but they get some very good Jedi from the investment."

"The Council might not, the crèche-masters ... that's another story," Doruth chuckled. "I think Master Kellen was hinting that he'd rather we at least wait until he's retired before sending more cubs his way the other day."

"How long until then?" She raised an eyebrow.

"Probably just about long enough for the next litter to be ready," Doruth admitted. "Mmm ... only two this time?" He asked, knowing already that he probably wouldn't be able to say no. As much as cubs were sometimes irritating, he enjoyed being a father almost as much as Tes did being a mother. He'd have to, to have been father to three litters of pups and ten litters of cubs, and cub/pup sitter to quite a few more he was grandfather, or even great-grandfather, too.

He was just a little more willing to settle for grandfather than she was.

"I can live with that," she murred and snuggled close. "Thank you."

"Mmm ... just promise me that this litter will be the last, all right?" He asked her, kissing her neck. "By the time you'll be in the mood again, I'll almost be 90, and that is far too old for even a Jedi to be called 'Daddy,'" he chuckled.

"At least by an infant," Tes agreed a bit reluctantly. "It's hard to remember you don't have the endless energy and endurance you did when we met." She smiled at him softly.

"Mmm ... you don't either, my love," he pointed out softly, kissing her tenderly. "We do our best, but even Jedi slow down eventually."

"Eighty-five is not that old." She chuckled. "Master Charn's two hundred and something."

"And hasn't been on missions for at least a hundred and thirty," Doruth pointed out, scritching her back lightly. "I'm still the oldest Panther on field duty, and not planning on retiring all that soon. Trust me, I'm not about to trade in my lightsaber for a rocker," he smirked.

"Or a Councilor's seat." She nuzzled him. "Which you'd be very good at, if you didn't hate politics so much."

"Mmm ... don't start that again," he chuckled. "You'd be as bored as I would be if we were stuck here on Coruscant." He buried his muzzle in her neck-fur, inhaling her familiar scent deeply. "Mmm ... sleep well, love."

"Yes, sleep," she murmured agreeably and snuggled in for the night, still as grateful for every night she had him as he was for his nights with her.

Shivasta paused as she was performing her morning stretches and meditations, opening her eyes as she heard the console in her quarters beep. Glancing at the bed to make sure Jay wasn't already up and getting it, she stood, moving to see what somebody was contacting them here for.

As she read the message, lengthy and filled with medical technical terms, Jay's half-waking mind became increasingly aware of his mate's concern and mild distress.

"*Shi?*" He reached out with his mind before his body was quite awake enough to talk.

"Plague outbreak," she told him softly, moving to start packing. "It reads like a mutant strain got out of the quarantine."

"*Great,*" he sighed mentally. "*When's the ship going to be here for you?*"

"An hour or two," she told him. "About enough time to pack and get a quick breakfast. Are you going to be okay? It sounds like they can probably handle it with the people they have, but ...."

"Shi, you're a Master Healer. Go help the sick people." He smiled at her a bit unhappily even as he got up to come over and hug her. "I'll be fine. If there was anything active here that's nasty, we would have found it by now."

"You're right," she smiled slightly, kissing him gently. "With any luck, it shouldn't take more than a few weeks. It sounds like we caught it fairly early, and the vaccines do some good, just not as much as they used to. At least I won't have to worry about catching it this time," she smiled wryly.

"At least there is that," he murmured and rested his forehead against hers. "Just be as careful as you can, okay? I'm too old to find another mate."

"Like anybody else'd put up with you," she teased playfully, kissing him gently. "Let's get some food before I have to go, okay? I'll see you again soon; it's just a few systems away."

"Yes, breakfast." He nodded and let her go, turning to get dressed. He wasn't happy, but nothing more than could be expected from the news.

Mina rubbed the bridge of her muzzle lightly as she finished translating one particular stretch of decoded ancient Sith legends.

"Knight Clawson? Think we can take five?" She asked him, setting her datapad aside.

"Of course," he nodded agreeably and set his own datapad aside.

"How're you doing?" She asked him conversationally, standing up and moving over to grab something to drink for the both of them.

"I'm fine," he looked at her a bit curiously, unsure where the question had come from.

"I meant with your mate gone," she smiled, handing him a glass of tendra juice. "You two are obviously very close; she's been gone close to a week now."

"I miss her, but this is hardly the first time we've been apart." He said easily, though it wasn't nearly so easy for him at night. "Jedi do not always have the luxury of having who they wish with them."

"Sounds a bit like our job, if you hook up with somebody who isn't cleared for dig work," Mina smiled. "How long have you two been together?"

Jay paused, doing a bit of math to answer that. "Fifty-two years next month."

"Whoa," she murmured, honestly more than a bit surprised. "Either you two got together when you were pretty young, or the Jedi really age slower than most people."

"Young." He admitted after a sip of golden-orange juice. "We were both teenagers."

"And the slow aging," Mina smiled. "I would've pegged the both of you for forties, not sixties. No wonder you two are so close."

"And both our races age slower than the galactic norm to start with." He chuckled softly. "Even without Jedi training, we wouldn't look our age to most."

"Well, I imagine that has its perks," she chuckled. "Not quite as interesting as the Neti, probably, but still pretty good."

"I don't think anything could be quite that interesting." He shook his head with a soft chuckle thinking about the plant-basted life. "Not even the Drakon last so long, though none of them have tried the hibernation trick before. They might come close, with a natural life span toping eight thousand years for a Jedi and records of far older ones."

"That'd come close at least," Mina chuckled. "Have you worked with a Drakon before?" She asked him curiously. If he had, she rather hoped he wasn't friends with any of them. Drakon, especially as Jedi, tended to be people you didn't want to mess around with. They were thankfully very rare off their homeworld. Not so thankfully, those that were out and about were mostly Jedi.

"A couple times," he nodded. "You have not flown until one has given you a ride at Force-enhanced speed." He smiled warmly at the thrilling memory from three decades before. "I tend to be sent on missions with one of my mates though, if all three of us don't go. The Council doesn't break up a good team without reason."

"All three of you?" She asked, interested. Tembris had only mentioned one mate. "Your other mate isn't here?"

"No," he shook his head a bit. "He was on a mission when this one came in. The Council might send him here for the rest of the dig, or back to his classes. As dull as he finds it, I do hope he comes."

"Don't like being alone?" She said understandingly.

"Not particularly." He admitted after finishing half the glass. "Our bond means we're never truly alone, but it's not the same as having them with you. As long as we've been together, it's a little weird being solo."

"Makes sense," she nodded, drinking her own juice. She was really hoping the Council would keep his other mate on Coruscant once he was back; timing everything would be tricky enough with one of them to get out of the way.

"So what about you, besides preferring females?" He countered, wanting to get himself off the main subject. "Anyone back home or hopes for the future?"

"Not at the moment," she admitted. "Nothing serious at least. Having too much fun in the field yet," she grinned.

"That's hardly a reason," Jay pointed out with a low chuckle. "There are plenty of people here, after all."

"Oh don't get me wrong, I do play around once in a while," she chuckled. "Just haven't met anybody who interests me that much yet."

"That can be a lifetime's search for many," he nodded. "I was more than lucky to find my mates as young as I did."

"I'll bet," she agreed. "Just how young were you?"

"Thirteen." He answered simply. "They were both fifteen."

"Weren't you a little young to be interested in fems back then?" Mina asked curiously, more than a touch stunned at those ages.

"I was a little young to be interested in anyone," he shrugged. "It's one of those 'it happened' things. None of us were looking for it; the Force simply decided it was time."

"Figures," Mina chuckled. "You're not looking for one mate yet, and you manage to find two. There are people out there who've been looking for years who can't even manage to find one. At least it lasted," she smiled.

"Yes," he smiled faintly, warmed by the thought of his mates. "We've even surprised most Jedi with how long we've been together."

"I imagine you surprised most Jedi with the fact that you were together, unless the rumors about the Order aren't true," she chuckled.

"They're mostly true," Jay admitted. "They knew when they accepted me that I was going to be an exception to that norm, just not with who or exactly when. My Master is a good example of more typical Jedi behavior, though. She's never actually thought about having sex in any seriousness."

"Well, unless you want some serious attention from a certain Panthress I know, you might want to keep how much of an exception you are under wraps," Mina winked. "She's definitely interested."

"Her attention is not welcome." He replied simply, a slight shifting in the Force around him indicating just how serious a 'no' that really was. "Which she'll find out if she gets past whispering about it to you."

"Understood," Mina said easily, filing that mentally. It certainly wouldn't help her mission, Zykell's assurances that his new ally would help her get around that one weren't that reassuring. He would have to be a Jedi interested in sex and not interested in anyone but whom he already was with. "I'll make sure she finds out before that point, discretely."

"Thank you," he inclined his head slightly before finishing his juice. "Ready to get back to work?"

"I think so," Mina smiled, finishing her own drink and setting the glass aside. "Any idea what this passage means?" She asked, indicating one particular stretch of runes on both their pads.

Shivasta sighed as she worked through the medical readouts for the latest patients she'd had. Something didn't feel right about this. Not only was the Plague resisting the standard vaccine, but it was more virulent.

It had sounded like an accidental mutation, but given the Plague's known origin ... she was beginning to think somebody had engineered a second strain. The question was why they would release it here. The Carcharo system was small and out on the Rim ... but it was so close to vital Rim systems that anybody releasing it would have to realize that there would be a Jedi presence within days of the first reports.

So why would somebody take a disease that already had a cure, make it more contagious, then put it somewhere it could be cured reasonably easily? It didn't make sense.

A chill tingled along her spine, a warning of Darkness of more sentient origin than the disease she was fighting.

It was a fairly familiar feeling; something about this was connected to the Demon.

Which meant Jay was going to be in danger.

"Damn it," she swore under her breath, turning to her console to send a message to Jay. She had to get back to the Beldin system as quickly as she could, but he needed to know what was happening first. Whoever was behind this was probably on the dig with him.

What sort of sick bastard would do this to an innocent system to lure a Jedi away?

She typed in the message, opening the door behind her. At least her latest patient was reasonably healthy.

"I'm afraid something came up, but you're recovering nicely," she called back. "You should be fi-" She cut off as she felt a dart hit her throat, reaching up and spinning around, ripping the needle out of her neck even as she felt the poison on it burning into her system.

The Otter in the next room, her patient, was holding small, concealed dart pistol, watching as her breath started to grow short. She didn't have to reach out with the Force to realize that her 'patient' was working with the people behind this.

She did, however, have to work to keep the poison from killing her. She recognized the symptoms as her hands started trembling; green zyla.

One of the poisons out there that didn't have a known antidote.

She summoned the Force to her, knowing that using it was her only chance to live through this, her blood burning and nerves beginning to function randomly.

The Ice Walker fell to the ground, twitching for a few moments before lying still, her eyes staring lifelessly forward.

Most of the way across the galaxy, Kanna gasped, her eyes snapping open as she sensed her Master and Aunt fall. She pulled her hands free from Master Charn's and Master Zaian's, thunder cracking the normally peaceful skies of Coruscant outside the meditation spire.

"Master," she murmured, starting to stand as she put together what she'd felt. Her bond with Shivasta was deeper than the normal Master-Padawan connection; the two of them had never truly broken it because of their familiar relationship. Thanks to that, and her meditation with the two stronger Seers, she had felt the ripples caused by ....

She swallowed hard, unwilling to believe what she'd felt. Intense pain that gave way to the Force ... she couldn't be sure, but death seemed like a very real possibility.

"Knight," Master Charn's voice stopped her in her tracks as she turned to leave, his tone clearly expecting an explanation.

"I'm sorry, Masters," she said, turning to face them again, bowing. "I sensed something, in meditation ... something happened to Master Shivasta. She has been injured, badly ... possibly killed."

That raised an eyebrow slightly on the aged male Panther. "Where are you going, then?"

"I ...." Kanna trailed off as she realized she didn't honestly know. "To try and find out what happened," she said after a moment. "See if anybody's with her, knows about it. I might be the only person who does."

"Knight Clawson most assuredly knows, given they are on the same mission." Master Charn pointed out; no longer privy to the Council knowledge that Shivasta had left the dig and her mate several systems away.

"With all due respect, Master Charn, if Knight Clawson is aware of what I felt, then he is in no position to help her right now," Kanna said simply. There was no way Jay would have allowed something like that to happen if he could possibly help it.

"You and Knight Dyreth should check with Master Fenrik first, then. He also shares a bond with them." His concern for the other Panther clear to the Jedi. "I will alert Master Essani to send the nearest Healer to their location."

"Thank you, Master," Kanna said, bowing. "We will check with Master Fenrik, then try and determine what happened." With that, she turned to leave, hurrying without giving any observers a clear view of how concerned she truly was.

Mina waited outside the Jedi's quarters, ready to open the door as soon as the Demon told her it was time. She could feel the turbulent Darkness in there, the Light fighting it, but the proportion of the two told her as clearly as any words that it wasn't the Force that was fighting the Darkness back. The Jedi wasn't using the methods she'd have expected him to when under attack by a creature of the Dark.

Yet he was still winning, by force of will alone, apparently.

If Darth Tembris hadn't told her how to contact the Demon, how to hear its words without letting its host in on the fact, she'd probably have left by now. It was no different than any other morning so far.

Then she heard the scream of rage and pain from the kat inside. She hit the key to open the door, rushing in, her face a mask of concern as the Force became a visible, living, chaotic entity around the tom struggling in bed. He wasn't truly awake; she could feel that as much as see it in his open, sightless, terrified and panicked eyes.

"*Pretend to be her,*" the Demon's deep voice rumbled in her mind. "*Hold him, croon comforting things to him, touch him when he calms. Reach out to his mind so I can work.*"

Mina moved to do so, shifting onto the bed and presenting a warm, comforting presence.

"It's all right," she told him softly, using most of the words she remembered from her early mornings spent eavesdropping on the two Jedi during this little 'ritual.' "It's all right, I'm here for you." She just hoped that the obvious differences between herself and his newly-former mate wouldn't get in the way.

On the other hand, for the critical part of her mission, she only needed him to accept her this once. Darth Tembris had does things to her body to ensure that she would conceive well this morning if she even got close to what the mates normally did.

She was more than glad she'd picked up a tolerance for pain. His claws were still very sharp and he was oblivious to what he was doing as the Demon did its work in his mind and Mina held his body. She smiled slightly as he began to show signs of relaxing as the Demon backed off, leaving the new pseudo-mate-bond between the felines in its wake.

"Shh, it's all right," she murmured, kissing him lightly and drawing him back with her onto the bed, glad she was only wearing a light gown. It was probably more than his real mate did, but she couldn't very well have walked around the camp naked, and there hadn't been all that much time to change once he was ready.

It felt incredibly weird, and a touch unsettling, to feel the way his mind worked; to know anyone that intimately with the realization that is she wasn't incredibly careful, and he wasn't as weak a telepath as she'd been told, that he could know her just as well, just as fast.

Then her attention was no longer on the long-term consequences but focused on coaxing the slight physical arousal she could feel forming into fruition.

She kissed him tenderly, rubbing his back and neck, letting the Demon give her the tips she needed to work him just awake enough to do what was necessary, without being conscious enough to realize what was happening and respond as he probably would. It was a bit fascinating to watch, from the inside and the out, how readily he accepted her actions once the bond was in place. He knew she wasn't Shi, but whatever the Demon had done had walked her right past everything that cared.

He would probably kill her once this was all over, or want to at least. She was already planning to be well and truly gone by that time.

But first, she had to do what she'd been told to.

She slipped her nightgown off slightly, then wrapped her arms around him, rolling him up on top of her as he began to kiss her back in the half-awake way of lovers in the early morning.

It was working perfectly. Nothing in him resisted her desires as they became his own and he slid down her body slightly to kiss her breasts, the Force stroking her sex gently before plunging deep inside her.

"Oh yes," she groaned, tightening her body around his telekinetic shaft and wrapping a leg around his waist. It had been a while since she'd done this, and even warming up he felt good.

Especially with the brief heat cycle she was going through.

She whimpered and spread her legs when he moved further down and nuzzled her slick sex, inhaling the pheromones he'd normally have fought like hell to avoid. Then his tongue swirled around her clit in a practiced counter-rhythm to the telekinetic thrusts filling her sex.

Mina whimpered, her tail flicking against his chest as she enjoyed his touch, and the feel of being filled without really being taken yet. She wasn't going to settle for that too much longer though. It was something he felt and allowed the telekinesis to fade as he kissed his way back up her body. The real thing pressed into her with a single smooth thrust while he closed her mouth with a kiss.

It was in that moment she realized he was fully awake and aware that she was not his mate, and as confused as it had him, he wasn't contesting the idea that this female in his bed, that he was making love to, belonged there and they belonged doing just that at this hour.

He hadn't forgotten about Shi, but the pain of her passing was all but gone from him. That confused him even more, but there was something blocking him from investigating it too much for now, and it wasn't her body.

Something for which the tabby he was fucking was devoutly grateful for. She kissed him deeply, tightening her body around him, working his shaft with her sex. She wasn't as skilled as Shivasta was by now, but she knew what she was doing and Jay's pheromone-keyed up body was in no condition to resist.

Mina cried out sharply when his teeth dug into her shoulder, drawing blood even as her body was flooded by his seed and he stiffened in the peak of pleasure that she realized was just the beginning.

She fought not to respond the way her instincts were telling her to, not to fight back. Unless he started going way too far, she was going to go along with whatever he wanted at this point. She could taste how used he was to the blood and violence mixed with his pleasure, both in giving and receiving ... no wonder his mate was a Healer. They'd need it just to survive if what she saw in his mind was real.

Then her body stiffened in response to the pleasure flooding her mind from him and his own skill at giving pleasure.

Bloody or not, he did care about his lover's pleasure.

"All right, Nemik," Fenrik said soothingly, watching the senior student who was still holding his training 'saber nervously as the two of them practiced in front of the class. "Form Alpha, we'll take it from the top, I'll take defensive."

The young, blue-skinned Twi'lek shifted to an offensive stance, and the two of them began the simple combat exchange. For a few moments, everything was going well. Despite Nemik's uncertainty, he wasn't making any serious mistakes, and the small ones he made Fenrik could compensate for with ease.

Then he felt a near scream across the Force, painfully similar to what he felt when Master Kiris had died, as Shivasta's bond with him carried a sensation of incredible pain, then faded away.

It only became worse as Jay's response echoed through to him mere moments later; a panicked, disturbed sense not unlike the time he'd been drugged on Alderaan ... but made all the worse because, somehow, there was the sense of somebody he trusted doing this to him.

Somebody he trusted as much as Shivasta or Fenrik ... somebody who, as far as Fenrik knew, didn't exist.

The Panther hissed as he was snapped back into the waking world by the feeling of Nemik's training 'saber striking him on the arm, burning his robes and the arm beneath them.

Fortunately, the blade flashed off as soon as it detected a living body being struck, everybody in class, most of all Nemik, looking at Fenrik with a slightly panicked expression.

"Master Fenrik, I'm sorry!" The Twi'lek said quickly. "I-I didn't think I was ...."

"You didn't do anything wrong, Nemik," Fenrik reassured him quickly, holding his injured arm and shutting down his own lightsaber. "I felt something, it distracted me. Your form was perfect, I missed my steps. Class, practice the form with each other. I'll check in at medical, let them yell at me, and be back in a couple minutes."

After he'd figured out what the hell was happening to his mates. He noticed Kanna and Jenna waiting outside the door, reinforcing his sense that something was very, very seriously wrong.

Shi wasn't dead, but she was clearly very close, probably in a deep healing trance to preserve what chance she still had of surviving whatever it was. Jay ... Force, even if nothing else happened, having Jay alone on an Outer Rim world when Shi went down like that was grounds to find the fastest ship on the planet and get there as fast as he could.

"Master," Jenna said as the Knights fell in step with him on the way to medical. "Kanna's belief that Master Shivasta is nearly dead is correct, isn't it?"

"I believe so," Fenrik nodded. "You felt it too, Kanna?"

"Yes, Master," the Ice Walker nodded. "I'm not sure about Jay, but if -"

"Shivasta left the Beldin system to deal with a Plague outbreak," Fenrik explained. "I was told, but nobody felt there was any need to mention it to anybody else, since everything seemed to be going well. I'll have to go to Beldin, see to Jay. Can you two go to the Carcharo system, find out what happened to Shivasta?" He asked, looking back over his shoulder.

"Yes Master," Kanna agreed, swallowing. This was about as close as the triad could come to a worst case scenario without both of Jay's mates being incapacitated or dead.

"Are there any other Healers dealing with the outbreak?" Kanna asked quietly. "If she's that injured, we'll need the help of one."

"There certainly should be by now. An alert was sent out for every Healer in that sector. She'll probably be found soon. I just hope that whoever tried to kill her fell for what she did ...."

"If he didn't, she would be dead, Master." Jenna tried to reassure them as they reached Medical. "Who's telling the Council?"

"*The Council knows.*" Master Essani's mind broke in for all three of them, her fur no doubt a deep grey by now. "*Go, and hurry.*"

"*Thank you, Master,*" Fenrik responded, deciding to skip medical and just handle the minor injury himself. "*Knight Duroth will be eager to take over my classes while I'm gone.*"

With that the three headed to the landing pads to claim the fastest ships still available. It was already going to take far too long to reach their destinations.

Mina groggily opened her eyes to the dark room, though she knew full well it was quite late in the afternoon. The tom sleeping next to her had eventually exhausted himself and gone to sleep, though not before she'd all but passed out from the exertions of trying to keep up. Apparently he'd healed her too, before closing his eyes. She was aching all over, particularly her scruff, hips and sex that had seen the most abuse, but she could feel that the damage itself was largely gone.

Still, she had to admit that the abuse had been worth it. He was one hell of a good lover.

She couldn't deny the fact that it was a hell of a thrill too, to be able to control a Jedi's reactions like this. Even with how clearly he knew what was going on, at least the basics of it, and really didn't want to go along, she was in where he couldn't really fight her much.

Mina tried to shift his arms lightly, planning on grabbing a shower, but he was holding her close very tightly and even that small motion seemed to rouse him a bit as he pressed closer to her and tightened his arms a bit.

She frowned slightly, snuggling up against him as she realized she wasn't going to go anywhere without waking him up.

Great. She'd figured that somebody with two mates wouldn't be particularly territorial, but she'd run into behavior like this before. She wasn't going to go anywhere until he was conscious, and she could try and talk some sense into him.

Or him into sharing a shower with her.

At least Tembris had arranged for them to be "excused" from her duties on the dig; nobody'd come looking for them.

Her attention was drawn back to Jay when he began to nuzzle her. He was waking up, and he was already aroused.

She couldn't be too surprised; her body was in heat, even if only just enough to make him willing and her fertile. The pheromones could cause some impressive changes in personality and temperament in many toms.

Still, if he was going to keep her here for now, there were worse things to do than indulge him.

"You are going to have to let me out of bed eventually," she murmured, flicking the tip of her fluffy tail against his balls lightly as he went from a nuzzling her to running his hands along her body to spread the thick lips of her sex wide for him. His third finger trailed its way up to her clit, circling and teasing it as he roused himself enough into the waking world to take advantage of the situation.

She rurred, pressing against his fingers, and reached down to splay her hand over his own. He definitely knew how to pleasure a fem, better than most of the toms she'd met. She guessed over five decades with a female mate as active as they were here would teach him as much. She shifted to kiss the side of his muzzle that he turned into for a real kiss. She was already purring deeply when he began to stroke her clit rhythmically, the Force gradually filling her sex.

As possessive as he acted, even half asleep he allowed her to guide his fingers and rhythm to suit her pleasure best.

Her tail played along his sheath, balls, and hardening cock as she whimpered slightly, feeling his fingers rub her clit, his other hand moving around to roll her nipples between his fingers, her body being filled deeply by the telekinetic shaft he was pressing into her. She kissed him again, drawing his rough tongue into her mouth as she worked to get him ready to replace the false cock with his real one.

It didn't take long before he shifted on top of her and drove into her achingly hot sex, their mouths still locked in the kiss that now mimicked their actions.

She could feel that he wasn't completely conscious yet, but he was more than enough to wear them out again.

Fenrik frowned as he read yet another panicked, half-formed message from Jay. They'd practically been streaming in since he felt the attack on Shi. Words, feelings, a desperate plea for help from the part of Jay's mind that wasn't still coping with Shivasta's apparent death and what was happening to his body. All created at his command by the computers, not his hand.

As he came out of hyperspace in the Beldin system, the Panther tried to calm himself, reaching out mentally towards his mate, trying to contact him and reassure him that he was coming. It wasn't easy, not from this far away, but he had to try.

He followed the bond he had with his male mate, more grateful for it now than ever before. Even as he sensed he was getting close to Jay's mind, he slammed right into something sticky, cold and unbearably Dark.

The Demon.

Fenrik put the borrowed fighter on auto-pilot and focused, trying to steel himself to force his way through the creature's defenses. He knew he shouldn't be surprised to find out it was involved in this somehow.

The only question was how. It couldn't have arranged everything ....

But if it didn't it was almost worse. It meant that it had allies in the physical world now. Allies that were now working on breaking Jay and had probably arranged for Shi's condition.

It almost assuredly meant that a Sith was involved, possibly more than one.

And they practically had Jay, not only thinking that one of his mates was dead, but in a state of confusion and conflict that had him believing he had another mate who was probably one of them.

He had to get through, try and break whatever was affecting Jay's mind so he could get away.

In an instant his main concern shifted from reaching Jay to surviving himself.

The Demon didn't wait for Fenrik to come to it, it reached out along the bond and lashed out with a powerful surge of pure Dark Force designed to cripple, if not kill.

The Panther pulled back, knowing he didn't have the training to deal with this. Shi would have, Essani would have, but what it would take to counter that sort of attack was something he'd never bothered to learn.

Damn it.

He cranked the fighter's ion engines to maximum, hurtling towards the planet his mate was on, hoping he could get there in time.

A few minutes later and the Whitecloak fighter was screaming down through the atmosphere, approaching the sole spaceport in the middle of the jungle. Fenrik made the adjustments necessary to land safely, but as quickly as possible, the ship nearly shaking around him.

Technically, it wasn't really built to handle this sort of speed in these conditions. If it hadn't been one of Jay's test ships, it probably would have ripped apart when Fenrik had hit the atmosphere at ramming speed.

The Panther didn't care right now. He leveled the ship out, approaching a clearing in the middle of the spaceport, broadcasting an emergency clearance code to alert the dig's security forces that he was coming and that they shouldn't shoot.

He just hoped that they weren't working for the Sith involved here. That would be the one situation where "I'm a Jedi and this is an emergency" wouldn't help his case.

As the ship started to touch down, he stood and grabbed his lightsaber, opening the cockpit and jumped out while the fighter was still a good three meters from the ground.

If the Demon had allies, they'd almost certainly be moving Jay by now. Or getting ready to ambush Fenrik when he landed.

The greeting party was definitely not friendly. Several locals opened fire as soon as he was visible, their blasts deflected by the Jedi Master's lightsaber as soon as he'd landed. For all that a frustrated part of him wanted to return the attack, he restrained the impulse, instead reaching out with the Force to yank the guard's blasters from their hands, crushing the weapons and hurling them to the side before he started to run towards the space-port.

Of course, the Sith here would have to choose both. An ambush, and moving Jay.

This close and he could sense his mate's state even with the Demon's interference. They'd drugged him to move him. Not quite unconscious, but far enough gone that he wasn't in any shape to resist whatever they were doing.

The worst part was at this range Fenrik could feel what bothered Jay the most right now, and that was having another male anywhere near his mate in heat. It was pure, instinctive possessiveness of who would father her kits.

Part of Fenrik dearly hoped that they'd make the mistake of doing something that would be just enough to knock Jay out completely - and let out the part of him that had nearly torn Navik a new one. Everything Jay had done to try and avoid the question of kits, and the Sith were trying to breed him even before they turned him.

The Panther bolted for the space-port, getting there just in time to see an ancient Wolf in a repulsor-lift chair moving Jay with the help of a female tabby and a handful of other helpers. Two of them, a Panthress and Sabertooth, turned and opened fire with blaster rifles, forcing Fenrik to stop and defend himself while the others finished loading Jay into the Sharufa.

Damn, if they had that ship, he was going to have hell catching them if they got off the ground. His was a top notch fighter, it could outmaneuver and outrace the transport-fighter, but it also had cloaking shields and he couldn't shoot to destroy it.

He closed the distance between himself and the two shooters, cutting through their blasters with his lightsaber and using the Force to push them both away.

"Jay!" He called out, hoping to get his mate to fight against the drugging enough to realize he was there and break free.

That hope was largely dashed as more 'guards' attacked him from behind, forcing him to focus on defending himself.

"*Fen?*" A mind came back that was badly dazed and disoriented. A second later a snarl of pure rage exploded among the Dark Siders as Jay lashed out at those attacking Fenrik with the only thing he had available; telekinesis. It was quite enough to shatter the organized assault.

It was also the precursor to a roar of Darkness as Jay crumpled completely and Fenrik nearly went down.

The Panther rode out the wave, turning to attack and stop them. Regardless of the pain, he wasn't going to let them get away with this.

The hover-chair turned around, and Dr. Kell - Darth Tembris - looked at the Panther with a disdainful expression.

"Farewell, Jedi," he sneered, raising a hand and stretching it out towards Fenrik.

The Panther had just enough time to brace before the Wolf channeled the energy of the Dark Side itself into physical form, projecting the Force Lightning into Fenrik's frame and wrenching a scream of pain from the Jedi Master before he collapsed, feigning unconsciousness, knowing that a second attack like that would remove the need to pretend.

He just hoped that no one decided to put a blaster shot threw his skull before it was safe to get up again.

Darth Tembris reclined in his seat as Mina and Janos finished settling Jay, the Sharufa taking off, piloted by one of the Wolf's mercenaries.

The Jedi's first mate was dead in the Carcharo system, his second one unconscious or dying on the spaceport tarmac. Mina had replaced the first bond, and already the Demon had suggested that Janos, a young, powerfully dominant Alpha wolf, might take the place of the second.

"I don't trust this Demon," a shadowy figure in the corner cautioned Tembris.

"You don't trust anybody, Kressh," the Wolf chuckled to the spirit. "And you assume much if you think I do."

"You're going too far. Killing two Jedi, taking another to turn ... the Republic will seek you out."

"Not before we have the Kraken and Red Tide," Tembris said dismissively. "Won't you enjoy that, Kressh? Your old nemesis' flagship under our command? He'd turn in his grave, if he still had one."

"Don't patronize me," the Sith Spirit growled, his shadows flaring a light red. "You still aren't a true Sith Lord, Zykell."

"That will come soon enough, Kressh," Tembris rumbled dangerously, sitting up straight as Mina and Janos started into the room, Kressh retreating back into the shadows. The relationship between the spirit and Wolf was a secret they intended to maintain for now, at least from his 'apprentices.'

"Jay is settled in his usual quarters," Janos reported smoothly, his manner only just giving Tembris the respect he was due. "She should stay with him." He glared at Mina, who was still giving off enough pheromones to irritate the big canine.

"She will, once it's necessary," the Sith Lord said, meeting Janos' eyes long enough to force the younger Wolf to look away and submit to his decision. "Besides, the false heat should be over in another day or so, assuming the Jedi isn't sterile."

"Yes, Master," Janos said, almost reluctantly. He didn't like having another Alpha, particularly not one as physically weak as Tembris, but the ancient Wolf had proven time and again that he could force Janos to submit every time. The show in the spaceport just now was yet another example of the power the invalid could wield against an opponent.

"*You should too.*" The Demon entered the conversation without a form to wear, but a presence that none could refute. "*A male to dominate him as his other male did.*"

"He'll try to rip my throat out if I try that while Mina's still in heat," Janos pointed out.

"If necessary, I can end the heat cycle prematurely," Tembris shrugged slightly. "I would simply prefer to give as much opportunity for conception as possible at this point. Besides, if he managed to do that, it would simply prove you're not suitable for the Sith."

Janos' tail lashed, but the younger Wolf didn't dispute what Tembris said.

"I'm not sure I'll be able to keep walking in another day," Mina pointed out.

"*She is with a Clawson child. Three in fact.*" The Demon rumbled in extreme excitement. "*He will not attack his mate, and you would be in that place. Even if you were feline, he would let you be with her. It is how they are.*"

"And with two mates who are Sith apprentices, he will turn far more easily," Tembris pointed out, not needing to emphasize the carrot offered in exchange for helping with this.

"Very well, Darth Tembris," Janos acquiesced. "When should we start?"

"*Now, when he is still unconscious and unsettled by his mate going down. I can make him believe both are dead.*" The Demon informed them.

"With any luck, it will be true soon enough," Tembris rumbled. "Go, both of you."

Suddenly, the Sharufa was rocked by a glancing blaster hit. The ancient Wolf swore under his breath.

"Get to the Knight, work with him," he told his apprentices, moving his chair towards the cockpit. He had to open his mouth about the Panther ....

"Would you please keep this thing steady?" Ricki asked Fenrik with a growl as she manned the main gun of the Whitecloak fighter the Panther was piloting.

"I know what that ship can do," Fenrik pointed out, pulling hard to the side as one of the turret spun around to target them with its quadlasers, four high-energy blasts lancing out for the smaller fighter. "And frankly, this is only the start of it. Just hit the engines, okay?"

The Panthress had woken up shortly after he'd decided everything was safe, the Sith's "guards" proving to be fighting under the force of the Wolf's mind control. A brief talk, and Ricki had volunteered to gun for him in an attempt to disable the Sharufa.

Fenrik was beginning to regret the decision; she was a decent gunner, better than he would have been on his own without an astromech droid, but she wasn't quite good enough to handle this.

One of the turrets on the Sharufa landed a hit, his shields glowing for a moment as the energy was dissipated.

"Some time today would be appreciated," he added, his frustration with the situation growing.

"I'm working on it," Ricki growled, dialing in what should have been a direct hit ... only to see the transport disappear completely off her targeting computer. "The fuck?!?" She snarled.

"They engaged the cloak," Fenrik growled. "At least we still have visual, and they won't be able to see - hey!" The quadlasers fired again, landing a direct hit on the starfighter's main guns, destroying them. "Damn it!" He snarled, pounding the control panel. "They installed a better cloak! Get us ready to go to hyperspace, if we don't keep them in visual -"

Almost on cue, the Sharufa pulled away, its profile elongating before it disappeared into hyperspace, leaving two very pissed off Panthers behind it.

"Set in a course to Carcharo system," Fenrik said after a moment to recover his composure. "We have to make sure Shivasta's okay."

"But what about -"

"If Shivasta doesn't survive whatever your boss had done to her, then finding Jay won't mean anything," the older Panther said softly. "Set the course, or I can drop you off on the planet again if you want. The Republic will send a security team out here soon enough to make sure everything's cleaned up."

"Setting a course for the Carcharo system," Ricki muttered. "You're just lucky I got into college from fighter duty."

"Very lucky," Fenrik said, biting off the remark he wanted to make and waiting until the course was set, before pulling the damaged fighter around to make the short trip to find his other mate.

Janos raised an eyebrow at Mina when she undressed without a glance at him once the doors slid closed on their new quarters where the Jedi was limp on his own bed.

"You might as well. Sex is coming up, and soon." She shrugged.

"*Correct.*" The Demon agreed with her. "*You are his mate, play the part.*"

"All right," the Wolf shrugged, working off his vest and the rest of his clothes while Mina climbed into bed in front of the kat. He had to admit, the Jedi was attractive, especially for being well into his sixties by Mina's previous comments. "He'd better be willing to bottom," he muttered to himself, climbing in behind Jay.

At least the ship wasn't rocking anymore; they'd been worried the hit would wake up their 'mate' before they were ready for him, but he seemed to be sufficiently out of it that wouldn't happen.

"*Good, now just relax.*" The Demon instructed him simply as dark energy flowed into the Wolf's mind, adding links and securing a semi-permanent line that was overlaid on an existing one.

It wasn't perfect work, but by the time Jay began to rouse Janos could feel it in his mind before he felt any change in the tom's body.

It was definitely not a normal feeling, but it was one the Wolf could learn to handle. He also began to pick up on the confusion and arousal in Jay's body, the latter encouraging his own responses as he watched Mina work the tom easily; her hands and tail running along his body as he began to get to the waking world and noticed her pheromones before he truly noticed the newly redirected bond in his mind.

The tabby kissed Jay tenderly, with all the apparent caring of a real mate as her hands worked his sides and back. She indicated a spot where Janos should start working Jay's back and neck once he was a bit more into it, and the Wolf gave a slight nod. It was actually rather arousing to watch her work, and even more when Jay began to touch and kiss her back with a familiarity that belied the fact they hadn't been together more than a day.

Jay's fingers slid between her legs, the Force filling her as he teased her into whimpering.

Mina moaned softly, spreading herself to make a display for the Wolf and Kat alike when Jay slowly began to open his eyes. There was something distinctly appealing about doing this here, one of the places the Jedi had shared with his mates before.

Her body stretched as Jay worked her sex telekinetically, the two felines making out, her whimpers caught in Jay's mouth as her hand found his barbed shaft, starting to stroke it lightly. He wasn't difficult to make eager, but she could feel his intent to get her off before he sank into her again.

She held off, slowing her strokes and simply teasing Jay's barbs with her claws as he quickly worked her towards her own climax. Mina closed her eyes tight, her body tensing up as she felt the pleasure of an orgasm wash over her, her insides squeezing as her wombs tightened, ready for another kit.

"Take me," she whimpered to him softly and was rewarded by the disappearance of the Force-dildo and the hot roughness of his real one driving into her. He grabbed her hands and pinned her with a hot kiss, his weight on top of her a familiar pleasure as he pushed her to a second climax on the heels of the first.

As the two felines started to mate, Janos watched, reaching up to place a dominant hand on the back of Jay's shoulders, working that spot and others that Mina had indicated, getting him used to the idea that there was a third person there. Both Sith could feel how natural that realization was for Jay, even mating in front of that third person.

Jay moaned and lifted his tail in invitation, part of his mind actively rejecting that these were his mates, especially the Wolf that wasn't a Panther, but unable to reject them yet.

Janos rumbled and shifted to press his weight against Jay's back, sliding up until the slick, tapered tip of his cock pressed against the older tom's anus, then pressing in further at just the right moment, pressing his shaft into Jay's ass, and adding his weight to the power of Jay's thrusts into Mina's hot, tight body.

All three moaned in unison, the tom in the middle the most accustomed of the three to how this arrangement worked as he thrust and tightened his own body, working both his mates towards a climax that he was not far off from.

The newest member of the 'triad' bit down lightly on Jay's shoulder instinctively, a hold meant simply to say he was in charge as he pumped his shaft in and out of Jay's body, growling with pleasure around his shoulder and pleased that Jay had no resistance to being dominated or taken. It was a sweet sensation, to have a senior Jedi so willingly under his control.

They felt Mina go over the edge, followed quickly by Jay.

The Wolf pulled back, making one final thrust that forced his rapidly swelling knot into Jay's pulsing, twitching ass, groaning deeply as he pumped his seed into the hot, willing body beneath him. It had been far too long since sex had felt quite this good. The half-rape, half-willing connotations made it even better than usual. Tying to such a bedmate was just exquisite.

Janos growled when he felt Jay begin to thrust again, only now catching how long the tom was used to having these games go.

Fortunately for him, he was sure he could keep up for quite some time.

Knight Healer Cirran frowned as she looked at the vital signs for Master Shivasta. The Twi'lek sighed, turning back to look at the most senior Healer present ... still comatose after the poison had hit. The poison was based on plant spores ... any attempt to heal her with the Force had just made her condition worse, helping the spores to become more virulent.

And there was no natural antidote that had been discovered yet. The most they could do was help keep her alive at this point, hope that her body was able to fight it off somehow.

"Healer?" The Twi'lek's attention was drawn to the doorway and a seriously distressed Panther in Master's robes. "How is she?"

"Master Fenrik," Cirran said, bowing her head respectfully, her violet lekku making gestures of regret and contrition. "She is stable, but I'm afraid that is all I can say for her just now. Green zyla is a very ... unusual poison. Nubian in origin, I believe. We know almost nothing more about it. And what we're discovering now isn't helping," she admitted softly, stepping back to let the Panther and his two companions into the room.

At least the Plague wasn't being as much of an issue anymore.

"At least she is stable." He said softly and stepped close to his mate's bed to gently brush her hair, using the physical contact to reach out to her with caring and support; all he could really offer at the moment.

"We have made progress in determining what not to do," Cirran said, trying to be as reassuring as she could. "And what she did to deal with the poison was probably the best thing she could do. The spores try to drain the oxygen from her blood cells ... between her biology and the hibernation trance, she'll survive them. Given time, they'll starve to death."

"How much time?" He glanced up at the Healer, the two Knights that had come in the room with him as worried as any daughters. They were as close as the triad ever came to children, and Jenna's attraction to her Master aside, they all felt like family. A family deep in crisis right now.

"Days, weeks ... with the effects of the trance, it's hard to tell how much it will spill over to the spores. Normally, the technique would only have stopped the progress of the poison until an antidote was administered," Cirran admitted. "This is unmapped territory; we don't know how long they can survive normally, let alone in their current state. If it's not intruding ... where is Knight Clawson? We had expected him here just a few hours after we found Master Shivasta and sent the message, but ...."

"He ... has been captured." Fenrik admitted very quietly. "By Sith, with his ship. I just needed to know she would recover, or going after him would be rather pointless right now."

"She will, Master Fenrik," Cirran said, swallowing as she heard the news. A Jedi Master nearly killed, her mate captured by Sith, and she could tell that Master Fenrik hadn't fared particularly well in the battle either; his robes were still scorched from it. "Force be with you, Master Fenrik."

"Thank you, Healer." He replied, a touch of honest emotion slipping out to color his words. He leaned down to kiss Shi's forehead, offering a bit more silent support before he turned to gather the Knights and Ricki, who'd remained out of the room, and head to the dining room set up for the Healers to grab a bite and talk about their plans.

"She will live, Master," Kanna said softly as they picked up some small meals and took their private seats. "I'm just ...." She trailed off, clearly not entirely sure she should say the rest just now.

"Worried about Jay." He finished for her, at least for himself, and forced himself to eat. "They've got him in the perfect condition to turn him, or at least confuse him enough to do some very bad things."

"That's the main thing," Kanna nodded.

"Would somebody please fill me in on what's going on here?" Ricki asked the trio of Jedi. "All I know is one minute I was working with Dr. Kell, the next minute we were all being told to help move Knight Clawson to that ship and stop you," she explained, gesturing towards Fenrik.

"The short of it is that your boss is a Sith Lord and used the dig to get close enough to Jay to capture him, after setting up a situation where turning him to the Dark Side might work."

"Dr. Kell?" Jenna asked, cocking her head slightly. "That name sounds familiar somehow ...."

"He's who Jay and Shi went to help with the dig." Fenrik answered wearily. "He was known as Master Zykell years ago, when he was one of us."

"Master Doruth's old Master," Jenna murmured. "But how is he still ... he has to be almost two hundreds years old by now ...."

"He must have found a way to use the Dark Side to prolong his life, the way Jedi use the Light Side," Kanna said simply. "There are theories about how, but that's all I really know about it."

"And it's not the important part," Fenrik said simply. "What's important is that we find Jay, and fast ...."

"Dr. Kell did say something about going to see an old friend of Knight Clawson's, whatever that meant," Ricki offered.

Fenrik regarded her for a long moment, his mind going over more than fifty years of joint history.

"Kraken." He shook his head. "Or possibly Yavin 4 and Exar Kun. They're the only two Darksiders he's really had any contact with."

"Well he could hardly expect to be able to find Kraken that easily," Jenna mused. "Yavin 4 would be a better bet ... closer too. Besides, Kraken had its Sith components removed, didn't it? It'd hardly do any good to try and take over a Republic warship with the Sharufa."

"Didn't he have a run in with Meskin too?" Kanna added.

"Yes, but all reports indicate the Meskin died about ten years ago," Fenrik explained. "We ran into him en route to Yavin 4 when we were going to visit the Tam clan. We're pretty sure he didn't make it out of the asteroid field we chased him into, and we waited a good long time to make sure. So it sounds like Yavin 4's our best bet ... thanks, Ricki," he told the Panthress. "My friends can drop you off back on Beldin on their way back to Coruscant."

"Master!" Jenna raised her voice a bit. "You are not sending us away."

"Knight Dyreth, you can't expect me to take the two of you along, can you?" He asked her pointedly. "We're dealing with at least one Sith Lord, probably a Sith spirit, and they have Jay."

"All the more reason to take us with you," Kanna pointed out. "Besides, the Whitecloak you're using doesn't carry enough supplies to make the trip to Yavin 4 and back, even to the Carcharo system."

"And the ship we took here can't be piloted by one crewmember," Jenna added, before Fenrik could suggest switching ships.

"Yes, and Jay is my family too." Kanna actually challenged him. "My aunt and Master's mate. He's as much kin to me as she is."

"Master Doruth will be showing up too, if this really is his Master." Jenna pointed out. "He's got a stake in this too."

Master Doruth wouldn't have been a problem, as far as Fenrik was concerned. He just wasn't sure about bringing the two Knights along.

But he also didn't have a choice in the matter, and his reluctance was more about protecting them out of habit, than out of a sense that he really had to.

And he knew it.

"All right," he nodded. "But you, we're taking back," he added, looking over at Ricki. That, he would insist on if he had to. She might have helped him in the fighter, but there was no way in hell he was taking her into this any more than he already had.

"Thanks," she actually looked relieved. "You guys live way too exciting lives for me."

"Don't worry, we don't drag civilians around when they don't want to come." Jenna smiled faintly and made quick work of the rest of her meal. "The sooner we're done, the sooner we're after them."

"That would be now, unless somebody's still eating," Fenrik said, pushing away what was left of his food.

"I'm done," Ricki said easily, her plate clean.

"Same," Kanna nodded, pushing away a bit less than Fenrik had, though she still hadn't finished. "If we can get hold of them, my appetite'll be a lot better."

"I think that's true of all of us." Jenna nodded and stood with her tray in hand to drop it off. "It'll be better, too, when Master Shi can join us."

"That's very true," Kanna murmured, standing as the group stood, then moved off to do what they had to before going off to look for the missing kat.

"Mina?" Janos asked, after nearly a day and a half of "honeymooning" with Jay, broken up briefly by stops for food. "You conscious?" He asked, smelling that the feline was finally out of her heat cycle.

"Conscious, yes. Can I move, not so sure." She groaned slightly. It was an incredibly pleasant reason to be this sore, but damn, her body was reminding her why you don't fuck Jedi very often. She had no idea how Shi managed those mornings every day for fifty-something years.

Of course, 'those mornings' didn't include the heat-drive most of the time, even if they did last an hour or two most times she'd listened in.

"Let's see if we can get a shower before he wakes up again," Janos said, crawling out of bed with a groan of his own. "And pray he's not horny again when he does."

"I can definitely agree with that." She winced as she got out of bed on shaky legs, but managed to stand, grateful to the designer of this ship that the master bedroom came with a bathroom. "At least it'll be at normal levels now."

"Have to admit, it's been a hell of a day and a half," Janos chuckled, helping her into the shower. "You have any better idea than I do what Darth Tembris wants with this guy?"

"Besides making very sure I came out of this with his kids, not really. I expect he's planning on turning him, but why a Knight's worth killing two Masters for I haven't a clue."

"Figures," Janos muttered, helping her into the shower and starting the water up. "It'd be nice to know what the hell we're pissing off the entire Jedi Order for. I mean ... the site's one thing, especially with what we found here, but this is nuts."

"Might have something to do with that critter that's so attached to Jay," she shrugged, and then groaned as the hot water flowed down across battered muscles. "I'm pretty sure there's another entity around too, that Darth Tembris doesn't talk about. Things like that don't always have plans that worry about things like the Jedi getting upset."

"Or about us actually living," Janos muttered, moving around her to help wash her back. "Have to say one thing though," he added with a chuckle. "You're not bad in bed."

"You aren't bad either." She stretched a bit before gingerly cleaning her sex. "I'll be happy if I never go through the last three days again though."

"That I don't blame you for," he agreed, starting to work on his own body after her back was clean. "I've come out of fights without being this sore before."

"And you weren't on the bottom more than twice." She added. "At least he can heal some of what he does."

"I don't leave mates injured." Jay's voice startled them both before he stepped into the shower designed for three and stood still, just letting the water run over his stiff body.

The two Dark Siders were silent for a few moments, finding themselves in the middle of what could very well be one of the most dangerously awkward moments of their lives if he'd been up long enough.

"How long've you been up?" Mina asked him, deciding to go along with her role and help the larger tom with his back, try and keep the 'mates' illusion going.

"Long enough to know you aren't my real mates; not long enough to figure out how you did this." He said simply and reached for the shampoo to work their smell from his fur. "Long enough to know you're pregnant too."

"Your mates were killed, remember Jay?" Mina asked him cautiously. "I came to you when you felt Shivasta die, and you turned to me." It was true enough; even if the Demon had helped him turn to her, that was what had happened.

"I know." He murmured, not able to counter the statement with anything other than he knew something had happened that wasn't his idea and this didn't feel right. He wasn't about to tell them just how much power they really had over him now.

"When we were helping you to the ship, your other mate arrived and started attacking the people at the dig," she continued softly, giving him the story the Demon was helping to reinforce in Jay's memories. "He came after Dr. Kell, but somebody managed to stop him ... there wasn't any other way to stop him from killing somebody."

Jay simply nodded. He knew it was a twisted truth, but close to the truth. Fenrik wouldn't do that without a damn good reason. He was too good a Jedi to snap.

It didn't change what he was facing now, though. He had two strangers with mate-bonds to him, his ship was under someone else's command, the Demon was doing an exceptional job of crippling his ability to take her back and he had no one who could rescue him anymore.

If he got out, it was up to him to figure out how.

That meant not only resisting what the mate-bonds did to his ability to fight them, but somehow keeping the mother of his kits from disappearing on him while he was escaping.

He felt Mina move around in front of him, wrapping her arms around his front as the Wolf's powerful arms wrapped around him from behind in a reassuring hug that felt right, for all that it felt wrong as Hell too.

"It'll be okay, Jay," Janos murmured into the tom's ear. "Just trust us; it'll be easier to handle with time."

"I know," he whispered, closing his eyes for a long moment to deal with the conflicting reactions and knowledge. For right or wrong, better or worse, what the Wolf said was true. It would become natural in time, along with whatever they intended for him.

"After fifty years, you'd think the Kaminoans would know better than to try suggesting 'improvements' they could make on the original design," Doruth muttered, rolling his eyes as he and Tes got home from negotiating the services of the cloning world in developing their next litter of kits.

"I think it's just their nature to try." She chuckled softly and rolled her shoulders as they entered their quarters to the insistent beep of a priority message. "Not good."

"Probably somebody needing to put a Hutt in his place on Corellia or something," Doruth said, moving over to the console and hitting the display.

Tes could tell in less than a moment that it was anything but a routine mission call.

"You finish unpacking, I have to go talk to the Council," Doruth said brusquely, turning and starting out of the room.

"What's wrong?" She caught his arm, missing having a pack to talk to once again.

"Jay was captured by the Sith, Shivasta was almost killed," Doruth explained quickly. "According to Fenrik, Zykell is behind it," he added more softly. It was bad enough to discover that the old Wolf had been behind the Plague in the Necropolis system, but everybody had assumed age had killed him since. To find out he was really alive ....

"I'll pack for a hunt." She said simply with a slight nod and let go. "I'm sure the Council will let you go."

"Thank you," the Panther said gratefully. "And they'd better," he added under his breath, turning to leave for the Council Spire.

A surprisingly short period of time later, Doruth stood before the full Jedi Council.

"You've gotten the same message I have, Councilors," he said respectfully. "I request permission to leave immediately to help find Knight Clawson."

"You are too emotional about this." Master Noloth pointed out. "You are not the one to finish this hunt."

"With all due respect, Master Noloth, no living Jedi knows Zykell better than I do," Doruth pointed out. "I just found out that a good friend was captured by my old Master, who betrayed the Order, and also tried to kill my former Padawan and his mate. An emotional response to that sort of news can't be unexpected."

"*It isn't, Master Doruth,*" Essani pointed out. "*However, that you act on this response is something not suited to a Jedi of your experience.*"

"That does not change the fact that I know Zykell better than any living Jedi." Doruth replied. "I defeated him once. I can again."

"With the same results as the last time, Master Doruth?" Master Sarapas asked pointedly. "Your history with Zykell has been marked by victories that you yourself have considered tainted."

"I was younger then, Master Sarapas," Doruth said firmly. "I know that my past record doesn't speak well for my ability to control myself dealing with him, but that was decades ago.

"The Council doesn't want me to react with my emotions clouding my judgment," he stated simply. "I only ask the same. Regardless of emotion, we are dealing with the search for a Sith who has, alone, tried to annihilate entire planets. If his attack had been on Coruscant instead of Dantooine, the results would have cost millions, if not billions, of lives if the defensive shields hadn't held. Now he not only has a support network of other Sith, but Knight Clawson, who probably believes that both of his mates are dead.

"If Zykell succeeds in turning him, the results will be catastrophic. It is crucial that he is found and recovered as quickly as possible, and that requires knowing Zykell more than it requires knowing Knight Clawson."

"*He has a point.*" Master Ty'thri'ku'mo said silently to the other Councilors. "*I have read his records. While he had a very questionable decade as he became a Knight, his conduct in the five decades since has been exceptional.*"

"*This is true,*" Essani granted. "*But I question the wisdom of sending only he and Tes. If they catch up with Zykell and the others alone, they would be two against an unknown number of Sith, including a Sith Lord.*"

"*Then I will go with them.*" Master Miya offered.

"*Very well,*" Essani nodded slightly, knowing that the Caracal female was an old acquaintance of Jay's from the crèche. She would be sure to make sure that decisions were made in favor of returning him safely and swiftly. "*Are there any objections?*" She asked, focusing mostly on Noloth.

"*I will accept that.*" The ancient lizard acquiesced. "*This must be dealt with swiftly. Clawson cannot be allowed to turn to the Sith.*"

"*He will not be, Master Noloth,*" Miya said firmly.

"*We will allow you to join the hunt, Master Doruth,*" Essani told the Panther. "*However, Master Miya will be joining you. Leave as soon as you are ready.*"

"Very well," Doruth nodded slightly. "Thank you, Councilors," he added, bowing before turning to the younger Caracal as she stood to follow him to the Gurath.

Dr. Kell relaxed in his chair at the sole table in the small galley later that day, knowing that Mina and Jay would be coming in soon to get something to eat. It was time to start introducing Jay to the idea that he was in charge now.

He expected quite the uphill battle.

The two felines walked in a few moments later, Janos already warned telepathically that it would be a good idea to take a brief shift in the cockpit before coming down to eat. Tembris had no interest in having to deal with the younger Wolf's rebellious nature while he was establishing that he was in control.

One look told him that while Jay was aware of his presence, the kat had other priorities at the moment, mostly filling an empty belly, and was in no mood to have that countered.

It was also fairly clear that at least this morning, Mina was taking a decidedly submissive stance towards Jay as she sat down silently and watched as he moved about the small galley fixing a meal for two.

He still trusted her to do what she was supposed to for the time being. She wasn't completely submissive to the tom. It was closer to knowing that letting him do what he had likely insisted on was the best course of action.

For now, Dr. Kell waited until Jay was done and had sat down; sipping his own dark tea. The tom seemed to be a reasonable cook, and was definitely familiar with the galley. He'd made quick work of heating meat, cheese and seasonings into an egg scramble while he poured juice into two glasses and set a pot for tea to boil with telekinesis.

It was all on the table in short order, including a few extras he added for Mina's meal to help compensate for her condition.

"*Make sure he stays controlled,*" Kell warned Mina as she started eating. "*I expect he won't be happy once the two of you have finished.*"

"*He's already very unhappy.*" She replied, careful to shield the words from her new mate. "*He's simply too hungry to care at the moment. Just wait till he has a full belly. Kat's got a temper on him.*"

"*That's why you're here, and Janos isn't,*" Kell pointed out, taking another sip of tea and watching Jay, trying to come up with the best way to explain this without shutting him down. The temper was a good thing though; if he still had a visible one after over fifty years as a Jedi, it was definitely a way to turn him. The possessively protective nature he was subtly displaying even now towards Mina was good too.

What wasn't so easy was how they were going to get him from where he was to where they wanted him, when he would no longer resist the Dark Side. That would take time and some carefully choreographed events.

The Wolf smirked mentally; he, like most Sith Lords, was a master at choreographing events. If it hadn't been for a clumsy slip early in his own training, he would have had a fine apprentice and at least one world laid waste by now. He'd learned subtlety quickly after that.

"So where are we headed?" Jay opened up the conversation. He wasn't making it at all clear by the tone of his voice just how irritated he really was, but neither Sith was the least bit fooled by the show.

"Tatooine for now," Kell said easily. "A quiet, out of the way place where we can track down certain people."

"You know, you could have just asked for the help." Jay pointed out a bit sharply. "There are far better choices than me to help hunt down people."

"Knight Clawson, we're not having you help us hunt for people," Kell chuckled. He was going to play along with Jay's desire to avoid drawing attention to the 'kidnapped' aspect of his situation. Or to the Demon's decision to block off his Gift, something the spirit had offered to do to keep the Knight from making a decision like shutting down the ship or simply turning them around to head for the nearest Jedi Temple. "We're offering to help hunt people for you. The person who murdered Master Shivasta, for example?"

That got the reaction they were both hoping for. The shiver that passed through Jay's body was small, the emotions largely kept off his face, but under the tight control there was pure, primal rage desperate for more of an outlet than the claws pricking his own palm.

"So why do all this?" He demanded quietly, the stress of the past few days finally beginning to show.

"Because I was worried about you," Dr. Kell explained. "When I discovered what happened, I knew you'd need to get away somewhere where you wouldn't be bothered until we found the person responsible."

"*Tell him the Ice Walker wanted you to go to him,*" he told Mina silently, the words echoing faintly across the Force, practically a telepathic whisper from Master to Apprentice.

"Shi asked me to look after you while she was gone," she added gently, reaching across the table to place her hand over his. The reaction was instant and profound. He stilled and relaxed his hand, a glance at her showed just how confused he was at the statement, but that it also fit into the warped view of events that were starting to develop to protect himself from the reality of being mate-bound to two Sith.

"I should go back to the Temple." He countered quietly. Despite it being the truth, and what he wanted, there was little determination behind it right now.

"The Jedi won't let you do what you know you have to," Kell pointed out. "They'll expect you to sit and accept what happened, never let justice be served."

"Jay," Mina squeezed his hand, "Shi suspected that the Order might turn on you. Your ideas are dangerous to them. Too dangerous now that you're getting powerful. It's not safe for you to go back to them."

The stare she got for that from the Knight bordered on a glare, but she'd done her digging very well. He did believe her, deep down. Maybe not enough to say it soon, but she'd gotten him.

"They wouldn't." He shook his head sharply.

"They've done it before," Kell pointed out. "Consider everything they've hidden, everything they've destroyed for the 'greater good.' Think of how long they spent trying to convince you that they were right, despite the fact that you knew they weren't."

"And why you are still only a Knight," Mina added, knowing it wasn't a very sore spot for him, but it fit with the argument and every bit helped. "When everyone else your age and with your accomplishments would be a Master years ago."

"I never trained a Padawan." He shook his head, countering the only thing he could if their assertions. "My Master wouldn't turn on me like that."

"Your Master wouldn't. But what about Master Noloth and his allies on the Council?" Kell countered. "They were the ones Shivasta was most worried about." He would have reinforced what Mina had mentioned, but didn't have a way to do so without giving too much information about what he knew about the Council.

"Jay, she probably died trying to protect you." Mina said gently and squeezed his hand. "They know the best way to get to you is to break your support structure. We couldn't let that happen. Tatooine is a safe place to lay low until we figure out how to fix things."

Kell almost added something, then stopped as he realized that as wild and unplanned as her statements were, she was getting to the Knight. Maybe she really was good Sith material after all. Such keen reading and manipulation of the facts was a prime talent. Anyone that could get this far with an experienced Jedi Knight in only a few days was worth training, even if she did have help, was displaying a lot of promise.

"What's the deal with Janos? I never saw him before."

"He's a friend of mine from the dig," Mina explained gently. "When your second mate died, I thought you'd want somebody else there to help comfort you. I'm sorry, Jay, they were supposed to be trying to stun him, not kill him. Somebody didn't have their settings right."

"He was only trying to protect me." Jay's voice finally broke. He may not have seen his Panther mate go down, but he'd seen too much.

"Then why did he attack us?" Mina countered, trying to be gentle while talking her new mate out of a dangerous path.

Jay held her gaze for a moment, and then lowered his eyes. "I don't know. He wouldn't have hurt me. He wouldn't."

"Not knowingly. But he trusted the Council, just like you do," she pointed out, the older Wolf staying back and letting somebody Jay couldn't help but trust work on him. "If he'd taken you back to them, they would have had you, been able to break you, and he couldn't have stopped them. We had to protect ourselves, Jay. He attacked Ricki, of all people. He would have attacked us if he'd had the chance ... would have attacked me," she added, the 'and our kits' part unspoken, but understood.

The could both all but see Jay chancing his own mental tail trying to work his way out of that logic. For the first time in decades, he really did doubt the Order and his place in it. Then his gaze landed squarely on Mina and an entirely new set of priorities and instincts took the forefront: protecting his young.

He may have doubted the Council would turn on him, but he'd never wanted his children near the Jedi ways, even when he believed in following them himself.

Jay closed his eyes with a bone-deep shudder and made his choice.

"Our kits are going to be a handful to raise on Tatooine." He said quietly.

"We'll find somewhere more comfortable as soon as things have cooled down a bit," Mina smiled softly, taking his hand and rubbing the back of it with her thumb lightly as he worked through the difficult aspects of the choice.

Tembris had to approve; she'd managed to accomplish in one conversation what he had expected would take days. Even with the Jedi still struggling to accept the choice, he had chosen her over the Order. It was an excellent start.

Either the bond was stronger than he'd believed, or she was definitely Sith material. He was going to have to speak with her about the next stage of Clawson's turning.

Doruth wasn't at all surprised to see the welcoming committee of two Panthers and one Ice Walker waiting for them as the Intrepid set down Yavin 4 not far from the ruins of the Red Tide. He touched down with a sigh; if they were here, and bothering to wait for him, it meant there was a damned good chance that they'd already found out Jay wasn't anywhere on the moon.

He wasn't honestly that surprised. It was too obvious for Zykell, but the reason to take him here would have been sound.

"Let's hook up and compare notes," he told Tes quietly, standing and holstering his lightsaber.

"Yes," Master Miya nodded as she joined the pair on the way to the exit ramp. "Hopefully they have learned something new."

"At least some suggestion where they'd be going," Doruth nodded, the hatch opening as they started down the ramp to meet the younger Master and two Knights, who offered brief bows in greeting, which became a little longer when they noticed the Councilor present.

"He's not here," Fenrik said, trying not to show his frustration at that fact. "According to the Tams, no ships but theirs have been to the moon in over a year. We came down to check, in case the cloaking device was interfering, but no luck so far."

"I'm not surprised," Doruth nodded. "It's too obvious a first stop for Zykell, and it's unlikely Jay would have turned enough to be useful here yet."

"I'd hope not," Fenrik said, his tail starting to lash for a moment before he caught himself. "Shi's in stable condition, but there's no telling how long it'll take for her to recover. If Jay isn't here, we don't have any better idea where he would be."

"Somewhere on the Rim," Doruth said easily. "Come on; we'll sort this out inside, where we can be pretty sure nothing's going to try and eat us," he said, gesturing towards the Independence and turning to walk back in. "Never did like this place," he muttered under his breath.

"No Jedi should." Miya said quietly as they left the jungle for the largest of the four ships in their tiny fleet. "Exar Kun still exists here."

"Which is why we thought they'd bring Jay here," Fenrik nodded. "The other obvious choice was the Kraken, but while they might have been able to use Yavin 4 to help turn Jay, they couldn't talk him into trying to steal the Kraken until he already had."

"Be a good trick even if he had," Doruth chuckled grimly as the hatch closed. "That ship's still got a mind of its own from what I've heard, even after they pulled the Sith programming out. But no, Zykell wouldn't have brought Jay somewhere to help him do something ... he'd go for somewhere he could work on him." The elderly Panther walked into the small briefing room on the Independence, taking a seat at a holo-console and bringing up the display he'd put together on the trip, an interactive hyperspace map of the Republic.

"Work with him how, Master Doruth?" Jenna asked, cocking her head at the display.

"By giving the ones who have taken Shi and my places in his mate-bonds time to turn him." Fenrik answered quietly.

"That would be one option," Doruth nodded. "Beyond that ... Zykell was always one hell of a persuasive speaker. When the two of us fought ... he made a decent case for the Sith, I'll be honest. When that didn't work, he managed to goad me to the point where he almost won anyways. Between him and two other Sith with bonds to Jay, false ones or not ...." He sighed.

"It's only a matter of time," Miya finished quietly. "We have to find him, and fast. The influence anybody bonded to that kat has on him is too strong for him to hold up against for long."

"That's what this is for," Doruth explained. "Before we leave, I'm uploading a copy to each of the ships we have available. The Sharufa is already listed as a stolen ship; any system picking up its transponder code will immediately report it to the Order. That won't stop them from changing it, which Jay could do in an instant if he wanted to.

"Zykell will probably hide in the Rim," he continued, keying in a few commands to the map. "The assorted ships the Order has on patrol in the Core through the Inner-Rim systems are already on alert to look for the Sharufa, but it's not likely. Zykell always understood the advantage of hiding where nobody wants to find out, and that would be any world that doesn't have a lot of legal traffic."

"Hutt space," Fenrik muttered.

"A good possibility," Doruth nodded. "Top possibility, as far as I'm concerned. Zykell has experience blending in there, and there's no place in the galaxy better for losing yourself in the crowd than Nar Shaddaa. Fenrik, do you still have any bond with Jay at all?"

"Yes." He nodded. "It's very weak, I can't get through to him, but I can sense he's still on the other end and badly disturbed. I don't think he knows I'm here though, same as he can't sense that Shi is still alive."

"That'll help you locate him best," Doruth nodded as the inner systems of the Republic dimmed, leaving the Mid-Rim, Outer-Rim, and Expansion Regions illuminated. "The next best chance would be other worlds with illegal trade as a primary resource," he explained, highlighting the Hutt-controlled systems of the Outer Rim, Kessel, and a handful of other systems.

"Unfortunately, that leaves us with a shitload of worlds to check out, most of which are heavily populated and where a stern glance and a blaster get you through immigration without more than a second look. The rest of them are heavily populated and a couple hundred credits will get you through with no questions asked. Either way, we're going to have to split up to make anything resembling decent time."

Fenrik regarded the map for a long moment. "Give me half an hour to meditate, and I should be able to narrow that down by a good chunk. I can't pinpoint him, but I can get a feeling for what direction he is, and I think I can figure out how far."

"You've got the time," Doruth said easily. "We'll resupply all the ships while you do."

And make the Tams incredibly happy doing so, he was sure.

"He's been in there for almost two days." Janos complained as the crew of four sat down for a meal. "I don't like this."

"He's meditating, Janos." Mina rolled her eyes at him. "It's what Jedi do when they're disturbed. Listen to the echoes on the bond; he's not going anywhere we can't handle."

"Yeah, but the last time I checked we wanted him to stay disturbed, not sort it all out and decide we're the enemy again," the Wolf pointed out.

"Do you want to go tell him he can't meditate?" Mina challenged him outright.

"I know, I know," Janos muttered, rolling his eyes slightly. "Still, I don't think leaving him alone to think is the best idea in the world here."

"You also don't think, overly much," Tembris interrupted them. "The Jedi isn't going to turn in a day, even if things are going more easily than I'd expected. Events on Tatooine will unfold to make him begin to return to a more violent nature. After that, we'll need to coax him further into it, and make sure we stay below the Order's notice while we do so. It doesn't matter how much he 'returns' to the Order during his meditation. What I have planned will start him down the dark path again."

"Yes, as protective as he is of his mates, he's positively primitive when it comes to protecting his young." Mina smiled slightly, an evil glint in her eyes. "He will turn. The violence is not so far below the surface in him."

"And that is a spark I am quite capable of kindling," Kell rumbled deeply. "As for the two of you, continue your work with him. Be subtle, but stay close to him, a coax him towards the Dark Side in what he does. Your training will begin shortly, but I will not tolerate him being allowed to turn back to the Jedi."

Both nodded, but didn't get a chance to say anything before intense, burning pain lashed through the right side of their faces and an explosion of Dark energy erupted from the back of the Sharufa.

Mina didn't even hesitate; despite the agony, she was already on her feet and running back towards the meditation chamber, Janos and Kell shortly behind her.

It took a frantic moment to bypass the locks and get the door to open to a scorched floor, a lightsaber shattered into thousands of pieces and Jay kneeling with his hands cupped over the right side of his face. A few inches away from his robes lay the tip of an ear and he was still cursing fluently in a number of languages from two galaxies as he did his best to heal himself.

"Janos, work on the damage," Kell told the younger Wolf simply, knowing that he was the one best able to do so yet.

Janos moved over, wary of Jay's reactions, to try and see what damage had been done and how much of it could be fixed. For as violent as he was, he was surprisingly tender and almost caring now.

A reaction Tembris would have to watch; he suspected that it was more than simply acting the part of concerned mate.

Jay reluctantly moved his hands away from the half-missing ear and badly burned face for his Wolf mate to tend to. No one missed his surprise that Janos knew something about Force-healing.

"*It won't do either of us any good if he kills himself accidentally before we turn him,*" the Sith told the Demon mentally. He could tell what had happened; without being able to use his lightsaber the way he was used to, he'd managed to make a mistake while practicing.

And mistakes with lightsabers, especially given the kat's Form, tended to be exceedingly painful. They were quite lucky he'd only damaged his appearance and not cut his head clean open.

"*I will see to it that he can talk to his weapons.*" It agreed reluctantly. "*It is still a very effective way to anger him. It strips his most used senses from him. He hates it.*"

"*I don't need an angry corpse,*" Tembris pointed out. "*I already have one of those to deal with. Give him enough that he can practice without seriously injuring himself. The occasional burn is acceptable; bisecting his own head isn't.*"

"I won't be able to fix all the scarring," Janos explained to Jay, doing what he could. He was hardly a healer, but he'd learned long ago that if you were going to fight, you needed to be able to undo the damage you and your partners took. Lightsaber damage was always the worst to deal with. It didn't leave a lot to work with; vaporizing flesh instead of simply burning or cutting it.

"Not even Shi could do that," Jay closed his eyes, tears wanting to fall that he would not permit. "Thank you." He added as he slowly stood and looked at the damage he'd done to one of Fenrik's spare lightsabers that had been on board. He paused for a brief moment then summoned the power to finish what he had begun; disintegrating the remains of the weapon into its component molecules with a wave of his hand.

The act drew the attention of all three Sith, but they quickly returned it to the injured tom and not thoughts of why a Jedi knew how to disintegrate things. Mina moved in to help comfort him, Tembris stepped back to let them work, surreptitiously moving the bit of severed ear out of the room.

It wouldn't do to have that lying around.

Master Zraii was giving a report on the Order's income from assorted tech projects when Essani heard a soft beeping from the datapad on the arm of her seat.

"*One moment, Master Zraii, I apologize for the interruption,*" she told the green, insectoid Verpine and lifted her datapad to pull it close. "*A priority message,*" she explained, her fur turning grey as she saw who it was from. "*From Knight Clawson.*"

"More than excused, Master Essani," the Verpine said easily, setting hir own datapad aside, keenly interested in any message from hir missing friend. Hopefully it would include his location.

Essani nodded and played the short message.

Jay's head appeared; the right side of his face scarred by a fresh lightsaber strike and his right ear half gone. He'd seen some healing, but not nearly what the injuries needed not to leave a serious mark. His expression was no less grim, and to his former Master, more than a little scared behind the confusion.

"Master, I do not understand what is happening or what I did, but I am not the Order's enemy." He said quietly, the message ending with only that, but not before she could see that he was holding back fresh tears of loss and grief.

As short as it was, it spoke volumes about what was happening to him.

"*They're trying to convince him the Order turned against him,*" Essani said silently, her fur darkening. "*And it seems they're being fairly successful.*"

"What have they done to him?" Master Zraii asked softly, hir mantis-like face not showing the concern in hir voice.

"Whatever they have done, it has to be stopped," Noloth said simply. "Master Zraii, can you trace the message?"

"I may be able to," the Verpine nodded. "But if Knight Clawson is trying to avoid the Order, he'll have made it very difficult at best."

"It is a priority," he nodded to hir. "Any assistance to the hunters to narrow down his location."

"Understood," the Verpine nodded, keying it into hir datapad to send the information to hir main computer so it could start working. "If he didn't want to be found at the time, I'm afraid it won't work, but hopefully he won't have thought to tell the computers not to let me trace."

"*We'll have to inform the others,*" Master Essani said. "*They'll need to know that Jay may not trust them at first sight. Is the Starseeker currently on patrol?*" She asked, looking up at Master Ty'thri'ku'mo.

"In the Outer Rim," he nodded, curious what she wanted of the capital class exploration ship Jay had co-designed with Zraii some years before.

"*I would appreciate it if you would send them an order to tune their scanners to deal with hybridium cloaks and scan for the Sharufa. The sensors on board that ship might be the only ones that can detect it from an appreciable distance.*"

"Of course," he inclined his angular head slightly and made quick work of formulating the order.

"How can anyone work on turning him while his mates are still alive?" Master Jamni looked to Master Essani.

"*Bonds can be broken, Master Jamni,*" the Kushiban explained. "*And replaced, with the Demon's help. With Master Shivasta's near-death, her bond could have been usurped by a sufficiently powerful telepath, focused on somebody else. Hers is the most important; without Master Fenrik there to counteract it, he would have one 'mate' with incredible hold over him, trying to lead him to the Dark Side, and another gone, elsewhere in the galaxy and searching for him, but unable to reach him across the distances involved.*"

"And with him believing that one of his mates was murdered," Master Noloth added with a frown. "Something that, given his temper and ethics, would be a prime opportunity to turn him."

"*Yes,*" she nodded quietly. "*If he has not turned yet, it is not likely enough, but the situation makes it unlikely he will be able extract himself before it is far too late. This is why we must find him as quickly as we can. The damage he could do if turned is ... incredible.*"

"I doubt he will turn to the Sith quickly if they are doing things like that to him," Zraii pointed out, gesturing towards the injured hologram with insectoid fingers. "The Dark Side perhaps, but I would not want to be the Sith afterwards. However, I doubt anybody here would not say that finding him is a priority.*"

"Agreed," Master Noloth nodded. For once he did not even have an 'I told you so' thought. It was simply far too serious a situation to have such petty ideas involved.

Janos drew a surprised breath when he felt a telekinetic caress gently draw his hands over his head in the bed made for three and his feet apart. He could feel it, along the bond, that this was Jay's doing. He couldn't be so sure of why he was being held in the light grip by the tom just stepping out of the shower in the other room.

The Wolf struggled, but took a deep breath, trying to keep from panicking. Jay was still a Jedi, for the most part; they wouldn't kill or torture somebody. Especially not if Mina was right about how strong that bond was.

He just hoped Mina wouldn't be working with Tembris on her training too much longer.

"*Shu,*" Jay's voice touched his mind for the first time, a surprisingly gentle mental touch as he walked into the room wearing nothing and sat on the bed and put a light hand on Janos' chest. "*This isn't for pain.*"

"Then what the hell is it for?" The Wolf asked with a light growl, fighting to keep his reactions at that for now. This was not the place or time to red out. Especially not given what Tembris would do to him if he survived long enough to get a grip on himself with a Jedi Master holding him.

"Pleasure," Jay answered, his voice low and soft. "Returning the trust I put in you."

"This isn't trust," Janos said, trying to breathe evenly even as he stopped struggling for the time being.

"Then what is it?" He cocked his head and let the Wolf go, not surprised to see his hands come down fast. "If not trusting in me to give you pleasure and not go too far?"

He could tell that Janos was trying to think of a way to explain something he'd learned instinctively when he was young. It wasn't that different for Janos that trying to explain Clawson things was for him.

"Weakness," the Wolf said eventually, quietly. "Nothing to do with pleasure for anybody but the guy on top."

"Let me prove it wrong?" Jay asked as much as offered.

Janos wasn't sure, but was about to say 'no,' letting his natural reaction win out.

Then he was reminded, silently, of what he was supposed to be doing by the older Wolf in another room.

"All right," he nodded warily. "But if you try anything ...."

"Why would I bother giving you a choice if I intended that?" Jay shook his head and pinned the larger male down again with the Force and began with a long, gentle kiss as his hands worked on finding the places that would give his mate the most pleasure. "Besides, I'm not that much of a masochist."

He could feel the tension in the powerful body beneath him, the barely restrained urge to fight, try to get away. He couldn't help but wonder what had trained this sort of a response into him; it couldn't just be a cultural thing, not this strong.

This was going to be an uphill battle, for all that Janos was responding as well as he could.

It was time to drop slow and subtle and just go for pleasure.

Jay kissed his way down the Wolf's thick-furred chest until he reached the velvety sheath and balls and turned his full attention to arousing his mate quickly and directly.

He earned a soft, lupine moan of pleasure for his efforts, his rough tongue bathing Janos' heavy, downy-furred orbs, drawing one into his mouth to enjoy the musky flavor. Almost despite himself, the Wolf was getting aroused, and clearly surprised at what Jay was up to.

It was quite enough encouragement for the tom, who shifted his attention to the other ball and reached up to gently fondle and stroke his mate's swelling sheath with skilled fingers.

Janos' hips pressed up into Jay's fingers as he whimpered slightly, restrained by the Force. He was still tense, but he was starting to get used to the idea. At least with this male, restraint could be a pleasurable thing.

He moaned as Jay shifted his attention from his balls to the smooth cock that had begun to peak out, using the soft, slick back of his tongue on the sensitive skin while his hands continued to fondle Janos' balls.

"Fuck," the Wolf groaned, his thighs tightening slightly around Jay's head, but only until the restraints Jay had on him stopped him.

"*Not quite yet,*" Jay rumbled hotly across their bond as he continued to work until pre-cum began to ooze into his mouth and Janos was breathing hard.

Only then did he leave his manual attention and slid forward to claim a kiss, rubbing his muscular body along his mate's.

"Ready to come?" Jay asked with a throaty purr.

"Yes," the Wolf groaned, pressing up against Jay's body.

The tom smiled and shifted back to straddle Janos' hips. He reached back to easily guide the Wolf's cock deep into his body with a moan of his own.

Janos pressed up instinctively, trying to bury as much of himself in Jay as he could. His cock throbbed deep in Jay's body, spasming as the Wolf howled, pumping his seed up into the smaller tom's tight, hot ass.

Jay squeezed lightly and let him come, then panted to catch his breath before he began to work again. With the experience of a long lifetime of pleasuring a male, he slid up and down the pulsing shaft, working it with his body to keep Janos hard and on the edge.

It wasn't too hard at this point; for all he could tell the Wolf was confused inside by the mix of being bound and being inside another male at the same time, there was no denying the fact that he was enjoying at least part of it. He thrust lightly, unable to move much from his position, but doing what he could to pleasure the older male on top of him.

It wasn't something Jay was much in the mood to resist either, and as he came close to his climax he let his lover loose with a shuddering moan, his head falling back slightly.

Janos' powerful hands were on him shortly, running down his sides as the Wolf leaned up to kiss him and found Jay eager even as he shuddered and cried out into the Wolf's mouth. Jay's hot seed pumped out between them, messing their fur with ribbons of white pearls.

"You are one hot tom," Janos rumbled as their mouths parted. "Up for something a little less kinky for round two?"

"Yes," he smiled slightly and nuzzled his mate affectionately as he caught his breath.

"Good," the Wolf rumbled, reminding himself that the mate business was just part of the job, but returning the nuzzle all the same as he rolled over on top of Jay and started to thrust into his very willing body.

"Setting down on Tatooine in a few minutes," Janos called back into the Sharufa.

"We'll have to deal with the port officials," Dr. Kell said as he, Jay, and Mina ate. The other Wolf working with them was up in the cockpit helping Janos bring the transport-fighter in for a landing. "But since we're not importing anything, they should leave us be with a nominal fee. Fortunately, I already have some Hutt coin from my last visit."

Jay nodded, but kept silent for now. It wouldn't have been his first choice of how to stay out of site of the Order, but he didn't feel like arguing the point yet. He hadn't spent much time out here after all. Maybe the old Wolf knew something he didn't.

The Sharufa entered the atmosphere, the ship shaking slightly before the two pilots adjusted to the differences in flying it. The Anchorhead settlement, the only settlement still occupied on the planet, was just ahead.

Minutes later, they touched down, Kell's chair rising to carry him to the exit.

"While we're here, I have some business to take care of," he explained. "It won't take long, and it will get us closer to the people we're looking for. We'll need to visit the Cantina, but from there we'll be able to resupply the ship."

Jay nodded again, not particularly interested in either event, but familiar with the expectation that he'd come along anyway and play the part, whatever that actually turned out to be.

One glance outside was plenty of warning that his habitual civilian clothing, colorful and flowing, was decidedly out of place here. It was, however, all he had to wear other than the Jedi robes he'd carefully put in storage after sending the message to his Master several days before.

That would be something to try and fix here ... possibly along with getting something to hide the distinctive scar from his practice accident.

Or at least pick up some good field clothes. Jay was liking this place less by the second. He could feel the call of the endless deserts and badlands not so far away. The Force was out there, like it had been in the deep forest. It offered protection and home when he wanted that more than anything.

"Come on," Mina said softly, taking his hand and squeezing it lightly as they stepped outside into the dry heat of an early Tatooine morning. "At least it's somewhere comfortable," she pointed out, trying to be cheerful as Kell negotiated a 'docking fee' with the port authority. A few moments later, and a handful of small coins traded hands, the Wolf gesturing for them to follow him.

They made their way through the half-crowded mining settlement, most of the people not paying any serious attention to the newcomers. Anchorhead was a cornucopia of species; Rodians, Twi'leks, Duros, assorted morphs ... it was definitely not a racially isolated settlement. At least it seemed to be reasonably peaceful.

A massive ronto lowered its horned, beaked head, sniffing at the two felines curiously before its handler yanked on its reins and called out a command, earning a bellowing bleat of annoyance before the beast of burden continued down the street, hauling a cart of Tatooine's low-grade ore behind it.

The threesome entered one of the larger businesses in the settlement, full of drinking, gambling and general killing-time behavior common on a frontier settlement, taking seats in an out-of-the-way corner. Jay couldn't help but notice the Hutt in the back of the room, watching the comings and goings, his flunkies speaking to him briefly, then leaving with one assignment or another.

"Try to relax?" Mina asked him with a soft smile, licking his cheek affectionately. "The show's pretty good, for what it's worth," she added, indicating the dancing Twi'leks and the band playing behind them.

"I'll be back shortly," Kell said, his chair moving off through the room as he went to speak to one of the Hutt's men.

"I guess so," he tried to find it interesting, but with all he'd faced recently, the females simply weren't appealing and the music wasn't anything he normally enjoyed.

Mostly his attention kept to the Hutt and those he found instinctively unsavory as he tried to keep from becoming any more unsettled than he already was.

"It'll get better," she reassured him, leaning against him lightly, intentionally making herself look submissive and slightly vulnerable while he wasn't paying attention to how she was acting as long as she was right next to him.

"If it doesn't, there are better places to be." He replied simply.

"There are," she consented, noticing a likely mark for what Tembris wanted her to set up next; a Twi'lek looking her over and having a brief word with the Hutt in charge after the elderly Wolf was finished.

She leaned over to nuzzle Jay's shoulder likely, carefully using her powers to enforce the green-skinned male's desire to acquire her for his master without tipping off her own mate as to what was about to happen.

When he stood and walked off, apparently to get a drink, she already knew everything that was going to happen up to the point where Jay's reaction was in question.

Even then, it wasn't much of a question. He was viciously protective of his kits no matter where she looked in his mind.

"I'll be back later," Kell said, returning with drinks for the three of them and setting them down. "I have to go meet somebody to get a line on the Otter."

Jay nodded to him and shifted just a bit. Only the sensitives really knew just how uncomfortable he really was, or how little it would take to provoke him.

It was also something both the sensitives there were counting on.

A few minutes passed after the older Wolf left, and the two of them were reaching the point they were just about ready to head back to the ship. Just then, Mina felt a long, slender hand brush her side.

"Your pet is quite attractive," the green-skinned Twi'lek told Jay, his Basic accented, but quite understandable. "Tell me, who did you buy her from?" He didn't seem the least bit perturbed by the way the tom flattened his ears and glared at his hand.

She was more than a touch surprised to catch the first, unvoiced answer: 'she's the old Wolf's', but kept it off her face.

"She is not a slave." He answered instead, every line in his body and voice a warning that things were about to get serious.

"Come," the Twi'lek said smoothly, his hand moving up to ghost along Mina's bust before she swatted his hand away and smiled inside at the flashpoint rage that was building in her mate. "There may be legal issues elsewhere in the Republic, but it's not as great an issue ... "

His words were stopped dead as he was abruptly flung across the room to slam into the far wall with the pieces of a freshly shattered large mirror pinning him in place. It wasn't quite the explosive kill the Sith were hoping for, but the bloody Twi'lek made the exercise a success even as Jay pulled Mina to her feet with a glare and Force-aura all but daring anything to stop them as they stalked to the door.

She followed him easily, the Twi'lek's cries of pain still echoing as some of the Hutt's other helpers went to remove the sharp pieces of mirror from his body and found it much harder a task than it should have been thanks to Jay's continued interference.

"He's going to have to do without civilization, or without me." Jay growled softly, almost more to himself than to her.

"Jay, it's not safe outside the settlement," she pointed out. "The Raiders -"

"Aren't Jedi-trained." He pointed out with a snap and low growl. "It's a lot less safe in here."

"All right," she relented, privately glad that things were going according to plan. "We'll probably have to camp though. Don't know if the ship will handle the conditions away from the settlement, Tatooine has some strange conditions."

She caught the silently 'whatever' from his mind, though he didn't say a word as they walked back to the ship, the populous actually making way for him on several occasions.

What she did catch, and didn't like, was a sudden burst of surprise and distress from Janos once they entered the spaceport.

The ship was starting to prepare for takeoff; obviously the Demon didn't have perfect control. She shouldn't have been surprised. Even only knowing him a few weeks now, she knew full well how strong willed he could be, no matter how rarely he tended to exercise that will.

"We have to wait for Dr. Kell," she warned Jay as they hurried to climb on board.

"He'd better hurry." Was the only reply, along with a growing dislike for the old Wolf as Jay made short work of figuring out what he intended to do from a galactic map and surveys of several worlds.

"Where are you planning on going?" She asked, trying to put the bond to use at working him down. They'd expected him to be pissed off, but not this pissed off. "*Tembris, get back now,*" she told the Wolf. "*I have no idea what he's doing next.*"

"Someplace nice and quiet where we'll be left alone." He rumbled, something in his manner making it distinctly likely he intended to ditch Dr. Kell and Markos, their other pilot, as soon as he could manage it.

"Malachor V," Kell told him, arriving at the ship just in time. "This ship is the only one that can go there, nobody else will give us any trouble."

Everyone felt the instant tension in the room and just how little Jay trusted the old Wolf now.

"So why can this one go there?" Jay asked with remarkably little of his emotions showing.

"The hyperdrive on this system is strong enough to overcome the gravity well around the world," Kell explained even as Jay did his own calculations. "I visited it once, destroyed the ship I was on in the process. It is possible that another ship could go there, but the world is uninhabited, and the odds of anybody deciding to follow us to the system are astronomical."

"Have you arranged for supplies yet?" Jay asked quietly. Just the world's name made him uneasy, very uneasy, but then so did listening to the mother of his kits.

He wanted to stay here, in the heat and sand and known prey.

To be fair, the only reason he couldn't was because of what they were telling him.

The old Wolf was telling him where to go again. What to do again.

"I have, but they probably haven't been loaded yet," Kell said easily. "They didn't exactly have much time."

It was the realization that Mina was mentally leaning on him that broke the stalemate inside Jay.

"*Cut it out.*" He snarled at her silently, a mental blow almost as sharp as the physical one he was capable of inflicting, and just as startling for her. "*You haven't earned that right.*"

"No," he answered the old Wolf as he slowly turned to face the Sith Lord down. "This is not your ship and not your command."

"Very well," Kell said. "It was merely a suggestion."

The Wolf heard Kressh chuckle in the background, and made a mental note to have a long, hard conversation with him later.

"You will live more comfortably elsewhere." Jay was as subtle as he got in suggesting the two Wolves outside the family leave without making it an outright order. "There is no need for you to hide."

"No need," Kell said 'graciously,' trying to fight the urge to growl and put this tom in his place. He was well on his way towards aborting the plan, killing Jay, and taking the kits as compensation for his time. "I did promise to make sure you were taken care of."

It was a reminder of something Jay had all but forgotten; that Shi's hand was in this. A simple choice of words instantly broke Jay's temper and anger towards the old Wolf, at least for a while.

Jay turned his attention back to the map of Tatooine and let his gaze fall where it may; at the edge of a small, low mountain range, and he knew exactly how to pass the next few months.

Jay stood from the controls with Sharufa at a hovering stop just in front of a large outcropping of rock in the badlands not far from low mountains.

"What are you doing?" Mina asked quietly, careful not to lean on him lest she spark the directed anger that had almost ruined everything only hours before. That had been a real wake-up call for all the Sith. The mate-bond could do amazing things in directing him to a desired result, but he was neither ignorant of that fact nor incapable of resisting it when he wanted to enough.

It also gave him the ability to strike back harder than he could at most.

"Making a safe and comfortable place to camp until things have settled down a bit." He answered simply and stepped out of the open hatch to land easily tens of meters below.

"I hate it when he does that," she murmured, turning back towards Tembris. "I think things are officially derailed."

"No, merely to plan B." The ancient Wolf chuckled. "If he is more comfortable here, he is less likely to resist our efforts."

"In case you didn't notice, we also both lost hold on him," she pointed out. "Another shake like that, and I'm not sure what'll happen."

"If he becomes too uncontrollable, we kill him." Tembris shrugged. "One less Jedi to worry about."

"Let's just keep him from hearing that," Mina muttered, glancing at the open hatch, then up at the cockpit. "And Janos."

"Now what makes you say that?" He raised an eyebrow at her.

"I don't trust him," she said, shaking her head. "Clawson's having as much an effect on him as he is on Clawson."

"Well, we'll just have to make sure it doesn't cause any problems then." Tembris told her simply.

"*I told you not to trust that creature. It's turning your apprentice against you.*" Kressh smirked at him from the shadows of insubstantial space.

"*His weakness, nothing more,*" Tembris responded.

"I was simply bringing it to your awareness, Master," Mina said easily. "If I may be so bold, when will my training be beginning in earnest? I suspect we'll be spending a fair amount of time here before I have the opportunity to get myself captured."

"After you deliver the kits, and he's not quite so focused on your protection." Tembris said before flattening his ears and moved his chair closer to the open hatch to get a look at what was creating such a significant use of Force. "What is that kat doing?"

He blinked a couple times to see a chunk of rock half again as large as the Sharufa being pulled out of the plateau about half way up it's face and slowly remolded into the surrounding stone so the change didn't look like a change.

"I can see why you want to turn him," Mina murmured, watching her 'mate' at work. "His powers are incredible ...."

"Yes, he is very impressive." He nodded, keeping his surprise to himself. Jay hadn't felt nearly this strong at the dig. Whatever the kat was doing was definitely not solely the results of the natural strength and Jedi training that were readily apparent.

"He wants me to back into that cave and land." Janos called back, a bit uncertain about whether to actually do it.

"Do so," the ancient Wolf said easily. "It's certainly safer than a natural cave around here."

"Yes, sir." Janos nodded as the ship began to move, slowly backing into the large cave as Jay watched intently from the ground.

"When we land, have Markos modify my chair for sand," he told Mina, "I believe we're in a convenient location."

"Yes, Master." She inclined her head slightly.

"I'll be in my quarters, meditating," he said, moving off towards his room, preparing to complete the new contingencies he'd been working on.

"Master!" Markos yelled in alarm. "He's sealing us in!"

"Would you relax?" Janos sneered from next to him. "He's only sealing the ship in, not us. We'd hardly be hiding if people could see it at a glance."

"If necessary, we can still blast our way out," Tembris said, shifting to move up to the cockpit. "This ship is very well armed for its size and type."

"Besides, with Janos and I in here, he wouldn't do that," Mina said, following Tembris with her mind shielded from even Jay. "He might not be totally on our side yet, but we still have several very potent bargaining chips for the next few months."

"He'll be up once he's sure the outside looks right." Janos said with easy certainty as he stood to go look at the work his mate had done first hand.

"For somebody who wasn't sure he could be trusted to be in a room on his own for a few days, you're very certain of him," Tembris observed.

"That was before I knew what anger and scheming feel like in him." The younger Wolf said simply. "His intent is very simple to read if you pay attention."

"Is there anything we should be aware of?" Tembris asked him pointedly.

"No, Master." He said a bit more submissively. "His scheming so far has been about 'surprises' in bed, and that message he sent to the Jedi. It has a distinctive feel, when he's planning something he doesn't want known."

"It's true," Mina agreed. "And it isn't what he's feeling now. He's focused on protecting us, not harming us," she added, letting up on her shields a bit as Janos left the ship. "I'll have to talk him into making sure we have an easy way in and out."

"Do so." Tembris nodded and turned around to go to his quarters.

As Mina prepared to do just that, Janos was waiting at the small opening for Jay to fly up to it. He had to admit; it was impressive work, and the location was as secure as you could get and still have any opening.

"Impressive," he said with a smile for Jay as the older tom touched down, walking in through the door-sized opening he'd left. "What happened to the rest of the stone though?"

"It's made the mesa larger." Jay answered easily. As exhausted as he was, mentally and physically, he wasn't showing it to anyone that wasn't very good at noticing, or had an inside track to his state. "Where you're standing on used to be open air."

"Added a story," Janos nodded, understanding. He moved to help support his mate, rubbing his side lightly. "Be careful," he said softly even as Jay stiffened for a second, then relaxed and leaned against the bigger male as they walked back to the ship and their quarters.

"Something like that." He nodded, his eyes closing briefly. "It's the most secure way I could think of to stay safe for a while."

"Let's hope it works," Janos nodded. "At least we won't have to worry about Krayt dragons. Though Mina might end up getting a little claustrophobic."

"I'll work on that, after a nap." He murmured. "That was a lot of work."

"I'll bet," Janos agreed as they walked into the ship, giving Mina a sharp look as she started to approach them to try and work on convincing Jay to make an easier way out. "Haven't seen anything like that before."

"You probably won't again," he murmured. "It's a significant drain, and not something many would probably think of doing."

"We'll have to get out of here eventually," Mina pointed out, following as Janos helped lead Jay towards their quarters.

"When it's time to take Sharufa out, she can simply blast her way out. We won't need this place any more then." Jay told her.

"All right," she nodded, not willing to test her bond again so shortly after his backlash across it. Janos helped Jay undress, stripping down himself before joining him in bed.

"Just take it easy for a while," the Wolf murmured, kissing Jay lightly.

"Well, it seems you've made a fine mess of things." The spirit of Ludo Kressh sounded entirely too pleased with the situation for Tembris' tastes. "What did I tell you? The slow route, steady, take your opportunities as the Force presents them to you. What do you do?"

"Shut up," the Wolf growled, opening his eyes and looking for the shadowy figure of the half-Massassi.

"You're going to loose everything to that Jedi, and his Demon." Kressh continued. "Some people are not worth the difficulty to turn."

"You saw what he is capable of," Tembris pointed out. "Without taking some risks, the Sith will never rise again. Turning his power to our purposes will ensure the fall of the Republic, and of the Jedi."

"Tembris, Tembris," the spirit shook his head. "What he did anyone with a reasonable talent in the Force can do with training. As he said himself, few would think of trying, but most could manage it. His true talent lies with machines, not telekinesis."

"You don't think I'm aware of that, Kressh? Imagine the chaos on Coruscant if they only lost their weather-control. Add loss of defensive shields and rampant loss of machine services? The shining heart of the Republic brought to its knees without firing a shot."

"And the fleets turned on their crews, the Jedi Temple itself turned on its inhabitants." The spirit chuckled with absolute glee. "To think, an entire family like him is out there."

"And in the other room, in a few months," Tembris nodded with a chuckle of his own. "I'm sure you understand now why I feel turning him is worth any price, even my life. After all - you of all people know that death isn't the end for a true Sith."

"None with the will to remain," Kressh nodded slightly. "And those soon to be born will never know any way but the Sith."

"A bargain both I and Clawson's Demon agree to," Tembris nodded. "So, your comments to the contrary aside, I'd say I have the situation well under control."

"Except that Clawson is still very much a Jedi, Janos is quickly turning against you for real, you can't begin to train Mina out of fear of what Clawson will do about it, we are currently holed up in a place of his choosing, he's come very close to challenging you twice already, and when he does, you are not likely to survive it. Oh, and both his mates are still alive too."

"You underestimate me, Kressh," Tembris rumbled dangerously. "When he does challenge me, I will be quite capable of dealing with him. As for Janos, if he turns against me, he will surrender or die. Such is the way of the Sith. Something I'm beginning to feel I understand better than you do."

"True Sith do not surrender." Kressh retorted. "Not even to Death."

"You're right," Tembris growled slightly. "Though I doubt he is a true Sith yet. He lacks the focus and the strength. All he has is anger, but that is something I intend to hone, once the time comes."

"Assuming he still has it when it does," Kressh smirked in his shadows. "Clawson has already done quite a bit to overcome it, somehow. Clawson may be turning from the Jedi, but he is turning one of your apprentices towards them. How long before you lose the other as well?"

"There is something else you're forgetting, Kressh," the ancient Wolf growled, reaching into his vest and closing his hand around the heavy onyx amulet he had worn since first meeting the Sith Spirit.

"And what might that be? That you don't have any idea how to keep the Jedi from bringing all your plans down around your ears? That I know very well. You're no closer to destroying the Order than you were the first time."

That did it. Tembris pulled the amulet out, sliding his hand to the side to expose the ancient Sith runes on its surface as he channeled the power of the Dark Side through them. A bolt of black energy that seemed to devour everything in its path shot out of the center of it, engulfing the Sith Spirit and exposing Kressh to something he hadn't truly felt in centuries.


"No," Tembris growled. "You forget that, eventually, death comes for all, even the Sith." Seeing that his undead mentor's spirit was still clinging to its existence, he channeled another bolt through it. This time, with a silent scream that resonated through the Force, the last of the true Sith Lords was wrenched from existence, returned to the Force he had so long denied.

"I should have done that a long time ago," Tembris muttered as he tucked the amulet back into his shirt and laid back down, returning to his meditation.

Jay stretched out in bed between his mates as he woke up, surprisingly relaxed given the impressive discharge of Dark energy that had occurred so close by only a few hours before.

"What do you think about learning to use your Force talent?" He offered out of nowhere to them both.

"Hmm?" Mina sounded sleepy yet, but he could tell that she was interested; her focus was on him instantly. Janos was a little more honestly waking up yet, though Jay could tell he'd heard.

"You're both strong enough to learn to do a great deal with what you have in natural talent." He gave them a chance to wake up a little more and absorb the offer.

"Are you trying to offer us Jedi training?" Mina asked him.

"Basically," he admitted. "It's what I know, for the most part. I'm offering the practical half of it, not the philosophy. I tend to attract trouble. It would help you survive if you can fight back well."

"Not sure how much of it we're qualified to learn," the Tabby murmured, kissing Jay's cheek. "But I know I'm willing."

"Same here," Janos added, rubbing Jay's chest lightly. "You know I've already got a bit of it down, but I won't turn down more."

"Probably not lightsaber training, definitely not my type, at least not soon. You saw what can happen to even an experienced wielder with a moment of distraction." He twitched his half-missing ear in reminder and tried not to think about why the injury had really happened. "But levitation, body control, telepathy and a score more of the practical skills you should be able to pick up readily and definitely have the raw talent to master."

"We'll work on it then," Mina smiled, reaching across him to trace his still-tender scar lightly, turning his face towards hers for a gentle kiss that was returned with a lingering passion that wasn't as strong as it had been in the days following her heat, but was still honest and present.

"Yes," Janos nuzzled him from behind. "It's hardly a bad use of time, after all."

Mina sighed mentally. She knew the Demon was watching her and her self-studies of what Jay couldn't teach her and Tembris likely wouldn't anytime soon.

"*You teach yourself well.*" It commented shortly before she would have addressed it.

"*I have little choice,*" she explained absently, setting aside the ancient Sith scroll she had stolen years before but never quite understood. "*And much experience in doing so. Not even Tembris appreciates what I'm capable of.*"

"*What if you were strong enough to challenge him in raw Dark power?*" It all but crooned.

"*He has been a Sith Lord for longer than I've been alive,*" she pointed out. "*And was a Jedi Master before that.*" She carefully checked her mental shields; she didn't want Tembris to overhear if he was listening in.

"*But I'm listening.*"

"*You teach yourself well. Do you really need him? I can offer you more power than he has, if you can learn how to use it.*"

"*He has powers, skills, that I don't,*" she pointed out. "*His command of the Dark Side is incredible; I haven't mastered it to nearly that level yet. But with time ... it would be possible. What do you want for this, though?*" She asked suspiciously.

"*He has sent his Master to the Force; he no longer has a great source of knowledge and power he has used since turning to the Sith.*" The Demon countered seductively. "*I want you to stay with Jay, even after the kits are born. I want more litters. You are pure enough in the Dark that just your presence and nature will turn him in time. Time that Tembris will not give us, if he remains.*"

"*What Master?*" Mina asked, looking in the direction it seemed like the Demon's voice came from, though she knew it was inside her mind.

"*Ludo Kressh. A Sith Spirit, the last of the ancient bloodline that founded the Order. He turned Jedi Master Zykell into the Sith Darth Tembris and has been at Tembris' side ever since. Tembris no longer has his support.*"

"*That explains the surge we felt last week,*" Mina murmured, her mind running through various possibilities rapidly. All of them played through to her advantage, especially with the Demon's support. "*When do we move?*" She asked it.

"*After I have turned Janos to our side, unless a perfect opening presents itself first.*" It chuckled softly and extended a mental 'hand' to her; a taste of the power it offered much more freely than any Sith would dare.

It was raw, pure power too. Not the kind gained by training, but the heady rush of what usually only came naturally.

Mina accepted it without reservation, only afterwards remembering that, in the future, she should be careful to make sure she could handle it first.

"*We may have to work without Janos at first,*" Mina cautioned it. "*But he will not support Tembris over us, I'm sure of that.*"

"*That is the important part.*" The creature nodded silently. "*While Jay becoming unstable is the eventual goal, it is best if it is done slowly, and not by the 'death' of a third mate-bond. Do be careful, though. Neither kill was successful in reality. Both his Jedi mates still live, and they are hunting for him even now.*"

"*Further proof that Tembris is weakening,*" Mina grumbled mentally. "*That would not have been allowed a few years ago ....*"

"*They will be dealt with in time.*" It assured her. "*You and Janos hold the active bonds. They will have great difficulty convincing him they are his mates. With the right words beforehand, he may well turn on them.*"

"*Mmm ... how possible would it be to 'remind' him that they were his mates after he turns on them? Too late for it to do any good for them, of course,*" Mina suggested, purring physically.

"*Rather easy,*" the Demon grinned mentally, delighting in the idea. "*This will work very nicely. If we can get him to kill them himself, he will never turn back to the Light, even if he does turn away from the Dark.*"

"*I doubt he could turn away at that point,*" Mina rumbled. "*Doing so would force him to confront what he did. The Dark Side would become something he needs to avoid coping with their deaths at his hands.*"

"*Do not underestimate their ability to accept such pain as their due punishment for their acts.*" The Demon warned her. "*Most have a masochistic streak in them for emotional as well as physical pain.*"

"*It is possible,*" she accepted. The Demon did, after all, know the family better than she did. "*But as you said, it would ensure that he never returned to the Light. That is as useful as any of a number of other things. There are also other possibilities,*" she mused, rubbing her hand over the very slight swell of her belly below the two extra sets of tits that were beginning to swell, ready to feed the large litter inside her.

"*Such as?*" It pressed her, very intent on any ideas she had where the kittens were concerned.

"*Nothing that would harm them,*" she said easily, then continued as she realized the Demon didn't trust her nearly enough to settle for that. "*Just thinking about who would best be targeted for Jay's rage should things not go perfectly.*"

She knew, instinctively, that just thinking such things was dangerous ground around this creature. Whatever else it was, its reactions towards young Clawsons made Jay's protective possessiveness look like abandonment. It was a small price to pay for the power it offered so freely, but she would have to be careful in the future about when she planned for such contingencies.

Before another word was said, it faded into a dim presence in her mind. It was a sensation very similar to what she knew it was like for Jay when he was being left alone.

She would have to watch herself more carefully ... and make sure she managed to keep control. A part of her wondered just what it did to Jay, and that she would likely have to deal with in the future.

Pushing the thought to the side for now, the young Sith set herself to the task of learning to control the power she had now, and how to wield it best.

"I can safely say I've never done something like that before," Janos murmured as he and Jay relaxed on top of the mesa, Tatooine's dual suns beating down on them as they sat, heating their bodies through their fur after a little experimenting with aerial sex.

It was experimenting for Janos as least. He had no doubts that Jay had done this often enough to be comfortable with it.

"It is unusual." Jay chuckled softly and let his eyes drift closed as he enjoyed the heat from the suns in a moment where everything else, all his concerns and the issues in his life, didn't matter for a few minutes.

It was a few minutes that Janos regretted having to end, but he knew this was the only time he'd be able to warn Jay without Tembris or Mina overhearing him.

"Jay?" He asked, double-checking to make sure the tom hadn't dozed off as he reached over to scritch the back of his neck and felt him murr in appreciation as much as heard it. "I'm not sure we can trust Kell ...."

Hell, that was an understatement. Janos knew better than anybody that they couldn't trust him as far as Tembris could throw him. The next part was going to be the hardest to get Jay to accept. "Or Mina."

"I know." Jay whispered, a tone and trickle in the bond that made Janos realize that Jay had known from the moment he'd woken up with her in his bed. "Who are they?"

"Mina's who she says she is, as far as I know," Janos said softly. "Kell ... he's Kell, but that's a cover for Darth Tembris, the Sith Lord."

He felt the shudder pass through his mate; Jay's sick realization that he was really in over his head even more than he'd originally thought.

"And your connection to him?" Jay asked quietly, unconsciously putting a good deal of pressure across the bond and the Force to hear the full truth.

"Same as Mina," Janos said softly. "Used to be at least. I was gunning to be accepted as an apprentice ... just seemed to be the next natural step for me, with what I was doing."

"Has he taught you how to use a lightsaber?" Jay let out a breath, a very private sense of panic giving way to a level of plotting and contingencies that any Sith would be proud of developing.

"He hasn't taught either of us much. I learned to do that on my own," Janos admitted. "Just like everything else I've gotten. He's been working on some of the skills ... but I'll be honest, it's not feeling like as natural a step as I'd thought it was."

"Something that will likely kill you young rarely does." He rolled to his side to rest against the Wolf. "Or maybe you're just not so angry anymore."

"You still haven't seen me in a fight," Janos pointed out with a grim chuckle. "That Twi'lek wouldn't have gotten away alive. Neither would most of the other folks in the cantina," he admitted. "As for killing me young ... I dunno, Tembris is holding up pretty well."

"Some do, most don't." Jay said quietly, then nuzzled him. "Now that the sun is down, why don't you show me what you can do in a fight?"

"I don't have my 'saber with me," he pointed out. "And I don't know that you want to go up against me hand-to-hand. Solo ... it doesn't work as well without somebody to take on," he half-explained.

"You honestly think I can't stop you?" Jay raised an eyebrow at him.

"Without maiming me?" Janos pointed out. "I don't necessarily control things once I get going."

"You're going to need enough self-control to spar with me if I'm going to teach you much of anything combat-related," Jay sighed softly. "Or enough trust in me to stop things without either of us getting hurt."

"Just pointing out the risks, when I'm practicing my unarmed skills," the Wolf said easily, licking his cheek. "Not that I learn all that much when I get like that. Less skill, more blind rage. Put a weapon in my hands and I handle it a bit better. Or if it was a challenge."

"So go get your lightsaber," Jay suggested as he began to stand, pausing for a kiss part way up, "and see what you've managed to teach yourself about it?"

"Works for me," Janos nodded, standing up. "You happen to remember where we left our clothes?" He asked, looking around with a chuckle. Jay didn't even have to motion to guide his eye in the right direction.

"I want you to pay attention to the Force around us when I take us down," Jay told him as they quickly dressed. "Levitation is a difficult skill for many to master, but it is a simple effect."

"Will do," Janos nodded, pulling the rest of his clothes on and moving to the edge with Jay.

It was still heart-wrenching, that first step into the open sky. Nothing in his life could have prepared Janos to trust anything like that. Yet this was the third time he'd done just that, and Jay had never let him be hurt. He could feel it, that the tom couldn't let him be hurt.

As much as a part of him was still screaming that trusting the Jedi was dangerous, he found it easier and easier to do just that. A scant month ago and he wouldn't have even thought of telling Jay what he just had. Now, he was warning Jay about the plan that was in play, and planning on ways to help him avoid it.

As the powerful updrafts of Tatooine's early evenings blew past them, he couldn't help but marvel at how crazy things were just now, and that now was only the beginning.

When his feet touched solid rock again, Janos let out of breath of relief to be under his own propulsion again. He started back onto the Sharufa, heading back into the hold and opening the small crate that held his lightsaber, the hilt not a perfect fit for his hand. As Jay arrived, he realized that there was no way Janos had created it himself, for all that he carried it with the ease of somebody who knew what he was doing with it.

"How'd you get that one?" He asked quietly with a nod towards the weapon.

"A Jedi came after one of my employers when I was freelancing," Janos explained, remarkably at ease with the subject until he remembered who he was talking to. Apparently, he also decided it was too late to stop the explanation. "When the blasterfire was done, there was a lightsaber without an owner, so I trained myself how to use it."

"The Jedi's name?" Jay asked and extended his hand for the weapon, a knot in his stomach for being even this close to the death of a colleague.

"Not sure," Janos shrugged slightly, unholstering it and passing it over, fairly certain he wouldn't be seeing it again, but knowing that it would be better than trying to keep it against Jay's objections. "Some Ferret, going by the name of Oppo Ran. I wasn't exactly worried about his real name when the fighting started."

The tom nodded and closed his eyes as he passed his hand over the weapon, making it disappear in a powerful ripple of Force. He was grateful he did not know the owner. That may well have made the contact unbearable ... and cost everyone on Tatooine their lives. It still left him uneasy about just how to send the weapon back to the Temple with the news in a way he couldn't be traced.

"You can use my ... Fenrik's second spare." Jay said quietly and turned to leave with a subtle motion to follow. "At least until one is built for you."

It still unnerved Janos to know that Jay could do something like that. The thought of what the tom could do to somebody he got ticked off at enough ... and he'd thought that Tembris was bad with being able to use the Force as a weapon directly. This was definitely not the time to bring up other fights he'd had with Jedi over the years, even if Jay probably already knew about most of them, or could. He could feel how unsettled the tom already was, how close to truly snapping in a way not even Tembris wanted.

"All right," the Wolf nodded, following Jay to claim the backup weapon from the sparring chamber. It was sitting with several others; a set of two like Jay wielded, a traditional double-blade made of crystal, and a normal looking single-blade sitting next to an empty place for a weapon of the same size.

Jay took the traditional lightsaber from its resting place and handed it over. It took Janos a startled moment to adjust his hand to the new weight and the incredible sensation of being at one with the weapon.

It was definitely not something he was used to, even after years of practicing with the 'saber he'd just lost.

"What's up with this one?" The Wolf asked, looking over at Jay.

"It is a Master Artisan 'saber." Jay explained. "I made it for him a few months after I finished my training as one. That is what it feels like when you have perfected the creation of a Force-weapon. It will work for you even better than one you make for yourself."

Janos looked at it, testing the weight again, and accepting that the somewhat unsettling feeling was just something he'd get used to.

"I'll keep it in mind," he nodded, stepping back and igniting the blade. "So, what do you want to see?"

"Just fight me, for now." Jay said simply as he dropped into a loose defensive posture and light a single blade, the blacklight in stark contrast to his opponent's brilliant white. "Show me what you can do."

"You asked for it," Janos said easily, moving into an unorthodox offensive flurry that, while not so skilled that Jay couldn't block it easily, was easily on a par with those used by most novice Knights. It was clear that the Wolf had spent long hours working with a lightsaber, and while this specific weapon was one he wasn't comfortable with, he was adapting quickly.

Blow after blow rained down, each with the full strength of the lupine's powerful body behind it. It lacked practically any sign of art or grace, but it was a powerful, punishing technique that would have made most Jedi scowl to see used by one of their own, and very unhappy to see used by an opponent.

It was surprisingly effective too; for all that no Jedi in his right mind would have used it.

It made it damn near the perfect style for a Sith-to-be.

Jay smiled, a dangerous look that set every nerve Janos had on edge, and the Wolf found himself on the receiving end of a fighting style as opposite to his own as he could imagine.

He shifted to the defensive, clearly a weaker skill of his. To the seasoned Jedi, it was obvious that his mate had benefited greatly from the simplest of flawed logic - that the best defense is a good offense.

Still, he tried to hold his own, blocking blows narrowly with potent parries that kept Jay from easily flowing into the next blow, forcing him to recover from the parry first.

Jay could also tell that Janos' frustration with being put into this position was growing ... and that a barely-restrained well of Dark Side energy was coming ever closer to the surface. To judge by what he'd said before, if it hadn't been for the lightsaber, he'd already have a berserk Wolf on his hands.

As it stood, he knew what he needed to.

"*Stop.*" Jay ordered with enough Force to stop the rising tide of rage without truly overpowering Janos' mind.

Janos moved back, blinking as he felt the retreat.

"That's never happened before," he said, clearly uneasy, looking at Jay warily.

"You've never have someone give you a Force Command then." The tom nodded with an easy manner as his lightsaber extinguished and was slid back into its Glovatrix home. "Or at least not one to stop you from fighting."

"Not by the time I reached that point," Janos agreed, extinguishing his own weapon a little uneasily. "Not that I listened to. 'Course, I haven't dealt with Jedi all that often before."

"Certainly not any experienced ones," he nodded slightly and motioned Janos to follow him. "Your style is effective, but only to a point. You haven't crossed lightsabers with anyone who's got more than the basics down, or is any good at Mind Control."

"It's worked for what I've needed it for," Janos said a little defensively. "Mostly dealing with folks who see a lightsaber and back off or try to come at me with something that really isn't suited for it. I have had a few Jedi try the mind control thing, they're just not usually fast enough to get started before it doesn't help."

"You've been lucky, in part." Jay nodded. "Very lucky your name never came up when I was taking field missions. Some Jedi specialize. Mine was hunting, when they let me. With enough work, you may well become good enough to hunt with me."

"Hunting what?" Janos asked him.

"Darksiders mostly, sometimes terentatek and other such beasts." He answered as they stepped inside their quarters. "They tend not to send me when they want to make sure whatever it is comes back alive."

"If it's some sort of beast, I'm already good enough to help you as is," Janos pointed out, following Jay into the showers. It was clearly something he took some pride in. "Might not be the best lightsaber fighter out there, but I am one of the best hunters."

"Want to go hunting for fresh meat with me, then?" Jay glanced over his shoulder before letting the loose, sandy-tan clothing he wore now slip off his well-toned body and to the floor. "It's not lightsaber work, but it's a good workout."

"Something to do too," Janos nodded, stripping down himself while Jay set the water temperature. "Dewbacks are a bit big, but anything smaller than that should make a good few meals for us, even with a ship full of carnivores."

"Quite true," he nodded and stepped under the shower of water. A shiver passed through his body as the warmth of the liquid seeped into his fur and skin with the arousal that typically followed.

"You never run out of steam, do you?" Janos asked with a chuckle, climbing in behind Jay and running a hand down his chest from behind, cupping the older feline's balls in a bit of foreplay that was already feeling normal.

"Eventually," he murmured and leaned back, his legs spreading apart in welcome of the attention. "But not easily."

"No wonder you prefer two mates," the Wolf rumbled, licking the sweat from Jay's fur. "Need 'em to keep up with you. Though I'm willing to try."

"You've done pretty well so far," he snickered and pressed back, rubbing his ass and tail against his mate's groin. "Though I really prefer males. It feels so good to be full."

"Mmm ... I'm not about to complain about you liking it that way," Janos rumbled, nipping his shoulder as his sheath started to fill out. "I happen to like filling you."

A soft rumble of pleasure came from Jay before he twisted and knelt to nuzzle his mate, coaxing the hard flesh from it's home with an eager mouth and skilled tongue he took care to only use the back of.

"Mmm ... you can use the front too," Janos moaned pleasantly, reaching down to rub Jay's ears and the back of his head, taking some care to watch out for the scarred one. "Damn you're good at this," he rumbled, the tip of his cock quickly emerging from his sheath to even more attention. It wasn't long before Jay had him panting, leaned forward to brace against the shower wall with on hand while the other continued to play in Jay's long hair and the still-whole ear.

Just a few moments later, his howl echoed through the shower as his cock spasmed, shooting his cum into Jay's mouth as his knot throbbed just outside the Kat's mouth. The sound went up a couple notches in intensity as the Kat closed his hand around the knot's base and squeezed gently as he hummed happily and swallowed everything Janos had to offer.

Moments later, and the Wolf was panting heavily, his tongue lolling along the side of his muzzle before he pulled Jay up and kissed him, the flavor of his cum heavy on the older Kat's breath.

"'Against your back, or face-to-face?" He asked him.

"Face to face," he grinned and slid one leg up to hook around the Wolf's hip before claiming another kiss. "Fuck me hard, handsome."

"With pleasure," Janos growled lustily, pressing his cock up into Jay's ass with a groan that was quickly muffled by the older tom's shoulder as he bit down on it, a bit more roughly than he usually did. He could feel it, across their bond, that it was nothing close to how rough the feline received his from previous male mate, or how easily the pain mixed with the pleasure for him.

And he knew, deep inside, that he was going to find out just whose appetite for pain was stronger before he was finished.

Essani sighed and took a deep breath to settle herself in the holonet chamber with Master Zraii. She set the controls to put them in contact with the Gurath, Kalrass and Independence to get an update from the Jedi hunting for her former Padawan. There hadn't been an ounce of good news in the two months since his capture, and she was sure her fur was going to be permanently darkened before there was any at this rate.

"Greetings, Masters." Master Miya said respectfully as the holonet conference began between the three Masters and two Knights spread out in space and the two at the Temple. Just her tone warned there was going to be precious little good news this week either.

Just like last week and every week since the hunt began.

One of the additional receivers flickered on, revealing Jenna and Kanna on the Independence; they hadn't quite made it to the rendezvous point yet, but they were will there.

"Sorry we're late, Masters," Kanna said, bowing. "We ran into an ion storm on the way to the rendezvous, the hyperdrive cut out for the duration."

"Understandable," Master Zraii said easily, translating for Essani as well as speaking for hirself. "Is there any news?"

"Jay is still with the Light," Fenrik began with the little good news they had. After the terrifying couple of hours a month before when he was sure that his mate had gone over to the Dark Side, that had become the opening question to answer. "I still can not get a lock on his location, but he has not moved far in recent weeks. If he stays put a few more weeks, we will have it down to what planet he's on."

"*That is good news,*" Essani said, waiting for the message to be relayed. "*On both fronts.*"

"All indicators still say that he's in the Rim," Doruth said. "We've checked all the worlds that were top priorities and in the general range, but no luck, so we'll be moving to priority two worlds until Fenrik can get a fix."

"Is there any news about Master Shivasta yet?" Kanna asked. "She would be able to help us narrow things down as well, if she has recovered yet."

"*They don't think it will be long, but she hasn't regained consciousness yet. Most of the poison is out of her system, but waking her up early would undo all her progress.*"

"Understood, Master." Jenna inclined her head. Whoever had set this up had done their research well.

"Have there been any further messages from him?" Fenrik asked quietly, his weariness from the hunt and worrying about his mate beginning to show.

"*No,*" Master Essani admitted. "*He seems to be hiding out from us intentionally now.*"

"That'll make things more difficult," Doruth observed with a frown. "Especially if he decides to interfere with Fenrik's bond. Master Zraii, was there any luck with the trace on the message we did have?"

"Very little of use," shi answered. "It came from the Falleen system. I doubt it is where he is, however. The markers indicate the ship was still in hyperspace when the transmission was made. Our best hope right now is that he stays where he is long enough for you to find him."

"Agreed," Fenrik nodded. "The Falleen system is too strongly in line with the Republic and the Jedi; we'd know by now if he was there."

"But it gives us a place to focus," Doruth murmured, looking away from the transmitter. "We have several high priority systems in the area; Tatooine, Geonosis, Ryloth, several others along the Corellian Run. I think we'll want to focus there for a bit; getting between the systems will be faster for a bit too."

"If he is in that area, I may have a better shot at tracing him." Fenrik added with a nod. "The closer I can come, the more likely I'll be to get more than a vague sense of direction."

"Then that's where we'll be headed," Doruth nodded. "Unless there are any objections, I'll take the Ryloth system, Fenrik can start out in the Geonosis system, and Jenna and Kanna, why don't the two of you start in the Rodia system? If they took Jay there, we're looking at a very short fuse on things that might set him off before we find him."

"If he's on Rodia, we'd know about it by now." Fenrik pointed out respectfully to his former Master. "I seriously doubt they wouldn't report someone doing serious population damage with a lightsaber. Besides, Jay's not Dark yet. He wouldn't go there if he had a choice. Tatooine is much more likely."

"And we wouldn't have heard about it yet," Doruth agreed. "It's practically next to the Geonosis system ... why don't the three of you handle both of them?" He asked, clearly meaning Fenrik, Jenna, and Kanna. "Only a handful of habitable worlds between them, shouldn't take long either way."

"Yes, Master." Fenrik agreed easily.

"Works for us." Kanna nodded.

"A little off topic, Master Essani, but how is Syleece doing?" Jenna asked now that the decisions were made.

"*Well, all things considered,*" Essani said. "*Don't worry; the Council has agreed that, under the circumstances, the two of you don't need to worry about your potential Padawans while you're on this mission.*"

"Thank you, Masters." Both Knights bowed in unison.

"Is there anything else, Master Essani?" Master Miya asked now that all the family business was out of the way.

"*Only the update on the Council business that has already been transmitted to the Gurath for your review, Master Miya,*" Essani said, shaking her head slightly. "*Hopefully the new direction for the search will be successful.*"

"Yes," the Caracal nodded seriously after Master Zraii had relayed the words. "It will be good when this mess is settled. We will contact you next week, unless there is important news before then."

"*Very well,*" Essani nodded. "*Force be with you all.*"

Tembris frowned as he sensed the Force being used in the Sharufa's training rooms. He pulled himself up and into his chair, starting to float out to see what was going on. He'd seen Jay and Janos practicing lightsaber combat at least once, and knew they did so two or three times a day as often as not, but this was something more.

He ultimately found Janos, Jay, and Mina working in the training room. Jay was helping them with their body-control skills; Janos was working with an old Jedi tool, the colors shifting with ease. The Wolf was already fairly skilled at handling his body responses, and was able to manipulate the device without much trouble.

As such, Jay was focused more on Mina, who seemed to be working with him on much the same subject matter.

"Well, that took care of the nausea," she murmured.

"That's a good start," he nodded in approval. "You should be able to control your body well enough to make the birth swift and fairly painless by the time it comes at this rate."

"That'll be good," she nodded. "Odds are, we won't be able to hit a hospital. Especially not if we're still on Tatooine," she chuckled slightly. "Don't think there is one on this world."

The Wolf scowled from the door; it seemed his two 'apprentices' were working to get their training from any source available. He shouldn't be surprised at that, any Sith worth the title did, but to have a Jedi, even one who had left the Order, doing it was not something he approved of.

"Oh, that I'm going to manage. It's just not something to do until it's closer." Jay said firmly. "Birth is not something I'm particularly qualified to handle."

Mina shifted a little uncomfortably. "Take this the right way, I think I'll be looking forward to it. The Sharufa's well-stocked, but it isn't really set up for a maternity ward."

"No, we're not." He agreed quietly, the pain of remembering the Healer-mate he'd lost flaring bright again. "We had very different needs when I last overhauled her."

"We can't change what happened, Jay," Mina said softly, reaching over to brush his cheek lightly. "But we can still find the one who killed her."

Tembris had to approve of that; it was good that she still seemed to be working on him. Their plans had changed, with the hiding place. It would be harder to start the next phase of the process of turning him.

But now would be the time to do it.

There was still some resistance to that hunt, something that almost couldn't be from Jedi training. They may not be kill-happy, but they rarely had an issue with finding those responsible for the death of their own.

"When the kittens can be safely left in the care of others." Jay murmured, his priorities clear at least to himself.

"All right," she nodded. "I don't suppose I could talk you into a trip outside before I end up too far along to enjoy it?"

"What do you want to see?" He cocked his head at her.

"Something other than the ship and cave walls, maybe?" She chuckled, leaning over to kiss his cheek lightly. "Starting to feel a little cooped up, and not far enough along to feel like that's how I'm supposed to be yet."

"All right. After the sun sets and it's a little cooler."

"Thanks," she smiled, giving him another light kiss. Tembris nodded slightly from where he was listening; a trip or two without anything serious happening would help lull the Jedi into a feeling of security.

Now, if only they could convince him to give them the leeway to work a bit, continue turning him. The longer they spent sitting here, the more likely the Jedi were to find him. And the less unsettled Jay was, ultimately. They had to keep him unbalanced ....

"*You worry too much, Sith.*" The Demon interrupted his thoughts. "*The more settled and secure he is when she is captured the more of an impact it will make. Jay will never allow himself to be captured by them.*"

"*He may not have a choice,*" Tembris pointed out. "*The Jedi are hunting hard ... including his mate, by the reports.*"

"*Yes, they are hunting. He is hiding. He won't be found until he's willing to be found.*" It told him with the simple confidence of having watched such cycles time and time again with this family.

"*You had best be right. The last thing we need right now is to face a group of Jedi hunters.*"

"*It's not the hunters that are dangerous to our plans. It's the Healers.*" It pointed out. "*As long as the bonds are in place, the plan can still work.*"

"*And as long as the hunters don't come, face us, kill three of us and capture Jay and Mina,*" Tembris pointed out with a slight mental growl. "*How do you think he would find the Healers again, hmm? Of course that won't happen while he's under our control.*"

"*It still requires them to find us, and they won't as long as Jay does not wish to be found.*"

"*Very well,*" Tembris said. He knew the Demon was just going to keep the logic going in circles right now; he also knew that there were ways that Jay could not necessarily block that they could use to find him. "*You're privy to his thoughts; what is he up to in there?*"

"*Primarily he's focused on what you are watching; training his mates to survive around the dangers he attracts. He's also trying to figure out how to return the dead Jedi's lightsaber to the Temple without having it traced.*"

"*He's still clinging to the past too strongly,*" Tembris rumbled disapprovingly. "*You had best be right about how to deal with him,*" the Wolf added, turning to float back to his quarters. He would have to have a few words with Mina when he had the chance later.

"*You have had him barely more than a month.*" The Demon reminded him as he left. "*The Jedi had him for over fifty years, and not even they could break his holding onto his heritage.*"

Healer Cirran snapped out of a light meditative trance with the first soft beep of Master Shivasta's' vitals that was off rhythm. She'd held this vigil for six weeks now, ever since a Padawan Healer had found the Ice Walker apparently dead. Three visits from Master Fenrik or the Knights had come and gone without a change, and now, two days before he was due back, her heart rate was picking up.

And, according to the rapidly shifting vital signs, her body desperately needed oxygen.

The Twi'lek moved quickly, grabbing a medical breather and holding it over Shi's mouth and nose, helping to restore the balance in her body the poison had disrupted. Assorted gauges moved back into the proper ranges, the Jedi Master's breathing speeding up, but becoming steadier.

Her fingers tightened into a fist, giving a sign that she was at least semi-conscious without disrupting Cirran's efforts to help her, or dislodging the IV carrying nutrients to her body.

It was a good sign. She was aware enough to know not to fight back, and that meant that her mind was likely largely intact. Cirran reached out with a bit of Force, searching for any spores that might still be in Shi's system that would make having her wake up now dangerous.

It seemed that whatever she'd done had been enough; the spores were dead, for all that her body was not going to be happy for a while. There was a fair amount of inert matter that would need to be removed naturally.

Shi's bright eyes opened wearily, and she reached over with her other hand to place it gratefully over Cirran's, then took the breather herself for the few moments necessary before her oxygen levels were back to normal.

"Thank you," she said, taking the mask away from her face. "Hope I don't offend you but, who are you?"

"Knight Cirran," the violet Twi'lek looked down at her with a slight smile of relief. "Master Fenrik should be here in the next couple days to see you, though I doubt you will be fit to go anywhere but back to the Temple for some time."

"How long have I been out?" Shivasta asked, not arguing the other point just yet. "Have to get a message to Jay ...."

"Just over six weeks, Healer." Cirran cautioned her. "The Plague is over. Master Fenrik and your Knights are trying to find Knight Clawson."

"Trying to ...." Shi closed her eyes, swallowing hard. "They took him before anybody could get word to him," she murmured.

"Yes," she nodded slightly. "We know who is responsible. We do not know where they are. Master Fenrik knows a great deal more than I do about what is happening."

"I'm just going to have to recover quickly then, aren't I?" Shivasta asked, closing her eyes again, her body clearly still exhausted. "Have to get him back ...."

"Master Shivasta, you must rest." The Knight insisted, ready to use the Force if she had to. "Master Fenrik will be here soon with more information."

"I know, Knight Cirran," Shivasta sighed. "I plan on resting, just now."

"Good," the younger Healer brushed a gentle hand across Shi's forehead with healing energy. "I will not be far, should you need anything."

"Thank you," Shivasta murmured, before dozing off. Even asleep, Cirran could feel the Force around the Master Healer, working to repair her body as quickly as possible.

Shivasta took a deep breath a few hours later, trying to calm herself. She knew Fenrik would have already tried this, but she had to make an effort ... and from here, it was about all she could do. She closed her eyes, not sleeping this time, but focusing on reaching out to try and find Jay across their bond, reaching out towards him telepathically.

It wasn't any more difficult than usual, given the range. She could tell he was still out in the Rim, but as she got closer a second female mind was woven in, blocking her access.

Then the Darkness rushed up. The Demon she'd felt on so many occasions through the bond was now on her, ready to finish what the poison hadn't.

Her body might still have been weak, but her mind wasn't. Before it could launch its full attack, she responded with the Light-side energy Essani had taught her to wield after Yavin 4, holding the thing at bay as it howled in rage and pain but refused to back down.

"*Where is Jay?*" She demanded.

"*He is no longer yours.*" It rumbled back and attacked again.

"*Like hell he isn't,*" Shivasta growled mentally, even as she backed away. She wasn't able to handle this battle just yet. She'd need help ... help that wouldn't be here for a day or more yet. "*This isn't over.*"

"*It will be soon.*" It hissed at her, but did not follow her far. Its power was too tied to Jay's mind for it to reach far past that, not even along a bond.

Shi had to pull back into her own mind, exhausted. But she knew better what they were up against. Jay thought he had a new mate, but only because the Demon had replaced her.

Only decades of Jedi training kept her from wanting to go back and attack it with everything she had. If she kept it far enough out along the bond, she could probably do it too. Instead, she'd wait until the next day, when Fenrik could help. Between the two of them ....

They'd have to see what could be done.

Mina frowned as her hands traced down her body, over the swell her primary breasts, the two extra sets that were half the size and the obvious roundness of her belly and the three or four kits growing inside of her. Jay had been downright cool lately. Given his preference for males, and hers for fems, she couldn't really blame him for preferring Janos.

But it was the sort of change that endangered her position with him. A position she needed to protect.

She looked at herself in the mirror, nude and beginning to show her pregnant state, wondering what it would take to try and repair the damage that had already been done. Whether or not they were going to turn on Tembris, she still needed Jay to want her, to keep her as his mate, if she was going to get what she wanted out of this.

At least her training hadn't suffered for his lack of interest in bed. He was fulfilling his duties as the father of the young she carried as best he could; providing her with a good diet, as much physical care as he was capable of, training in as many skills that didn't endanger the kit's health as she could wrap her mind around.

Still ... for all that he was being a reasonable good parent, and helping to teach her, she was getting increasingly annoyed with the tedium that her life was becoming. Even the occasional trip outside wasn't much to break things up.

Jay, on the other hand, seemed downright content to stay here for a long time. He was not one of those Jedi who liked to travel, apparently, for all he'd gone on many missions all over the galaxy during his life.

It was reaching the point where she was considering trying to bed Markos while Jay and Janos were off playing. He definitely wasn't the sort she'd normally be interested in, but it would be something to do other than practice wielding the power the Demon had given her.

She nearly jumped out of her skin when someone's hands slid down her sides to cup on her belly, pulling her back against a strong, warm body.

"I don't mean to ignore you." Jay whispered softly.

"You've just got Janos instead," Mina murmured, pressing back against him. "After what happened in Anchorhead, I figured it wasn't a good idea to say anything."

"That was very different, Mina." He nuzzled her, though she could feel it took an effort to make himself interested in her enough to respond to the nude and willing body against his loose clothing. "He was trying to take you away. I'm not usually that temperamental."

"I meant after," she murmured, turning to return the nuzzle. "S'pose you weren't really at your best then."

Not for the first time, she wondered if getting Janos involved in this had really been the best idea. It was a moot point, though. It wasn't as simple as just ditching him somewhere. Jay would go find him again, and Force help whatever was between them.

"No, I wasn't." He admitted and kissed his way up her neck. The touch was arousing, even if he was having a bit of difficulty desiring her like he had in those first couple weeks. The more he had time to think, the more she doubted he was as ignorant or helpless as everyone thought he was. There were moments that she was sure he was as devious and manipulative as any Sith. That, combined with his natural honesty, was a bewildering mixture and did nothing to sooth her uneasiness.

She had to figure out a way to reinforce the bond. Fortunately, he seemed receptive to one of the easiest.

She tilted her head to give him access to her neck, reaching back to rub his sides before she started to work his belt off.

"Love me," she murmured to him, kissing his unburned cheek lightly.

He nodded slightly and kissed her exposed throat as one hand slid down to caress her sex, wetting the fur on his fingers with her juices before he slid them up to swirl around her clit with a gentle touch that promised long, slow pleasure.

"Master Fenrik," Healer Cirran greeted the graying Panther with a welcome pleasure in her voice. Despite having gotten the message that his mate was awake, and likely felt it before then, he looked very ragged. Each visit had shown the hunt wore on him a little more. "She is awake, if you would like to see her now."

"Thank you," the Panther nodded, moving into the room. He was on his own right now; everybody else was continuing to hunt for Jay. At least this was good news.

"Hi," Shivasta smiled weakly as he stepped into the room, sitting up and holding her arms open for him, moving with just enough care to keep from dislodging the IV Cirran was still insisting she use. She was about one step short of pulling rank on the Knight, but would deal with it through this meeting at least.

The warmth, physical and emotional, that came from Fenrik as he half-sat on the bed to hug her in relief was beyond welcome.

"*It is so good to see you awake, love.*" He murmured across their minds, not quite trusting his voice yet.

"I know," she murmured. "I was worried too." She swallowed, hugging the Panther tightly. "I heard about Jay. Don't know all the details, but I think I know enough of them."

"You already tried to contact him, I'm sure." He couldn't quite keep his voice steady and settled back to set more comfortably on the bed without loosing physical contact with her. "I don't know how it was done, but our mate-bonds have been usurped by two others and the Demon is guarding against anyone from our side contacting him."

"Anyone from contacting him alone," Shivasta said softly. "How long has it been since you've slept, Fenrik?"

"Real sleep? Weeks." He admitted. "Sleep brings nightmares and no rest. It's been more effective to meditate quietly. What little I get from Jay is twisted by the Dark and old nightmares. You've been all but dead. It hasn't been good to sleep lately."

"We'll have to change that after we get going," she murmured. "It's starting to show. Who else is helping hunt?"

"The girls, Doruth and Tes and Master Miya. We've got the Kalrass, Gurath, Independence and Whitecloak between us. They've got Jay and Sharufa. It hasn't been an even match."

"You've got me now," Shi said firmly. "We have to find him, Fenrik, and it'll take both of us to save him when we do."

"I know." He sighed and let his eyes close for a brief moment. "If our bond was in place, I could at least bring him back to the Temple. As it stands, I'd probably have to fight it out. I'm better, but not so much better that I'm at all sure we'd both come out of it alive. You've got the training to get to him when we're close."

"And my bond is still there," she said. "He's not totally lost to us, Fenrik. I almost got to him last night, but the Demon got in the way."

"Do you know how to undo what happened to our bonds?" He looked at her with a quiet kind of desperation. "To have him back, but still theirs ...."

"If I can't do it, one of the mind-healers can," she said certainly. "Whatever happened, my bond at least isn't broken ... the other is just laid in over it. And I think Jay is seriously not happy with the person who 'replaced' me."

"Good," he murmured and leaned forward to rest his forehead against hers. "At least he's still enough of himself to dislike who a Sith would choose for him."

"*Master Shivasta, should I bring in a second bed for Master Fenrik?*" Healer Cirran asked her privately. "*He does not look good.*"

"*He'll sleep once we're in hyperspace,*" Shivasta told the Twi'lek. "*I'll make sure of it.*"

"Think you're up to an attempt to reach him?" She asked the Panther softly. "Or should we do that after the Kalrass is on the way?"

"Yes." He nodded seriously. "The sooner we can reach him, the sooner this will be over."

"All right," she nodded. "I need you to relax though, okay? We'll both try to reach him; I'll need your help with the Demon mostly. If it could, I think it would have killed me for real last night."

"I don't doubt it." Fenrik nodded grimily. "*Just tell me what to do, love.*" He murmured silently

"Give me your lightsaber first," she warned him, holding her hand out for it as he blinked, taken completely by surprise by the request.

"All right," he unlatched it from his belt and handed it over.

"Sorry," she told him. "I just don't want to take the chance that it might be able to trick you into using it. I don't really want to have to heal either of us this soon," she smiled slightly, trying to make it less serious than it really was before setting his lightsaber aside along with hers and closed her eyes to slip into a meditative state.

Fenrik soon joined her in the light meditative state, their minds meeting up along their bond before reaching out together along her bond with Jay.

As they worked their way towards him, Shivasta worked on using their bonds to reinforce each other, blending the two telepathic bonds together to give each other additional strength.

"*Get ready for it,*" she warned him, sensing the Demon ahead.

"*How do I fight this thing?*" He glanced over at her while they still had time.

"*Let me start,*" she warned him. "*After that, your best chance will be to answer Dark with Light. Healing, defensive abilities ... don't try to destroy it, just try to hold it off until we can reach Jay.*"

"*Understood.*" Fenrik nodded and set his mind to focus on defense and pure Light abilities. Two things that were not his strengths, but he was good enough at to distract with.

That was the most important part; one of them would have to keep it from actually getting an attack through, one of them would have to reach Jay. With that, the two Jedi moved along, Shi already calling on the Light, wrapping it around the two of them protectively as they entered the Demon's territory.

It was none too soon. The attack came without warning or any holding back from a creature of pure Dark, focused on Shi as the true danger of the pair.

The Healer worked to keep herself centered, avoiding the temptation to lash out in anger at it.

"*You will let us pass,*" she told it firmly, working with Fenrik to fight for every step of the way.

Its response was in another wave of Dark energy from what seemed to be an endless reserve. As much as it hated the pair, it was even more protective of Jay and keeping them away from him.

"*Fenrik, I'll need your help,*" Shivasta told her mate. The Light side was not weaker than the Dark; she knew that they could reach Jay. "*Help with the shield.*"

He nodded without a word and shifted his focus to put all the effort he could spare on the shield so she could do whatever she was planning. He believed as she did about the strength of the two sides, but he wasn't nearly so convinced that the Demon didn't have greater access to raw power than they did. At least not where they were, so close to Jay's mind.

Able to turn some of her focus away from the shield, she focused her power on driving a spike of Force energy deep into the Demon's being, creating an opening in its being and letting the Light side of the Force flow through her to keep it open while they moved forward, towards the tangled bonds of Jay's new 'mates.'

She began to get a sense of heat, painfully dry and parched, of two eyes staring mercilessly down onto whatever was sheltering her mate. Two eyes ... two suns.

If nothing else, they would be able to narrow down where he might be hiding. The anger and hatred surrounding them now was almost palpable, like trying to wade through quicksand. Shivasta found herself wanting to lash out at the Demon more and more, hating this creature that was causing her mate such pain, and had for decades.

"*We need to leave.*" Fenrik grabbed at her and wrapped his own experience at resisting the Dark Side and it's impulses around them before almost physically pulling her back to her body.

Shivasta swore at herself mentally as she was yanked out of the Demon's reach, biting her lip as her physical body became active again. She wanted to yell at Fenrik for pulling her out; she was certain she could have reached Jay with a bit more time, probably made the Demon regret giving them as much trouble as it had in the process.

But she knew, deep down, that that was exactly what the Demon wanted her to feel.

"Thank you," she said a little shakily, only then realizing that Cirran was watching the two of them with a concerned expression, and that her fingernails were digging into her palms. "Fell right into it, didn't I?" She asked Fenrik softly.

"You've never faced anything like that," he said gently, brushing his hand along her face. "The Dark is difficult to resist because anger is so natural when you are desperate or hurt."

"I have faced it, but that was decades ago," she murmured. "And a different sort of feeling." She sighed, looking up at Knight Cirran. "Sorry to have worried you. We'll be leaving shortly."

"No." The Knight fell back on her rank as a Healer to give her authority over the higher-ranking Jedi. "You are going to Coruscant if you leave here. You are not yet fit for active duty."

"Knight Cirran," Shivasta said firmly. "I have been in hibernation for the past six weeks. The poison, while the reason for it, didn't have me in a coma. The Sith have a Jedi Knight in their hands, and they are working to turn him to their side. Right now, he thinks that the two people who are his primary reason for not turning are both dead.

"They've had him for six weeks. My vitals are fine except for some muscle fatigue. By the time I get back to Coruscant, even that will have been dealt with. But what won't be better is the fact that another two weeks will have passed before I will have managed to report, take care of red tape, and start helping to find him."

"There are three Masters, including a Councilor, two Knights and a Custos on the hunt already. Give them whatever you have found out, if Master Fenrik does not already know." Knight Cirran countered, though it was a last token resistance. More a matter of professional habit that truly expecting to win. She knew the other Healer was basically correct, even if she didn't like it.

"Cirran," Shivasta said, her voice softening. "It's my mate in question here. I might not be fit for combat duty, but I'm going to be with the Master who trained about half the current Knights in combat," she said, nodding towards Fenrik. "I'll be honest. I'd be grateful to find him in time to still not be fit for combat. But I am a Healer. I can fix what's wrong yet, and it doesn't matter if I'm on Coruscant or a shuttle en route to Dagobah."

The violet skinned Twi'lek inclined her head reluctantly. Even if it required her to continue with the pair to do the healing left, she really couldn't argue that Master Shivasta added far more to the odds of success than any danger to her represented. She would be with a top ranked Jedi in combat, and likely with the Jedi who could have been the Combat Master of the Order if he'd wanted to be, and had trained the one she was with too.

It didn't make it any easier to let a patient go before they were completely healed.

Cirran's mind and lekku stilled as she considered something. "You might do well to have a second trained Healer with you."

"The Kalrass isn't set up to handle three people all that comfortably," Shivasta pointed out. "And it might be a long time before you could return to your normal duties."

Cirran caught the look on Fenrik's face, hidden almost as quickly as he realized it was there, and blushed a deep purple. "Perhaps I should trust you two to take care of each other."

"Thank you," Shivasta smiled. "Besides, it's already a ship that'll have one person on board whose idea of skilled piloting it 'trust the computer and start praying,'" she chuckled, turning her wrist over. "So, could I please have my IV removed now?"

"Yes," she nodded and made short work of removing the thick needle and healing the hole it left in Shivasta's soft blue skin.

"Thank you," Shi repeated, standing up and taking a moment to get used to standing with Fenrik's hand on her back for support. "I'll transmit a report on the way," she added. "Good luck."

"Thank you, Master." She inclined her head in respect.

"I'll make sure she actually rests." Fenrik promised. "And I'm sure she'll make sure I do too."

"Just as soon as we're out of realspace," the Ice Walker said seriously. "Force be with you, Knight Cirran," she said, taking Fenrik's hand for a little support as the two of them left for the Kalrass.

"Force be with you, Masters." The Twi'lek said softly, meaning it more than most times she said the traditional farewell.

Janos couldn't even begin to cover how much he enjoyed getting out of the ship and away from Mina, Tembris and the occasionally unbearable tension the two of them created in the space. There were moments that he was sure her fairly obvious pregnancy was the only think that was keeping Mina alive. What Tembris did to keep Jay from tearing him to shreds was beyond him.

Why the Demon continued to tolerate the Sith Lord was also beyond him.

Out here, though, it was all behind them. It was just him, Jay and the soon-to-be-meat they were tracking down.

Janos had to admit; he was seriously beginning to reconsider the whole 'Sith' thing. He had lived with his self-training, and the power available to Tembris ... there were other ways to get it. Tembris might be the shortest route, but there was one glaring flaw with it.

One had to deal with Tembris for the duration of the training.

It didn't help that feeling any that Jay was more willing to actually give training in many very useful skills, rather than only promise them, and was much easier to deal with.

As it was, they were approaching a roaming wraid, the large reptilian beast itself stalking a young bantha that had wandered from its herd.

Janos held stone-still, waiting for the signal to move from his mate. He was surprised how easy it was to slip into the follower role here, something he'd been unable to do willingly for decades with anybody else, even Tembris.

Instead of the silent, nearly motionless signal, Jay grabbed his belly in pain and snarled, the Dark power he was wielding with ever-greater ease and the Light he had for decades, crackled to life around him in a yin-yang storm of pure energy.

Unfortunately, Janos wasn't able to focus on what was wrong, instead having to deal with the fact that the wraid had heard Jay's snarl and was now quite aware of the light show around him. Most creatures would have fled.

Wraids weren't most creatures. Instead, they were ornery, especially when hungry, and had no real compunctions about whether their dinners had two legs or four.

With a loud bellow, the beast whirled around, kicking up sand as it started to charge towards them. Janos was on his feet in an instant, his borrowed lightsaber blazing to life.

"Duck Jay," he warned him quickly, diving out of the way as the creature hurtled towards them ... and spun off to focus on the obvious threat.

He could only be grateful that whatever was wrong hadn't stopped the Kat from hitting the ground without questioning the order. Then his focus was on being grateful that wraids were not lightsaber-resistant like half the critters Jay had told him of hunting.

His first blow carved into the thick neck-plate guarding the creature's vital organs, its teeth biting into his thigh in return. The Wolf snarled in pain, seeing red as he grabbed onto the wraid's plate and started to go berserk.

The next thing he was aware of was the rage vanishing in the blink of an eye, his fur bloody, the wraid quite dead and Jay's hand on his shoulder. It was only with that last piece of information that he realized that his mate had once again used the Force against him to calm him down.

"Mina's been injured." Jay told him, still a bit shaky on his feet, though the Wolf suspected it was more from not hitting Jedi speed and making a dead run for her than from anything real.

Still, to judge by the cracked wraid plate laying in the sand a few feet from the carnage, ripped off by the Wolf's bare hands, it was possible.

"Let's go," he nodded easily. "Where is she?"

"I don't know." He shook his head, shifting uneasily. "I can only trace her. Take it back to the ship, you can't keep up with me."

Janos blinked at the impressive string of curses suddenly being hurled at a Demon that didn't care from part of Jay's mind that didn't care who heard it.

It was about then that he remembered the Demon wasn't letting him communicate with machines.

"Jay, I can keep up, and we've got supplies back at the ship," Janos said easily. "Let's just move. If she's hurt, you might need the backup."

There was a fraction of hesitation, then the Kat nodded and pulled the Force into him, accelerating his steps to the point he wasn't even a blur anymore.

Janos was behind him shortly, the two of them redefining straight-line movement on their way to the cavern the Sharufa was hidden in. The only break was the fraction of a second it took for Jay to pause enough for Janos to catch up with him. He grabbed the Wolf and used the momentum of their run as much as levitation to make it to the small cave opening.

The pair barely paused to grab Markos, injured and still dazed, and hauled him into the Sharufa.

It took less than two minutes, but there was no sign of Mina anywhere. Just Markos with a blaster wound, and Kell catching up with them from the entrance.

"Sand People," he explained quickly as Janos worked to heal the worst of the younger Wolf's injury. "Mina was practicing her levitation; they ambushed her. Markos dropped one of them, but another had a blaster."

Another shot of pain lanced threw Jay's body, making him stumble on his way to the cockpit with a hiss and several low curses as he locked his mind onto his mate's and powered up the ship even as the cavern opening was blown out with a volley from the ship's main guns.

As Jay moved to the cockpit, Janos looked at Kell, scowling darkly as he caught the tail-end of a smug smirk on his face.

"You set this up," he growled.

"Of course I did," the Sith Lord said easily. "When he catches up with them, he'll make you look sedate. And take care of a little pest control. Markos being shot was an unexpected touch, but one that worked."

Janos growled again, his fists tightening, but he knew that any attempt to do what he wanted to just now would result in serious pain.

Another time.

For now, he made sure Markos was fine, then hurried to join Jay in the cockpit as the ship shot from its home in disregard for all sane, much less safe, speeds.

He knew Kell had said the truth. The best the Sand People could hope for right now was that Jay used his lightsabers and not his natural weapons. It'd be much quicker for them.

He could only really pray that Mina wasn't seriously hurt in all this. He didn't even want to think about what Jay would be like if his kits were killed.

Though there was one thing he was sure of. Tembris, and most of Tatooine, would be dead shortly afterwards.

"They won't hurt her badly, Jay," Janos told him, uneasy by the Dark and violence that was flaring higher with every moment in the tom. "It's clear she's pregnant, the Sand People won't be too rough with her."

"Why take her then?" He growled, not even remotely close to thinking clearly.

"It's what they do, Jay," Janos said, sighing and sat in the co-pilot's seat to help him with the piloting over the sandy ground. "If they wanted her dead, they'd have killed her, not taken her with them. Sand People don't do sacrifices, they do slaves. One that's pregnant is too valuable to hurt badly."

One of these days, when the Kat wasn't about to go ballistic, he'd have to ask what the deal with the light/dark show was. He hadn't even heard of anyone else doing it, but it was the easiest way to tell when Jay was too keyed up.

The Sharufa abruptly snapped around, all but turning her on her tail as Jay realized he'd overshot Mina's location.

Janos braced himself, realizing that there was no reasoning with him just now. He quickly prepared himself to take over the ship; Jay probably wasn't going to think about what it would do when he took off. He knew it had an impressive auto-pilot system, one capable of handling basic combat and picking off ground targets, but it had to be turned on to do that.

There was a part of his mind that decided it was a very good thing that the Raider's camp was probably well away from here. If they'd gotten back home, he didn't want to think about what Jay might do.

There were some lines even he wasn't willing to cross, and he was sure Jay would if given the target in this condition.

He grabbed the controls when Jay got up to head for the hatch without even thinking of the auto-pilot. The tom already had both lightsabers lit and it was unlikely he would even notice the blasters being fired at them when he dropped to the ground.

Fortunately, the Sand People weren't good enough shots to pose a serious threat to the Sharufa, not with the weapons they had.

Janos could see Mina, and scowled darkly as he saw her expression, smug to the point of arrogance as Jay started carving through the Raiders. Most of them tried to run, but Jay quickly hunted them down and killed them. A few of the lucky ones made it all of fifty paces before being bisected.

The Wolf knew that his own blood rages were worse, and easier to trigger, but Jay was so much more efficient about what he did that there was a sort of grotesque beauty in it.

Mina, of course, was playing the part of the distraught mate perfectly by the time Jay was with it enough to see what was happening around him.

He felt it, the instant the Kat's mind snapped back to reality. The sick knot in the pit of his stomach as the carnage sank in. Jay would have probably dropped into shock right where he stood if Mina didn't realize the rage was fading and ran up to him.

Her show of half-hysteria, half-fawning gratitude was flawless, at least when the target was so far out of synch with his center.

"*Bring her down.*" Jay managed to ask him along with throwing several more curses towards the Demon that was still stopping him from commanding his ship himself.

Janos did so, fighting several violent impulses towards things he wanted to do first. He was going to kill somebody tonight, that much he was certain of. That, or be killed in the process of trying to.

If it hadn't been for the wraid, he probably would have already boiled over and tried to send Tembris down ahead of the ship.

"Now what?" He growled to himself and bolted towards the hatch when Jay's mind completely lost itself to rage and spilled over to almost knock the Wolf on his ass. He caught the wave of Dark energy and froze for a second to see Tembris, still self-confident and smug, go face to face against Jay, who was at best little more than a Dark-fueled beast right now.

A beast that had the muscle memory and training of a long-lived Jedi warrior.

What Janos didn't know was that this particular development hadn't been in Tembris' plans. Still, it didn't take a genius to figure out what it was that had him pissed off; Mina had tipped him off as to who had set this up.

"*Help kill him.*" The Demon whispered to Janos. "*It's time to be rid of him.*"

Knowing he didn't have the freedom to wait and see what Jay would do, Tembris lashed out first, channeling the raw power of the Dark Side into a blast of lightning that knocked the younger tom back out of the Sharufa. Tembris followed, knowing he would need the extra space to maneuver to stay alive until Jay was calmed back down.

He knew something was wrong almost instantly. Mina looked too gleeful, his chair was suddenly not working right, the Sharufa was maneuvering to bring him in line with her main guns ... and Jay was wrapped in a cloak of Darkness that left him oblivious and unhindered by the damage he'd taken from the lightning.

The tom lunged again, and Tembris had just enough time to pull himself out of the way before he reduced the chair to shreds of duraplast and components.

The gloves were very clearly off.

Tembris pulled himself up to his full height, using the Force to reinforce his normally half-paralyzed legs. It had been years since he'd had to fight like this, but he was more than capable yet.

He reached out through the Force, grabbing Jay and hurling him away. The Sith reached out for Mina next, pulling her to him and wrapping an arm around her throat. Any attack Jay might use, or that the Sharufa might, would kill her as surely as it would him.

"You are going to die after I have those kits out of your belly," he growled to her. "Slowly and very painfully."

"You're making one very large mistake, 'Master,'" Mina sneered back at him, clutching at his arm around her throat. Her eyes glowed red for a moment as she unleashed what few barriers she had on the power the Demon had given her, sinking her claws into his arm as she hurled him back, ripping flesh and fur from his arms and him back against the Sharufa.

And ripping the Force from him.

For the first time in decades, the Wolf's eyes showed true fear. He could feel, instinctively, that Mina hadn't totally cut him off from it, but he could feel just as strongly that he wouldn't be able to get past the block she ... the Demon ... had put between he and the Force in time to save himself.

"You set me up," he growled, knowing that the Demon would hear through Mina and Jay. The Sharufa's guns leveled on him ....

"Jay, Mina! We have to go, now!" Janos called from the hatch of the ship as Sharufa rocked from a volley from the incoming ships. "We've got incoming!"

The warning was lost on Jay, who was back in the fray and even further out of control than before. His sole focus was on mauling the old Wolf into fingerling-sized portions as painfully as possible.

"*Stop!*" Janos roared along their bond, focusing every scrap of authority and Force he could call on to make the single command work long enough to grab his mate and dive back into the ship after Mina.

He wasn't sure if it was before or after Jay had reached Tembris, but right now he couldn't afford the time to care.

The Sharufa peeled away from Tatooine, three of the four ships approaching its position peeling off to follow.

"Get him under control," Janos told Mina, hurrying to the cockpit. "I have to get us to hyperspace in time to escape."

A few moments earlier, on the Gurath, Doruth was manning the sensors.

"Don't know how we missed her before, but the Sharufa is definitely down here," he rumbled. "Come on, it looks like we've found them!"

"Everybody got the coordinates?" Tes asked over the com-link the four ships kept open as she veered towards where their target was.

"Affirmative," Fenrik replied. "Shi's trying to reach Jay, but -" He was cut off by what sounded like a cry of pain, the comlink clicking off.

"That obviously didn't work," Doruth rumbled. "We've got life signs down there ... one feline on the ground, a lot of Raiders. The Sharufa's giving chase, it looks like. Shit." He swore under his breath, knowing what was going to happen mere moments before Jay's twin lightsabers blazed down through the night sky and started flashing, occasionally blinking as they passed through a victim.

"Force." Tes breathed, her gaze locked on the slaughter before them. "What could they have done ...."

"Taken one of his new mates," Doruth said. It was the only thing he could conceive of that would drive Jay that far. "Tes, get the weapons systems on line, we might have to disable the Sharufa's engines to stop her." As if on cue, the ship they'd been searching for started to land.

"Everyone down there is Dark." Master Miya informed them from the Whitecloak. "Be careful."

"Getting a lock." Tes nodded to her mate even as all the ships got ready for a fight. Even at four to one, surrender was unlikely and success not a given.

"I'm not surprised, at this point," Doruth murmured, his expression darkening as he felt his own anger start to rise. Even if Jay wasn't a Dark Sider, the way he had slaughtered the Sand People proved that, for now, it was taking its toll on him.

"We need to get down there, now!" Fenrik shouted, bringing the comlink back up. "Jay's snapped, completely." Energy started crackling about the battlefield below as Jay flew back away from the Sharufa, propelled by crackling, violet light.

"Zykell," Doruth growled.

"Oh, he is so not getting away." Tes growled softly and fired a volley on the ship that had just landed. While her aim was true, it wasn't enough damage to actually stop the ship.

"Doruth, Fenrik, you are the only two here that have a real chance of beating him in a fight." Master Miya reminded the two Panthers. "Be ready to jump."

"Yes, Master." Fenrik answered, his voice showing how much he was hoping that wasn't going to be necessary.

Doruth stood, pulling his lightsaber from its belt loop and moving to the door silently as the fight on the ground continued.

"Doruth, the Sharufa's pulling away! Jay's on board," Tes called back.

"Take us down to look for survivors," the Panther told her. "The other ships should go after the Sharufa."

"Understood." Fenrik called back and pealed away with the Independence and Whitecloak to give chase to their actual quarry.

"Right," Tes nodded and set the Gurath down not far from where Sharufa had been moments before.

"Keep the ship ready," Doruth told Tes, opening the hatch and stepping out. He didn't tell her the real reason he wanted to stay behind, for all she probably knew it already.

If Zykell was still alive, he didn't want her anywhere near him. Or to be there to talk him out of what he was going to do to that Wolf.

Sure enough, the ancient Wolf was there. He was battered, his body cut and injured already. He wouldn't live long ... but he'd live long enough. Doruth noted that part of his arm was missing, already buried by the sand nearby.

"Hello, Master." He said, standing over the dying Wolf.

Darth Tembris looked up at him, recognizing his old Padawan.

"Fitting," he chuckled bitterly. "I heard the Jedi found you again."

"And I found them," Doruth nodded, igniting his lightsaber. "What the hell did you do to Jay?"

"The Knight is the one who attacks me, and you ask what I did to him?" Tembris shook his head slightly, pulling himself up into a sitting position with his remaining arm. "I succeeded, Doruth. As I would have done with you. He may have killed me ...." Tembris coughed, blood flecking his muzzle. "But I've killed him in the process. But his death will be far, far slower, and my purposes served."

Doruth's grip tightened around the hilt of his lightsaber. "Oh no you haven't," he growled. "We'll find him, and we'll save him. More than can be said for you."

"I'm already dead, Doruth," Tembris chuckled. "Go ahead and finish the job, if you want. End it. Make sure I die this time; you failed once already. And your failure will end the lives of worlds before it truly ends."

Doruth's hand trembled in rage; Tes could see it from the cockpit. After a moment though, he extinguished the bright blue blade.

"No," he said. "You don't deserve to go that quickly."

With that, the Panther turned and walked back to the Gurath, climbing back up to the cockpit.

"No survivors," he told Tes simply, taking his seat. "Let's catch up with the others."

"We shouldn't leave him with his head still attached." She said quietly, standing herself. "He's survived a lightsaber through the chest once."

"It's up to you," he said softly.

Tes nodded and walked out the hatch, her lightsaber glowing in the night as she cleanly removed the Sith's head and cut the rest of his body into four pieces.

Doruth closed his eyes and took a long, shuddering breath as he tried to center himself. He knew he should have done that himself, finished the job and his former Master's pain at the same time. Instead, he would have cheerfully left him to die slowly.

"Thank you," he murmured, not looking to see if Tes had brought the head with her when she'd returned to the ship. It was her tradition, proof of a kill that had escaped death before, but this time it wasn't one he wanted to see.

She returned a moment later, the head safely stored away in suspension and out of casual sight. She put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently. "It is best to not kill in anger, love. Not even a mercy kill. It was the right thing to leave it to me. Now let's go get the one we can save."

"Right," he nodded slightly, pulling the ship up and starting off after the rest of their small fleet. "He was doing so well at playing me again ...."

"It is what they do." Tes murmured and sat down even as a message came in.

"He got away." Fenrik's voice held the utter defeat of being so close, face to face with how desperate the situation was, and having lost track of his mate again. "They got to hyperspace and cloaked."

"Damn it," Doruth swore under his breath. "Tembris is dead," he said more loudly, so the others could hear him. "That's something to our advantage here. We'll have to keep searching."

"You'll have to do it without us," Master Miya said apologetically. "Knights Dyreth and Kanna must to return to their Padawans, and I must to return to the Council."

"We'll be back on the hunt as soon as we can," Kanna said. "Hopefully it won't be necessary."

"Understood." Doruth told the three before their ships split off to go back to Coruscant. "Force be with you."

"We're going to find him." Fenrik gritted his teeth in determination. "We have once, we will again."

"Force be with you, Masters." Kanna spoke softly, her full will behind the simple words. "He will be redeemed."

"He will," Shivasta agreed, putting her hand on Fenrik's shoulder on the Kalrass as the com-link dropped to just the Kalrass and Gurath. "The Demon isn't going to win," she reassured him. "And I think I have an idea where to look next. Let's head for Mantessa."

"Mantessa?" Fenrik glanced at her even as he set the coordinates. "Any reason?"

"He feels safe there, comfortable," Shi explained. "I asked him once; it's where he made his first 'sabers. Where he first felt the living Force on his own. If there's anywhere he'd go to try and sort himself out, it'd be there."

"Right," Fenrik nodded. "You hear that, Master?"

"Yes, it's a good start." The older Panther nodded. "See you there."

"Get us out of here!" Janos shouted up to the Sharufa's cockpit. Markos didn't need to be told twice. The injured Wolf pulled the transport up and punched the engines, roaring up towards the atmosphere.

This was definitely not in his contract, but neither was getting killed by a homicidal Jedi still about one step shy of a battle-rage. He would never have pulled the Kat back on board, but the three Sith had very different priorities, particularly the pair that were still alive.

He cursed under his breath as the Sharufa rocked. He had the best ship of the five in the air, but it wasn't by that great a margin and the others all had Jedi behind the controls.

"Set coordinates for Trianii space." Janos ordered as he grabbed the co-pilot's seat.

"Do you really think she can control him?" Markos looked at him nervously. "He's not exactly her biggest fan."

"Right now, if he kills her, it'll just save me the trouble in a few months," Janos growled. "Besides, she has his kits yet. He'll listen well enough. Just get the coordinates in and let's get moving."

"But Trianii -" A low growl from his co-pilot shut up any objections Markos might had, and he started working with the navicomputer to get the coordinates and turn on the cloaking device.

"All right, here we go." Markos punched them into hyperspace as soon as they were clear of Tatooine's gravity well.

Mina's squeak of stunned pain and a heavy thump against the bulkhead drew both Wolves attention from he controls.

"That doesn't sound good." Markos murmured. Turning to look, he saw what looked like an utterly stunned Jay, and Mina opposite the hall, equally stunned and holding her hand against her jaw, her lip split.

"I'll take care of that," Janos said softly, standing and heading back while Markos made a concerted effort to not be noticed just now. No amount of money was worth this job, and he probably wasn't going to get paid at all now that Darth Tembris was dead at the hands of his own crew.

Janos walked back to Mina, making a quick check to make sure she wasn't seriously hurt before turning to Jay.

"Think you can sit down now?" He asked him. He had to be honest; Mina hadn't gotten half of what she'd deserved. It was still unnerving to see Jay do that to her.

"Y-yeah." He mumbled. A full-body shudder passed threw him before he focused on Mina again. "You might want to stay in one of the other rooms for a while."

"Right," she swallowed, knowing full well it wasn't really a request and it was for her own protection. He was even more shocked that he could strike her than either of them.

"We're headed for Trianii space," Janos explained, helping Jay move to their room where he could break down safely. "We lost the Jedi, and Tembris is wraid-bait. We're in the clear now."

"We're not even close to that." The tom looked at him, real fear in his eyes for the first time since all this had begun. "I hit my own mate. I'm not safe around people."

"Jay, that mate deserved it," Janos said quietly. "You didn't hurt her seriously, and you just got done having a panic attack that led into attacking Tembris. You just need some time to wind down, that's all."

Jay nodded slowly, an acceptance that Janos could tell was more from the mate-bond and the bit of honest trust had build up between them than the fact that he had made any sense.

"I ... I have a friend in the Corporate Sector. I was going to ask him to help with covering us for the birth, but he'd take us in a little longer." Jay swallowed, thinking on his feet as best he could even as he leaned forward and pressed against Janos' broad chest, trying to meld into his mate and not be responsible for a while.

"You sure we can trust him?" Janos asked softly, more than willing to provide a strong body to support him. "The CS isn't exactly renowned for their loyalty."

"I'm worth far more to him in money and corporate power than the Jedi could ever offer for me." He nodded slightly. "I'm still a gifted inventor, and they've never stopped courting me. I can keep him loyal with a few new toys for his R&D section to play with."

"If you're sure, we can change course after hitting Trianii space," Janos offered. "Though we might want to lose Markos before then. He's looking like he'll be glad to get off-ship, even if it is on a Trianii world."

"All right," Jay murmured and closed his eyes, wanting nothing more than to curl up and wait the chaotic reactions in his mind and body out.

"Just rest," Janos murmured and settled them on the bed, scritching Jay's neck lightly until he fell asleep.

Markos poked his head into the room where Janos and Jay were sparring the next day, waiting until he got the Wolf's attention, then Jay's, before he said anything.

"We're coming up on Naboo. You guys sure you really want to change destinations?"

"Yes," Jay nodded as the pair stood down. "It's a better place for you to get off than in CS space. A transport elsewhere will be cheaper."

"Still probably going to have to work for my passage, but I'll take it," Markos nodded. "No offense, but I think I want off this roller coaster before it gets crazy again."

"What was your deal with Kell?" Jay focused on him, his manner utterly neutral.

"Two thousand credits for the job; I was supposed to get paid before leaving Tatooine," Markos said a little guardedly. "'Course, I wasn't supposed to be sticking around much longer than that either."

"You'll have a credstick for that before you leave." Jay told him simply, not the least bit concerned about so little money given what his private accounts looked like after fifty-five years of earning a great deal more than he spent and well-managed investments.

"Thanks," Markos said, clearly surprised to be hearing that. "That'll make things easier. I'll go handle the piloting."

"Thank you," Janos nodded. "He was understating," he told Jay as the other Wolf left. "Think he's a little scared of us just now."

"I can't blame him, after yesterday." Jay pointed out. "Do you know what the actual amount was?"

"More like three-thousand, from what I understood," Janos said easily. "How are you going to get your hands on that sort of money?"

"Fifty-five years of earning much more than I spend." He shrugged. "It's been decades since I really bothered to draw on those accounts to any credible extent. Naboo's a good place to start draining them into less traceable places and forms, since we're not staying."

"Impressive," Janos chuckled. "Sure the Jedi won't be watching for activity on 'em? I mean ... I'll be honest. The last thing I want right now is to get killed. The Jedi catching me is a close second."

"I'm sure they are watching. That's why it's best to do the transfers on worlds on the way and a few random stops to mess up the line of travel." Jay explained, then paused and put a hand on Janos' shoulder. "You won't die, and they won't catch you. I'll see to it."

"Thanks," the Wolf said, his muzzle quirking into a bit of a smile. "Haven't had too many run-ins with them, but I've got enough black marks on my record that I figure one'll probably run into the other, if you know what I mean."

"And end with a field execution," Jay nodded. "It's not that unlikely, depending on who is there. Some hunters are more pragmatic about that party line than others."

"Well, here's hoping the hunters after you aren't," Janos said. "I'll be honest ... Tembris had it coming. Hell, Mina had more coming than the split lip you gave her."

"I'll find out on Naboo. It's good to know who you're dealing with." Jay sidestepped the statement about Mina and any excuse for his behavior the previous day. "The Order's systems aren't that hard to break into when you designed the security system."

"You can't have designed the whole thing," Janos pointed out with a chuckle as they felt the ship lurch out of hyperspace. "Shower before we land?"

"Not the whole thing, but enough of it to know the easiest ways in." He smirked weakly. "And a shower sounds good. Maybe even get clean this time."

"I wouldn't go that far," Janos smirked back. "C'mon, let's go."

"Well, here we are," Janos said as they settled in near the hatchway. "Ready to handle the local settlers?" He asked Jay.

"Better to find out here than where we're actually staying." He nodded seriously and buried all his jitters about it where it wouldn't show. "I don't suppose you can think of a false name to go under?"

"Miklar," Janos chuckled. "Just pick a first name, if you need one. It'll mark you as part of my pack, if that matters, but I think we can live with that."

"Jay's not that uncommon," he smiled fractionally and opened the hatch with a thought, more than a little grateful he had his Gift back. "And I think we can."

"I'll let you handle the bureaucrat," Janos murmured, letting Jay take the lead as an Otter stepped up to the ship. "They tend not to get along with me."

"*Oh, I wonder why,*" the tom snickered between their minds. "Hello," he greeted the Otter, remembering manners he hadn't used in the better part of a decade and usually had let Fenrik handle anyway.

"Greetings, welcome to Naboo," the Otter said, his manner friendly. "What brings you to our settlement?"

"A nice break for the evening from our galley," Jay managed a friendly smile in return and a soft chuckle. "And dropping off a crewmate that doesn't want to continue with us."

"Not importing or exporting anything beyond him then?" The Otter chuckled. "I'm guessing it's not your friend here."

"No, he's still packing," Janos explained.

"Well, there shouldn't be any problems with that," the Otter said easily. "We'll take all the guests we can get, no matter how briefly. If I might ask who you all are then, and you ship? Just for the records," he explained, holding up his datapad in explanation.

"She's Hauthor," he motioned towards the Sharufa. "I'm Jay Miklar," he said the name as smoothly as if he'd had it for years. "Janos Miklar," he nodded towards the Wolf. "Mina might be seen later if she's feeling better, and Markos is the one staying here."

"Both Wolves, Cats, other ... ?" The Otter asked, entering the information quickly.

"Markos is a Wolf, Mina a Cat." Jay elaborated.

"Understood," the Otter nodded. "Are you going to need any maintenance or resupply before you leave?"

"Maintenance, no." Jay shook his head easily. "Supplies depend on what's available. If you've got better than our current stores, we'll definitely be picking up some. Fresh fruit and meat in particular."

"Those we can offer," the Otter nodded. "You'll have to negotiate in the market for them," he pointed out, indicating the direction to go. "Or with the natives, but I wouldn't recommend that. Or having much of anything to do with them, for that matter."

"We'll keep that in mind." Jay nodded. "The market will do quite well for us." He paused thoughtfully. "Any recommendations for a good place to eat dinner? Spicy and carnivore."

"Just about anywhere in the entertainment district," the Otter smiled, shifting his hand slightly. "We may not have much here, but we take pride in doing what we have well. Personally, I prefer Zella's, but I'm fond of seafood, and the nightlife there."

"Thank you," Jay nodded. "What is the docking fee?"

"Fifty credits," the Otter said simply. "If you change your mind about the maintenance, I can put you in touch with some good people to have do the work."

"I'll keep it in mind," Jay nodded and slipped a 50-credit chip from his pocket to give the Otter. The chip was accepted easily, placed into a small pouch at his belt, and the Otter stepped back.

"Enjoy your stay," he smiled. "Naboo welcomes you."

"Hopefully Mina will behave." Jay sighed quietly after the Otter was out of earshot. "Why don't you check out the market offerings while I deal with getting some of my credits available?"

"Will do," Janos nodded. "And I'm sure she will. She did at the dig, remember?"

"True," he nodded. "Just not since." He drew a deep breath and let it go. "I'll catch up to you in the market."

"See you there," Janos nodded, splitting off and heading towards the open-air markets of the settlement.

Markos sat down near the loading ramp for the "Hauthor" after he'd finished packing up his few belongings, waiting for Jay and Janos to return. He might not be getting his full pay, but he wasn't going to turn down what he would be getting.

Besides, there was a reasonable chance it was his own fault he wouldn't be getting the full pay, but he didn't really want to take the chance they'd just get rid of him instead.

"Well, I see you're leaving us," Mina said, stepping out of her room for the first time since Jay had hit her the previous day.

He glanced up and nodded. She was just as violent as the males, and much less nice. Sneaky as hell too. It set his fur on edge to be alone around her.

"Can't say I blame you," she admitted, sitting down on a nearby seat with a sigh. "Things got a little crazy after we set down on Tatooine," she chuckled slightly.

"That's putting it mildly." He acknowledged, realizing that he was going to have to talk to her for a while. "I was due to get off on Tatooine, but here works too."

"Probably better, unless you had a job lined up already back on that dust-ball," she chuckled. "Just do your best to 'forget' where we're heading next, okay? I've got a lot of work to do with him yet, and I've got to do it more slowly now than before."

"Hey, I don't even know where you're stopping next." The Wolf shrugged. "Much less where you're actually headed. Don't want to know either."

"Good," she nodded. "Wasn't sure how much Jay or Janos had told you. Going to have to do something about them," she murmured, glancing at the hatch, her hand resting lightly on her swollen belly. Markos could see the very, very slight grey tipping showing up on the fur around her ears.

So it was true what they said about Sith being aged by what they worked with.

"Mostly they keep changing their minds about where they're going." He said simply. "I expect what little I have been told has already been scrapped for other locations that no one off the ship has heard them consider."

"Probably for the best," she nodded. "If we keep moving, less chance of being caught ...." He recognized her expression as she trailed off; she was scheming something.

If she kept doing that, at this rate, she wouldn't last long enough to have those kittens.

That, or she'd have them ripped from her belly when it was time so the males could kill her. He knew Janos was kept in check mostly by Jay, and Jay was kept in check by those kittens. She'd be lucky to see the day after they were out of her.

How she'd managed to make as many friends as she had on the dig was a complete mystery to him. She'd been a reasonably nice person there; now, like this, she was an irredeemable ikra, and not in the nice way.

"Looks like the boys are on their way back," she murmured, standing up. "Have a good life, Markos."

"I'll do my best," he said politely as she left, then stood up to meet them when they got back.

"I see you're packed," Jay nodded towards the Wolf's bags, and then offered a credstick to him.

"Not too much to get ready," he pointed out, taking the stick. "Bit of friendly advice?" He asked, before he looked at the cred-stick's balance and did a double take when he saw the amount.

"Janos told me you were actually due closer to 3000. The rest is for getting hurt trying to protect my kits." Jay explained quietly.

"Thanks," Markos nodded slightly, still surprised to be getting almost twice what he'd told them earlier that day. It would definitely be easier to get somewhere he could find some work now.

"The advice?" Jay prompted.

"Oh yeah," Markos said. "Sorry. I'd suggest you start looking into a world where you'll be able to find a wet nurse and a doc who's good at C-sections in the next few months," he said. "No offense, but I don't think you want Mina bringing up your kits."

"Already planned." Jay nodded grimly. "Try to avoid working for Sith in the future," he added with a slight smile. "They're crazy. Piloting Jedi will probably get you shot at too."

"That advice I can go with," Markos chuckled slightly. "Nice doing business with you. I could've lived without doing it with Tembris, but nice doing it with you."

"Good luck in the future," Jay inclined his head slightly, then caught Janos' arm and pulled him aside. "Now, dress for dinner."

"Yes sir," Janos chuckled, following Jay into their quarters. "Fortunately, we've got time to try a few times before we go," he winked.

"I don't get this," Shivasta sighed, taking a seat on the Gurath as she, Doruth, Fenrik, and Tes took a break from hunting for Jay on the virtually deserted jungle world of Mantessa. "I was sure he'd come here."

"That might be why he didn't." Tes pointed out quietly. "If he's actively avoiding us now, which he seems to be, going where he wants to is a bad idea."

"At least the reason for all this is dead." Fenrik muttered.

"Now let's just hope he stays that way," Doruth agreed.

"He'd better," Shivasta muttered. "So, we know he's not here. Anybody have an idea where to go next?"

"You two know him better than I do," Doruth said, shaking his head. "Now that Tembris isn't calling the shots, I don't have the inside track on what he's thinking, for all the good it did us when he was."

"Have you two tried the trick that found him on Tatooine?" Tes glanced at the younger pair.

"Not yet," Shi said softly. "When I tried to get through, reaching out to Jay's mind in the state he was in did something to the bond ... it's not quite as strong as it was before. I've been working to fix it, but without him there ...."

"Probably because your Healer nature couldn't cope with a bond to a Darksider." Tes said gently. "Self-preservation at work. Or as a Darksider, he rejected anything so Light-side as you."

"He's not all the way gone yet, Tes," Shi said firmly. "But I think it was something like that. It was like trying to jump into boiling water almost ... he's in so much pain right now ...."

Fenrik reached over and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "It might be worth trying with me in the lead. I'm not so Light as you, and pain ... it's nothing new to either of us."

"In a bit," she nodded. "We'll have to do a bit of work just to get my mind working on that level again. You'll notice I haven't really being doing too much telepathy since then."

"And you'll have to teach me some of what to do." Fenrik nodded. "It hasn't exactly been my top priority."

"It'll basically be helping me work telepathically until I can get through as easily as I should," she said easily. "If you two don't mind, we should probably start working on it, look for Jay as quickly as we can," she added, looking over at Tes and Doruth.

"Sounds fine to me," Doruth nodded easily. "You can use the meditation chambers to work in; we'll call you when dinner's ready. Think we could all use something decent to eat."

"Yes," Fenrik nodded and stood. "A good meal would be welcome about now."

"We'll see you in a couple hours then," Doruth nodded, standing on his own as the two mates went into the meditation room.

"We should've scanned Tatooine harder," he sighed, shaking his head. "Should've been able to find them there the first time we looked."

"Love, Jay is hiding from us," Tes pointed out. "If it's not a visual sighting, there's no telling what our sensors actually see, and what they're not showing us."

"I know," Doruth admitted. "Still frustrating. If we'd found him that first time, this would all be over. You want to go hunting with me, or stay with the ship? I'll probably be roughing it."

"I think we can both stand to burn off some frustration." She quirked a grin. "You've never been too rough for me."

"It's been a while since then too," he chuckled slightly. "Let's get going."

The evening on Naboo was pleasantly warm for both Kat and Wolf, and neither could complain about the quality of their leisurely dinner at one of the open-air bistros in the entertainment district. They were debating between a movie and just going back to the ship when Jay's head snapped around to focus on a building nearby.

"Dancing," Jay grinned almost gleefully when his ears caught the upbeat dance music coming from one building on the strip.

"You've got to be the weirdest Jedi I've ever run into," Janos chuckled, looking over at the bustling, well-lit building that his lupine ears could hear pulse in time with the lights. "But c'mon, we should be dressed for it."

"I'm n ... " Jay silenced himself, remembering that whether he was a Jedi or not now, it wouldn't have really mattered in his taste in food or entertainment. "You aren't the first to mention that." He shook his head and tried to chuckle and drag his mind out of the dark well of pain and confusion regarding his true status at the moment with the Order.

He really should just call his Master. He could trust her to tell him the truth. Then the pain was too much and he shied away from it, focusing instead on his surroundings.

"Come on, let's just have fun," Janos smiled, leading him into the club where they could both feel the music playing.

Jay was more than willing to go with that; his life was painful enough right now without inviting it in. He drew and let out a deep breath with his eyes closed and let the music fill his consciousness, the beat and rhythm guiding his body as he pulled Janos onto the dance floor and let everything go to the music and motion.

The two of them danced, each occasionally teasing the other with a touch, physical or through the Force. Within a few minutes, they were both well and truly into what they were doing.

"Don't look now," Janos rumbled, brushing against Jay from behind. "But you've got an admirer."

"Mmm, she's pretty enough to be fun too." He purred deep in his chest as his eyes drifted over the seductively dressed Panthress watching them from the bar.

"And I think she has a friend," Janos rumbled, noticing the Wolf near her. She caught his eye and winked at him, earning a grin in response. "Don't know about you, but I could live with a fem who can handle a little rough stuff for a night."

"You and me both." Jay licked his whiskers back. "It's been far too long since I've had a strong feline."

"And no offense, but I could live with a Wolf," Janos rumbled. "So, which one of us tries to get our date back to the ship?" He asked with a wink.

"You can," Jay chuckled softly with a shake of his head. "I feel like being elsewhere for a night."

"No problem," the Wolf chuckled. "We'll trade tomorrow," he winked, shifting to head over towards the bar, Jay not far behind with an eye on the Panthress.

"Hello handsome," she purred, stepping away from her friend to meet him half-way there. "You're new around here."

"Arrived today," he admitted with an appreciative look down her long, powerful body. He made an effort not to think of why her form was so appealing, that it was very close to one now lost, but the thought still crossed his mind briefly and fanned the fire starting to burn deep inside him for the pleasure-pain they'd shared. "Won't be staying too long either."

"Mmm ... long enough to enjoy yourself for a few nights?" She asked, giving him a matching look of appraisal. "Your shipmate seems to think so," she chuckled, nodding towards the two Wolves making their way out of the club.

"At least tonight," he grinned at her. "Long enough for you?"

"Plenty long enough," she grinned back. "'Least as long as I'm not going to have a jealous shipmate after me in the morning?"

"If you do, your friend's doing something wrong," he laughed easily. "He's not that hard to please."

"*That sort of jealous I can live with," she grinned. "Mmm ... so, back to my apartment? Or want to dance a bit more first?"

"Dance," Jay purred and leaned forward a bit to run a hand along her side. "I do like to play a little first."

"Then let's go, handsome," she purred, leaning forward the rest of the way to claim a deep, sensual kiss full of promise before leading him out to the dance-floor, the black leather she was wearing clinging to her curvaceous, muscular body in all the right ways.

It made her a distinct contrast to Jay's loose, colorful, flowing garments as they moved to the music. Her steps more trained on the dance floor, his simply flowing with the music with an instinctive knowledge of how his body moved and how to show it off when he wanted to.

He shifted forward, brushing up against her body for a brief moment that left a much more lasting impression of contact across her breasts that drafted down to her ass and scritched over her thick tail without anyone touching her.

"What the ... " She trailed off, breaking rhythm for a moment before getting back into it. "You're doing that, aren't you?" She whispered, brushing up against Jay again.

"Yes," he quirked a grin. "It gets much more interesting when you aren't moving quite so much."

"That wouldn't be dancing then," she smirked back at him, though she did slow down a bit to let him work. She'd never run into anybody who could do something like this before, but it was an entertaining difference.

"But it could be over at the bar enjoying a drink." He winked at her.

"Mmm ... well, if you're going to be doing this, least you can do is buy this round," she winked back, sliding her tail along his, hooking her tip around it briefly.

"Well, you will be providing the bed, eventually." Jay smiled easily and walked to the bar where the droid tending it already had two drinks ready for them. He leaned against the counter and picked up the dark ale even as he slid a telekinetic hand from her clit along the lips of her sex and then slipped inside before swelling to fill her.

"Oooh ... " She bit her lip briefly, glancing around before taking her own glass and spreading her legs a bit, putting a hand on his thigh as she sipped her drink, not even bothering to wonder how her preference was already ready. "You're a naughty boy," she purred.

"I get much, much more naughty when I can." Jay leaned over and nuzzled her mouth open for a heated kiss even as his movement brushed her fingers along his swelling sheath and full balls.

"Mmm ...." She purred into his mouth, stroking his sheath lightly, moaning softly as he 'finger fucked' her telekinetically. "Y'know, there is a point where we'll get in trouble if this goes far enough."

"Only if we're caught." He rumbled. "But I don't mind heading to your place now."

"Mmm ... after you finish me off," she rumbled, licking his cheek, then his jaw line, moving a bit closer as she flattened her hand to stroke him through his trousers. "Otherwise the drive back could be ... awkward."

"As you wish," he licked his whiskers and focused carefully to add a slender finger to tease her clit, barbs to the invisible dildo working her sex and a smaller shaft of telekinesis to stretch her ass.

She bit her lip again, closing her eyes as she stroked him faster, using his body and the bar to shield what she was doing as her body got hotter and wetter, her scent intense up close to her.

Her attentions and arousal weren't the least bit lost on Jay, though he kept his arousal carefully under control. Enough to give her the enjoyment of feeling him, not so much that he'd loose control of the telekinetic pleasure he was giving her or make a mess of himself.

"So hot," he rumbled throatily in her ear. "So very hot for me."

"Mmm ... don't know how you're doing it, but you're worth being hot for," she purred into his ear, kissing his neck, then biting down on it lightly as she drew in a sharp breath, her body pulsing internally as she came at his attentions.

Despite wanting to keep her going until she couldn't help but scream in pleasure, he slowly let the telekinesis fade as her body began to come down.

"Not all uses of Force are serious," he gave her a wink.

"You are not a Jedi," she chuckled. "Where're you from?"

"Here and there," he said easily and quickly buried how completely the words broke his mood and ignited a smoldering pain he'd thought left behind decades before with comments of the same. That time before he'd proved himself to most of his distracters in the Temple, and more importantly, had proven he was a Jedi to himself. "I never truly settled down."

"Hey, join the club," she smiled softly, kissing him gently and had it returned with a touch of serious heat. "C'mon, let's go somewhere the thinking's about more entertaining things. I've got a pretty well-stocked bar at my place," she winked.

"Sounds good." He rumbled eagerly, everything but the moment and the pleasure to come put out of his mind.

Shivasta sighed, relaxing in the Gurath's meditation chamber after dinner. She and Fenrik had managed to coax her mind into accepting telepathic activity again, and they'd eaten. Now, it was time to try and reach Jay again.

"I can't help but think there's something else at play here," she said as Fenrik sat down in the largely barren room.

"At a minimum, there is the Demon and the two that took our places." He reminded her quietly. "If that's actually all of it, I'll be surprised."

"I know," she nodded. "But Fenrik, you know as well as I do that there'd have to be more to drive him that insane. He couldn't just be dealing with Dark Siders ... they have to have something beyond the mate bond on him."

"You know the only thing that is." He barely whispered, his eyes down. Even trying, he couldn't withhold the visible level of distress.

"And it means we've got a time-limit to catch up," Shivasta nodded. "That or pray to every God there is that after they're born, he'll break loose and come back to us."

"If it's not too late by then," he glanced at her. "I'm not so sure he ever bought into redemption after a certain point. He's not past it yet, but some crimes ...." He just shook his head.

"The Jedi have forgiven worse than anything he's going to do," Shivasta pointed out softly. "We have to try, Fenrik."

"I know, he knows ... I never asked too hard, but I don't think the Council was what he was talking about." He looked at her seriously. "I have no intention to stop trying until he's back with us."

"Good," she nodded. "Because I don't either ... alive or otherwise. We should try and reach him again."

"Before we get too distracted to do it." He nodded and set everything aside but what he needed for this mission. "Ready when you are."

"Right," she nodded, reaching over to take his hands. "Now, let's find him ...."

"Mmm ... I'll have to give you a tour in the morning," Lara purred as she pressed Jay up against the door to the bedroom. "But this is the bedroom, bathroom's the first door on the right." She kissed him hungrily, running her hands along his naked body. They'd undressed on the way from the entrance to here, and she was very hungry to actually feel the body that belonged to the person who'd been teasing her mercilessly on the way home. The lights were on low, showing the leather and bright silks that they'd strewn along the floor on the way to where they were.

"Or when you can walk again," he winked and kissed her back, his hard body rubbing against hers and just as eager. Despite that, his fingers sank into her body first. He rubbed her clit with the heel of his hand while his fingers worked the swollen flesh of her lower lips and spread the slickness of her juices along the path of his hand.

"Mmm ... promises," the Panthress moaned softly, spreading her legs. "Stop teasing me," she growled lightly, nipping at his shoulder and twisted to push him down on the large feather bed.

"I keep my promises." He grinned up at her and slid his hand away. "I'm all yours."

"Mmm ... if I really can't walk in the morning, then you're just going to have to entertain yourself," she purred, leaning down on the bed between his legs to lick at his rigid, barbed shaft hungrily. "With me, of course," she added with a wink.

"Hardly a bad thing," he rumbled and spread his legs a bit further. With a low moan at the attention he stretched his arms over his head and brushed his tail against her wet sex.

"Not at all," she purred, taking his heavy balls into her mouth and suckling them as she teased the tight, furless pucker of his ass with a fingertip.

"Ohh, yeah," Jay shuddered and lifted his knees to give her better access and encourage what she was doing.

Lara grinned, pressing her finger up into his tight body and bathing his balls with her tongue, suckling them before nuzzling her way up his barbed shaft, teasing each barb with her rough tongue while the tom panted and moaned encouragement.

She purred around his cock, the vibrations going straight to his balls as she fingered his ass, rubbing the outside of his thighs with his other hand.

"You like your revenge, don't you?" He rumbled and thrust up lightly into her mouth.

She grinned up at him, her bright yellow eyes twinkling as she suckled his throbbing shaft. She pulled up off his cock, shifting to take it between her full, firm breasts.

"Would you prefer I find something else to do with this?" She asked, purring deeply.

"How about where my fingers were a bit ago?" He grinned down at her, eager to be inside a female he didn't hate.

"Mmm ... in a little bit," she chuckled, moving to suckle his tip. "I want a drink first," she winked.

Jay let his head fall back and shuddered, taking the hint and stopped controlling himself. It would get him what he wanted that much faster, and her pleasure at this felt pretty good too."

She went back to giving him a straight blowjob, taking him into the back of her hot, skilled mouth and suckling him hungrily as her mouth vibrated around his length, her fingers searching for his prostate as she added a second to his stretched ass. She grinned around his cock when she felt the small gland and pressed against it.

"Ohhhh," he moaned deeply and let go completely. His body locked around her fingers as he shot the first thick ribbon of come into her mouth and gave himself over to the pleasure.

Lara drank his seed down hungrily, savoring the flavor of it as it caught in her rough tongue and poured down her gullet. She suckled him until she was sure he was done, then pulled her fingers out of him and shifted to straddle his hips, guiding his cock to her dripping pussy.

"Still want this, handsome?" She asked, purring deeply.

"Oh yeah," he grinned up at her and made a bit more of a display out of his false helplessness at her hands.

"Good," she grinned, then moaned as she pressed down to take him into her sex, leaning back to make a shameless display of her body, and the thick, hard cock moving in and out of her as she started to move herself up and down along it.

It wasn't at all lost on her lover for the night. She could feel him recover quickly inside her, then began to thrust up as she came down, his eyes moving along her body from their groins where their pleasure joined up to her breasts and face that heightened his desire.

"Oooh ... how ... mmm ... kinky are you?" She asked him, moaning as his shaft raked the sensitive flesh inside her with his barbs.

"Pretty kinky," he admitted with a grin. "You?"

"Mmm ... bet I can match you," she grinned down at him. "You top?" She asked him, fluttering the muscles of her sex around his cock.

"Oh, yeah." He groaned as much in response to her actions as her question.

"Mmm ... prove it ... after this," she panted, taking him into her body up to the hilt and leaning forward to kiss him hungrily as her sex worked his cock.

"You asked for it," Jay grinned and reached up to wrap his arms around her, easily rolling her over to her back.

"You bet I did," she grinned back, pulling him down close to her for a fevered kiss as he began to pound into her. "Mmm ... fuck me, handsome. Make me scream."

He didn't show it, not to her at least, but that touched something deep inside and largely forgotten in recent weeks.

"Scream and so much more." He promised throatily and used the Force to pin her hands over her head and her legs spread wide while he used various cords around the room to do a more permanent job of it.

"Mmm ... some proper cuffs are in the drawer," she grinned up at him, still milking his shaft with her sex while he showed her just how much he'd learned about pleasing a female in his lifetime.

"Even better." Jay licked his whickers back and mentally fetched them. He was only half aware he 'asked' them not to open for anyone else as they locked around her wrists.

Lara wasn't aware of that at all, or much else for that matter. She cried out, arching up towards his body as she came around his shaft, the click of the cuffs coming almost exactly at the same time as the pulses of her sex around his shaft.

Jay grinned down at her as she caught her breath. He absolutely relished the freedom of having a female he didn't feel obliged to be gentle with and now had complete freedom to do with as he pleased.

"So, pretty thing," he rumbled and shifted to exemplify his dominance just as he had displayed his submission not too long before. "Just how should I take you? All spread out like this, or all tussled up with your rump in the air?"

"Mmm ... however you want, Master," she grinned up at him. "I'm sure either will be very pleasant."

"Very much so." He grinned and began to pound into her with a focused abandon.

Mina growled slightly as she lay in bed, nude, glaring down at her slightly swollen belly and extra breasts resentfully. For all that the kits were keeping her here, alive, and in the loop, she hated the fact that they were holding her back. Between Jay's protectiveness, his attitude, and the Demon's unwillingness to let her practice using the power it offered, she didn't have anything to do. She pulled her pillow over her head, frowning as she heard Janos' "girlfriend" for the evening howl with pleasure.

This wasn't helping either. She could tell that Jay was right on the edge, but she couldn't do a damned thing about it, and they were out on the town relaxing.

"*You can't do anything because I know him far better than you.*" The Demon answered her thoughts. "*If you would care for a little entertainment and a look at why I am so careful in how he is pushed, you will enjoy his evening a great deal.*"

"If he's just fucking whatever bar-slut he hooked up with, I think I'll pass, I can watch that here," she muttered, her ears perking up slightly as she thought about what he'd said. "*It's going to be more, isn't it?*"

"*If she is as into pain as I believe she is, yes.*" It grinned mentally. "*It will be his first conscious kill.*"

"That should be worth watching," she purred, settling in. "I'll join in."

"*Then settle back and watch, but no more. It will be much more effective if he cannot blame you. Also, his mates are trying to get to him now. Do not challenge them either. I want them to witness this.*"

"I like your sense of humor," she purred, doing as it said. She closed her eyes and reached out across their bond silently.

Jay examined his work, pleased by the effect rendered by the slightly bloody Panthress hanging by her wrists from the ceiling as she slowly came back to consciousness.

Oh, the way she'd scream before he let her down.

"Mmm ... this is new," she murmured, realizing that she was dangling there, barely able to reach the floor with her feet. "How long was I out?"

"Long enough to clean us up and put you there," he chuckled and ran his hand down her stomach and abs to slip between her spread and bound legs. He unsheathed one claw to circle her slick, hard clit.

"Oooh ... mmm, you are a creative one," she purred deeply, shifting a bit to support her weight a little better and spreading her legs even further than he'd put them.

"I hope you have a taste for a bit of pain," he rumbled and caught the hood of her clit with his claw. While not quite piercing the swollen, nerve-rich flesh, it was a sharp spike of pain that shot up her body with a pleasurable lightning. Her breath caught, and she twitched up away from it even as he heard a familiar, pleasured moan come up out of her.

"I do," she nodded and felt the pleasure ghost across her mind again as he knelt between her legs and spread her lower lips with his claws as his tongue went to work on her opening, encouraging the slick juices to wet her flesh again with an occasional pause to nip her clit hard enough between sharp teeth to draw a whimpering gasp.

"Oh yes," she hissed, pressing up towards his face, her arousal and pleasure filling her scent as her juices dribbled down Jay's chin.

"On your knees," he shifted forward to stand behind her and used a touch of Force to shift the sturdy leather straps to change her position. He didn't wait for any response; he could feel her surprise at the movement and her growing excitement at her helplessness and what he was doing to her.

He knelt as well, his jaws tight on her scruff as he pulled her down and thrust up into her ass as hard.

He relished the feel and sound of her scream, her ass clenching down around his shaft, instinctively trying to force it out as pain and pleasure streamed through her body. The Panthress hadn't been expecting that at all, but Jay could feel the pleasure in her mind as she gave herself over entirely to his pleasure.

He kept his jaws tight on her scruff, shuddering in ecstasy as drops of blood oozed onto his tongue. He continued to fuck her ass with the stamina built up from pleasuring two Jedi mates to exhaustion over the past few decades and reached forward, drawing his claws across her full breasts to color them a gleaming red.

She whimpered in pain, screwing her eyes shut as she savored the feeling of blood trickling down her dark fur. It occurred to her that she'd have to clean up in the morning, but it would be worth it; she hadn't been able to find somebody who really enjoyed this in years.

"Oooh, cut me, Master," she panted, clenching her ass around his cock, a little blood trickling out around the iron-hard shaft as his barbs raked shallow cuts in her body.

Jay cried out around her scruff and sank his claws deep into her breasts as he came hard, his seed mixing with her blood in her ass. His final thrusts were hard enough to lift her knees from the ground and his mind completely surrendering to the pleasure of his body and the even more intense pleasure of her pain.

Lara gurgled, the loose flesh of her scruff pulling tight around her throat as he claws her breasts roughly and fucked her raw. She squeezed her eyes shut, tears streaming down her cheeks from the pain that she was enjoying so much. A tiny part of her mind was concerned that this complete stranger was being given so much control, but the rest of her was just too turned on to care.

She took a deep breath when he loosened his pull on her scruff a bit, but most of it escaped in a scream as his claws dug deep into her flesh on their way from her breasts to her sex, where he spread the swollen lips of her labia, drawing blood even as the cool air rushing in exemplified how empty her sex was and how full her ass was when he began to thrust again.

Her juices practically poured out of her along with the blood dripping from the engorged flesh he slit. He'd been right about pushing her limits; she'd never gone much farther than this with anybody before. Still, as her moans and cries of pain filled the room, there was no denying that she was more turned on than she had been in years.

It was intoxicating to the tom using her. He'd never dreamed it could be like this. He'd taken punishment often enough, but he'd never really dominated or bloodied any of his mates like this unless they needed it enough to ask for it.

He felt her come with a scream that was as much pain as pleasure and her consciousness began to slip away again as her body was pushed to it's limits.

A rush of domination surged from deep inside him.

"*You will remain conscious.*" He rumbled between their minds, more Force behind the order than he'd used in decades.

It was enough to overcome her body's natural desire to shut down and stop the pain.

For a while, her mind was glad for it ... but as his claws worked through more of her body, and he kept fucking her hard and raw, he could feel the increasing fear in her mind and scent. He pierced her clit from one side to the other with one of them, and her scream echoed through the room.

"Stop!" She cried out, her comfort zone well and truly left behind as she felt just how much damage was starting to be done.

"No complaints!" Jay snarled, forcing her to comply. "*Enjoy it.*"

"Yes, Master," she whimpered, crying out as a patch of fur was torn roughly from the back of her neck, leaving a raw, oozing patch of flesh there. Her body responded eagerly, following his order as terror filled her scent and real tears ran down her cheeks, replacing the pleasured ones from before.

"*I think I have an opening,*" Shivasta told Fenrik after what felt like hours of trying to get through to their missing mate. The Demon hadn't been fighting as hard as it had before, but it had held them back all the same.

"*Let's go then,*" Fenrik focused his efforts on the small chink in the Demon's defenses and quickly burst threw close to Jay's mind, Shivasta right behind him.

"*I don't know if I can say anything to him,*" she told Fenrik. "*But I think we can see where he is ....*"

"*That's a lot more info ....*" his mind-voice went dry as they were hit by Jay's perceptions.

Pain. Terror. Panic. A Force-commanded pleasure at her body being torn apart.

But it was coming from the Panther under him.

Jay ... was turned on beyond all measure.

"*What the hell is ....*" Shi was stunned for a moment, but recovered quickly, trying to reach out to Jay desperately before it was too late.

"*Sadism taken too far.*" Fenrik supplied in a less stunned but much sicker tone. "*What we don't do.*"

"*Jay!*" Shi focused on her mate, forming a single thought-command that might buy enough time for him to come to his senses. "*Stop!*"

Both Jedi reeled as the command bounced back at them.

"*It wants us here,*" Shi realized, recovering from having the brunt of her telepathic ability turned back against her. "*We'll have to break through to him again ....*"

"*Don't forget we'll have to break out of here too.*" Fenrik warned her even as he tried to keep his dinner down at the all too familiar feel of a sentient mind dieing.

Only this time it was very slow going and more brutal than most of his close encounters. Even as Shi worked to reach their mate, he focused his attention on getting them out alive. The Demon was using its power to hold them to watch this, just as it usually did to keep them away.

"So, think they'll be done soon?" Doruth asked Tes as the two of them waited in another room on the Gurath, relaxing after dinner some hours before and waiting for some indication of the best direction to head.

"If not, we might want to check on them." She glanced towards the meditation chamber uneasily.

"I'm sure if anything's -" Doruth stopped, a pained expression crossing his face as he felt rage, disgust, and a sort of panicked, desperate fear wash over him from the meditation chamber.

"In there, now!" He managed to get out between locked teeth, getting to his feet and starting to move towards the sealed door even as his mate was at a dead run. For once, her weaker Force-talent was an advantage in muting the reactions too strong even for the experienced Jedi inside to control.

Doruth had his lightsaber out, ready to cut his way in when she finally got the override to work.

It was just in time too. As the door slid open, Shivasta bolted from the room, nearly knocking them down as she made her way to the nearest bathroom.

"You help her, I'll take Fenrik," Doruth told Tes as they heard the sounds of the Ice Walker retching in the other room.

"Right," she nodded, already after the other female. Even if just holding her shoulders and offering a bit of help washing her mouth out was all she could offer right now.

Whatever had gone down, they were likely lucky to be back with their minds largely intact right now.

"He killed her," Shivasta managed to croak once she was a bit better settled, her body still trembling terribly in the older she-wolf's gentle embrace.

"Killed who?" Tes asked quietly, fairly sure it couldn't be the Darksider female who was with him.

"I don't know," Shi said, realizing how stupid it sounded. "Jay ... he was with some woman ... I could feel it," she shuddered, putting a hand to her throat, the back of it still burning from her response.

Tes swallowed as she pieced together what the Healer had witnessed from the inside of her own mate. "He's gone very far over then." She rested the side of her face lightly against Shi's in a touch of support the Ice Walker could feel more than recognize. "I'm sorry you had to witness that."

"He ... it couldn't have been him," Shi murmured, trying to deny what she knew, her instincts warring with each other. "Couldn't have been something he was just doing ...."

Tes didn't try to argue with her. She just held the cool woman and let her break down enough to pull herself together again. Right now she needed to get Shi to calm down and as much back to center as possible. Force only knew what Doruth was facing with his former Padawan in the other room, but it couldn't be good. No one was snarling, no raised voices, no thumps of wrestling, no lightsabers ... everything that fifty years and more of knowing the pair screamed that things were so wrong they might just not be fixable.

"He enjoyed it," Shi whispered, her eyes haunted. "I don't think he knew what he was doing, but ...."

"It takes a very sick soul to enjoy killing like that." Tes nodded and tried to just provide support. "But even the sickest soul can be healed."

"I know that," Shi nodded slightly. "I just ... seeing that ... it's not Jay. It was him, but ... it wasn't."

"It's what the Dark Side can do to a person." Tes reminded her gently. "It warps them, takes things they can control normally and takes them too far. It's why we mustn't fall to it. It's why the Council doesn't really punish those who want to return to the Light. It's what too few are taught among the Jedi."

"Have to get him back from them," Shi said, managing to bring her mind back to the important issue at hand. "I couldn't stop him ... the Demon let us close enough to watch, but wouldn't let us reach him. We know where to find him though ... I think."

"And you know that rescuing him won't be a simple matter of showing yourselves now." Tes added. "Where should we head?"

"I know," she nodded. "But finding him, catching him ... if we can't, there's no use. I think it's Naboo ... but the world's not quite as unique as Tatooine," she admitted.

"It'll be easy to find out if he was there at least." Tes said quietly. "A death like that will be noticed by the local authorities. I doubt they'll catch him, but they'll know if what you saw happened there."

"You might be underestimating Jay's ability to cover things up," Shi warned her. "Could well turn into a missing person, rather than a homicide, if he gets his bearings enough to think things through."

"True," she admitted. "We can only hope that he is not that accustomed to what he's doing yet."

"If he is, I'd know," Shivasta shuddered. "She was so scared," she murmured, closing her eyes at the memory of the Panthress' pain.

"Facing death ... it terrifies most people. Facing a death like that is beyond what most can conceive of." Tes nodded. "At least it's over for her now."

"I hope so," Shi nodded. "I don't think she would've had the will or power to keep going afterwards." She stood a little shakily, removing the evidence of her reaction to watching her mate murder his lover with the push of a button.

She only wished removing the memory could be that easy.

She had the skills, but she needed to remember he was this Dark already, for when they caught up with him.

Across the corridor, Fenrik was sitting quietly, almost managing a meditative posture as Doruth watched him in growing concern. It wasn't natural for either of them to meditate like that when badly shaken.

"Are you going to be okay?" The older Panther asked him quietly, as uneasy as Tes about the silence involved. While Fenrik's composure wasn't all that settled, he had managed to keep his dinner down.

"Eventually," he nodded and looked up at his former Master. "Jay ... killed a bedmate while we were watching. Got off on it in a big way."

"On his own, or couldn't you tell?" Doruth asked him, understanding Shi's reaction entirely now.

And beginning to understand Fenrik's.

"Very much on his own," the Panther shuddered slightly. "I don't think he started with the intent tonight, but what happened ... it was all him. It was a Panthress too."

"It wasn't your fault, Fenrik," Doruth pointed out.

"I know," he let out a sigh. "I did a great deal to encourage that kink of his, though. That this was his first unprompted and unhelpful act of the Dark Side says something for what I helped create. Everything before this was to protect someone. There was a reason for it that wasn't Dark. This ... this is what I nurtured in him that he chose to take too far."

"You're not the only one who encouraged it," Doruth pointed out. "I'm not privy to all the details about your love life, but I know that Shi enjoyed it too, to an extent. And if he's sleeping with Sith, you can be damned sure they're not exactly loving and gentle themselves."

"I'd rather you didn't remind Shi of that," Fenrik glanced uneasily towards the door she'd bolted out of not long before. "She's going to have enough trouble without thinking she could have had a hand in it."

"I won't," Doruth agreed. "Think she's having a hard time accepting that this can be happening to Jay ... can't really blame her," he admitted. "But you and I both know that just enjoying the rough play doesn't lead to this sort of thing. He's starting to break down ... but it's not just because of what he enjoys. The anger and hate are starting to get to him."

"That's the weirdest part," he admitted. "With all his fears and issues, it's hating someone he's bound to that's really getting to him. I expected it to be fear of loosing one of us, maybe rage against Navik, or something like that, not something no one thought could happen. Of all the ways any of us guessed this might happen, this isn't anything close. I didn't even know you could do that to a life bond."

"What Jedi would?" Doruth asked, sitting on a bench near the door. "Even when we form bonds like that, nobody'd dream of trying to replace one. It'd be like a child finger-painting on an original masterpiece. Unfortunately, it seems to be a way of giving a Dark Sider a direct line to the most vulnerable part of Jay's mind."

"Shi says it takes an incredibly powerful telepath to pull that off, and he was fighting it. Might even still be fighting them, slipping to the Dark or not. He really doesn't care for at least one of them."

"Probably that ... thing in his head," Doruth nodded. "Were you able to get a bead on where he is at least?"

"Maybe," Fenrik let out a deep breath. "Naboo. It won't be for long though, and if we don't catch him, our next clue is going to be trail of bodies." He shuddered slightly.

"Only if Jay gets used to it," Doruth said, trying to be supportive. "But you're right, we have to move. It's not a short trip to Naboo, so you and Shi recover while Tes and I get us there. We'll slave-circuit the Kalrass for the trip."

"All right," he nodded and stood slowly, not at all interested in arguing about it. The mate he had on board was going to need all the attention he could offer. As disturbing as it was, he'd thought about it, and encountered worse. She wasn't nearly as prepared for this experience as he was, if you could call him prepared.

This hunt had suddenly become a lot more disturbing.

Jay yawned as he woke up late the next morning, his stomach rumbling. Hungry. That much he was able to recognize. He wasn't really awake yet, or all that close to waking up, but the scent of blood and sex in the air were both working on him already.

He rolled over, nuzzling the source of both scents lightly, and started to lick at one of the bare patches of flesh on the lifeless Panthress' shoulder, stripping blood-caked fur from the skin and exposing fresh wounds. Remarkably little fresh blood seeped out, most of what had been in her already in various places around the room, her body, and that of her killer.

He sank his teeth into the freshly exposed flesh, biting down and ripping a mouthful from her shoulder, functioning on nothing more than instinct.

Eat, then sex.

The priorities didn't stop him from rubbing his groin against her cool leg while he filled his belly from her upper arm, encouraging the arousal already there so he'd be ready when he wasn't hungry anymore.

He swallowed the last bite of salty meat, a distant part of his mind musing that it tasted a bit like nerf-meat as his shaft hardened the rest of the way against her somewhat stiff thigh.

He'd have to hunt up another sex-thing soon, but this body was whole enough to sate him for now. Its stiffness and cool temperature made an interesting sensation as he sank into her body, her legs locked in the widespread and slightly unnatural angle they'd been in when he'd torn her throat out some hours before. The legs were broken, but the tightening of her muscles in early rigor mortis held them in place for him.

He started to thrust faster, noting mentally that it was much more satisfying when the plaything could plead, moan, and beg. A deep purr escaped his throat at the memories of how she had sounded when she was begging him, towards the end, when he'd been forced to focus more on keeping her conscious than keeping her from pleading with him.

In the very back of his mind, something felt sick at the memories, but it wasn't nearly enough to stop the quickly building pleasure that he wasn't interested in holding back or the explosive roar as his hot seed shot into her body, heating the flesh around it.

He rested against her with a purr, rubbing his pelvis against her torn, nearly-shredded pussy lips as his seed quickly cooled and pooled in Lara's lifeless body.

It was all the pause the uneasy feeling in the back of his mind needed to hit the forefront and take over.

Jay shuddered, too shocked for a long moment to do anything but stare at the partially eaten body below him and try to grasp just what he'd done -- not just in killing her, but since.

A low sound escaped his throat as he desperately scrambled off of her and out of the bed. Not even his well-trained body kept him from hitting the floor hard and broke any chance he had to get to the bathroom before throwing up what he'd just eaten. His mind screamed in a vaguely coherent plea for help as he grabbed his Glovatrixes and was out the door where instinct took over again.

These, though, were instincts perfected on Nar Shaddaa.

Mind control and escape paths he had long forgotten he even kept track of hit the forefront of his mind to guide him back to his home -- his ship -- and keep anyone from noticing his passing.

Fenrik's eyes snapped open, his attempt to meditate quietly shattered by a plea for help accompanied by a set of images and sensations that he could barely grasp.

The first, the taste of his own kind, had him on his feet and all his control focused on keeping what little was in his stomach down until he could get to a bathroom ... and not the closest one that Shi would need.

As he ran, he couldn't shut out the rest. The feel of a dead body around 'his' cock, the pleasure of that one last violation.

Of realizing what 'he'd' just done.

He knew, instinctively, that was he felt wasn't really him. Still, knowing that Jay had done it didn't help much. At least he also knew that Jay was still sane enough to be as disgusted as he was just now.

As he finished losing his light breakfast, he felt Shi's hand on his back gently, her mind reaching out to help soothe his.

It was a contact he welcomed and used to reach out to the older pair preparing the ships for take off.

"*Naboo. Definitely Naboo.*" Fenrik focused on reaching out to Doruth. "*We have to get there before he leaves.*"

"You saw the same thing I did?" Shi asked him softly, kneeling next to him and offering him a glass of lightly citrus-flavored water to rinse his mouth out with.

"Yes," he shuddered. "It's good, I think, that Master Essani isn't bonded to him anymore. That's going to be one event I want to downplay in the report as much as we can."

"One sentence," she nodded. "No details, unless requested. Are you going to be okay?"

"Yes," he nodded and stood with a tight jaw, the only sign of just how much effort it took him not to show how sick he still was at the images still in his mind. "We'll be ready to leave in a few minutes. Even if we don't get there in time, we have some work to do to protect the Order from public fallout."

"Only if they realize a Jedi did it," Shi pointed out. "What he did ... I could give any of a dozen ways it could have been done by anybody with the proper knowledge. At least he didn't use his lightsaber for it."

"True," he murmured and finished off the lightly flavored water before walking out of the bathroom to head for the cockpit. "Lets just hope the Sith with him don't do anything like that."

"If they do, it'd justify calling out a larger hunt," Shi pointed out as she followed him. "Not sure if that's a better thing or not, but it would be more eyes. At least the Republic doesn't have an organized defense force besides the Jedi to send after him. We'll just have to hope bounty hunters aren't brought to bear."

"If they are, the death toll is going to be that much higher." Fenrik shook his head and sat down in the pilot's seat to set their course so they could take off the moment Doruth and Tes were finished slave-circuiting the Kalrass. "At least two Sith, one unknown, and Jay are on that ship. It won't be easy for anyone to take them, not even with the four of us and two ships."

"Not to bring them in alive," Shi agreed quietly. "I just hope Jay's willing to accept capture when we find him. I heard about the message the Council got; doesn't make any real sense. They must have had one heck of a cover story."

"And a lot of notes on how to make Jay believe it." He closed his eyes briefly. "How are you handling this so well?"

"What?" She asked. "Jay missing, or what we saw this morning?"

"This morning." He glanced up at her.

Shi closed her eyes for a moment, still able to see what had happened when she thought about it.

"What he did ... it was sick," she admitted. "But it was a body, not a person, he was doing it to. The body barely matters, once the spirit is gone. It's part of being a Healer, and a Walker."

"Not quite how most Panthers see it." He nodded in understanding of her way of thinking. "I saw it more as how far he's gone in just two months. That ... I can see how last night happened. This morning ... it's just so far from anything I ever thought could happen ...." His voice drifted off a bit as the hatch closed.

"Ready to go." Doruth called to them as he walked forward to join the distressed pair.

"Then let's go," Shi nodded, squeezing Fenrik's shoulder softly. "*I didn't either,*" she told her mate as the Gurath lifted off. "*But it's less of a sin to me than what happened last night. This morning was illness ... that I can fix. Trust me to fix him, when we find him.*"

"*And somehow we'll fix the rest too.*" He gritted his teeth and guided the two ships far enough into space to make the jump to hyperspace.

Janos blinked as he woke up, flashes of Jay's surroundings running through his mind. He rumbled deeply, rolling over on top of his date from the night before and nipping her shoulder before interpreting what was going on and what it would mean.

"Wake up," he ordered her simply, ignoring his morning wood and rolling the rest of the way out of bed, starting to dress. "Date's over. Credchip by the door should cover the dress I tore," he added, pulling one out of his pocket and setting it on the dresser as he finished dressing. "Grab a vest to cover up on your way out, I've got plenty." With one last look over the naked, desirable, yet extremely confused form in his bed, he started out towards the cockpit.

If they weren't going to be on the run, he might've considered trying to sedate her, bring her along to play with. But with one body already being left behind, they really didn't need the sort of manhunt a kidnapping might cause. He wasn't completely sure Jay wouldn't object either. The tom was rapidly loosing his attachment to the Light, but he had the oddest triggers sometimes that didn't always have a much to do with normal morals.

Besides, it wasn't like there weren't other fems in the galaxy. Hell, with Jay's bankroll, they could make their way to some comfy world in Hutt space and pick up a few slave-girls. He wasn't sure exactly how much the tom had access to, but he'd seen enough in their shopping trip to make a Hutt faint and knew that was just what Jay considered pocket money now that the Order wasn't paying for everything.

He made his way up to the cockpit, getting ready to leave as Tara, his 'girlfriend,' pulled on some clothes and started making her way out with a confused expression when Mina sauntered out of her room with a sly smile, wearing a suit of fairly comfortable clothes that complemented her lightly pregnant figure.

"Leaving so soon?" She asked with a purr.

"Guess so," Tara said with a glanced towards the cockpit. "Weird. Figured he'd be up for a little fun this morning." She shrugged a bit, reaching in to grab the credchip she'd almost forgotten.

"We got a call just before you woke up; we have to get going," Mina explained apologetically, stepping forward more. The shewolf frowned a bit, stepping back into the room. There was something about the Cat's manner that unsettled her.

"I should be going myself then," she said, hoping Mina would step out of the way.

"Mmm ... you should," Mina agreed with a purr. "But you should know something first. Your girlfriend, who went off with my mate?"

"Yes?" Tara asked cautiously, glancing around the room as if she was hoping she could find a blaster. Janos had taken his with him though ... the only weapon left in the room was one she couldn't see.

But Mina knew where it was.

"She's dead now," the tabby purred, a sadistic smile spreading across her lips.

"What?" The Wolf asked, her fur bristling. "You're lying ... get out of my way, I just want to get off this ship!"

"After you enjoy the show," Mina grinned, reaching out telepathically to grab her victim's mind and drag it into her vision of what Jay had left behind of her friend. She drank deeply of the terror that poured off of her mind, enjoying her soon-to-be victim's sick realization that she had been telling the truth, and that they had both found the wrong people to be interested in for the night's fun.

It was the last thing the Wolf would ever realize.

While she was still trapped in Mina's telepathic nightmare, the tabby reached out, gripping one of Jay's spare lightsabers with the Force and pulled it out of its hiding place. The blacklight blade ignited as it flew towards the woman calling it ....

And through the Wolf between the two of them.

Tara looked down in disbelief, the beam of burning light impaling her cleanly through the heart. Mina held it in place as her body fell, purring madly at the display made by the blade cutting through her. Returning Jay's lightsaber to its hiding place without even touching it, she started to work on moving the body, the Force making the process easier as she hauled the much larger female towards the hatch Jay would be coming through shortly.

In the cockpit, Janos heard the sound of the one-sided fight and scowled as he kept working on the launch sequence for the Sharufa and getting launch permissions sorted out so they wouldn't be pursued right away.

"Damned bitch," he muttered. "You just had to get in on the act, didn't you?"

He heard the hatch open, close and then open a few moments later. Mina walked quietly away from the front of the ship as it closed behind her. Jay would be there too soon and far too rattled for her to be visible. She may be crazy-Dark, but she wasn't actively suicidal, and she was keeping tabs on their mate's progress.

Force-speed or not, it still took him several minutes to make it from the residential sector to the spaceport. Enough time for Janos to finish completing the launch procedures and be ready to meet him when he got back.

"*We're going to have a talk about 'subtlety' later,*" he told Mina.

"*That would be a first,*" she purred mentally. "*Tembris' attack dog lecturing me about subtlety.*"

Janos growled to himself as he waited for Jay. She was not going to live any longer than she had to. At least Jay was very unlikely to disagree with that idea, bond or no bond. Once those kits were out of her, Jay hated her even more than he did.

Then his attention was on the bundle of completely freaked out muscle and fur that burst though the briefly open hatch. He couldn't help but notice that while Jay hadn't bothered to dress, he had not only grabbed his weapons, but had put both bracers on.

He grabbed hold of Jay, trying to provide some sort of support as his lupine senses were filled with the smells of blood, violence, and sex.

"*Safe now,*" he told Jay. "*We'll be gone before anybody knows.*"

He just hoped Mina'd hidden Tara's body well enough.

He felt Jay allow himself to collapse across their bond a moment before the tom sank against his body with a bit of a whimper.

This was a moment that reinforced Janos' appreciation of what the mate-bond gave him. Anyone else would be impossible to deal with. Once he told Jay it was safe, the tom let him take over and trusted him to make things work out.

It was a heady feeling after witnessing what the tom was capable of.

He helped Jay into bed in one of the spare rooms, where the smell of sex and Tara's fear wouldn't be a problem while he went to make some tulass tea to help sedate him for the trip.

"I'm going to get us out of here fast," he told Jay as he gave him the cup of tea. "Drink that, and brace yourself."

Jay nodded and cupped the mug in both hands to drink it quickly. His eyes closed with a sigh of relaxation as Janos left the room to deal with getting them away from the easy reach of any authorities.

The Wolf hurried, trying not to look like he was in a rush. Fortunately, after years of smuggling and mercenary work, he knew how to get out of somewhere without the authorities realizing just how devoutly grateful he was to leave them behind.

Naboo was even easier than most. He didn't have to do anything that involved dealing with a person; just send the launch codes to the light defensive weapons, and be on his way.

Once the ship was out of the atmosphere, and into hyperspace from there, he leaned back in his chair with a deep sigh.

Toydaria may not be the best world for the long term, but it was Hutt and it was definitely not Jedi-friendly. It would work for a while. They had the money to make any needed bribes and the training to deal with what bribes didn't.

He so needed breakfast before dealing with Mina. He could still hear her purring in a twisted pleasure at that kill. It's not like he cared about the shewolf, but Mina really needed to be gotten under control about the timing of her fun. This one could have really gotten them in trouble.

He went back to get himself something to eat, pausing for a moment to check on Jay mentally. Asleep already; good. Twitching in sedated nightmares was fine, as long as it was sleeping nightmares and not the kind that woke him up.

While he cooked, he heard Mina pad out, and instinctively looked back to make sure she wasn't armed, his hand on the hilt of his lightsaber.

"Don't worry, Janos," she purred. "I'm just interested in the same thing you are."

"I'm a really beginning to doubt that." He glared at her with flattened ears. "Killing that girl when there is no time to hide the body well was stupid."

"I was referring to breakfast," she said simply, moving to start making some tea. "As for the girl, was it any more stupid than just leaving her be? Besides, I want them to find her without too much trouble."

"Great, now the Jedi will have reason to send real forces against us, and bounty hunters, before we have a place to stay." He snorted and slid the pan of scrambled eggs, cheese and meat onto a plate and sat down, pouring a large glass of deep red-orange juice telekinetically.

"No, now the Jedi will have to explain a mutilated, sodomized snuff-victim showing up, and the perps using lightsabers," she pointed out. "You know better than I do that the Jedi suffer every time a Dark Jedi commits a crime. Something this gruesome? They'll have Senators arguing about it.

"Besides, what would she have done when she went home? Found her home a crime scene, her friend murdered and partly eaten?" Mina shrugged. "While it has some entertainment value, my method is more merciful, and I got to experience her reaction rather than just guess at it."

"You're forgetting one thing about that setup." He pointed out evenly. "We've got Jedi on our tail already that'll be explaining how they're hunting a couple Sith before the news even gets off world."

"And if it's blamed on the Sith instead? Then any other Sith out there get to become the focus of a galaxy-wide crusade to wipe out the 'scum.' Less competition. Either way, I win - and, as long as we stick to safe worlds, not even the Jedi will find us."

"The Jedi I'm not all that worried about. They want us alive after all. Now everybody but those four ships are going to be after us dead. Maybe you don't care about survival anymore now that you're turning gray, but I'm not that far gone yet."

"You worry too much, Janos," Mina chuckled, patting his shoulder condescendingly, jerking it away a fraction of a second before he crushed it in his jaws and finished preparing her own light breakfast of tea and fruit. "There is no 'everybody' beyond the Jedi and bounty hunters. But the Jedi don't do bounty hunters, and they'll convince the Naboo government not to put up a bounty. The Jedi want us alive, and the Republic wouldn't care enough to send anybody after us if we'd killed half the settlement, and done what Jay did to each one of them."

"Somebody on this ship has to pay attention to the future." He pointed out with a shrug.

"Oh I am," she purred, taking a seat and sipping her tea. "I'll admit, there are some ways it could backfire. But even most of the backfires work out in our favor. Besides, we were already going to have Jedi and bounty hunters after us. Do you really think anybody on Naboo is going to suspect one of the locals of doing that?"

"So what are you going to do about Jay when he no longer has kittens to keep his opinion of you in check?" Janos raised a questioning eyebrow at her.

"That would be telling," she smirked slightly. "Though your concern is touching ... or would be, if it was real concern."

"Hardly concern," he smirked at her. "Just curiosity about how you intend to survive in four months. You know as well as I do how much he hates you."

"A lot can change in four months, Janos," she smirked back, getting that twinkle in her eye he was beginning to recognize as her scheming. "Quite a lot. Especially when you'd like to be having a nervous breakdown because you're starting to get kinkier than you're comfortable with."

"True," he admitted. It would be something to watch out for too. He seriously doubted Jay had any idea what was happening until it was far too late. The Kat was slipping, but he still had pretty good self-control and anything that would freak him out as bad as this would surely still trigger it.

"I don't see why you're all that concerned, Janos," she shrugged slightly. "Or are you forgetting that you're the one who wanted to do this least of all?"

"Still don't think it was a bright idea," he muttered. "That Kat's trouble, and we're up to our ears in it now."

"And do you think we'd have been any better off if Tembris was still running the show?" She pointed out. "Just get us somewhere in Hutt space. We'll be fine there; it's not like anybody's going to care, or like the Jedi will be able to find us. And it will give me time to work."

"Toydaria," he told her simply and made quick work of finishing his breakfast, went to check on the controls one last time and then headed back to see about getting the smells and blood off Jay before the tom woke up for real.

"It's a start," Mina murmured to herself, finishing her own food before going off to meditate on how best to take advantage of this.

Jay's slowly waking brain called on his nose first, making it twitch.

No blood.

No sex.

No fear.

No decay.

Very familiar scents. Janos was in bed holding him.

An ear twitched next as Sharufa greeted him.

He slowly cracked on eye open and looked around without moving.

He was home, safe ... as much as he could be either, at least. It was quiet, as it usually was on the ship when it wasn't on a planet somewhere. Janos nuzzled his shoulder lightly, a gentle, reassuring touch and Jay reached back to rub the Wolf's hip in reply.

"No trouble?" Jay mumbled, still not completely coherent.

"Not anymore," Janos nodded slightly. "We got off the planet before anybody knew what happened."

"Good," he let out a soft sound and closed his eyes again. "Don't need any more trouble."

"Not really," Janos agreed, looking back over his shoulder at Mina pointedly before returning to nuzzle Jay's shoulder lightly. "You going to be okay?"

"Eventually," he murmured and began to relax in the Wolf's strong arms. "Can't believe I did that." He shuddered.

"Don't worry about it," Janos told him easily, rubbing his chest. "It happens sometimes."

He felt Jay's conflicting reaction. Acceptance and agreement that it did happen and he wasn't trying to do that, but at the same time it was so far outside acceptable behavior that the tom couldn't really accept that it wasn't something to worry about.

A tiny corner of Jay's mind growled that they were Sith and this was normal for Sith and not him.

It was a voice that was quickly shut up by the part that insisted these were his mates and he'd have to adapt. That he hadn't been Sith, but maybe he was now.

"You're not the first person to do it, Jay, and you won't be the last," Janos pointed out, scratching his chest lightly. "Don't beat yourself up about it too much."

Jay nodded, still a bit reluctant to do so, but the alternative was more than he wanted to deal with. Maybe if Shi was here, but these mates ... they wanted him to accept, and it was hard not to go along and not think too hard about what had happened.

"We are we headed?" Jay asked quietly and snuggled back against the Wolf's solid body.

"Toydaria," Janos said easily. "Not as well-known as Nar Shaddaa, and money goes a long way there. Not as easy for a Jedi to hide either. Good place to hole up until we've got things sorted out."

"Nar Shaddaa has too many Jedi." Jay murmured with a nod for Janos' choice. "Fenrik, Doruth and Tes are all very familiar with it. Not all Hutt worlds are safe from Jedi, despite their claims."

"But one where anybody who isn't a native sticks out, we can find out if anybody's after us damned fast," Janos nodded, nuzzling Jay's shoulder lightly. "I've hidden out there often enough to know my way around too."

"We'll figure it out," he murmured and rolled around in Janos' arms to kiss him soundly, his hands moving along the Wolf's sides.

"Mmm ... for now, no need to worry about it," Janos rumbled, returning the kiss and rolling up on top of him as the kiss deepened and became a little needy.

"*Take me,*" Jay whispered between their minds, a taste of familiar violence well beyond what the Wolf usually indulged in clear with the request.

"I can do that," he rumbled, nipping Jay's shoulder and running his hands down his sides as he started to rub against the tom's thigh. Mina made her way out of the room, recognizing that she wasn't particularly welcome just now. This was a guy thing, a warrior thing, for the tom, and she was neither in his mind.

And clearly resenting it, at least to Janos' mind, though he was pretty sure she hid it from Jay.

It was her own damn fault too. She could have been his first choice, she had been with him first, but she'd done too many stupid things. Things that were simply too Dark or self-centered for a given moment in Jay's turning.

He just hoped she wouldn't figure out some way to change that fact.

For now, he was going to enjoy the tom beneath him, begging him for the pain and punishment he could give him.

Fenrik settled himself rather forcefully before stepping into the holonet chamber on the Gurath to join his three hunting mates. He was fervently glad that Master Essani wouldn't be able to feel his reactions right now. He could only hope that by the time he stood before the Council again that he was more centered than now. And that what he'd told the authorities on Naboo about hunting Sith wasn't as accurate as he had them believing.

Shi put her hand on his shoulder for a moment, squeezing it reassuringly before they settled down to report as the scanners started working and transmitting back to Coruscant, Masters Zraii and Essani becoming visible immediately.

"We understand the news isn't particularly reassuring," the Verpine said on behalf of both the Masters.

"No, Master Zraii." Fenrik answered with a bow to the pair. "We traced Jay to Naboo, but did not arrive in time to capture him. The past two days have been spent guiding the authorities to believing that Sith are solely responsible for what happened, and not a Dark Jedi. They left two dead behind, murdered, and the pilot that was with them on Tatooine.

"Markos is a mercenary pilot not a Dark Sider. While he didn't know where they were headed, he did give us a fair amount of information on who was involved and Jay's current mental condition.

"The female in the new mate-bond is Mina. She's a Cat, and roughly two months pregnant. She's not only Dark, but very sick in the mind. She is the truly dangerous one now that Darth Tembris is dead and likely the one who will now be actively trying to turn Jay. She is also hated by both Jay and Janos. Both have said that the kits are what keep her alive. Or more accurately, Janos isn't willing to find out if his bond is enough to protect him from Jay if he does kill Mina while she's pregnant.

"The male of the new mate-bond is Janos Miklar, a Wolf. While he is Dark, it is not nearly to the extent as Mina. Janos seems more interested in survival than the worst parts of the Dark Side. He has formed a stronger bond with Jay since the false-bond was created, which makes him more dangerous to us. Jay is more likely to turn quickly by the acceptance of Dark behavior that Janos does than the outright manipulation of Mina.

"Jay seems to be on a path more akin to Janos' than Mina. Much to Markos' surprise, Jay paid him what he was owed and a bonus for the trouble of the trip and being injured. Jay advised him not to work for Sith, because they're crazy, or Jedi, because they'll get him shot at too. This was a few hours before Jay killed on Naboo, and the day before the second kill by lightsaber."

"Not by Jay," Shivasta added, picking up on the question before it was asked. "There were indicators that his lightsaber was used, but the evidence strongly suggested it was used by somebody else, probably not holding it. Based on what I know about the victim and people involved, I suspect it was Mina. There was no reason for anybody else to have killed her."

"There's something else, isn't there?" Master Zraii asked after a brief moment.

"The first body was mutilated when it was found," Shivasta explained, hoping to downplay it. "The worst post-mortem. It wasn't typical of Jay's kills, but we have evidence that it was performed by him. Fortunately, when he realized what had happened, he was horrified by it; he hasn't turned yet, Masters."

"Not completely, at least." Master Zraii nodded fractionally. "Was there any indication how Jay obtained the money to pay Markos?"

"From his savings." Fenrik answered. "Remains of the small stipend the Order gave him for his useful inventions when he was a Padawan. Withdrawals from it may enable us to trace him. It is becoming very dangerous to try to reach him telepathically. The Demon is stronger than we thought and trapped us near Jay's mind for several hours once already. We will have to be very careful about when we try again."

"The accounts could be frozen," Zraii offered. "Force them into the open."

"It would force them into, quite likely, violent activity as long as they were on a civilized world," Doruth pointed out. "And eliminate a means of tracking them. As long as they stay underground, they won't resort to mercenary work or piracy."

"It's true, Master Zraii." Shi added. "Jay has developed a strong ... nesting instinct, for lack of a better description ... now that he's about to be a father. If we allow him access to the money, he will continue to focus on finding a safe place to raise his family. In Sith society, he may be the lowest ranking member there, but he has the skill and power to have things his way when push comes to shove. He does not want to remain on the run. He will settle down soon, if we can convince him that we're not one step behind him."

"Master Shivasta, do you have any idea how long it will be before the kits are born?"

"Four months before they are born, another three at least, likely closer to a year, before he'll want to start moving with them again." She answered. "There is another factor here too. His heritage is of a very territorial family. He's shown some traits of that even after most of his life with us. Once he's settled down, he's much more likely to dig in and fight to defend his territory and family than to run again, unless one of his mates convinces him otherwise."

"What will the effect on your ability to bring him back to us alive be?" Zraii asked for Essani.

"Very little, Masters." Fenrik responded. "We have two likely chances to capture him alive; by sneaking up on him and knocking him out, or by Shi knocking him out while he fights me. The second has been the most likely method since we realized our bonds had been usurped. If he's unwilling to run, it makes it easier to catch up with him. The rest is much as expected. We knew he'd be protective of his new mates as soon as we knew of them."

"The complication this brings is that we will have to capture all his kits before he regains consciousness." Shi added. "But if it's possible for him to trust anybody to bring them in safely, it would be us."

"All the same, it would be best if you found him before they were born. Just be certain you bring his mates as well ... it sounds like we'll need to have a good number of mind healers ready for when everybody comes back."

"It would be best," Shi nodded. "Even if we manage to talk him into coming back with us, the false-bonds and his actions have made a mess of his mind. It will be a difficult operation at best to put things in a state where he can begin to deal with what he has done."

"Given the recent escalation, the Council is debating assigning more Jedi to the hunt," Zraii said. "What would the effect be if they were forced to harm his 'mates' in the course of recovering him? Sith aren't exactly renowned for being taken alive."

"If it kills his kits, or is likely to .... " Shi paused, trying to find the words for how he'd reacted on Tatooine to a much less direct threat by a much less Dark Jay. "I'm not sure anything could control him. If they've already been born, it would likely be similar in effect to killing one side of any bond. It may be mitigated if we gain control of it back, but this is something we know very little about."

"If others are assigned, I recommend those who have the skills, like Shi, to disable without serious injury. Whether by Healer-based or mind-based." Fenrik added quietly. "He is as unlikely to surrender as the Sith he is with by now."

"Given what news has already begun to trickle out about Sith on Naboo, we have to show some activity," Zraii pointed out. "But we will keep it in mind. Do either of you know anything that's likely to work well as a sedative with him? Our medical records have some suggestions, but not extensive ones."

"He reacts like most felines to most substances." Shi answered. "I have not come across anything that is particularly effective or ineffective on him. So nibrathin, qkwasin-twiasa, abin and cutoth juice should all work very well."

"We'll send out a few more teams with proper sedatives and knockout-based gear," the Verpine nodded. "We all want him back alive, of course. When you have an idea where to look next, let us know."

"Yes, Masters." Fenrik bowed to them before the transmission ended. He looked over at Shi. "They're going to head to Hutt space after this. Easy to hide and we are definitely not welcome anywhere."

"We'll just have to figure out which world then," she said easily. "And sort out covers. Doruth? Think we could get a little help with that?" She asked, looking over at the older Panther.

"Smugglers are the easiest." He actually chuckled softly. "We've got a good couple ships for that, and the three of us all have the skills for it."

"Or just use my family name." Tes added with a slight smirk. "We're very much still out there and doing business. One of my cousins may even end up spotting them."

"Then let's get to work fixing everything up together," Fenrik nodded, standing to leave the transmission chamber. "We want to be sure we've all got our stories straight."

Jay sniffed critically as he stepped out of the Sharufa after they landed at one of Toydaria's strictly controlled starports. Satisfied that the place didn't smell like it was on a planet renowned for its muck-lakes, he continued down the ramp, Janos close behind with Mina.

"Told you Toydaria didn't always smell like a swamp," the Wolf reassured him. "If we stick to the better parts of town, it's better than the Coruscani slums by light-years."

"Which makes it better than where I grew up." Jay nodded and cast his gaze across the surprisingly busy starport and his mind much farther to gather all he could about this place and who ruled it.

It was a Hutt world, as he knew ... but, unlike most worlds in Hutt-space, it didn't seem to be completely dominated by the Hutts. What he found slightly unnerving was the way most of the Toydarians, buzzing through the air about their business, were almost completely blank to his probing mind. At least their technology wasn't as difficult to deal with.

"So, you're the latest arrivals, eh?" One of them asked, flying over, his wings working busily to maneuver his bulbous blue body through the air, his hooked snout twitching slightly as he reviewed his datapad. "Lucky you; last ones to make it in this shift. So, who's the captain?"

"That would be me," Jay claimed the ranking post before either of his companions could consider it.

"Okay, we can take care of business then," the Toydarian said easily, buzzing up higher so he could look Jay in the eyes. "We got lots of paperwork that'll need to be filed. Name of your ship first?"

"Tattid." Jay supplied and leaned back against the ship's hull, quietly calculating whether it was worth the bribe to skip this. It would just be a couple peggats according to the computers - the equivalent of barely a hundred Republic credits - to cover the docking fee and get the paperwork covered.

Frankly, given the amount of paperwork that could be required of somebody on any Hutt world if they didn't, it wouldn't be much worse than a nuisance charge.

"That's all you really need, I expect." Jay shifted his hand slightly to show the Hutt coin. He really wasn't in a mood for this, especially not for a world they wouldn't be on more than a few days.

"Well ... there is a bit more, but it's mostly technicalities," the Toydarian agreed, taking the coins between long, nimble fingers and slipping them into a pocket of his vest. "Enjoy your stay; if you'll need supplies or maintenance, there are stores just outside the landing zone, and the rail cars to the next city leave practically any time you need them."

"Thank you," Jay nodded slightly, then turned to his mates as the native flew off. "Shall we get the supplies end of this done so we can leave whenever needed?" He asked, though it wasn't really a question. He had his pattern and it wasn't really worth challenging him about it.

"Sure thing," Janos nodded, he and Mina following Jay across the starport to one of the many exists to the city beyond.

"See what I mean?" Janos asked Jay as the two of them relaxed with Mina in one of Toydaria's better-established restaurants. The Wolf's eyes roamed over the dancers up front without any reservation as the food was brought out to them; steaming, spicy, and heavy on the local meats. "For the rep it gets, this planet has some very, very nice benefits if you don't stick to the slums."

He reached out, snagging a piece of dark leg-meat from the central tray, and started to eat.

"Not bad prices either," Jay admitted and claimed his own share and ate with a bit more refined manners that such places brought out in him without thinking about it. Just a bit more than required for the establishment, to be fair, but not enough to make them noticeable. For all he wasn't interested the way Janos was, he appreciated the attractive dancers and the lack of Bith music. It was good entertainment for not being a major theater.

"Nope," Janos agreed, glancing at Mina as she ate her own meal, a little less spicy than the one the others were having and noticeably light on the alcohol thanks to Jay's insistence.

"I can live with it," she agreed with a smile. "Things are going to be fine here, until we figure out where to go next."

"Ambrintha," Jay supplied easily. "At least before you're four months along."

"The world with your friend?" She asked him. "CS?"

"Yes," he nodded and sipped a lightly fermented juice. "At least while you and the kits should be under a good specialist's care, there isn't a better choice. It's also an excellent world to pick up the kind of hired help we'll need for the first couple years. Clawson kits are a handful." He smiled almost indulgently with a distinct hint of nostalgia.

"Gonna be funny, heading there without having to sneak in past the port authorities," Janos chuckled. "It's been a while since I've seen a Corporate world when I was supposed to be there."

"Are you sure it's a good idea to go back into Republic territory?" Mina asked Jay. "They might not officially be part of the Republic, but they don't complain about Jedi presence the way the worlds around here do."

"Ambrintha isn't exactly a normal CS world," he chuckled softly. "It's where all the corporate big-wigs live. Jedi don't go there, unless they're soon to no longer be Jedi."

"Or looking to get involved in politics and shut down the people who shouldn't be in charge," Janos nodded. "The sort of people who usually signed my checks," he chuckled.

"We'll just have to work on getting you better taste in employers," Jay snickered.

"Hey, at least I haven't worked for Hutts in a while," Janos pointed out, his mood shifting quickly. "I'm a mercenary; taste in employers doesn't have anything to do with how many zeroes they offer you."

He knew even before he'd finished that he'd completely lost Jay, Mina understood him perfectly and she found it far too amusing.

"It does have something to do with how likely you are to survive them." Jay said quietly, his manner quickly subdued. Not quite submissive, but definitely not aggressive or amused. "Like it or not, your hide's not the only one on the line anymore."

"Yeah, I know," Janos agreed, winding down a bit. "But it's not like I've been taking incredible chances all that often. I can take care of myself, Jay. And the people around me, when I have to."

Both Sith caught the not-so-sure look in Jay's eyes, but the tom nodded. "Besides, you don't need to do merc work anymore."

"Don't need to," Janos agreed. "Might still take a job or two for the hell of it, but the money isn't going to push it."

It wasn't hard to miss that Jay didn't like it, but at the same time it seemed to be a middle ground he'd accept without arguing when it came up for real.

Then Jay cocked his head slightly. "What kind of merc work did you do, anyway?"

"Guard work, smash and grab, wetwork ... just about anything, especially if it took muscle and not too much thought," he said easily. "The violent stuff is something I've always had a gift for."

"We would have never guessed," Mina quipped from his other side.

"As if you're all calmness." Jay shot back across the Wolf.

"As if any of us are," Mina purred, sensing he was close to another violent outburst. "After all, I'm not the one who slaughtered an entire band of Sand People."

"Because you couldn't stay where you belonged." He growled, his ears flat and oblivious to the uneasy glances a few patrons were sending their way.

"Which wouldn't have been an issue if you'd been there," she shot back, not nearly as angry.

Janos bristled a bit, sensing that he might have to break the two of them up soon.

"*I was doing my job." Jay growled low in his throat. "All you had to do was stay put. You're too stupid to even follow common sense in your own survival."

"Oh, so wanting to do something other than sit in a cave for six months is stupid?" She asked him. "I was out for less than a minute when they got me, and they wouldn't have if I hadn't been set up."

Janos snapped his head to face Jay as he actually heard something inside the tom snap and was just in time to see him leave his seat for a lunge faster than the Wolf thought was physically possible, even for a Jedi. He was already moving when Jay's greater mass slammed Mina out of her seat and to the ground with his claws and jaws already digging into her flesh.

"*You won't just kill her, Jay,*" Janos told him mentally, pulling him back as he realized that he really was trying to kill Mina.

And that only the barest restraint kept her from responding just as violently as Jay twisted in the Wolf's grasp, trying to get loose and back into the fray.

Janos shifted his grip to the other hand to hold Jay up by the scruff, counting on the predatory reflex to go fairly still to keep him under control while he glared Mina down.

"*You,*" he growled at Mina, "*know better than to bait him like that.*"

"*He's the one who made it personal,*" she pointed out simply, dusting herself off as she got back up.

Janos just shook his head and made a mental note not to stop Jay the next time she asked for it. It'd be easier just to buy some shecat to have his kits and deal with his breakdown from killing this litter than put up with Mina any more.

Hell, it wasn't a half-bad idea first opening he got anyway.

"Put me down." Jay glared at the big Wolf. His tail was lashing, but he wasn't out to kill anymore. Janos put him down, still grumbling mentally about Mina.

"We should probably call it a night," he said, looking around at the surrounding crowd, mostly Toydarians but with the occasional Wolf or other off-worlder. One in particular seemed to be paying close attention, but she looked away quickly when he met her eyes.

Just a beta, watching the proceedings like all betas did.

"Yeah, before she decides to try talking again." Jay growled with another glare at her.

"*Don't even think about it.*" Janos hit her hard mentally with more will than she expected. Her half-formed quip died in her throat as he led them out after dropping enough coins on the table to cover the bill.

Jay slowly opened his eyes and opened the door to the meditation chamber with a thought to admit Mina several hours later.

"Jay?" Mina looked in, her tone and expression softer than he was used to from the tabby. "Up for talking a bit?"

"Yes," he looked at her, still wary and a little on edge.

"I wanted to apologize," she said softly, stepping into the room and letting it close behind her.

"All right," he was still wary, for all it was easy to spot that the words surprised him, and he was a little more focused on her now.

"What happened in the restaurant ... I shouldn't have pushed you like that," she admitted. "Shouldn't have done a lot of things, but that's the most recent one. I should've just let it rest, but ... it's not so easy to do that, these days."

"I'm noticing," he nodded slightly, his eyes drifting to her belly even though he was speaking of his own temper. "I never thought I could attack the mother of my kits."

"You stopped," she pointed out. "And I've deserved it, lately ... ever since Tembris pushed me into this ...." she let her voice drift off at his growl, though the anger was directly safely away from her. "We can't change what happened, but we can try to make things better. Try to be the mates our bond expects and our kits deserve."

She could feel be was still cautious of her and her intentions; he didn't trust her or like her, and it was a reaction she deserved and would have to work on, but he was also buying her words. He wanted to believe her.

"What do you suggest?" He finally asked.

"One day at a time?" She offered. "Maybe start with spending a night together, maybe just the two of us?" She reached out, caressing his unscarred cheek lightly and smiled when he leaned into it slightly. "A gentle night, help you get past what happened on Naboo?"

"I don't think Janos will mind a night out," he smiled slightly and nuzzled her hand. Part of him was still uneasy, but this was want he wanted.

"I don't think he will either," Mina smiled, drawing him close for a gentle kiss.

It was what she wanted too ... and needed. To undo the damage between the two of them, while she still had some sort of hold.

"Maybe we should find a more comfortable room?" She suggested.

"Yes," he murmured and stood to draw her close for another kiss and a gentle exploration of her sides before he let her go to choose the room.

She went to her room, a little farther from the meditation room than his own was, and opened the door before turning back to look at him with a sort of uncertain invitation and found him just as uncertain. It was a familiar situation they both remembered from their youth. That first date that made it to the bedroom.

Decades after it for both of them, but they were each just as nervous.

Or at least seemed to be just as nervous.

"Come on," she smiled softly and extended a hand in invitation as she stepped back into the sparsely decorated room. "I trust you."

That seemed to do it. He took her hand and followed her inside before drawing her gently against his body as she realized part of what had him uncertain; they'd never actually had a gentle night together and he hadn't had a gentle night since he'd lost his Jedi mates.

She reached up to kiss him tenderly, closing her eyes and reaching out across their bond carefully to touch his mind with gentle affection, running her hands along his body. It was exciting, in it's way, to have him so completely fooled that he accepted her this way. It was exactly what she wanted out of tonight.

He kissed her back, catching himself a couple times from giving into the aggression that he'd become accustomed to with sex, before he slowly moved down along the side of her neck while he slowly began to open her simple tunic.

She purred softly, arching her neck for him as she worked to undo his own outfit, her hands slipping up under his clothes to run her fingers through his fur. He was warm and under his fur was hard muscle that gave a little as he relaxed.

She moaned softly as her shirt fell open and drifted to the floor, exposing all six full, slightly tender breasts to his hands and mouth.

"Bed?" She asked him, nibbling the edge of his whole of his ear lightly and helped the rest of their clothes slide to the floor with her hands and a bit of telekinesis.

He nodded and turned to step back towards the bed not quite big enough to two to draw her down on top of him gently for another kiss while his hands explored her back and a light telekinetic touch teased her sex.

She returned the touches, both with her hands and the Force, teasing his sheath and balls, pressing up against his ass as she licked at his furless nipples lightly and enjoyed the way he fell into her desires, and the difficulty he was having holding back the more violent impulses. He may not be able to accept the pleasure of torture or killing yet, but he was turning very well for how long she'd had him and he'd enjoyed it while he was doing it.

Just that was worth this, and it wasn't as if he was a poor lover either way. She could already taste how successful this approach was with him. It was dangerous to a point; it was the submissive that he had a taste for violence against, but it was also that submissive behavior on her part that held his protective nature locked on her and that was a very valuable thing.

She'd just have to find a way to make sure the violence was trained on a different submissive, one she could afford to have badly injured or killed. It may be good to work on him about getting a slave or three. Not only could she have female attention when she wanted it, but it would give them all convenient subjects for their kinks.

She nuzzled his chest lightly, reaching down to fondle his balls and coax his shaft to hardness. It wasn't a difficult task, or an unpleasant one. For all she could feel how he had to work on remembering what to do to be a gentle lover, he managed it. His hands didn't squeeze her tender breasts too much, and his touch elsewhere was just for her pleasure.

She kissed him gently, purring as she nuzzled his cheek.

"Ready?" She asked him, rubbing her pussy-lips against his shaft as he stroked her back and sides.

"Yes," he murmured into her mouth, a deep rumble in his chest for memories of intense pleasure from such beginnings.

Mina shifted, taking him into her body with a deep rumble and moan of pleasure.

"Oh yes," she groaned, tightening her body around his shaft. At least she didn't have to fake enjoying his attentions. It made it so much easier to keep a close mental eye on how he was reacting.

For now at least, he was enjoying the simple pleasure of being inside a willing female as he thrust up, his hands on her hips but not really controlling her.

She purred and rumbled deep in her chest, kissing him and milking his length with her pussy.

"So good," she murmured softly, echoing what she could feel from him as much as her own body as he pulled her against his chest with one arm across her back and the other hand on her ass to help the timing of their motions. She moaned and whimpered slightly as the pleasure of her actions built in him to the point that every thrust and squeeze was that much closer to an orgasm he was very eager for.

Mina rowled lustily, her body spasming around his as her eyes squeezed shut in pleasure. Her insides clenched down around his cock, working his barbs hard even after he roared and thrust up hard to flood her body with his seed.

She felt it pool in her body, her own juices oozing out, trickling down Jay's shaft as she continued to move up and down along it.

"Mmm ... want to try something a bit easier on the back?" She asked him, smiling as their orgasms passed.

"Anything you want," he murmured with a slightly loopy smile as she pulled of his cock with a low groan and shiver of pleasure.

"You get to be on top this time then," she smiled, laying against him and kissing him as she rolled the both of them to their sides, raising her top leg invitingly.

It took him a second to realize what she wanted, but once he did he continued to his knees, one of each side of her lower leg, and leaned forward to kiss her as he pressed into her slick body again.

"Oh yeah," she moaned, taking him deeply into her body, his hips pressing up against her pussy as he began to fuck her eagerly. "So good, Jay," she purred, hooking her upper leg around his back and rubbing him with her calf.

"Yes," he lowered his head and hissed after a subtle shift that rubbed him up against a bit of rough skin inside her body that sent shock waves through her. He set his arms to either side of her, bracing himself over her as the pace picked up.

"Fuck yes," she moaned, chewing her lower lip and squeezing his cock tightly with her body as he continued to rub that electric spot. "Take me, Jay."

It was a contest from there between his desire to remain in the position that brought them both such pleasure and the instincts that wanted to be against her back with his jaws around her scruff. The desire to remain as they were won out as the pleasure built for them until Jay threw his head back with a roar and poured his come into her again.

"Nnngh ... fuck," Mina moaned, coming around him again, reaching up and turning to kiss him hungrily as each of their pleasure echoed and reinforced the other's for a high that left them weak and twitching every time either moved.

"Nice start," Jay murmured and began to thrust again even as he caught his breath and shifted to lift one hand to gently knead her breasts.

"Much better than fighting," she agreed, purring deeply and pressing into his hand.

"Yes," he shifted forward enough to claim a kiss. "Much better."

"Set course for Toydaria." Tes ordered as she walked into the cockpit where her mate was at the controls. "Our targets have been spotted, and Jay's loosing control fast."

"What happened?" Doruth asked, sending the course change command sequence to the Kalrass.

"He attacked his pregnant mate." She shook her head, still refusing to use their names. "The Wolf broke it up."

"Shit," the Panther swore quietly. "He really is starting to snap. Y'know though ...." He trailed off, clearly not sure he should say what he was thinking, for all he was sure Tes knew what it was.

"Yeah, I know, but the fallout if he did ... " She shuddered. "We want him alive."

"Yeah," Doruth nodded. "Just thinking too much. So, one of your cousins spotted 'em?"

"Yes, and got away without getting caught." She nodded seriously. "I'll go tell his mates we had a sighting."

"Just make sure they know how far he's going," Doruth warned her. "They'll need to be ready for it ... sounds like he's not going to give up when he realizes they're both alive."

"I will," she nodded grimily and turned to leave. "It's not going to be easy on either of them."

She walked back to the Gurath's larger workout room, where Fenrik and Shivasta would be practicing for the morning. She knocked just in time to hear their lightsabers extinguish, the door opening a few moments later to reveal Shivasta.

She didn't look it, but Tes could tell that she was just as tired and frustrated as Fenrik was.

"We got a lead on Jay's location." Tes motioned her back into the room with Fenrik.

"How good a lead?" She asked, walking in to join the Panther, both their interests piqued. "Any word on how he's holding up?"

"He was on Toydaria, in Hutt space, as of five hours ago when my cousin saw him and the other two." Tes paused, sighing internally at what she had to do. "He attacked his kit's mother at a restaurant, tried to kill her until the Wolf separated them. They walked out on their own, but it was close."

"He's breaking down," Shi murmured. "Though not the way I would've expected him to. How long until we're there?"

"A day. Actually landing on Toydaria could take a good deal longer." She said simply. "They have incredibly tight traffic controls. Ones that Jay can manipulate easily if he thinks of it."

"Think we'll be able to just wait for him to leave?" Fenrik asked. "If we're waiting for them in space when they head out, it'd be easier than taking the chance he'll just tell the system to keep us off-planet."

"We can," she nodded. "It has the risk of missing him higher, but much less trouble either way."

"Maybe one of us waits while the others go looking," he murmured. "Thinking about this too hard for now, we have to get there in the first place before this does any good."

"We will," Shivasta said. "We might not catch him this time, but we're getting close again. And if he doesn't end up killing anybody again, we might be able to get close enough to do some good."

"Sooner or later, we will." He nodded grimly. "Doruth has already set course?"

"Yes," Tes nodded. "You might as well go clean up. There won't be much to do until tomorrow."

The two nodded, heading off for the showers, doing their best to conceal their frustration with that simple fact.

Tes had to hope they found Jay soon ... for all three of them.

Mina whimpered as consciousness hit her. Her body arched forward to drive the rough cock deeper inside her as a tom took her, spooned up behind her with her leg lifted over his and a hand gently kneading her swollen breasts and a soft mouth around her shoulder.

"Nnngh ... J-Jay?" She asked, still not completely aware, her body burning for the orgasm she was right on the edge of as he took advantage of what he'd learned the previous night.

"*Yes,*" he purred deeply.

"Ah!" She cried out, her body spasming around his shaft as he rubbed her g-spot one last time, milking his barbs hard and fast. "Fuck!"

"*Morning,*" he rumbled with a moaning shutter muffled in her fur and gave into the pleasure of her body, his seed hot as it poured into her.

Mina took a moment to catch her breath, still working his shaft as she woke up the rest of the way and recovered.

"One hell of a way to say good morning," she purred, reaching back to rub his side. "Mmm ...." she moaned softly as he began to thrust again, the power of his body held tightly in check so not to hurt her.

"I always thought so," he chuckled against her shoulder and nuzzled it while his hands explored down her front to rest on the swell of her belly, cupping their kits as he made love to her and supported her body a bit with the Force.

"Oooh ... this is good," she murmured, putting her hands over his and rubbing her swollen belly lightly with them.

"Yesss ...." Jay drew a sharp breath and shifted his hips to press deeper into her, his teeth a presence on her shoulder that was erotic rather than controlling.

She kept a close watch on his mind, wary of the chance that he might start to go too far again, but otherwise working on enjoying the morning lovemaking. That he took the initiative and was this mindful of her and the kits was an excellent sign that she'd at least temporarily repaired the worst of the damage that had been done.

Janos rumbled to himself as he wandered through one of the reasonably well-hidden slave markets of Toydaria.

To be fair, the one he was visiting was less a slave market and more a brothel where you could take the employees home with you for a sufficient fee. But that was what he was looking for today; Jay and Mina were 'making up,' and he was feeling ill listening.

The two of them sleeping together was one thing, but he knew Mina had fed the tom a line of bullshit that Tembris would have balked at to get that far.

So he had decided to distract himself, taking a look around Adulla's "establishment" deep in the city they'd landed at. Members of all manner of different species were available, depending on your tastes. He hadn't even taken advantage of the offered 'samples' yet; he was simply enjoying walking through a place where he was unquestioned as an Alpha for once.

It went a long way to let him forget what was going on back at the ship, and if he saw something appealing enough, he might even bring Jay here later. Force knew the Kat needed a nice subby bedmate to work frustrations out on, and so did he.

He rumbled privately to himself as he saw a white-furred shewolf, clearly well-broken in. If she had been an alpha before, or even a beta, she wasn't now.

Maybe he would bring Jay down later. It wasn't like the slaves were kept in poor conditions here, after all. If you didn't know beforehand somehow, you probably wouldn't guess it. As odd as Jay's mindset and morals were at the moment, it was a good place to introduce him to the idea as an acceptable thing.

Except for the Twi'leks serving Adulla and her 'friends' in the back, but that was a standard condition he really didn't care to think about and wasn't about to get close to if he had a choice.

He glanced to the side at the shewolf's owner, a bright-blue, muscular T'surr, his black shoulder markings and imperious demeanor marking him as an experienced slaver.

Definitely somebody to steer clear of unless money was changing hands; he was a solid foot taller than Janos, with the mass to match, and probably almost as bad a temper.

The only advantage he didn't have was the blood-red Artisan lightsaber and the training to use it. Janos didn't need strength when he had that and his opponent didn't.

Even so, he'd prefer if it wasn't an issue. Killing a slaver in the middle of the slave market really wasn't the greatest thing to do, typically.

Unfortunately, in the course of trying to avoid trouble, Janos couldn't help but make the one mistake that guaranteed it.

Looking like he was afraid of the larger T'surr male.

He heard the words in the harsh, awkward language of the slaver, and felt a massive, leathery hand close around his shoulder. One of the slaver's 'assistants.'

"Wonder how much Adulla would pay for you," the assistant said in gravelly Huttese.

"Not enough to be worth your boss' life," Janos growled, brushing the hand away. With a little luck, that would be enough of a display to convince them he wasn't worth it.

More likely, this would get messy.

He felt the hand grab his arm, this time a decidedly controlling contact and reacted without thinking. The T'surr was sent flying as he grabbed the offending limb and put his own mass and considerable Force-enhanced strength behind the motion that ended in the bright-blue behemoth in a dent in the wall it slowly slid down while Janos twisted on his heel to face whatever was coming next.

His lightsaber remained hidden, but ready for a moment's need.

Two more of the vaguely crab-like creatures came after him as he backed into an area where he had some space to move without damaging any of the local merchandise. He gripped one of the tiny claw-arms of the first one to reach him, giving it a twisting spin that ended in a pained howl as the mostly-atrophied appendage came off in his hands, blue-green ichor seeping from the wound.

The second one hesitated; looking at him dubiously while the first of the three that had come after him so far picked itself up. The slaver said something in T'surrian, and the others nodded, moving after him again.

And he'd thought some Wolf-packs were single-minded about orders.

Still, there had to be a reasonable solution ... and it might work to his advantage. Without enough of a pause for anyone to notice, Janos reached out with his mind and ripped the relevant information out of the closest T'surrian.

As the wounded humanoid screamed in mental pain, he sorted through what he found.

Figured. The slaver didn't care what happened to his assistants; if they couldn't handle him, they didn't deserve to live. And if Janos couldn't defend himself, he didn't deserve to be free.

Damned T'surr ... thought they owned the galaxy, literally. Fuck reasoning with him; violence would be much more satisfying.

With a growl, his blood red lightsaber came out, bisecting one of the guards as some of the slaves screamed and struggled to get away from him, their chains the only things keeping them in place. The area opened up, the booths moving and shifting to give them space at the command of the Hutts watching the fight with interest.

Janos let a feral grin show as he focused on being as perfectly destructive as he could manage without pissing off the Hutts. He could come out of today a very rich Wolf. There was just an arrogant T'surr that he would be delighted to take down even without the extra incentive.

The hulking being grabbed a force pike that was usually used to keep the more recalcitrant slaves in line as Janos severed the arm of the other guard that hadn't fallen back. The Wolf made his way towards the leader of the group, snarling as a loud snapping sound proved that the T'surr wasn't inept with his weapon of choice.

Even so, despite the burning pain and shock that made Janos' heart skip a beat, he kept going, hacking the pike out half-way down the haft, taking one of the T'surr's hands with it.

The Wolf grinned at the sound of the larger creature's pain, savored the scent of alien fear as he used the Force to knock it flat on its ass.

"Next life, learn when to take a hint," he growled, sinking his blood-red lightsaber blade through the creature's heart. It spasmed for a moment, twitching as its body started to shut down, and then died.

Janos breathed deeply of his kill's death-energy and final moment before turning his attention to what was now his, by T'surr and Hutt law alike.

This was going to be interesting.

He extinguished his 'saber, noticing that the final uninjured T'surr had fled by now, and that the wounded one was silent, hoping to escape notice.

He noticed Jay's not-quite verbal presence in his mind, 'asking' if he wanted him there.

"Well done! Quite a show," Adulla said approvingly from her massive seat, the booths returning to their normal places. The brown, slimy slug's expression was clearly pleased. "Who is it that comes down here and deals with the one who's been selling my customers for me?"

Janos was glad he spoke Huttese; it would make it harder to get scammed here.

"Janos." He answered her. "*Might as well come, but no hurry.*"

"You're quite the warrior," the Hutt observed. "Perhaps I could interest you in a job to make up for the hassle?"

It was tempting, on a level, but even without the issues Jay brought up in his life, he wasn't so keen on the idea of working for a Hutt again.

"A generous offer, I am sure, but I have other obligations." He smiled at her slightly. "I am sure we can make a good deal on my new slaves, however. These are more than I wish to travel with."

He didn't need to try and read Adulla's mind to catch her disappointment, he knew the reaction well from other dealings with her species. He chuckled mentally; she'd been hoping he wouldn't realize he was now the proud owner of a decent shipment of slaves.

"Their former owner owed me money," she pointed out. "I will collect on that before dealing for the remainder."

"We can take that into account in the negotiations," Janos accepted. It was easier to give up the money than deal with the courts, even though the claim was iffy at best. It wasn't like he was desperate or anything.

"Very well," the Hutt conceded. As well as the price was reasonable, the slaves would make up for any losses. "Which of them are you planning on keeping?" She asked him.

"The white shewolf, and whatever my shipmates consider worth keeping." He said easily, pleased that they were only a few blocks away now. "Which will likely leave seven out of this group for sale, and all but one or two of what's on his ship."

"About his ship ... you already have one, you've said, yes?" Adulla said, sending a message to the port to do whatever was necessary, short of damaging it, to keep that ship landed. The slaver vessel would be an excellent addition to her fleet if he was interested in a low price.

"Yes," he nodded. "It would be up for sale as well, once we have inspected it to set a reasonable price."

"Excellent," Adulla nodded. "Will you want to be paid in credits, or Hutt coin?"

"Hutt," he said easily as he felt Jay start to look for him from the building entrance and gave the tom a mental nudge in the right direction.

"Very well," Adulla agreed. Janos could feel that there were guards around, working for the Hutt, as Jay and Mina approached.

On the other hand, he couldn't blame her for taking the precaution. He had just demonstrated a willingness to kill in her place of business.

As long as she didn't try to intimidate him out of what he had coming to him, it would be fine.

"I hope your friends are here soon," she observed. "It would be good to start bargaining, but I would rather not make such an agreement without knowing what the merchandise is."

"They are," he nodded and turned his attention to his ships mates slightly. "*Got into a fight, these ten,*" he motioned to the pleasure slaves in the booth before him, "*and what's on his ship, and the ship, are mine now. Pick one you like, I figured on selling the rest to her.*"

"Right," Jay nodded, his attention already drawn to a small, sleek black Minervan Mink that was actually making an effort to look attractive and attentive to him.

Janos could tell that the Minervan Mink had reasonably good taste; it wasn't too hard for him to figure out that she'd already decided he was the best bet for a reasonably comfortable life. She was probably right, for that matter.

He could also tell that opening the offer up to Mina might not have been the best of ideas. As she looked one of the Twi'lek slave-girls up and down appraisingly, he could tell that she had something in the back of her mind, just not what.

Something that no doubt would cause him grief.

"This one," Jay stepped up to the Minervan Mink and lifted her chin with his claw-tips so she looked up at him.

"And I'll take her," Mina purred, indicating a nervous-looking blue-skinned Twi'lek. Janos groaned mentally as he noticed the vague similarity between Mina's new pet and Jay's old mate; if she was planning something using that, this was going to be awkward.

"Those two and the white she-wolf then," he said, looking at Adulla. "The rest here are available, if you're willing to pay a suitable price."

"Hmm ...." Adulla's tail twitched; they'd chosen the three most valuable ones, of course. No matter, the rest were still worth quite a bit. Well-trained and already broken in ... they would make up the difference.

"One-hundred peggats," she offered.

"*They're worth that each on the open market.*" Jay flicked his damaged ear back, though he didn't growl, much to Janos' relief. "*Even wholesale these seven are worth at least three fifty, more like four; that's after her fees.*"

Janos' eyes flicked to the male Twi'lek standing next to Adulla, his green skin glistening with nervous sweat. His muzzle quirked into a smirk as he noticed the aide's datapad.

It never paid to have your accountant around when Jay was there.

"*Thanks for the heads-up, though I'll be shooting for a little under norm,*" he told Jay silently. "*Think you can shut down her second-string negotiators up there?*"

"*Easily.*" He kept his grin to himself and reached out to the guard's weapons with a 'request' to not work for a while.

"Maybe for two of them, but not for all seven," he said, his Huttese near-perfect. "Four hundred," he added, going above his target. If Adulla went for it, he'd be shocked, and very satisfied.

"Two hundred.*" She counter-offered as the pair fell into the negotiating banter they were both quite familiar with.

When it was all said and done, Janos pocketed three hundred and twenty five peggats and the Hutt claimed ownership of seven slaves worth at least twice that to her.

"I'll be in touch after I've looked over my new ship and whatever cargo's on it," he said easily. "Though you might have some competition for that, I imagine the crew might want it for themselves. Nice doing business with you, Adulla."

"A pleasure," the Hutt said politely, though both of them knew it was nothing more than being polite. "I'll make a starting offer of five-hundred thousand peggats for the ship and contents, so you know where I stand to start."

"Come on," Janos said, turning with Mina and Jay to retrieve their chosen slaves, the shewolf, Minervan Mink and Twi'lek already gathered together by a Rat working for Adulla. "Let's get trackers installed and then go take care of the rest of our new property."

Jay nodded after he flicked his mental gaze to check that the security tags that killed if too far from the transmitter were off and found them suitably deactivated.

"*You really enjoy being the Alpha,*" Jay purred privately to Janos.

"*I usually am,*" Janos pointed out with a chuckle, reaching down to rub his pet's head lightly before she stood to follow. "So, you three have names?" He asked them.

"Misha, Master." The Minervan Mink answered him with more spirit than the others showed before nuzzling up to Jay and earning a low purr for the honestly interested attention.

"Y'alla, Master," the Twi'lek said, pressing into the touch Mina gave her reflexively before falling into step with the rest of them.

"Vondra," the shewolf said, keeping her eyes low as she followed closely behind Janos, occasionally glancing around at others walking by and taking long, lusty looks at her nude frame. She tucked her tail up between her legs reflexively, a gesture not lost on her owner.

He'd have to work on that later. She was broken, but a closer look marked her as younger than he'd originally thought, and no doubt quite new to her pleasure slave status and condition, unlike the other two who were sold clothed. Even Misha's concealing-nothing outfit was still clothing.

"After we check out the ship, I think we could do with a little private celebration," Janos rumbled to Jay. "Let the trio get used to the ship while we get dinner?"

"Sounds good," he purred deeply.

"Mmm ... I'll take them back to the ship to settle them in after we're out of the shop," Mina purred as they stopped by the literal hole-in-the-wall shop of a Toydarian technician who could replace the tags their slaves currently had with tracking devices. "You two have fun tonight, hmm? I know I will," she said with a wink for Y'alla.

"Are you going to check out the new ship with us?" Jay asked.

"No need," she smiled. "You two know what you're looking at better than I do, and if there's any trouble, it would be better to keep certain people out of it," she explained, brushing a hand along her belly for emphasis.

It was a move that was definitely not lost on Jay, who nodded agreement as they left the shop, their new pets in tow.

Janos whistled long and low as they made their way through the massive slave-cruiser the T'surr used. The ship was large enough to handle dozens of passengers, and that was before they'd converted cargo space to hold slaves. The occasional stray blaster bolt explained the surprisingly docile T'surr crew.

Janos smirked to himself as he and Jay explored; he'd been right about what would happen if he told Adulla she might have competition. The Hutt had made sure that anybody who wasn't going to roll over and toe the line wouldn't be an issue anymore. Hutts were so easy to play if you knew what you were doing.

"So, what do you think?" He asked Jay as they worked through the slave quarters, the occupants in reasonable conditions compared to some he'd seen before.

"The ship's in good shape, good quality, and heavily armed." He said easily as he began to focus on the variety of non-pleasure slaves on board. "Worth probably half again her offer, maybe more, before you get to the cargo."

"Anything we want to pull off for the Sharufa?" Janos asked him. "Don't think we want to try and crew her ourselves, though I suppose we could see if any of the goods are trained to handle her. I wouldn't fly with a T'surr crew if my life depended on it."

"I can build better if we ever need anything this big," Jay shook his head. "It's a good ship, but not worth keeping." He paused as the rounded belly of a shecat caught his eye, and its contents intrigued his mind. "There might be a few slaves worth keeping though." He added as he approached the force-field protected cell containing the chocolate on gold tabby.

"We don't have too much crew space, Jay, keep that in mind," Janos pointed out, even as his mind went to one person in particular they might be able to clear out of her quarters if they kept this one. He checked the datapad he'd been given when he reached the ship, scanning the code on her cell door.

"She's not that small," Jay chuckled. "Especially with the pets sharing a room, there are still two empty ones."

"Name's Tami ... labor slave, bred to another one by the old captain. Seems he stumbled on the idea of trying to 'farm' some of the slaves. Guessing he didn't get too far with his idea before somebody else changed the crew's roster, since she's the only pregnant one on the manifest."

"*Her I don't care about,*" he dropped the force-field and stepped close to her. His hand ghosted over her large belly, a clear sign she was much further along than Mina. Two single set of tits at this stage also marked her as a distinctly different species of Cat. "*Her kits are worth keeping, though. Two, both Sensitive, strong enough to train.*"

"*Gonna be starting our own tradition soon enough, at this rate,*" Janos chuckled mentally. "You speak?" He asked the shecat.

"*We could do a lot worse for the universe.*" Jay smirked. "*Both sides need to have a reality check or six.*"

"Yes, Master." She responded. While already well-broken in, she didn't quite control a nervous look at Jay's hand as he examined her unborn young.

"First litter?" Jay looked up, focusing on her.

"No, Master." She glanced down after looking up at him. It wasn't hard to guess she expected he was thinking to breed her himself.

"Good," he nodded, his mind getting the rest of the information he'd wanted; she knew how to raise babies.

"How many kits have you handled at a time before?" Janos asked her. Five could be a bit of a stretch, if they managed to ditch Mina like he wanted to.

He'd just have to work on convincing Jay ... or at least keeping things no more cozy between the two than it already was. At least it was something Jay didn't seem inclined for, the slave's fears or not. The tom was thinking somewhere between wet-nurse and selling her when her kits where weaned.

"Nine, Master." She said submissively.

"*Wet-nurse for a Lion that bred all his females.*" Jay added silently from the images he caught from her. "*She'll do nicely taking care of all the kits.*"

"Good," Janos nodded. "We have three kittens on the way in a few months; we'll want some help for their mother. I assume you won't have any problems sharing quarters with the other three slaves we have?"

"No, Master." She said easily and honestly, for all it didn't matter if she really had objected.

"Good," Jay nodded and stepped behind her to place a hand on her neck and focused on altering its programming and behavior into a tracker. It left him with the option to turn it back into a bomb if she decided to run with the kits.

"We should probably call up that Toydarian from Adulla's place to replace her kill-switch," Janos said, oblivious to what Jay had just done. "Don't know what sort of range the T'surr have set."

"As long as we're on the ship we're fine," Tami offered helpfully, having seen the results of people leaving a little too often.

"I've taken care of it," Jay told them both easily. "It's a tracker now, like the others, but I can turn it back to a kill-switch if need be."

"You won't need to, Master," Tami said quickly, as Janos looked at him for a moment, and then shook his head.

"One of these days you're going to have to show me how you do that sort of thing."

"Just remind me when we actually have time." Jay quirked a grin at him. "Come." He told Tami and left her cell. "Let's make sure there's nothing else worth the room and board before we sell the ship." He added to Janos.

"Sounds good to me," Janos nodded as Tami followed them out.

Vondra sighed gratefully as she sat down on her bunk in the room she would share with the other two pleasure slaves and Tami. The pregnant shecat had arrived just a few minutes ago, before the old kat who'd come down to pick Misha out had rearranged the room.

The white-furred shewolf had no clue how he'd done it, but by the time he was done there was a bunk on each wall with a couple dressers and closets.

She'd been most grateful to find that there weren't fixtures for chains on the bunks, and that there were some clothes in the closet she'd checked. With his permission, she'd borrowed a light blue nightgown, finally able to put something on for the first time in months.

"This is so much better than the cells," she murmured, leaning back against the wall and glanced over at Tami and Misha, the two females as different from each other as night and day.

"And our owners much cuter." Misha grinned at her. "Much nicer in manner too."

"A lot more powerful too." Tami added quietly, grateful to be able to lie down and rest her back.

"*Anybody would be nicer than the T'surr," Vondra shuddered and sat on her bunk, pulling her legs up to her chest. "Even Adulla would've been nicer than them."

"They come a lot worse than the T'surr," Tami said quietly. "Hutts usually are."

"Yeah, the last thing you want to be is a Hutt's pleasure slave." Misha added with a nod. "These Masters may play a bit rough, especially her, but nothing like what we could have ended up with. I think your Wolf actually likes you."

"I hope so," Vondra nodded slightly. "Less likely to be so rough with me if he does, I'd hope. Don't know how you've handled it, Misha," she admitted, despite having a reasonably good idea it had something to do with the Minervan Mink being even more of a nymphomaniac than most of her species.

"I was born to a harem slave on Midriac and raised to be the same." She shrugged. "This is what I know. It can be a pretty good life with a nice Master and a taste for pleasure." She added more gently. "You haven't seen the norm for a pleasure slave yet. The T'surr weren't using you as a pleasure slave; they were breaking you for the job. Real life is usually pretty different than that."

"Real life ...." Vondra laughed, the sound disturbingly on-edge for a moment before she got it under control. "Real life was Corellia and at least having my own life ... it's just been a nightmare since then. At least it's starting to look better now."

"Have you even had anyone be nice to you in bed?" Misha glanced at the white shewolf, realizing just how young and abruptly she'd been dragged into this life the Minervan Mink considered so normal. It was probably as distressing as to her as if Misha had found herself stranded on a world without a Master.

"No," Vondra admitted, ducking her head with a blush that showed faintly through her white fur. "My family was pretty strict about that sort of thing, and after that 'nice' wasn't really on the menu."

"It can be," Misha gave an open offer. "I don't know about your Wolf, but gentle I'm good at."

"Are you sure?" Vondra asked her, looking up, then over at Tami, not sure if she'd mind.

"I can sleep through anything," the older shecat chuckled. "Don't worry about it."

"It's up to you," Misha reiterated. "It's not an order between slaves."

"I'd like that," Vondra nodded after a moment. "Though ... I don't have any real idea what to do," she admitted.

"That's okay," Misha smiled softly and moved to sit down on Vondra's bed to brush a gentle hand down the shewolf's chest, making the soft, silky fabric rub her breasts lightly. "Just relax and let me show you what it can be about."

"All right," Vondra murmured, opening her body language up, letting her feet touch the floor again as she leaned forward, tentatively kissing the Minervan Mink and found a soft mouth in return as the sexaholic displayed more restraint than she ever expected.

Misha slowly began to kiss her way along the shewolf's slender jaw and down her throat. Her hand ghosted over white-furred breasts still covered by the silky nightgown, earning a soft rumble of pleasure from Vondra. She could tell that she was nervous; the shewolf still wasn't entirely sure what to expect.

But, as she wrapped her stronger arms around Misha's body and stood, the Minervan Mink was pretty sure she'd get into it. Her hands worked through her dark fur, coarse white mingling with silky-smooth black and brown as both their skimpy coverings were removed and Misha took the opening to kiss, then lick, at the pale pink nipples peeking out from the Wolf's fur.

"Ooh ...." Vondra cooed softly, reaching down to rub the erogenous zone just above the Minervan Mink's tail slightly, then shyly ran a hand up between them to feel her breasts. The Minervan Mink pressed into the touch a bit with an approving sound.

"That's good," Misha breathed and nuzzled the Wolf's breasts, working to harden her nipples and rouse her body enough to smell it.

It didn't take too long; Vondra might not have done this before, but her body certainly knew how to respond. The shewolf caught one of Misha's nipples between her fingers, fondling them lightly as her breath started to quicken and her scent picked up her arousal.

The Minervan Mink made an approving sound and began to kiss and nuzzle her way further down Vondra's body as she ghosted the fingers of one hand across the Wolf's swelling lower lips.

The rurring whimper of pleasure she earned sent a thrill of pleasure down her spine; it was a lot better than the protests and struggles she usually heard from Vondra, being kept in the same part of the ship where she was being broken in.

The young shewolf turned to kiss Misha's forehead tenderly, licking her shyly just below her hairline as her long, fluffy tail started to wag a bit.

"Ready to lay down?" Misha asked as she knelt to nuzzle just above the Wolf's slowly wetting sex.

"Think so," Vondra rurred, stroking the edges of her small, rounded ears. "Mmm ... that feels good," she murmured, sitting on the bed first, not sure if she should lie down yet or not.

"Sex is supposed to." The Minervan Mink smiled at her and shifted to gently spread Vondra's legs to expose her lower lips and clit to the Minervan Mink's tongue and light fingers.

"Ooh ... guess nobody's ever cared to point that out before," the white-furred shewolf rumbled, spreading her legs wider, blushing deeply as Misha started to lick and finger her swollen pussy-lips. "Gods, Misha ...."

The Minervan Mink smiled and pressed her tongue into the slick space to swirl around her clit while her fingers pressed a little deeper to stroke the nerve-rich flesh. Her smile spread to a grin as she heard Vondra's moan of pleasure, tasted her arousal, and felt her body spasm slightly around her fingers.

She might be new to it, but she was fun to pleasure. She would be a delightful harem-mate while they were together.

Misha pressed her face a little closer, taking the Wolf's clit into her mouth to suckle and lavish it with her tongue and lips. She gently pressed two fingers into Vondra's body to finger-fuck her lightly.

"Nnngh!" The whimpering cry of pleasure was music to the Minervan Mink's ears as the white-furred shewolf started to caress her head and neck, pleasure filling her senses as clear, sweet fluid dripped down her fingers.

Such a sweet, innocent thing, to find this basic foreplay so pleasurable. It wouldn't take much longer, and nothing more advanced than she was doing now, to take her over the edge.

She flicked her tongue along her clit, burying her fingers into the shewolf's sex, and felt the tension build that told her it was about time.

Vondra tilted her head back, a long, whimpering moan escaping her muzzle as she fought not to howl, pleasure making her inside clench down around Misha's fingers hard, spasming with the first orgasm somebody else had given her that she'd wanted to have.

Misha continued to work her until the sounds of pleasure had died down and Vondra's body had cooled enough to stop quivering.

"That's what it's more about." The Minervan Mink smiled up at her.

"That was incredible," Vondra murmured, pulling her up for a shy, but tender, kiss that was returned eagerly. "Mmm ... want me to try and return the favor?"

"Anytime," she grinned back and shifted to roll to her back on the bunk with her legs spread. Vondra took her place beneath them, starting to explore her lover's body slowly.

"It's a new paintjob, but that is definitely the Sharufa." Fenrik commented as they came in for a landing after an excruciatingly long wait to be cleared.

"Can you tell if they're on-board?" Shi asked, looking at the familiar lines of the ship that had been a second home for decades. "If they're not ... we might have them, this time."

"Five life signs on board, all female. Two feline, one Wolf, one Mink, one Twi'lek. I'm as sure as I can be he isn't that close." Fenrik nodded, the weariness of weeks on the hunt and the pain of various attempts to contact their mate giving way to a controlled excitement at being so close.

"Let's just hope we're on time then," Shi nodded, her own excitement a little less controlled, at least to her mate's observation. "We'll have to find him yet, but that shouldn't be too hard here. Not like they wouldn't stand out."

"And if he doesn't realize we're here, sitting on the Sharufa means we will get a chance at him." He added with a worried smile. "He's sure to return eventually."

"You want me to tell the Gurath to get in the queue, that we've found him?" She asked, looking over at him as the Kalrass came in for its final landing.

"No, it's best if they remain ready to give chase in case they get on board. It's not like we can get out of here as fast as he can."

"Especially not if he plays with the control system," she agreed. "I just hope he's careful about the local air traffic when he tinkers with it, if it gets that far." The Kalrass touched down, letting the two Jedi prepare to wait for their mate. "Let's hope he didn't bribe to locals to tell him when we show up."

"If he was thinking like that, we would have never gotten clearance to land." Fenrik pointed out quietly. "Who needs to bribe locals when he can just have the system deny us landing rights completely."

"Assuming he knew which ship was coming," Shivasta pointed out. "The Jedi have a lot of ships ... it'd be easier for him to bribe somebody to tell him when Jedi show up, than to go for any of the hundreds of ships in the Order.

"Except that he knows the four ships that were after him on Tatooine, and that it's unlikely to change without one being damaged."

"Speaking of showing up, are we going to bother with our covers this time around?"

"We probably should." He sighed and stood. "The local bureaucracy has shown up."

"Ugh," Shi sighed, standing with him, glad she was already in 'costume.' "Very well, Master," she said, falling into step behind him, adopting the demeanor of the obedient pet she was going to act as while they were here.

It was easier for her than pretending she was actually part of the local trading culture.

"It won't take long," he put a gentle hand on her shoulder before they got to the hatch. "A couple peggats and the paperwork is over."

"Good," she smiled as the hull opened, revealing the Toydarian on the other side. "It's so dull having to sit while you do that sort of work."

"You make a pleasant distraction during it." The Panther chuckled and stepped up to the bulbous flying creature.

"Welcome to Toydaria; nice ship you have there," the port official observed, looking Fenrik up and down, quickly judging the Panther as being a smuggler or trader, and his companion as the pleasure-slave she was pretending to be. "Going to be here long?"

"A few days," Fenrik answered easily.

"So, what's the name of your ship? Bring anything here for trade?" He asked, glancing at Shi pointedly.

"Kendrin," he answered easily and ignored the look his 'pet' got. "And no goods this time. I'm here to see if Toydaria's a good market to add to my run."

"Oh, well, that I can answer for you easily," the flying blue sycophant said, flying back out of the way to let them down. "Toydaria's one of the best trading centers in the sector. Anything you care to trade, we trade it. Sooo ... what is it you're in the business of? Might be able to tell you who to talk to if you want to start doing business here."

"Foodstuffs, slaves, spice and weapons primarily, and whatever I get a special order for." Fenrik explained, faking the knowledge of a well-established route easily.

"Slaves and spice, eh? Hmm. Surprised I haven't heard of your ship before, we get a lot of those through here. But hey," the Toydarian chuckled, breaking the brief tension created by the thought that he might be getting suspicious. "I'm just a pad-pusher, right? Tell you what - - first person you'll want to talk to about that sort of stuff would be Adulla, the Hutt. At least if you're coming in to this starport. Coming in elsewhere ... that'll change," he shrugged. "But here? She knows everything."

"*Including where three new arrivals are, maybe?*" Shi asked Fenrik mentally.

"*They'll be coming back to their ship.*" He reminded her. "Thank you. It's not my usual cargo, but I get enough requests to check them out when a get to a new port. It's useful to know where to go to fill an order."

"Well, I should be getting along to the next ship, let you get to work," the Toydarian said easily. "Good luck finding a market; we can always use more traders around here."

Fenrik nodded and smiled slightly as the official flew off without even asking his name or getting a bribe. "*Back on board. For now, let's see if he comes back for the night.*"

"Yes, Master," Shi smiled, breaking character only after the hatch was closed.

Jay purred deeply as he took in a Toydarian establishment named "Talon's". It had been Janos' choice for an evening of fun pretending Jay was his pet, unless someone else got too interested. The Wolf couldn't have been happier with the suggestion either. To have the one person he readily submitted to be his pet for the evening, in public no less, was an erotic event even before anything had happened.

While the staff was mostly Toydarian, the performers were not, and not a Twi'lek or Bith band in sight. Morphs and others that were exotic even to Jay's experience were in relative abundance, and the clientele was attractive as well.

"Mmm ... been a long time since I've been here," Janos rumbled. "But with the bankroll we're looking at now, I think it's worth celebrating."

"Even without pushing her, you're a very wealthy Wolf now, Master." Jay purred and nuzzled Janos as he hung on the Wolf's arm like so many pets did when they truly adored their owner, or the appearance of it was desired.

"Mmm ... it is a shame to give up a ship that good though," he chuckled, drawing Jay up for a kiss. "But we've got better still. Now ... what will I do with you, hmm?" He rumbled, running a hand down Jay's side possessively.

"Let me pleasure you so they can all be jealous?" Jay suggested and leaned into the contact.

"That sounds like a good idea," Janos rumbled deeply, enjoying the absolute willing submission more than he thought was possible. This wasn't submission from fear, because the Wolf had or could beat someone into it, but submission because it was intensely pleasurable to the sub. "But let's get to our seats and get something to eat first," he chuckled, following the Toydarian server to their table before she buzzed off to fetch the drinks he ordered for the two of them.

"Mmm, an appetizer first, Master?" Jay rumbled and slid his hand up to brush the Wolf's groin.

"I think so," Janos grinned, his sheath already swelling as he sat and opened his pants, drawing Jay close for a kiss.

"Before we leave, you'll be sucking my cock with my cum dripping from your stretched ass," he promised the older kat with a deep, lusty rumble and felt the jolt of raw excitement the words drew from Jay.

The tom got on the bench and lowered his head to nuzzle the Wolf's groin. The move put his ass, clad in tight leather that concealed nothing, in the air for both Janos' appreciation and for the other customers.

"Mmm ... good boy," Janos rumbled deeply. He motioned towards one of the roaming performers, a Raccoon with a selection of assorted toys, to come over. A brief moment later, and he nodded, tracing his fingers lightly along the scars on the right-side of his mate's face.

"*You don't mind toys, I hope?*" He asked with a mental rumble.

"*Not at all, Master.*" Jay shivered in expectation as he took one of Janos' heavy balls into his mouth to lavish it with attention.

"Mmm ... that one," Janos nodded to the Raccoon, indicating the large, thick, barbed plug he'd selected a few moments before. "Don't worry about prep." The Raccoon nodded easily and removed Jay's tight pants to reveal his tight ass for all to see. He then pressed the plug up into Jay's ass, slowly stretching it and skillfully maneuvering the tip up against the tom's prostate.

Before moving on, he took a moment to start it vibrating lightly, the tip jumping and working the sensitive nub inside Jay's body as his good ear was caressed by the Wolf whose balls he was suckling.

"Going to let that ... mmm ... stretch you out for a while," Janos rumbled, as turned on as much by what he was hearing along their bond as the physical attention and view. Force, it was intense to have a pet who got off on this so much.

Jay let one ball slide from his mouth and breathed deeply of the heavy male musk before turning his attention to the other side.

Janos' thick, lupine shaft hardened quickly, emerging from his sheath as he continued to give all the attention he could to his pet, occasionally favoring his injuries, now months old but still attracting attention from the occasional passerby.

"This is a good look for you," he rumbled deeply.

"*It's a pretty good one for you too,*" Jay licked his way up Janos' cock, careful not to be too rough on the sensitive skin with his rough tongue. "*Anything out there worthy of my ass?*"

"Mmm .... You might be in for a little company, yes," the Wolf rumbled, scritching the back of Jay's neck lightly as he looked around and picked out a couple interested patrons he wouldn't mind seeing inside Jay.

"*Good,*" he slowly slide his mouth down around the Wolf's cock to set to the real effort of getting him off in a slow, controlled, explosion.

Janos groaned deeply, catching the eye of a Jaguar a few tables over who glanced down at Jay's exposed ass. The Wolf nodded and grinned, the spotted feline stood gracefully and came over, caressing Jay's ass for a bit before pulling the vibe out and turning it off.

"Got something that should feel better up there," he rumbled behind the older tom.

Jay could only whimper in eagerness and wiggle his ass a bit, his tail arched over his back in invitation. It was a feeling that drew another sound of pleasure from Janos.

Lupine hands caressed the back of Jay's head, powerful fingers running through his long hair as the Jaguar pressed his cock up into Jay's somewhat stretched body with an eager groan of pleasure, barb-hairs raking his entrance as Jay suckled Janos' swollen, throbbing cock.

It was a moment where Jay lost control, forgetting where he was and who he was with. Both males, one growing accustomed to it and one caught completely off guard, felt the complete ecstasy of the tom between them. The desire to be used and fucked until he couldn't move, to come and be come in until he couldn't take any more and then be pushed even further as he begged for mercy, for an end to the pleasure while he was still conscious washed over them in a call to action.

The Jaguar started to hammer against his prostate, reaching down to stroke his cock as Janos groaned, pumping his seed into his mate's hungry mouth.

"*Want me to start taking numbers?*" He asked mentally through his pleasure. "*You're starting to get a fan-club here.*"

"*Yes.*" Jay roared mentally as he came, his mouth still around Janos' cock and his pleasure spilling over into the general area to draw everything with a libido that could feel it. Not many understood why this feline pet was so interesting, but they responded to his call eagerly.

The Jaguar roared, pumping his seed deep into Jay's ass, pulling out just in time to be filled by the next comer, a well-built Stallion with chestnut fur that sank into him with a soft whinny. A lean, red-skinned Zeltron slipped beneath him, the powerful pheromones she released as she took his barbed shaft into her sex only added to the atmosphere that was rapidly leading to a gang-bang controlled only by the Wolf approving partners for his ecstatic pet.

A slender Panther came over, shucking hir pants and looking up at Janos with a wink. He grinned, pressing against hir back and slipping into hir feminine sex while he fondled hir breasts, and shi pressed her barbed cock into Jay's eager mouth.

It was a cycle that continued until Jay was so worn out that his mental call faded and focused back on the Wolf he'd come in with. The shift from complete slut to monogamous mate was rapid and only subtly apparent to all but Janos, who felt it more than saw it when Jay started to crawl into his lap despite the eager Tiger with a hand on Jay's ass.

"Show's over, handsome," Janos rumbled to the Tiger, pulling Jay up onto his lap and licking his neck, pressing up into him and making the very few thrusts necessary to make the last few hours' worth of arousal pay off before he just held Jay against his broad body. It was intensely satisfying to know, right from the tom's mind, that despite being done with others, Janos himself was still a very welcome presence in Jay's body.

The softly purring, completely sated and submissive male in his arms, so happy to be taken care of and surrender his authority, felt as good as any of the orgasms of the night.

"Think you're up for dinner now?" Janos asked with a chuckle, watching the Tiger leave.

"Yes, Master." Jay smiled loopily up at him, a level of adoration evident in his amber eyes that caught Janos a bit by surprise.

"You really do enjoy this, don't you?" He asked, chuckling as he licked a little cum from Jay's neck. He'd been fucked every way imaginable by now, by about half the patrons in the club.

"Yes, Master." Jay murmured, his eyes drifting closed in a contentment he rarely felt.

They heard the door open and close behind some new arrivals, everybody returning to their tables, partners, and meals as things started to get back to normal for the place.

"Mmm ... I think I see a place over there, Master," Jay heard an achingly familiar voice say. It sent an instant ripple of tension down his body, but neither his mind nor body was particularly inclined to care unless it had to.

A few seats at the table next to theirs were pulled out, a Panther and scantily clad, blue-skinned woman sat down. Jay felt Janos tense up as he recognized the Panther, but he didn't do anything just yet.

"*We're here for you, Jay,*" Shivasta told him mentally. "*Please, come home.*"

"*My kits are here.*" He replied quietly. "*I'm not your kind anymore.*" He nearly cried inside, the pain of going against everything he was born and trained to be fighting and loosing to paternal instinct backed up by voices he couldn't fight anymore, and wasn't convinced he wanted to.

"*We can bring them back with us ... we can help you,*" Shi told him, her mental voice soft and soothing. "*Jay, we still love you. Come back, it's not too late. I don't know what they've told you, but it isn't true. The Order isn't out to hurt you.*"

"*I'm past helping,*" he shuddered and closed his mind to her, but not before she caught an image of the Panthress he'd killed, and that he was violently against the Order touching his kits.

"*We need to leave.*" He told Janos, oblivious to the fact that he'd driven his claws into the Wolf's thick pelt and his body language was pure fear now.

"I'd guessed as much," Janos rumbled, wincing as he helped Jay disengage his claws and stood. He put himself between Jay and the two Jedi by reflex as an Alpha, even as he knew he couldn't beat the pair. Not without help at least, and he wasn't sure how Jay'd react to a fight right now.

"I'm afraid we can't let you do that," Fenrik rumbled, standing as well and meet the Wolf's eyes. "You're out-classed, Wolf. We don't care about you; we just want our mate back. Before you and your friend manage to destroy a good tom."

"Hey, no fighting in here!" One of the Toydarians protested, seeing the potential for violence in both Panther and Wolf.

"Then let's take it outside," Janos growled. "'Cause I don't think this is going to end any other way." He could feel the familiar rush of anger rising inside him. If this did turn into a fight, it would have to be a running one - but he couldn't much afford to be taken back himself, and Jay didn't particularly seem to want to go back with them.

Though to be fair, if he had, he would have sent him on his way easily.

All four Sensitives felt the Force rush into play a fraction of a moment before the tables and benches in the area went flying to crash into the Jedi.

"*Run!*" Jay all but roared at Janos and bolted himself, his mind reaching out to get everything set up so they could take off as soon as they got to the Sharufa.

Fenrik snarled as he pushed the furnishings out of the way, he and Shivasta taking off after the Wolf and Kat.

"Damn it!" He growled. They chased both of them towards the lift at the end of the corridor, the doors staying open for the escapees. He leaped forward - just in time for the door to slam in front of him as Jay and Janos disappeared into the lift and started towards the hangar.

"Can you do anything to stop them?" Fenrik asked Shi, turning back towards her.

"Not here," she said, shaking her head. "A storm that would ground the Sharufa would endanger every Toydarian out there."

"Damn!" He repeated, growling deeply and making his way towards the stairs.

This was going to be a long climb.

Everyone glanced at the pair, one in the nude, that hit the starport at full enhanced speed, but no one did more than glance. Every one of them recognized the look of two dangerous people being chased, no doubt by even more dangerous people.

It was never smart to get involved in something like that.

Jay and Janos hit the Sharufa, climbing on board even as the engines powered up and the ship started to close up for space flight.

"Here's hoping the queue's open," Janos growled, heading for the cockpit. "We'll have to get out of here fast."

"It will be by the time we hit it." Jay reminded him of what he could do to computers, but there was honest fear in his voice more than anything else. Not fear of the pair chasing them, but fear of what they meant.

"What's going on?" Mina demanded, stepping out of the medical bay to meet Jay and Janos.

"Toydaria just developed a Jedi infestation," the Wolf growled, pulling up and away just as Shivasta and Fenrik appeared in the hangar. "Everybody hold on tight!" He gunned the engine, grateful to see most of the other ships get out of the way as they rushed through the crowded space-lane leading towards open space. "I'm going to have to get creative ...."

"So get creative." Jay grabbed the co-pilot's seat and began to work on helping out, and delaying the Kalrass as much as he could.

Fortunately, the ship still listened to him fairly well. The engines were shutting down, and the traffic pattern would keep it from following them all that quickly once Fenrik and Shivasta got them working again.

"I know you don't like the place Jay, but we're heading for Nar Shaddaa for a few days," Janos rumbled, plugging the coordinates in. Suddenly, the ship was rocked by a blast that hit it as soon as it left the atmosphere. "Shit!"

"Gurath." Jay responded and locked Sharufa's weapons on to the larger ship to return fire, targeting its weapons systems and engines.

"Whatever ship it is, knock it out fast," Janos snarled, the ship rocking again. "Shit ... setting shields to double-rear, that should slow 'em down."

The Sharufa's ion cannons fired, bright white bolts flying through space and impacting the Gurath's fixed guns. It didn't take much coaxing to shut them down entirely after that. Jay was sure that Doruth and Tes wouldn't use torpedoes against them.

"We're clear," Janos said, turning and keying in the hyperdrive sequence. The Sharufa slowed for a moment ... then stretched out, being pulled into hyperspace just as the pilot activated the cloaking device.

They were safe ... at least for now.

A moment later, when Jay was sure they were out of immediate danger, he sank forward and closed his eyes, his mind in turmoil between turning himself in to protect his kits and knowing that doing so was worse than giving them to the Jedi to raise. He had no one in this galaxy that could teach them what they faced, the choices they had. As dangerous as it was to everyone he cared for, he had to keep running.

"Nar Shaddaa will be fine." Jay spoke quietly, his tone one of having set his mind to something unpleasant.

"That doesn't sound much like an 'it's fine' to me," Janos pointed out. "I take it you've been to Nar Shaddaa before?"

"I grew up there, from eight to ten." He said softly. "The Jedi found me there. Same with Doruth, one of the Jedi hunting us."

"Bad part of Nar Shaddaa, I'm guessing," Janos said. "For what it's worth, we can definitely afford better than that this time around. Hell, we could just about set up shop to rival some of the Hutts there. I've got the course set for the Ylesia system right now, by the way ... we'll use the ion drives to get out between Ylesia and Nar Shaddaa before cutting the hyperdrive back in to finish the trip. It's a pretty damned good route to keep folks from tracking you there."

"Good," Jay let out a small breath and stood, giving the Wolf a kiss. "I need time to make modifications on Sharufa."

"What sort of mods?" Janos asked him, returning the kiss briefly. "*And what was Mina doing in medical when we came back, if you saw?*"

"The kind to take us somewhere safe. These engines can't make the trip in acceptable time." Jay explained a bit evasively. "*I don't know, but probably putting her pet back together.*"

"Jay, what sort of place would be safe from the Jedi?" Janos asked pointedly. "I mean ... heck, we could even hide out in the Maw and they'd find us eventually."

"My home," he said simply. "Yes, they'll find us eventually, they have the directions as best as I knew them, but not before it won't matter anymore. No one else in this galaxy can build a trans-galactic ship."

"Trans-gal- now that's news," Janos murmured, shaking his head. "And a good reason to head for Ambrintha after holing up on Nar Shaddaa for a week or two," he admitted.

"That and we have two pregnant females and I do not want to oversee the delivery." Jay added and let a full-body shudder pass through him. "Right now, I need a shower and time to meditate on that design."

"No problem," Janos nodded. "We've got a few hours ... I could use some sleep as is. Just uh ... tell the ship to wake me up when we come out of hyperspace, however you is you do that."

"Done," he nodded and walked past Mina on his way to the shower and a lot of thinking even as a small droid flew in to clean up the co-pilot's seat where Jay had been sitting.

Master Zraii sighed as shi prepared to report to the Council. The bright-green Verpine had received the latest report from Toydaria just hours before, and while it was better news than before, it still wasn't good.

"Councilors, I have received news regarding the hunt for Jedi Clawson," shi began, stepping out into the middle of the circle. "Good, and bad."

"*Begin,*" Essani nodded, her interest keen. So was that of most of the Council, those who knew him well and otherwise. Most had not been present the last time a Jedi had been successfully kidnapped by Sith.

"The good news is that he was encountered, face-to-face, on Toydaria. There were no fatalities linked to his presence besides a t'surr slaver who attempted to enslave one of his 'crewmates,' and he was not responsible for it.

"The bad news is that he did escape, disabling the Kalrass' engines terminally and the transceivers on both ships. The report I have was received via a borrowed hypertransceiver. Worse, it seems that Knight Clawson has been convinced that returning to Coruscant will result in negative consequences for himself, and for the kits he seems to have sired. He will not return willingly; both his mates did what they could to talk him into doing so."

"Did they encounter him alone?" Jamni asked, keenly aware of how being in the presence of a 'packmate' could influence such a conversation.

"No, but they did not report any attempt to convince Knight Clawson not to follow them," the Verpine pointed out, hir mandibles clicking. "Further, Master Doruth and his mate have to break off from the hunt to pick up their newest litter from Kamino soon. I believe that we must take a different approach to this mission, effective immediately."

Essani nodded. "*You have a suggestion?*"

"I suggest that we send out a number of short range fighter-class vessels, armed with ion cannons, and equipped with a new sensor suite I have designed to search for the signatures of Stygian cloaking devices," Master Zraii explained, bringing up a holographic projector. "Base them out of an exploration ship converted to be a fleet carrier. Our explanation is searching for pirate activity, and following up on the confirmed Sith activity on Naboo.

"Further, I plan to send recently modified lightsabers I have designed to the best fighters with each set of fighters, and to Masters Fenrik and Shivasta." Shi changed the design, showing the relatively minor modification. "While not perfected yet, it will make it much easier to retrieve Knight Clawson without removing limbs needlessly. The design should work similar to a stun-baton, save that it is able to be used in a lightsaber duel effectively."

"What is its flaw?" Noloth asked evenly, knowing there must be one or it would have been presented to them by now.

"A secondary flaw is that it doesn't have the utility of a standard lightsaber," Zraii said easily. "It is a purely combat weapon. A graver issue, however, is that in simulations there's a one-in-ten chance that anybody with bioelectric tolerances below those of an average Jedi will experience a potentially fatal heart attack. However, for use against Knight Clawson and his 'crewmates,' it should function as desired. Bringing in unconscious, stunned captives, rather than dismembered corpses."

"Any additional risks to unborn young?" Master Jolani Panthera asked quietly, her focus on what would happen if they died due to a Jedi attack.

"I wouldn't recommend using it against the pregnant mate any more than I would recommend using a standard lightsaber," Zraii said seriously. "Mammalian design exposes the young to every risk the mother is exposed to, including ones they aren't prepared for. For the mate, I would recommend sedative grenades."

The Tigress nodded to that as the Council digested what it was being told.

"*Any further concerns before this is set into motion?*" Essani looked around the room at her peers.

"Only that we will likely have to receive Senate approval before sending even the small fleet proposed out," Noloth pointed out.

"That is the beauty of officially sending them out searching for Sith," Zraii pointed out, her mandibles clicking in something resembling smug satisfaction. "Since the Jedi Civil War, we have had standing permission from the Senate to take any required steps to end the Sith menace to the Republic. They were too busy rebuilding to revoke said permission."

"Then I suggest we get the ships crewed as quickly as possible," Noloth nodded. "Before there are any additional corpses to explain."

"*Agreed.*" Essani nodded. "Master Zraii, I leave the organization of this effort to you.*"

"Very well, Master Essani," the Verpine nodded politely. Shi turned to leave, already contacting hir assistants to begin making preparations for the mission.

"So," Mina asked as she and Janos ate late that night. "How the hell are we going to talk him out of this?"

"What makes you think we can?" He shook his head and slid meat-and-eggs meal onto a plate. "We haven't exactly had much success so far."

"He's talking about leaving the galaxy, Janos," she pointed out. "Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not sure about the idea of moving to a place where I know nothing about the people."

"What's the matter?" Janos grumbled. "Afraid you won't be able to con them without being able to speak the language?"

"Fuck off," she muttered. "I'm serious here, okay?"

"So am I." He snorted and sat down with his meal. "The destination's the least of my worries. How he's planning to get us there is. They've got Wolves there, if we actually make it, I'll figure it out."

"You don't think I'm worried about that either? If he really is from another galaxy, then anything he used to get here before doesn't exist or he doesn't understand it - and now he's trying to recreate it. There's got to be a reason he hasn't done it before. Besides ... some galaxies just aren't worth traveling through."

"The why is he hasn't had reason to." Janos informed her. "Those kits are why he's going now. I can't translate most of what he's been thinking, but what I can is all about getting those kits to someone who can raise them."

"And that's not bad news?" Mina asked, her ears flattening. "In case you haven't forgotten, we kind of owe them to a certain insubstantial somebody!"

"And one dead former Master." Janos added. "What I'm not hearing is any suggestions from you on how to fix it."

"He wasn't planning on doing this until we ran into his mates on Toydaria, right?" Mina asked him. "He didn't say anything about this before?"

"Right," he leaned back with a sigh. "Something about that ... I think he's convinced they'll never stop hunting him now. Sooner or later they'll capture him, he's right about it. He's planning for that eventuality, for the future of his kits."

"Well he's not the only one planning for it," Mina growled slightly. "Maybe I should dig through Tembris' files for worlds he'd been planning on hitting after starting to turn him."

"Go for it. It's better than what we've got so far." He nodded.

"Just try not to piss off any local Darksiders we hook up with, okay?" She muttered, finishing her drink and standing up, starting off towards her room.

"Like I'm the one most likely to piss them off," Janos muttered to himself. "Wonder what Vondra and the others are up too," he mused, working on his meal.

Vondra whimpered into Y'alla's sex, the young Wolf's ass in the air as Misha ever so slowly pressed her slender tongue into her body and she mimicked the action on the Twi'lek.

Skilled fingers worked her ears and the back of her head, Misha's claws teasing her clit playfully as the Minervan Mink worked her towards another orgasm. They'd taken a break earlier for a bit, but she'd recognized the slightly haunted look on Y'alla's face when she'd come in, and one thing had led to another.

On the other hand, this time, she wasn't about to complain about that.

The Twi'lek moaned, her pale blue fingers finding a spot on Vondra's neck that sent shivers down her spine as her body spasmed and flooded the Wolf's senses with arousal-scent.

"I see you three get along," a deep rumble dragged Vondra's concentration out of the pleasuring and to the muscular Wolf that had just walked in.

"Yes, Master Janos." Misha answered him easily.

The white-furred shewolf looked up at him, not meeting his eyes even for the brief moment she looked at his face before turning her head away. She shivered slightly, hoping that he wouldn't be mad about what he'd caught them doing without really having permission.

He reached down, gripping her slender muzzle and tilting her head up towards his with a surprisingly tender expression for a moment.

"Nobody said you couldn't play with each other," he rumbled softly before kissing her, tasting Y'alla's juices on the fur of her muzzle. "Just as long as you're up for playing with your Masters when they want."

Despite the words, she couldn't help but pick up on the fact that his interest seemed to have peaked when he realized she was a little afraid of him.

"Yes, Master." She whispered, not resisting him at all as she waited for him to give some indication of what he wanted her to do.

"Mmm ... why don't you and Misha come to my quarters for the night, hmm?" He asked her, standing and licking Y'alla's cheek. "I'm sorry for Mina," he told the Twi'lek softly. "The rest of us aren't like her, for what it's worth."

"Yes, Master," she nodded submissively.

"Jay's not going to need you tonight." Janos told the Minervan Mink, knowing exactly what her fractional hesitation was about, given it definitely wasn't about sex or him.

"Yes, Master Janos." Misha nodded and stood easily, not the least bit concerned by her nudity on the public walk.

Vondra seemed comfortable enough with it too, at least for the short distance to the master bedroom, where Janos started to undress. He peeled his jacket off, then his shirt, tossing them both to the side.

"C'mere, Vondra," he rumbled deeply, looking at her and spreading his arms. The move wasn't one she'd been expecting, or likely seen before, but she took the few steps into his embrace and nuzzled his chest in an attempt to do what he wanted before being told.

He rubbed her back lightly, kissing her forehead.

"They really did a number on you, didn't they?" He asked with a rumble. "You haven't been a Gamma for long, I'll bet."

"I'm not old enough to be anything, Master." She only just kept the bitterness out of her voice. "Not in my fam ... my former family."

"I was thinking about outside of it," he rumbled, licking her neck. The stiffness in her body did nothing to encourage him, even if she didn't do anything to resist either. He could feel that she expected to be taken, she was just uncertain how rough he'd be about it, or how much she'd have to beg before the pain stopped. "I know what it's like to have somebody try to break you like that. I can promise I won't continue where they left off ... but there is one catch. A small one.

"You're mine," he rumbled, lifting her muzzle up and meeting her eyes for the brief moment before she looked away reflexively. "Willingly." He kissed her, gently, trying to reassure her that he wasn't that sort of abusive.

"Yes, Master." She responded when his mouth left hers. She knew an answer was expected and what was expected, and pushed the still rebellious thought that he had a hell of a lot of gall associating the word 'willing' to anything a slave did.

"So, what have the two of you been up to?" He asked, accepting her answer for now and pressing her back towards the bed. He'd have to work on her in the future; he might not be the gentlest guy, but he'd be damned if he was going to treat her like the slavers probably had.

To have her lay down and spread her legs for him did little to encourage talking. She didn't make a display for him, or look like she expected to manage any more than to survive long enough to be allowed to limp away. She certainly hadn't been taught to enjoy her duties; she probably hadn't even been taught much more than how to not fight back as she was taken various ways.

He felt the strength of emotion there though, the hate and fire that reminded him a great deal of himself. The difference being that he never stopped fighting back and had the Force-talent to make his father regret it.

"I was teaching her that sex can feel good." Misha spoke up, sure that the shewolf wasn't going to. Vondra was already closing her mind off to what was happening to her body.

"Any objections to helping me continue the lesson?" He asked the Minervan Mink, laying down on the bed next to the shewolf and nuzzling one of her breasts lightly. Her skin rippled lightly at the touch, her nipple hardening slightly, but the shewolf herself was all but oblivious to what they were doing. "I think it's one she needs to learn."

"By all means, Master Janos." She nodded, her tone and manner in those words a lesson in contrast to Vondra's rendition. Misha meant it, and enjoyed her duties, be her partner male or female. "No male has ever touched her pleasurably." She added a bit off-handedly and began to gently finger the wet sex still thick in blood from the games in the other room.

Here though, it was only her body responding, not Vondra.

"Vondra," he said, making Misha stop and wait until he had his pet's attention, which did come quickly. "I'm not going to hurt you," he told her softly. "Pay attention, give me a chance to prove it?"

"Yes, Master." She nodded, though she bit her lip, leaving him little doubt how much she trusted him about it.

He couldn't blame her. It had taken him years to trust another guy; he still wasn't too crazy about bottoming.

All the more reason to handle this right.

He nuzzled her breast again, reaching down to join Misha in fingering her sex gently as he tongued her hard nipple, paying close attention to Vondra's reactions. He wouldn't be surprised to find out that the idea of foreplay with a guy as anything other than a beating was alien to her.

He knew, inside, that she was waiting for that to start, expecting that this was some kind of trick. Still, she did as she was told and it wasn't long before the first soft moan escaped her throat and her hips thrust up against his hand, seeking more of the contact that she couldn't deny felt very good.

For a brief moment, he saw the timid, far too innocent teenager of six months ago, before the beatings had begun and sex was something to dread.

He smiled softly, in what he hoped was a kindly look, as he shifted up to kiss her. That was the reaction he wanted out of her, at least for now. It would be a long time before he could play particularly rough with her without breaking any progress he made, but he could handle being patient for that.

"That's good," he murmured to her, tracing around her clit with the blunt tip of a claw. "See? It doesn't have to hurt."

"Y-yes, Master." She gasped softly and arched into the small black hands playing with her breasts.

"Some guys are very good." Misha added with a lusty rumble, her gaze lingering on the bulge in Janos' pants.

"Time for that later," he chuckled.

"I do hope so, Master Janos." She licked her lips and went back to seeing how many whimpers of pleasure she could draw from the white shewolf next to her.

"Why don't you keep yourself busy up here, Misha, I'll see what Mink and Wolf taste like together," he rumbled, moving down to climb onto the bed between Vondra's legs. Her tail flicked up, in the way for a fraction of a moment, but moved to expose her again before he'd even formed the thought that it was there.

"You can trust me, Vondra," he murmured, nuzzling the lips of her swollen sex lightly before he brought his long, broad, velvety tongue up her sex, then up Misha's in the same lengthy lick. He was rewarded by a soft sound from Vondra, and a much more eager one from the Minervan Mink, who shifted to make it as easy on him as possible.

He grinned, nuzzling their bodies where their sexes came closest to touching, inhaling both their scents as he continued to work their bodies with his tongue. He paused for a bit, licking lightly at the furless puckers just beyond their sexes, pressing a thick finger into Misha's ass after a moment to a moan of pleasure.

He was pretty sure Vondra wouldn't be up for that just yet. His tongue, however, was well-received. He could feel her begin to quiver sooner than her sounds would have indicated. He couldn't say he was entirely surprised. Encouraging a male had never been on her agenda, before or after she'd been captured.

He reached out with the Force, caressing her body gently, stretching out to her mind with a light affection as he slipped his tongue into her, nuzzling Misha's clit as he worked the shewolf's sex and probed the Minervan Mink's ass with his fingers.

Misha cried out first, her voice high-pitched and uncontrolled as she clenched down on the finger in her ass. Her motions and sounds excited the shewolf under her; taking Vondra right to the edge that Janos pushed her over with a deep lick inside her slick sex.

He rumbled deeply, his cock hard and thick in his pants as Vondra's body clenched down around his tongue like a vise. He simply enjoyed their orgasms, the pleasure of them washing over him in wave after wave that went straight to his cock. He slipped another finger into Misha's sex while she finished up and grinned at her even more vocal encouragement.

When they were done, he pulled out of both of them, rolling Misha off of Vondra and sliding up on the other side of the shewolf.

"Better than you expected?" He asked with a rumble, licking her neck.

"Yes, Master." She murmured, still panting and slightly flushed.

"Mmm ... good," he rumbled, running his hand down her stomach, then he looked over at Misha. "Up for a show?" He asked the Minervan Mink with a grin, starting to undo his belt.

"Always, Master Janos." She grinned and gave Vondra a kiss before catching the way the shewolf glanced sideways at his aroused groin as it came into view.

"I think he'd approve." Misha whispered to her, nudging Vondra into action.

She rolled to her side slightly, one hand hesitantly outstretched to cup and feel his full balls.

"Mmm ... that's good," he rumbled, his cock fully aroused by now as he reached down to pet her head lightly. "You like, pet?"

She hesitated, not sure whether she really didn't mean the 'yes, Master' that was expected. It did feel good, to have this gentle approval. The heavy roundness in her hand felt good too; good enough that her fingers trailed up a ways to stroke his sheath.

"Yes, Master." She murmured, an admittance she was almost afraid of.

"Mmm ... nothing wrong with that, pet," he rumbled, scratching between her ears lightly. "Like I said; I won't treat you ... ooh ... like they did." A little pre dribbled down his shaft as she fondled him lightly. "You want to watch me with Misha, or just explore a bit more?"

To be honest, he was rather hoping she'd want to explore.

Her answer was in action. Her hand slid down to fondle his balls again and she leaned forward to lightly lick the hot, dry skin of his hard cock.

Janos' breath caught for a moment in surprise before a low rumble of pleasure escaped his throat.

"That's very good," he rumbled encouragingly as Misha slid up behind the nervous shewolf and whispered in her ear while fondling her breasts.

It was enough to relax the still nervous shewolf into continuing her exploration of Janos' cock, one slow lick at a time as she tried to gauge what was going on with all the rules changed.

"Mmm ... it's okay," he rumbled, fondling her ears fondly. There was something about her that he liked, that made him want to have her enjoy being his pet. "Go ahead, enjoy it." He caressed her body through the Force again, rubbing her clit lightly as she continued to lick his cock, gathering confidence as he let her do what she wanted and didn't force himself into her body.

"It's good, isn't it, to have him moan like that?" Misha rumbled in Vondra's ear.

"Yes," she admitted with a soft sound for the attention of the invisible hands on her body. She drew a breath and took the tapered tip into her mouth.

He moaned again, deeply, searching for every hot-spot he could find on her head, one hand moving to rub Misha's head just behind Vondra's.

"That's very good, Vondra," he groaned, fighting the urge to take her head and start thrusting. She had little skill and less confidence, the grimace at the taste of his precum a reminder of why he was exercising so much self-control.

Misha whispered something in Vondra's ear and the mouth was gone from his cock as she licked her way down to his balls and then rolled over to her back to give him a bit of a show while Misha moved forward to take him with the skill of a lifetime and a love of sex of all kinds.

"Fuck," he groaned, taking Misha's head and starting to thrust lightly. Her, he could be more aggressive with, and intended to do just that. The Minervan Mink gave him no doubles that she adored the rough fucking just as much as the gentle. She was one of the few in the trade that was probably born to be exactly what she was.

He also intended to make damned sure that Mina knew she wasn't supposed to touch Vondra without him being there.

Misha began to use tricks and skills on him that he hadn't experienced before even as his eyes drifted down to Vondra's lower body where she was lightly fingering herself while her tongue worked his balls.

He reached down between the two of them with the Force, starting to play with Misha's body in a phantom promise of what he would do to her later. His pre leaked into her mouth as he caressed Vondra's sex lightly, helping her pleasure herself.

It was plenty of encouragement for the Minervan Mink, who went to work getting him off as quickly as possible, eager to have him fucking her hard.

He howled as her tongue lavished his slightly swollen knot with attention, his cock spasming in her mouth and pumping seed deep into her hungry throat. It was a bit like fucking Jay; the pleasure of getting him off and tasting his seed was quite real.

She licked him clean, then looked up, slipping his cock from her mouth with a wanton look. "Fuck me, Master?"

"With pleasure," he rumbled, pulling her up for a kiss. "Care to watch, or join us?" He asked Vondra, looking down at the shewolf between his legs.

"Watch, Master." She said softly, uneasy again, but not as much as when she'd first walked in the room.

"All right," he nodded easily, returning his attention to Misha, kissing her and rubbing his shaft against her pussy-lips, leaving Vondra to decide where she'd watch from. It was good, he had to admit, to have a female so enthusiastic about sex to sink into, and know that it wasn't faked in the least.

Misha groaned and squeezed down around him as she wrapped her legs around his hips, riding him even as he pounded into her.

In the periphery of his awareness he realized that the display was turning Vondra on pretty seriously. Watching the pleasure did make her want it herself. Her eyes were glued on where their bodies joined and the motion as primal and instinctive as eating or breathing.

Her next. It would be a faster payoff than he'd anticipated, but he was not about to complain about that!

For now, he thrust up into Misha, rumbling and leaning his head down to lap at her breasts. His knot started to swell further as his cock quickly returned to full hardness, rubbing the sensitive walls of the Minervan Mink's pussy while she squealed and moaned in pleasure and did everything to make him feel good and fill her with his seed.

"You're very good at this," he rumbled into her ear, groaning and fighting to hold back as much as she fought to make him come.

"Thank you, Master Janos." She grinned in real pleasure at the praise and moaned softly as he rubbed against her most sensitive parts.

His jaw clenched as he fought not to howl in the Minervan Mink's ear as he pressed up against the rough patch of her g-spot, his cock spasming as he sprayed his seed directly against the sensitive flesh, growling lustily as he came. The intensity of the pleasure increased as she came around him, her body pulsing and squeezing him in a rhythm that hit him hard.

He was sure he came again, but it was so close on the heels of his last orgasm he couldn't be sure. His knot was almost fully swollen, and he pressed up further, tying with her as he claimed her mouth hungrily and tasted himself in her mouth as she returned the kiss just as eagerly.

After all, not like he'd do all that much else until it came down anyways.

It was then that he realized that twenty minutes or more could be a very long time to keep Vondra aroused enough to still want him in her.

There were ways around that ... but he wanted to see if she wanted him in her now first.

"Think you're up for the next round?" He asked the shewolf, looking over at her with a half-grin.

She look back with a hesitant smile, flushing under her pale fur as she realized he was aware of her focus on how he'd been thrusting into the small black female under him.

"Y-yes, Master." She finally murmured. Despite the hesitation, she did think she meant it.

"Mmm ... mind if we cut this short, beautiful?" He asked Misha, licking her muzzle playfully. "Maybe I can lick something that feels a bit better while you make sure Vondra's got some moral support?" He added with a rumble, reaching out through the Force to give her the mental image he had, of her straddling his face and making out with the white shewolf as she rode his cock.

"Not at all, Master Janos."

He felt the mental grimace Misha kept completely off her face and out of her voice at the pain involved in starting to pull off his hard knot.

He reached up to grab her shoulders and stop her. "I do have a few tricks," he pointed out, focusing for a bit and forcing the blood out of his knot, making the swelling come down so she could get off of him without any pain.

"Thank you, Master Janos." Misha nuzzled him and gave his tapered cock a last squeeze as it slid from her body.

Vondra was nervous all over again, though the exchange made her a little more comfortable at the lusty look the other two gave her as she spread her legs and looked at Janos with a lump in her throat.

"It's okay," he rumbled, taking her hands and guiding her over his legs as he rolled to his back. "Any time you want to stop, say it, and we will."

He could see in an unguarded moment just how hard it was for her to grasp he had said that, much less that he meant it. Still, she nodded and settled over his groin, a moan escaping her throat as her swollen lower lips and clit rubbed against his slick cock and sheath.

It sent a shiver up her spine and closed her eyes for a moment before she lifted up to take him into her body from a position she'd rarely thought about and had never experienced.

Just the fact that he wasn't against her back, that she wasn't being forced to do this, made it feel infinitely better than what she'd been used to.

Janos pulled Misha up to straddle his muzzle, licking at her dripping sex hungrily and kneading her ass with his fingers as he thrust lightly up into Vondra's movements, though he still let her control most of their play.

It didn't take long for Vondra to get the idea of how to move and realize that it really did feel good to be full of male when she was slick and aroused ... when she was ready for it. It was a moment that froze her, that comprehension of how sex could feel so very good by reputation and had been so painful for her up till now.

Misha moaned and leaned forward, following Janos' instructions and kissing Vondra, drawing the shewolf back into moving with gentle, fondling hands on her breasts and subtly guiding her into a rhythm and position she knew would feel good for the white Wolf.

It didn't exactly feel bad for the grey one beneath the two of them either. He rumbled, licking his cum out of Misha's body as his cock throbbed deep in Vondra's body. He reached out through the Force, trying to tap into what both of them were feeling, knowing from Jay how much of a rush it could be.

Misha, not too surprisingly, was enjoying his attention and playing with Vondra immensely. Even for her kind, the Minervan Mink was into sex a lot and had decades of training and experience to back her natural desires.

When he tapped into Vondra, he groaned deeply. The pleasure from her was less intense; she didn't know how to move or take advantage of what they were doing. It was, however, so new to her that every thrust brought a rush to her body and drew another sound from her throat.

It was an entirely different sort of intense, one he couldn't even remember for himself.

He took one hand from Misha's ass, reaching down to caress the firm curve of Vondra's thigh, almost whimpering as he devoured the Minervan Mink's dripping sex and tried to shift himself slightly to make it better for both he and his young slave.

The shockwave of pleasure so intense it was painful jerked his body up into the vice-like grip of Vondra's sex as she howled a near-cry to this new kind of pleasure of coming hard with a male so deep inside her. Right on its heels was a rush of fear at this new pleasure-pain and the complete lack of control it brought.

While he wished there was something he could do about it, the feel of his knot tying with her sex as she came pushed him over the edge again, his balls emptying themselves into her hungry body. He moaned lowly into Misha's cunt, unable to do anything but enjoy the feeling of his orgasm and the too-rare feeling of his knot inside an orgasming body.

He groaned again when the worst of her fear faded with her orgasm and the pleasure of him still inside her and his knot became a warm presence in the afterglow instead of a source of panic.

Her hands moved down to slide up his broad body as she panted, trying to catch her breath and understand what had just happened.

"That's how it's supposed to feel," he rumbled, moving his muzzle out of Misha's sex and nuzzling her clit lightly with his nose as the Minervan Mink moaned again.

"Yes, Master." Vondra panted, trying to recoup her composure, the back of her mind debating whether she actually liked the sensation. Her instincts told her yes, but the out of control feelings were a too potent reminder of earlier experiences.

"Good," he rumbled, nuzzling Misha's thigh lightly. He knew it'd take Vondra a while to convince herself that her earlier experiences weren't normal; she'd been told they would be, and if most of Adulla's customers had bought her, they probably would have been.

But then, he'd gotten over it for the most part. She could too.

"Mmm ... any reason you two couldn't spend the night?" He asked, more formality than anything else as he guided Misha off his face and down next to him, Vondra still tied to his shaft. To be fair, he didn't even have to ask, but he wanted to give them the choice tonight.

"Only if Master wants me." Misha nuzzled up against him, clearly quite content to be where she was.

"No, Master." Vondra looked down at him, and their tied groins, not sure how to ask how long she's be sitting like this. Or if he intended her to have pups. Between stress and conditions, she'd long ago lost track of when her next heat would be.

"Mmm ... well, for the next twenty minutes or so it's a moot point for you," he chuckled, drawing Vondra down against him for a kiss, rubbing her back. "Jay'll be out for the night, I'm sure, so I'd like the two of you to stay with me tonight." He snuggled up against Misha lightly, Vondra's slender body warm against his front.

Sleeping with Jay was good, but there was something he enjoyed about being the unquestioned alpha, even in a furpile as small as this one.

Misha murred to herself as she cleaned up in the master bedroom's shower. Janos had used her with more pleasure than anyone in recent years, but now, with Vondra sleeping like a baby in his arms, he wanted to be alone with his pet. He was definitely a different kind of master. A very nice kind of master.

She hoped her master was as good, and it was time to find out. She was sure he hadn't left that one room, which meant he hadn't eaten recently. It was risky to bring him a meal, to interrupt him, but she hadn't survived so well this long by misreading her owners.

She smiled faintly at the two Wolves in the large master bed as she slipped out, clean and dry but naked, and went back to the room she shared with the other slaves to quickly dress in the silky harem clothes designed to conceal nothing and exemplify her assets and accessibility. It was a role she enjoyed greatly, to see the lust in the faces of those who looked at her and the way she could drive them insane with desire with just a few movements or a look.

Y'alla looked up slightly from where she was sleeping, then put her head down again when she realized it was only the Minervan Mink. Misha smiled at her before leaving for the small kitchen on the ship to fix something appealing for her master to arouse his desires even further than her body.

She wasn't a great cook, but she knew the best aphrodisiacs for all the major races and how to use them. The bottle of ryl powder on the shelf made her smile as she made short work of heating some meat with it as a dry rub, choosing a few other containers that smelled of the tom to go with.

Before long, the meat was sizzling in the pan, everything else for the meal prepared, and the rest of the ship silent save for the sound of the automatic systems running. It was odd ... it should have seemed peaceful, but the quiet was almost unnerving, tense.

This was not a particularly happy ship to be on much of the time, she could feel it.

She couldn't help suspect that much of the ill feelings were somehow the creation of Mistress Mina. She was pregnant by Jay, but stayed in her own room while the males shared a bed. It wasn't a very normal arrangement, and Mina was sadistic as well.

That much Y'alla had confirmed. She just hoped the kittens would restrain her interest soon; she enjoyed sex, but needing to go to medical afterwards rather defeated the purpose.

While the food finished cooking, she hurried back to her quarters to fetch a small makeup brush, returning to the kitchen and dipping the fluffy bristles into the ryl powder, starting to dust her fur with it lightly. She focused on the spots she knew would make the scent strongest; she intended to get a good start with her new Master, and this would just about guarantee it.

With a throaty murr for what was to come she got everything on a tray and set towards the room her master was staying in. She balanced the tray on one hand once she got there, keying the button to open the door and quickly taking it in two again, holding herself to make a display that would appeal to any hungers her Master might have as it slid open.

She nearly dropped the tray as her mouth opened in shocked silence. Of all the things she'd expected ... she couldn't even begin to comprehend the speed and deadliness her Master was putting on display for no one but himself. Bright, blazing beams of light arced through the air, occasionally blinking as they passed by his nude body. She could tell where the scars came from now, seeing this - he would only have had to slip once. The opponents such skill required to make reasonable was nearly unthinkable.

Recovering her composure, she decided to wait for him. She certainly wasn't going to interrupt the display. It was rather fascinating to watch too. She'd always heard about Jedi and their lightsabers, but to see it ... and this was far more complex than what she'd heard described. Those were swords, this was two double blades.

She was almost startled again when his movement came to a graceful halt and the blacklight blades disappeared into their hilts and he was suddenly facing her, his face unreadable and his weapons vanished.

"I-I thought you might like some breakfast, Master," she explained, holding the tray up in explanation.

He smiled slightly, and motioned to set it down on the floor nearby, sitting easily just outside the mat when she did so.

"Have you eaten yet?" He asked easily.

"No Master," she admitted, bowing politely. "I wasn't sure when you would be hungry."

"Then sit and eat with me." Jay said simply and picked up a fork to begin eating. He paused before the first bite, his nose twitching. "Are you aware of the effects ryl has on felines?"

"Yes, Master," she nodded, sitting cross-legged and taking a second fork. "I hope I didn't use too much; I assumed the supply in the galley was yours."

"It is." He nodded and considered things before eating. All things considered, the distraction might do him some good. He didn't like where his meditation kept bringing him back to.

Misha ate quietly, assuming that his decision to eat was a good sign. For now, she would just let the drug and her scent do the job. He knew what was coming.

It didn't take long, really, before the first visible signs of the ryl at work were clear. She smiled to herself when he leaned forward to kiss her, one hand sliding down her neck to cup her breast.

"Mmm ...." She returned the kiss, letting him control the speed. She murred lightly into his mouth, rubbing his sides lightly as his fingers worked her full, firm breasts. "Master appreciates my cooking, I take it?" She joked lightly.

"Yes," he chuckled and shifted to pull her to the mat, rolling on top of her to claim a hungry kiss and pinned her arms down.

She rumbled, everything in her body language submissive and encouraging as she spread her legs. She returned his kiss, suckling his tongue as he plundered her mouth, knowing that the ryl he'd eaten would only get stronger once the powder she'd dusted her fur with got into his system.

She moaned deeply when he shifted his hips slightly and drove his hard, rough cock into her body, his sheath pressed against her body with each motion as he began to thrust without reservation. She tightened around his body, tilting her head back to expose her throat to him as she milked him expertly.

She shuddered internally when his jaw locked around her exposed throat harder than just a demonstration of dominance required. He wasn't displaying the markings of a true sadist, not like the shecat did, but she'd be hurting before this was over in all likelihood.

She didn't try to encourage him too much in that, but she didn't protest either, rubbing his back lightly and whimpering softly in pain and pleasure. Despite the way his claws began to dig into her hips and his sharp teeth drew blood on her neck, he was also doing everything to make the pleasurable parts feel damn good to her.

She was half surprised to feel his claws retract some even as his fingers dug in harder, pulling her against his hips with each powerful thrust.

Half-surprised, but entirely pleased. She moaned lowly, her body clenching down around his cock like a vise as she came around him, milking him hungrily as his jaws came off her throat, his roar echoing in the small room as his seed flooded her body.

She moaned more loudly, clutching his back and working him with her sex. As her orgasm passed, she went back to work at pleasuring him and making a sensual display of herself.

The rumble of approval from above her as he nuzzled her neck was more encouragement that he liked what she was doing, as was the licking nuzzle that worked its way down to her exposed breasts, dusted with ryl.

Jay groaned as the pure dust entered his nose and mouth. A shudder passed through him as he let go and surrendered to the mindless intensity of the drug-induced rut rushing through him.

Misha panted softly, nuzzling her Master's neck a few hours later, when they'd finally both wound down and the ryl high was wearing off for him.

"Mmm ... you've never had somebody do that for you before, have you?" She asked him with a kiss, squeezing around his still-hard shaft.

"I have," he murmured, his mind snapped back to his Jedi mates and a rush of grief and loss. "It was a favorite on this ship not so long ago."

"I'm sorry," she said softly, nuzzling his cheek as she sensed the shift in his attitude. The scar on his face was a little disconcerting, but she'd seen far worse, and didn't let it bother her any.

"It's nothing you could have known," he murmured and nuzzled her back. "I hardly resisted the idea."

"Mmm ... very true," she murmured back, licking his cheek lightly. "You're very pleasant to serve, Master."

"Good," he actually chuckled a bit awkwardly. "I've never really dealt with slaves before."

"Mmm ... you're not particularly cruel, you're skilled in bed, it's not too hard to tell what you want ... it suits you," she chuckled, scritching his back lightly. "I've certainly served worse."

"You're unlikely to serve another." He rumbled and claimed a rather heated kiss. "Did I bruise you?"

"Yes, Master," she admitted, knowing he'd be able to tell. "It was worth it though," she grinned up at him.

"Mmm, let's see if you enjoy the fix to that." He gave her a bit of a wink and kissed his way down her body. While not completely recovered from the grief-heavy moment, he was working on perking up and putting it behind him.

"I have a feeling I will, Master," she smiled, rubbing the back of his head and the base of his damaged ear as he slid down between her legs to lightly rub her thighs while he focused healing energy through his tongue and bathed her badly bruised sex.

She moaned, first in a bit of pain, then in pleasure as she felt the damaged flesh heal and pleasure-nerves come back.

"Oh my," she groaned, scratching his neck lightly.

It earned a low chuckle from the tom. "Healing can be fun too."

"Mmm ... never had a Master bother with more than painkillers ... mmm ... before," she panted, licking her lips and spreading her legs wide.

"Have you ever had an empath for a Master before?" He asked between swirling his tongue around the rapidly healing flesh.

"No," she moaned, pressing up into his mouth. "Not that I know of ...."

"*What you feel, I feel.*" He explained directly to her mind. "*It feels much better when you're enjoying it.*"

"Nnngh ... then that must feel ... oooh ... really good just now," she panted. "Master Janos the same?"

"*It is pretty good,*" he rumbled with a mental grin and added a few images of her riding him as a 'what's next' idea. "*Yes, he is. Not as experienced in using the talent, though.*"

She moaned deeply, her body clamping down hard around his tongue as she came, nodding enthusiastically as he worked her through the orgasm, then slid up to kiss her and rolled to his back, a look of hunger on his face.

She slipped forward, then back onto his cock easily, returning the kiss as she started to work him with her sex.

"Mmm ... never really expected two Masters as nice as you and Janos when the old one got killed," she rumbled.

"I'll make sure Mina knows to keep her claws off you." Jay added with a half-growl, half-groan. "She's definitely not."

"Mmm ... I guessed," Misha nodded, kissing his neck lightly before leaning back to display herself to an appreciative set of eyes and hands that worked her body and breasts. "Oooh ... still up front, or want to try somewhere new, Master?" She asked him.

"What feels best for you right now." He rumbled, feeding on the thrill of her pleasure.

She pulled off his cock, slick with her fluids, and shifted forward to press his conical tip up against her anus.

"This," she grinned, then groaned as she slipped down onto his shaft, her breath catching with each barb as she rhythmically stroked her clit, one circle for each ring of barbs that entered her ass.

"Ohhh," Jay moaned, almost crying out as her pleasure mixed with his long affinity for being on the receiving end. He focused his actions on kneading her breasts and slid a small dildo of Force into her sex to rub up against him inside her as well as rub her in all the right places.

"Oh yes," she moaned back, squeezing down around both lengths inside her, rippling her muscles along his barbed length, not even questioning the how. She flicked her long, full tail against his balls, grinning down at him with her dark face and soaked in the real thrill of having a Master that got off on her pleasure so honestly and completely.

Life just didn't get better than this.

Jay squeezed his eyes closed, all but whimpering in the abandon she had and his own desire to know it again.

"So good." He encouraged her, offering her some of what he was feeling in return.

"Oh yes," she moaned, closing her own eyes in pleasure as she felt the circle of ecstasy between the two. She wasn't a sensitive, but Jay was still able to communicate just how incredible this all felt to him, which only made her pleasure stronger, feeding into his own.

All in all, it made for a very pleasant perpetuating cycle that quickly pushed them both over the edge, filling her ass with his come and the room with their cries.

Janos' stomach rumbled shortly before he did, waking up to the feel of Vondra starting to stir around mid-day. He rubbed her back lightly, kissing her as his brain started to wake up, realizing first that he had a female in bed with him who'd been willing before.

Fortunately, his brain remembered that she might not be as willing now before he'd done more than roll to his side, pressing his shaft against her thigh as he nuzzled her cheek.

The soft, slightly content sound she made encouraged him though. Even if she wasn't willing right now, she wasn't freaked out either as she responded to him, still half asleep but rousing quickly.

He tilted his head up, nibbling her ear affectionately as he worked a hand beneath her to fondle her breasts, working his other hand down to stroke the lips of her sex lightly. His efforts were rewarded by a soft moan of pleasure and her shifting to make touching her easier.

He could tell she wasn't completely awake, but she was enough with the situation to react badly if she was likely to.

She nuzzled him lightly, kissing his neck as he stroked her to slick wetness again.

"Where's Misha?" She murmured.

"Probably with Jay," he murmured back, nuzzling her neck lightly. "And having a fine time, if what I'm feeling is right. You remember last night?"

"Yes, Master." She blushed deeply.

"What do you remember?" He asked her with a rumble, curious what she'd taken from it ... and rather hoping it was pleasant.

She blushed even deeper and ducked her head a bit. She bit her lip before answering.

"You treated me like a lover." She managed to get out before her voice gave out.

"Did you enjoy it?" He asked her. He wasn't looking for details; those he could remember well enough, and she was already embarrassed enough. It was definitely cute, though. "Would you like that again?" He added, licking her neck. They way she shifted to give him a little more access was as good as any words. He could feel her interest before she managed to form the words that said much less.

"Yes, Master." She shuddered at his light touches and opened her body language up a bit more. Both her upbringing and pleasure slave training screamed against encouraging him, that he was still her owner and shouldn't be encouraged. At the same time, a pragmatic side of her added that an owner who treated her as a lover and mate, who cared about her pleasure, was a damn good thing and not to be put off lest he get rid of her to one who didn't. So what if he was probably twice her age? He was nice to her. That wasn't something that could be said of much in her life recently.

He kissed her, slowly, his tongue running along her muzzle as he stroked the swelling lips of her sex, then parted them and pressed the tip of one finger up against her entrance, just stroking the moist ring of muscle briefly before he started to press into it slowly.

Her body language was unsure at this. It wasn't something anyone had done before, and as good as his cock had felt in the same place, this was a little weird. Kind of good, kind of just strange.

Picking up on her discomfort, he pulled his finger back, kissing her and rolling her onto her back. That might be something to work on eventually.

"You can tell me if you don't like something," he reminded her.

"It's ... just weird, Master." She murmured and spread her legs for him, a bit more eager for what was rubbing against her now.

"Mmm ... you'll get used it," he rumbled, rubbing against her slick pussy-lips for a few moments before shifting down to press up into her hot, tight sex with a groan of pleasure.

"Yes, Master." Vondra drew a breath of pleasure in and squeezed down around him without thinking. With a soft whimper she brought her knees as high up against his body as she could, her ankles crossed in the small of his back.

He started to thrust slowly, licking her throat and shifting his weight to brace on one hand, sliding the other between them to fondle her breasts lightly. He couldn't help but smile when she pressed into his touch, both on her breasts and between her legs. While there was still an element of this being required to her, she was enjoying the attention too.

He rumbled, thrusting into her, her tight, hot body clinging to his. Her juices leaked out around his shaft as he kissed her tenderly, licking her lips to coax them open. It wasn't difficult; she was fairly well broken, but she was also as willing as she could be right now.

He groaned deeply into her mouth as her arms came up to hold onto him tightly as her body clenched around him, a shudder passing through her and her legs pressing him even deeper. His knot swelled with each thrust, passing in and out of her until it was too large to do so anymore and drew a howl from him as it stuck inside her body with the unique pleasure nothing else could bring.

With a deep, lusty rumble, he shifted to start grinding his pelvis against her clit with short, rapid thrusts that were meant to bring them both to orgasm quickly.

Vondra whimpered and shuddered, still unable to grasp the intensity of what pleasure could be even as it washed through her body and shot up her spine to block out everything but her focus on the sensations her body knew it wanted and still scared her pretty badly.

Janos howled again, pumping his seed deep into her hot, hungry sex, the sound echoing in the well sound-proofed room as his balls pulled up close to his body to spill their contents into a willing body.

"Y'know, every time I come back here, I promise myself it'll be the last," Janos chuckled, trying to make a joke out of it as they came in for a landing at one of Nar Shaddaa's numerous spaceports.

Jay had to admit one very uncomfortable thing as they'd flown in through the upper-class residencies above the slums. Add a few years of general neglect and smog, and Nar Shaddaa and Coruscant would be nearly indistinguishable, unless you knew the landmarks. They both had well-designed homes for the wealthy, places where they lived and did business and enjoyed themselves ....

And then you broke the skin of the apple, and found it was rotten to the core.

The big difference, at least for a Force-sensitive like him, was the glowing center of Light that was the Jedi Temple of Coruscant on one and wasn't on the other.

It was gray here. It wasn't a land of Dark yet, but there was no focus of Light on Nar Shaddaa.

Just desperation. How any Jedi could stand to live there for any period of time, like Doruth had, he really didn't know.

Probably the same way he had, by losing their sensitivity to it, or by being so desperate themselves that it wasn't that remarkable.

"You and me both." Jay added quietly.

"At least we're not going to be as limited in our movements as we were on Toydaria. And we've got enough money to stay out of the bad parts," Janos pointed out, reaching over to squeeze Jay's shoulder lightly as they touched down. "Just hole up for a few weeks, stock up on stuff we can sell for credits when we're back in the Republic, spend some time with the pets, and we'll be on our way to Ambrintha."

"And hopefully the last of seeing Jedi for a while." He nodded with a deep breath. He had to admit, most of his aversion to this place was the memories of those two years as a kit. He wasn't fond of remembering the time so close to when he'd still been with his family. It still hurt.

"This time I'm sure," Janos said certainly. "Scanners said that one of the ships was gone, the other seemed to be heading for totally the wrong place after they followed us."

"Good," he murmured and reached over to squeeze Janos' leg as they set down, then stood to go greet the welcoming committee.

"Just hope Keval the Rat isn't working here any more," Janos murmured as they started for the hatch. "That wouldn't be fun at all." He noticed the door to the slave quarters closing quickly, and the white-furred muzzle disappearing behind it. He chuckled a bit; Vondra was so not ready to be out and about around here for long.

"Think we'll go for an apartment?" He asked Jay conversationally as they waited their turn, a few ships ahead of them already.

"Any advantage to it?" He glanced at the Wolf, unsure why they'd want to stay off the ship.

"Space, mostly ... a bit more convenient to get around. That, and we've been staying on this ship for a couple months now."

"I take it that's unusual for you." He actually chuckled softly. "Sure, we can get a place to stay."

"Jay, I usually stay on a ship long enough to get from one planet to the next," Janos chuckled. "Like most people. The Sharufa's a nice ship, but there's something to be said for a nice, comfy apartment with room service and a four-star galactic rating. I'll even pay the rent," he added with a wink.

He wasn't expecting the uneasy shift in Jay's body language for a moment before the tom caught himself, but a second later he realized he should have. Jay was Jedi raised and had over half a century with the Order. That kind of luxury was probably as alien to them as it was generally believed.

"All right," Jay nodded, returning the slight smile. Neither one doubted he was doing it because he knew Janos wanted to be Alpha for a while, and the Alpha handled such things.

"Trust me," Janos rumbled, leaning over to lick Jay's unscarred cheek lightly. "We could all use a little pampering for a bit, you especially."

"Janos Miklar? It's been a while!" A cheerful voice said as a lean Ferret walked up to them. Janos' grin made it obvious that he both recognized it, and that it was somebody he got along with.

"Hey Tony," he called back. "So, you're working port now?"

"Yep," the Ferret nodded easily. "Better work than I was doing before, that's for sure. So, who's your friend?" He asked, glancing at Jay.

"Jay Miklar," Janos said easily. "Mate, met him a couple months back. The Azine still offering rooms? I know every time I come here the rumor mill's buzzing about some Hutt or another thinking of tearing the place down after it buys it."

"As if they'd tear down that money-maker," Tony snorted, shaking his head. "I think it's just an excuse to get people to fill up the cheap rooms, 'while they still can.'"

"Of course it is," Janos laughed. "The last three times it's been sold it's stayed in the same clan. And as I remember, every time it is, the rooms fill up in a day or two."

"Well, it's been a few years since the last time they sold it," Tony chuckled. "So it should be clear. Planning on staying there?"

"I've got two mates and four slaves to put up for a while, and I can't think of anywhere better to do it," Janos chuckled. "Jay, this is Tony Rendazza, an old friend of mine. Main reason I do keep coming back," he winked at the Ferret.

"You're just saying that because last time it was to keep me from ending up permanently belonging to Kobba," the Ferret chuckled, offering a small hand to Jay. "Good to meet you. Janos has pretty good taste, even if you're not the sort of guy he usually goes for."

"So what does he usually go for?" Jay chuckled and accepted the handshake.

"Younger, small - at least not built," Tony chuckled, winking at Janos. "Guys like me, fems - people he can put in their place when he's playing with 'em."

"That would explain his pet." Jay snickered easily.

"Hush you," Janos chuckled. "Jealousy doesn't become you."

"It's only jealous if you don't share," the Ferret grinned, glancing at Jay with a twinkle in his eye.

"Now that depends on our mood." Jay chuckled, giving the Ferret a more serious looking over.

"Mmm ... well, if you two end up in the right mood, Janos knows how to get in touch with me," the Ferret grinned, his own eyes roaming up and down both their bodies. "So, here to work, or just laying low for a while?"

"Laying low, and getting some trade goods so we can get credits when we're out of Hutt-space," Janos said easily. "I had a little run-in with some Jedi on Toydaria, managed to lose 'em but I'd really rather not find 'em again."

"Gotcha," Tony said easily. "Anything in particular I should be watching for?"

"Ship called the Kalrass and a Panther who was posing as a smuggler. His partner's a blue-skinned woman with a tattoo on her cheek, looks like a snowflake." Janos said easily.

"Also a Panther/shewolf pair on board the Gurath." Jay added quietly. "Jedi too, old ones. He'd probably pose as a gambler and drifter, she's a trader."

"I'm make sure word gets out that the ships should be given the red-tape special if either shows up," the Ferret nodded. "So I'm guessing you guys want to get moving pretty quick, huh?"

"Yeah, we do," Janos nodded, pulling out a small pouch and slipping five heavy peggat coins into his hand, passing them over to Tony. "So why don't we skip the formalities, you know I wouldn't be importing anything more dangerous than me."

"Yeah, but that means you could be hiding a baby rancor in there for all I know," Tony smirked back, putting two coins in the pouch reserved for official fees and pocketing the remainder. "The usual cabs'll be out there. Oh, and Janos? Watch yourself if you're heading down by Kobba's while you're around here. Keval's still steamed about the tail thing."

"Hey, not my fault the idiot tried to disarm me," Janos shrugged. "Thanks for the warning though."

"I think he got off easy if all you removed was his tail." Jay observed with a bit of a smirk for his mate.

"Long story," Janos chuckled. "But that's the part that really got him. See you around, Tony. Maybe we can hit a club some time," he winked.

"I'll look forward to it," the Ferret grinned as the two of them started up onto the ship to get Mina and the assorted slaves.

Jay looked at Janos dubiously when the large cab transporting the seven of them stopped at a high-scale clothing store.

"Trust me Jay, we'll want more than what we've got at this point to check in at the Azine," the Wolf said easily. "We're good enough to check in, but kinda close to the low end, and that's about all we could do."

"It will be nice to have something that fits tight in the right places," Mina mused from where she was sitting on the other side of Jay.

"All right," the tom acquiesced without debate and got out with his mates, their four slaves obedient and silent not far behind them.

"Won't take too long," Janos said easily. "I figure a set to wear in, an extra change, and then we can pick up more later if we want. Or have somebody else pick it up for us," he chuckled.

"Just how high-class is this place?" Mina asked, raising an eyebrow.

"It's not the best, but it's one of the better places on Nar Shaddaa," Janos explained. "Hutts have been known to stay there on vacations from Nal Hutta, for what it's worth."

"Not much, if it's anything like that swamp," Mina pointed out.

"Not unless you want it to be," Janos said easily. "I've stayed there as a guard a couple times, it'll be good to be the guest for once."

"It has to be fairly high end if I don't have the clothes to check in with." Jay pointed out. "Or that we need to get them here." He added with a motion towards the store where a set of clothes could run a year's pay for Nar Shaddaa's working class in the neighborhood.

"Yeah, but we can afford it," Janos chuckled as they walked in. "So, ladies first?" He asked as they were approached by a well-dressed Mouse sales clerk.

Jay nodded, looking around at the various racks with a critical eye for both construction and appearance, while Mina stepped forward to claim her rightful place as the ranking female.

"Welcome to Etwin's. How may I help you?" The soft silvery-white Mouse asked with a polite bow to them.

"We need some more formal outfits for myself, my mates, and our pets," Mina explained easily. "Preferably some that will still work over the next few months," she added, brushing a hand over her belly with a nod to the even more obviously pregnant Cat behind her.

"Of course," he smiled easily and motioned for two others to come foreword. "Basana will assist you." He motioned to a sleek white shecat that stepped forward and bowed to Mina. "Rass can clothe your other pets." He indicated a prim white Rat fem. "If the gentlemen will follow me." He looked at Jay and Janos.

"And something sexy for them as well." Jay added.

"Yes, sir." Both female assistants acknowledged his request.

"Something that will make a good display of my state." Mina added more quietly to Basana with a purr and covert glance at Jay. "He very much likes to know he has kits coming."

"Certainly, Ma'am," Basana nodded, leading Mina off as Rass led the slaves to a slightly different portion of the store, leaving Jay and Janos with their clerk.

"Well, looks like we're on our own then," Janos chuckled. "Fortunately, we're not completely hopeless when it comes to outfits."

"How much flair are you looking to have in them?" The Mouse asked, noting Jay's definite flair.

"A fair amount," Jay chuckled.

"It suits both of us," Janos said easily. "And being easy to move around in is a requirement."

"Understood, sir," the Mouse nodded. "I believe I know just the thing," he said, considering what both of them were already wearing for a moment before he led them off into another portion of the shop where the cloth and cuts were distinctly masculine.

"Well, looks like the girls are still shopping," Janos chuckled as he sat down next to Jay, dressed in a set of light robes that were cut close to his body. They'd still give him plenty of room to hide a blaster and his lightsaber later, and the dark-red fabric looked good against his grey fur. A couple similar outfits were already waiting to be picked up after they'd checked in; expensive, but he thought it would be worth it. "So, going better than you'd expected so far?"

"Yes, though getting to see the females try things on has its appeal." The tom chuckled with a wink.

"We can watch them at the hotel tonight too," Janos pointed out with a rumble. "And taking them off. Have to admit, I'm a little curious what they'll manage to find. Just hope it's legal in public," he chuckled.

"I'm hoping some of it isn't." Jay licked his whiskers back. "But most nightwear isn't."

"Of course not," Janos grinned. "But it would be nice to show them off in public once in a while, yes?"

"And make everyone else jealous of what we have." He chuckled and relaxed on the plush bench even as he reached out with his mind to check on the progress the others were having.

"Of course," the Wolf grinned. "How're they doin'?" He asked him.

"Vondra's taken charge in her group, they're almost done. Mina's being a pain." He shrugged. "So what happened with that Rat?"

"Keval?" Janos asked, snorting a bit. "He's a merc who likes to think he's better than me. Might be too, if we were in a dark alley and I didn't know he was there. We've had our share of run-ins; I've managed to piss him off each time."

"I know that one," Jay chuckled a bit darkly. "Mine's named Navik. Next time, I don't think I'll let him live."

"I wouldn't have let Keval the last time I ran into him," Janos chuckled. "But Kobba cut a deal with me. He needed a competent bodyguard he didn't have to pay more than he needed another slave hooker, so he traded Keval for Tony. So, as you might imagine, the Rat's exceptionally unhappy with me."

"Yes, I can imagine." He nodded with a low chuckle. "How did Tony end up a slave?" He glanced at his mate curiously, not really up on the slave-laws.

"He was working for Kobba when the Hutt decided it'd be a good idea to not have to pay him anymore," Janos said easily. "He was just a dancer most of the time, but that wasn't enough to cover all his bills, and Kobba arranged to have his 'special' customers sent to other people for a few months. Tony ended up owing a lot of money and Kobba 'offered' to accept the debts when it hit the courts. Same scheme puts a lot of people like him in that position."

Jay could only shake his head slightly, wondering why the Hutts bothered to pay anyone if it was that easy to get a slave even as it still riled him to see such abuse of the system and people.

"So how'd you get Keval?"

"I went to have a few 'polite words' with Kobba about Tony," the Wolf shrugged. "Keval was working for him as a bodyguard. When things got frisky, I took off the tip of his tail with my lightsaber and basically dismantled him. He wasn't my slave at that point, but Kobba offered to give me Tony in exchange for not killing him, which meant Keval had to cover Tony's value to Kobba."

"And his own medical bills." He nodded, looking up as the shecat shop assistant came up to them.

"Would you like to see what has been picked out before accepting it, sirs?" She asked them politely.

"Yes please," Janos nodded and stood to follow her towards the changing rooms. "They're ready then, I take it?"

"Yes, sir." She nodded and led the pair to where the three pets were.

A first look at Misha, dressed in a deep burgundy that flowed into her black fur and accentuated her slender, rounded figure and natural sensuality, took Jay's breath away.

Janos was rumbling too; it was an excellent choice, and one that was perfectly legal to wear in public. He knew there were a few outfits here that wouldn't be, and that she had probably chosen some of them. The Minervan Mink wasn't the least bit shy about her purpose or her desires.

Y'alla came out next, wearing a pale violet dress that clung to her figure nicely. It looked good on her, but he had a feeling that it had definitely been chosen with Mina's tastes in mind; easy to remove, and it wouldn't be a tragedy if it was torn some night.

He had to fight to keep his jaw from hitting the floor when Vondra stepped out. The powder-blue dress she was wearing was a perfect example of understated elegance, especially on her. It was cut just low enough to give a hint of what was beneath it, and the fine fabric clung to her body like it was cut to it. Darker blue patterns were woven into the dress, seeming to shift as the light shifted on it, making each movement eye-catching.

It wasn't as intentionally sexy as Misha's or Y'alla's, but it would fit nicely in any of a thousand different places that were far higher class than Janos would be interested in going. She wasn't overdressed for where they were going either, which was definitely a nice touch.

"Very nice." Jay rumbled in definite, unabashed approval of all three, though his gaze lingered on Vondra a bit longer than the others. Her choice, and what he'd caught when he'd checked on them, made him doubt she was even remotely as accustomed to her status as the others.

"Agreed," Janos rumbled. "Are the others similar to these?"

"One other set," the assistant nodded. "Do you wish to see the nightwear as well?"

No one could doubt that Misha wanted to show it off, and Vondra wasn't nearly so happy about the idea.

"If they want to," Janos said, looking at Vondra and hoping it was clear that she could say no if she wanted to. That could be a more private showing, as far as he was concerned. He smiled slightly when she stepped forward to slide in on his arm.

"You look good, Master." Vondra murmured in his ear as the other two disappeared into the changing room, Misha with a wink for her Master.

"And you're stunning," he murmured back, licking her cheek affectionately. "You picked this out?"

"Yes, Master." She smiled faintly, her body language much more comfortable than they'd seen in her before. "I recognize many of these designers."

"There is definitely more to you than I thought at first," he rumbled as he wrapped an arm around her waist. "I'm guessing that Misha at least strongly suggested what you should get for nightwear?" He chuckled lightly, having a good feeling that her dislike of the idea was probably at least in part a difference in opinion over what was sexy ... and what was completely inappropriate to be worn in public.

"Yes, and I even listened, though her taste in color is a bit more garish than I chose." She admitted with a slight shake of her head.

"I'd say she listened to you for daywear, then." Jay managed despite the deep rumble as his pet came out with an utterly unabashed saunter in a concealing-nothing 'outfit' in shimmering white that drew the eye to all the places it didn't cover her sleek black fur. It was by no stretch legal anywhere outside a bedroom or sex club, and the Minervan Mink relished in it.

"Mmm ... we'll get something a bit more your speed later," Janos promised. "Though to judge by what she's wearing, I'm looking forward o seeing what she picked for you," he added with a grin for the Minervan Mink.

"It's not that exciting, Master." Vondra blushed deeply even as Misha grinned at her.

Y'alla was out next again, her dark, nearly black outfit concealing a bit more, but still making everything available that her mistress might want access to ... especially her back, where faint hints of scars from prior owners could be seen. Janos noted that it was similar to an outfit he'd seen on several Hutt slaves before, almost identical even. It was clearly a submissive's gown, tight and restraining motion slightly, barely legal outside a sex club, and easily made less so with little effort.

It was a view that drew Jay's attention too, though not quite in the way a pleasure-slave would have wanted. He was looking at her scars, and trying to find an appreciation of the constricting outfit and just not quite managing it.

Mina would love it, though, both males were sure of it.

"She has another outfit that you two will probably like better," Vondra whispered to Janos softly. The Wolf nodded slightly; they'd go for both. Y'alla was Mina's first, in a way, it made sense she'd wear this one primarily.

"Is there anything else we should see?" He asked the clerk.

He was about to suggest showing the others, until he caught sight of Mina and Tami approaching them from elsewhere in the store. Mina was dressed to exemplify her figure and pregnancy, and much finer than Tami, but that was appropriate too, given Tami was a general slave and not expected to go out to dinner with them. She probably would, knowing Jay, and her clothing was quite good enough for it, but she was by far the least well dressed of the seven.

He saw Jay study the pair for a moment, then felt the tom's decision not to challenge it, even as he felt Jay's very sexual and protective response to Mina's appearance. He had to give her credit; she knew very well how to manipulate Jay without saying anything or being overtly provocative.

"I think that will be all." Janos nodded.

"Very well sir," the Mouse nodded, pulling out a datapad quickly and totaling up the prices. "You will be staying at the Azine, yes?"

"Yes," Janos nodded easily.

"We'll have the extra clothes prepared for pickup shortly then. The bill will be waiting for you there, simply make payment when the other clothes are picked up," the Mouse said easily.

Which, Janos knew, would also be the time when the trackers that were undoubtedly in the clothes they were wearing would be deactivated. A very efficient means of guaranteeing payment, on this planet.

Mina strolled up to Jay, giving him a lingering kiss that was returned without a thought. She turned slightly to show her best side to him and felt his arms slide around her to run down her sides and press her belly ever so lightly against his hard body.

"You like?" She asked with a purr, knowing the answer already.

"Very much." He rumbled, obvious to Misha more for the Minervan Mink's protection than truly being that enamored of the attractive shecat that was looking quite good to him.

"Come on you two," Janos chuckled. "Let's have Misha and Y'alla change back into their good clothes and go check in before I have to bail you out for going too far in public."

"Spoilsport," Jay teased him with a wink and allowed Mina to step back into a more acceptable embrace around the waist while the two pleasure slaves did as Janos had said. "I saw that look you gave Vondra."

"You also saw that it didn't go any farther," Janos pointed out with a smirk, giving his pet an affectionate lick. "And I'm the one who's supposed to have self-control issues."

"Now boys, keep it civil." Mina purred teasingly with an easy laugh. "And suitable for public."

"Yes, ma'am." Jay rolled his eyes, though he remained in a good mood.

"First thing we've agreed on in a long time," Janos chuckled slightly, seemingly good-natured for all that the words came with a vivid memory of what he'd seen on Y'alla's back.

He'd be watching to make sure that extra scars weren't something he saw too often.

Jay flicked his eyes around the grand entrance to the Azine. This was more palace than hotel to him, and it made him as uneasy as anywhere short of a Dark Side site.

None of them really fit in here. The slaves looked reasonably comfortable, at least, and Janos was clearly prepared for what he was seeing. Mina was about the only one responding with as much visible surprise as he was feeling. Vondra actually looked more comfortable here than she had since they'd first seen her.

He was so glad Janos had talked him into a brief stop to pick up some clothes that would fit in. Even only a couple changes was better than showing up at a place like this in what they'd been wearing on the Sharufa. They'd all need a couple more sets for here, plus the normal clothing they'd need elsewhere.

He had to admit, the relaxed look looked good on Vondra, and Misha knew how to look hot as hell no matter what.

"Come on," Janos said easily, leading the way in, his mates close behind and the slaves behind them.

"Welcome to the Azine," the doorman, a prim-looking Weasel in hotel uniform greeted them as they entered and Mina and Jay tried not to gawk at the grand lobby, it's fine marble, chandeliers, paintings, statues and the people even more decked out than the decor.

Jay caught himself quickly, and Mina did a moment later, both well before they reached the blue uniformed staff behind the grand check-in counter.

"I believe you have a reservation for the Miklar pack in one of your suites?" Janos said easily.

"Ah, yes." A Vixen smiled at him. "The penthouse is ready for you. If you would sign here, please." She gave him a lightslate and pen.

"Thank you," he nodded, taking the pen and slate and quickly signing, adding the print signature that would confirm his identity. "Glad we were able to find a slot on such short notice," he chuckled.

Of course, the Rodian who'd been planning on staying there in two days would be surprised to find out his reservation had been cancelled, but Janos didn't much care and Jay had been all too gleeful to cancel it.

"How many keys would you like, sir?" She addressed Janos.

"Three," he said easily. "One for myself and each of my mates."

She nodded and quickly typed that in before handing three slender cards made of gold to him. "Your butler will show you to the penthouse." She motioned to a perfectly groomed black and tan Hound approaching them.

"Welcome to the Azine." The canine bowed to them. "I am Thomin, your butler. If you would follow me."

The seven of them fell into step behind the Hound, following him to a lift that would carry them up to their rooms, listening to his polished rendition of the services the hotel considered exceptional or unusual that it wanted its best guests to know about.

The lift opened directly into the penthouse suite, leaving Mina speechless and Vondra giving a soft sound of approval.

Janos and Jay both caught the butler's quick assessment that he was dealing with a group that was less than accustomed to dealing with such wealth. Janos, at least, was familiar with it ... and the benefits of it. He'd been in these suites before, courtesy of a few employers who wanted to lay low without living down to the level of the place they were staying at.

The entry room was pristine, done in fine marble with gold, stone and gem inlays along with decorations similar to the public spaces, but even finer. Just this room was worth a half a million credits in material and crafting costs. The rest of the two-story apartment would be similarly lavish.

And no matter what happened, nobody would raise an eyebrow unless the Hutts took an interest in it. That was a benefit he didn't want to use, but if it came up, it'd be helpful. He already knew they'd arrange body removals if something came up.

He could tell, too, that Jay was being polite by moving with the group as they were shown around. The Kat wanted to get moving and assess the place himself for escape routes and weak points.

The tour was over fairly quickly; Mina was able to get the slightly shocked look out of her eyes, and between Janos and Vondra, they were able to confirm that they knew how everything worked fairly quickly.

"Well then, will you be needing anything right away?" The Hound asked as they returned to the entry a few minutes later.

"Yes, actually," Janos nodded. "We have some packages at Etwin's that we'll need packed up, and I'll need a month's supply of Vetoril delivered as soon as it's possible."

"Of course, sir." The Hound bowed to him and turned to go to his small office to arrange for both.

"Vetoril?" Vondra stepped up next to Janos as Jay headed off to run his own tour of the place and the other females headed to stake out their respective spaces.

"Cycle suppressant for Wolves," he said easily, not sure if she didn't know what it was or was just surprised he was ordering it. "I'm not particularly looking forward to joining the expectant parents around here any time soon. Hey, Jay!" He called off to the tom searching the place. "Double check the alarms near the fire escape on the second floor when you're up there!"

"Turned on and hooked up right so far." Jay called back without physically checking them yet. "I'll give them this much, they're good at security."

"They have to be," Janos called back with a chuckle. "So, why don't we get everybody settled in, hmm?" He asked, looking around and stretching out. "Think we've got almost enough rooms for everybody to have some space to themselves," he chuckled.

"That will be a pleasant chance." Vondra rumbled and kissed his cheek before making a graceful departure to claim her own room for the stay.

Vondra Santross took a deep breath and settled into a role she'd thought lost to her. The trappings were very much like home; the restaurant in the Azine hotel was fine enough to suit any of her kin back on Corellia. She was dressed as she was used to; everything but the group walking around to her was very much like home had been.

Jay, to her surprise, had settled in and was looking and acting the part of long familiarity with wealth in every way. Maybe he had been at one point, and lost it. His ship certainly had a flair and quality that spoke of much money put into survival rather than decoration. Much like the tom himself used his energy and time.

Despite Janos being the accepted Alpha of them, she could see in the reactions that Jay was being taken as the true authority and that she was the Alpha female, not Mina. It was strange, and a little dangerous if the shecat ever noticed, but it was also appealing. Vondra was recognized for who she was; a lady of wealth and breeding.

She had some of that by right too, as the Alpha's bitch. Even as a slave, her position on Janos' arm gave her some real authority that her natural bearing and upbringing only enhanced.

Of course, the fact that Janos didn't like Mina at all didn't help the shecat's status any; she was sure that Mina was aware of that, even she was by now.

"Welcome," the maitre'd said easily as they walked up to the lean brown Rabbit behind the small desk. "You are the new guests, yes?"

"Yes," Janos nodded slightly, relatively familiar with the way wealth and such hotels worked from watching various employers.

"All seven at the same table, sir?" The Rabbit asked politely, directing his comments to Janos even though he could sense that Jay held the final authority and Vondra looked to outrank the male Wolf by her natural bearing.

"Yes," Janos said easily. There wasn't any particular reason to split them up; after all, it would rather defeat the purpose of bringing their pets along to have them eat elsewhere, at least in his mind.

The Rabbit glanced down to double check the availability and picked up a handful of thin, small lightslates. "If you would follow me, please." He bowed to them slightly and headed into the posh restaurant.

The seven guests followed him, most of their noses working overtime to pick out all the various scents coming from the delicious food. They found their way to a large, round table in a relatively private room, taking their seats around it as the maitre'd handed them each a lightslate.

"Your server is F'rena; she will be with you shortly." He informed them by telling Janos. "Is there anything I can arrange for you now?"

Vondra gave Janos a look that was very easy to read; she did want something, but would not speak up without permission.

"Vondra?" He asked, giving her the permission as he surreptitiously glanced around to see what sort of drinks were being served without giving any outward sign he was doing so. Most seemed to be drinking some variety of wine, but stronger things and various non-intoxicants were apparent as well.

"Two bottles of vintage Resueneti shabinone resine for the table." She spoke smoothly with the easy manner of one who was familiar with what she was saying and exactly what it was.

"Of course, ma'am." The Rabbit inclined his head politely.

"That should do for a start," Janos nodded easily. "Mina, Tami, what would you two like?" He asked, knowing that even the wine wouldn't be particularly good for either of them at this point.

"Spiced hot milk." Mina decided after a moment's annoyance at having the wine off limits.

"Milk, sir." Tami said softly, much more submissive than any of the others.

"At once, sir." The Rabbit bowed to Janos and moved away.

"Good choice," Janos smiled to Vondra. "You're really taking well to this place."

"This is what I grew up with." She said simply.

"It shows," he nodded slightly, not bothering to ask how she'd ended up where he'd found her if that was the case. "Unusual, but helpful. Especially with me," he chuckled.

He caught that she held a comment back, something fairly sharp given the flare of hatred and something else from deep inside her, but there was no indication of it if he wasn't paying attention to the minds around him. Her manner remained flawless as a chestnut Mare delivered their drinks and poured the wine with an easy hand.

"I know some exceptional places on Corellia if we ever visit there." Vondra said easily.

"Maybe we will," he nodded, not sure if he wanted to ask about the comment later or not. Probably not, at least not yet. "A glass for the two mothers to be as well, please," he told the waitress politely as she prepared to leave the bottle. "One glass shouldn't be a problem."

After all, at least for a little while it wouldn't do to tick Mina off too badly.

The Mare nodded and easily filled the last two wine glasses on the table to the same level as the others, finishing off the second bottle of the wine that she'd brought for them before leaving with both empty containers.

Janos was about to pick up one to taste when he caught Vondra go stiff inside, a reaction that was quickly followed by Jay fixating on something nearby as he began to taste her fear.

His eyes shifted to what he felt most certain was the source of Vondra's reaction, the rest of his body concealing the motion. A buff white Wolf, coming in the main entrance. He was dressed to the nines, clearly comfortable with the wealth.

If it weren't for that and the color, Janos would almost have thought he was looking at a version of himself. He didn't think the newcomer was a sensitive, but that just made the aura of arrogance, and the nearly-visible promise of pain to anybody who challenged it, all the more disturbing.

Nobles were like that a lot of the time, but usually not so much you could feel it.

His hand beneath the table shifted slightly, resting on the grip of the holdout blaster hidden in his clothes. If it was necessary, he wanted to be able to fire quickly. He knew Jay was, both physically and with a set of Force-skills that Janos wasn't quite so comfortable using in public.

Despite her internal reaction, Vondra was still flawlessly composed to the eye. She was trying not to look at the newcomer, who was now clearly headed for them, but she wasn't nearly as skilled at it as the males.

"You must be the Miklar Alpha." The white Wolf rumbled with a manner than did more than just hint that he didn't consider it of that much consequence.

"I am," Janos said, looking up at him and meeting his eyes. There was a force of personality and natural domination there that actually made it a choice not to look away. "Though it seems you have me at a disadvantage."

"*He's trouble.*" Jay rumbled, not liking the newcomer at all.

"Vondrich Kamarn." He introduced himself with an easy arrogance. "It seems you have come into possession of something of mine."

"I was never yours, ken'thu." Vondra flattened her ears with the low growl, the first sign of aggression any of them had seen from her.

Only Janos had any idea how much of an insult she'd just given, but Vondrich's bared fangs clued the others in quickly to how much she'd succeeded.

"And even if she was, that situation has changed several times since," Janos rumbled, standing. It never did to deal with a dominance issue when you were beneath the challenger. Standing, he was on a more even footing - a couple inches above the other Wolf. "Personally, I'm inclined to believe her."

It was a moment that could have turned into a fight, and everyone in the area was watching cautiously least they had to get out of the way of the two Alphas if it came to blows.

"She is your pet now," Vondrich acknowledged, gathering his wits about himself quickly. "I can offer you more than she is worth to you."

"How much?" Janos asked with a bit of a chuckle in his voice. Not that he had any intention of selling her just now, least of all to an ass like this, despite her complete panic that the conversation had gotten this far.

"Five thousand." The white Wolf offered, his tone that of a beginning price, not a final one, as Vondra's heart sank. She knew just how many times that was the price of a top slave.

"Hmm ... let's say you're not completely insulting me and giving me your top offer, and that you'd go up to maybe double that ... you're still talking pocket change to me, pretty boy," Janos smirked, knowing he was getting under the other's skin already. "Even if you're right that it's more than she's worth, I don't feel like selling a new pet for an offer that rates petty cash. Why don't you go find yourself somebody more in your price range? Kobba's major domo usually has some cheap playthings on offer."

It was an insult not lost on Vondrich, who bristled.

"You should take the offer, ken'thu." He rumbled darkly. "Lest you get nothing for her."

The insult didn't matter in the least to Janos; he knew he wasn't blooded, and didn't really give a shit.

The fact that he picked up on the thinly veiled threat not just to himself, but to Vondra, he did care about.

"You listen to me, Dog-blood," Janos rumbled softly, baring his teeth for a moment as he brushed the pocket with his hold-out blaster up so the other Wolf could feel the barrel against him for a brief moment. "I'm going to pretend you weren't thinking what you were," he continued in a near-whisper. "But if you think for an instant that you're going to threaten me, my friends, or anybody in my pack, then you'd better go have a word with Keval about what happens to people who try that sort of shit with me."

"You will regret that, ken'thu." Vondrich growled and turned on heel to leave, giving a final insult by ignoring the very real threat that Janos represented by turning his back on the warrior.

"He'll be back." Jay commented dryly, a bit riled himself.

"I don't doubt it," Janos rumbled, taking his seat and shaking a bit to flatten his fur out. "If he does, I'm sure he'll give me ample excuse to rearrange his smug face for him. You two have history?" He asked Vondra.

"He made his fortune in the slave trade out here," she said quietly, taking a bit too deep a drink of wine to settle her badly rattled nerves. "He's been courting the daughters of several reputable families to gain access to the respect and access their name brings."

"Bastard," Janos muttered, shaking his head. "Well, if he tries anything, he'll be learning a very painful lesson."

"He's persistent and ruthless," she warned him quietly and got her flawless exterior back in place in time to face their server.

"So am I, when I want to be," Janos rumbled, settling in and getting ready to place their order.

Jay dropped onto one of the deeply padded armchairs in their suite with a soft, content sigh. Good food, a fairly relaxed meal, being treated like he belonged ... he couldn't remember the last time he hadn't drawn looks. Here, no one looked at him unusually. He wasn't Jedi, he wasn't treated like he was scarred, he wasn't anything they weren't expecting.

He couldn't help but purr softly when Misha settled herself along his side, snuggling it up against him and just as content as he was.

It was a good day to be alive, the first he could recall in some time.

"Now this was a good night, Vondrich aside," Janos rumbled, taking a seat of his own and trying to coax Vondra into his lap briefly. He couldn't help but be privately surprised when she settled there, though she maintained the prim manner her dress brought out in her. He felt her shudder at the other Wolf's name.

"True, though at least he backed down before it turned into a fight." Jay smiled and nuzzled his Minervan Mink.

"If he hadn't, it would've been his corpse," Janos chuckled, setting his blaster to the side and nuzzling Vondra lightly as she slowly relaxed into the more submissive, sexually available role she had in private.

"Mmm ... though he will be back," Mina pointed out with a purr, gratefully sitting down and leaning back with Y'alla kneeling between her legs on the floor. "At least as long as we're on Nar Shaddaa."

"It's not like he's that much of a threat." Jay pointed out, both his mates realizing at about the same time that he liked the way he was treated here by the staff and other guests. "Guy's not even a sensitive."

"Hey, I'm not gonna argue with that," Janos chuckled. "I figure we've got a good chunk of time before we have to worry about him seriously. Doesn't much matter what sort of money he has, unless he goes and hires a good chunk of the Exchange to come down on us, we can handle it. And I really don't think he's crazy enough to bankrupt himself over something like that."

"He's much more likely to hire an assassin." Vondra murmured uneasily. "He doesn't accept loosing. Not anything this valuable."

"And you won't be going anywhere you can't be protected," Janos reassured her, kissing her cheek lightly. "Like I said, unless he brings the whole Exchange down on our heads, assassins and bounty hunters alike, he won't be getting anywhere."

"I hope not." She tried to sound reassured, though she really wasn't all that much. Then she nuzzled him back and licked his ear. "Why don't we head to bed?"

Nobody missed the surprised expression on his face, but he returned the affectionate lick and helped her to her feet.

"Sure," he rumbled, standing after her. "It's been a long night."

"Yes, it has." Vondra smiled shyly and ghosted a hand along his side as they stood.

"Let's go," he rumbled, wrapping an arm around her side and leading her into their bedroom. "You're in a good mood," he rumbled, kissing her gently as the door closed behind them. He found the returned kiss a bit bolder than usual and opened himself up to her surface thoughts. He couldn't be surprised that she was grateful that he hadn't sold her, even for the outrageous sum. He was a little surprised that it made her more comfortable with him ... more confident in her place and herself.

"Maybe I'm getting used to you." She smiled shyly and slid her hands down his chest to lightly fondle his groin.

"Mmm ... maybe I need more people to try to buy you from me," he chuckled, rumbling and caressing her back as he looked for the zipper on her dress. "Though I like the idea of you getting used to me." He growled as the door buzzed slightly.

"Just a moment," he grumbled, pulling back slightly.

"The Vetoril you requested, sir." Their butler said calmly as the door opened, offering a small packet of pills in one hand.

"Ah, thank you," he nodded, taking the packet and closing the door as the Hound left.

"Will you need something to drink with this?" He asked Vondra, popping one of the pills out for her.

Vondra's dress slipped off her shoulders as he turned around, an almost wanton look for her on her face as she stepped up to him again and licked the small pill from his fingers.

He rumbled deeply as she swallowed it, caressing her muzzle and reaching down her body to stroke the lips of her sex lightly.

"That answers that," he rumbled, kissing her again. "You're definitely in a better mood."

"And you have too many clothes on." She quipped as she knelt to nuzzle his groin, leaving his hand near her breasts as she kept his attention on what her muzzle was doing while her hands loosened his pants.

"One way to fix that," he rumbled, petting her head before he started to undo his vest and shirt. He wasn't entirely sure what the change was about, but he was not about to complain about it.

He drew a sharp breath when he felt her tongue on his balls just before one was drawn into her mouth to be lavished with more attention.

"Oh fuck," he groaned, pausing for a moment to just enjoy the sensation before he kept working on pulling his top off, reaching out to sense Vondra's thoughts and reaction. It was a sharp reminder of how young she was and how inexperienced at doing this voluntarily. Her mind was focused on what little she knew about his pleasure and mostly on trying to do things she'd only heard about.

She was doing a pretty good job of it though; she'd get better with experience.

"Good girl," he rumbled, kicking his pants off and stroking her ears as his cock swelled and pressed against her muzzle. That was a moment when he truly comprehended how effective praise was on her. She had heard so little of it in her life she was very eager for the simple reward. It, and her own ideas, brought her mouth up to pay attention to the soft, bare skin until there was enough of it to fit between her breasts and still lick at.

"Mmm ... feel like experimenting tonight?" He rumbled, scritching her neck and groaning with pleasure as she found a particularly pleasant spot. He had to give her credit for paying attention too. She went back to that spot shortly after she'd processed his reaction.

"Some, Master." She answered before taking the top part of his cock into her mouth while she pressed her breasts around the lower half to enclose it in a furry cocoon that rubbed along the sensitive skin with every movement either made.

His only response was to groan, pumping his seed up into her mouth as he fought the urge to thrust up more, her breasts teasing his knot as it swelled.

He couldn't help but know that she really didn't like the taste flooding her mouth, though she did her best to swallow it and lick him clean, something she'd been trained to do and definitely didn't enjoy.

He pulled her up for a kiss, licking her muzzle affectionately.

"Mmm ... it's an acquired taste," he rumbled as she melted in his arms, and act of trust and desire more than the fearful submission of the first time. He guided her to the bed, nuzzling her neck.

"Such a good pet," he rumbled, rubbing her back. "So, how adventurous are you feeling?"

A spike of fear that this was a trap was quickly suppressed as she nuzzled him back and relaxed again.

"Fairly adventurous." She murmured.

"Okay," he rumbled, shifting down to kiss her breasts as he slid open one of his bags and pulled some of the lube out of it. "Remember, you can ask me to stop if you don't like it."

"Yes, Master." She arched into his touch with honest desire even as she slipped a little further into the pleasure slave mentality.

He reached down as the lube set down next to the bed, opening the jar before starting to stroke her clit, licking and nuzzling his way down her body to a series of moans and whimpers. He didn't have to watch her mind to know she wasn't faking it, though he kept an eye on how she was reacting inside.

It was a shame she wasn't as willing to take the lead just now, but then, with what he was looking for it wasn't really a problem.

He dipped his fingers into the lube, slicking them down nicely before he started to spread the thick gel around her furless pucker.

The reaction was instant and as far from positive as he could think of, though she didn't say anything. Her body tensed against her wishes, memories ripe with the agony of her training unwilling to leave as she squeezed her eyes shut and tried to push them away.

"I can stop," he told her softly, looking up at her. "I won't hurt you like they did though, if you want me to keep going."

"I -- will try." She said with difficulty, the trouble in her memories, not with him.

"All right," he rumbled, licking her sex tenderly, working his fingertip around her anus to get her used to being touched down there, taking his time and keeping a close eye on her real reactions.

It really was rewarding to know, right from her mind, that her reactions were scars from others and her upbringing that this was a dirty thing that only guys did, rather than anything to do with him. She was fighting to please him, because she wanted to please him.

"You're doing well," he reassured her, gently starting to press a finger into her, licking at her clit and trying to distract her with pleasure.

It worked too, to an extent. Vondra moaned and shivered, pressing into his muzzle without thinking even as her body tried to push his finger out.

He could feel that this wasn't anything she associated with pleasure, that it didn't feel good, but it didn't hurt either. That, in and of itself, was an important victory.

He remembered all too well trying to teach himself that it wasn't about pain, and knew that he could work around that over time. She just needed a good experience to start her that way. That was something he knew he could do if he let her, and it looked like she would.

He worked his finger in and out of her slowly, letting her adjust to it and working to pleasure her clit and sex as he did so, gradually working his finger in deeper.

She wasn't relaxing, but she wasn't hurting either. As long as it didn't hurt, he was making progress. For a first time after her training, she was doing very well.

He caught her low whimper as she bit her lip. He probably wouldn't get much further tonight, but she was still holding on to giving him the chance to teach her it could be good.

He worked his single finger into her up to the last knuckle, just holding it there for a bit, before he started to work in earnest on stretching her enough to accept another finger while she was still willing.

He pressed his tongue up into her sex as he did so, fingering her hard clit to keep her feeling pleasure along with any small amounts of pain.

This moment, more than almost any other, he was grateful he could read minds. Her pleasure was a minefield almost as bad as he'd been when he'd finally stopped his father's abuse.

He slowly pressed a second finger into her body, and knew an instant before she opened her mouth that this was over for the night. It was simply too much for her yet and she whimpered softly.

"P-please stop, Master."

He pulled out quickly, moving up to hold her close comfortingly, rubbing her back and nuzzling her neck.

"You did good, pet," he told her with a soft rumble. "Better than I expected."

"Thank you, Master." She breathed and shifted to rub against his body even as hers tried to make the open feeling in her ass go away.

"It'll get better," he promised her. "Promise. It'll take a while, but it will get better." He kissed her gently, and then nuzzled her neck, inhaling her scent. For all that she was unsettled by their experimentation, she was definitely still aroused. "Something a bit more normal perhaps?"

"Mmm, yes, Master." She rumbled, eager to encourage him in what she knew would feel good with him.

"Good," he rumbled, shifting back on top of her with an affectionate lick to her neck. He pressed himself up against her entrance, kissing her again.

"Ready?" He asked her.

"Yes, Master." She moaned softly and shifted her hips to urge him to slide into her. This kind of sex she'd already learned to enjoy with him.

He started to slide into her, moaning lustily as her hot, tight body accepted him, and he started to thrust slowly, savoring the feeling.

"Like ... mmm ... this side of you," he rumbled, kissing her hungrily.

She kissed him back with a growing fire, already beginning to accept that pleasure from his acts wouldn't be used against her and that pet or not, he did actually care about her and her desires.

It was more than she'd expected in a husband, for all her parents were picky for her. To find it in a slave-owner, and her owner no less ....

Janos rumbled, using the Force to caress her body lightly as he mated her. He shifted his thrusts a bit, searching for angles that made her feel particularly good.

It wasn't a difficult task. She had no concept of the idea of holding back, and knew he liked it when she made her pleasure clear. It was still a bit of a shock to them both when he rubbed against her g-spot and she howled sharply.

The older Wolf grinned, starting to hammer the rough patch with his shaft as his knot swelled and tied with her and her body tightened rhythmically around his. She brought her legs up to wrap around his hips and whimpered and howled as the pleasure overwhelmed her again.

He howled with her, the sounds harmonizing as he came with her, his shaft erupting inside of her and filling her tight sex with his seed.

Jay watched Janos leave with his pet, and gently scooted Misha off his lap to stand behind Mina's chair. He slid his hands down her chest and licked her ear playfully. "Why don't we let the pets play, and spend the night together?"

"Mmm ... or we could go for three," she rumbled, flicking her ear playfully and reaching back around the chair to rub his thigh. "I think you could do with having two attractive women tending to your 'needs,' don't you?"

"And you would enjoy having one to tend to yours." He chuckled lightly and tipped her chin up for a light kiss. "Which one?"

"Of course I would," she smiled, kissing him back and reaching down to stroke Y'alla's lekku lightly, earning a light shiver of pleasure from her. "Mmm ... you've never been with a Twi'lek before, if I'm not mistaken? Why don't we change that?"

"No, I haven't been." He consented as his hands slid up to cup her swollen primary breasts and played with them lightly, earning a lusty purr. "Misha, if you feel like finding company, you may go find it."

"Thank you, Master," the Minervan Mink smiled, moving towards the door. "Enjoy yourselves," she winked before heading out the door, leaving the three others behind, Tami discretely disappearing to her room.

"Mmm ... so, I believe the master bedroom is still unoccupied?" Mina purred, reaching up to rub the back of his neck.

"Yes, it is." He chuckled and drew her to her feet for a kiss. "I can already feel their life." He breathed, his fingers spread across her growing belly.

"Mmm ... in a few months, you'll be able to feel more," she promised, turning into the kiss as Y'alla stood obediently. "Let's go make sure they know who their father is, hmm?"

"And you feel too good to forget," he rumbled deeply and licked her ear as they walked to the master bedroom, Y'alla behind them.

"Sounds good to me," she purred. "You're in a good mood tonight," she observed, the door sliding open to admit them as she started to strip off her large dress. It was debatable whether Jay was more help or hindrance, but his hands and mouth moved across her body with little concern for whether there was bare fur yet or not. He just wanted to touch and taste her more than he wanted her naked.

"I suppose I am." He murmured across her lowest breasts.

"Mmm ... I'm not complaining," she purred, using the Force to ghost a touch along his body, paying particular attention to his crotch as her hands worked on his sides and shoulders. "Y'alla, a little help?" She asked. The Twi'lek moved to help Jay start to undressed as she could. While he didn't resist her efforts, he was far more interested in his mate's body than what was happening to his own.

"Good." He grinned and sank to his knees to lightly kiss her sex as Mina's dress pooled around her feet.

"Oh yes," Mina groaned, spreading her legs to let him at her more easily. "Mmm ... you like the way I taste?"

"*Yes,*" he rumbled with a shiver, his tongue working her clit in a slow swirl designed to draw out the pleasure while the caressed her breasts and gently slid his tongue inside her body.

She moaned softly, the muscles of her thighs rippling. She moaned again, more deeply, as Y'alla knelt behind her and rimmed her furless pucker lightly. Her black-striped tail locked up off to the side as her pleasure mounted, her mate and pet working her expertly to a drawn-out orgasm.

Mina cried out in pleasure, her body rippling as her juices flowed down her thighs and around Jay's chin. Y'alla stroked her hips gently, pale blue fingers playing through her fur as she worked with Jay to milk her mistress' orgasm out as long as possible.

"Mmm ... going to stay down there?" Mina asked Jay after a few moments, panting happily.

He chuckled softly and licked her lower lips in one slow motion as he picked up what she had in mind. "I like that idea."

"Oooh ... good," she purred, sitting on the edge of the bed as her legs started to get weak, spreading her legs. "Y'alla, why don't you occupy yourself pleasuring your master, hmm?"

"Yes, Mistress," the Twi'lek smiled, moving around to work Jay's pants off, kissing the back of his neck as he moved to get back at Mina's sex.

This time he gave her some assistance in getting him undressed while still paying attention to Mina. It didn't take long before Y'alla got a look at his fully hard cock and began to stroke it lightly to a soft moan of pleasure almost lost along Mina's.

The skilled pleasure slave kissed and nuzzled Jay's neck and shoulders, her lekku helping as she searched out his pleasure points, stroking his cock lightly as he ate out Mina, her pleasure at giving him pleasure clear and brought a pleasure of it's own to him that even she picked up on.

That was encouragement enough to him to turn part of his attention in the Force to stroking Y'alla's body and learning its pleasures.

It wasn't lost on Mina that he wanted to be inside that powder blue body tonight, memories of another blue-skinned mate just below his conscious level.

"*Mmm ... you can take her, you know,*" Mina pointed out, moaning in pleasure as she tightened her body around his tongue. "*We can both enjoy her.*"

"*Now?*" He rumbled, a mental image of the Twi'lek bent over on the bed with her face between Mina's legs and Jay between her own. It was a thought that sent a bolt right to his cock even more effective that the mouth currently pleasuring it.

"Oh yes,*" Mina moaned, enjoying the image as well as Jay's pleasure. Y'alla gave Jay's cock one more lick, then looked up at him as she sensed that they wanted something different.

"Your turn to be in the middle." Jay rumbled eagerly as he drew the pale blue woman to her feet and kissed her deeply.

"With pleasure, Master," she rumbled back, returning the kiss and reaching down to shed the short skirt that covered her below the waist, revealing her pale-blue sex, as hairless as the rest of her, as she caressed his neck with her lekku. "My mouth is for Mistress then, I assume?" She asked with a whisper.

"Yes," he nuzzled the appendages and caressed her body before lightly fingering her lower lips as Mina set herself up on the pillows, her legs spread for the pet that would be between them soon. "Do you want lube?"

"Oooh ... no need, Master," she moaned softly before she climbed on the bed to lick Mina's sex, long and slow. She spread her knees, her ass in the air, as the pregnant shecat reached down to rake her shoulders lightly with her claws, both women moaning.

Jay watched a long moment, savoring the pleasure that was so thick in the air, and got on the bed himself to finger Y'alla's sex until the Twi'lek shuddered in pleasure before pressing into her with a deep groan.

Y'alla moaned into Mina's sex, tonguing her hungrily as her body milked Jay's barbed length. She teased the shecat's anus with one of her lekku, rubbing her thighs and lapping up her juices as Mina shuddered with pleasure, digging her claws into the Twi'lek's back, a little blood seeping from the wounds.

The Twi'lek's pleasure at the light pain was more than enough to send Jay over the edge with a roar, the sensations of now mixing with memories from what seemed to be another lifetime to leave him shuddering with each thrust that pumped more hot come into Y'alla's willing body.

She came with him, crying out into Mina's body as hers spasmed, pulling at Jay's barbs as she drew his seed deep into her body.

Jay felt a thick presence wrap around his cock, stroking him inside of Y'alla and helping him fuck the Twi'lek through her orgasm. Mina panted, spreading her legs and grinning up at him over her belly.

"*You like?*" She asked him.

"*Force yes.*" He shuddered and almost peaked a second time right on the heels of the first. It had been so long since anything truly new had entered the bedgames he'd forgotten what it was really like.

"Oooh ... good," Mina groaned, her own body rippling as her juices flowed from her sex, her claws raking a short track through Y'alla's skin, a cry of pain more than pleasure coming from the Twi'lek before she caught herself.

Jay's reaction to soothe the pain and heal the wound was as much reflex as Y'alla's. He didn't even think about it, or have it distract him from his own pleasure, but he would remember in the days to come.

The confusion it caused in the Twi'lek was something else he would remember later, but Mina at least took the message, retracting her claws and caressing Y'alla's lekku lightly so pure pleasure echoed in the Force before Jay did begin to think about what had happened.

Nine days of being treated like he belonged had done wonders for Jay, and both his mates could feel him settle and begin to relax. They both also felt the Dark begin to creep into him more, now that he wasn't half-panicked all the time. It was a moment of realization that did wonders for Mina's future plans, now that she understood the primary keys to manipulating him in the long run.

Janos wasn't so sure he liked it, largely because Mina did so much, but he wasn't worried either.

Still, that morning came with surprises as Jay nuzzled him when they'd finally worn each other out.

"Feel like hunting today?" Jay murred.

"Depends - hunting what?" Janos asked with a chuckle. "Certainly plenty of vermin around here that'd be fitting targets."

"Well, there are some suitably dangerous critters around, or we can hunt the two-legged kind of vermin." Jay grinned, his preference for the latter very clear to his mate.

"Mmm ... been a while since I checked up on the local bounties," Janos mused. "Looking for challenge, or doing something 'practical'?"

"A challenge," the tom purred. "And a good workout. We hardly need the cash."

"Vrblther?" Janos asked him with a grin. "You familiar with 'em?"

"Yes," he rumbled eagerly after picking the image from the Wolf's mind and matching it with the Republic name of the large green-skinned ape-like creatures with claws as long as his hand. "Good hunting, poor eating."

"Very poor," Janos chuckled. "Then, there aren't that many critters around here that you'd hunt that are. You know how to use a blaster rifle, right?"

"Never needed one," Jay shook his head. "Why?"

"Maybe never needed one before, but do you want to wade into a pack of those things with just a lightsaber?"

"Love, it's what my style was designed for." He chuckled easily and kissed him. "It's not like they're lightsaber resistant."

"And how, pray tell, am I supposed to have any fun watching you go slaughtering packs of vrblther, hmm?" Janos chuckled, kissing him back. "Your style might be good for it, but mine? Not so much."

"Where's the fun in shooting them, though?" Jay cocked his head a bit.

"Besides the challenge of having to drop most of the pack before it hits hand-to-hand range?" Janos chuckled. "There's more to challenge than raw danger factor, y'know."

"Such as?" Jay raised an eyebrow. While not quite a challenge to the idea, it wasn't anything the tom had considered in a long, long time.

"Skill?" Janos suggested. "Contrary to popular Jedi belief, a blaster isn't something the average idiot just picks up and bullseyes his target with at range regularly."

"Maybe not, but I can." He said quietly. "It's been a long time since skill came into play for me."

"You also said you've never used one before," Janos pointed out. "You might be a bit surprised."

Jay gave him a very doubtful look, but nodded. "It's technology, it's not likely to be a challenge."

"If we were target shooting, I'd agree," Janos chuckled, privately amused to have found such a simple thing that could confound the tom. "But we're talking about targets that tend to dodge here. And are surprisingly good at it."

"All right," he finally agreed, deciding it would be novel if nothing else. "Blasters it is."

"At least for the primary work," Janos chuckled, nuzzling him. "We'll take the 'sabers along just in case, okay?"

"Never go anywhere without them." He quipped with a shake of his head and slid out of bed. "A nice, leisurely shower, then see what we can hunt up?"

"Sounds good to me," Janos grinned, turning to kiss Vondra lightly as he slid out after Jay. "You've got the day off, pet," he rumbled to her lightly, following Jay into the bathroom.

Jay looked around the target range in the Nar Shaddaan slums that Janos had taken him to. The place had clearly seen better days ... of course, it had probably seen worse too. A lot worse, to judge by the repairs that were plainly visible to him.

"Just going to get in a little practice, make sure you've' got it all down," Janos said easily as they walked in, each of them with a well-used blaster rifle slung across their backs and dressed in drab hunting garb that blended in much better than what they'd been wearing.

"Do they have moving targets somewhere?" Jay asked as he spotted several people practicing in the simple setup.

"They should, though not ones that move quite like living targets," Janos confirmed, walking up to the counter and waiting for whoever ran the place now to come out. "That's a little harder to reproduce inexpensively, after all. Even combat droids tend to forget to duck."

"True," Jay chuckled deeply as a veteran of the combat zones came up to the counter to greet them gruffly.

"Two on the advanced range, Sparks," Janos said easily, recognizing the grizzled Badger, pulling out the coin for it. "'Bout a half-hour probably. Want to get in a little practice before hunting later."

"Right," the Badger nodded, pocketing the coins and jerking his head back towards the hallway that led to the area in question. "I'll be back to check on you when your time's up."

"There is a warped logic to having an owner who's more dangerous than most customers." Jay commented absently as he followed Janos into the advanced shooting range.

"A lot of the customers expect it," Janos chuckled. "Besides, if you had to enforce the rules somewhere everybody's armed, would you want to be doing it if you weren't a bigger threat than any three average customers?" He pulled his rifle down off his back, carrying it with practiced ease as they approached the far more private area in the back where they'd be working.

"Never really thought about it," he admitted, his rifle remaining on his shoulder where it was easy for him to move with, and made him seem less dangerous than his companion. It wasn't as if the firearm was going to be used if they did get into a fight.

"Well, as far as I know they haven't had any serious troubles down here in a long time, but it's usually a case of 'better safe than sorry.' And the fact that it usually changes hands because of intimidation," the Wolf chuckled, walking up to a shooting station. "Well, here we are. You want to go first, or watch me take a round?"

"Go for it," Jay nodded to him, his attention focused more on the technology and Force than the physical world.

"All right," Janos nodded, keying in a target sequence he was familiar with before raising his blaster to his shoulder and waiting for the first targets to drop.

He was aware of Jay's scrutiny through the entire sequence. While he had a solid performance, he couldn't help but wishing he'd done a bit better with his mate watching. The Kat was just too damn confident in his ability to do well with a weapon he'd never touched.

He might manage it, but there was a part of Janos that seriously hoped he didn't do too well. Not for ego ... well, not entirely ... but more for the fact that he didn't want Jay to be too cocky when they were hunting targets that fought back.

"Remember it kind of defeats the point to tweak with the automated systems." He added as Jay took his place.

"Right." The tom nodded and swung the rifle from his shoulder into position with a grace that came from knowing his body and physics on an instinctive level rather than an understanding of this particular item. "Pick anything."

"Okay," Janos nodded easily, cueing a different sequence that was at the same skill level he'd just used. Going too much easier would probably be dull for both of them.

Jay hadn't been lying, for all he hit all but one target. He really didn't know how to handle the weapon and it was painfully obvious to the experienced merc. What he did though, surrendering to the Force and his own instincts as a Clawson and well-trained Jedi warrior, still made for impressive results.

Results that irritated the tom, when it was over.

Janos shook his head at Jay's reaction.

"Y'know, given that this is the first time you've used a blaster rifle, most people would be floored that you managed that well," he pointed out. "A dozen targets, moving fairly rapidly, in a pattern you don't know? Takes some folks who do have training time to manage that."

"Most people don't have my training or my natural gifts." He said simply. "Hitting what you aim at is what we do."

"What training?" Janos pointed out seriously. "You picked up the rifle, wore it in, and used it for the first time. Talent only goes so far. Bet you'll peg it the next time we run the sequence, if you want to go for it."

"Jedi, and I would." Jay nodded. "How to let the Force direct your movements and knowing myself well enough to do what I try to."

"These aren't living things, Jay," Janos pointed out with a chuckle. "Force anticipation doesn't work as well with 'em. I'll start your sequence, then cue up an advanced one over here for myself, okay?"

"All right." He shook his head a bit and tried to lighten up. It was hard though, when he wanted to hunt real targets with his bare claws.

Jay flicked his gaze to the right, feeling the presence of a much more challenging prey than the easily killed, only semi-intelligent creatures Janos wanted them to go after. A soft rumble echoed in the darkness of the Nar Shaddaa night as he licked his whiskers back and focused on his mate.

"I'm going after more challenging prey." Jay grinned at him.

"Hold on, what?" Janos asked, looking over at him after dropping the last vrblther in the pack he'd been working on. "What'd you spot?"

"Something Dark." He rumbled, hungry for real action, his attention primarily on what he was after.

"You want backup?" Janos asked him quickly, hoping to get an answer before the tom took off.

"No," Jay murmured after a moment's hesitation. He knew, deep down, that the Wolf wasn't ready for this. "I want to be solo for a while."

"Meet you back at the apartment then," Janos nodded slightly. "See what Vondra does when she has time to herself," he chuckled. "Just be sure you call if you've got some trouble."

"I will," Jay promised and took off at a quick lope, his body low and focus as much in the Force as in the physical world as he tracked his prey.

It didn't take long for him to disappear into the dark tangle of Nar Shaddaa's slums. The area was rife with possible prey; criminals, thugs, bums, all manner of different people and things that wouldn't be missed. The buildings extended for kilometers, the shadows thick and giving him plenty of places to hide as he stalked his target.

The Rodian had once been a powerful hunter, Dark as many of his kind who were sensitives and survived long on their world. But it was the scent of his kind that drew Jay to him. His nature was of secondary concern; the tom didn't even care that he really was after dangerous prey now.

He could see him now; the Rodian's green skin was cracked in some places. It was clear that he'd been a Dark Sider for some time; the anger in him was almost palpable, as was the growing fear that his skills were weakening him while he was condemned to a place where weakness meant death.

He was a killer, had likely been a dangerous hunter before. Now, he was a challenge, but little more. He didn't even sense that Jay was there until the tom pounced on him with nothing more than Force-enhanced claws and jaws and a lust for blood.

The Rodian struggled, calling the Force to try and force the tom off of him, but to no avail. He rocked Jay back, but sharp claws bit into his hide just before Jay bit down on his throat, crushing his windpipe. The look and smell of shock and fear in the Rodian's eyes sent a rush through him like very little else could, an intoxicating sense of terror and pain and power like he'd never imagined.

That rush brought to mind the rush of killing in an orgasm that he'd learned not so long ago. He licked some of his fur clean and lifted his nose to the stale air, seeking a suitably female target to indulge himself with.

He caught a familiar scent in the air, mentally filtering out the blood and gore of the Rodian's death. Cheetah ... female, he thought. Something odd about it though ... and familiar.

A scream from the scent's direction decided it for him and he headed in the direction at a fast pace.

Even if she wasn't worth it, what was causing her scream was going to be amusing.

Darting through the buildings, he found the scene quickly, the Cheetah backed into the corner of an alley by a Skunk and a Hyena. None of them were particularly well dressed; they'd all clearly seen better days.

"C'mon, bitch, you know the deal - you find something, you share it, down here," the Hyena told the Cheetah, a makeshift knife in hand.

Jay licked his lips and hung back, angling for an appearance that would have the most impact on his targets.

"Get away! I haven't taken anything from you!" The Cheetah protested, the fear in her scent powerful. From this distance, Jay could tell what the difference was too.

She was really a shi.

"Yeah, well that's no reason for us not to get our share," the Skunk growled.

No reason but that they stood between a true hunter and what he wanted.

Jay grinned and snuck up behind the pair trying to get money from his quarry and grabbed the Skunk, pulling him back into a precise neck bite that paralyzed without killing.

The Hyena turned, shouting in surprise as the Skunk went limp and lashed out at Jay with his knife.

"Who the fuck are you?" He snarled as Jay moved with the speed and agility that just weren't seen there often.

"Jay Clawson." He smiled dangerously and made a lighting-quick move that ended with the makeshift knife on the ground and the Hyena's arm broken in two places before he went to the ground with a sickening crack of bones.

The Cheetah was terrified, watching, hir eyes wide as saucers as the Hyena howled in agony, the Skunk staring mutely as he was forced to watch the proceedings. A swift motion later, and the pained howl was silenced forever.

"Are you all right?" Jay stepped closer to the Cheetah, his mind carefully scanning hirs for the best way to get what he wanted.

"I - yes - you - why?" Shi stammered. Shi was grateful, he could tell, but the dirty Cheetah was suspicious too.

But he could sense that there was hope, under the suspicion.

"Habit," he admitted the not-exactly-a-lie and looked a bit embarrassed by it. "It's hard to pass someone in trouble and not interfere." He glanced at the dead Hyena and the Skunk who might as well be. "Overreact sometimes."

"Th-thank you," shi said, still looking a little scared and not the least bit ignorant of his deep scares or the fact he was soaked in blood from an earlier target than hadn't gone down so cleanly.. "I- they would've killed me ...." Shi was dirty, scrawny, but looked like shi would probably clean up fairly nicely.

Exactly what he was looking for.

"Look, why don't you come to my ship. We both need to get cleaned up." He offered with a gentle smile. "We can get a meal there too."

"Really?" Shi asked, extending hir hand to him. "I ... I don't have anything," shi said cautiously. He could tell that, in part, shi wasn't entirely sure shi could trust him.

He also knew that shi didn't think shi had all that much to lose.

He took hir hand in a gentle, reassuring grip. "Yes, really. I have plenty to share."

"Thank you," shi smiled shyly. "Where is your ship?"

"Local spaceport." He guided hir by homing instinct more than knowledge of the area.

"You're from up top?" Shi asked, clearly more interested now. "What are you doing down here?"

"Hunting vrblther," he chuckled slightly.

"Hope you had good hunting then," shi chuckled with a smile. "I've had to run from them more than I like."

"Twenty nine from three packs before I heard you." He said easily and paused in an open space large enough for Sharufa to land in.

"Whoa," shi murmured, impressed. Shi was only more impressed as the Sharufa arrived a few moments later, flying on down to meet them.

"Your shipmates are on board?" Shi asked him.

"No, that's autopilot." He chuckled as the hatch opened for them. "She's used to having to pick me up in weird places."

"Whoa," the Cheetah blinked, following him up onto the empty ship. He could tell that the Sharufa was glad to see him and he responded with warm feelings for the ship. It was very obvious to him that his companion wasn't accustomed to being on a ship.

He could also sense that shi was already scheming ways this encounter might get hir off Nar Shaddaa. Shi really had no clue what shi was in for, but hir intentions would make it that much easier to bed, and kill, hir.

"Come on, I definitely need a shower right now." He told hir easily. It was the truth too. He was soaked to the skin in Rodian blood.

"You want me to join you?" Shi offered, leaning against the wall as the Sharufa pulled away.

"If you'd like," he purred softly before heading back towards the master bathroom.

"I could use one too," shi admitted easily, following him. Now that shi was out of the filth of Nar Shaddaa's bowels, Jay could definitely agree with hir. Shi probably had fleas, possibly other things ... but he was pretty sure most of it would clean off with a hot enough shower and the shampoo he kept on hand for post-mission scrub-downs. "Where should I put my things?" Shi asked.

"If you don't mind fresh clothes, the trash." He said almost apologetically and motioned to a circular spot in the floor that opened at his words.

He could feel the surprised blink, and the pleasure at the offer, before shi stripped hir threadbare, dirty clothes off quickly, pausing for just a moment to check hir pockets and pulled out the handful of wupiupi coins that shi had nearly been killed for.

"Thank you," shi said sincerely, before putting the rest of the clothes into the trash, complete with any other occupants. Shi blushed shamefully as Jay noticed a small black speck hop up into hir fur from the discarded clothes.

"The shampoo will deal with them." He told her easily and turned on the hot water in the shower designed for three to comfortably play in and stepped under the hot spray with a groan of pleasure.

"Thank you," shi said again, nodding and following him in, drawing a sharp breath at the unusual sensation of the hot water beating through the thick dirt in hir fur. He could tell that shi'd probably groomed hirself for years. Where shi had been it didn't pay too look too attractive or well off.

He shifted a bit to put the streaming water on hir more directly and poured a large dollop of shampoo onto his hand. "Just relax and let it do its work." He purred at hir, already more than a bit excited from the kills and what he planned to do to hir.

"All right," shi nodded, hir sheath filling out a bit as shi picked up his scent and the excitement in it. Shi tried to make an attractive display of hirself as he started to clean hir up, though shi clearly wasn't too practiced at it. "Do you have anybody else on the ship with you most of the time?"

"Yes. They're enjoying hotel life for a couple weeks while we're here." He explained simply and began to work on hir fur and tense muscles. As exciting as the prospects of what would happen when he got hir to bed, this was very pleasurable too. "So Sharufa's good for a little privacy."

"Oooh ...." Shi couldn't answer with more than a wordless moan of pleasure as shi was cleaned, hir fur clearing up nicely. Now that shi was getting clean, the shampoo killing off the parasites in hir fur, Jay could tell that shi was older than he'd first thought; in hir late 20's at least, possibly older. Still, shi was attractive enough, for all that he could feel each rib easily beneath hir fur and lean muscle.

"It's nice to be touched like that, isn't it?" He murmured and nuzzled hir lightly, his hands a little bolder in feeling hir body beyond just cleaning hir up.

"Yes," shi murmured softly. "So long ...." Shi pressed back against him slightly, hir slender body trying to entice him with marginal skill. Despite going basically on instinct, shi could feel his increasing interest and the hard feline cock against hir back.

Jay slid one hand down hir body to lightly rub the heel of his hand against hir sheath while his fingers slipped under hir balls to stroke hir lower female lips lightly. The other moved up to cup and fondle one breast while he nuzzled and nibbled at hir neck.

Shi mewled softly, pressing against his hand as unfamiliar pleasure filled hir body.

"I've never been taken there before," shi murmured to him as he stroked the lips of hir pussy and rubbed hir swelling sheath with skill born of decades of practice with both genders.

Shi could feel the surprise ripple across his body, then the soft rumble of excitement.

"Do you want to be?" He murmured in return, giving her an honest choice despite his intentions for hir later in the night.

"Ooh ... m-maybe later?" Shi offered, hir cock peeking out of hir sheath. Shi rubbed his cock with hir soaked tail, shifting it out of the way. "I should thank you properly first ...." Shi rumbled suggestively and reached back to stroke him with a hand.

"Then maybe a good meal." He rumbled and thrust lightly into hir hand as he focused on pleasuring hir female parts.

"Sounds wonderful," shi smiled shyly, turning around to kiss him tentatively as shi stroked his cock and reached down to fondle his balls.

"Mmm, this you've had a little more experience with." Jay licked hir muzzle, then kissed hir again as he surrendered to the pleasure of hir attentions.

"Yes," shi rumbled, kissing him back with a bit more confidence. "Up front's about the only way I haven't been taken before," shi admitted, teasing his barbs skillfully as he groaned and shuddered. Hir hunger drove him to give into the building pleasure with a roar quickly, covering both their fronts with his seed.

Shi stroked him through his orgasm, and then knelt in front of him, licking his shaft clean and teasing his barbs before taking him into hir mouth.

That earned hir a moan of surprise before he reached down to gently stroke her ears and long white hair while his body responded eagerly, well-accustomed to multiple rounds, especially in the shower.

Shi rumbled, bobbing hir head up and down his cock, hir own shaft hard between hir thighs. Shi teased his barbs with hir tongue, fondling his balls as shi took him deep in hir throat.

"Oh, yeah." Jay rumbled and shivered in pleasure as shi worked him to a second orgasm on the heels of the first.

The Cheetah rumbled around him, squeezing his balls lightly and suckling him, then pulled back to nuzzle his length, the short fur of hir muzzle teasing him as he panted and leaned back against the shower wall, hot water raining down on them in a scene that hit almost every kink he had right now.

"You've definitely had some practice at that." He rumbled appreciatively.

"Mmhmm," shi smiled up at him, giving his shaft a long, slow lick. "Mmm ... I could get more, if I had time," shi suggested, kissing hir way up his body.

"The time it takes to get off this rock?" He chuckled knowingly and scritched hir ear before kissing hir again with a bit more possessiveness. "I can go with that."

"Mmm ...." Shi nearly purred into the kiss. "Sounds good. You mentioned dinner?" Shi asked hopefully.

"Yes," he claimed another kiss and reached down to stroke hir hard cock. "Do you want to get off first?"

"Oooh yes," shi moaned shamelessly, thrusting up lightly into his hand as shi wrapped hir arms around him, pre and water making hir shaft slick to his touch, hir barbs stiff and sensitive.

The position made their size difference, that shi wasn't even half his mass, very clear to them both as he worked hir cock with the skill of decades with a male lover and an honest desire to pleasure hir.

Shi pressed close to his body, moaning with ecstasy as hir balls pulled up close to hir body and shi sprayed hir semen up between them, onto both their bellies.

"Thank you," shi murmured into a gentle kiss he claimed as shi came down enough to stand on hir own.

"You are welcome." Jay smiled gently and shifted to get a bit more shampoo. "A quick clean-up and we'll get a good meal."

Jay couldn't help but chuckle to himself and wonder just how long it had been since shi'd had a real meal with good meat as he cooked a basic meal and shi tried not to salivate too much. Shi probably hadn't even heard of ryl, which was good. It would make its impact from the meat rub and spicing on the vegetables all that more potent.

Shi watched, trying not to look like shi was as eager as shi was. Jay smiled a bit; it was familiar, from what seemed like several lifetimes ago and was definitely a very different Jay Clawson. Shi brushed hir long white hair back out of hir face, still looking just a little dirty from the years of poor treatment. One washing hadn't really been enough to get it all clean.

"I wanted to say 'thank you' again," shi said shyly as he started to plate the meal for them both.

"You never did tell me your name," he commented with an indulgent smile as he set the plates down.

"Only name I remember is Sprint," shi admitted, blushing a bit as shi started to eat hungrily. It was clear that shi enjoyed the well-spiced meat especially, and just as clear that shi was probably half-starved, but trying to be polite. "Had another, but ...." Shi shrugged a bit.

"You've been down there since you were very young," he murmured softly, a level of empathy than surprised even him as he sat down and ate more lightly to savor the feel of the ryl starting to take effect. "I never lost my name."

"You used to live down here?" Shi asked him curiously, as much about him as the heat shi felt growing in hir body. "Or further up yet?"

"I wasn't this far down," he said easily, pleased by her reaction to the ryl and its effects. "I was hardly on the surface either."

"Long way between the two," shi nodded. "I ended up in the gangs when I was about six, Sprint was more useful than the name I had so it stuck. Most of 'em got wiped out over the years since."

"I doubt anyone I knew is still alive," he shook his head slightly. "Hell, I doubt any of their grandchildren are still alive. A Panther thought I was useful and took me away when I was ten. I haven't been back much since."

"Don't blame you," shi chuckled, shaking hir head. "Mmm ... this is very good," shi smiled, finishing hir meal. "What was the spice you used with it?"

"It's a mix, but the primary is ryl." He said easily after checking to make sure shi didn't actually know what it was.

"It's good, whatever it is," shi murmured. "Getting kinda wound up again," shi added with a blush. "Must've been too long since I've had a decent meal ...."

"It's hardly a bad thing to be wound up here." Jay chuckled and stood to walk over to hir and nuzzled hir neck and run his hands down hir sides.

"Mmm ... especially when you're interested to," shi rumbled, nuzzling his neck as shi stood and inhaled his scent. "Guess today's my lucky day, hmm?" Shi giggled, rubbing his back.

"It's not a bad one for me," he rumbled and slid his hand in to cup and fondle a small breast through the soft cloth of hir new clothes.

Shi kissed him tenderly, licking his lips submissively.

"Mmm ... right here?" Shi asked him with a near-purr, imagining just about anything he might want to do with hir. It wasn't so much that shi wanted something in particular just now, but hir scent and mind made it clear that shi wanted something to help work off the building arousal because of the ryl.

He smiled and urged hir to stand as he undid his pants just enough to let his rock-hard cock escape but not so much that they slid off and helped hir get hirs down around hir ankles before he pushed hir to bend over the table and pressed one finger into hir ass, still acting concerned with hir pleasure.

Shi moaned needily, raising hir tail high, the black tip twitching.

"Mmm ... have any ... oooh ... lube?" Shi asked, hir sheath already swelling, the sense that the simple request was one for a luxury shi wasn't used to clear in hir mind.

"Yes," he rumbled and leaned forward to lick hir ear before focusing on the drawer where it was kept in this room and floating the small bottle over. He slicked his fingers before going back to stretching hir ass.

"Thank you," shi moaned. "Feels good," shi added, hir tail swaying as shi squeezed down around his finger.

It earned a rumble of desire from the bigger male over hir and a second slick finger pressed into hir body to work hir open quickly. He brought his tail up to brush along hir sex, balls and hardening cock.

"Oh yes," shi hissed, pressing back into the touch, hir cock quickly hardening as shi milked his fingers. "Fuck me, please!"

"Anytime," he rumbled, the pleading sending a spike of desire through his body as he removed his fingers and pressed into hir with a single hard thrust and groan for the delicious tight heat.

"Ah!" Sprint cried out in pleasure, hir body tightening down around him, his barbed length spreading hir tight, slick ass as hir tail flicked against his chest as he began to thrust, giving into the ryl-heightened desires and thrusting hard and fast, his hands on hir hips to hold hir against him and keep from driving hir against the side of the table.

"Very good." Jay growled deep in his chest, his balls already beginning to draw up against his body.

"So good," the Cheetah agreed, hir cock rubbing against the bottom of the table, pre dribbling from hir tip as he hammered hir prostate and taught hir again that he was interested in hir pleasure too. Even when he was so close to his own orgasm, he made sure shi was enjoying it too.

Shi cried out, throwing hir head back and moaning ecstatically as shi sprayed hir seed against the bottom of the table, the thick fluid landing audibly on the metal floor beneath it.

Hir pleasure, and the muscle spasms that accompanied it, quickly pushed Jay over the edge to flood hir body a moment later with a roar.

Shi moaned, milking his cock with hir ass as shi enjoyed the feel of his seed flooding hir deep inside.

"Oh yes," shi panted when he slowed down and leaned forward to nuzzle her.

"That's what it's supposed to be like." He murmured as he caught his breath.

"Lot better than raw, fast, and no prep," shi murmured. "Mmm ... lot better."

"Still fast," he chuckled and pulled out of hir with a throaty groan. "Come to bed, and I'll show you."

"Sure," shi grinned, following him after tucking hir tail up between hir legs to keep from dripping too much as he led hir back to the master bedroom.

"Have you ever been tied up before?" He asked as he pushed hir down on the bed and kissed hir heatedly, rubbing his still-hard cock against hirs.

"Not willingly," shi admitted. "Willing to try though." He could tell the idea didn't thrill hir, but shi was willing.

Hell, shi was willing to try just about anything to keep him interested enough to get hir off this rock.

"Maybe later then," he rumbled and shifted to spread hir legs so he could sink back into hir ass for a little more fun before he got serious about fucking hir to death.

Jay lightly traced his fingers along Sprint's chest, staring at the passed out Cheetah herm with a frown.

Shi should have been so delicious to push and punish. He wasn't nearly as over his rape decades before as he'd led everyone, even himself, to believe at the time. He'd just pushed himself past it, not truly healed from it.

Then this perfect subject appeared and he couldn't bring himself to hurt hir all that much. Shi'd whimper in pain and he'd back off before he'd even thought.

This was not how it was supposed to happen.

Shi murmured softly, shifting in hir sleep to feel his touch. Maybe it had been a bad idea to pick somebody so much like what he could've been. Shi was a perfect subject ... looking at hir now, he could almost see "Stacey" there instead.

But the more he looked at hir, the more he saw hir as somebody else, who didn't do anything to deserve it. Somebody who'd been on his end of a rape more often than once.

Someone who's life was over before it had even begun.

It was a sad thing. A life without a purpose, without meaning ... no one would miss hir when shi died, or care how it happened.

No one but who killed hir, if that.

At least he'd managed to show hir a bit of kindness and pleasure before the end. It wasn't much, but it was all he could offer hir.

He just couldn't find it in himself to want to hurt hir anymore.

The only thing he had left to offer hir was a quick, clean death while shi slept.

He reached out to hir mind and soothed hir into a deeper sleep before he stood and slid from the bed to retrieve the most potent sleep-aid on board and prepared an injection strong enough to put hir to sleep permanently.

Shi winced slightly as the needle pierced hir skin, but that was all the reaction shi made. Before long, hir breathing slowed, hir body shutting down permanently and hir muscles relaxing.

Within a few minutes, Jay had a corpse in his bed for the second time in his life. This time, shi'd gone with something a bit closer to dignity.

It left the tom deeply dissatisfied and even more disturbed than before.

He put the supplies away and walked into the bathroom for a quick shower before dressing. He'd have to dump hir body where he found hir, and then he was going to do some house-cleaning on Nar Shaddaa's population.

Vondra rumbled softly to herself as she started to wake up, snuggled up against Janos' back comfortably. The past couple days had been surprisingly pleasant, the two of them taking some time to get used to their respective roles in their unusual relationship. She expected much the same today ... until she became aware of the powerful scent of blood in the bed with them.

Her eyes snapped open in alarm, revealing Jay on the other side of Janos. The tom was covered in dried blood from at least a dozen different species, to judge by the scent.

The white-furred shewolf trembled for a few moments, her eyes wide as she tried very, very hard not to scream, her panic and distress increasingly obvious both in her mind and in her scent.

"Nnngh ... what's wrong?" Janos murmured, starting to wake up, his nose working as he picked up the unusual scents in front of him.

"J-Jay." She managed to stammer, shaking badly against his back. "Blood."

Janos was awake in a flash, sniffing at Jay and feeling him to try and make sure it wasn't his. It was enough to wake the tom somewhat, mostly a half-conscious protest to his much-needed rest being disturbed.

"He's all right," he reassured her. "Damn ... he wasn't talking vrblther down there ...." The Wolf shook his head, his lack of surprise at the discovery almost as unsettling as Jay's condition as the tom settled back into a deep sleep. Janos doubted he'd so much as slowed down since they'd parted company. It certainly made the rumors of the vrblther being particularly vicious right now make sense.

"If you want to move to a different room, go ahead," he told Vondra softly. "He needs sleep, and he'll want me to stay here. We'll sort out what happened later."

"Th-thank you, Master." She hurriedly got out of the bed and pulled on a concealing, though still sexy, nightgown and tried not to bolt out of the room on her way to Misha's.

Janos sighed, shaking his head and shifting slightly away from Jay. Most of the blood was dry, at least ... there was still some that was wet, and he'd need to get them both showered and the sheets changed later. He couldn't really blame Vondra for reacting the way she did either.

He just hoped this hadn't been as nasty as things had been on Naboo.

"What have you been up to?" He murmured softly. After a few moments, he decided that Jay would just have to get his rest after getting cleaned up; there was no way he could sleep with that sort of mess in his nostrils. Janos took Jay's shoulder and shook it lightly.

"Jay? Need to get you cleaned up," he said softly, just loudly enough that he thought the older tom would hear him.

"Mmmurrrph," the tom grumbled, though whatever had driven him to slaughter so many people had run its course. He wasn't going to be any more dangerous than usual, and that the Wolf could handle.

A couple more tries got Jay to open his eyes reluctantly.

"Wha?" He blinked a few times, trying to focus on the face in front of him.

"Should be asking you that," Janos pointed out. "You're covered in blood and at least the majority of it isn't yours. Vondra's more than a little freaked, and I think you've made the news lately. Want a shower?"

Jay blinked a couple more times, then nodded as it registered that he should take a shower. He just hadn't had the energy to do more than crawl home. He vaguely recalled thinking he was crawling in with Fenrik during one of those bad missions where one of them did sometimes come back looking like that at night.

Gods ... there were times those days felt like they'd been decades ago.

In a very real sense, it was another lifetime.

Not even his lifebonds from that time were intact anymore, and his mind wasn't far behind them.

"Come on," Janos told him, helping the unresisting tom out of bed. "Let's get cleaned up while somebody gets things changed in here.

Jay nodded again and did his best to get himself to the shower, though it was clear to Janos that he needed the support a couple times on the short walk there. Jay's movements were from stiffness and recently abused muscles rather than injuries.

At least there was that much.

He helped Jay into the shower and turned the water on for him as the tom leaned forward to brace on outstretched arms as the water rained down on him and turned from a spray of clear water to a river of red.

"I'll be back in a minute," he told Jay, giving him a quick kiss before heading out to tell the butler to get the bedsheets changed and have somebody clean the door and rugs.

There was something to be said about a place where you could ask people to clean up a blood trail and they wouldn't bat an eye.

A moment later, he was back with Jay, climbing into the shower with him and found that he hadn't moved a bit, though he was significantly closer to his natural coloration.

The Wolf grabbed the shampoo, starting to work it into blood-caked fur and massage sore muscles to slowly more noticeable sounds of appreciation as Jay's body relaxed.

"What have you been up to?" He asked him, despite having a pretty good idea already.

"Burning off frustration," he murmured and closed his eyes, grateful for the help getting cleaned up. "Ending a lot of hopelessness."

"You got a pretty good bounty put out on a rogue vrblther," Janos murmured, cleaning Jay's fur. "Almost think there's more blood on you than fur right now ...."

"Quite possible," he accepted the statement, still pretty subdued. "Being down there got to me, I think. So much living without a point."

"Y'don't have any bodies on the Sharufa we're going to have to get rid of, do you?" Janos asked him, singularly nonplussed by the news. He had to admit, he knew what Jay meant. "I'd rather stick around here for a while yet, myself."

"No, no bodies on the ship." Jay shook his head and moaned softly as a bit pleasure at his mate's touch began to creep into the simple gratitude for the touch and cleaning. Now with the blood mostly gone, it was good to be clean again.

"Good," Janos murmured, moving him under the water to rinse his fur. "That came out easier than I'd thought it would," he chuckled slightly.

"It does when it's fresh," Jay nodded. "It's when it's had a few weeks to set that it takes a while to look like yourself again."

"Heh - yeah, I know that one," Janos chuckled. "Caught in the field once, only the occasional stream to clean up in, took a month before people believed I wasn't really part red Wolf. You might have a little trouble with Vondra for a while," he added by means of warning. "Nothing serious, but she was pretty freaked out when she woke up."

"I bet she'd never smelled blood like that before." He nodded in acceptance. "Not my intent, I just wanted to sleep somewhere safe." He added the apology in a murmur as his purr slowly increased to the dominant sound from his body.

"Hey, no problem," Janos smiled. "I know that feeling too. She'll just need a bit to get over it." He reached around to turn off the water and turn on the blow-dryers. "You're really beat, aren't you?"

"Yeah," Jay nodded and fluffed his fur a bit to help the drying. "Don't know for how long, but I don't think I stopped moving."

"A bit over two days," Janos offered. "C'mon, let's get you some sleep, the sheets should be changed now."

"Stay with me for a while." Jay murmured and nuzzled the Wolf as they stepped out.

"Of course," the Wolf promised, leading him back to bed, and the fresh sheets there. They crawled in, snuggling up, much more comfortable without blood caking Jay's fur together. It didn't surprise either of them when Jay settled into a deep sleep within minutes while Janos held him gently.

Mina purred lightly as she reached out to Jay's sleeping mind after he had returned, carefully pulling what she could about what he had done from it.

"*I think I'm beginning to see what you meant,*" she told the Demon mentally. "*You knew he would be reaching this point, didn't you?*"

"*Given the right conditions, yes.*" It rumbled back, clearly pleased. "*This is the point of no return for him. He can't face what he's done except by the excuses he's already created. This is what a sense of safety, acceptance and permission create in his kind.*"

"*The Jedi did well to keep him under their 'protection',*" Mina mused. "*Now, how do I control this?*"

"*In any real sense, you can not.*" It told her simply. "*They become more uncontrollable, and more unstable, as they grow Darker. What you can do is ensure that those around him do not reject his behavior. Surround him with people who either do not question or agree with his path. You can suggest things, try to make what you want appealing to him, but you have already faced his reaction when he feels like he is being pushed into something. The one who controls him must be a master manipulator and very familiar with his quirks.

"*He will choose a territory to claim soon, and take it by violence and intimidation. Once he has that, he may well settle and become manipulatable. Neither of the others who turned made it that far. Their kin hunted them down and stopped them. This time, it could well be different.*"

"*This time, only the Jedi hunt him, and not particularly well,*" she agreed with a purr. "*I intend to see that it is different this time. I do, however, need to make him willing to include me in his territory.*"

"*You carry your best method.*" It reminded her. "*He does not like you much, but as he grows Darker, he will care less about that and more about your value as a possession; your value for pleasure and kittens. Be wary though. His kin do hunt for him, and they are coming here. We have the time we need, but very little more than that.*"

"*Then he will need to be strong enough to fight them when they arrive,*" she rumbled. "*Between his gifts and the skills he can be taught ....*"

"*He can become the most dangerous thing either galaxy has ever seen.*" The Demon almost purred, a deep, throaty rumble of excited pleasure at the thought. "*Yes, and he is likely to see you of value if you can teach him as well.*"

"*Which means one thing ... I need to get him to Korriban,*" Mina told the Demon. "*Not for long, but for long enough to visit some of the places Tembris had planned ... I need information, and to build my own skills quickly.*"

"*You will want to do it soon, before he thinks either of you are too far along to travel.*"

"*Which will involve taking him from here, at least for a time ... this will be difficult,*" she mused. "*Even after a two-day blood spree.*"

"*The Kraken would be easier. He has an affection for that ship, a Dark Side personality.*" It suggested.

"*The Kraken? Tembris mentioned the ship,*" she mused. "*But isn't it under Republic control?*"

"*Yes, it is also something he can easily fix.*" It chuckled deeply. "*He can take any ship he wants.*"

"*Then we'll simply need to convince him that the Kraken would be prime territory for him to stake out,*" Mina mused. "*I assume this is possible, yes?*"

"*Yes, it would be,*" the Demon rumbled in pleasure at her idea. "*He does view large ships that way.*"

"*And it would be more than big enough to do the job,*" she purred mentally. "*Should I bring it up? Gently, of course.*"

"*Yes, he's unlikely to think of it himself. Watch his mind carefully; he is unpredictable at this stage. It should work though, even if he rejects it at first. Just let him think about it if he does.*"

"*I'll watch him,*" she confirmed, nodding physically. "*I've learned to do that more carefully by now. I suspect he wants to be rid of me when he can be,*" she muttered mentally.

"*Yes, he does. You will find that desire dimming now that he is not so Light-Side. He will not find your Darkness so unpleasant.*"

"*I'd been considering establishing a mutual interest,*" she mused, looking down at Y'alla and tracing some of her fresher scars. "*After that little incident on Naboo ....*"

"*Yes, that tendency will increase as well.*" It chuckled. "*It would work better with someone who actually enjoys the pain, but she will do as well. It will just take more care and time.*"

"*Mmm ... I don't know that hunting up a pain-slut slave will be all that easy,*" she chuckled. "*Let alone getting the funds from him for one.*"

"*If you can find one, I can arrange for him to 'forget' and leave the money for you to find.*" It chuckled gleefully at the idea. "*You have a valuable pet between your legs too.*"

"*I would rather use a pet I don't have plans for,*" she chuckled, groaning a bit as Y'alla started to pleasure her for the morning and ran her fingers along her lekku. "*She can't have an 'accident' with him until he's a bit more attached to her.*"

"*It will have much more impact,*" it agreed easily and began to fade into the background while the females had their morning pleasure.

Shivasta stood up in front of the gathering of Jedi Knights, some with Padawans of their own, some full-fledged Masters, though few with her experience. Kanna and Jenna were there, along with their Padawans - she didn't like the idea, but the Council had approved their request to rejoin the hunt, and they did have the experience. It was almost comforting to know the hunting party had the extra help, but frankly, it was more disturbing to know that they needed it, badly.

It had been over a month since Toydaria, and they hadn't had a sign of him since.

"As you know," she explained, "Jedi Clawson was captured by the Sith some months ago. Since then, he has been sighted on several worlds by the group of Jedi sent to hunt for him. However, despite killing one of his captors, we have never managed to capture him, and he has begun to fall to the Dark Side.

"However, we are still trying to capture him, rather than kill. It is true that he is beginning to fall, but he is not Sith, and he can be helped. He's sick, and needs to be helped. You've all been equipped with gear that will make it possible to take him prisoner, and you are expected to use it. You will also have to attempt to take his companions prisoner, in all likelihood. One of them is pregnant; she is the most important to capture unharmed. She is most likely one of the worst of the Dark Siders involved, but she is carrying innocent lives." She paused, waiting for any reactions from the assembled Jedi, grateful that the Force made it possible to hide her mental and physical exhaustion from the prolonged, seemingly fruitless, hunt. All they knew was another dozen worlds he wasn't on.

Reactions were about what she had expected; a mixture of disturbed, distressed and determined, but no one who actually objected. She knew Master Zraii would have chosen hunters for a lack of interest in killing Darksiders.

She'd have to remember to thank the Verpine later.

"Each of you have assignments to vessels and search areas. If you encounter the Sharufa, contact the rest of the fleet and begin pursuit. If possible, don't tip them off to your presence. You are hunting a Jedi capable of disabling your ship with a thought."

There were slight nods of understanding. All knew they were here on a dangerous hunt, though most were not personally familiar with Jay.

"Unlike most hunts, this one is likely to end more easily if we can encounter him off the ship." Master Fenrik spoke up as he surveyed the group. "I trust you have all read the profiles provided, both on Jedi Clawson and his captors. Keep them in mind in any encounter."

"If you have to approach to within ten kilometers of the Sharufa, do so only in fighters until it has landed. Getting too close to Jedi Clawson could allow him to shut off life-support on any vessel chasing him; we can't take that risk with non-sensitives," Shivasta informed them. "Are there any questions?"

"Has it been determined whether he was a target of convenience or the subject of plot?" A deep brown Ursine male asked.

"This was definitely targeted at him," Shivasta told the Grizzly. "It was months ago, but they prepared diversionary tactics and assassination attempts for everybody who would be in the way before capturing him."

Several nods greeted that, and an increase in concern.

She and Fenrik looked over the gathering, and without another question pending, dismissed the group to their individual missions.

A few days later, Mina was resting with Jay and Y'alla after another threesome; the three of them comfortably snug in their hotel room.

"Mmm ... Jay?" She murmured, tracing his faint rosettes with her fingertip and delighting in the light ripple of his powerful muscles.

"Yeah?" He nuzzled her, a hand on her growing belly as he enjoyed the feel of his kittens.

She paused for a moment, grunting as the kits inside of her decided to say they liked the attention by planting various limbs against assorted portions of her anatomy.

"I was wondering if you were thinking about where we should go after this?" She asked him.

"Home," he murmured with an indulgent smile for the antics. "A ship big enough to make the trip easy for whoever's coming."

"You've figured out how?" She asked him, cocking her head curiously.

"A fair chunk. It'll take a while to reconfigure the hyperdrive, but it's doable."

"Mmm ... what about the Kraken?" She asked him with a murmur, kissing his neck as he considered it.

"Quite suitable, really." He purred deeply, his mind going over the schematics and just how suitable the ship was to his needs.

"Why don't we see about retrieving him from the Republic then?" She suggested. "He doesn't belong with them, after all."

"He always was mine." Jay grinned dangerously, pleased with the idea, and having a ship that big and dangerous. "A very good use of time."

"Glad you approve," she smiled back, leaning forward to kiss him. "Mmm ... and our kits would be well protected there as well."

"Yes, they would be," Jay rumbled and kissed her back as his hand slid lower to lightly tease between her legs. "And plenty of space so no one goes stir-crazy." He added with a chuckle.

"Yes, that would be good ... especially if we can whip up a bit of a crew to join us." She kissed him, licking his lips. "Mmm ... now, where were we ...."

Jay couldn't help but be pleased that everyone, even those who would normally growl and glare, gave way to him. As much as he didn't like having Mina along in the slave-markets, he did approve of the reaction everyone had to him with her around.

No one would be stupid enough to challenge him, or try to claim her.

Not even the T'surr he saw in control of one of the booths. While it didn't look away or act submissive the way most people did, it was definitely aware of Jay's dominance and that Mina was his.

Jay found indulging her a pleasure in it's own way too. It was how he could indulge his kits while she still carried them.

He would have to find a good midwife Healer, and soon. The Kraken had a medical section that was more than advanced enough, but the crew was an issue.

He was aware of her mind stretching out through the Force, keeping an eye on the slaves in the area as she looked for what she was really interested in. The tabby shecat wasn't just looking at the actual slaves either; she was keeping half a mental eye on some of the customers.

"Ooh, that's interesting," she murmured, cocking her head slightly as she picked up on something. "Jay? What would you think of picking up somebody who actually knows their way around a medbay?"

"Buy or hire?" He focused on her and the direction she was looking.

"Buy," she purred, indicating a lean Raccoon in pleasure slave gear. "He's more than he seems, by far."

Jay licked his whiskers back and reached out with the Force to do his own assessment. She was right; he might not be a full doctor, but there was something more about him, memories of another time and place. He grinned before putting a game face on and walked over to the booth with the Raccoon.

"Greetings sir, how may I help you?" The deep brown Mouse running the booth asked Jay with a friendly smile.

"We're looking for a pet, one into pain." He said easily, his eyes on the Raccoon.

"Well, I can certainly provide you with that," the Mouse said easily, catching Jay's interest and motioning for the Raccoon to come forward. "I assume you don't have any particular bias for gender?"

"Not really," Jay chuckled softly and stepped forward to run his hand along the Raccoon's jaw and neck, judging his reactions.

He churred lightly, pressing into the contact and exposing his throat to further exploration, the lighter fur of his front occasionally broken up with bright nipple piercings, his sex covered barely by a small leather thong.

"Tamil here would be an excellent choice then," the Mouse explained. "He comes from some backwater planet in the Xagobah system, reasonably industrialized but not exposed to the outside all that much. As you can tell with a little exploration," he continued as Jay's fingers brushed along a scar hidden by reddish-grey fur, "he has proven to enjoy playing rough quite a bit. We've actually had to restrain him a few times, to keep him from being damaged goods," he chuckled.

"Very good," Jay licked his muzzle again. "We would like to try him out. If he suits our tastes, we will buy him."

"We have a private room in the back, sir," the Mouse said easily, lifting the barrier for the counter as Tamil gave him a playful pout.

"*The slave would rather we don't bother,*" Mina pointed out to Jay with a slight smirk. "*Though I don't know that we want to make that big a show of ourselves.*"

"He will get along very nicely with my Minervan Mink, then." The tom laughed easily as he and Mina walked back with the Mouse and Raccoon.

"You have another pet, sir?" The Mouse asked.

"Several," Jay answered easily and skimmed the Mouse's mind as they walked the short distance to the private tryout rooms.

He picked up his name easily; Nevin. He could also tell that buying Tamil after this might be interesting; there was another buyer interested in him. At least he didn't seem to be putting too much of a premium on the Raccoon; he was just trying to get a measure of this buyer and figure out how much he could get without upsetting anybody.

It wasn't long before they were at the private room, with a large comfortable bed and a tasteful painting covering the collection of toys and tools Jay knew would be there.

"If you want to test his tolerances, the tools are behind the painting," Nevin explained. "Just don't do anything that leaves permanent damage; you break him, you've bought him."

"Oh, I think we can avoid breaking him," Mina purred.

"We're not that inexperienced." Jay all but smirked before he closed the door and gave Mina a hand undressing.

"Mmm ... thank you," she purred, looking over at Tamil. "So, I know you can talk, pretty-boy ...."

"Yes, Mistress," Tamil said obediently, nodding his head. "However, it is impolite to do so in public without permission."

"Very well," she rumbled, taking her top off, her swollen belly showing clearly that she was carrying a large litter as she sat on the bed. "Mmm ... so, Jay, do we want him to stay dressed for a while, or show us all the goodies right away?"

"You know I prefer to see what I'm playing with." He rumbled and walked up to Tamil to cup the Raccoon's groin and trace his goods before cutting the leather thong off and continuing to feel the pet up. "Go pleasure my mate." He rumbled softly in Tamil's ear.

"Yes, Master," Tamil churred, moving over to the pregnant shecat and kissing her tender breasts, caressing her belly before one of his hands disappeared beneath it and found her clit, drawing a groan of pleasure from the woman about his age. The Raccoon's balls dangled temptingly between his thighs as he raised his striped tail invitingly.

"A good start," Jay chuckled and slid onto the bed to run his hands around Tamil's firm ass before driving his cock into the Raccoon's ass without a thought for preparation.

The cry of pain and pleasure around Mina's nipples sent a rush through both of them, the pregnant Cat reaching between Jay and Tamil to rake his back lightly with her claws.

"So pretty," she purred, moaning as he fingered her sex before she sank her claws into his back, drawing blood from the Raccoon as he moaned shamelessly, milking Jay's barbed cock with his body.

"Oh yes." Jay threw his head back and roared, his seed flooding Tamil's body as the exquisite pleasure of one who truly enjoyed pain rushed through him in a wave as intense as any pleasure.

The Raccoon moaned, his own cock hard as a rock and practically dripping with pre-cum as Mina laid back and spread her legs.

"*When you're done, want to see what sort of toys they've left us?*" She asked Jay mentally.

"*Sure.*" He chuckled and pulled out of Tamil with a raking of his claws along his rump. "*You want him in you, or is that pleasure for me?*"

"*Mmm ... him first,*" she purred as Tamil whimpered pleasantly, welts forming beneath his fur from Jay's claws, her own tracing bloody patterns along his back. "*But let's see what toys they have that might make it more interesting.*"

"*Quite a few, I'm sure.*" He purred and moved the picture to see what was available.

The array of dildoes, blades, needles, cock-rings, and other toys was impressive, even to Jay's experience. He spotted one in particular quickly, a cock ring with stiff barbs on the inside pointing each direction. It didn't look like it would dig in, but it couldn't be overly comfortable to wear.

"Oh, yes." He purred deep in his chest and selected that before turning to the bed again. "On your back." He instructed the Raccoon easily.

"Yes Master," Tamil nodded, rolling onto his back while Mina and Jay compared mental images, finding them distantly similar. It was clear that the Raccoon was familiar with Jay's choice, and eager for it as he held his erect shaft up for the barbed ring.

It won him a look of approval from the tom who quickly locked it in place and played with the positioning to get a feel for the effect.

Tamil bit his lip, trying to stifle a moan of pain as the stiff hairs raked his sensitive cock. Mina purred, shifting to her knees and leaning to kiss him.

"Mmm ... just imagine, being at my mercy with that ring inside of me," she grinned.

"Yes Mistress," Tamil panted excitedly, watching as she moved down to claim a kiss from her mate before straddling his hips and pressing his cock, ring and all, deep inside her with more grace than her state would have indicated while her mate rubbed his chest along her back and nuzzled her neck, his own excitement clear.

The Raccoon cried out as she tightened her body around his shaft and started to ride his cock, working the ring along him, pain and pleasure shooting through his sex.

"I think somebody needs to be filled up," she purred, grinning down at him and tugging at the small rings in his nipples.

"Then I'm plugging that mouth." Jay chuckled and used a bit of Force to shift the pair up so he could drive into the Raccoon's ass without any awkward positioning and began to pound into him, aiming for his prostate.

Tamil cried out again, milking Jay's cock with his ass as his eyes teared up a bit at the pain he was enjoying so thoroughly. Mina leaned back, kissing Jay hungrily as she worked his cock.

"*I think we have ourselves a perfect pet,*" she told him mentally, groaning as the Raccoon's cock grazed her g-spot. "*And toy for him.*"

"*Very much.*" Jay shuddered and almost whimpered himself in the emotional and physical sensations that were rushing over him from his bedmates. "*He is going to be so good.*" He added and slid his arms around his mate to cup and fondle her breasts.

She moaned, leaning back to make a fine display of herself as Tamil reached down to finger her clit beneath her swollen belly, his cock hard as a rock, his teary eyes shining with pleasure.

"You may come, as long as you can still perform afterwards." Jay told him as the tom pressed up against Mina's back and buried his nose in her rich red hair as he grunted, close to the edge so quickly it startled him.

"Yes Ma-aaah!" Tamil cried out, almost screaming as his cock throbbed, the barbs around his shaft digging in painfully as he pumped his seed deep into his Mistress' sex, the shecat moving her body up and down his length even faster as she savored the feeling, and the pain each movement caused the slave.

She wasn't at all ignorant of the way the fact that he enjoyed that pain affected her mate either. For all Jay was turned off by pain in someone who didn't honestly enjoy it, what it did for him when the victim did was a rush of its own.

She'd have no problems working with him in this environment until he didn't care about whether they enjoyed it or not.

Then Jay's roar near her ear shattered her concentration as he came hard, his claws digging into her breasts slightly.

"*Gentle,*" she warned him mentally, just before her own body spasmed in orgasm, milking Tamil's shaft as she moaned. She wanted to encourage Jay's sadism, but not towards her.

She felt the apology from him, even though he wasn't capable of forming words in the intensity of pleasure rushing threw him.

"*Want to play more, or take him home?*" Jay murmured as he nuzzled her and gently massaged her full breasts as he panted, coming down from the triple orgasm.

"*Mmm ... you did offer to take his mouth first,*" Mina pointed out. "*But after that, I think we should introduce him to the others.*"

"*As you wish.*" He chuckled easily and pulled out of their soon-to-be pet to climb to the head of the bed. He tipped Tamil's head back and smiled when the Raccoon opened his mouth eagerly.

The younger Raccoon nuzzled his master's balls, then took him deep into his throat as Mina kept milking his shaft, purring hungrily.

"Mmm ... that's a good look for him," she purred and leaned forward, kissing Jay tenderly. "And you are enjoying this," she added with a grin.

"Very much." He shivered and moaned deeply as he lowered his head to nuzzle and lick her swollen breasts and slid his fingers under her large belly to tease her sex and clit while she road their soon-to-be-pet.

The Raccoon whimpered pleasantly, thrusting up into his mistress and pleasuring his master with his mouth and tongue, his cock in absolute agony that he was enjoying completely.

"And he's all ours," Mina moaned, caressing Jay's neck and shoulders. "Ooh ...."

"Yes," he purred deeply, thrusting into Tamil's mouth as he soaked up the pleasure in the room, especially the pleasure derived from pain. It was an intoxicant that he'd never experienced so fully before and knew he was already addicted to.

The Raccoon beneath them reached up, taking Jay's hips and helping him thrust deep into his throat, the skilled muscles working him hard and fast, practically begging him for his seed.

It was a desire that Jay would be hard-pressed to resist normally. With the intensity of the pleasure, the pain, of Mina's full body before him and his kittens so clear to him in the Force and the physical, he didn't even try.

He roared in abandon, feeding his seed to the male under him.

Tamil drank his Master's cum desperately, pumping his own into his Mistress' body as his breath washed over Jay's balls from his nose, Mina moaning as she came again, her body sweaty and mostly spent by the time she was done.

"Mmm, that's a good look for you." Jay grinned after they'd recovered and pulled out of Tamil's mouth with a kiss for his mate.

"Mmm ... and you," she purred, pulling off of Tamil and looking down at his shaft, a little blood trickling down him courtesy of the ring. "And especially good for him," she grinned, undoing the ring and licking some of the blood and her juices off of his cum-covered length as the Raccoon smiled shyly.

"Thank you, Masters," he rumbled, groaning at the attention from Mina.

"We will be your new owners soon." Jay told the Raccoon with a smile and got up from the bed to head for the compact sonic shower for a quick clean up, Mina following him.

"I think he'll do very nicely," she purred, climbing into the shower behind him. "And he has medical training, I'm sure of it."

"Yes," Jay nodded and shook his fur out under sonic vibrations. "Not enough to replace a Healer for you, but a useful addition in many ways."

"And he can help us with emergencies ... work on his own injuries," she chuckled, cleaning her fur out. "Mmm ... don't think the kits like these any more than you do," she mused, putting a hand on her belly and stepping out.

"I'm not surprised," he chuckled easily and followed her back into the room to dress. "Tamil, clean up and get dressed while we negotiate your price."

"Yes, Master," the Raccoon nodded eagerly, fetching his bottom and heading in to the shower.

"I think he's been a little too enthusiastic for most," Mina purred, following Jay out to negotiate with the Mouse - only to find a Rat there, arguing with him.

Jay reached out instinctively into both their minds to find out what was going on.

The name he picked up on immediately was one that was familiar; Keval. So, this was the Rat who had so much trouble with Janos.

"Look, Nevin, you know Kobba was interested in that 'Coon. What do you mean another pair of buyers is looking at him?"

"Just what I said, Keval," the Mouse said, looking up into the Rat's eyes defiantly. "Look, I run a fair stall here - that means Kobba doesn't own my stock until he's paid for it, just like anybody else. Somebody else comes by, they might make me a better offer than he does."

"Be careful, or I just might make Kobba an offer for you." Jay sneered at the Rat, already planning a very painful demise and knowing full well Keval was free now.

"Who the fuck are you?" The Rat asked Jay with a return sneer. It was clear that he wasn't in a particularly good mood, but his mind was weak. It wouldn't be hard at all to convince him to go somewhere he'd be more vulnerable.

"The Raccoon's new owner." Jay said simply and stepped up to go face to face with Keval, a clear signal to Nevin to step back and wait for the customers to settle things.

The Mouse did just that, backing off and waiting for them.

"Yeah? Well unless you've paid Nevin off already, that isn't guaranteed yet, is it?" Keval sneered back, looking up at Jay without a trace of fear in his eyes.

His mind, on the other hand, was another issue. He knew Jay was probably stronger than him, and the scar on his face and missing piece of ear added to his menacing appearance.

It was a reaction that the tom did everything he could to enhance short of outright mind control.

"Well, now, that is true." Jay acknowledged. "On the other hand, I know Kobba is interested in him as a business investment and that severely limits the price he's willing to pay. Also, since you are here, he's not so interested that he came himself or summoned Nevin to deal."

"It just happens to be that I'm somebody he trusts. More than he can say about most of the people here," the Rat pointed out.

And, of course, that made him somebody Kobba valued, somebody Kobba would protect ... in his mind.

Jay knew better. Hutt didn't protect anyone but themselves. At least not against someone like him, who could make a serious bid for power by killing most and buying out the rest.

"So what's he offering for the 'Coon?" Jay cut to the chase.

Nevin started to respond, only to be cut off by the tom. He wanted Keval to answer.

"Kobba's offering seventy five to start," the Rat told Nevin, trying to sidestep the insult of being treated like the errand boy he was.

"And to end?" Jay snorted, dismissing the amount as nothing. Which it was, to him.

"Yeah? Well what's your offer?" Keval asked him with a snarl.

Jay cocked his head, regarding the Rat for a moment and dug into his mind for the answer. Then turned to Nevin with a suitably outrageous outbid by doubling it. "Two-fifty."

"T-two ...." Nevin's eyes were wide as saucers, a look that the Raccoon standing behind them with Mina matched for a moment.

"Sold," Nevin said quickly, knowing already that Keval couldn't beat that price without really pissing his boss off. There was no way the Hutt would pay that much for a hooker, not even for a pain-slut like Tamil.

"Hold it," the Rat protested despite that fact ... but he knew he didn't have much he could say about it.

Jay simply smirked and pressed a Hutt cred-stick to Nevin's and accepted the controller for the kill-switch in exchange.

"This isn't over, bastard," Keval growled.

"*Mina, why don't you take our new pet home while I deal with the Rat.*" Jay didn't even glance at his mate. "I'm sure it isn't." He grinned dangerously. "The Miklar pack doesn't forget, or forgive, after all."

"*Yes, dear,*" Mina purred. "*Mmm ... bring home footage, if you can?*"

"*Or you can join me when he's busy with Misha.*" Jay chuckled mentally.

"*I'll be there,*" she promised, mentally grinning more than he could ever remember her doing as she led Tamil out.

"Miklar ... what do you know about that bastard Wolf?" Keval asked with a growl. "He put you up to this, tryin' to make me look bad?"

"Hardly," Jay laughed easily. "Janos is my mate."

"Well, maybe I should send your boyfriend a message then," Keval muttered, reaching down towards his pocket.

"It's not going to work," Jay said calmly. "We are going to leave the market with this before it gets messy." He ordered with the bare touch of Force required to make the Rat obey.

"Yeah ... you're not worth it," Keval muttered, turning and starting to stalk away.

Jay smiled faintly and left as well, keeping a mental eye on the Rat and gradually steering him into the slums and then further down in a somewhat aimless wander that would put him into the kill zone Jay'd cleared a few days before.

As Keval recognized where he was, he started looking around more carefully, pulling his blaster out. It was clear he was expecting trouble.

Just not trouble that could shut him down completely.

"*Into the building.*" Jay told the Rat's subconscious mind. "*Safety in there.*"

It was always so much easier to get them when you were suggesting something they were already inclined towards.

Keval started to make his way into an abandoned building, his eyes everywhere but on the door as he made sure there wasn't anything already there waiting to ambush him.

Of course, Jay had already made sure there wasn't. At least not until Mina arrived and they entered themselves. He had no intention of letting anyone, or anything, spoil his fun.

Keval continued in, scoping the place out and making a tour of it that was distinctly familiar to the ones Jay usually made of a new place.

He'd be busy for some time.

"*Everything ready, dear?*" Mina asked Jay mentally.

"*Yes,*" he rumbled back. "*Ready to play?*"

"*Just tell me where to meet you,*" she purred, more excited than she'd been even while they were playing with Tamil. "*Our new pet is getting himself acquainted with the others.*"

"*We should have some very relaxed pets when we get back.*" He grinned over his shoulder to where her mental voice was coming from and sent her the location.

"*Agreed,*" she chuckled. "*I'll have a good cab bring me down there, don't think we want to fill Janos in until we can bring him a memento.*"

"*Not with what I have in mind.*" Jay licked his whiskers back and rumbled in excitement as he waited patiently for his mate to come and the games to begin.

Janos shook his head in bemusement at what the three actual pleasure slaves did for introductions and left them to their fun. He had to admit that the Raccoon was attractive, and definitely enjoyed pain more than Y'alla. It would likely be a welcome break for the Twi'lek. She had too many new scars already.

At least she seemed to have some taste for it ... giving, and receiving, to judge by the sounds coming from the room she, Misha, and Tamil were playing in.

Vondra, on the other hand, had been polite but declined to join them. Instead, the white-furred shewolf was out on the balcony, looking a little worried in the same dress she'd been wearing their first night at the hotel.

She was still just as stunning in it too. It did things to him he thought he was long past.

Getting the dress off her wasn't on his mind when he walked up behind her and slid his arms around her to nuzzle her ear.

"Whatcha thinking about?"

"Uhm ... things I probably shouldn't be," she admitted, blushing a bit beneath her fur. "It's not my place anymore ...."

"Then it's probably mine," he murmured and tipped her head up for a gentle lick along her muzzle. "Talk to me."

"It's about Master Jay," she admitted, pressing back against Janos. "He's ... I'm a little scared of him," she admitted. "And Mi-Mistress Mina."

"He'd never hurt you," he murmured softly. "And Mina has more survival sense than to try."

"I never thought he'd show up in bed covered in blood either," Vondra pointed out. "Has he ever ... done that before?""

"Not with me, but he has before," he nodded. "Usually it's in the field though, where you wouldn't be. It just means he got into a big fight and is too worn out to clean up before resting."

"Oh," she said, ducking her head and blushing beneath her fur. "I'd thought that he might have ... being Mistress Mina's mate and all, I wasn't sure how close their tastes were ...."

"He's into pain more than I am, but not nearly like she is." He nuzzled her lightly. "Jay's a warrior, like me. Blood usually means a fight, not sex."

"I'm sorry," she murmured, returning the nuzzle. "It was just ... bad timing, I guess. You two went hunting, he disappeared, then shows up a few days later all covered in blood, I guess I thought the wrong thing."

"Just remember it next time. He will likely do it again."

"I will, Master," she nodded. "Just not used to waking up to that," she smiled a little weakly, before looking back out off the balcony, across at one of the other nearby buildings. "It's been quieter than I expected."

"How so?" He nuzzled the crook of her neck and looked to where she was looking.

"Vondrich," she explained. "He wouldn't give up like this, not normally. I'd expected him to try something by now."

"He'll try, and he'll fail." Janos assured her. "It's how things will be."

"I hope so," she murmured. "He's persistent though. To be taking this long, he's probably working on something -" She was cut off by something zinging through between their muzzles, shattering the window behind them. She turned, her eyes wide with panic, before another shot caught her shoulder and sent her spinning to the ground, a plume of red from the wound spraying blood around the balcony.

Janos' ears flattened as he grabbed her and rolled into the room, his first focus on stopping the blood flow and immediate threat to her life.

Three more shots ripped through the curtain and into the floor, tracing his movement before he got the two of them out of the way, the last shot ripping his pants with a near miss. Some quick healing work and the worst of the bleeding had stopped, leaving Vondra whimpering in pain and clutching the wound.

The first miss had probably saved her life; if she hadn't twisted to see what had happened, the next shot probably would have gone straight through at least one vital organ instead of the meat of her shoulder. She was trembling, terrified and in pain, but she would live through it now.

Which left Janos free to deal with whoever had just volunteered to die painfully.

"I'm going to deal with that bastard." He growled and stood, pulling his lightsaber out and hit the balcony at a full Force-run, using its power and his own momentum to make it to the next rooftop and on towards the assassin's location, already locked in his mind.

It didn't take long to make it there, though he knew that he'd pissed off more than one guy in an air car on the way who'd made a convenient landing point. There was a Verpine there, the emerald-green insectoid chittering in a panic and bringing its crystalline shattergun around to aim at the Wolf it had been sent to kill, one of the glittering darts snapping by Janos' head, blood spraying from the shallow wound it tore in his skin.

It wasn't even painful enough to make the Wolf blink as he shifted out of the way of the next two crystalline darts in the volley and landed on the roof with the Verpine and a deadly intent.

It wasn't even a real fight; the Verpine only had the shattergun, and had been expecting to snipe both hir targets from a distance. Instead, shi got one more shot off, the gun making a loud snapping sound as the round went wild before Janos' lightsaber removed the insectoid's hands with the weapon still in it.

Next off came its forelimbs, cauterized by the weapon so it wouldn't die right away while the Wolf hacked off bits at a time.

At some point, he traded the lightsaber for the more satisfying tooth and claw, not stopping until the Verpine was practically in properly sized chunks to go into a stew. Wiping green ichor from his clothes, he spat at the remains of the assassin, satisfied that he'd dealt out a properly painful compensation for the attack on his pet.

And, with a little luck, left a message that Vondrich would understand.

He shook his fur out and gathered the Force again to go back to the hotel the way he'd left. It was better than walking into the lobby like this.

By the time he was back on the balcony, he could see a droid in the room working with Vondra, feel the anxiety and near-panic in the room. For a moment, his defensive response was to take the droid apart, especially when heard a pained whimper as it probed her shoulder to make sure the projectile wasn't in her, but he quickly controlled it.

The butler was watching the droid carefully, Misha and Y'alla very nearly panicked as they huddled together and watched with the Hound. Tamil seemed the most at ease with the situation, though it was clear to see that the Raccoon felt useless at the moment.

Janos walking in provided him with an obvious outlet for his impulses, and he was quickly at the Wolf's side.

"Are you injured, Master?" He asked.

"No," he shook his head slightly, but didn't object in the least to the Raccoon's knowledgeable touch as he closed the distance to Vondra and put a gentle hand on her good shoulder. "It's been dealt with, pet." He spoke softly. "It's over."

"No," she murmured, starting to relax as the med-droid injected her with a painkiller and sedative. "It's just beginning."

"Not once I get done with him, it's not." He promised, utterly determined to make it true. "He is not going to get another chance at you."

"Good," she murmured, drifting off thanks to the drug, her body going mostly limp.

"I have treated her for her injuries and for possible shock," the droid explained, looking up at Janos and scanning him. "Do you wish your own injures to be cared for? They are minor, but it would not be any trouble."

"I'll tend them myself." He said easily and picked Vondra up to take her to bed. Of all the times for Jay to be off hunting on his own.

"Very well," the droid nodded, trundling out of the room as Janos carried his pet into their room, the butler and Tamil working to calm the others down and get them into a better defended area.

"Hey, Janos?" Jay poked his head into the master bedroom to look at the Wolf holding a silent vigil over his pet.

"Hey," the Wolf said softly, stroking Vondra's hair softly as she slept off the sedative's effect and her rush from before. "You two have fun?"

"Sort of, what happened here?" He focused on what was clearly still wrong and walked in to sit on the bed next to Vondra and checked her condition himself.

"Vondra's old boyfriend decided to express his displeasure with our discussion," Janos growled. "Hired hit with a Verpine shattergun. She got damned lucky," he sighed. For the first time since Jay'd met him, he felt something unusual from the Wolf mixed in with his understandable anger; regret.

"I guess there's another head I need to retrieve, then." Jay murmured and leaned forward to nuzzle his mate lightly, a little bemused by how calm and centered he felt inside over the idea. "Is there anything left of the hitman?"

"Only if you're interested in Verpine stew," the Wolf muttered, returning the nuzzle lightly. "Frankly, I wouldn't bother with the pieces. And Jay? You're not retrieving that head," Janos said seriously.

"Are you going to wait until she's healed?" He glanced up. "You can trust me to take care of her while you hunt."

"Waiting until she's awake again at least," Janos said simply. "Want her to know it'll all be okay. And I want Vondrich to have enough time to hear about his hitman and get scared," he added with a growl, his anger nearly palpable.

"If leaving her with Mina was even possibly an option, I'd want to come with you." Jay rumbled, somewhat disturbed by his own excitement at Janos' rage and the Darkness it drew to him.

"I'm not leaving her alone here with her for an instant," Janos told him firmly. "I don't think she'd try anything, but I'm not taking the chance. I can handle Vondrich and his goons; be good to make sure I'm still in stalking form."

"I have no doubt you can; I just love a good kill." Jay licked the Wolf's muzzle appeasingly. "And Mina has no place anywhere near her. Part of why Tamil's with us. He's got a real taste for her kind of play, and he's got some medical training on top of it."

"And he's cute," Janos chuckled, returning the lick. "So, how'd your day go? Mina mentioned that this time I'd want details, but didn't say anything more."

"We ran into an old 'friend' of yours, who had the bad sense to pick a fight with me over who was going to buy that cute 'Coon." Jay chuckled a bit. "He lost more than his tail this time."

"Keval?" Janos asked, his ears perking up a bit. "Well, about time somebody got rid of him. Hope you found a way to do it that won't have Kobba wanting our heads?"

"I took him down to where the 'vrblther' slaughtered everyone. Plus he's only working for him, not indebted to him now." Jay nodded.

"If it was anybody else but Keval, I'd be worried, but I'll make an exception for that ass. He didn't cause any serious trouble in the market, did he?" The Wolf asked him with a bit of a nuzzle.

"No, he just ended up making one Mouse very happy over the price for that 'Coon." He snickered. "He had the bright idea to shoot me, which was when he stopped being in control of his own ideas."

"I'm guessing that was after you told him about me?" Janos guessed. "By the way, Tamil is it? He looks to be getting along real well with the others. Attentive guy too; when I got back, about the only thing keeping him from being on Vondra and trying to patch her up himself was the droid in his way."

"He has medical training, and that's very good to hear." Jay nodded. "He's also a serious masochist. I was hoping that he'd take some of the pressure off Y'alla, since both our pets are strictly off limits to Mina."

"I made that clear to Vondra earlier, in case it came up," he nodded. "Wasn't sure about Misha, though I'm sure they play when there isn't pain involved." Janos chuckled. "You should've seen the mood that Minervan Mink was in when you were out hunting. I think she almost managed to break the butler's composure a couple times."

"What, she didn't jump you?" Jay winked at him. "She's got someone who can keep up with her now. I think at least."

"Even Wolves slow down once in a while," Janos chuckled, shaking his head. "Her, I think even if she was as drugged up as Vondra here she'd be trying to fuck somebody."

"Or at least sprawled out with her legs spread in case somebody might get the idea." He snickered and licked Janos' cheek suggestively. "She does keep the others content when we want a little time to ourselves."

"That she does," Janos rumbled, kissing Jay lightly. "Speaking of which ... mmm ... you mind playing with Vondra in here yet? Promise I won't interrupt us the instant she wakes up," he teased lightly.

"I don't mind," he chuckled into the kiss and slid over into Janos' lap to wrap his arms around the Wolf's neck. "I've missed you."

"Mmm ... missed you too," Janos rumbled, kissing him and pulling him back down onto the large bed. "Now, why don't we see about getting reacquainted?"

"I like that idea," Jay nuzzled him and claimed a deep kiss as his hands explored his lover's upper body. "Game to be under me this time?"

"Mmm ... just take it slow, and leave us like this, and I'm game," the Wolf rumbled, far more at ease with the idea than he had been just a month or two ago.

"No problem," he rumbled and pulled Janos' shirt up to nuzzle the thick gray fur. "You know I want you comfortable."

"I know," Janos murmured, pulling his shirt off the rest of the way and starting to work on Jay's. "You're the only guy who gets even this far," he murmured, kissing the older tom between his ears as he nuzzled his chest.

He could feel the honor Jay felt at that statement, and the tom's determination to not do anything to disrespect that trust.

"Why don't I start with something a little more natural?" Jay purred and slid off the Wolf's lap to nuzzle his groin.

"Now that I won't argue with at all," Janos grinned, reaching down to open up his pants as he spread his legs for the tom to settle between. "Going to have to get these patched," he observed, noticing the tear in them from the attack for the first time.

"Something to keep our butler busy with, so Misha doesn't scare him anymore." Jay snickered and nuzzled the Wolf's heavy balls before drawing one into his mouth to be carefully lavished with attention.

"Mmm ... or we just tell him he can play too," Janos rumbled, reaching down to fondle Jay's undamaged ear and the back of his head. "Damn that's good ...."

"*I'm sure Misha would appreciate it.*" Jay answered silently so his mouth could continue to work the furry orb in his mouth.

Janos groaned, pressing his crotch up into Jay's mouth, the kat's rough tongue working his balls as the Wolf's cock hardened quickly.

"Mmm, that's better." Jay grinned as he let the furry mass slide from his mouth to rub his face against the hard length of furless flesh. "Nice and hard and musky."

"Mmm ... yeah, but you're the only one who gets to play like this," Janos teased with a lusty rumble. "Get up here ...."

Jay grinned and gave the Wolf's smooth shaft a long nuzzle as he shed his own pants to reveal that he was more than ready to play as he shifted around to offer his cock to his mate's mouth even as the Wolf's disappeared into his own.

Janos groaned, muffling the sound quickly with Jay's barbed cock, lapping at it briefly before he swallowed the thick, musky length into his long muzzle, rumbling deeply as they worked each other with a familiarity that belied the short time they'd actually known each other.

While he worked, Jay called a bottle of the special lube to him and began to work his mate's ass open, stretching him gently and slowly.

He could feel the habitual tension in the Wolf, but it wasn't nearly as strong as it used to be. Instead, he got a groan of pleasure, a warm, skilled mouth suckling his cock as a thick finger pressed up into his bowels.

He rumbled in pleasure around the cock he was working on and lightly brushed one finger against the Wolf's prostate, eager to get him off now that the Wolf was ready to be taken.

Lupine pre filled his mouth, just before Janos groaned deeply, pumping his seed up into his hungry maw, suckling his barbed shaft desperately.

It was a desire that Jay had little resistance to and he let go, flooding his mate's mouth even as he eagerly swallowed Janos' come.

Soon, the Wolf's balls stopped twitching, and he was licking Jay's shaft clean with a satisfied rumble.

"Mmm ... damn that's hot," he grinned, licking Jay's balls and the furless pucker of his ass playfully.

"Yes, it is." He purred and nuzzled Janos' cleaned cock even as he gently pulled away to shift around. "Ready?" He gently urged his mate to his back and played his fingers along his cock with one hand while the other coated his own cock with the special lube that would make it a smooth shaft penetrating the Wolf.

"As I'll ever be," Janos nodded, making sure Vondra was comfortable and they'd have room, giving her an affectionate lick before spreading his legs.

Jay nodded and ran his fingers along the Wolf's cock as he pressed into his body with a slow motion, ready to stop or back out if he went too fast.

Janos groaned, his body stretching to accept the thick intruder, squeezing down around it as he reached up to wrap his arms around Jay's neck and pull him down for a kiss that was accepted and returned as the tom began to thrust.

"*Force, you are hot.*" Jay shuddered, close to the edge despite having just come. Being inside a male who rarely bottomed always did this to him, and that wasn't changing.

"Company," Janos managed to get out between his teeth, groaning as Jay hit his prostate again, his own cock getting hard again a bit more slowly.

A few sharp breaths later and Jay roared, his head thrown back as he came hard deep inside his mate.

Janos groaned, milking Jay's cock, but still not quite ready himself.

Still, the bouncing on the bed and the noise were enough to get through Vondra's half-drugged stupor, and the shewolf started to come to, blinking her eyes to the bleary vision of her Master, his tongue lolling out of his mouth with bliss, being fucked hard by Jay.

Of all the weird things she experienced in this pack, that one she wasn't ready for. She gasped sharply, her eyes going wide as she half sat up.

"Ngh ... mornin'," Janos grunted. "*Jay? Game for ... oooh ... adding her?*" He was pretty close, he was sure, but if Jay was up for it ....

"Oh yes." The tom's gaze locked on her body, the eagerness to touch and pleasure her clear to them both.

"Mmm ... Vondra? Want to join us?" Janos asked her, putting his hands on Jay's hips to stop him until the shewolf had decided and was in place. "Just between us, with me inside you."

She looked nervously at Jay and his lustful look at her, not quite sure what to make of the way the tom quickly controlled himself.

"I won't do anything you don't agree to." He promised softly, a low sound of pleasure from the way Janos' body was still working him.

"Al-all right." She nodded, still not quite sure what Janos had in mind.

Janos pressed Jay up, stroking his shaft lightly with one hand and motioning with his head for Vondra to take him into her. "C'mon, pet," he smiled warmly. "Me in you, Jay in me."

She nodded and moved to straddle him, first across the chest and then slid back until she could reach between her legs to feel his hard cock and guided it into her body with a soft sound of pleasure.

"Oh yes," Janos groaned, drawing her close for a kiss, pulling Jay tight against her back. "Now this is incredible," he rumbled into her mouth.

The tom behind her whimpered softly. "Vondra ... may I touch?" He nuzzled her upper back, his hands at a loss as to what to touch with her off limits and Janos buried inside her.

"Yes, Master Jay." She murmured as she lifted her body up to give her Master an enticing view of her late-adolescent body as she road him.

She gasped in surprise as he cupped her breasts and kneaded them, her nipples between his fingers, before she relaxed into the touch and let it feel good.

Janos caressed her hips with his own hands, moaning as the two started to move in and along his body, his cock throbbing in time with his heartbeat, his ass milking Jay's shaft as Vondra's body milked his own.

He had to admit, watching his mate feel his pet up, her pleasure at the surprisingly gentle touch, was nearly as intense as the double-pleasure of their bodies working his own.

"So good." Jay murmured and leaned forward a little more to nuzzle Vondra's back. "*Think she's up for it?*" He asked silently with an image of him in her ass instead of Janos'.

"*No,*" Janos responded firmly, along with the mental image of her reaction to his attempts, let alone how she'd handle Jay.

Just then, he let out a low groan, leaning his head back as he pumped his seed into Vondra's sex, his ass milking Jay's needily.

"Oh, yeah!" Jay cried out and let himself go, filling Janos' ass again as he rubbed Vondra's breasts and pressed against her back as he came.

Janos kept grinding up against Vondra, then back against Jay, enjoying the feeling of both their bodies as his knot swelled up inside his pet and Jay recovered enough to begin to thrust again.

"Mmm ... are you sure it's going to be another two months?" Mina asked Jay, groaning pleasantly as Tamil rubbed her feet. "I feel like they're going to end up popping out and taking me with them at this rate."

"Unless things go odd because of the cross-breeding, yes." He nodded seriously. "It is time to find a good midwife Healer to tend to you both. Tami can't be more than a couple weeks away by now."

"Lucky her," Mina murmured. "Any ideas how to find one? You haven't been interested in hitting the Market while Janos is off hunting that Vondrich fellow."

"A sensitive Healer with midwife training?" He shook his head. "Those kind aren't slaves for sale, we'll have to hire one. It's mostly a matter of checking listings and finding someone who has the qualifications and doesn't mind an exclusive contract for a few months."

"And sorting through a lot who aren't really sensitives," Mina pointed out. "A lot of 'em don't know it, and I don't know all the orders and traditions in the area that might be mentioned."

"But I do." He said softly, a reminder of just what he could do with a couple hours and a networked computer. "What is more important is what you want in one, besides the basic requirements."

"Mammalian," Mina said easily, flexing her toes with a bit of a groan, enjoying Tamil's attentions and the playful lick he gave her ankle. "And a non-pred."

That raised an eyebrow, and Jay's displeasure. "Non-pred?"

"Just a preference," she said, shrugging slightly. "If it was a Cat that'd be one thing, but not a Wolf or something like that."

Jay nodded. "Anything else you want in one?"

"Somebody who isn't going to take it upon herself to make sure the cubs are 'rescued' from their parents," Mina growled lowly.

"There's a reason I won't call a Jedi." He grumbled, his belief that they were the most qualified clear. "Being on board the Kraken will help cool off any bright ideas like that."

"Here's hoping, though midwives are known to have a track-record of being stupid when it comes to children with potential," Mina murmured, Tamil nuzzling the insides of her thighs lightly to try and distract her from her mood. "Mmm ... I think that should do, probably. Though obviously, her skills at healing will be more important than her telepathic skills."

Especially if what Mina was starting to sense from her children was true.

"True," he nodded and stood. "We'll just have to keep an eye on her. I'll see about finding her, while you 'relax'." He chuckled lightly.

"Mmm ... sounds good to me," Mina purred, looking down at Tamil and flexing her claws as the Raccoon shivered in anticipation.

Jay just chuckled and shook his head as he headed out to start his search. That 'Coon was well worth his price for the peace he brought to the house. Mina had found what she needed and now she left everyone else in peace most of the time.

Y'alla still ended up cut sometimes, but not nearly as often, and she'd managed to get out some of her frustrations by giving Tamil what he wanted sometimes.

Fortunately, all the pets were currently occupied, Janos was out hunting up news on Vondrich and giving the Wolf hell, and Mina and Tamil would be busy for a long time.

Plenty of time for him to work.

He sat down at the desk in the study and began to pull up search criteria. Midwife Healer, Force-sensitive, feline, female, not Jedi.

It wasn't a long list; most people didn't list all those criteria. But it was long enough that he'd be busy for a while contacting them and doing the background research to eliminate any that had too many ties to the Jedi or other dangerous behavior.

He wasn't sure how long he'd been working before the door to his room slid open, a lean, slinky figure slipping in.

"Master?" Misha asked him softly.

"Worn Y'alla out already?" He chuckled in tolerant amusement for his pet's sex drive even though he didn't look up.

"Mmm ... she wanted to go shopping, I didn't think you'd mind," Misha smiled. "What are you working on?"

"No," he agreed easily as the computer continued to work its cross-referencing magic on the list that just kept getting shorter. "Trying to find a suitable midwife for our pregnant felines."

"Ah. Long, dull, slow work?" She guessed, moving closer and looking over his shoulder, draping her arms around his neck to nuzzle his undamaged cheek.

"Mostly watching the computer make names go away before I go talk to them." He nodded and nuzzled her back. "Not something I have to pay that much attention too." He rumbled lightly and shifted the chair back a bit to give her room in front of him.

"Mmm ... then perhaps Master would like a distraction while he waits?" She nearly purred, slinking around in front of him, kissing his collarbone, then down his body towards his crotch, kneeling mostly under the table as he spread his legs and stroked her hair as she undid his pants to nuzzle the velvety fur covering his sheath and balls.

"You won't hear me objecting." He purred deeply.

"Good," she grinned up at him, licking his sheath slowly to a low sound of approval and pleasure. "I've been known to have selective hearing about that sort of thing anyways," she teased.

"Such a nympho little Mink." He chuckled and lightly rubbed her small, rounded ears while he relaxed back and enjoyed her attentions. "You were a good choice."

She beamed at the praise, then licked around the entrance to his sheath. "Mmm ... would Master like me on his lap, then to get these attentions while he works?" She asked him, her eyes twinkling at the thought of him calling the contacts while she was sucking him off.

It was a thought that drew a groan of anticipation nearly as strong from him as he didn't resist the flow of her desires.

"You have a very dirty mind, my pet." Jay rumbled with a grin for her.

"And you adore it," she grinned, slipping up to rub her moist pussy lips against his sheath, coaxing his cock out while she kissed him. "Mmm ...."

"Almost as much as you do." He grinned and wrapped his arms around her, drawing her into a heated kiss as he grabbed her ass and pulled her into position to take his now hard cock deep into her body. "Ohhh, yeah."

She moaned lustily, milking his cock.

"Mmm ... so much better," she groaned, rubbing his back as he assisted her movements to make it as good for her as it was for him.

He leaned back and slid down in the chair a bit. It limited his thrusts to an extent, but it allowed them him to be buried even deeper into her hot, wet, eager body.

"So hot." He groaned and pulled her hips against his hard.

She kissed him hungrily, savoring the feel of his barbs and hardness inside her body. She bore down hard as she pulled up, then dropped on him quickly, moaning into his mouth. She was relishing every moment she had with a master who enjoyed her so much, and even more, valued her as more than just a warm hole to fuck. It was heaven to have one that truly enjoyed playing and her sense of fun.

Her master, too, was in heaven and not the least bit shy about letting her know he enjoyed her efforts as he took her hard, eventually working his head down to her breasts to lavish them with attention.

She threw her head back, her pale throat exposed as she cried out, her body spasming around his shaft, milking him desperately as she came.

She whimpered in anticipation when he held himself back, knowing he was going to wear her down into boneless puddle of pleasure before she'd kneel between his knees again to suck on him while he spoke with the various midwives left on this list.

One of Vondrich's guards looked around at his surroundings suspiciously, watching for any signs of activity. The Wolf had doubled his security in the past couple weeks, since things started getting strange. Rumor had it that customers were turning up scared and taking their business elsewhere, shipments of slaves had been freed or re-routed to other dealers, basically everything that could go wrong in the business was.

And it had Vondrich increasingly infuriated and scared.

The lean Ringtail guard was just lucky he wasn't assigned to one of the shipments. That was a job that was practically suicide these days.

Before he even had the chance to realize the irony of his last thoughts, his brain processed the sound of a lightsaber flaring to life just in time for his head to roll away from his shoulders.

Janos extinguished his lightsaber, jumping back up out of the skylight he'd come down through.

One guard down, a dozen to go. Then he'd be after Vondrich himself. He waited a few moments, just long enough for the security cameras to swivel around and find the decapitated guard....

The alarms sounded, and the Wolf smirked in satisfaction as he started moving towards the edge of the building, getting ready to stalk his real prey. That should make this a bit easier.

Guards rushed towards the fallen one, searching the area as Janos slipped from one hiding place to another. When he could get one of them alone, he would finish them off, enjoying the game of cat and mouse with the reasonably well trained security forces almost as much as the combat itself.

With a half-dozen additional kills to his tally, he decided to end the game, and dropped down beneath a column suspending the lookout post from the roof of the building he was working his way into, another hotel that was better known than the Azine for being a place to hide and keep your ass out of the line of fire.

They were going to hate him here after the night was over.

If they ever figured out who he was at least.

If they ever figured out who he was at least. Not that it'd be too hard; once he got close enough, he wasn't going to be too worried about cameras. If they didn't catch him, great. If they did, he didn't really care.

He just wanted Vondrich dead.

He climbed down the support, moving slowly enough he wouldn't slip or be spotted, but quickly enough that he made good time. When he reached the next roof, he dropped down behind the cameras, ripping them off their supports telekinetically and sending them careening down towards the ground hundreds of meters below.

"Hey!" A guard looked out of a nearby hatch, making the mistake of drawing Janos' attention. The next sound he made was a panicked squawk as his head was grabbed from a distance and he was yanked out of the hatch, followed by several grunts and groans of pain as he was slammed against the side of the roof.

The sickening 'crack' as his neck and several ribs snapped was Janos' cue to stop, but the Wolf continued for a couple more hits, just to be safe. He pulled a grappler out of his belt, tying the end around the guard's ankle, and reaching out through the Force to sense Vondrich's presence. The Wolf probably had no clue how easy he was to find; somebody without the glow of a sensitive, but with the faint, palpable aura of menace and arrogance that a true Dark Sider held.

Finding him, Janos smirked. There was a window nearby, blaster and penetration resistant.

Anchoring the grapple, he threw the guard off the edge, letting him dangle just outside the window.

He grinned at the spike of fear he felt run through his target as he saw him, then looked up as another alarm went off, this one different.

Vondrich was calling his guards to him.

Janos chuckled and shook his head, igniting his saber. He'd wait until they were all down, then go through the few floors separating him from his target the fast way.

Vondrich knew as soon as he saw the guard dangling outside the window with his neck at an unnatural angle that the reason for all his troubles was here.

That nouveau-riche Wolf who had Vondra.

The dark furred one who didn't play by the rules.

Any rules.

For the first time in years, Vondrich knew the feel of real fear.

He licked his lips nervously and reached over to hammer the alarm button, summoning every guard in the place to come to him. Within seconds, he was surrounded by a small squad of furs and other hired guns, all glancing at the two doors and the window nervously.

The last thing they were expecting was for the ceiling to start glowing briefly, just before a segment of the roof above Vondrich collapsed, a blood-red beam flashing through the dust and confusion, felling guards left and right as everything went straight to Hell.

In the time it took even the best-trained guards to find a target and fire, the dust was settling and only the two Wolves were left standing.

Janos had to give the white one credit; he faced certain death with a modicum of the dignity and self-reliance that had no doubt built his empire, even though he was terrified to the core.

"I am worth more to you alive than dead." Vondrich said evenly.

"You tried to have my mate killed," Janos said simply. "And you didn't even have the balls to do it yourself; you hired a sniper to try and kill the both of us from a quarter mile away. You'd do far better to pay me to make it quick."

"Mate?" Vondrich's eyes went wide as, to him, the situation changed in an instant and he trembled fractionally. "She's a slave, a Gamma."

"And that is why I wouldn't have sold her to you for ten times what you're worth," Janos growled, his blood-red lightsaber glowing between them as Vondrich took a step back. "The T'surr made her a slave, but she's better than that at heart."

"Then fight me like the Alpha you claim to be." Vondrich dropped into a slight combat crouch. He didn't have a prayer of winning and they both knew it, but he had a better chance, and a more dignified death, than at a Sith's lightsaber.

"You really are a glutton for punishment, aren't you?" Janos smirked, reaching out to check the pseudo-noble's mind and make sure he wasn't trying to goad him into some sort of trap. While there was a hope that Janos wasn't as good in an Alpha fight -- unarmed combat -- as Vondrich was, the real reason for it was to die an Alpha, instead of to an assassin.

Janos had to admit, too, that if he wasn't a trained sensitive, Vondrich would have a pretty good chance of winning such a fight.

The white Wolf might be as Dark as any senior Sith, but he was still as loyal to his Wolf upbringing as anyone Janos knew. Loyal to the extent he actually wanted the strongest and best to inherit his empire; even if that Wolf was an assassin. That much was worth respect.

A little respect.

Janos holstered his 'saber and fell back into a traditional combat stance, waiting to see if Vondrich would make the first move.

It was only seconds in coming, a classic in the half-ritualized combat pattern, as Vondrich closed to grapple with him.

Janos met the approach, the two of them locking in a grapple for a few moments that Janos knew he could control. He fought and wrestled with all his skill for a bit, gauging just how much he could hold back to taunt the white-furred Wolf with and still win.

A reasonably good amount, he realized with a mental smirk, thanks to the Force.

He backed off his moves, feigning fatigue and lack of skill as they struggled and Vondrich began to push him back. He made it just clear enough that he was faking it to piss Vondrich off.

As they fought, he reached out to his surroundings, looking for ways to steer the noble towards potential traps by giving way in the right direction. Fights like this he could handle; he could control his opponent. It wasn't like with Tembris, where any challenge was met with a crippling display of the Force that left the smell of ozone mingling with blood, pain, and hatred.

It did exactly what he wanted. The white Wolf was getting angry and took the wrestling to the next level with a lunge forward with his jaws to grab and crush anything he could.

Janos grinned, rolling back and flipping Vondrich over his head, slamming him down against the floor behind him with muscle and Force alike.

He was rewarded by a grunt of pain, and half surprised by how fast the slightly older Wolf recovered and came at him again.

He snarled as a claw slashed his muzzle, drawing blood from the wound he'd received a few weeks before.

Couldn't get too sloppy; he had to remember that.

He grabbed Vondrich's wrist with the next attack, throwing him across the room to stumble over the dismembered bodies of his guards.

"What's the matter, Dog-blood - prissy bitch like you can't take a real Alpha in a real fight?" He taunted him, sneering and knowing the cameras in the room were rolling the security footage.

He'd be having some fun with this ... and, the more he thought about it, Vondrich was more likely to live through the night after all.

Not that he'd be thanking him for it.

Vondrich growled, his ears flat as he got to his feet and began the circling pattern that typically began a fight.

He was in trouble and they both knew it, but the white Wolf would be damned if he didn't give the best showing of his life, and that meant keeping control.

"What's the matter?" Janos rumbled, circling opposite him. "I hit a little close to home? Don't like being reminded that the only reason you're any sort of Alpha is because you managed to bully enough Twi'lek sluts that you made yourself king of the slug-pets?"

"At least I never took it under the tail and begged for more." Vondrich shot back, knowing exactly what it took to goad his opponent into a rage that would end things quickly.

The reaction was just what he'd hoped for, too. Janos' ears flat against his head, his fur bristling.

"That can change, you know," he growled menacingly, lunging for Vondrich with claws bared.

"What's wrong?" Vondrich smirked and dodged the first attack. "The truth hurts, sire's-toy?"

Janos snarled again, the spike in sheer rage strong enough that even Vondrich could feel that something was seriously wrong as the Dark Side answered the siren call of the younger Wolf's hatred. Steel-grey fur slammed into Vondrich from the front, smashing him against the wall as sharp teeth bit into his shoulder, narrowly missing anything vital.

As bloody as it was against his perfectly white fur, the mindlessness also gave Vondrich an opening to do some damage of his own and me clamped his jaws down around the side of Janos' face. He didn't have the strength to crush his skull, but he did manage to leave grooves in the bone from his sharp teeth as he tore away flesh and fur. He only released the grip as he felt Janos grab his balls, lifting him bodily by the crotch and slamming him onto the ground - then tightening his grip and ripping them and the cloth from his body.

He knew he screamed, but after that, he was barely cognizant of anything else as he tried to remember to breathe.

"Let's see how you like it," Janos growled, ripping Vondrich's rich pants the rest of the way off of him, releasing him for just a moment to pull his own pants down.

Despite the incredible pain Vondrich was in, and the range clouding his own mind, Janos recognized the steely determination in the white Wolf not to beg.

Not even for his own death.

He had to respect that much, even as he was determined to see that same strength broken, by his hand or another's.

The rush of adrenaline and rage from the battle had him hard as a rock, something he took advantage of, grabbing Vondrich by the shoulders and starting to force his unlubed cock up into the older Wolf's virgin ass with no concern for anything beyond making this as painful for him as he could.

He knew almost immediately he'd made a critical miscalculation. After being castrated by having his balls ripped off, this barely registered as the white Wolf began to go into shock.

Janos reached out through the Force, using his limited healing skills to stop the bleeding and keep him conscious. It wasn't easy; the older Wolf had stopped fighting his surrender to oblivion. The fight was over and Janos had won.

Janos started to thrust, working his Force-skills into the older Wolf's minds to make him respond the way he wanted to. To respond with pleasure, to enjoy, at least physically, the brutal treatment he was receiving.

It was slow going; Janos simply wasn't that good a healer. Eventually, though, Vondrich's cock began top harden with a moan that may have been of pleasure.

"How do you like that?" Janos asked, his mind coming back into focus as blood oozed from wounds along the side of his face, his cock slamming up into the white Wolf's prostate.

He got more of a grunt than an answer. Janos could feel the confusion in his subject; both the response of pleasure and why he was still alive.

He worked to weave his senses in more strongly, intensifying the feelings of pleasure directly through Vondrich's brain, licking his neck with a sort of twisted tenderness as the white Wolf began to whimper, his mind rejecting the pleasure he couldn't help but feel at this violation.

Janos could only shake his head slightly in frustration. While Janos was getting what he wanted, Vondrich was close to coming and humiliated beyond what he thought possible, he wasn't resisting either. Vondrich counted himself as dead and had turned a skill at ignoring injuries and forcing himself through things into ignoring this too.

An idea formed in the back of the Wolf's mind, and a vicious smirk curled his muzzle.

One way to see what it would take to break that skill.

He howled, pumping his seed up into the violated Wolf's bowels, jets of cum rushing against his prostate as the dark-furred Wolf above him stimulated the pleasure centers of his brain.

A deep howl, as much startled as pleasured, echoed just afterwards as Vondrich came hard despite not having his balls to empty.

Janos pulled out of him, seed dripping from Vondrich's ass as the younger Wolf lifted him up, reaching down to stroke his hard cock, responding to pleasure more than anything else at this point.

"You think I'm going to kill you, don't you?" He rumbled, shifting so the camera could see how hard he was.

"You don't, I'll be back." He growled softly. "I've dealt with your kind before."

"You wish it was that simple," Janos smirked, practically purring. "It's my choice whether you live or die. I own everything you have, don't I?"

"Only after I'm dead." Vondrich spat at him, making it clear he'd never surrender in the Alpha fight.

"And when the T'surr own you, you practically will be," Janos growled darkly. "Give you a taste of what you've given others. I think you'll be a very popular bedtoy, myself. With the crew, if nothing else."

"As long as I'm still breathing, you and your pet are going to die." Vondrich promised with a level of defiance that didn't jive with his condition.

"Then maybe if the T'surr and the Hutts they sell you to leave enough to be a threat, I'll consider killing you." Janos rumbled. "Until then? You're not worth it. If you've got a friend left who gives a shit about you, I'll be shocked, and you're only a threat when you've got expensive killers to throw at people."

"We'll see about that." Vondrich rumbled a promise.

"I guess we will," Janos rumbled, shifting his hand to tighten his grip around the older Wolf's throat, applying a sleeper hold that would quickly put him under.

He'd been planning on killing him, to be honest, but he'd pissed him off just enough that he wanted more. Putting the proud Wolf through the humiliation of the T'surr breaking him would be just about enough.

And this time, Janos wouldn't be stopping them before the effects were permanent.

Janos glanced around as he made his way through one of the seedier slave markets of Nar Shaddaa. The smell of a thousand slaves filled the air, sweat and sex and pain and fear mixing to make a pungent cocktail that, frankly, he could live without.

Vondrich was being carried behind him by a servant droid holding his leash and leading the white-furred Wolf on a repulsorlift cart that would normally be used for hauling simple cargo. He was a bit of a mess, but Janos had cleaned him up fairly well.

And made sure he was conscience for the brief moments it took to use his lightsaber to clean up the ragged edges and gaping wound of his crotch.

On the plus side, he hadn't had to sedate him again afterwards. It didn't change the disturbing appearance of the wound, noted by many as he walked through, but it was a pain the Wolf had deserved.

Janos spotted the slaver he was looking for, a massive T'surr bargaining with a Walrus-like Aqualish over a pair of house slaves. The lowest ranking T'surr who would have the authority to make a purchase, particularly a cheap one.

The grey-furred Wolf reached out, teasing Vondrich's mind back towards consciousness as he took the leash from the droid, paid its rental, and let it go.

The sound of the pained waking drew the Aqualish's attention before the T'surr's after they finished their deal. Their reactions were distinctly different however. The Aqualish twitched its flat, wide nose in distaste, but Janos could almost taste the interest in the T'surr for the white Wolf that was clearly going to require a great deal more punishment before he was suitable for anything.

"If you two are done?" He asked, looking at the Aqualish with a mildly bored expression. The powerfully built creature shrugged, wrapping its broad hand around the leashes of its new slaves, and walked off elsewhere through the slave market.

"I have a slave who isn't worth the trouble to me anymore," Janos told the T'surr, pulling Vondrich over to the low-ranking slaver.

"Type of slave?" It asked in rudimentary Basic as it looked the badly beaten and mutilated Wolf over.

"Pleasure slave had been the plan. Could still be, if he was broken properly, but I don't have the time or inclination to do the job myself. He should be a good laborer, if nothing else."

"How much you want?" It focused on Janos.

"For this one? I'll take fifty peggats," the Wolf shrugged. "Just want him off my hands, mostly."

The crab-like humanoid looked over the white Wolf again, suspicious as such a low price. Though for an untrained, troublesome slave it wasn't too unreasonably low. It would likely take months to make him useable for anything from the look of him so far.

"Forty." It offered in counter. "Damaged goods." It pointed to the obvious castration and cauterizing burns.

"Forty-five," Janos countered. "He's unruly, but not that useless. Slaves don't need their balls anyway."

"Forty-five. Agreed." It nodded fractionally and opened the coin-bag it had dropped the house-slaves price into to pull out the coins. "It have a name anymore?"

"Not any more, though you'll have to convince it of that fact," Janos said easily, accepting the coins and putting them in his own pouch. "Good luck with him. Once he's trained, I'm sure he'll be a very dedicated worker."

The T'surr just took Vondrich's leash before dragging the half-conscious Wolf on the sled back to his superiors.

Janos smirked and turned, leaving the market with a very satisfied feeling inside.

Janos slid the door open quietly, not sure if anybody would still be awake at the late hour. It had taken him a bit to get things set up, but Vondrich's empire was crumbling by the minute. Before long, everything he had that Janos could get his claws on would be in the hands of somebody else who, while not particularly reputable, was willing to pay to get at the assets of the slaver.

And, for the first time in a couple weeks, Janos could spend the evening with his pet and Jay.

He knocked on the door to his room, then slid it open.

Jay caught his eye first, simply by the fact he was there. The tom wasn't in bed with Vondra, who was sleeping soundly; instead he was kneeling near the middle of the room in a restful meditation that didn't hamper his awareness of his surroundings.

"*Welcome back,*" Jay's mind brushed against his with the warmth of truly meaning it. "*It is over?*"

"*As far as I'm concerned,*" Janos said to him, kneeling next to the older tom. "*Thank you,*" he said sincerely, reaching over to rub his back as Jay leaned towards him.

"*I take care of what's important to my mates.*" He smiled and purred softly at the light attention. "*I've missed you.*"

"*And I've missed both of you,*" Janos admitted. "*But I had to do this. And Vondrich is getting a taste of his own medicine now because of it.*"

"*Oh?*" Jay suddenly became very interested. "*You didn't kill him?*"

"*Don't tell Vondra,*" Janos said seriously. "*Sold him to the T'surr instead. Cheap. His estate's being gifted to assorted people I won't mind having owe me favors in the future.*"

"*How'd you manage that?*" Jay looked at him curiously.

"*I can play by Hutt rules as well as Wolf,*" Janos said, looking up to make sure Vondra was still asleep. "*Wolf rules, I didn't own his stuff while he was alive. Hutt rules ... well, it's only the estate he has in their space, but I had claim as soon as I'd sold him.*"

Jay cocked his head, trying to work his mind around that. "*You went out to assassinate him, and you get his property?*"

"*I sold him as my slave, slaves don't have property,*" Janos corrected him. "*Since he was my slave, at least once I sold him to somebody else, his property was mine. Since that wasn't part of the sale, I had the right to do whatever I pleased with it. I've got parts of it coming to me, mostly in funds, but everything he had in Hutt space besides that, his slaves, his property, everything, has been given as presents to assorted Hutts who didn't much like him for whatever reason.*"

"*Oh.*" Jay murmured silently. Though he didn't say anything, the fact that it was that easy to loose your freedom and belongings in Hutt space made him distinctly uncomfortable.

"It's Hutts," Janos pointed out with a slight shrug. "The law around here basically translates into whatever makes them the most money the easiest. So, you've been keeping an eye on her while I was out?"

"Yes," Jay nodded and leaned over to nuzzle him, happy for a better subject. "She was so nervous those first few nights you were gone. She still sleeps better this way."

"I can't blame her," Janos admitted. "And I'm sorry it had to be that way, but I had to make sure he was punished. I'm back now though." He looked up at the bed, and the white-furred shewolf sleeping soundly there. "Funny, how one little brawl can change your whole life, y'know?"

"Yeah," Jay smiled fractionally, ancient memories of his first time on Nar Shaddaa and how he left brought to the surface and just how many lives had been changed by that one little fight Doruth had taken on for him. "Sometimes they even change a lot of lives all at once."

"Yeah," Janos nodded. "Just never thought I'd ever find myself half-wanting to be respectable," he chuckled slightly.

"She does like you, you know." Jay smiled slightly and chuckled. "Professional ass-kicker or not."

"I know," Janos smiled. "I just mean that it's not really fair to be working the mercenary circuit and such when I've got her to take care of too."

"Like you ever have to do that again." He chuckled softly. "Between your last two claims, you've got plenty to retire in luxury."

"Not that much," Janos chuckled, kissing Jay's cheek lightly. "On the plus side, I can stop and relax here for a while before we go and handle your end of the 'I have to do this' routine."

"Mmm, yes." Jay rumbled softly and shifted to press against his mate for a longer, much hotter kiss. "Time to enjoy ourselves."

Janos watched Vondra sleeping next to him a few hours later, an arm wrapped reassuringly around her back as she snuggled against his chest. He was curious, really, about what was going on inside her head. What did she dream about ... did she really care about him, or was he just an obstacle, albeit a reasonably gentle one, between her and being free again? He could hardly blame her if she did view him that way, even if he hoped that she was staring to like him.

He kissed her forehead softly, remembering the brief lessons he'd had with a Caamasi he'd been seeing decades before. It wasn't something he was good at -- after all, he wasn't Caamasi, and the memory transfer usually didn't work this way even if he was -- but it was worth a shot. He reached out through the Force, gently looking into her mind, wondering just what he would see.

Her current dream hit first and clearest, for all its content was a little fuzzy. There was a huge manor in polished white stone and lavish decoration that could teach the Azine a thing or two that felt of home and hers. She was carried inside by a male Wolf with indistinct features while she giggled, a little tipsy, and kissed him. He wasn't someone she knew well, but was clearly her new lifemate.

He brought her into a grand bedroom and laid her on the bed.

Excited. Nervous. Scared. Anticipating.

All at once, all rolled into a single moment when her new lifemate leaned down to kiss her the world exploded into flames, blood and pain.

It wasn't hard to recognize the line between the fantasy that had led up to the painfully accurate memories of her capture. He held her close to him, not entirely sure what else he could do other than try and be reassuring, keep the nightmares from being too frightening as they rode them out.

The loss of her family, first to the slaughter and then the survivors to being sold off across the Outer Rim, hurt even more than the violence against her body. The first time in her life without her pack and those holding her did everything to break her.

In there too, was the agony of knowing that even if she escaped, she'd never marry well after they'd touched her.

Janos felt her tears roll onto his fur as the simple truth of her life was laid out after that first night.

She was damaged goods.

Her heritage gave her some chance at a decent marriage, but nothing like the prospects she'd had before.

Times like this he was almost glad he hadn't been born into one of the rich pack-families. It wasn't her fault this had happened, but even if her entire family could be gathered back together she'd be an outcast. Maybe even more of one.

He held her close, pressing his muzzle against her neck reassuringly. He didn't care, and made it as clear to her as he could.

He wasn't sure if she'd know when she woke up, but slowly the nightmare faded away and settled into something of a more normal dream. One that was rooted here at the Azine and smelled strongly of him and felt good even as he worked to puzzle out what her less-than-visually oriented mind was up to.

Whatever they were doing, it was turning her on physically.

He wondered, inside, just how much she actually did enjoy being with him. As he started to put together what she was thinking of, it was becoming clearer that she did.

It also became clear that as short as her education in sex had been, she'd picked up a few things, likely from her roommates.

He was on his back, his arms stretched over his head and holding onto something, probably the bed. His upper body wasn't her focus though. Her attention was on his balls and lightly stroking his still-soft sheath as he moaned deeply.

What came through clearly, even more than her fascination with his balls and cock, was that she was in charge right then. She wanted to pleasure him, to hear him cry her name as he came, because of what she was doing, not because her body was warm and tight and available.

She wanted to learn him well enough to make come when he wasn't doing anything but accepting her attentions.

He rumbled audibly as he watched; it wasn't his favorite position, but he had a feeling he could learn to enjoy it, especially if she wasn't going to insist on bondage. Maybe he could get her to act on this fantasy a bit....

From his other side Jay suddenly stirred and lifted his head for a moment before mumbling something and dropped back down to sleep. Janos nuzzled Vondra softly, rumbling and focusing on her fantasies, working his hands down her back to cup her ass and slip up under her nightgown.

He knew it was more her training than anything else, but it still made things easier on him when she responded by spreading her legs, putting one on top of his hips. He could feel though, deep inside, it wasn't something even her unconscious mind was objecting to all that much. It was far too wrapped up in the pleasure-dream that his touch reinforced.

He slipped a hand up between her legs, then around her top thigh and between them to stroke the lips of her pussy, kissing her lightly and slid her dress up carefully with the other hand.

She moaned softly in her sleep as her dream took an abrupt turn, responding to what she was experiencing. Her mind took what he was doing and advanced it several steps to when he sank deep inside her. It wasn't so much for not liking the foreplay, as simply being very unfamiliar with it.

He played along with the fantasy, gently slipping a finger up into her, licking her muzzle tenderly, affectionately, as he started to finger her clit. He could taste her response, the pleasure and desire as she rubbed against his hand, thrusting lightly as her dream reinforced his touch.

He smiled, feeling a serious rush from getting her off like this, inhaling the scent of her arousal and working a gentle suggestion in to help keep her asleep for now. He'd need it if he was going to get her off without waking up. As it stood, she was responding to his attention willingly and eagerly. It was everything he hoped she'd respond like.

He felt himself getting hard, his arousal thick as she unconsciously ground her thigh against his cock. He tuned it out, focusing on her response; his would come later, once she was awake.

For now, he wanted her sweet whimpers. He wanted to feel her come around his finger as he rubbed her clit in time with his finger rubbing the slightly rougher bit of skin inside her body as she began to tense and her sounds became a bit more needy.

Her fantasy as he worked her towards her orgasm was incredible; intense and showing that for all her inexperience and bad luck, she definitely could still see sex as something to be enjoyed. He rumbled deeply, happily as she moaned in her sleep, her body spasming inside, her slumber enforced by his own stronger will as he fingered her through her pleasure.

When her cries and body calmed down she settled back into a more even sleep. Her dream was still heavy with desire as she held onto him and continued to rub against his cock, hungry for more.

As hungry as he was to oblige her, he instead slipped his finger out of her sex, reaching back slightly to run the tip around the tight pucker of her ass, being gentle and watching her reactions carefully.

It wasn't what he was hoping for, or even what he'd expected. It wasn't memories of her training that came up, but ones of going to the bathroom. This wasn't anything she'd ever associated with sex, much less pleasure.

He was surprised at first, but it wasn't too hard to put things together after a few moments. Any group that kept virginity until marriage, until their late twenties, wouldn't think of anal as sex. He started to work in some of his own memories, mental images of women he'd been with like that who'd enjoyed it, occasionally more than they did regular sex. As he did so, he kept up the teasing, waiting for some sign of a shift before trying to go farther.

He had a feeling this was one battle he wouldn't be winning, for better or for worse, not for a long time.

While her mind turned back to sex, the reaction was either attempts to shift it back to normal sex, or humiliation and degradation even greater than being raped. De-feminizing. Pleasure at it even worse than pain.

She whimpered, desperate for it to stop.

He did stop, kissing her muzzle softly and shifting his hand to simply hold her close to him. He couldn't really grasp her mindset entirely, but he could understand it enough now.

He waited to let her relax, calm down, before shifting his will away from keeping her asleep, letting her dreams return to more normal play. It was reliving when they did, but came with even more surprises as her mind turned to home again.

The faces and places at the elegant party weren't any he knew, but the name linked to it, and her, even he recognized.


Probably one of the richest Wolf families in the Republic.

A family-pack shattered not a year before, if he remembered properly. It was news even he had heard, out on the Rim.

No wonder Vondrich had wanted her. He couldn't help but be furious at the way the pompous ass had just wanted her for a trophy, and an in with the wealthier family.

With Vondra at his side, even unwillingly, Vondrich would have had a real shot of taking over what was left of them and their fortunes.

It also reminded him of the other bit of news that had also reached even this far out. There was a hell of a bounty offered on the ship that had done so much harm to the prominent family, and even more offered for the safe return of its surviving members.

Something to consider in the future ... but he had to admit, he was getting attached to her. And he wasn't exactly the sort of person they'd be likely to want sticking around with her ... or living, given the relationship between the two of them.

Even if she wouldn't be his pet anymore, he was fairly certain that she was growing fond of him beyond the fact that he was nice to her. She could refuse to see him again, but he had his doubts she would unless pressured.

At least he very much hoped so, his knowledge of the wealthy aside. It might not make too much of a difference, at least not now, but it'd be nice.

Of course, he still didn't have to take her back. That, ultimately, was the big decision he had to make ... just 'forgetting' who she was until she was in better shape to deal with them might not be the worst thing he could do. It wasn't as if she had told him her last name or outright asked to be taken home. That he might have a little harder time refusing to do.

Until then, though, he didn't have to acknowledge he knew who she was in her former life.

He nuzzled her lightly, kissing her neck a little more insistently as he slid his hand down between her legs again to brush his fingers along the very slick lips of her sex.

"I know you want to wake up, pretty," he rumbled.

"Mmm?" She wasn't quite cognizant of his words, but his touch roused as well as aroused her.

"I'm home," he smiled, kissing her on the lips, licking hers. "And you smell like you could use some company."

"Yours," she mumbled and opened her mouth obediently. The act may have come from training, but the feelings behind it were an honest welcome and association of him and pleasure.

"Mine," he agreed, kissing her deeply, luxuriating in her scent and taste as he worked his hands up to her breasts. Teasing her awake had definite advantages. She was even more affectionate and hungry for his touch than usual.

The month-long near abstinence probably helped too. It certainly made him more eager for her.

After touching her mind, he couldn't be surprised when her hands were between them, stroking his hard cock and playing with his balls even before she was completely awake.

He rolled over to his back, pulling her up on top of him and rumbling lustily.

"You want to be in charge tonight?" He asked her, licking her muzzle in affection as she looked at him, a bit too startled to do anything for a moment.

She bit her lip, excitement over the prospect tempered with the knowledge that she wasn't very knowledgeable in what to do with such an offer.

"Yes, Master." She murmured and leaned down to kiss him while she rubbed her slick sex along his already-hard shaft.

"Have to start somewhere," he rumbled, licking her muzzle and groaning at the feel of her body against his, fighting the urge to take control as she continued to rub her sex against his. She lowered her head and began to kiss and lick her way down his chest, exploring what made him feel good.

He started to breathe deeply, his cock hard against her belly as he reached up to grip the headboard, needing to do something with his hands while she explored his body.

She nuzzled one nipple, and then licked it in much the same way he had paid attention to her breasts.

"That's good," he rumbled, giving her feedback but forcibly reminding himself not to tell her what to do. It was in that moment that he realized from her mind that she was paying more attention to his reactions than his words. Her training ... she didn't trust words anymore. His moans and movements, those she did a bit more.

Then she was kissing her way down his abs to what she was really interested in, shifting to make sure her body never lost contact with his cock as she moved down.

He knew his cock was giving her all the feedback she could want; it was throbbing, practically drooling pre-cum into their fur as his scent became saturated with arousal. He reached over with one hand, rubbing Jay's back lightly for the sake of doing something. He'd never been much of a passive lover; he just knew that she needed him to be for now. She was definitely enjoying it too.

The tom murmured and shifted into the contact, enjoying it even in his sleep. He was probably having some hot dreams if the smells and sounds around him influenced him at all.

Janos groaned deeply when her tongue finally got to his cock. She lifted up slightly to press her breasts around its base and went to work on the hot spots she remembered from previous blowjobs. Janos actually whimpered, spreading his legs so she could get at him more easily, his balls hot against her breasts as she tasted his shaft. His legs twitched lightly, his sex throbbing while she worked him. It would take all his self-control to keep from coming before he was in her mouth or sex.

As she took him into her mouth and continued to work him with her tongue, she shifted down to press her breasts around the base of his growing knot.

"Oh fuck," he moaned, rolling his eyes as he pressed his crotch up against her, almost too close.

He caught the pleasure from her mind at his outburst, that she enjoyed earning that immensely, but it was her tongue and warm, wet mouth attending his cock and the soft pressure around his knot that broke his control after a moment and he howled, pumping his seed into her mouth where she tried to swallow it.

He closed his eyes in ecstasy, his body burning as his balls pulled up close to his body, flooding her mouth with his cum, one hand coming down to stroke the back of her head appreciatively as she continued to work him threw it.

When he'd calmed down, her breasts loosened from his knot as she let his cock slide from her mouth.

"Such a good girl," he rumbled, looking down at her with a lusty smile as his knot kept throbbing in time with his heartbeat. "Want to try another round?"

Her surprised look was undeniable, then she grinned a bit and shifted back down to enclose his knot in her breasts and rubbed it as he groaned and closed his eyes, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth as his cock disappeared into her mouth again.

"Oh, yeah." He groaned deeply as she worked him. Gods, she was a fast learner when she put her mind to it.

He struggled not to thrust up into her mouth, though the desire to was intense. His claws very nearly dug into the headboard, stopped only by the fact that the material was too strong to give into him. Instead he whimpered, his head lashing side to side with a deep rumble as she teased every hot spot on his cock.

"*Fuck you are good at this, woman," he groaned, his shaft thick and hot again already.

He felt her beam at the praise and work him even harder with her mouth and her breasts.

"Mmmm...." He groaned, then reached out to Jay, knowing he couldn't be asleep anymore.

"*Care to join us?*" He asked.

"Mmmm," the tom purred and shifted and run his hands across Janos' broad chest. "*What did my Wolfie have in mind?*"

Janos turned to kiss him, pressing his tongue into his muzzle with a groan and giving him images of what he was thinking of.

"Ooooo," Jay moaned with a light shiver for the images his mate had shown him. "Vondra, he's shifting to his side."

The shewolf nodded and rolled with the motion so she never lost contact with the flesh she was adoring even as Janos felt his ass penetrated by a slick finger.

The Wolf groaned, squeezing down lightly around Jay's finger and reaching down to fondle Vondra's ears, pre dribbling lightly from his shaft as he was surrounded by pleasure.

Jay made quick work of stretching him, though he made sure it was good enough, and shifted run his hands across Janos' chest, holding the Wolf in an embrace as he pressed into his ass easily.

Janos moaned, reaching back behind himself to rub Jay's thighs and ass, nuzzling his muzzle as he bore down around the barbed length inside him.

"Fuck this is good," he panted.

"You do have a thing for being taken on both sides at once." Jay chuckled and nuzzled his neck affectionately as he thrust into the warm tightness of the Wolf's body, searching for the small nub of a gland that would make him howl.

When he found it, Janos howled loudly, pumping his seed into Vondra's waiting, hungry mouth as his grip tightened around her velvet-furred ears.

She swallowed his seed fairly easily, though it still wasn't a flavor or texture she was all that fond off. Still, she continued and licked him clean, her breasts wrapped around the base of his swollen knot, until he was panting and whimpered slightly at the continued stimulation.

Then she let go and slid up his body to kiss him hotly while she shifted a bit to guide the tip of his cock into her very wet sex and worked him deep into her body with a moan of her own.

Janos returned the kiss with every ounce of passion he could manage, plundering her mouth and savoring his taste inside of her as he thrust up instinctively, groaning at the feel of stiff barbs raking his bowels as he did so.

His arousal spiked again when caught her mental image of her on her back with Janos on top of her and Jay still fucking him

He was definitely not inclined to turn that one down.

"*Turning more,*" he warned Jay, before doing so, taking the tom on top of him and getting into position to really take his pet.

Though that descriptor was getting harder and harder to use about her. Especially as he got to know her and knew so intimately that she was starting to care for him.

He groaned as she cried out and spread her legs wide as she brought her knees up, sending each thrust even deeper into her wet, willing body and pushing her right to the edge of orgasm. A little focus, and he was thrusting in rhythm with Jay, both of them driving his cock into her body, his shaft rubbing her g-spot as his tip teased her cervix and his thick fur rubbing her clit.

She whimpered softly and wrapped her arms around him before her body took over with a piercing howl as it came, claming down hard around the thick, pulsing flesh inside her.

He howled with her, the sound harmonizing and echoing around the room as he pumped his seed deep into her tight, hot, wet sex. Jay came a moment later, filling Janos' ass with his seed as the threesome fed off each other's pleasure to heighten their own.

It felt like an eternity before they came down enough to do more than enjoy their shared orgasms, and when they did Janos was nuzzling and licking Vondra's neck tenderly as she rubbed his back and squeezed his cock even as Jay slowly pulled out of Janos' ass.

"*Vondra wants to play with just you a bit more.*" Jay chuckled and slipped from the bed. "*I'm going to go play with my pet.*"

"*Enjoy, whichever one you choose,*" Janos told him, rolling over onto his back before he started to pull back out of Vondra's mind.

He wasn't the least bit disappointed by her rumble of excitement as she followed his roll easily and she settled across his hips, her own relaxed as her legs spread and she began to move up and down, showing off her youthful body as her fingers ran threw the thick fur of his chest.

He ran his arms up her back to hold her shoulders lightly, thrusting up a bit to meet her as she came back down, but the position made it impossible for him to really take control and she was seriously getting off on the fact as she rode him hard. Each motion bringing not only the pleasure of friction to his oversensitive cock, but came with a matching squeeze as she tightened her muscles as she pulled up and relaxed as she moved down, his swollen knot just outside of her body, teased as she pressed down a bit deeper with each attempt.

He pulled her head down, kissing her hungrily, parting his muzzle in invitation and found her eager and hungry for it.

She whimpered into his mouth as the shift in position pressed her clit against his hard flesh and deep into the fur of his groin even as his cock rubbed against all the right places inside her. She closed her fingers around the fur of his chest as her legs shifted to lay along his, her thighs closing around his knot to squeeze and rub it as they moved and she shuddered, very close to the edge again.

He pressed up, making a somewhat awkward shift to grind his pelvis up against her clit, thinking only of her pleasure as he suckled her tongue.

She moaned into his mouth, then cried out as her grip tightened on his fur and her body clutched around his, the muscles fluttering in a pattern that hit him hard.

He moaned back, his balls pulling up one last time, emptying themselves into her sex, his fur soaked with the sweat of two lovers and himself. He could feel her eagerness to continue, and just as surely that she stilled and nuzzled him because she felt his exhaustion.

"Sorry," he murmured, kissing her. "Mmm ... you are so hot, Vondra."

"Thank you," she blushed deeply as she murmured, her face buried against his fur as she nuzzled and licked his neck.

He ran his fingers through her fur, pulling her close to him and nibbling her neck back.

"Wouldn't it be weird if we managed to start our own pack some day?" He murmured, half-chuckling as he tried to feel out how she felt about the idea of being with him when she didn't have to be.

"It would be," she murmured, the idea shocking her past much more than that.

The shock wasn't from what he expected though, from being with him that long, but the idea that she might have that much of a future left to her now.

"I don't care what they did to you," he told her softly, rubbing her back as her blush deepened. "You're not broken, Vondra. You're not worthless."

"I'm not?" She looked at him, the hope in her bright blue eyes painful to see.

"You're not," he said firmly, looking into her eyes even as she instinctively flicked them away every few seconds to avoid any possibility of a challenge. "They didn't break you all the way, I can see that. Anybody else should see the same thing, and the rest shouldn't matter."

He could tell, just from her expression, that she accepted his statement, even as it was difficult for her to grasp. Less than two months wasn't nearly enough to undo her upbringing, or the effects of her treatment at the hands of the T'surr. He was making major inroads into both, but there was a long road head before she didn't think of herself as 'damaged goods'.

He sighed and hugged her close, kissing her neck as she relaxed into his embrace.

"It doesn't matter to me," he said softly, hoping that would be enough for now.

"Yes, Master." She murmured, something in the words more than the obligatory statement. In her tone and mind was a gratitude that she didn't know how else to express.

"Rest well," he murmured, holding her close and rubbing her back. "Maybe when we're both awake again you can pick up where you left off."

"I'd like that." She murmured and closed her eyes, content to rest for a while with his cock still hard inside her.

Jay looked up as the group was eating lunch, Tami's and the midwife's absence notable but something he expected given she'd entered labor late in the night.

"How did it go?" He asked the tired-looking but pleased midwife as she entered the dinning room.

"Very well," the middle-aged black-and-white said easily. "Two kits, one boy and one girl, both taking closely after the mother, both very healthy and nursing fine. I hope it's that simple with your mate."

"How long until it is safe to travel with them?" Jay focused on her as how soon they could move on. He really wanted to be settled in on the Kraken before Mina went into labor.

"It should be safe in just a few days," the midwife explained. "I would suggest waiting longer though," she added, knowing he wouldn't accept it, but also knowing it would be better for kits and mother alike.

"Very well," Jay nodded. "I want to be settled into our permanent home before Mina gives birth. We'll leave in four days."

"That is cutting things close, but we'll be able to get them their inoculations by then," the midwife granted. "What will they be expected to do in the course of moving?"

"Tami should be able to walk to the cab to go to Sharufa and then through the spaceport to the ship." He said simply. "It'll be a week before we reach Kraken, where she'll need to walk to her new quarters. Her duties won't really begin until after my kits are born." He nodded towards Mina. "Until then, she only needs to keep her own under control."

It was clear that if she hadn't known the situation was under control, she would have argued with him. Of course, she also knew that if the situation hadn't been under control, he would have waited and made whatever changes needed to be made. He may have been overeager to leave, but he was also more concerned about the welfare of those with him than his schedule.

"And Mina?" She asked, looking over at the tabby.

"I won't be involved in anything too hard for me to deal with," she said easily.

"There is nothing to move that a single droid can't handle." Jay nodded in agreement with his mate. "Sharufa and Kraken are both fully equipped and little of what is here we will be taking with us."

"Very well," the black and white shecat nodded. "I'll go make arrangements then."

Jay nodded with a soft purr as she left. It was good to have a plan in motion again. It would be good to get back into space against too and have something that was his.

Kanna took a deep breath, settling into a meditative position in the holo-net chamber she was using on the fleet vessel White Saber. It was time to check in with Masters Charn and Zaian again, compare what they'd seen regarding their shared vision. Her Padawan was there, but Cormoran was only observing, the Night Raptor's obsidian feathers clicking lightly as he moved.

It only took a few moments before the two elder Panthers appeared, sitting next to each other in the holo-net chamber as they were in real life far away.

"Masters Charn, Zaian," Kanna said respectfully, bowing her head. "I believe I have some insight into our visions."

"That is good." Master Charn nodded fractionally. "What have you learned?"

"The situation with Knight Clawson is not the greater storm we have been sensing," she explained. "It is a serious threat however ... it is more like a squall coming before the perfect storm hits."

"How have you discerned this?" Charn asked evenly.

"I can sense that there is more ahead, Master Charn," Kanna said softly. "Far ahead. If you try to reach out, look past the disturbance now, you can feel it. It's not clear ... but the ripples are there."

The older Panthers closed their eyes and settled in to study the weave of the Force past Clawson's lifetime, then well past it.

"I see." Master Zaian murmured, disturbed by what she saw there. "It does not seem strongly related, for all that I sense there is a link there."

"It is not, Master," Kanna agreed. "It is connected by nature of event only, I believe. Two disturbances in the force, two events that risk the Dark Side eclipsing the Light. We sensed that one would leave the Republic in shambles; I feel that this is not the one, for all that we must still find Knight Clawson as quickly as possible."

"To not do so would be to ignore his capabilities to bring the Republic to shambles," Charn nodded. "Whether he is this greater storm or not, his abilities with technology can not be ignored, and can not be allowed to fall to the Dark Side."

"Agreed," Kanna nodded. "He is capable of causing tragedy the likes of which we haven't seen since the Jedi Civil War. However, I believe that he will be stopped before he reaches that point. As I said, this has the feel of a squall. It may be horrifying, and it may claim many lives... but I believe it will pass quickly."

"That is good news." Master Charn said quietly. "There is some evidence that his kin have finally arrived. If they join him against the Republic ...." He simply shook his head.

"With all due respect, Masters, I seriously doubt that will happen," Kanna said. "If they are at all like Knight Clawson described them, they will be upset that this has happened, but then likely seek to kill him to prevent his turning."

"If they know the truth," he cautioned her. "We are doing what we can to ensure that they come to us first, before seeking him. They do not know us from the Sith at this point. He could tell them anything and they would not know what was true and what was twisted."

"If they do find him, I hope that the influence would help pull him back from the Dark Side," Kanna said. "From what I understand, the family is not strong in the Force as we typically see it, but their morals, while extremely pragmatic, would not be in line with a Dark Sider's behavior."

"No, they are not." He nodded seriously. "It is a question I do not want to see answered, however. Have you discerned anything else of the nature of the storm, or this squall?"

"Not yet," she admitted. "We must find him, quickly. The point of no return is drawing near."

"That we have all seen." Master Zaian agreed. "He must not find and an outlet for his rage."

"No, he must not," Kanna nodded. "At the least, the outlet must not be a full one. I sense disturbances near some of the ships in the fleet; Cormoran and I will be checking to see if they are connected to this."

"Very well." Master Charn accepted. "Force be with you, Jedi."

Janos watched as Jay meditated, just like he'd been doing for hours. The Sharufa was waiting near the Kraken, heavily cloaked, waiting for the ship to dock with the nearest station and drop its shields so they could get on-board. Or so he thought.

"Any idea what he's doing?" The Wolf asked the gravid shecat next to him quietly.

"Whatever he does with computers." She shrugged. "Getting us on board that ship without getting blown out of space."

"I know, but I just don't know how he plans on doing that meditating ... I mean, it's not like there's any sign of action from that ship."

"There is a great deal of activity." Jay spoke quietly without opening his eyes. "The crew is disembarking even now. It takes time to do that."

"How the heck did you get the entire crew to disembark?" Janos asked him.

"The same way I got them to dock Kraken here." He smiled slightly. "They think the ship is in for upgrades and a regular checking over. It will leave only a skeleton crew on board."

"And how are we going to deal with them?" Janos asked. "Skeleton crews for ships like that are still somewhat larger than the two of us want to handle."

"Kraken will deal with them as soon as we're on board." Jay's smile turned deadly. "Those who don't abandon ship will have the security systems turned on them."

"Here's hoping this ship isn't part of the search fleet they were talking about planetside," Janos murmured. "Don't think I want to deal with Jedi on there who might be able to handle the security."

"There are no Jedi on board." Jay told him simply. "I already asked."

"Well, there's something," the Wolf nodded, leaning back to let Jay work even as he realized they were moving again, albeit very slowly.

Meanwhile, in the observation bay, the assorted pets were looking at the Kraken, Tami's kittens nursing and being petted by Vondra and Tamil alike.

"Hard to believe that that ship could really belong to any one person," the Raccoon murmured. "Bigger than the slave ship that took me."

"It doesn't." Vondra said softly. "It's a Coruscani Battle Cruiser, Kraken by the markings. Our masters are stealing it."

"Not like any Republic ship I've ever seen before," Misha pointed out.

"How do they expect to steal a ship that big?" Tamil asked incredulously. "You could fit an entire city on that thing and it'd have room to rattle!"

"It's got Coruscani markings on it." Vondra shrugged. "As for how ... I just hope it's not by killing everyone inside."

"You really think they'd do that?" The Raccoon asked her, looking over.

"It's what Darksiders do." She murmured softly. "And our masters are not Jedi."

"How'd you get there?" Tami looked at her in bewilderment.

"Jay and Janos, at least, are both Force-users. I've seen both their lightsabers. Jay's is black and Janos' blood red." Vondra sighed. "Only two kinds of people have lightsabers, and Jedi never have those two colors. Only Sith do."

"There are also the Jedi who aren't Jedi anymore," Misha pointed out. "Do you really think Master Janos is a Sith, all things considered?"

"Not a normal one ... but Mina fits the bill. Jay, I'm not so sure about." Vondra admitted. "But black and red lightsabers? Who but a Sith would want such a color?"

"Someone who doesn't want to be thought of as a Jedi." Tami said easily. "Out on the Rim, they aren't safe, you know."

"Mistress Mina definitely fits the bill," Y'alla agreed softly, nodding a bit. "As for the rest... maybe they just couldn't find the parts for anything else? If the Jedi make them most of the time, then it might be hard to get anything other than that."

"Maybe," Vondra admitted and looked out the wide viewing window. "Why they'd need this though ...."

"Mina," Tamil said simply. The others looked at him quizzically, wondering how the heck he'd come to that conclusion. "Well, you all know Master Jay better than I do. As wound up as he is about the kits, as protective as he is, putting a ship that could wipe out a couple continents between them and anybody who might want to hurt them makes sense."

"Now that is overkill." Vondra shook her head slightly as they came into dock with the huge ship. "Makes sense though, as much as anything does."

"I don't think that overkill is a concept Master Jay is entirely familiar with," Y'alla mused.

"Or several other concepts." Misha snickered. "First male that could ever wear me out."

"Slut," Tamil teased, the epithet clearly well-intentioned as the serious mood broke and most of the pets started to tease back and forth while they waited to be called.

Red lights flashed and alarms blared faintly in the distance.

"Intruder alert," the ship's voice said calmly. "All internal security is now active."

Bodies of Republic officers lay strewn about the corridors. The main part of the crew was on the station, probably well on their way to the planet, and the skeleton crew was now very nearly a literal term.

The doors to the docking bay opened, and Jay stepped out into the scene of death and chaos. The turrets mounted in the ship swiveled to target him ... but did nothing more, retracting into the ceiling as the alarms stopped without him doing a thing. The lights still flashed, casting a grisly red glow over everything, but most of the systems seemed to be going off-line.

"Greetings, Kraken." The tom called out to the mind he hadn't touched in over forty years.

"Greetings, Master," the ship responded after a few moments. "It's good to see that you still remember me, after so long. Good to see that I still remember me," it added with a chuckle.

"I knew they couldn't strip your personality." Jay said simply, then glanced around at the carnage before stepping through it into the great ship with a rumbling purr. "Have the droids start cleaning this mess up. We can jettison the bodies when we're well out of range of the station."

"With pleasure, Master," Kraken told him, assorted droids returning to active duty from their current positions, some stained with blood from having to deal with crewmembers more... personally... than the turrets did.

"*Come, it is safe now.*" He called back to his mates.

Janos, Mina, and the assorted pets slowly stepped off the Sharufa, looking around at the massive vessel. The Wolf took the lead, with the gravid shecat in the middle of the slaves.

"Well, I see you've acquired some new friends," Kraken said approvingly. "Your litters?"

"Yes," he nodded, claiming the newborns as he intended to as soon as he'd felt them. He'd train them as his own, blood-kin or not. The two young sensitives wouldn't have the full family gift, but they would have enough other potential. He smiled fractionally as a speeder of sorts arrived to take them to the quarters normally reserved for top-ranking dignitaries. "Everyone on board. It's time to settle in."

"When you have the time, Master, I would appreciate the opportunity to speak you, privately," Kraken told him politely as everybody climbed aboard.

"When I'm setting course, while they settle in." He nodded easily and relaxed back as the speeder whisked them to their new quarters.

It didn't take long for the speeder to drop them off, leaving Mina, Janos, and all the pets settling in as droids were assigned to move luggage from the Sharufa to their new quarters. The ship was like a tomb; it was meant to carry thousands of people, rather than eight. Droids would need to be reprogrammed to fill the minimum crew requirements, but that wouldn't take too long.

It was already in progress, as Jay found out when he checked on what the Kraken was up to. Apparently the ship had been preparing for something like this for some time.

"I see you have kept yourself busy while the Republic had you." Jay all but smirked as he settled into the captain's chair on the bridge and reached out with his mind to connect with the Dark-tainted computers to begin preparing for a takeoff the moment they were ready.

"I had little else to do, Master," the ship pointed out. "Though I'm curious. Why did you have most of the crew disembark first? It would have been much easier to simply have my security systems turn against them in realspace."

"Because that's a bigger mess than I wanted to deal with." Jay shrugged. "They do leave a mess when they die, even by laser."

"It wouldn't have been the first time," Kraken pointed out. Jay could almost hear the shrug in the ship's voice. "However, it is your decision. Do you intend to operate the ship with only the eight of you? Or are you planning on acquiring additional passengers?"

"Additional crew would be undesirable." Jay answered simply. "Though I expect them from time to time as hunting brings in slave cargo."

"Very well. I will assign a contingent of maintenance droids to building additional mechanized crew at the first opportunity," Kraken said easily. "Though you may wish to consider acquiring some crew that isn't meant to be sold off. There is potential for this vessel beyond going into the slaver business, after all."

"Oh, I am sure," Jay chuckled darkly. "But the first groups that I intend to feel your sting are slavers. The T'surr die, but there is little need to not take advantage of their stock. My kits need to be older before other ships are gathered and the real conquest begins."

"So you do intend to build a proper territory," Kraken said approvingly. "Might I suggest starting on the Rim? Worlds such as Korriban, perhaps? There are resources there that will prove invaluable to training your children."

"It is also a territory with little by way of an organized fleet to challenge us." Jay grinned at his ship. "Is there anything on Korriban that actually qualifies as a threat?"

"Some native creatures, but that is all," Kraken said easily. "Barring things that have been set up there without my knowledge, of course. My intelligence is rather dated before it was limited to Republic files."

Jay nodded simply, his attention on making sure the station computers didn't let anyone on board while Kraken prepared for departure and the beginning of a well-deserved hunt.

Essani ran for the Council chamber from her quarters. The Kraken had just disappeared, most of the crew left stranded on a maintenance station by false orders. Mutiny had seemed possible ... up until the bodies were found. That left one chilling option.

Jay had turned, completely.

He was the only one who could have pulled this off.

The only real questions now were where he was going to start and how long it would take him to get to Coruscant.

Most of the Council had already arrived before she had, the rest arriving shortly afterwards.

"*Are there any signs of where the Kraken may have been heading when it left the Argos system?*" She asked, taking her seat, not sure if somebody else had information she didn't.

"From the location of the bodies, back out into the Outer Rim." Master Ty'thri'ku'mo Mython said evenly. "It is our only indication at this point, however."

"*Do we have any indication why he decided to come out of hiding now?*" Essani asked them.

"His kittens." Jamni spoke quietly, her eyes down slightly. "What better to protect them than a warship with his abilities?"

"It seems to be somewhat more than would be necessary," Zraii clicked. "Though I'll admit, Knight Clawson has a skewed concept of overkill."

"*And the timing is accurate,*" Essani agreed. "*This is actually good news for us.*"

"How so?" Noloth regarded her with a raised eye ridge.

"*His intents are defensive, even if his methods are negative. He is unlikely to attack anybody without provocation, out of fear of inspiring a similar response that would endanger his kits.*"

"He is, however, now capable of leveling entire plants if provoked." Miya said.

"He is also going to be significantly easier to track." Zraii added. "Kraken does not have nearly the ability to hide, or the cloaking shields of Sharufa."

"*And while he has more space to install additional cloaks or screens, the Kraken is a much more difficult ship to shield.*" Essani nodded. "*His capabilities have increased, but so have ours. The Kraken can't exactly stop at a random spaceport and not be noticed, even outside Republic space.*"

"Very true," Mython nodded his slender, triangular head. "He will have to do something to crew it as well if he intends to do much beyond limited travel. It is far too large a ship to crew himself."

"He will likely use droids for the vast majority of the work," Zraii pointed out. "They are quite capable, especially given the Kraken's capabilities."

"*Have the hunters been alerted of this development?*" Essani looked at the Verpine.

"The alert went out to them as quickly as it did to us," the insectoid nodded, mandibles clicking. "They're redeploying to points as suggested by search vessels that were already in the system even now."

"*Good,*" Essani settled her fur out a bit. "*Can anyone think of anything to add?*"

"The Kraken's manufacturing capabilities are impressive," Noloth said. "Given Knight Clawson's gift, there is no telling what it might be equipped with when it is found. It's more important now than ever that the fleet be summoned when it is found."

"The message has been sent to reinforce that part of their orders." Zraii told him.

"Then I believe that is all, unless somebody else has more to add," the Lizard said simply, looking around at his fellow Councilors and received a general negative response. They were all uneasy to have their rogue knight so well armed, but it was out of their hands.

"What is wrong, Master?" Misha looked up from her work on Jay's cock when she realized he wasn't responding anymore.

"Mina's labor has started." He murmured, his attention almost fully on the birthing room. He knew he wasn't welcome in there, but he'd be damned if he didn't watch.

Janos reached down, pulling Vondra up from the attention she was giving him to hug her as she sat in his lap.

"Everything okay?" He asked, knowing full well what Jay was up to.

"So far," the tom nodded and stood to settle in a more relaxed meditative pose on the floor of the master bedroom. "It'll be hours before it's over."

"Of course," the Wolf nodded. "Any idea what you're going to do after?"

"I'm inclined to kill her." He said simply, though he wasn't set on that course yet.

"Don't blame you," Janos chuckled grimly, though Vondra was clearly surprised by both of them. "Though it might be hard on Tami to nurse both litters."

"Once they've nursed for a few days, they can be transitioned to a bottle if need be." Jay countered, though the statement had made a definite impression and would likely buy Mina several months.

A factor that Janos wished he'd thought of before mentioning it.

"Something like that, or find another wet-nurse," he agreed. "This place is going to be pure chaos once things really get going," he chuckled.

"Oh, very much." Jay smiled fondly and chuckled. "Six kits strong in the Force, five with my family Gift for machines. It'll be a constant event when they learn how to crawl."

"I don't suppose we can use those little kit-proof gates to try and keep 'em under wraps?" The Wolf deadpanned. It lasted only as long as it took for Vondra to start giggling.

"Just hope none of them figure out flight as young as I did." Jay winked at his mate.

"I have the distinct feeling we're going to need to get Tamil's medical training finished," Janos muttered good-naturedly, nuzzling Vondra's neck lightly.

"It would be a full-time job." Jay snickered. "Fortunately, we both know something about healing as well."

"A bit," Janos agreed. "Getting better at it lately, what with everything that's been going on."

"Yes," Jay murmured, a bit annoyed that it was getting harder every day to heal the way he'd been taught. He'd begun to resort to taking his knowledge of how to fix machines and apply it to himself. It was messy, but it did work. It could also grow parts back with enough effort as his ear was beginning to show.

"Still hard to believe we've got this whole ship to ourselves. Kind of like being the last people alive, sometimes," Janos chuckled, changing the topic.

"Anytime you're feeling too isolated, we can just take Sharufa down to a planet for a reminder." Jay chuckled, though the offer was serious. "It's smaller than the ship I was born on, but nice sized to me."

"It's more the fact that we're the only folks on it," Janos explained. "Used to a ship this size having more noise."

"True," Jay consented. "Guess I just don't notice much. The machines aren't that quiet, and they're what I hear the most."

"And they're mostly background noise for the rest of us, unless they start saying something's wrong," Janos chuckled. As if on cue, the alert light started flashing in their room.

"A T'surr vessel has entered the system," Kraken informed them easily.

"Perfect timing," Jay purred and stood, rearranging his dark robes to cover himself. "Something to distract us from Mina for a bit."

"T'surr?" Vondra asked, looking back at Janos and shifting to the bed when he motioned for her to shift over so he could get up.

"Don't worry," he said reassuringly. "They're not going to be the ones doing the attacking this time."

"Yes," Jay purred dangerously and motioned for Misha to join the white Wolf. "It's time they were introduced to why 'the strangest takes all' can be a bad idea, when you piss off the wrong people. We'll be back when the party is over."

"Relax, Vondra." Misha nuzzled her. "They're very good at this."

"A-all right," she nodded, clearly disturbed by the notion even as she snuggled up to the Mink.

"Be back soon, promise," Janos smiled, following Jay out and towards the speeder that would take them to the Sharufa, now their boarding vessel.

"What's the head count by race on that ship?" Jay asked as they sat down.

"Uncertain, Master," Kraken said easily. "The slave quarters are well shielded so that Republic vessels can't pick up more than that there are several hundred life signs on board. However, I can detect roughly two-dozen T'surr."

"Easy pickings," Jay grinned with a deep rumble of approval and signaled the T'surr ship to open a comm line.

It wasn't necessary; the ship was already hailing them within moments.

"This is the vessel Kuranti," somebody said gruffly, the voice deep and gravelly. "Lower your shields and prepare to be boarded."

Jay actually laughed and shook his head. "They are making this too easy." He opened the com-link. "Agreed." He told them and closed the line as the speeder changed direction to take them to where the T'surr vessel was expecting to dock. "Kraken, go ahead and kill any T'surr that actually make it on board."

"With pleasure, Master," the ship chuckled.

"Maybe we don't need to worry about sensor masks," Janos chuckled, shaking his head. "I'll bet the captain just about wet himself when he found out how few folks are here, figured he'd found himself a new ship."

"I do hope they're all so thoughtless about wondering how a crew this small has this ship in the first place." Jay smirked and licked his whiskers back eagerly. "This'll be fun."

"They probably figure we're some sort of scientific vessel," Janos pointed out. "Some of those have a hell of a lot of automated systems. So, how are we getting on-board?"

"In position, docking bay opening," Kraken informed them.

"They want to board us, so they have to drop their shields and open a hatch." Jay grinned, his excitement building as the speeder came to a stop outside the docking bay the T'surr ship was maneuvering into.

"True," Janos nodded. "You have their weapons down, right? Lightsabers aren't really all that hot against ship-scale weapons."

"Yes, the ship's weapons are down." The tom nodded and stepped off the speeder. His dual lightsabers dropped into his hands but didn't light as he and Janos approached the docking ship.

A few of the T'surr started down the bay, armed with large blaster rifles - just in time for the Kraken to open fire, blasting them as soon as their feet touched down on the ship.

"Your friend's a smidge trigger happy," Janos muttered, drawing his own saber.

"That just means we have to move." Jay grinned and bolted for the intruder's hatch, his lightsabers flaring to life as he entered the fray.

Janos wasn't far behind him. The T'surr were mostly gathered near the entrance, blaster shots firing wildly as they realized they'd walked into a trap. The 'science vessel' was turning out to be anything but, and the two warriors invading their ship were making mincemeat out of the trained combatants who'd been caught with their proverbial pants down.

It was over in a few moments, neither Jay nor Janos having even broken a sweat yet as they began to search the ship for any T'surr or crew that might not have been in the boarding party.

There were a handful of them, but they were small and weak for their kind, and willing to surrender rather than be killed. It made for a dissatisfying end after the warriors, but slaughtering the last of the T'surr wasn't a question for Jay. They were all to die.

It didn't take long for them to realize it and start to fight back, but the fights were even easier than the surprise assault at the boarding ramp.

Through it all, Jay never really noticed Janos' disturbed expression, or the way he was unsettled by the wholesale slaughter of the T'surr willing to surrender.

Within the space of an hour, everything indicated the ship was theirs, hundreds of slaves packed into the holds like sardines, cheering for their freedom as their keepers were slaughtered.

With the only living things left the slaves, Jay reached out to Kraken to send droids in to escort the slaves into the makeshift secured sections on the ship for him to go over at his leisure. Then he reached out to the Kuranti and had it transmit his thoughts on the PS system.

"Attention. Cooperate with the droids that will escort you to new quarters on board the Kraken. You will be interviewed by a live crewmember as soon as possible. Until then, please do not attempt to leave the restricted zone. Security can be a bit trigger happy."

"They'll probably be grateful enough for what we give them to not want to leave," Janos pointed out, following Jay as they started to make their way off the ship, droids starting to move around, clearing bodies and escorting slaves in small groups.

"True," he nodded acceptance of the likelihood. "Guess I still think it's just polite to warn them it's not good to try to leave their area. There are probably a few in this lot that will make viable crewmembers. T'surr don't seem to bother to check on what skills someone has."

"Not once they decide you're good for something in particular," Janos agreed. "Slaves don't always get put where their skills are, after all, or Tamil wouldn't have been a pleasure slave."

"True, though he's very good at it, and happy to be one." Jay nodded. "Unlike Vondra before you got her."

"He also wasn't gang-raped on a regular basis as his introduction to sex," Janos growled lowly. "Now those T'surr I wouldn't have minded going back to slaughter once I found out about it."

"We may well find them at some point." Jay smiled faintly. "They are still in the business after all, and we know their ship."

"Even if they are working for another Hutt now," Janos agreed. "By the way, speaking of ships, any plans for this one?"

"Figuring on selling it." He shrugged. "Something you want?"

"Just figuring it wouldn't be that hard to pick up a nice, small smuggler or something afterwards," Janos shrugged. "Something that'd give us options besides the Kraken and Sharufa."

Jay nodded easily. "It would be fun shopping for one, instead of building it."

"And a lot easier," the Wolf chuckled. "We can always add to it after that.

"Quite true," he nodded with a throaty purr and ran his hand down Janos' side. "Why don't we get back to those pretty pets of ours?"

"Sounds good to me," the Wolf rumbled. "This was a lot faster than I'd expected."

"Very much," Jay reached up and licked the side of his muzzle playfully. "Much better too."

"Right," Janos chuckled, sincerely hoping that Jay was only referring to the number of slaves they'd taken, and not the number of bodies they were leaving behind.

"Master?" Misha looked up at Jay when he suddenly froze, his sharp claws digging into her arms as his attention snapped to elsewhere with a snarl between rage and heartbreak.

Janos caught the echo of exactly what had happened; the light bond between father and son that had built up over the last two months suddenly snapped. He couldn't tell which of the newborn, or unborn, kits had died, but five were now four and Jay was reacting in the not-to-unexpected way as he pulled out of the Minervan Mink and bolted for the door, his fur bristled and his focus only on reaching his other kits to protect them from whatever had claimed the life of one.

He didn't even bother with a speeder, just his natural speed to make it to the birthing room in record time. He didn't even notice that the door had been locked and sealed as he flung it open with a snarl and lit lightsaber, seeking whatever had happened to his son. He saw the midwife standing over the four surviving kits, Mina visibly exhausted and pained on the medical bed.

"*It's her fault,*" the Demon whispered to him. "*The midwife was supposed to keep them alive....*"

"*No,*" Mina protested across their bond. "*Jay, it ... I don't know what happened, but....*"

"I am sorry, sir." The midwife spoke softly, her grief at the death reverberating in the Force. "There was nothing to be done for him. I did everything I could, but he was already gone."

It was that truth, the emotions in the Force, that saved her life as close as she was to his surviving children.

Mina let out a soft mental sigh of relief, shielded behind her own grief ... surprisingly honest, though for a different reason entirely than the midwife's, or even Jay's.

Jay was still trembling, his rage and pain needing an outlet. Then his eyes fell on the surviving kittens, tiny and mewing, and the needs of the present overrode everything else.

The lightsaber was turned off as he stepped up to the midwife tending his newborn kits and he reached out to lightly touch each of them, cementing the parental family bond that was more instinct than knowledge. "Do you need Tami yet?"

"It would be best to leave them with their mother for now," the midwife said. "She can keep them, and they need her milk more than Tami's. If you'll help hold them?"

He nodded; the nervous, unprepared first-time father he was visible to both women as he took extreme care and submitted to the midwife's instructions without question as the survivors were brought to Mina and began suckling eagerly from four of her six breasts.

Mina, for her part, was grateful for the help, her largest breasts being suckled hungrily by the mewling kits who were literally too much of a handful for her to hold all at once. She'd have it figured out in time, but for now, she didn't have the coordination or knowledge to keep all four of them up.

She was fervently grateful that their claws wouldn't grow in for a week yet, and the needle-sharp teeth were a couple months away. She was also grateful that the incredible rage that had boiled up in her mate had been subverted by his kittens. He'd let it loose sometime soon, but not against her or the midwife she really did still need.

Here, she saw a tender, doting, absolutely enchanted side of the tom that didn't fit at all with the quickly-darkening Jedi she knew him to be.

"Master Janos? What is between Master Jay and Mistress Mina?" Misha asked quietly as the Wolf was panting between his two females. The Mink had been busy proving, along with Vondra, just how well the two of them could tire him out, Force-enhanced endurance and all.

"Besides the fact that she's a sadistic, twisted bitch who'd as soon torture somebody as say hello?" He asked her. "Probably the mess about how the three of us hooked up."

"Yes, Master Janos." She nodded. "You and Master Jay I can understand. How she got involved ... it's kinda hard to trick a tom into siring a litter."

"Our old Master did something to her that put her in heat," Janos explained with a sigh. It felt like it had been years since then. "It's complicated, but the short of it is that she tricked him into sleeping with her, and she was guaranteed to be pregnant afterwards."

"And he's enough of a father to take care of her." She nodded seriously. "She won't live much longer now that she no longer has the kittens to protect her, will she?"

"If she's smart, she'll leave just before the kits don't need her at all," Janos nodded. "They're all he cares about. He might just buy her off, but I wouldn't count on it if I were her. Wouldn't blame him either."

"She brings out the worst in him, I think." Misha murmured as she ran her slender fingers threw Janos' thick gray fur. "He seems so much nicer when he hasn't been around her for a while."

"He was a Jedi before," Janos said softly. "I was an idiot for ever working with Tembris... if it weren't for the things he's done since, I'd be tempted to fill the Jedi in on where he is, turn him over, take out Mina, and cut and run with what I could."

The females exchanged a look at the first revelation and Vondra shivered.

"I thought Jedi didn't believe in punishment." Vondra murmured uneasily.

"Yeah, tell that to any of a half-dozen Jedi who've tried to take me down," he muttered. "They might not believe in punishment, but they don't much believe in bringing in prisoners alive if they don't think it's worth trying to save 'em either."

"But you weren't one of them ... were you?" Vondra looked up at him uncertainly.

"Nah," he said, shaking his head. "Just a punk whose sire found out the hard way that you can only push a guy so far before he pushes back. Hard."

"Master Jay was though." Misha pointed out. "They'd probably try a lot harder to take him alive."

"Yeah, but some of the things he's done ... I don't think he'd want them to take him alive," Janos pointed out, thinking back to Naboo and Nar Shaddaa alike. Even more to Jay's reaction to his former mates on Toydaria. It spoke volumes for how much the tom didn't want to go back to the Jedi.

"He's good enough to make them kill him to, if he wanted to." Vondra murmured. "And the kittens ..."

"I don't think he'd kill them, but he doesn't want the Jedi getting their hands on them," Janos agreed. "He'd rather have Mina take them, I think."

That made both females shudder.

"Better that we take them, Master." Vondra said firmly.

"Believe me, I know," he nodded. "If it gets that far, I'll make sure she doesn't get them," he said firmly. "She's one person who should never have been allowed to breed, but it wasn't my idea ... as soon as she got some power of her own, she let it twist her."

Vondra nodded in understanding, though it was based in a very different kind of power. "It happens to some people. They just can't handle it."

"Too true," the elder Wolf nodded softly, hugging both women against him. "Come on, let's get out of bed and get something to eat. I could use a good meal."

"That sounds very good." Vondra smiled and nuzzled him.

"They had quite an inventory." Janos commented as he and Jay headed for a set of rooms set aside near the slave quarters for interviewing them before deciding what to do with each.

Most would be resold along with the T'surr ship, though Jay had a mind to free those captured from freedom recently and keep those who had the mindset and skills to be useful on the ship. First though, would be determining what they could do and whether they were actual slave material or not.

"So, who're we starting with?" The Wolf asked him, glancing at the datapad. "Ringtail?"

"The pilot?" Jay nodded. "Yes. We do need one after all."

"Hey, I'm not complaining," Janos said seriously. "This ship's way the hell too big for the two of us, and I'd rather have another living pilot than a droid."

"I kind of expected so." He chuckled softly and opened the door to where the Ringtail male was sitting at the small table, waiting for them. He'd clearly seen better days, but was likely much improved from when he'd been on board the T'surr ship. "Rob Starjumper?" Jay looked him over critically, looking in the Force more than with his eyes.

"Yes sir," the Ringtail said, nodding a little nervously. He wasn't at all sure what to expect, though the improved quarters and food that had been available were making him hopeful.

"T'surr records say you're a pilot." Jay said as he sat down across from the slave. "And seem to indicate you were not a slave before they 'found' you."

"I wasn't," he said easily. "The blue-skinned bastards caught me while my ship was recovering from a run through the Kessel system and captured me."

"You were freelance then?" Jay barely had to guess with how easy it was to read his mind.

"Yeah," the Ringtail nodded his striped, vaguely feline head. "Was running the spice legitimately too," he added quickly, not sure if it would be a problem or not.

The definite mental 'this time' in the pilot's mind wasn't missed by either sensitive.

"Do you want to earn your freedom?" Jay got to the point. "Two year contract and you can walk away, no implant, on any planet we stop at."

"*Hell yes!" The Ringtail said, unable to keep his excitement at the prospect under wraps. "Anything's gotta be better than being some Hutt's pet smuggler."

Jay couldn't help but chuckle. "I've been told otherwise, but that was before we had a ship that could out-fight nearly anything in the system." He reached down and slid a small lightslate from the bag he'd brought in and handed it over. "This'll show you where your new quarters are, the bridge, your duties, restrictions and what is expected of you."

"No problem," he nodded, taking the slate. "Uhm... I've never actually been one of the chief pilots on a ship like this before," he warned them. "I'm fully trained for it, but never actually got a post on one this big before I went solo."

"You just have," Jay nodded slightly. "Be ready for a fight. We have a few coming."

"How big a fight?" Rob asked him. "This ship could take anything up to a full-scale battle fleet without breaking a sweat, to look at it."

"Fairly accurate." Jay nodded. "And I expect a serious fight at least once." He stood to leave. "It's the Jedi fleet hunting us after all."

"The what?!?" The Ringtail asked, his eyes wide as saucers and the Wolf and Kat stood, walking out and leaving him behind to wonder just what he'd gotten himself into.

"Last one for a while?" Jay offered Janos a break after 20 interviews of varying levels of intensity and outcomes. They'd recruited a gunner and navigator in addition to their Ringtail pilot, but most didn't have a lot of skills and had been broken to the point that they really weren't suitable for much more than slaves anymore.

"Please," the Wolf almost groaned. "One more, but I really can't take another one like that weepy shecat."

"There are probably going to be a lot more given T'surr methods." Jay sighed and shook his head. "They believe in breaking, not training after all."

"Yeah, but one a day is my limit," Janos muttered. "Nice girl, I feel sorry for her, but she really was getting on every nerve I had left at that point."

"She'll do better on Alderaan." Jay nodded as they stopped in front of the next meeting room and took a deep breath. "I will so be ready for a break after this one."

"Here's hoping it goes well," Janos agreed, rolling his head, the vertebra in his spine 'cracking' lightly. "Well, let's see what we have to work with for her."

"An attitude," Jay actually smirked as he reached into the room with his mind before opening the door to reveal a flat-chested Mouse with rich burgundy, snow white and deep blue fur and a scowl on her face and complete defiance.

"I'm guessing she gave a few T'surr good cause not to go for blowjobs before they gave up," Janos observed quietly enough that he didn't think she'd hear it.

"Imna?" Jay greeted her with an even tone that didn't exactly hide his approval of her reaction.

"That's me. Who are you?" She demanded tersely.

"Jay," he answered easily and sat down across from her. "Janos," he nodded to the Wolf. "We're in charge of this ship."

"I guess you expect me to be grateful or something for getting me away from those things." She lifted a lip in distaste of her captors. Mouse or not, she had sharp teeth and the two large front ones were enough to slice into flesh with a good bite.

"Well, since you're not packed up like a sardine anymore it certainly wouldn't be out of place," Janos said dryly. "Though it's not like we we're in this for gratitude."

"You seem to have survived well for being with them for eight months." Jay nodded in approval and cut off her sharp retort.

"Surviving is what Painted Mice do." Imna shrugged and met the larger predator's gaze unflinchingly. "So what are you going to try?"

"Talking to you?" Janos suggested, his eyes roaming her unusually colored fur. He'd heard about them before, but not often, and the rumors about their colors were true. Imna had colors on her he hadn't imagined seeing on a Mouse before, at least not one who hadn't pissed off a fur-dye specialist.

"They had no idea what they were getting into with you." Jay abruptly laughed, shaking his head slightly. "So what are you skills? You don't seem like the pleasure-slave type."

"Wanna try it, furball?" She leaned forward defiantly, her large front teeth on prominent display.

"I have pets who enjoy it." Jay smirked, showing his own fangs in a grin. "You aren't that kind. Now I can just dig into your mind and find what I'm looking for, or you can chill a bit and tell me." He leaned on her in the Force a bit. Not quite a Command, but enough to get her to stop baiting them a bit.

"I did okay in school, but no skills to speak of." She murmured and settled down.

"So how'd the T'surr get their hands on you?" Janos asked. "Just a raid?"

"I was going to Parmainia to visit family. They attacked the ship I was on." She answered with more than a bit of anger showing.

"*I like this one. She'd make a damn good guard.*" Jay commented silently.

"*If she's willing, I'd have to agree,*" Janos responded. "*Attitude aside, you don't grow up in Wild Space without picking up a few tricks.*"

"How'd you like to earn your freedom and come out of a four-year contract with job skills, a full education and experience that'll get you in with most anyone you want to work for?" Jay cut to the deal. Despite her outward suspicion, he could feel how interested she was.
He couldn't help but be surprised that the education on offer was almost as valuable to her as the freedom to her.

"What do I have to do?" She asked warily.

Jay reached down and pulled a lightslate from the bag and handed it over. "Pick something on that list. You'll be trained for the job. You can pick up your education during your down time."

They waited while she looked over the list of jobs on the ship and suddenly perked up, her large, round ears twitching slightly as she looked up and met Jay's gaze.

"Fighter pilot."

"*She knows how to pick one that'll be training heavy,*" Janos observed mentally to his mate. "*Hell, I'm not even sure either of us would rate a real expert on the ancient Sith fighters on this thing.*"

"*She knows how to pick an adrenaline-junky job.*" Jay chuckled back. "*And don't worry about the fighters. I can handle that.*"

"Agreed." He nodded acceptance. "The slate will show you to your new quarters, restricted areas and expectations. I'll be in touch in a few days to work out a training schedule."

"You're about to learn how to fly ships that haven't been seen for a long, long time," Janos chuckled. "Hope you're a fast learner."

"And a couple that haven't been seen yet." Jay added with a snicker and stood. "Settle in and relax. You won't have a lot of time for it when we get started."

"Right." She nodded suspiciously, though both males knew they'd won her over if they kept their part of the bargain.

"Mmm ... y'know, when you're this tense, you usually can't keep your hands off me," Janos observed, rubbing Jay's shoulders as they snuggled in bed after the interview with Imna. "Can't be that wound up over the slaves, ex and otherwise."

"No," Jay admitted quietly and rolled over to face his mate for a soft kiss. "It's about who's chasing us...and how our bond was formed." He paused, biting his lip slightly. "If I die first, you'll probably end up with a lifebond to Fenrik."

Jay shook his head sharply and shifted to sit up. He reached for Janos' mind and drew a mental image of a thick band between himself and Fenrik.

"This is the natural bond between Fenrik and myself." He spoke softly. He glued a new band on, overlaying the original and linking Janos to him. "This is how we were bonded. Cut any one side, and the remaining two are still bonded. It's not quite a triad bond, but it's close."

"Unless the bond's weak enough that it just snaps instead," Janos pointed out. "And even if that is the case, there's not much we can do about it, is there?"

"We make sure I don't die first." Jay murmured, his eyes downcast, unwilling to spell out that it meant hunting their hunters and killing Fenrik before Jay could be captured.

"Hey, Jay," Janos said, tipping his head up so he could look into those eyes. "You realize that it doesn't have to reach a point where any of us die in particular?"

He watched as Jay struggled to believe that, something he wanted very much, and come up short.

"How?" He whispered.

"Well, if they don't catch us is one," Janos pointed out, nuzzling him lightly. "Besides, I think your mate would be willing to take you back without killing you, if worst came to worst."

"He would," Jay shuddered, the raw terror bubbling up from the back of his mind quickly overwhelming the well-trained tom. "To face Revan's fate. No." He shook his head sharply with a half-outraged, half-terrified snarl. "I will not have my mind wiped and replaced with something that suits them. I am Jay Clawson and no one will take that from me."

"Jay, your situation isn't like mine or Mina's," Janos pointed out. "I don't know who this Revan is, but I have a feeling it's not the same there... if the Jedi brought you back alive, they'd probably at least see if having you around them would fix things the way being around Mina fucked them up. I don't like the Jedi any more than the next guy, but you didn't choose the Dark Side, and if anything I've heard about them from Tembris is true they'd try and bring you back that way. You haven't killed any Jedi, after all."

"I've killed a great deal though." Jay murmured, wanting to believe and simply too afraid of what the Jedi could do to him, and his kits, to accept it. "They'd never leave my kits be. They trained me out of fear of my capabilities untrained, they won't allow four just like me, and even stronger, to run loose."

"And you don't want to give them up to somebody else to raise," Janos nodded understandingly. "Just remember, it doesn't do them any good for you to be dead either."

"I can't, no one else in this galaxy knows the Demon and how to use our family Gift. No one else can train them."

"Weren't you planning on building a drive that'll get us out of this galaxy and back to yours?" Janos pointed out.

Jay actually blinked, surprise written across his face. "Forgot that, actually." He murmured sheepishly. "Need to start to focus on that."

"Might be good," Janos chuckled, licking Jay's cheek. "The Azine kinda sidetracked us all. Jay... if you do go, I'm not sure if I'll be able to come with you, on that trip. I might, but I'm not sure."

"We'll have to find a strong mind-healer, then. One who doesn't ask questions." Jay accepted it with regret. "Leaving the bond intact with that kind of distance can be worse than shredding it intentionally."

"What about your other mates?" Janos asked him. "They are still alive, after all. Sounds like we'll have to find a healer either way."

"If it came to that, I know how to break bonds, even these." He whispered. "I can't do it before I get home. It takes too long to recover."

"All right," Janos nodded slightly. "I just know... they deserve the concern as much as I do. I'll have to raise the question with Vondra."

"They're trying to take me back," Jay protested the idea. "Take my kittens away."

"And the only reason you're not still there with them, the only reason you have kittens you didn't really want, is because Tembris and that thing in your head did something to force two bonds on you that you didn't want," Janos told him.

"I can't allow the Jedi to capture my kits." Jay shook his head. "No matter why they exist, Jedi -- anyone in this galaxy -- will corrupt them. Destroy their chance to be taken back into the family."

"Jay...." Janos sighed, shaking his head. "That's not what I meant. What I meant is that they're not the bad guys here. Nobody is, except Mina and Tembris."

"You ... think I should go back?" Jay trembled slightly.

"No," Janos admitted, caressing the older tom's jawbone and felt him relax and press into the contact a bit. "I just don't want you to think you have to do something you'll hate yourself for. Don't want you to put your real mates through any more hell than you have to, because you don't think they care about you anymore."

He felt how much that idea, that the Jedi were his real mates and they cared about him, confused Jay. It left the tom with his eyes closed and just soaking in the physical contact for a long moment.

"They'll never stop hunting me." Jay murmured painfully.

"You ever think of asking them to? They think you're a prisoner, after all, and that after they bring you back they'll be able to make you go back to the Jedi without any trouble."

"If it wasn't for my kittens, I probably would go back." Jay murmured uneasily. "I have to think of their future now, not just mine." He sighed and reached up to pull Janos closer for a lingering kiss. "I don't know what would happen if I saw them again."

"Don't trust them?"

"Not to talk me into something I'll regret, or just attack first this time." Jay sighed. "I just want to be left alone."

"So tell them. I'll make sure they don't get your kits... and that Mina doesn't."

Jay bit his lip, uneasy with the idea but turning to his mate's judgment in the face of confusion as he always had.

"I'll try." Jay whispered and pressed close, decidedly afraid of what was coming.

"You trust one of them more than the other?" Janos asked, rubbing his back. "Haven't run into a Jedi yet who'd break a real promise."

"Shi," he trembled. The fear in his soul of her, of the Healer, burned brightly to Janos, but so was the fact that as an Ice Walker, she would never break even the intent of her promise if it was her choice at all. "Fen is like me, he'd look to the mission and work his way around a promise somehow. He kisses me ...." Jay's voice drifted off as potent memories from his first meeting with the Panther drifted up. The way that first kiss had been a lightning rod on the bond that Jay's mind and soul had been seeking for years. The fact that Fenrik was the better fighter.

Always back to the potency of the bond, though. The absolute authority Jay had willingly submitted to nearly his entire life.

"So talk to her," Janos told him softly. "Make her promise you to meet you, just to talk, alone. We could find somewhere the rest of the fleet won't find us... I know places to hide that are damned hard to get in and out of."

Jay nodded slowly, submitting to the choice as he usually did Fenrik's. It made sense, but he wouldn't have done it on his own.

"Until then, no more thinking." Jay rumbled and claimed a kiss intended to arouse as he rubbed his body against his mate's.

"No more thinking," Janos agreed with a rumble, rolling over on top of him and returning the kiss deeply.

Shivasta sighed softly as she rubbed her temples, her head aching after yet another fruitless day of trying to get a feel for where Jay was. She'd only stopped when the computer had beeped, telling her a message had arrived.

Probably Fenrik calling her to get something to eat.

She opened the message, standing from where she was meditating, realizing it was more serious than she'd thought. A private message from Master Miya ... maybe she'd had some sort of insight into the situation.

When she saw that it was really from Jay, she wished she was still sitting.

"Contact me on channel 735.7. Be alone and keep it secure." He spoke softly and firmly, something about the determination in his manner a bit off. It took her a long moment to realize he was completely terrified behind that fairly controlled exterior.

She felt a lump in her throat as she went through the unfamiliar steps to set up the holo-net message to him, encrypted and highly secured using a set of protocols that had come attached to his message.

"Jay?" She asked, as the recorder started to scan her and he appeared before her. He looked worn and uneasy, the past few months telling on him nearly as much as on her.

"Yes," he said quietly, trying to hold himself together as he struggled to find the words that had come much easier not too long before. "I want to be left alone."

"What do you mean?" She asked him, her expression confused. "Jay, you don't need to keep running, we can work this out. Please, Jay, we're worried about you."

"Don't be." He shook his head. "I'm fine. I can't go back anymore. I don't want to. Just leave me be, Shi. Send the fleet home."

"Jay... can we at least meet somewhere, talk about this? I ... I need to know that it's really you who wants this. You can come back, Jay, what's happened isn't going to get in the way. We can fix things."

It had to be the people he was with. He hadn't been the most devout Jedi, but to just abandon them completely?

To abandon his mates ... her?

He swallowed, his fear of her shining brightly in his eyes even in the hologram. She was sure she could actually feel it pulsing along their bond.

"*Shi?*" Fenrik's mind touched hers. "*Is something happening?*"

"*No,*" she lied, hating herself for it even as she did so. Part of her knew that there was a reason Jay had contacted her ... and another part of her knew that the reason was because Fenrik would be able to handle this better than she was. "*Just multi-tasking, answering that message I got and looking for Jay ... not the easiest thing to keep up.*"

"Jay," she said softly. "Please... whatever the problem is, we can find a way around it. Don't let it end like this, please."

"*All right.*" He backed out reluctantly.

"All right." Jay sighed in defeat, unintentionally mirroring his mate's words as he reached out with his mind and sent a packet of instructions on how to get the Kyrani system. "You'll need a pilot. Chose one that will not speak of this to anyone."

"I take it a droid pilot won't do the trick?" She asked him. "And that you don't want me to have Fenrik come?" She asked more softly.

Her words seemed to panic him for a moment.

"No." He said firmly. "And I want your promise, as an Ice Walker and Jedi, that you will not give anyone a way to follow you or find me and that no one will attack."

"I promise," she said after a moment, sighing. "Jay... we both still love you."

He closed his eyes and shuddered. "I know." He whispered. "This isn't about me or us anymore, Shi. I can't betray my kits. I just can't." He closed the line before the tears fell.

"Sweet Gods," she whispered softly to herself, closing the line and resting her head in her arms.

She'd been desperately hoping they'd find him before they were born.

"*Shi?*" Fenrik was back, the sense of him rushing towards her in response to her distress.

She managed to compose herself by the time the door opened.

"We're losing him, Fenrik," she said softly when he stepped in and slid his arms around her. "I think we've got one more chance, but I have to take it alone."

"Why?" He resisted instantly. "He's my mate too." He managed not to say that Jay was his mate first.

"I promised him," she said softly, but firmly, reaching up to stroke the Panther's cheek. "I wish I could have you with me, Fenrik, but he was firm about it. I think he's worried about what'll happen if you're there."

"He knows me." Fenrik sighed and closed his eyes and rested his chin on her shoulder. "I'd find a way to capture him, no matter what."

"You'd have to kill him to do that," she said softly. "You would now, at least. He won't go back peacefully anymore, not without being talked into it."

"Our original plan still could work. I distract him until you can knock him out." He pointed out. "You've got the skills to take him down without hurting him much."

"No," Shi said firmly. "Fenrik, I promised him I would be alone, and that I wouldn't tell anybody else where to find me besides the pilot who'll be there with me. And you can't be that pilot. Besides, if we do that at this point, he'll never forgive either of us."

"If you need a pilot, choose a good one." He murmured and nuzzled her. "He's going to choose a place that's hard as hell to get into."

"I'm thinking of Kanna," she admitted. "She's a good pilot, and I know I can trust her to keep things under wraps." She rubbed his back and closed her eyes tightly. "I don't think I'll be able to bring him back, Fenrik," she admitted softly.

"Then what do we do?" He looked at her, his eyes darkening. "We can't leave him with those people, much less his kits. Those are our kits too, you know. Our children."

"That's the reason I don't think I can bring him back," she pointed out. "You remember how he reacted to the idea of kits... it wasn't just because of the Demon, I don't think. He doesn't trust the Jedi to take him back, and I think he'd rather die than see his kits raised by the Order. I don't know why, for sure, but I know that they're the real barrier now. I think I can get him away from the Dark Siders though."

"How?" Fenrik shifted to look her in the face.

"The kits," she explained. "If he doesn't want the Jedi to raise them, do you really think he'd want the Sith involved in raising them instead?"

"You're going to try to convince him to simply disappear on everyone?" He raised an eyebrow. "Shi, those bonds won't let him just leave." He paused and considered her. "Do you think you could break the false bonds, the ones overlaying ours, if he agreed?"

"I think so," she nodded. "If nothing else, I'm a good enough mind healer that if he was working with me I could help break them for him with a minimum of pain."

"At least break it with that female." He pressed his forehead against hers. "She's the Dark one. The male ... he's not so bad. I want Jay back, but he can't survive without a mate. Not sane, and not for long. He knows it too. Don't ask him to be alone to get help."

"I know," she agreed softly. "It's the woman I want gone too... and I think Jay'll go along with it, once I get him past the idea of breaking a bond. Another good reason for me to be the one to talk to him about it." She turned to kissed him softly, her expressive blue eyes reflecting the turmoil inside her. "I'm sorry, Fenrik. I wish I could do more."

"Just don't let yourself promise to never seek him out again." He murmured. "Back off for now, if we have to, but don't promise forever."

"I can't do that, Fenrik," she nodded. "He'll want me to, I'm sure, but I can't make a promise like that. Even if I did, the Jedi would be the only ones who'd expect me to keep it."

"Good," he let out a breath of relief and kissed her softly. "Kanna's a good pilot. She'll see you through."

"I know she will," Shi nodded slightly, hugging her mate. "I'll try to bring him back, you know that."

"I know." He murmured, holding her close for a long moment before he left her be to settle herself for this trial.

Jay drew a deep breath and fought to control his trembling. He would not show this kind of fear to the Healer. She'd be able to see it too easily anyway.

"*She's going to trick you.*" The Demon whispered in the back of his mind.

"*She'll never stop hunting me until she's seen me in person.*" Jay sighed and let the fear go, a strange kind of calmness enveloping him as he set himself on his course and landed Sharufa in the open near her small fighter by the lake in the middle of nowhere.

The blue-skinned Healer was near the lake, meditating, but she turned to face the Sharufa as she heard it come down to land. The fighter near her was sealed, but he could feel Kanna on-board. It was a little the worse for wear from navigating the black-hole riddled space near the Kyrani system, but that was what made this place safe.

His mate waited for him to come down, her expression masking her emotions ... but he could feel that she was almost as scared as he was.

In its strange way, it made this easier. If she wasn't feeling in control and confident, he had a chance of getting out of this in one piece.

"*This is a trap.*" The Demon warned him.

"*Of course it's a trap. She's Jedi.*" Jay snorted before opening the hatch and stepping onto the short blue-green grass.

"Hello, Jay," Shi said, taking a step towards him and swallowing hard. "It's good to see you again...."

"I wish this hadn't been needed." He pulled all his self-control together and the Demon's support not to rush to her and claim the kiss he hadn't tasted in over half a year.

"Our meeting?" She asked him, looking up into his eyes. "Jay, if I was just going to let you go, what sort of mate would I be?"

"Given we don't have a bond anymore, I'm not sure." He said uneasily.

"We do have a bond, Jay," she told him. "I can feel it yet, even with the other one it's been tied to. Try, please... reach out, and look under the Cat's. Our bond is still there."

"It doesn't matter." He shook his head sharply, his voice low. "I can't go back now, not until my kits are grown."

"Is it because you don't have family in the galaxy to help you raise them yet?" She asked, wanting to be sure before she said what Kanna had told her.

"Yes," he murmured, every nerve on edge.

"Jay, you family is on the way here," she said, nothing in her tone or mind suggesting deceit. "The Seers have sensed them, they shouldn't be more than a month, two months away."

"Then they will find me." He countered simply, his tone steely. "And they will take my kits home. If you're speaking the truth, I'll return in a few months at most."

"Assuming nothing happens to you between now and then... and that nothing happens to them," she pointed out. "Jay... I don't know much about the people you're with now, but I can tell some things about the Cat. She shouldn't be allowed in the same system as kits, and you know it."

That made him look away, an expressive acknowledgement of just how intimately he knew that.

"I can't bring myself to kill her, not with the bond there." He whispered.

"You don't have to kill her," Shi said softly. "I can help you break the bond, then you can turn her over to us. Jay ... I don't want to let her hurt you any more than she already has."

He stopped the first retort, then regarded her. It was an answer to his dilemma of that bond. It was also something he could feel the Demon gathering its full power to resist.

It was just enough to bring a smirk to his face as he leveled his gaze on her.

"I want two promises from you first." He spoke with the strength of his will suppressing the creature that had had all but free reign for months.

"What are they?" She asked him, both of them knowing she wouldn't make her promises blindly.

"Leave me be until my family has come." He began. "Stop this hunt; send the fleet to other duties."

"I can't promise that they'll stop on my say-so, Jay," she told him. "You know that Essani and the Council are concerned as well. But I can promise that I'll do my best."

"You are the one with the bond." He pointed out. "You and Fenrik. You can stop yourself, and him. If you two stop the hunt, the rest are easy to avoid."

"I will stop," she promised. "Until your kin have arrived."

Dear Gods, she hoped Charn, Zaian, and Kanna couldn't all be wrong about this.

"And stop Fenrik." He pressed her.

"If I can, I will," she nodded. "But only if you let me get that shecat out of your head and you give her to us."

"One other thing first," he hesitated, then stepped forward and brushed his hand along her cheek. "Promise me you won't use our bond against me. Breaking Mina's will bring yours back to full strength. You know enough to break me in minutes with that."

"I love you too much to do that, Jay," she said softly, returning the gentle touch and winced internally when he flinched away from it and back off. "And you know it. Please... come back to us, as soon as you can? We both miss you."

"I will." He reluctantly gave his word, something that he still considered binding against the howling protests of the Demon.

"All right," she nodded softly. "Are you ready then? I'm not sure if this is going to hurt or not, just that it will get her out of you."

Jay nodded, still uneasy and with the full knowledge that all four bonds were influencing him heavily. He could feel Fenrik's increased presence, the power and will of the Panther an intoxicating rush that demanded more. Still, he managed enough forethought to send a message to Janos, still on board the Kraken, to take Mina into custody and keep her there.

"Trust me," Shi whispered, reaching up to take his head in her hands and focus on reaching out to him across their bond, the twisted, sadistic shecat's wrapped around it like a strangling vine. "Want this fast, or slow?"

"Get it over with." He growled, focused on little more than submitting to this vulnerability for as little time as possible.

Shi nodded, focusing on the alien bond. She wished she had more time to do this properly; to soothe the pain that she was sure would result.

Instead, she channeled the Force along their bond, giving him what comfort she could as she ripped the emotional ties and connections away. One particular part was difficult, and it gave her a sinking feeling deep in the pit of her stomach as she realized what it was.

They had found one thing in common; they both enjoyed causing pain.

The false bond destroyed, she started to look into Jay's eyes, searching for any sign of how he was doing, only to realize the scream she heard from his mind was echoed by his voice as he clutched his head and yanked himself away from her. She could feel the gratitude at having the nightmare that was Mina out of his head even as he did his best to pull his shields tightly around himself to protect himself from the shining Light now on the other end of the bond.

She'd done it, but it would take months for him to come out of that shell.

It was then that she heard movement in the foliage surrounding the clearing. She whirled around, not at all clear what sort of wild animals would be on this planet, her hand on her lightsaber. If it was some sort of predator, attracted by the scream, she'd need to act quickly.

Instead she felt her other mate as his shields slipped a bit and a small dart whizzed by her to land perfectly between two of Jay's ribs on his long, powerful back. It wasn't a pain that even registered as a second dart hit and Jay crumpled forward, unconscious.

Shivasta's anger raged white-hot as Fenrik came out of the bushes, carrying the dart-pistol he'd used, and she had no reservations about venting it against him as only an Ice Walker Healer could.

It might not be the Jedi way, but she was not going to stand for this!

"What the Hell do you think you're doing?" She demanded, pulling the darts from Jay's body and checking to make sure he was all right. As usual, Fenrik knew exactly what he was doing. The drugged darts had just enough to take the tom down and not nearly enough to do any permanent damage.

"What you can't." He answered simply, unfazed by her rage as he stepped forward and brushed a hand along Jay's sleeping form. It was a rush all it's own to touch him again after so many months of barely feeling his presence.

"He trusted me," she nearly growled. "He trusted me that this wouldn't be an ambush, that I'd keep my promise, and that he would be safe. Because of that, I had his promise that he'd be back to us, and I practically had the one who's behind all this in our hands! Do you have any idea what you've just fouled up?"

"You actually believe the word of a Darksider?" He looked up at her pointedly. "He may mean it now, but give him five minutes back in the presence of that Wolf and it'll be a different story. It's the strength of your bond's presence that's creating that kind of compliance and that won't last."

"I believe Jay's word, Fenrik," she sighed, shaking her head. "I know he's not just another Dark Sider to you. And what do you think he'll do when he wakes up and we're hauling him back to Coruscant while his 'mates' have his kittens?" She asked him pointedly. "This isn't a situation you can just muscle your way through!"

"That's not my plan." Fenrik said softly. "I remember the power of a kiss with him. He'll lead us to the Kraken, willingly, with the right touch. He'll come back with us too, with some effort. It doesn't have to be us or the Dark, Shi. There are middle grounds for those kittens that bring him to us and keeps them safe from us."

"But not that leave him with them to raise them until another Clawson is available," she pointed out. "Unless you can think of something that you'll convince him of. If you do this, Fenrik... I don't know what it'll do between the two of you. He's vulnerable now, and you know as well as I do how hard it is for him to forgive that."

"At this age, they're unlikely to leave our quarters." He pointed out. "If you're even remotely correct about his kin, they won't even be weaned when they arrive. If not, they don't have to live at the Temple."

"Fenrik, I can suggest it to him, but if you do this you are going to completely undermine everything I've accomplished," she said firmly, slipping into full Healer mode. "It's no different than coming in while I'm working on somebody with an infected arm and hacking it off with your lightsaber, and I'm not going to allow it any more than I would that."

He started to argue, then flattened his ears and accepted the reprimand as he stood. "I hope you're right."

"If we do it your way, then all the control we have is what you put on him through the bond," she pointed out. "And if that's not enough, he'll have reason to turn against us. My way is the only way we can really bring him back."

"I don't agree with that," he actually growled softly. "But we will try this your way." He acquiesced and walked back into the forest.

Shi sighed and shook her head. It wasn't the first time the two of them had disagreed about how to handle something like this, and she was sure it wouldn't be the last.

She knelt next to Jay, focusing on working the Force through his body to clear the sedative. Fenrik seemed to forget that, with their bond at full strength now, she'd be able to find him a lot more easily.

The tom groaned softly and focused all his energy on bringing his body back to full awareness as rapidly as possible.

Shi looked around as he started to wake up, making sure that Fenrik was outside the area. She could sense him moving away, and was grateful to know that he was making his way towards his concealed fighter.

How he'd followed her without being noticed she didn't know.

Her full attention was drawn back to Jay, and determining just how much the tom knew about the past few minutes.

It left her with a choice. Jay hadn't even felt the darts; he was unlikely to realize anyone had even been here. But he might notice his scent; her nose wasn't as strong as his, and Fenrik's irritation had to be fairly strong.

The tension that rippled across his body a moment later came with awareness of that very scent.

"Where is he?" He growled and struggled to his feet, a lightsaber in hand even though he didn't stand a chance against the Panther right now.

"Gone," she said, making her own irritation with Fenrik clear. "I didn't know he was there, Jay, and when he came out I sent him away."

He looked at her, an odd expression on his face.

It took her a moment to realize he was trying to figure out why she'd do such a thing.

"I made a promise, Jay," she told him softly. "I promised you that I'd come alone, and that I wouldn't set something like this up. I didn't, and I didn't want you to think I had. Your kits need you, just now. Jay... are you willing to listen to an option you might not have thought of?"

As wary and uneasy as he was, as little as he really trusted her, he nodded and put his lightsaber away.

"As young as your kits are, they wouldn't be old enough to really leave quarters yet," she explained. "By the time they were weaned, your family would be here ... they wouldn't have to face the dangers out there if somebody takes the Kraken on.

"*If the Council doesn't act against me." He shook his head. Despite a level voice, she felt, right down to her bones, just how terrified he was of facing them again. Fear of loss, but not the loss of what.

"They won't, Jay, I'm sure of it. You haven't done anything that shows you couldn't be redeemed."

"No." He shook his head sharply and stepped back, towards Sharufa. She'd earned some trust, but not even close to that much. "You can't speak for them yet."

"At least contact Essani?" She asked him, confused by the arousal in him that was definitely directed at her. "She's worried about you, along with the rest of your friends. And if I can't speak for the Council, she certainly can."

"Maybe," he murmured and gave into the increasing sense of foreboding urging him to escape while he could. It was a dignified walk despite his feelings, but he never completely took his eyes off her until the hatch closed between them.

"*Come back to us, Jay,*" she said across their bond, only using it to make reaching his mind easier. "*Once your kits are with your kin, remember your end of the bargain, please.*"

He gave her no answer but to raise his mental shields as much as he could and lifted off, wanting nothing more but to be away from her and how close she'd come to talking him into going back to the Jedi.

Mina ran through the Kraken towards the nursery, her head throbbing with the pain of having her bond with Jay shattered abruptly.

The Healer was nearby. She felt it, just before the bond was ripped through. That blue-skinned bitch had managed to meet up with Jay, and she'd been caught completely unawares.

"You could have warned me," she muttered at the Demon that was still in the back of her mind.

"*I didn't know this was on his list of plans,*" the creature pointed out.

"Great, that makes me feel so much better about my impending death!" The shecat snarled. Without the bond, and the kittens already born, she knew her life wasn't worth a credit. All it meant was that she had to take matters into her own hands.

Preferably along with the kittens.

She reached the nursery and opened the door, the four infants sleeping, Tami watching them and holding her own kittens.

"Ma'am?" The wet-nurse asked, a little confused by Mina's disheveled, rushed appearance. It was rare enough for her to be down in the nursery, let alone seeming panicked about getting there.

"Quiet," the tabby said coldly, extending a hand towards Tami and reaching out through the Force, grabbing her head and slamming it back against the wall behind her hard enough to knock her out.

Mina reached out to pick up one of her kits as Tami's month-old kittens fell to the floor and started crying. She reached out through the Force to make them sleep as she picked up the first of her kittens, the red-on-black tabby boy, her touch surprisingly gentle as she cradled him in her arms.

"*Behind you!*" The Demon warned her.

Mina whirled around, seeing Janos behind her, drawing his blaster and leveling it at her, the kit between them the only thing keeping him from pulling the trigger already.

"You are not leaving here." He rumbled and shifted his aim to the hard hit but safer head shot.

"Actually, I am," she growled, grabbing his wrist through the Force and squeezing sharply until she heard the satisfying crack of the fine bones and joints being crushed. "And there's not a damned thing you can do to stop me."

Despite his howl of pain, the rage built up to quickly overshadow it as he grabbed his lightsaber in his good hand and lunged for her.

She ducked to the side, the Wolf stopping just short of the cradle with her other kits in it. She took advantage of his hesitation, shifting her kit to one arm and grabbing him telekinetically, hurling him up into the ceiling, then back through the door, the back of his head cracking against the top of the frame.

"*You're going to need more than that to stop him,*" the Demon warned her.

"*I'm open for suggestions,*" she snarled mentally as the Wolf struggled to his feet with a snarl of outrage.

"*I have just the thing. When you're done with him, head for docking bay twelve, they have fighters there with hyperdrives to get us out of here. Leave the other kits for now, this one will be enough.*"

"*All right,*" she agreed reluctantly. Better to escape with one than none.

"All right, now you die." Janos focused everything he had on her and moved. His Force-enhanced speed was too great for her to dodge, so she tried to force him back or to the side telekinetically again - only to have him charge head long into crackling red tendrils of energy that arced from her hands, wrapping around him like lightning, the potent Dark Side energies of the ship she was on coalescing into energy that ripped through his body, draining the life from him.

Mina's entire body tingled as she felt the Wolf's potent life-force being drawn into her, a rush unlike anything else she'd experienced before. And an entirely new sort of agony for Janos to deal with as she forced him to his knees and the red tendrils crawled across his body, singeing fur and flesh alike.

"Kraken, stop her." Janos ordered with the last of his conscious strength as he slipped into oblivion despite his best efforts.

"*Very good.*" The Demon praised her. "*But we must escape now.*"

"One more," she said, shaking her head and turning to grab another of her now-waking children. Once she had one of her daughters, and both her arms full, she started out of the medical bay to the full sirens-blaring, lights-flashing of a red alert.

The hiss of lasers aimed to kill her began to rain down from their placements all over the halls.

"*Tell Jay that his ship is about to kill his kittens,*" she snarled mentally at the Demon, drawing the Force around her to enhance her speed as she rocketed through the corridors, faster than she'd ever been able to move before.

Apparently, whatever the Demon had done had given her some of Janos' skill as well as his life.

It was only a few more shots and the weapons went silent, only to be replaced as every security door in the place slammed down and locked tight.

"*Blast it with the Force.*" The Demon told her, giving her telekinetic blasts enough power to shatter the blockades all the way down to the hanger. "*Move quickly. Jay will be able to control your ship in a few moments.*"

Much to her shock, the heavy metal blast doors ripped open to allow her through as she made her way to the docking bay. A force field rose to keep her from getting to the ship, but even that last barrier fell as she crushed the control panel next to it and climbed on board the two-man Sith fighter that was waiting after Rob was done with a training flight.

"What the Hell is happening?" The Ringtail said.

"You're going to get us into hyperspace as fast as you can, or you're going to learn a thousand new definitions for pain before the Sharufa catches up with us," she growled at him, taking her seat and grateful that there was a pilot here.

"What do you - yes ma'am." The Ringtail's change of heart came with a tight, frightened tone as she reached out to squeeze his heart lightly, sending shooting pains through his chest for a moment before he acquiesced and she released the organ. The small fighter was taking off a moment later, its narrow, dart-like shape pulling out of the Kraken and making its way towards the edge of the system, the computer working as fast as it could to generate hyperspace coordinates.

Mina was devoutly grateful that they weren't in the Kyrani system just now.

Jay was trembling in pain and fighting off Shi's presence in his mind in response to it as he got into range to contact Kraken directly.

"*What the hell happened?*" He demanded, the backlash of his rage and pain crawling along the computer's systems.

"*The she-cat escaped,*" Kraken explained, its pain clear to Jay. "*She ripped through the blast-doors and force-fields like paper, I've never seen that sort of power before!*"

"*My kittens?*" Jay trembled, his rage spiking even as he held back on hurting Kraken anymore just now.

"*Two were taken, Master. The Wolf fought her, but she did something to him.*"

"*Where did she go? Medical droid are working on Janos, correct?*" He began to adjust Sharufa's trajectory.

"Uncertain, Master," Kraken said, its voice coming across the Sharufa's intercom now. "Corewards, I was unable to determine anything more before the fighter went into hyperspace. And yes, they are, but they are uncertain how to help him beyond treating the electrical burns."

Jay closed his eyes and reached out towards the Wolf's mind, seeking to find out if Janos was still there.

He was, but there was something ... off. The damage wasn't entirely physical, he could tell that much. It wasn't really mental either ... it seemed to go deeper.

Jay drew a deep breath and waited impatiently as Sharufa docked, spending the time reaching out along the much weaker family bond with his kits to find out which were missing and what direction they were headed in. He couldn't determine much more than it really was coreward, which given where they were, didn't give him much. Nearly everything was coreward.

He didn't even bother to wait until Sharufa was properly docked to leap to the hanger floor and make a bolt for his remaining kittens.

He found Tami there, rubbing her head as she tried to calm all four kittens, hers and Jay's, the infants crying out loudly. Janos was unconscious outside the nursery being tended by the medical droids, his blaster crushed inside the room and lightsaber lying in one corner.

He stepped up to the cradle and gently touched his two remaining children, their squalls soothed by the light touch of one they were bonded to. With them calm and crooned back to sleep, he turned to see to his mate.

"There is deep muscle trauma that will require a full bacta bath to treat quickly," Kraken explained to him. "Unfortunately, our stores are less than adequate; I project it will take several weeks, at least, before he recovers fully, even before the question of whatever additional damage is raised."

"Where is the nearest location where whatever needed can be acquired?" Jay asked softly as did what he could with his own very limited healing abilities.

"With, or without, having to go into Republic controlled territory?"

"Without." He replied. Janos wouldn't die; he wasn't going to commit to that big of a risk yet.

"There is a colony in the Vexel system, Master," Kraken said easily. "They should have sufficient supplies, though I'm not entirely sure how willing they will be to surrender it. They are, however, well off the most probable route to find your kittens."

"Run a calculation of the best location based on our route to my kits and likely supplies." Jay shifted his instructions slightly even as he double-checked Kraken's estimate on where Mina was headed. "Also, open an encrypted channel to the Brythin."

"Beginning calculations, channel open," Kraken said easily.

"This is the Brythin; who is hailing us on this channel?" Kanna asked him.

"Jay." He told her softly. "I need to speak to Shi."

"What's wrong, Jay?" Shivasta asked.

He took a deep breath and instructed the medical droids to take Janos to the medical bay. "Mina got away with two of my kits and almost killed Janos in the process. His injuries are beyond my capabilities to heal and we don't have a bacta tank yet."

"Give the Kraken the command to let me board safely, and I'll help you," Shi said promptly. "Healer's duties, Jay - I won't do anything to interfere, and neither will Kanna. She might be able to help you too."

"Thank you." He nodded and passed the command on silently. "You're cleared. A droid will be waiting for you when you land to show you to medical."

With that, he headed up to the bridge. He needed to work with Kraken to figure out where the Hell Mina had taken his kittens.

A few minutes later, Shivasta and Kanna disembarked from the Brythin, both Ice Walkers a little nervous about being on the ship that had been stolen so recently, and had a known history of being both Sith and of killing its crew twice.

"Follow me, please," the droid they met said easily, turning and trundling off as they followed.

"*Are you sure Jay can keep this ship under control?*" Kanna asked silently as they walked through empty corridors and lifts, both sensitives keenly aware of the lack of people on board, and the condition of most of those who were.

"*He'll destroy it if it disobeys him, so I'm pretty sure,*" Shivasta agreed as they reached medical. "*The life here is ... unsettling,*" she mused to her former Padawan.

"*It doesn't really feel like a crew.*" Kanna agreed.

Then she stepped into medical, and saw the steel-gray Wolf unconscious on one of the beds, a much younger white-furred shewolf next to him, obviously concerned.

"I'm here to help," she told the younger Wolf softly. "Is this Janos?"

"Yes, ma'am." The shewolf nodded politely, her bearing that a wealthy Republic upbringing. "You are Shi?"

"Master Healer Shivasta Stormwarden," she nodded in agreement. Cases like this, the rank usually helped. "Do you know what happened to him?" She asked, taking a seat next to Janos and focusing on him. The injuries were strange ... but she actually recognized them, something most Healers couldn't even say, and very few other Jedi.

Something about what Mina had done to him had attacked him on the level of the Force itself, weakening the ties between it and his body.

"No, ma'am." Vondra shook her head and gracefully stayed out of the Healer's way while remaining close to her master. "He fought Mina. She did this to him."

"I haven't seen this done by a person before," she admitted. "But I do know how to help him," she added, looking Vondra in the eyes. "Are you his mate?" She asked bluntly.

"I ... maybe." She stammered, very startled by the question and her uncertainty of an answer. She knew what she wanted, but not if he thought of her as more than his pet. A pet he cared about, she was sure, but that was a long way from 'mate'. "It never came up like that."

"Ah," Shi nodded, grasping the situation quickly. "I'm going to have to do some fairly intensive work then ... whatever Mina did attacked the connection between his body and the Force, his ability to live. I need to repair that tie. If you're willing to try, it would help to have somebody who feels a connection to him here."

"I am." Vondra nodded, sure of that at least. "What do I need to do?"

"Take his hand, and focus on him waking up," Shivasta explained, giving her the easiest way for a non-sensitive to understand it. She looked back at Kanna, near the door.

"If you can talk the droid into taking you to the bridge, you might offer your talent to Jay in finding his kittens," she suggested.

"Yes, Master." She nodded easily, reinforcing Shi's rank just a little more to these outsiders, and turned to see if she could talk the droid into cooperating. If it wouldn't, at this range she could ask Jay directly if she needed to.

Vondra took Janos' hand between her own and did her best to focus on him awake and in her arms. She was out of her depth, but she was damned if she wouldn't do all she could.

Shivasta closed her eyes, taking Janos' other hand and reaching out. It would be all she could do to fix the damage that wasn't physical; until she was done with this, no amount of bacta would bring him back to consciousness. It wasn't like somebody had cut him off from the Force; she'd seen that before.

This was like Mina had taken the living part of the Force around him and ripped it out.

She focused on that part of it, tying it back to him, working it in, pulling the Dark Side away from him. She was surprised to find that, as angry and hateful as the Wolf could be, he wasn't nearly as Dark as she'd expected him to be. He had a real ability to care and two people, Jay and Vondra, were clear in his hazy mind as in that carefully-guarded place.

It made her feel better about leaving Jay with him for the next few months. Odd to think that there was a very real chance a Dark Sider would be her mate's voice of reason. It also made it much more likely that Jay wouldn't slide much further down that path than he already had. Mina had been the truly Dark one, the one that kept pushing and plotting. Janos might not be her first choice, but he wasn't actively Dark like the shecat was. He was just hurt and angry and self-trained. Anger and pain that Jay was tempering as the two found a balance in survival with what had been thrust upon them.

The Wolf groaned softly, every muscle in his body aching as Shivasta carefully pulled back, having practically wrapped him in the warmth of the Light Side of the Force, his fur still scorched in places, the healer exhausted.

"Will he be all right?" Vondra asked softly.

"In time," Shivasta nodded. "He'll need to rest, and probably won't feel like doing very much for a while, but he'll be all right in the long run. Some time for both of you to think, maybe."

"Who're you?" Janos slurred, not opening his eyes yet, though he squeezed Vondra's hand lightly.

"Shivasta, Jay's mate. Take care of him, once you're back on your feet."

"The Healer." Vondra added, not sure how well he was thinking yet. "She says you'll be fine. Jay's going to get a bacta tank to speed healing the burns."

"Tell 'im to get that bitch first," Janos muttered, squeezing Vondra's hand again. "Stay here a bit?" He asked the shewolf.

"It'd be okay," Shivasta said softly, nodding.

"I wasn't planning on going anywhere." Vondra smiled at him, her voice with the touch of steel to point out she was willing to fight for it even though it wasn't required.

"Good," he smiled back, turning his head to look up at her as Shivasta stood.

"I'll go check on my partner," she said easily. "You get some rest," she told Janos sternly, before turning to leave the room.

Kanna stood next to the droid by the sealed entry to the bridge of the Kraken. The ship still had her on edge, but at least now she had something to do.

"*Jay, could you open the door for me?*" She asked telepathically. "*It's Kanna, I'm here to help.*"

He didn't actually respond to her, but the door slid open to reveal him alone in the captain's seat in the center of a bridge designed for a score or more officers.

She could tell from the Force-flow that he was deep in focus taking the place of a such a large crew while following the tenuous parental bond he had with his kits. The Dark Force in the room was palatable, but it was focused ... different. He didn't have the Light strength to do what he had to, and he'd chosen to accept the price of the Dark in exchange for the strength to do what he needed to.

Even so, she knew all too well that over time it would manifest as anger, hatred ... ways that it was already manifesting.

"Jay," she said as she stepped in, moving towards a seat next to him. "You're overextending yourself. Let me take on part of it, my talents are better suited to finding them."

He looked at her, distrust evident in his eyes even though he was still willing to listen to her.

"Seers can track people?" He regarded her dubiously.

"It's easier to tell where somebody is than to tell you where they have been or where they're going to be," she pointed out. "And I've made a bit of a career out of the latter. I can see where they are, possibly where they're going."

He stared at her. He knew her record, he knew she was strong. He didn't want to give any of this over.

She could feel, even from the outside, the strength of the bond at this range with Shi influencing him when there was nothing to counter it.

Slowly, warily, Jay nodded. "Where are they?" He asked, his voice low and shaky.

"I'll need a few moments, but I'll be able to tell you then," she said, taking a seat and closing her eyes. "If you have any suggestions based on what you and Kraken have figured out, I'm open to them. They might help."

"They were headed coreward before entering hyperspace. She took our pilot too, and only a small fighter. It doesn't have the range for more than a day or so."

"She won't be on it for long," Kanna murmured as things began to come into focus. "How good is the pilot, and what sort of ships does he work well with?"

"Not as good as Fen or me, but skilled. He prefers smugglers and small traders." Jay told her. "He's not a sensitive."

"That'll limit it to planets with enough ships that they can steal one," she murmured. "What are the kits like?"

"They're only three days old." He murmured. "A boy, Jamil, and a girl, Tessra, were the ones taken. Both are strong sensitives like their sisters. Strong in the family Gift too."

That made sense. Kanna narrowed down to the one thing she could sense that was unique about the situation, and her visions - two 'eyes' in the middle of a cloud of darkness. The two kittens, still innocent, carried through the galaxy by their Dark Sider mother.

"They're going to Kethris Prime, and from there into the Core Worlds. She hopes to lose you there, once they have a new ship."

Jay nodded, that made sense and meshed with what he could sense.

Kanna felt the Force gather again, adding even more power and efficiency to the hyperdrive as Kraken surged forward towards Kethris Prime.

Master Essani moved as quickly as she could without appearing too rushed in the middle of the night. The Clawson's ship, after being tracked across the galaxy for a week, had arrived, and arrived earlier than expected. Their first communication had been directed to Master Jolani Panthera instead of her, as the Tigress was a race the newcomers knew and were at least visually related to. She was also the only other one on the Council that was at least somewhat familiar with the Clawson's native language from Jay.

Within minutes the Tigress had arranged for a full Council to greet the newcomers in the Council Chamber and had gotten the Clawson leader to agree to hold off on the questions until they were face to face.

Doruth was there, offering to act as an interpreter along with Master Panthera. He was more familiar with Jay's native language than she was, and while Essani was probably fully fluent, at least as much as Jay had been at the tender age of eight, she couldn't pronounce a single word. It wasn't long before the rest of the Council was present as well, most of them somewhat uneasy beneath their calm exteriors.

Essani couldn't blame them; they would, after all, have to explain to these newcomers that they'd managed to find, raise, and then lose, one of their own. Newcomers who could probably shut down the defenses and infrastructure of Coruscant with a few thoughts, if they wanted to.

They didn't have long to wait before the lift doors opened to reveal three female felines who walked into the chamber and instinctively positioned themselves in a loose, triangular back-to-back arrangement to leave no Jedi unfaced, and no back unprotected.

The oldest of them, her caramel fur graying heavily in her years despite the lean, powerful body she maintained. This was leader, and was facing Master Essani, knowing she led the Council. Her eyes, though, kept flicking to Noloth and Mython, considering the pair more dangerous.

"Greetings, Master Essani." The Clawson leader spoke in very carefully pronounced, though still heavily accented, Basic. "I am Marie Clawson, family leader."

"We have heard of you," she said in her native Kushiban, translating telepathically to Doruth, who spoke verbally to the Clawsons. More complicated concepts would be most interesting to discuss this way. She just hoped that, if any came up, much wouldn't be lost in the multiple translations. "You are Jay Clawson's grandmother, as I understand?"

"Jessie Clawson, and her son, our father, have both died since Jay was lost." Marie explained in careful Basic, using her ability to access her ship's computers to keep her words accurate, if a touch slow. "I am Jay's father's oldest kit and the family leader now. This," she motioned to the heavily built brown on fawn tabby female to her right that was at least a couple decades her junior, "is Felisha Furlong, Jay's mother."

"It is a pleasure to meet you, though we wish it was under better circumstances," Essani said, bowing her head respectfully. "None of us had really expected that the Clawson family would reach Republic space, particularly not after several decades."

"We wish it was under better conditions as well." Marie inclined her head. "I understand my brother has caused a great deal of damage here recently."

"Unfortunately, we believe he has, though ... how do you know this?" Essani asked, taking the opportunity to look at the three in the Force. The two leaders weren't all that surprising; they weren't sensitives, but they had Jay's gift in spades, the Force a dull gray around them. The third, a cinnamon-furred shekat who had yet to be introduced, some decades younger than Jay, was more interesting, much like Jay when they had found him, given more power and experience.

Marie paused, every Jedi aware that she'd just been asked about something she really didn't want to get into explaining.

"As we entered this galaxy, I could feel his state of mind. It was not good." She said, trying to give enough of an answer without getting into family Gift dynamics or language that didn't translate well. "All members born into this family share a mental ... link ... with their parents and the family leader. I can feel his state when I concentrate on him."

"Can you sense his location as well?" Essani asked, her fur shifting from a neutral white to a light, curious teal and earning her a very curious look from all three felines.

"I can track him," Marie nodded, not completely sure if that was what the strange rabbit meant. "It is how we got to this galaxy."

"More accurately than somebody with a mate's bond to him can?" Doruth asked, picking up on what Essani was thinking and pre-empting her question.

"No," Marie shook her head slightly. "Those are usually much stronger."

Felisha said something in their native language, which Marie translated.

"You do not know where Jay is?"

"He was captured by a faction of Dark-Siders, the Sith," Essani explained. "We have been searching for him for months. We have come close to retrieving him, but he has been blocking his mates and their bond because of the way he was captured." Just then, Master Winda looked down at her datapad as it beeped.

"That may have changed," the Rabbit said. "I received a message from Master Fenrik, I'll deal with it shortly."

"Very well," Essani agreed. "Madame Clawson, the short version of events is that Jay was tricked into believing his mates were dead, and the bonds usurped by two of these Dark-Siders. He has since killed their leader, but the two who have the bonds are still influencing him. One of them was pregnant with his kits the last we heard; we are trying to rescue him and the kits before things become desperate."

No one in the room missed that despite having very little grasp of what a 'Dark-Sider' was, all three were badly shaken by that news though they didn't show it. It was Felisha, though, that had the most obvious reaction as her ears went flat.

["I have grandkits lost?"] Felisha rumbled.

"I ... understand." Marie spoke quietly, her mind working on what it was going to take of those she'd brought with her to deal with such a threat. A light touch on Felisha's arm settled the shekat, though she was still very upset. "This is very bad, Master Essani. There is little more dangerous than a Clawson protecting their young."

"We understand, Madame Clawson," Essani nodded, her fur shifting to a deep grey. "Right now, we have much of the fleet out to search for him, more than we are technically supposed to have. We want him back as badly as you do, and his kits somewhere safe."

"You said he was only tricked into believing his mates were dead?" Marie began to put a plan together. "I would like to speak to them."

"They are currently on the hunt; it may take some time to arrange a meeting," Essani explained.

"Actually, we have very good news," Master Winda told her, reading the message from Fenrik. "And very, very bad," she sighed, reading farther. "Masters Fenrik and Shivasta have found Knight Clawson; Master Shivasta is with him currently. She is ready to speak with us via holo-net, and explain what has happened. Madame Clawson, if you and your kin would be willing to take a seat, we could begin? It will bring us all up to speed on exactly what has happened."

"Very good." Marie inclined her head and made a subtle motion with her tail that got both of her companions to sit in the open chairs that appeared from the floor for them. With the center of the room clear, a holographic image of a middle-aged blue-skinned woman in Jedi robes and long, dark blue hair appeared and bowed to the assembly.

"Council, I assume nobody will take offense if I dispense with the formalities," Shi said politely.

"Of course, Master Shivasta," Master Noloth nodded. "Your message said you had encountered Knight Clawson?"

"Yes," the Ice Walker explained. "I'll make this as brief as possible. He set up a meeting with me, requesting that Fenrik and I cease the hunt until his family arrived. I agreed on the condition that he would let me undo his bond to the shecat, one Mina Callahan. He agreed, and we broke the bond between the two of them. As you are aware, she was the worst of his two false mates. Unfortunately, neither of us anticipated her power, or what she would do when she felt the bond shatter.

"Mina kidnapped two of Jay's kittens, which were born in the past few days. She nearly killed his other mate in the process, and demonstrated a level of mastery over the Dark Side I've never encountered before. She escaped with one of the pilots now working on the Kraken, stealing an old Sith fighter and making off with Jay's son and one of his daughters. Jay contacted me to help heal his remaining mate, the Wolf, and Kanna is helping him track Mina now.

"We will remain with the Kraken until Jay's kittens have been recovered; right now, I wouldn't leave him alone for anything. I request that a contingent of ships be sent from the fleet to the Kethris system and watch for any stolen ships. If they encounter one, they should restrain it, but not board it. Mina is incredibly dangerous, but nothing compared to what Jay will be like if he thinks we're trying to take his kittens from him."

"Master Shivasta," Marie addressed the woman politely in slow, accented Basic. "You are one of Jay's real mates?"

"I am," the Jedi nodded, turning to face the voice. "I believe you have me at a disadvantage?"

"I am Marie Clawson, Jay's oldest sister and current head of the Clawson family." She answered simply. "His mother is also here." She motioned to the elder tabby sitting next to her. "Will the Wolf, the false-bonded one, survive?"

"He will," Shivasta nodded. "Whatever Mina did to him I was able to repair, he will simply require some time to recover from the physical portion of his injuries."

Marie let out a small breath of relief. "We would join you on this hunt. Jay, and his kits, are our kin as well."

Much to the surprise of the Council, she was clearly making a request now, rather than a demand worded as one.

"As far as I'm concerned," Shivasta said with a grateful bow, "any help you can offer us would be welcome. It would be good to have Jay know he's not alone anymore."

"Is your other mate with you?" Marie asked politely, clearly assuming a triad had formed.

"Not at the moment," Shivasta said, shaking her head. "Jay was uncomfortable with having Fenrik with us now, between the false bond and being afraid that he may be able to convince him to make a decision he felt would be contrary to the best interests of his kits."

"Understood, Master Shivasta." Marie nodded slightly. "We will meet you in the Kethris system?"

"Yes," she nodded. "Madame Clawson, is there any sort of a message you could give me, that would be incontrovertible proof that your family is here?"

The old shekat settled back in the rounded chair and pressed her fingers together in front of her face, thinking, for a long moment.

"Do you speak Aristalin?"

"Exceedingly poorly," Shivasta admitted. "He speaks Basic, and my jaws weren't really built to pronounce all the words well. Fenrik speaks it better than I do."

Marie nodded and went thoughtful again.

"Has he ever spoken of 'the darkest star'?"

"Not at all," Shi admitted, cocking her head curiously. "Something from your home-system?"

"Something from home, yes." Marie chuckled softly. "Tell him that the darkest star and father's heart have finally come for him. It will not be ... complete ... proof, but it may help you keep him calm until we are there."

"Thank you, Ma'am. That would be quite a help. Not as good as having his kits back, but it'll show you are here."

"Yes," Marie agreed. "We will join you as soon as possible, Master Shivasta."

"I'll let him know," Shi nodded, turning back towards the Councilors. "Are there any questions from the Council?" She asked them.

"How far has Knight Clawson fallen?" Master Noloth asked rather pointedly.

"Not too far to be redeemed," Shi said firmly. "He has killed, he has murdered, but he hasn't fallen to the level of the shecat. Come close at times, yes, but he will not stay there."

"Very good." Master Essani's fur lightened slightly as Doruth translated for her into Basic.

"What was the decision that he was afraid Master Fenrik could convince him to make?" Master Winda asked, the brown-furred Rabbit's ears twitching slightly.

"He does not want the Jedi to raise his kittens," Shivasta said, keenly aware that the Clawsons were still there. "He wants them raised by the Clawson family, at least until they are older."

"Why does he not want the Jedi involved?" Marie reentered the conversation as she leaned forward, keenly interested in this.

"Aside from himself, there are no Jedi who fully understand the Clawson gifts and abilities," Shivasta explained, hedging around what she thought was the deeper issue, his own discomfort with Jedi philosophy. "It is also typical Jedi policy to discourage contact between an Initiate and their kin under most circumstances. For obvious reasons, he feels this wouldn't be in the best interests of Clawson kits. I am inclined to agree, but he isn't at his most trusting when it comes to reassurance that the Jedi would bend their rules in the best interests of his children."

"Typical." Marie nodded with an indulgent smile for her little brother. "These are his first kits, then?"

"They are. He reacted very negatively to the suggestion of children during his lifetime, but he wasn't given a say in the matter this time."

Marie nodded and handed the meeting back to the Council.

"If there are no more questions from the Council, I would like to see to him soon," she explained. "In his current state he could cause himself no small amount of trouble."

"There are no more questions." Master Noloth answered for Essani after a brief scan of the Council. "Force be with you, Jedi."

When the hologram vanished, the three Clawsons took their place at the center again.

"Before we leave, I would like to have a copy of Knight Clawson's ... record ... file ... what information you have kept on and about him." Marie asked. Again, she was actually asking, even though they all knew she could take what she wanted with a thought.

She had a much better grasp on diplomacy than her brother generally did.

"We will make it available to you," Essani nodded slightly. "I assume you are capable of translating it, or would you prefer for us to do so?"

"Thank you, Master Essani. We can translate it." Marie inclined her head in thanks. "Our ship understands Basic much better than I do yet. Is there anything about this situation you would have us know before we are in the middle of things?"

"We would prefer that the situation is handled with a minimum amount of violence, and that Mina is captured, rather than killed," Essani explained. "However, given her time with Jay and her pre-existing Sith training, we aren't holding out too much hope that she'll be able to be captured without killing others in the process. There is a very real chance that she will have a weapon capable of carving through the hull of your ship with minimal effort. Add that to her apparently considerable skill with the Dark Side of the Force, and the potential is exceedingly dangerous."

"I understand, Master Essani." Marie's expression turned grim. "We have dealt with such people before. We will be careful, and do our best to do as little damage as we can. If I may ask, what are the penalties for what Jay has done?"

"Thank you," Essani nodded. "And it will depend on what else might happen while he is gone. However, in most circumstances, the Jedi are allowed to deal with Jedi crimes. At this point, he would be kept at the Temple and watched until we were sure he was back to his old self."

That raised an eyebrow, Marie's surprise visible on her face. There would be more questions later, to be sure, but for now it seemed to satisfy her. "I see. We will do what we can to keep him from doing more."

"Force be with you, Madame Clawson, and with your kin."

"Bastet's grace to you and yours, Master Essani." Marie Clawson bowed and turned to leave with her two companions.

"She is much easier to deal with than her brother," Master Noloth observed after the Clawsons had left the room.

"*She is the leader of her family, Master Noloth,*" Essani observed, switching back to telepathy now that they were gone. It simply wasn't polite to use it in the presence of people who weren't sensitives or naturally telepathic. The Kushiban's fur shifted to a very pale pink as she continued her observation. "*It's a position that often reminds one of the need to be diplomatic when she rather wouldn't be.*"

The amusement from some on the Council said her carefully worded barb wasn't lost on everyone.

"It will be interesting to see how things go when the emergency is over." Master Sarapas mused.

"Most interesting," Doruth nodded, agreeing with the Thississpian. "I imagine they'll have far more in the way of questions. I just hope they'll accept our judgment regarding any punishments for Jay."

"*Their people, as I understand, have a far more black and white history when dealing with their fallen heroes,*" Essani pointed out. "*I would be surprised if they have a case like this one in their history to draw on.*"

"Not that I ever heard of." Doruth nodded. "A quick death at the hand of one of their own was considered the merciful way of dealing with them. Though to be fair, they had only had two cases at the time of Jay's disappearance, one of them before the family had actually been formed. That is not much to form a system on."

"I have to admit that I rather hope they'll stick around after this is all over, for a time at least," Master Winda observed. "For the reason you just mentioned. Jay was only eight when he left them, and he has been a very firm adherent to the Clawson family's culture since. I have the sense from all three we met that the situation would not have been unique to him. A culture, even one that is mostly family-wide, that is that strong in such a short time is a fascinating concept, particularly formed after their species already had several of their own."

"It was born out of need, from a specialist culture not so different from our own in concept. Completely separate from the general population." Doruth commented evenly. It had fascinated him too, for a while. "They were a combat specialist group, a very different culture on its own, and added elements to cope with the Demon they face, separating the Clawsons from their base culture. It is likely as strong as it is so young because of the elements the Demon adds to their life. When facing something like that, the culture that is created to survive it would be well-engrained young."

"I suspect it is also something that is simply part of what Jay is." Master Zraii added. "He is most stubborn."

"That he is," Master Noloth agreed. "As are his kin, I am sure. I wonder how many other sensitives they have under their wings, born after he was."

"*I expect we will be able to ask, as long as this does not go poorly.*" Master Essani fluffed her fur. "*They do seem honestly interested in getting along with us.*"

"A refreshing change, compared to most species we've encountered outside the known galaxy," Master Dyba observed dryly.

"True," Master Ty'thri'ku'mo Mython nodded slightly. "They are also very different from every other group we have encountered in basic drive. These people are defenders, not truly explorers. The greater culture they are part of may well be quite different. The Clawsons would not have left their homeworld on their own."

"*In keeping with what little Jay has told me about their history,*" Essani agreed. "*They developed hyperdrive by adapting it from another species that attempted to conquer their world; much of what they accomplished was defensive in nature.*"

"Quite successful defense as well." Doruth couldn't help but feel respectful for a race that had succeeded in such a situation. It wasn't one that any Republic-contacted world could claim to have done. More often than not, they required help from the Republic as soon as they found them.

"I imagine we'll be able to fill in a few blanks about their history that Knight Clawson hasn't helped us with after this is all over," Master Nythen nodded, the aged Vixen's silver fur graying, but her interest in the various peoples they encountered no less keen.

"It will be most interesting how much of what he remembered was accurate as well." Master Noloth mused quietly. "His kin will have many conversations ahead of them when things have settled."

Shivasta walked from the Kraken's docking bay again after giving her report to the Council. She wanted to find Jay, give him the message from his sister. She'd felt them enter hyperspace just before the report, so she expected he'd be in the engine room.

Much to her surprise, her bond told her otherwise as she approached the nursery.

With a smile, she turned to follow her hunch. It wouldn't hurt to meet the new kittens, even if he wasn't there.

She felt six people in the room as she approached; a non-sensitive female, Jay, and four very young but Force-strong lives. She also felt Jay feel her approach and turn some of his attention from his kittens to being ready to protect them against anything.

She took her lightsaber off her belt and slipped it up beneath her robes, making it more difficult to reach and doing her best to seem inoffensive as she approached the door and looked in. Her mate was lying on a bed with two newborns mewing softly in his arms and an utterly indulgent look on his face every time he so much as glanced their way. A chocolate on gold tabby shecat was sitting in a rocker nearby nursing the other two kittens.

"May I come in?" She asked him with a soft smile.

Jay looked up at her, actually taking a moment to judge her, before nodding. "Yes."

"Thank you," she smiled, stepping in, looking between him and the kits, then over at the two slightly older ones nursing. "Are they all yours?" She asked him.

"Not by blood." He admitted, most of his attention on gently stroking the two newborns nestled in the crook of his arm as he lay on his side. "Tami's aren't." He nodded slightly towards the older pair.

"They're all beautiful," she smiled at the shecat nursing her own kits, who returned the smile gratefully as Shi moved over next to Jay carefully, watching in the Force as much with her eyes if she crossed some unknown line. Many races were aggressive about visitors around very the young, and Jay had reason to beyond instincts.

"We will get the others back, Jay," she promised him, a small reassurance that earned her a bit of a smile. Even if it was largely hollow, he was at least trying. "And some good news; your family's here ahead of schedule. Your sister said something about the 'darkest star' and 'the father's heart' coming for you."

"My sister?" He twitched one ear slightly. "Which one?"

"Marie, your oldest," she explained. "She said that she's the head of the family now. Your mother was there too; she seemed very concerned for you, and for the kits."

"I think the proper term would be completely freaked out." He actually chuckled softly. "So am I still the youngest?"

"I was being polite," she smiled softly with a chuckle of her own. "And not in the family, assuming the third woman they had with them was a Clawson. Not sure what her relation was to the others, we didn't actually talk too much. They said they'd meet us in the Kethris system to help hunt for the kits; you can meet them yourself then."

Almost all the tension left Jay's body with a soft sound that Shi couldn't identify, but could feel was largely relief, as he lowered his head to nuzzle his daughters, one sleek black and one a strawberry blond tabby with dusty rose stripes.

"It's finally over then." Jay murmured, looking forward to it even as he was scared of the consequences.

"Gods willing," she agreed. "And I asked the Council to reassign a portion of the fleet to making sure Mina doesn't get out of the Kethris system, if they're there in time. Just stopping her," she said quickly, "not boarding, not firing on."

He nodded slightly, strangely relaxed about it. "How is Janos?"

"He'll be okay, once he has a little time to recover," she said. "You care for him, beyond the bond?" She asked.

"I think so." He nodded slightly, still more than a little afraid of her despite that he trusted her.

"Jay, I'm not going to hurt you, or him," she said softly, reaching down to stroke his cheek lightly. "And I'm not going to ask you to go back to the Order before we've saved your kits from Mina."

"Then what?" He looked at her; absolutely terrified of what he thought would be his fate there.

"We take you back, we get you away from the people who've dragged you down as far as you've gone," she said, kneeling next to the bed to look him in the eyes and remove the element of dominance of standing over him. "And then we work to help you get away from the Dark Side, to regain your control."

"The way they did Revan?" He asked, his gaze steady as he voiced the core of his fear; the loss of himself.

"No, Jay," she said, shaking her head and a little stunned at just how potent his fear of that fate was. "That was a completely different situation than this is. The Jedi were ready to kill Revan, if they had to, and they saw a chance to save her, or at least the knowledge she had ... that was a war. This isn't the same."

"Promise?" His voice trembled slightly, though he was keeping an incredible amount inside to not disturb his kittens. "Don't let them do that to me."

Jay, if they tried, I'd fight it as long as I could," she said firmly, her eyes glittering with all the determination she had. "If I had to, I'd be with you on the ship back to your home before I let them wipe your mind that way. You are not Revan. She was on the verge of destroying the Order, willingly. You were captured and brainwashed, after a fashion."

"Led astray at least," he murmured and gently stroked his newborn's heads. "It will be clearer when my kittens are safe with kin."

Her reassurances meant something to him, she could feel it, but it didn't wash it all away.

She would have been surprised if it had.

"May I?" She asked, reaching towards the nearest one, the strawberry-blond tabby.

Jay tensed, his body shifting to shield his kittens and the Force gathered to help him before he processed her words. Then he slowly relaxed and nodded. Still he watched every move she made, physically and in the Force, sharply.

She gently stroked the kitten's head, smiling as she mewled softly.

"What are their names?" She asked him.

"She's Jemeka," he smiled, a brilliantly warm affection washing away everything negative in him with just a look at his daughter. "The black one is Mystera." He purred.

"They're both beautiful," she smiled. "Mystera takes after the Panther side of your family, I'm guessing?"

"And a black shekat that was my mother's great-grandmother." He nodded and nuzzled Mystera lightly, licking her short, fluffy fur. "It will be interesting to see which side of the family they take after."

"You know, they don't have to be either," she chuckled. "I'm sure not everybody in your family is a pilot or gunner."

"Well, no, though we're all inventors of some sort and special ops." He accepted the possibility without issue and continued to bath his kittens. "Most do have a strong talent for shooting or piloting, sometimes both."

"Given their Force-strength, probably piloting," she mused, petting Jemeka gently.

"They won't be Jedi." He pointed out a bit tensely. "It's a natural talent, not trained."

"I know, Jay," she nodded softly. "I didn't mean with the Jedi, it's just more common for pilots than gunners to be sensitives. From what I've heard, at least," she shrugged slightly.

"Different duties from back home." He nodded, remembering the first time he'd run across the difference. "Gunners have the rank and important duties where they're going."

"That's a point," she admitted. "Not that I know much about either, honestly. Are you sure you'll be sending them back to your galaxy?"

"Anything to keep them from growing up in this one." He nodded, his voice nearly a growl until it disturbed the kittens and he got himself under control again.

Still, it was a moment that showed Shi just how much he hated how things worked here, the local nature of power. How much he'd carefully buried and ignored for decades outside of debates about the origin of the Force.

"Are you going with them?" She asked him softly, reaching out lightly through the Force to help soothe the infants.

"No," Jay murmured, most of his attention focused on his daughters. "I'm a danger to them now. If I go back, I'll bring this infection with me."

"It's not a disease, Jay," Shi said softly, knowing what he was talking about. "It's just how things are here ... maybe it works differently elsewhere. But now isn't the time for an argument. Maybe your family will communicate more with us, so you can still be involved in their lives to some extent."

"Perhaps," he accepted ending the debate, though he'd already decided what he would tell them about the Force and what it would do if contact or philosophy from here was brought back.

"Jay?" She asked softly, not sure if the question she was about to ask would be a sore spot with him or not.

"Murr?" He looked up from tongue-bathing his kittens.

"How did you get the scar?" She asked him.

"Demon blocked my ability to control machines while I was practicing." He kind of shrugged the terrifying moment off. "It didn't flick off when it should have."

"Just glad you stopped it before it killed you," she murmured. "Do you mind if I take a look at it? I probably can't do anything, but I've been surprised before."

"I didn't stop before it passed my nose." He pointed out quietly. "You can try. I would like my whiskers back."

"I think I would too," she smiled softly, inspecting the injury. It had seen a healer's touch before, she could tell that much. Not a particularly good healer, but at least as good as Jay was.

"As old as it is, it'll take some work," she admitted. "If it was fresher it would be easier. I'll see what I can do once the kits are napping again."

Jay nodded and looked up at Tami. "Are they full?"

"They are, Master," she nodded, her kits having stopped nursing and started sleeping instead.

"Want me to help you trade off?" Shivasta offered.

"Mine are hungry." He nodded, though he wasn't quite willing to let Shi hold them yet as Tami set hers to bed in a large cradle for six and picked Jay's pair up with a skilled touch. "What do you think about having the Jedi raise your kits?"

"It's a better life than any of my others have had, Master," Tami said simply as she sat back down and let the two young females start to nurse.

"They do have the strength," Shivasta said, sure of that much already from what she'd felt.

"Their strength was why I kept you." Jay added with a nod as he sat up on the bed. "The wet-nurse skills and timing were just a plus. It is something the Temple might find of value too." He glanced at Shi, not sure how young they took children in normally.

"This young is a bit of a stretch, but not unheard of," she nodded. "I think it's safe to say you could have a home after this, if you want one."

"*How many slaves are there on this ship?*" Shi asked Jay silently.

"*Several hundred,*" he answered before accessing the information logged from the T'surr ship. "*587, not counting the ones I already made a deal with.*"

"*You are planning on setting most of them free, right?*" She asked him, the answer she expected clear.

"*At this point, yes.*" He nodded, it just as clear to her that it hadn't been the original plan.

It surprised her that it hadn't been, but she didn't say anything about it, sliding her arm under his shoulders and accepting the sharp tension that rippled across his body at the contact.

"We've missed you, Jay," she said softly, refusing to take the way his mind shied away from the soft pulsing of their bond at the contact. She could feel it wasn't a rejection of her, but of the pain of being drawn so close to the Light of her nature. "Fenrik's worried sick, though he doesn't show it."

"I've missed you both." He whispered, doing a fair amount of mental work to not push her away.

"I won't hurt you," she promised. "And you'll be more comfortable once you start to recover."

"It already hurts." He told her simply and managed to pull his shields up a little tighter to give himself some relief.

"I'm sorry," she said, putting her own mental shields up a bit. It was a good thing that Essani wasn't here. "You want me to work on your wound a bit now?"

"Yes," he nodded slightly and relaxed as the pain subsided.

"All right," she nodded. "I'm not sure how you'll react to this; if it hurts, let me know." With that, she started the careful, tedious work of trying to remove and revive as much of the scarred tissue as she could.

Shivasta rolled over in her bed, unable to sleep. The Kraken's quarters were comfortable; she even had a room to herself.

That was part of the problem, really.

Jay had been outside her room for nearly an hour not too long ago. Probably longer, but that was the time she sensed him during. Torn between wanting to be with her and knowing that being too close would be painful.

She had never run into a response like that before. Not even Dark Side spirits responded to her presence the way he did. She honestly wasn't sure what to make of it.

That was why, by the time she'd worked up the courage to ask him in, he'd already decided to leave.

"What is wrong with you, Jay?" She asked softly, looking up at the ceiling. "And how can I help you, if I can't come anywhere near you?"

She groaned softly at the sensations of arousal seeping through her body from nowhere.

Scratch that. Not from nowhere ... from Jay.

For a brief moment, she felt the same sinking feeling she'd felt the other times he'd been with somebody and she hadn't expected it. Fenrik ... the Cheetah ....

She had a brief mental image of the Mink she'd seen hanging off of him earlier, when he hadn't thought she was looking. Misha, if she remembered right.

What had happened to him, in these past six months? Could it really have only been six months? It wasn't the first time she'd thought it felt like longer ... undoubtedly wouldn't be the last. Until the last few months, she hadn't really felt all that old. Mid-seventies was ancient for her people, to be fair, the ones who saw combat. For a Jedi, it was about the time when you started looking at less field work.

She felt like she was in her hundreds already, now. Jay had to be feeling worse.

He'd gone from Jedi Knight to slaver and mass murderer in a matter of months. She could feel the death on him, the guilt, the anger and hate.

She knew he could come back. She just wondered how much the past few months had changed him that wouldn't be fixed. How much did any of the new "pets" in his life mean to him?

She cautiously opened her mind a little to him for a moment and saw the truth. The one he was with now was nothing more than a warm, eager body to burn off the stress and arousal he was experiencing. He appreciated her, but she was no more important to him than Tami was.

On the plus side, Misha didn't seem any more attached to any particularly partner than he was to her, if that much. But, then, she was a Minervan Mink. They were renowned for being a race of nymphomaniacs.

A soft knock on the door drew her attention away from Jay's doings and to who was outside.

Another of the pets, from her mind. One Shi hadn't met yet.

She stood and grabbed her robe, pulling it on and tying it around her body. Wouldn't do to meet people in the nude on this ship, especially not strangers.

"Hello?" She asked, opening the door and seeing a blue-skinned Twi'lek on the other side, dressed in the leather garb of a pleasure slave. "I'm sorry... I think you have the wrong room, miss...?"

"Y'alla, mistress." She smiled seductively. "I saw your mate is occupied elsewhere. Perhaps you would like some company?"

"That... depends on the type of company you're thinking," Shi said, pausing for a moment to think things through.

"Any kind you wish, mistress." Y'alla said easily.

"Talking, perhaps?" Shi suggested, smiling softly. "You probably know more about him than I do, at this point."

"I do not know about that, mistress, but I will try." The Twi'lek nodded easily.

"Please, come in," Shivasta said, stepping back. "Make yourself comfortable," she offered, just before her mind pointed out that might not be the best suggestion to make.

Y'alla pointed it out even more pointedly when she lay down on the bed and relaxed to make herself look particularly desirable.

Shi just took a seat on the other side of the bed, turning to look at her.

"Has he been treating you and the others well?" She asked softly, wanting desperately to get that much out of the way, at least. "And please... tell me the truth, regardless of whether or not you think he'll like it. I won't tell him."

"He is a very kind owner, mistress." She said the truth easily. "As is Master Janos. He even takes care to choose who to be with based on his desires. He doesn't play rough with those who don't really enjoy it." She added with a bit of amazement. "He is very generous too."

"Sounds like that's changed least," Shi murmured, looking down at Y'alla's exposed back. "Do you enjoy playing rough then, or were those Mina's doing?" She asked, reaching down to trace the scars of varying freshness along the twi'lek's flesh.

"Mina's, mistress, and many previous owners."

"I'm most concerned with the ones in the past few months," Shivasta admitted, her healer's instincts locking on to the pale marks. "You've enjoyed being Jay's then?"

"The few times I've been with him, yes." She nodded. "Mistress Mina was the one with a taste for pain. Master Jay stopped her more than once. He didn't like it."

"Good," Shivasta smiled softly. "I know he's enjoyed it with partners who did, it's good to know it didn't change that much...."

Though that didn't really help to explain how he'd ended up murdering a bed partner.

"They bought a special pet for when they're in that mood." She smiled easily. "He's quite the pain-slut."

"That makes sense, I suppose," Shivasta mused. "So I take it that Misha isn't into that sort of play ... has he ever lost control when he was with somebody, that you know of?"

She shook her head easily. "No, mistress. He likes to fuck his partners unconscious, he's left Tamil a bloody mess, but he never looses control."

"When did he buy you all?" She asked softly. None of this was all working out to make sense... she knew he wouldn't normally kill somebody, but Mina hadn't been with him before....

The thought that her mate was really inclined towards leaving some of his lovers dead the morning after was definitely not reassuring.

"Master Janos killed our former owner after the T'surr tried to enslave him ... three, four months ago. He sold the slaver ship and the rest of the cargo to the Hutt there, but he let his mates choose some of us to keep. Master Jay chose Misha, Master Janos chose Vondra, and Mistress Mina chose me for pets. Tami was kept for her skills and timing as a wet-nurse. They took another T'surr ship the day of the birth. The rest of the crew and everyone in the holding zones are from that ship. I know Master Jay and Janos have been talking to each one before deciding what to do with them."

"Well, their plans have changed rather suddenly, I'm sure," Shivasta murmured, leaning back against the headboard of the bed. She was rather surprised to find out that Vondra was Janos' 'pet,' but it made sense when she thought about it. "What have you all been doing since then? There's a pretty big gap in the middle there."

"A lot of time on Nar Shaddaa," she kind of shrugged. "They were enjoying Janos' wealth, and he was enjoying playing Alpha. This only really came up when the kittens got close. Before Nar Shaddaa was when they got us, and the last time you attacked."

"We were trying to bring Jay back home, where he belongs," Shi murmured. "If only we'd managed it then, so much pain wouldn't have happened."

"He still loves you, even though he's very afraid of you." Y'alla said softly and reached out to touch the Ice Walker's cool hand. "He is still a very good person, no matter how much you think has changed."

"I know," Shi nodded. "It's just a matter of some of the things he's done... from what I know, he's been worse than Mina, for short spells. It's hard to imagine him doing something like that, but I know he did."

"I don't know about those things, mistress." She said quietly.

"I saw them," Shi murmured softly, shivering beneath her robes, despite the fact that the room was perfectly warm for her. "So much fear... from both of them."

Y'alla had no answer to that, so she remained still, her hand on Shi's.

"I'm sorry, you don't know about this, it's not fair to burden you with it," Shi murmured, turning her hand to take Y'alla's in it. "What will you do, after you're freed?"

The Twi'lek blinked, her absolute shock and loss at the question -- the very idea -- easily visible on her face for a moment.

"Sex is the only trade I have," she answered after a moment. "If I don't have an owner to care for me, probably a whore house, or the street."

"This is going to be tricky, isn't it?" Shi sighed. "I know that Ryloth only pays lip service to the Republic's anti-slavery laws, but Jay can't keep you all, after all...."

"Master Janos is who owns us, mistress." Y'alla said simply. "Master Jay only bought Tamil, none of the others."

"You want to be a slave?" Shivasta asked Y'alla directly, not really able to comprehend it, but knowing that it wasn't really her choice.

"It's all I've ever been, mistress." She pointed out hesitantly, uneasy about saying something she knew was upsetting. "There are not many things for a pleasure slave to be that are better than a decent owner.

"And if I asked Misha and the others, would they be telling me basically the same thing?" Shi asked, reaching up with her other hand to rub the bridge of her nose. She didn't like it, but she knew that the best thing for them was to remain slaves, at this point.

"Misha was trained for a harem on Midriac from birth," Y'alla nodded. "Tamil has been one his adult life at least. Tami's a fifth generation slave. Vondra's the only one that had a life before she was captured."

"And she'll want to stay with Janos, I'm sure," Shi murmured. "This is going to be complicated, with him laid up the way he is...."

"I do not understand, mistress." Y'alla looked at the other blue-skinned woman curiously and wondered in the back of her mind if Mina had chosen her because of a level of resemblance. The idea of them as lovers was a truly strange one, but not the strangest thing she'd come across.

"Janos isn't in shape to pilot just now... and under Republic law, if you aren't all released, you will be, and he'll be hauled in as a slaver. To say nothing of other crimes he's probably committed. Jay can't keep you; the only way for this to work out would be for all of you to leave with him, somehow. Escape, so to speak, before the Kraken is under full Republic control again."

"I'm sure Master Jay will be able to work it out." Y'alla said confidently. "He's very smart."

"Yes, he is," Shi smiled softly. "But he's also distracted with his kittens. That's another mess entirely."

"I expect it is, mistress." Y'alla nodded, more than a bit at a loss as to what to say now.

"Do you want to spend the night here?" Shivasta asked her. "Without sex," she added. "I'm not sure if there's anybody available for you to spend the night with just now."

"Yes, mistress." She smiled slightly.

"All right," Shi smiled. "I'll probably sleep better for the company," she admitted, laying down on the bed the rest of the way, not quite comfortable with the idea of disrobing with the twi'lek next to her. "Sleep well, Y'alla."

"Sleep well, mistress." She responded easily and closed her eyes to rest.

Janos groaned softly as he woke up in the middle of the night, his entire body aching, Vondra snuggled up next to him in the medical bed. He smiled softly, looking over at her, and managed to work an arm around her body, squeezing her gently.

"You don't deserve this," he murmured softly, sighing inwardly. The Jedi were here, and if he was lucky he'd be able to get off the ship before he was hauled off in restraint cuffs. At least with the representative being a Healer, he wasn't likely to be run through with a lightsaber. At least not after she went to all the trouble of healing him as much as she had.

"Mmmm?" Vondra mumbled, not exactly awake, but not asleep either.

"Sorry," he murmured softly, closing his eyes for a moment. Mina had almost killed him earlier. It wasn't the first time he'd almost gotten himself killed, that was for sure. Probably wouldn't be the last.

It had been the most frightening. And the one that had made him rethink things the most. He'd finally felt the Dark Side, up close and personal. Fear, pain, rage, all channeled directly into him. It wasn't like the rage he was used to, seeing blood and not realizing what was going on until whatever'd pissed him off was dead and pulverized.

It was the receiving end of a lot more darkness than he had inside of himself. Enough to make him consider taking the money he had left and retiring for a while, until he had a few things sorted out.

He'd just have to figure out a way to get off the Kraken and out of Republic space while he did it ... which was where Vondra became an issue.

"Just how awake are you?" He asked her softly.

"Awake, master." She answered softly and nuzzled him a bit. "How are you?"

"Feeling like somebody hit me with the Sharufa," he admitted, returning the nuzzle softly. "And thoughtful. I ... haven't exactly been honest with you," he said, not sure how she'd take him knowing who she was.

"Master Healer Shivasta said that you'd recover fully, it would just take some time." She relaxed against him and gently ran her fingers threw his fur, careful of the spots still growing back.

"I know," he nodded slightly. "I just hope it's in time to get away from here before the Jedi have me hauled back to face whatever they call a trial."

"Jay will protect you," she reminded him gently. "He doesn't seem the type to go back on a promise."

"He isn't," Janos admitted. "I'm just not much for sitting back and waiting for other people to cover for me ... usually that sort of logic'd end up getting me killed." He turned his head to kiss her softly, rubbing her back lightly with the arm wrapped around her.

"I know you're a Santross," he said softly, wanting to get it out while he still had the nerve.

She tensed almost instantly, her eyes going wide as she assessed that, and then relaxed almost abruptly. "How?"

"When you were dreaming a few nights back, I picked up on enough details to put it together," he admitted. "I didn't want to say anything at first, but...."

"But what, master?" She asked quietly, her eyes down a bit.

"But you don't deserve to be owned by anybody, name or no name," he said, nuzzling her muzzle gently and got an affectionate lick for it. "Just makes me more glad that I didn't let Vondrich anywhere near you. I guess I just keep coming back to the point that you don't deserve to be owned by me either. Just don't see any reason a Santross would want to stay with a no-name Alpha who can't hold a pack together."

"Because you're nicer than any husband I could expect to get." She murmured quietly, her muzzle along his shoulder. "I may be the youngest daughter, but he'd be chosen for political reasons even now ... especially now."

Janos paused for a moment, the one thing he hadn't really expected to come out of this conversation now very much in the front of his mind.

"If you were free, think you'd get that choice?" He asked softly. "I know you don't think very highly of yourself lately, but your kin might change their minds."

"Depends on what you can live with." She continued matter-of-factly, now fully in the role of explaining personal politics among the super-wealthy of Corellia. It was a conversation she had been well groomed for by her mother as she grew up. "As a husband, they'd never accept it. As my lover, they don't really care as long as I have pups by my husband first and not too many by you. Nobody really expects loyalty out of a political marriage once the politics of it are addressed."

"I could handle it as long as your husband treated you well," Janos said seriously. "From the sound of it, that's anything but a sure thing."

"He'll be expected to do that, just not care about me, or stay in my bed when we aren't trying to make puppies. Not like you do." Vondra pointed out easily, still snuggled against his side. "He'd have hell to answer for if he beat me or something, even more so now that we're so few. Aunt Dymesta is going to be a bit on the over-protective side for a while. You do not cross the matriarch of the Santross Pack. It's not healthy, no matter who you are."

"Good to know," Janos murmured, hugging her close. "You've already taken enough abuse for a few lifetimes."

Vondra licked his cheek and snuggled close, still careful of the bare patches where his fur needed to grow in.

"Love you, Vondra," Janos said softly, meaning the words more than he had in a lifetime. The warmth he felt in her smile and gentle kiss made him feel better than he had in just as long.

"Love you, Janos." She murmured.

Shivasta stood outside of one of the Kraken's meditation chambers. That was the one good thing about the Sith ship; Sith and Jedi both understood the value of specially shielded chambers for meditation.

She was carrying a tray with the kat's favorite breakfast from back with the Order. Misha had been preparing something for him, but she'd taken up where the Mink had left off when she mentioned that Y'alla was fairly wound up. This would be a good chance to speak with Jay, and she wasn't going to miss it.

She tightened her mental shields and requested that the doors open.

They opened, half to her surprise, to reveal Jay working advanced katas, the four blades of his lightsabers flashing at a dangerous rate. Even as shielded as she was, Shi could feel how stressed he was; how badly he wanted things to be simple and make sense again.

The Healer part of her watched carefully to make sure he didn't manage to hurt himself again, while she just watched and waited until he started to slow down or noticed the smell of food.

It used to work, at least.

It still did, and it didn't take much longer than usual. He finished the kata, but she could tell she had his attention well before he actually stopped and turned his lightsabers off to face her, his nose twitching.

"I brought you breakfast," she said unnecessarily. "I hope your tastes haven't changed too much since I did this last time."

"No," he murmured as his stomach reminded him of how long it had been since his last meal. "Thank you." He added as he walked over to take the tray.

"You're welcome," she smiled, stepping back to give him some room as he set the tray on a small bench on the outside of the room and sat down to eat. She continued to watch for signs that her shields weren't enough to keep him comfortable, and found her to relief that between them he wasn't reacting badly to her presence.

"Jay?" She asked him, taking a seat on the bench across from the tray. "How much have things changed between us?"

He looked up at her and paused. "I don't know." He admitted. "I didn't want to change, but it happened."

"I guess I just need to know if we're still mates," Shi admitted quietly. "I know this has been hard for you, Jay, but we can work past it ... if you want to. I can feel you do, but I'm not sure how much of it is wishful thinking."

"Very little," he murmured, looking down at the food before looking up at her. "We are still mates, Shi. The bond is there, I'm not much on denying its existence. That pain that is making this so difficult is designed to keep me from slipping in the first place. I'd shy away from anything that started to hurt like that."

"Is there anything I can do to help with it?" She asked, fighting her urge to reach over and touch his cheek.

"I ... I really don't know." He sighed. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I should start to shift back to the Light. At least enough that we don't have to shield so strongly."

"There are treatments that I could help you with, but it would probably be painful," Shi admitted. "Beyond that... I could feel you outside my door last night, Jay. I missed you, but I wasn't sure what to say."

"I wasn't sure how'd you react ... or just how I would." He met her gaze for a moment. "I ... need you."

"More than -" Shi shook her head slightly, cutting off the comment she knew she shouldn't make about Misha. "I know that shielding our bond would be different, but would it be enough to let us be together like that?"

"It would be a start," he murmured, his heart in his throat and even more nervous than when they'd first shared a bed so long ago. "I've missed you, Shi."

"I've missed you too, Jay. So has Fenrik... gods we've missed you." This time, she did reach out to take his hand. It was hot and dry, just as it had been before. The way he moved his fingers to ghost his soft fur over her palm still sent chills down her spine.

"This isn't going to be easy for a while, putting the 'us' back together." Jay murmured and leaned forward to kiss her very softly, hesitantly, despite the desire driving him crazy.

"If it was easy, I'd be scared for both of us," she murmured after their lips parted. "Why don't you finish breakfast? We should have some time left before we reach the Kethris system."

Jay got a bit of a gleam in his eyes. "How about breakfast on you?" He purred throatily.

"Mmm ... you haven't changed that much," she chuckled, kissing him lightly. "Let's head back to one of our rooms then."

"As you wish." He chuckled and slid a hand up her arm as they stood.

"Jay, I've never been that much of an exhibitionist," Shi smirked, standing with him and grabbing his tray.

"It's a locked room," he pointed out with a snicker but made no effort to do anything but follow her to her room.

"And I don't doubt that most people who'd walk in on us wouldn't mind," Shi agreed. "Humor me." They left the meditation room, heading back to Shivasta's.

"Think you'll be able to spend the night with me?" She asked him softly. "Maybe Fenrik too?"

"I'll ... try." He consented uneasily. "I'm really not sure how I'm going to react to trying to sleep ... like this. No Fenrik until after I've met my folks."

"All right," Shi nodded, the door to her room sliding open as she reached it. "I'm sorry," she added softly, setting the tray down on a small table as they walked in.

"For what?" He cupped her face to look up at him.

"I know this isn't my fault, but if I hadn't been suckered by that Otter, they never would have gotten this far," she murmured, wrapping her arms around his waist and leaning up to kiss him tenderly.

"Probably would have anyway," he shook his head and rested his chin on her shoulder. "Janos' bond was overlaid without him being hurt."

"Mmm ... you were already vulnerable, and Fenrik was out of it for a few good minutes," Shi pointed out, kissing his cheek. "Let's not worry about it for now...." She rubbed his back softly, working on memory more than anything else to help him relax.

"Let's not." He rumbled softly and pulled her close, the sharp contrast in their body temperatures exciting from memories of decades spent together. "We're here now." He murmured and kissed his way down the side of her neck.

"That's what matters," Shi agreed, moaning softly at the feel of his touch, of finally being back with him.

"Master," Kraken piped up. "We are approaching the Kethris system."

Shi shuddered slightly at the abrupt shift that announcement caused in Jay. Without so much as a blink, he went completely Dark inside. Rage, vicious hatred, intent to cause pain all rippled to the surface and focused on the shecat that had taken his kittens.

"Good." He rumbled and turned away from Shi, forgetting what they were up to instantly as he headed for the bridge. "Power the weapons and shields to full strength. Sensor report."

"The Sith fighter is still in the system, but it is abandoned," Kraken explained easily as Shivasta followed Jay, not willing to let him out of her sight or influence for a moment just now. "However, the Jedi fleet has apprehended several stolen vessels, most of which are masking their contents."

"Not for long." Jay rumbled as he stepped onto a lift and leaned against the wall as it sped to the hanger where Sharufa was docked. He focused on reaching out to each ship, seeking the one with the shecat and two tiny babies.

He found it, and the Ringtail still piloting the vessel. Another fighter, its engines already damaged in the process of stealing it, and astromech droid working frantically to repair the damage.

The deflector screens of the vessel were fluctuating wildly as a result of the damage; they were trying to find a way to disable the tractor beams keeping them in place, and the distracted droid wasn't helping much.

"*This one.*" Jay grinned viciously. "Bring it on board, and open a channel to the vessel holding it."

"Doing so," Kraken said calmly, the door to the lift opening to let them onto the main hangar.

"Jay, I have a bad feeling about this," Shi warned him softly.

"Kraken, this is the Republic vessel Kyntassi," an unfamiliar voice announced from the much, much smaller transport that had the fighter held in place.

"Kyntassi, let the Keldan Lion go once we have our tractor beams locked on it." Jay said easily as the huge hanger door opened at his command. "We'll bring her on board."

"Very well, Kraken," the captain of the smaller vessel said easily.

The hangar door opened, revealing the tiny fighter and the Kyntassi nearby. Probably a half-dozen other fighters were in being held in place, a few larger vessels, assorted Jedi transports taking care of the situation.

"Something is very, very wrong," Shivasta murmured softly as they watched.

"Kraken, what is going on?" The Captain of the Kyntassi demanded suddenly. "Why are you -"

Whatever he was going to ask was interrupted by the sound of half the Kraken's turreted guns and every weapon mounted on the starboard side firing, vaporizing the Kyntassi, the explosion rocking every ship nearby. Shi and Jay were both very nearly thrown off their feet, both staring in shock.

The Keldan Lion reacted immediately, disappearing into hyperspace as soon as the tractor beam holding it in place was annihilated. The rest of the fleet wasn't nearly as quick to recover as two more of the captured fighters were blown away, and the transports started to pull around to bring their own weapons to bear on the Sith battle cruiser that had suddenly turned on them.

Too slow for a second transport, the Kraken's biggest guns firing on it, ripping it in two with blasts meant to level portions of cities.

"*Fenrik!*" Shivasta 'shouted' telepathically, ducking out of the way as the internal turrets of the bay hissed, lowering their weapons and preparing to fire on the Jedi. "*The Kraken is firing on its own, Jay is not giving it these orders!*"

Jay snarled with a whole new kind of rage and turned the full power of his family Gift fueled by the Demon itself on the ship's AI, ripping it to shreds the way a powerful Sith could rip a living mind apart.

Shi could practically feel the artificial personality's pain for a brief moment before there wasn't enough left of it to feel anything.

Everything was still and silent for a painfully long moment before a new ship came into the system, dropping out of hyperspace.

"*What the FUCK is going on over there?*" Fenrik roared back along their bond, the rocking of his ship clear in the message.

"We are being hailed." Kraken's default programming, now stripped of a personality, spoke up.

"Open channel." Jay ordered from where he was panting, half collapsed on the floor from the amount of energy he'd channeled in the previous moments.

"Greetings from the Aristal Explorer Far Ranger," a voice familiar female and language from his earliest memories came across the loud speakers. "I understand my little brother is the captain over there."

"Marie?" Jay looked up, somewhere between bewildered and wary threw his exhaustion.

"Yes, bro." The smile managed to come across in her voice. "Can we come aboard?"

"Sure." He struggled to his feet. "Hanger bay's open."

"*Everything's under control,*" Shivasta told Fenrik. "*Kraken's dead.*"

The Far Ranger approached, flying through the permeable shield that separated the hangar bay from the open vacuum of space.

It wasn't until that moment that Jay really believed his kin were here, and Shi felt the tension drain from him until he could barely stand as it settled down.

"*Please tell me there are survivors on the second transport?*" She asked Fenrik, moving close to Jay in case he couldn't stay on his feet as they waited for the Clawsons to disembark.

"*Not many,*" he muttered. "*We're rescuing them now. How's Jay?*"

"*Distracting himself with family,*" Shivasta told her other mate. "*I'll find out what happened with Kraken later, if I can. Jay... he annihilated the AI as soon as he realized what was happening. We still don't know why it fired.*"

"*If the AI is back, it is Sith.*" Fenrik pointed out as Jay reached down to squeeze Shi's hand.

"Shi ... would you ask Fenrik to join us?" Jay looked at her before his attention was drawn to those disembarking.

An elder shekat, the air of command and authority very different from the mindset she had walked into the Jedi Council. This time she only had one companion, Felisha Furlong.

"Mom?" Jay blinked, taking a long moment to convince himself he wasn't hallucinating, and then ran forward to pull her into a tight embrace with tears of relief ready to flow.

Shivasta stayed where she was for now; letting Jay get reacquainted with the family he hadn't seen in most of his lifetime.

"*Fenrik, Jay wants you to come to the ship now,*" she told the Panther. "*The Clawsons are here, and the Kraken is safe now. God, I only wish Jay had let us do that decades ago....*"

"*At least he's finally being reasonable.*" The Panther sighed to her. His hurt at being excluded was evident, even though he knew exactly why and couldn't fault Jay's reasoning. "*I'll be on board when the rescue is done.*"

"*I'm sorry, Fenrik,*" Shivasta said softly. "*If I'd let you stop this, maybe this wouldn't have happened. I can't wait for you to be here to help me ... Jay's still very much on the edge.*"

"*I'm really not surprised.*" He said softly. "*I'll be there as soon as I can.*"

Shivasta drew back from Fenrik's mind to let him focus on the rescues, then approached the Clawsons, noticing that the initial greetings had finally calmed down a bit and Jay was standing a bit back talking rapidly with his body as much as his voice.

"Mom, sis, this is my partner, Shivasta Stormwarden." Jay turned to face her with a warm smile and drew her closer; the pride and importance of the designation clear in his mind, and in their reactions. "Shi, my mother, Felisha Furlong and my oldest sister and head of the family, Marie Clawson."

"It's good to see you in person, Shi." Marie smiled warmly and extended a hand to the Healer. "A belated welcome to the family."

"Thank you, Madame Clawson," Shivasta smiled, accepting the handshake. "I'm not sure if there's something you'd prefer I called you...?" She asked, not honestly sure if she had a title she would prefer, or if being part of the family would affect anything.

"Marie is fine." She said easily. "You are family after all."

"We aren't big on titles or last names," Jay added with a teasing smirk towards his oldest sibling.

"I should have known it from Jay," Shi chuckled with a fond smile. "But then, things are a little different with the Jedi. It's good to meet his family; to be honest, none of us really expected it."

"If he had not turned, it probably would not have happened." Marie admitted. "That is what drew us here."

"Now I hear I have grandkits." Felisha dragged the subject back to something more pleasant than her oldest son's pending Omega status.

"He didn't turn all the way," Shivasta said softly. "And yes, you do," she added with a smile. "Beautiful ones, the two I've seen. The others... we'll be recovering them as soon as we can find where their sorry excuse for a mother ran off to when Kraken went rogue."

"Did you leave anything of him?" Marie asked her brother pointedly.

"Not that I could find," he rumbled dangerously.

"Any clues to where she went?" Felisha asked, urging the group to get moving before things got any more unpleasant.

"Not that I'm aware of, but I'm horrible with machines," Shivasta admitted as they started for the lift that would take them to the nursery. "Fenrik might have a better idea when he gets here, I don't doubt that half the sensors in the fleet were scanning that ship."

"She will not get far." Jay growled, only to dip his ears and head submissively at Marie's sharp look. He was no less riled inside, but the response to the silent reprimand was almost instant control.

"My grandkits?" Felisha prompted.

"Mystera's a solid black female, much like great-great grandmother Midnight." Jay answered with a soft smile for his children. "Jemeka's a dusty rose on strawberry blond tabby fem. The missing two are Jamil, a black on red tabby tom, and Tessra, a brown on rusty red tabby fem. Charance was a dark brown tabby tom." He added softly for his dead son.

"What...." Shivasta trailed off, realizing that now was not the time to ask what had happened. She couldn't help but feel that, somehow, it wasn't a natural still-birth situation.

If it was, it'd be the first thing natural that had happened since the attack.

"He was born dead." Jay answered as best he could. "The family bond snapped during the birth."

"I'm sorry, bro." Marie murmured and put a slender hand on his shoulder. "We'll make sure he gets a proper funeral."

Shivasta was quiet as the lift came to a halt, not sure what else to say, at least not with Jay's family there. He clearly wasn't as restrained with them as he was with most people, but she didn't know how far that went yet.

The others were silent too as they walked to the nursery, but it lightened almost instantly when the door opened and Tami looked up from four sleeping kittens, two only days old, the other two a bit over a month old.

Jay smiled indulgently, not even realizing how potent an effect the younger pair had on him as he walked up with his mother to touch and introduce.

"I would like a chance to talk to you in private, Shi." Marie spoke softly while others were distracted.

"Now's as good a time as any," Shi replied softly. "How private?"

"A quiet room to ourselves will do." The family matriarch nodded to herself. "I know well how unlikely it is he's not going to hear about it eventually. They'll keep themselves entertained with the kittens until there is something to do."

"There's a room just down the hall," Shivasta said easily, leading the way for the short distance to it. "Jay or Fenrik would be the only people who'd interrupt, I'm sure."

"No doubt," she chuckled softly as the door opened to the conference room. "Ace, my mate, might as well if it's important enough."

"I'm going to hope that nothing that important comes up, no offense," Shi smiled, stepping into the empty room. "Because it sounds like this is a serious issue at hand."

"It is, and it isn't." Marie sat down and relaxed in a comfortable conference chair. "Any time a Clawson takes a mate or may have gone Omega, it's serious. I'm also his older sister and head of the family, and I want to know what happened to him."

"Understandable," Shi nodded. "Where do you want me to start though? There's a lot of ground to cover, after all."

"A long lifetime's worth." She nodded. "How did you meet, get together?"

"We met when he decided to practice flying about ten years too early," Shivasta smiled with fond memories, taking a seat. "Master Essani was about ready to have a coronary herself when she got him into medical. I was on shift and assigned to take care of him once he was conscious again, and we became friends from there. Mates came after a year or two, when we were both getting old enough to start thinking of things in those terms. Still young, especially for Jedi, but it worked out in the end."

"Flying?" Marie raised an eyebrow sharply. "Is this a common ability?"

"Hardly," Shivasta admitted easily. "Not even most Knights bother learning how. But Jay loves it, and he's never really had a problem with thinking he couldn't do something, regardless of whether or not he could," she chuckled.

"It is good to know he learned that lesson well, even at eight." Marie nodded with an approving smile for her baby brother. "What drew you to him, as a lover?"

"He's Jay," Shi admitted with a smile, not quite sure how else to describe it for a moment. "He's usually sweet, caring ... we were friends before we were lovers. There was a bit of a misunderstanding that drew us together that way the first time ... but it worked out. To be honest, we both figured it was going to happen eventually, it was just a matter of how the timing worked out."

"What has he been like, before this mess?"

"Conflicted," Shivasta admitted. "He wanted to become a Jedi for the longest time, despite the fact that he's never been truly comfortable in the Order. He's always had a darker side to him, been short-tempered and prone to a violent solution to problems. But he's more than made up for it too. He's caring, loving, generous to a fault almost. Brave and curious... he's a true warrior and creator. Like a lot of warriors, you just don't want to be the one to make him angry. It hadn't happened for years before this.

"Marie? If I may ask, are you just curious about him as family? Or is there something else you're trying to determine?" Shi asked Marie.

"He is the first kitten we've lost and recovered," she said simply. "We've had a lot of theories about what is nature and what is learned, why we are so different from most Kats. This is a chance to find out a little more about how we are what we are. He is also teetering on the edge of an Omega classification."

That was a term Shivasta recognized, as well as the fate for people who received it.

"He isn't that far gone," she said.

"I'm inclined to agree, but it is not my decision to make." Marie said softly. "It is a matter of law, not opinion."

"Whose law?" Shivasta asked her. "By ours ... we have seen far worse acts committed by people who have gone on to redeem themselves, and will see it again."

"Our law," Marie regarded the younger woman evenly. "You may be able to block us from punishing him for his crimes, if he has actually committed any under our laws, but if he is an Omega, it will affect his choices on coming home."

"I understand," Shivasta said, inclining her head respectfully. "And it is not my place to speak for the Council on this. Will the circumstances of what has happened be considered?"

"Yes," she nodded. "We do consider mitigating circumstances. Given the sketchy information I have access to at the moment, I can't say much about what he's going to face from our side yet. If he hasn't tried for genocide or planetary domination or demolition yet, a mate able and willing to take responsibility for him also counts. By now, I'm sure you have encountered just how potent an effect a mate can have on a Clawson's behavior."

"Gods know I have," Shivasta nodded, shuddering slightly. "That's what got this whole mess started, after all. Marie ... we can't let Jay kill Mina, not if he reacts the way he did when we found her."

That raised an eyebrow. "Why not? It's as justifiable a homicide as there is."

"It's not because of what he'd be doing, it's why... it's complicated," Shi admitted. "What does your family know of the Force, and how it works? It sounds like Jay was the first who had any real inkling of it."

"I haven't really looked into it," she admitted. "Discerning local quirks in the universal power was rather low on the priorities list. I've spent most of my time working on my Basic and political structures. We've only been in this galaxy for ten days."

"Understandable," Shi nodded. "Though with sensitive relatives, it was possible your family had tripped across the Dark Side before. Effectively, it's all that's wrong about the Force ... and Jay is very, very vulnerable to it now. He has been for much of his life, thanks to his temper. But now ... when he gets put on Mina's trail, it's almost painful to feel his reaction. So much rage, so poorly controlled ... if he did kill her, I'm not sure what the effects on him would be, but in this state it couldn't be good."

Marie considered her levelly for a long moment. "Perhaps. We have found it can also be better than a lifetime of therapy. Everything gets vented on that moment and the wounds can begin to heal." She paused. "You keep mentioning his temper. He was easily one of the more even-tempered kits in the family at eight. Do you know if he suffered a brain injury or something that could have caused that change? It's pretty clearly not you or Fenrik from your records."

"It may well be a difference in what we mean by short-tempered," Shivasta admitted. "For one of my people, he's actually remarkably restrained. But for a Jedi, he was about one step short of dangerously easy to anger. But he did grow up in the slums of a slum world for two years before he was found ... that can change somebody."

"Brings out survivor instincts a little more than we usually like," Marie nodded. "We are also very action-oriented people. 'Even-tempered' and 'restrained' are not words you usually associate with any black op, much less one of us, unless it's a face we put on for the public or we're badly messed up by something. Looking at his records, I'd say he's typically quite restrained in his actions. Effective too." She chuckled softly. "We aren't usually good diplomats. It's not what we were bred for."

"He isn't much of one," Shi pointed out with a chuckle. "He can be when he has to, but he's much more at home on a dig or a battlefield. He, Fenrik and I have been involved in more than one small-scale war," she admitted.

"I'd be surprised if you hadn't been." Marie smiled slightly. "We live exciting lives, whether anyone likes it or not."

"That's one way to describe it," Shi chuckled. "Add that to being Jedi, and we're lucky that we've had any missions that weren't 'exciting,'" she smiled.

"True," she nodded easily. "He's interested in archeology?"

"Very," Shi smiled. "And technology, of course, but that really goes without saying. We were actually exploring an ancient set of ruins before this all started."

"Tell me about it, the records are sparse at best right now."

"I'm not honestly sure how much there is to tell," Shi admitted. "The whole thing could have been set up by the Wolf who arranged it. We actually should still have the statues in the hold, as I remember ... but I was off-world for a while before the attack.

"At any rate, it was an ancient Sith site, from before the Sith were a Dark Side sect. The statues we found were their last known records from their time before they were taken over by the Dark Siders."

"What has Jay been up to these last months, what happened to him?" Marie rephrased her question. "How did he reject you?" She struggled to phrase a question that was so far outside what was thought possible that they'd never worried about it.

"Ah, I'm sorry," Shivasta said, shaking her head. "I don't know all the details yet. When I was attacked, I was poisoned and in a coma for two months. He thought I was dead, and was bonded to the shecat who stole his kittens. You know that. What came after that ... his two 'mates' have been encouraging his fall to the Dark Side. You already mentioned the effect a mate can have on a Clawson. He killed a woman on Naboo ... murdered her, honestly. He's been on the run from the Jedi since he was captured, and we've been trying to find him.

"As for has he rejected me... do you mean why he's reacting so badly to being near me?"

"Sort of." Marie sighed. "That reaction is how most of us stay on the right side of things. Normally, if he started to slip, it would hurt, and that would stop that kind of behavior from becoming common. How another took your place ... normally that takes at least amnesia, or the death of the mate. That it can be done without either of those events makes it very important to understand how it happened."

"I understand now," she nodded. "To be blunt, I very nearly did die. The only reason I didn't is because I put myself into a coma that's almost indistinguishable. I'm pretty sure the Demon was helping as well, and the one who did the work was a very powerful Force user. Fenrik's bond was replaced later largely because, again, he was nearly killed. And beyond that, Jay was already vulnerable from having my bond usurped. Do you have mind healers back in your part of the universe?"

Marie paused to cross-reference the term from the Jedi databases they had downloaded before leaving. "No, nothing like you do." She shook her head. "That kind of power isn't known."

"It's not a very common skill, not to any sort of power, even here," Shivasta agreed. "I have some talent, but only a minimal amount for a Healer, and we're barely five percent of the Order's number. But Master Zykell, the former Jedi who arranged all this, was known for his unusual talent in the area, particularly for somebody who wasn't a healer. I imagine that, with the Demon's help, he was able to splice a new emotional bond in place over the existing one. Rather like a bypass, or putting two wires together. Except that the way these bonds were set up, the longer they were in place the more they replaced the existing ones.

"If you're familiar with botany, the easiest way to think of it might be like planting mistletoe on a healthy tree."

Marie considered that, running a cross-reference on the unfamiliar terms, and shuddered. "And since the new bonds were with people who are evil, he'd instinctively shift his behavior to come in line with them, much the same way as his behavior would have shifted to fall more in line with yours after you became mates."

"Exactly," Shivasta nodded. "What happened with the woman on Naboo is a prime example. He was already prone to enjoying rough bed play. By the time he reached Naboo, he'd been bonded to a true sadist for a few months, from what her 'pet' told me. So when he found a bed partner who enjoyed that sort of play... he went too far. It wouldn't have happened if he'd been with Fenrik or me, instead of two Dark Siders, one of whom murdered another woman in the morning just for fun. You can see why I asked about extenuating circumstances."

"Yes. Can you break the new bonds without killing him?" Marie asked softly.

"I already broke Mina's, though he didn't particularly enjoy the process," Shivasta explained. "The fact that the bonds aren't as strong as normal helps, a lot. Janos, the other one... I want Fenrik here before that happens. I don't want to take the chance that the backlash to any of the three of them could cause harm."

"How long until he arrives?"

"It depends on how long the rescue operations take, but I imagine not more than an hour, if that," Shivasta said easily. "Just be ready for him to be a little paranoid. He's the classic warrior, and if they were Wolves, I'd say he was his alpha."

"I expected that," Marie smiled warmly with a light chuckle. "Jay never was that rebellious, and you don't seem the domineering type. Has he been happy, overall, since you met?"

"I like to think he has been," Shivasta smiled. "And no, I'm not, though try telling my niece that sometimes," she chuckled. "But it's good to see him with him family. He's been happy, but he hasn't felt like he really belonged."

"In a very real way, he hasn't." She nodded in understanding. "It wasn't that long ago that we were used to being the only one of our kind, but not since our father's kittenhood has that been true. Jay was raised to be part of the family, part of the colony. It's clear in his file that you have about as much experience with our kind as we've had with yours. It's not a good feeling to be alone."

"No, it isn't," Shi agreed. "Especially not when keeping who you were meant to be is at odds with who you are now."

"Clawson and Jedi has not been an easy balance to strike for him, has it?" Marie asked.

"I don't think so," Shivasta nodded. "The Jedi espouse controlling your emotions ... from what I can tell, that's not a high priority for Clawsons, no offense intended. More often, the Clawson mores and Jedi ones aren't always in line with each other. Your family is fiercely individualistic, from what I can gather," she smiled. "And places a high value on history. Jay especially ... there have been some very painful discussions about history, in the Republic."

"No offence taken," Marie smiled slightly. "I expect he was horrified to realize that you've had interstellar travel longer than we've had cities and have so few records of it. That keeping, and protecting, of records and history is how we've defined civilized cultures in much of recent history. To forget the past is to be doomed to repeat it is a very well known, and well proven, saying on Aristal."

"That's a very accurate assessment," Shivasta agreed. "When he found out that there's a bit of a debate over whether or not my people used to be connected to the Jedi Order as explorers and miners before we were considered lost in space and regressed to a pre-industrial level of technology... well, if I hadn't been his mate, I imagine he would have gone ballistic."

"Quite likely," Marie murmured, disturbed herself, though she didn't show it nearly as much as Jay had years before. "Between being 'lost' himself and growing up on colony ships, it would have hit very close to home and hope. 'No one left behind' is something we have long embraced and is still a loyalty that ties us to Aristal as home. We know we'll be sought out if we're lost, even if it's only to return our body for burial."

"Where loyalties like that are held within a planet or family here, most often," Shivasta nodded. "After this is over, what do you plan to do?"

"Go home." Marie said simply, a choice that had been made long before. "We are far outside anywhere that we could maintain our social network. This is a rescue mission, not exploration."

"Fair enough. If he stays here, will there be any way to return his body to your kin, when the time comes? It could be a century or more, barring violence, even without what seems to be an unusually long lifespan in your family."

"Yes, and thank you." She nodded. "I believe you have sufficient preservation technology to hold his body until a message can get to us and a ship sent for him. It could take upwards of a year for the ship to arrive, but we will make sure we leave the information and technology needed for it to work."

"Thank you," Shivasta nodded. "Would it be inappropriate to request burial with him, at least in part?" The Ice Walker asked. "I can't honestly say if any of the three of us will have bodies that can be recovered, or that we'll die all that close to each other, but...."

"Not inappropriate at all," Marie smiled warmly at her. "We will do all we can to make it work. Do you know Fenrik's desires on the matter?"

"It hasn't really come up with him," she admitted. "Though his traditions place more emphasis on being returned to his home than on being buried with his mates, as I understand, and they don't agree with cremation unless it's absolutely necessary. We'll have to ask him, some time. Jay's been very clear about what he wants, and my people's traditions will take a little working to fill in, but I've already thought it through. Fenrik probably has too, but he hasn't mentioned it."

"It would be best to work out before we leave. Not to be too forward, Shivasta, but I would offer some advice." Marie spoke easily but cautiously. "Do whatever you must to get Jay in your bed as quickly as you can, even tonight. You were lovers before; your bond with him would have been founded in the sexual nature of your relationship. It may be difficult, even painful, but it will be the least disturbing way in the long run. He looks to be at the point right now that he could turn away from his bond with you as easily as turn back to you. It's hurting him now; I don't know how much pain he's willing to take for you, to be with you."

"We were about to try something before the ship interrupted us with the news we were reaching the system," Shi admitted. "I can keep the pain to a minimum, without him having to turn away. In a worst case scenario, we have something not unlike shock treatment that can help as well, but I want to save that for the worst case scenario. It would be extremely painful at this point, I'm sure."

"Likely," Marie nodded slightly. "This is also the risk of him finding someone who is less 'good' and voluntarily shifting his alliance. He may not be the type, but it's been known to happen."

"Janos being the best candidate just now," Shivasta nodded. "Though as the best outcome of the poor ones, it could be worse. I imagine that Fenrik will be more comfortable for him. Thank you, Marie."

"You are welcome. You have been very good for my brother. I do not wish to see that destroyed by odd psychology." She smiled warmly. "Ah, your Panther is here, with something else."

"Something else?" Shi asked, raising an eyebrow before reaching out to Fenrik and his companion. "Ah," she smiled. "That would be Cormoran, my niece's Padawan. This has probably been the most unorthodox first few months to his training in a few centuries," she chuckled, standing. "Do you want to come with me to meet them?" She asked Marie easily.

"Yes, I would." She nodded easily and stood with grace despite her advanced years.

"*Meet me outside the hangar; Jay's older sister is with me, he's showing off kittens to his mother,*" Shi told Fenrik silently, getting the door and waiting for Marie, eager to have both her mates on the same ship finally.

"*Will do. Cormoran is eager to have his Master back too.*" He chuckled, covering his own nervousness with difficulty. "*Jay still wants to see me?*"

"*I think he will, and have Cormoran contact Kanna, if he hasn't already,*" Shi told her mate as they started through the ship. "*He might be uncomfortable at first, but he'll probably handle being close to you better than he will me.*"

"*Why? You're the one he trusts.*" He frowned mentally.

"*Family mental defense. He's reacting painfully to being close to me unless I keep my mental shields clamped down tightly; response to the Light side.*"

"*This can't be a good thing.*" He murmured. "*Any idea how long it'll last?*"

"*Until he's back to the Light,*" Shivasta sighed mentally. "*Best guess at least. And you may have a few very painful moments ahead of you; I still have to break his bond to the Wolf.*"

She felt him wince at that.

"*It's going to hurt Jay too, even more, isn't it?*" Fenrik sighed.

"*And Janos,*" she agreed. "*It wasn't too bad for me when I was breaking Mina's.*"

"*Why do we care about that Wolf being hurt after what he did?*" The Panther rumbled darkly.

"*The Wolf isn't the one who was behind this, Janos,*" Shi said firmly. "*He was involved, but he regrets it. He's not Sith, not close to it.*"

"*Right.*" He backed down from the pending fight as the pair of females came into view in the hall outside the hanger. "Hi," he smiled much more warmly in greeting to his mate.

"Hi," Shi smiled, walking up to hug him gratefully as Kanna turned into the hallway, coming to greet the obsidian-feathered Raptor waiting for her beside Fenrik.

"Marie Clawson, Knight Kanna Stormwarden, my niece, Master Fenrik, my other mate, and Padawan Cormoran, my niece's apprentice," Shivasta introduced them quickly. "All, Marie Clawson, Jay's older sister and head of the Clawson family."

"It is good to finally meet you, Ma'am." Fenrik bowed to her in the respect due to one of her rank, and to his mate's elder kin.

"It is good to meet you, Fenrik." She smiled warmly at the slightly graying Panther. "I see my brother has fine taste."

"Pleased to meet you ma'am." Cormoran greeted her in Basic accented by his natural clicking, squawking language and bowed to the elder shekat.

"Pleased to meet you, Padawan Cormoran." Marie greeted him with a nod of respect even as she never really took her eyes off the person-sized dinosaur with his long, slender neck, stiff tail and covered by black, glass-like feathers. It was clear she'd never encountered anything like the talking reptile before.

"Likewise, good to meet you in person," Kanna smiled with a bow of her own.

"Let's go catch up with Jay," Shi smiled. "He's probably just about done showing off Mystera and Jemeka just about now."

"The real question would be if Felisha is done fawning over her newest grandkits yet." Marie chuckled as Fenrik followed her and Shi to the nursery while Kanna led her Padawan off to their quarters.

"I doubt it," Shi smiled. "To judge by how she reacted to them being there, I suspect she'll be at it until we catch up with the Keldan Lion, where ever it went."

"That won't be soon enough." Marie rumbled lightly. "My crew's already getting keyed up about it."

"Cormoran and Kanna will be trying to get us some idea of where to go as soon as they're settled," Shivasta said reassuringly. "Between the two of them, I'm sure they can manage it."

"We aren't exactly unskilled in that department either." Marie commented, a reminder that Jay was no longer the only one with a bond to the kittens available.

"I understand," Shi nodded. "I wasn't sure if it would be strong enough, given that even Jay's bond only helped him with general terms."

"It is not very precise, but if they stay put, we can find them." Marie nodded. "It is a skill as much as instinct, something I've had a great deal more practice at than he has."

"Very true," Shi nodded, then chuckled. "After all, you did find him two galaxies away. Your skills will probably be more helpful than ours then; our Seers can be blinded by some skills that Mina may have access to."

"And I had three kin to hunt down before him as well. The events that led us here began a hunt for every MIA Clawson on the books. The links are weak, but experience is worth a great deal. The Demon's interference will be the greatest difficulty here, as it was with Jay."

"That's how you knew how to find him then?" Shi asked, as they walked to the nursery.

"Yes," she nodded. "When he disappeared, he left no trace we could follow, or we would have been here fifty years ago."

"There's also been at least one change in family leadership since then," Shi nodded. "Do you have any idea what happened that brought him here? All he's ever known was that he was tinkering with a hyperdrive and it had a glitch."

"That's about right," she nodded. "All we could learn was that he was working on a unit taken out of one of the TurboKats, our main line fighter, and it activated, taking him with it."

"Quite a jump it managed," Shi murmured. "I've always wondered what he was meant to accomplish here, that the Force brought him to us. I assume your drives aren't typically capable of doing that sort of thing?"

"Technically, they are." Marie admitted. "It takes a lot of power to make this kind of jump, though. The ship we brought is the smallest that we could build that kind of generator into. It still took us eight jumps to get here. It's a mass and distance formula for the power needed, and the numbers are just huge."

"And I'm not at all familiar with how those sort of things work," Shivasta admitted. "So it's not unreasonable to think that it was something very unusual that brought him here?"

"Very unusual for normal folks or physics, yes. For a Clawson, the really unusual part is that he didn't come back within a year or so. We're kind of used to that kind of thing meaning they got dropped in a different dimension or time."

"I imagine the engine that dropped him off either didn't come with or it was torn apart while he was still recovering," Shi said seriously. "I wasn't kidding about him growing up on a slum world. Nar Shaddaa isn't pretty ... he's lucky he did as well as he did. I'm not surprised he became so close to Doruth after he was rescued. Between him and Essani, you're practically looking at Jay's parents in this part of the universe."

Marie smiled faintly at the Ice Walker. "I have met them, and they are good people. I think the reason he never came back to us was because he found what he wanted more than family here. He's been capable of rebuilding that drive for decades now. He chose not to come home."

"I think there's more to it than that, but it's true," Shi nodded. "Will it be a problem for his kittens, if they go home with you and he doesn't? I know there are some traditions regarding kits and their parents in your family...."

"They'll be adopted by someone to raise." Marie explained easily. "Yes, we do have a lot of traditions with close kin, but we also have a very high mortality rate and adoption by cousins or aunts and uncles is common. Likely my granddaughter, the one that was in the Council chamber with me, and her mate will end up raising them. She is one of the few who shares Jay's extra Gift."

"Good," Shivasta sighed with relief. "I know Jay was having some difficulties when he was getting older... a conflict between your traditions and Master Doruth's. We did resolve it, but it took time."

"*Is something wrong?*" Fenrik asked her.

"*Not that I'm worried about just now,*" she told him. "*His kits will have family to take his place. If he chooses to return with them, I'll be shocked.*"

"I'm not surprised there was a problem. He would have had a similar issue if he was taken in by a couple outside special ops back home too. You end up developing an odd culture when black ops teams become a family and not just something for solo guys."

"*As she said, he's been able to go back if he wanted to years ago.*" He nodded fractionally.

"And when that runs into a culture where families are the exception to the rule, it's even more of an issue," Shi nodded. "Well, we should probably stop talking about him behind his back before we're really behind it," she chuckled as they approached the nursery. "Thank you, Marie."

"You are welcome, Shi. If you have any questions about where he got some of his odder ideas, I can probably answer them." She added with a chuckle and smile as they came up to the nursery door. "I've gathered he has been very stubborn about giving up what he does remember of home."

"Any tidbits you can give us about Clawson laws and codes of justice might help us be ready for what he'll be expecting us to do to him," Shivasta said easily.

"After you are done with your greetings, perhaps?" Marie offered with a knowing look and opened the door to the expected scene of Felisha cooing and petting her newborn granddaughters and Jay relaxed against the back wall watching with an indulgent and rather proud look. "A bit more family history than he remembers too, and the last fifty-four years." She added to the offer.

"Thank you," Shivasta nodded with a smile. "Jay? Mind showing them off to Fenrik too?"

The tom looked up, startled out of his thoughts by her voice and his mate's name. When his eyes landed on the Panther, there was an instant tension, the struggle between wanting to rush up and kiss him senseless and the lingering fear of what his mate would do. It was a brief moment where his thoughts were not on his kittens.

"A kiss first?" Jay asked hesitantly and stepped forward, ready to be rejected or attacked and not intending to fight either.

"Not a problem," Fenrik purred softly, stepping forward the rest of the way and wrapping his arms around Jay, holding him and letting him make the move for the kiss, not sure how much of one Jay would want just now.

It was soft and slow, hesitant despite the need he could feel in Jay's body and mind as strong, unsure hands explored both their bodies. Eventually Jay ended the kiss to rest his muzzle along Fenrik's shoulder.

"*I've missed you.*" He whispered silently.

"I've missed you too, love," Fenrik murmured softly, turning to kiss Jay's neck. "But it's almost over now. We just have to get your kittens back and make the one behind this pay."

"Yes," Jay shivered slightly at the kiss and exposed his neck a bit more. "It's not a hunt we have to head anymore either."

"Come on," Fenrik murmured, kissing him again. "Introduce me to your kits, then we can go get you to relax."

"And you." Jay smiled faintly and nuzzled him before stepping back a bit. "I know you haven't really slept since I ... was captured. Shi definitely hadn't." He added and turned to shoo his mother gently away from the crib and motioned Fenrik to come close. "Mystera," he lightly scritched the black one's scruff, "and Jemeka," he touched his dusty rose on strawberry blond tabby daughter.

"They're very pretty," Fenrik smiled, reaching in gently to make sure nobody would object before petting the blind, mewling kits softly. "Much closer to their father than their mother, from the sound of it."

"Clawson genetics are very dominant," Marie said softly with a smile for her newest nieces from the other side of the crib. "They'll make very strong officers."

As odd as it sounded to Shi and Fenrik, Jay absolutely beamed at the phrase and the fact he was sure his sister meant it.

"Any idea who will raise them?" Jay asked softly, looking at Marie seriously.

"Likely my granddaughter, Jennie, and her mate. She has the same extra Gift that you do." Marie explained.

"Good," Jay nodded and gave his two kittens a last touch before brushing a hand along Fenrik's arm. "Let's leave the ladies to their ogling."

"We'll do our own later," Fenrik nodded with a smile, gently guiding Jay out along with Shivasta, then drawing him close for a close, loving embrace that wasn't resisted in the least.

For not the first time, Shi realized that there really was something deeper to the male's relationship than existed between her and Jay. She'd never understand what it was, but at this moment, she was too grateful for it to be jealous. It would have been excruciatingly painful if the boys had been broken apart by this, and for a very long few days, it really looked as if it might.

"*Join us?*" Fenrik asked her mentally, coaxing her moved to hug Jay from the other side, her shields tightly controlled to keep him comfortable. At least he didn't seem to be in any real pain with Fenrik.

"*I'm not nearly as Light as you, love.*" Fenrik told her gently and privately as Jay relaxed between them. "*I think we might want to get to a room soon.*" He added with a touch of worry. "*I think he's breaking down, finally.*"

"Come on you two," Shivasta murmured softly, starting to lead them the short way to Jay's room. "Let's go somewhere private."

Jay made no resistance, his main focus being on not crumbling in public. By the time the door closed behind them to the master bedroom on board the Sharufa tears were flowing freely and Fenrik had picked Jay up, grateful the tom was willing to press up against him and be carried.

It wasn't long before the three of them were undressed and in bed, Shi and Fenrik holding Jay as comfortingly as they could until all three were asleep.

Kanna and Cormoran rode the lift to the bridge in silence. They were both rested, though Cormoran's obsidian feathers had shredded his bedding into the nest he was used to in short order. Kanna in particular was grateful to hear that her aunt and her mates were in the same bed again. They had spent far too long together, been through far too much for this to break things up.

"Master, am I mistaken in that every Clawson has some Force-power, but only a few are like us?" His words still interspersed by the clicks and rawks of his kind, though his Basic was quite passable for a Jedi of his young age.

"Basically, from what I understand," Kanna nodded. "It's not unlike the Celegians; they can all levitate, but only some of them are capable of being Jedi. And, from what I understand, not every Clawson has the full Gift like Jay does."

"But their Gift it is not something common to their race?" He made sure he understood what little he had.

"No, it isn't," Kanna agreed. "I suspect their 'Demon' has something to do with it. It wasn't until a member of the family had found it that they had their Gift a few generations ago. I believe that the exposure to a Force talent has started to coax out a better recognized sensitivity to the Force in general. But I'm no expert on the topic."

"Will they be staying in contact with us, Master?" He chirped, his natural curiosity peaked by this unusual group.

"I hope so, but I don't know, Padawan," Kanna admitted easily. "I do hope they will at least have a means of communicating across the distances involved, even if they don't continue to communicate in person."

If the Night Raptor had another question, he was silenced by the lift door opening to show the bridge fully functional despite only having a quarter of its usual crew.

In the captain's chair was a cinnamon-furred shekat Kanna's age with a distant look on her face. The Force flowed around her in a tightly controlled pattern that reached out to the ship around them as her crewmates worked in a more normal manner.

It wasn't at all unlike watching Jay work earlier; the Clawsons were in charge of the ship now.

Kanna and Cormoran walked onto the bridge, careful to stay out of the way of the crew, droid and otherwise, as they found an empty place to sit.

The Clawsons did notice them, but didn't seem to object to their presence as Kanna settled in, Cormoran taking a few more moments to do so. His body was not built for the standard chair so he settled in like a bird at roost on the floor, his long legs tucked under him and his strong but slender feathered arm-wings relaxed along the sides of his oval body, his long and stiff tail out behind him.

"*Let's see if we can figure out where Jay's kits will be, then,*" Kanna told him across their bond. "*Just keep an eye out for Clawsons doing the same; you'll be able to find the bonds they're following, most likely, don't get too 'close'.*"

"*Yes, Master.*" He nodded his triangular head slightly and closed his eyes. As always, his mind-voice came as easily in imagery and sensation-feelings as it did in words.

"*Search for the ship, for the kittens,*" she instructed him mentally. "*I'll search for the mother.*"

Tightness... closeness... suffocation and constant worry. The Core worlds. They wouldn't be there long though; it didn't make sense, didn't fit Mina's profile. It would be too easy to run into somebody who'd recognize their ship, or realize they weren't giving the right name. It was just a stop to throw off the searchers.

"*Master Kennet, send the fleet home after salvage operations are complete,*" Kanna instructed the Jedi in charge. "*Make sure that the orders are public, don't bother encrypting them. Don't mention the Kraken. We'll be able to find them, and having the whole fleet out will make them less likely to reveal themselves.*"

She could sense the Master conferring briefly with Shivasta, and was grateful when her old Master agreed with her.

Now, where would they be going....

Cormoran's visions weren't nearly as clear yet. A black bird flew towards a cloud, two chicks on its back. Thunder crashed and lightning flashed, but didn't deter the bird. Why became clear shortly afterwards; as the crow disappeared into the storm, an eagle followed it, plunging blindly into danger.

Lightning flashed again, and crow and eagle alike fell from the cloud, dead, the chicks nowhere to be seen.

Kanna focused on Mina, on the ship she was in. Where would she go... where would be safe for them all.

She had an impression of barren terrain, rocky deserts. Shadows struggling to eke out a living, more shadows marching back and forth, soldiers in the making, preparing for an invasion they pray will come ... but fear never will. It was all hazy though, hard to see.

A shadowed face with a single eye....

"*Thurra?*" Cormoran suggested, bringing up the mental image of what came to him, a great orb circled by dozens of smaller ones; the gas giant of the system and its forty moons.

"*I think so,*" Kanna agreed. "*But there aren't any habitable worlds in that system ... odd. I think she's in the outer Core now though, we might be able to beat her to the punch.*"

"*How to tell the Captain?*" He asked uncertainly, more imagery than words coming through as he worked out of the vision trance.

"*Directly,*" Kanna said easily, coming out of her trance more quickly and reaching for a nearby console to contact the leader. If anybody would have the authority, it would be Marie Clawson.

"Marie." Her familiar voice came back after a moment.

"This is Kanna," the Ice Walker said easily. "We have a lead on the kits in the Thurra system. The coordinates are on record, but we should be ready for rough conditions when we get there."

"Understood," the elder woman answered simply. A moment later the bridge burst into activity as the ship prepared to launch into hyperspace with the full force of the Clawson Gift speeding its way. "We should be there in two days."

"Here's hoping the kits aren't until after we are," Kanna murmured. "Thank you."

"I will see that my brother knows he doesn't have anything important to do for a couple days." Marie almost chuckled, sure that the triad was unlikely to leave their bed for that time. "We will make this work, Knight Kanna."

"We will," she agreed, reaching over to touch Cormoran's shoulder reassuringly as he brought up the mental image of his vision. "Just make sure your brother doesn't do anything too rash to try and speed us on our way."

"If he's anything like the rest of us, that's almost inevitable," Marie sighed with both resignation and a bit of pride. "I'll see what I can do. His mates have more influence than I do, however."

"Point taken - I'll talk to Shivasta about keeping him occupied," Kanna smiled. "Force be with you, Marie."

"Force be with you, Kanna." Marie repeated the phrase she'd picked up as a 'goodbye' with Jedi and closed the channel.

"Come on," the Ice Walker told her Padawan as she stood. "Let's go get you caught up on your lessons while we have some time."

"Yes, Master." He said easily and stood with a natural predator's grace to follow her to the lift and somewhere to practice.

Shivasta was still exhausted when she woke up. Fenrik and Jay were still asleep, Jay's arms wrapped needily around Fenrik and his nose buried against the Panther's dark fur. She smiled softly and kissed the back of his neck. It was so good to have him back. Now they just needed to keep him with them.

"*Shi? You'll need to keep Jay occupied for a few days,*" Kanna told her as her brain woke up enough to really process the message. "*We know where to look for the kits, but Cormoran's vision ... we need to keep Jay from doing anything rash.*"

"*I'll do my best,*" the elder Ice Walker replied mentally, looping an arm over both her mates and hugging them before she slipped out of bed, fetching a robe and grabbing her brush. She'd get breakfast for the three of them before coming back.

It was good to be back in the familiar galley of the Sharufa too, where it was quick and easy to prepare the meal. All the usual stocks were there, though they'd likely been replaced several times since she'd last seen them.

For a very brief moment, she considered spiking breakfast with a little ryl spice, but decided against it quickly. She started making up the same breakfast she had the day before, only for three, cooking it at the same time as she kept track of Fenrik and Jay to see if they were waking up.

She wasn't too surprised that the first conscious feelings were that of arousal. The boys hadn't chanced much at all in some ways from their teens. Their cocks still woke up first and they didn't contest it much.

By then, she was on the way back with breakfast and realized that Jay was more than peripherally aware of her absence. She wasn't sure if they'd be going at it before they ate, but for once she wouldn't even mutter if they were. It would be too good to see them together to be anything less than thrilled.

Jay's low moan when she opened the door to their quarters, she couldn't help but smile at the sight of Jay pressed against Fenrik's chest and the Panther's hand wrapped around Jay's cock, stroking it slowly and playfully.

It was a good thing breakfast didn't have to be eaten while it was hot. She sat the tray down near the bed, crawling in behind Jay and pressing close to him, reaching down to fondle his balls while Fenrik teased his barbs and Jay moaned deeply between them.

Despite the tension in his mind over who he was with, the pleasure came easily and soon he thrust into Fenrik's hand, seeking a release that the Panther quickly provided with a skill born of long acquaintance.

Shi kissed the back of Jay's neck tenderly as the tom sprayed his seed between himself and Fenrik, staining both their bellies with cum as he cried out in his pleasure.

"Missed you," Fenrik purred deeply, kissing Jay on the lips, still stroking his shaft, making the tom shudder and moan as their pleasure continued and began to build again. "And this."

"Missed you too," Jay murmured between moans and gathered enough of his wits to reach down to wrap a hand around Fenrik's shaft while his tail slid up along Shi's legs to tease her sex.

"Mmm ... think you're up for something a little more intimate?" Fenrik asked him. "Now that we're all here?"

"Yes," Jay purred and nuzzled him, giving the hard cock in his hand a light squeeze. Both his mates could feel the unease at the shields they had to maintain, even though he understood why. He was hungry for the true intimacy they had shared less than a year before.

"*Fenrik, you should be able to let up on your shields,*" Shivasta told the Panther, kissing Jay's neck gently.

"Soon, love," she murmured softly. "Once you won't be hurt."

"It won't be soon enough," he groaned at the combined physical pleasure and rush of familiar affection that came with Fenrik lowering his mental shields. The bond between them was still overlaid and weak, but it wasn't the only way the lovers could feel each other.

"Mmm ... roll over, love," Fenrik purred, kissing him. "Let's remind you who your mates really are."

Jay nodded and almost reluctantly let go of the Panther's cock as he rolled to his other side, facing Shi, and kissed her a bit more nervously.

She understood his reaction, that he was still more than a little scared of her, of her status with the Light. As much as it hurt, she also knew that there was only one way to get him past it.

"It's all right, Jay," she murmured, kissing him back. "I won't hurt you if I can help it, I promise."

"I know," he murmured and ran his hands down her cool body. He knew she wouldn't, but it still didn't penetrate deeply enough to still his fears completely.

She kissed him again, then nuzzled his cheek, reaching down to stroke his cock lightly.

"One step at a time," she whispered, teasing his barbs skillfully to a low moan as he pressed into her hand shamelessly. Despite the differences, she couldn't help but think back to that first time she'd touched him like this. A time before he had barbs to play with and the greatest pain in his life was being stuck so far from home and family.

Now his family was on the same ship, though he'd never be able to get back home with them. Not in his mind, at least.

"I love you, Jay," she murmured, kissing him as Fenrik retrieve the lube and started to prepare Jay carefully.

Just the situation marked a sharp impression of difference that everyone noted. Both the prep and being between both his mates was something that hadn't happened since he'd last been with them.

Of course, with a Wolf, the prep probably wasn't nearly as important as with Fenrik.

And the less he'd been with Mina, as far as his real mates were concerned, the better.

Shivasta lifted her top leg, making her body available to him as she reached around his back to start teasing the pleasure points just above his tail.

Instinct pressed his hips forward to sink into her as his hands ran down her back to help guide them together. He moaned, the sensations of being deep inside a willing female something he'd only gotten more used to in recent months, memories of a lot of time with Misha close to the surface.

Shi would have to work on adding to those recent memories, but it was something she wasn't going to mind at all, and she was grateful that he thought of the Minervan Mink and not Mina when he thought of female pleasure. He slid inside of her, and she moaned in pleasure, feeling his barbs raking her insides as Fenrik finally pressed up into Jay's ass. It wasn't quite the same as it used to be, but they were together, physically, for the first time in far too long.

Aware of the effects of sex on their bond status also made them both aware of the subtle shifts inside Jay's mind as the pleasure and physical closeness went to work on what he wanted, healing and strengthening the badly stressed bonds.

"Been way too long." Jay all but whimpered at the assault of physical pleasure and the even more potent effects on his mind.

"Too true," Shivasta murmured. She wanted to reach out to him mentally, but knew she couldn't safely. Instead, she focused on his physical pleasure, letting Fenrik work across their bond to make up for her mental absence.

Even as limited as this was compared to their past, she could feel it working. It would be months before she could start to let her shields down much, but she could feel that even now progress was being made in little bits. In a very real way it would be the opposite of helping him heal after his solo mission. That had been all mental in the beginning; it had been weeks before he could really stand to be touched again and a decade before he could accept any kind of intoxication, much less ryl.

She sealed her lips against his, milking his barbed length with her sex and moaning into his mouth as he quickly found the rhythm of being in the middle of two lovers again.

He broke off his kiss far early than she'd expected as his head was thrown back with a roar. He came hard inside her body, his hands tight on her buttocks to pull her against him.

She milked him through his orgasm, truly surprised by his reaction so quickly. She wasn't nearly ready yet herself, but she let herself enjoy the feeling of his seed in her body with a moan, burying her forehead against his neck as he began to thrust again. It brought to mind what Y'alla had said about him having a taste for fucking his partners unconscious and making them enjoy every moment of it.

Fortunately, that was one of his kinks she'd always enjoyed.

"*Why don't you go talk to Marie for a while?*" Fenrik asked as Jay began to slowly wake up. "*I haven't had any time to myself with him.*"

"*All right,*" Shi nodded mentally, knowing that the two of them needed it. Besides, it would be easier for Jay with Fenrik than with her there. She stood and headed into the shower, grabbing her robes for when she was out. "*You two take care.*"

"*We will,*" Fenrik agreed, nuzzling Jay as the middle-aged tom started to stir, wrinkling his nose a bit at the feel of the whisker-stubble along his scar against the sensitive skin.

Fenrik smiled when Jay instinctively reached out with his mind and actually began to purr when his half-conscious mind realized who was there holding him.

"That's right," he murmured softly, the tip of his long, black tail twitching. "It's me, and you're right where you belong."

Jay shifted to nuzzle him sleepily, still not exactly awake, but aware enough now to be aware of the words.

"Love you." Jay whispered, taking in the fact that he was still free and in his own bed with his Jedi mates. "Missed you."

"Love you too," Fenrik whispered back, rubbing Jay's sides lightly as the tom snuggled close. "Good to have you back."

"Shi?" He murmured, unsure where the Healer was.

"In the shower, probably going to go talk shop with your sister after," Fenrik explained easily. "She figured we should have some time to ourselves."

"So ... what happens now?" Jay looked up at him, uncertain just how far the Panther would take having him back if push came to shove.

"That depends on you," Fenrik murmured. "But whatever happens, we're going to deal with it together."

"If I don't plan on going back?" He asked softly.

"Don't you though?" Fenrik pointed out and asked all at once, kissing Jay's neck lightly. "You know you belong with the Jedi, with us. Not out here."

"I don't really belong anywhere," Jay sighed. "I'm too much a Jedi to go home, too much a Clawson and too Dark to ever really belong among the Jedi. You and Shi are just too much a part of me to ever really turn away from you."

"What do you want to do then?" Fenrik asked him softly. "You belong with the Jedi more than you belong wandering out here, Jay."

"Depends on who you ask." He muttered a little bitterly, then sighed slightly. "I want ..." he suddenly shook his head. "All I've ever wanted was to belong, Fen. I do belong with you, with her." He closed his eyes, struggling to explain something that ran deeper than instinct. "Going back ... it's not a real question. I'll follow you anywhere."

Fenrik wrapped his arms tightly around the other tom, holding him close.

"I'm sorry," he said softly.

"Don't be," Jay whispered and lifted his head to lick the Panther's cheek. "This is what I am. Denying this is far worse than falling to the Dark."

"I mean you never really having a choice in it," the Panther said softly, kissing Jay. "Most Jedi could choose to leave, if they wanted. You don't really have that choice unless all three of us do. You haven't really gotten all that much say in a lot of your life," he admitted.

"I've had a pretty good life too," he reminded his mate easily and snuggled close.

"And you can come back to it," Fenrik nodded, nuzzling his neck. "You don't have to run from us anymore."

He felt Jay stiffen, a multitude of reactions from various parts of his mind taking the tom to the point of freezing until it all settled.

Jay knew what he was going to do, but it was far from a clean choice. Very far.

Fenrik just held him while he sorted out his reactions, trying to provide him with what support he could. He'd be doing this a lot for the next few years, he expected, while Jay worked himself back from the seductive embrace of the Darkness the tom had never really understood why he should resist, and still probably didn't.

Shi slipped from the ship into the hanger, intent on spending some time with Marie talking while the guys spent some time together without her. For all her love of Jay, she couldn't deny the break was a welcome one. Holding her shields like that was uncomfortable and tiring, and there was so much to learn before the Clawsons left, which would likely be soon.

Besides, there was a lot that needed to be done before they headed back to the Council, and she was hoping for a little help from the Clawsons in that direction.

Relaxing her mental shields, she started for the lift, hoping she'd be able to find Marie on the bridge, or in the nursery if that failed.

Hunting for a single shekat on a ship the size of the Kraken was not something she was looking forward to, and she had no clue if the ship would be able to help her.

The other Clawsons probably could though. If nothing else, they could ask the ship where she was. She waited patiently for the lift to get to the bridge and stepped into the organized chaos of a group that knew each other so well they didn't need to talk in real sentences or words, just an occasional sound or term and it all ran smoothly.

"Healer Shivasta," the shekat in the captain's chair greeted her.

"Hello, Miss Jennie," Shivasta said, inclining her head politely. "Do you know where Marie is?"

"Just a moment." She nodded easily and focused elsewhere for a moment. "She is in the forward lounge watching the stars."

"Thank you," Shivasta smiled. "We have another few days before reaching the system?"

"ETA is in 31 hours, Ma'am."

"Thank you. I'll see you then, I imagine." Shivasta turned, returning to the lift and heading up to the observation deck where she would find the family head.

Except for the long walk, it was simple to do. The ship was largely still labeled from its Republic days and the map she'd gotten when hunting it was still accurate except for the section where the slaves were kept.

She walked onto the lounge, where Marie and a number of others, Clawson and otherwise, were resting.

"Marie?" She asked, approaching the cinnamon-furred shekat. "Do you mind discussing a few things?"

"Not at all," the elder woman smiled at her and patted a spot nearby on the cushioned window seat.

"Thank you," Shivasta smiled, taking the seat. "Jay's... occupied for the moment, so I thought I'd take the chance to come and talk to you about what's going to happen ... maybe a bit about him."

"Do you have any questions to start with?" Marie offered an open field.

"What sort of punishment is he likely to think he deserves?" Shivasta asked, wanting to get the most complicated question out of the way first.

"It depends on what he's done, how much he believes he was under the influence of an outside force, how likely he is to return to it," Marie shook her head slightly. "Do you have an idea of what he has done since this started?"

"At least one murder, probably more," Shivasta said quietly. "He's always been prone to violence, and I know one for sure. I know that he expected the Jedi to resort to their greatest penalty at one point, but I don't know if he would still expect it once he's a bit more rational about things."

"How brutal a murder?"

"Exceedingly so," Shivasta admitted. "He... I assume that rough bed play isn't uncommon in your family?" She asked.

"We're black ops," Marie chuckled a bit. "Liking it rough is very common. It's a pleasurable counterpoint to the violence of our daily lives." Then she turned serious. "If that's all he did, probably serious prison time, or if he thinks he really was out of his mind, serious time in a mental health facility. If it's more, he's looking at the death penalty."

"Under Jedi perspective, in a way, we do consider his circumstances a sort of insanity," Shivasta explained. "I'm just not sure if he will. He's been convinced for some time that the nature of the Demon means he's innately evil, somehow. He was past it when this all started, but...."

"Shivasta, there is no way in hell he'd face death for the past few months from us. He's not an Omega, though he got pretty close and would have been there soon. But from an eight year old's perspective of our laws, the fine lines and circumstances were likely well beyond him and I doubt he realizes they exist even now. Colonies and colony ships don't have much space or resources for prisons, so any severe crime tends to result in death and lesser ones have public service oriented punishments. Everyone has to pull their weight, and those locked up can't do that."

"It might be a good idea to make sure he knows about them before he has to decide if he goes back or not," Shi nodded. "He fully expected that death was the best thing he could look forward to when we found him."

"How much of that was the Demon and that female telling him things, though?" Marie prompted a question of her own. "He's far from eight now, and it is you he's afraid of, been running from, not us. Surely he knows what he'd face here, even if he didn't back home."

"I imagine a lot of it was the two of them, but I can see why he'd be concerned. For one thing, there are some members of the Council who've maintained throughout their careers that he's a dangerous threat, which this supports. Jay's been on hunts before, where the goal was more about removing a threat than bringing it back alive. There have been examples of people who were effectively executed, that the Jedi have tried to have killed. Sith warlords, people who posed an active threat to the Republic and Order. Only a handful of them, but I do believe that he sincerely thought he would be adding to that list. Like I said, he hasn't been at his most rational lately."

"I can't say I'm surprised," Marie admitted softly. "We have something of a family history of antagonism with leaderships. I'm sure he took the stories of Jake and Jessie and saw them reflected in his own experiences. It's not a good way to start out." She looked out at the stars rushing by. "I will make sure he understands what he'd face coming home with us. I don't expect it will change his mind, though."

"Neither do I," Shivasta nodded. "However, if he realizes that your people wouldn't have him executed, it may help him feel less guilty about us not doing the same."

"What will happen to him here?" Marie looked at her seriously, a sister more than family leader for a moment.

"In all likelihood, very little beyond helping him recover from what happened," Shivasta explained. "No missions for a while, or at least light missions, until we're sure he's gotten beyond the Dark Side influence."

"I expect you'll have plenty to work on helping him accept the fact that he's not going to be punished." Marie said quietly. "If he's this wound up about it, he's not likely to appreciate the concept of getting to walk."

"That's what I was thinking," Shivasta nodded. "Not much else I can think of that will help there, so this might be a good time to raise another issue I have to deal with fairly quickly. What is the Clawson's take on slavery?"

She knew well before the older woman managed to put together a civilized answer that they really didn't like it.

"It has been outlawed for generations." Marie finally found words suitable for public.

"As it has here, through the Republic," Shivasta nodded. "Unfortunately, in such a large area, there is a black market and some of the neighboring governments do a brisk business in their own borders. Jay spent most of his time hiding out in the areas where the market was most active ... there are several hundred slaves on this ship, all of whom will be freed under Republic law. Unfortunately, some of them literally have nothing else they can do, aside from wage-slavery in a brothel somewhere."

Marie sighed and rubbed her temples. "Never a good situation. Still, with only a few hundred, surely retraining is possible? If they are smart enough to talk and walk, there is always work they can do for a living."

"In the Republic, you'd be surprised," Shi sighed. "Unemployment varies from world to world, but from what Jay's described to me even the industrial worlds have vastly more than you do. The Order can likely take in some of them, but most of our staffing needs are filled by sensitives who lacked the strength to become Jedi, or the inclination to become a member of any of the Corps. The retraining facilities and jobs aren't really there outside of it, that we can guarantee. I was wondering if you had a shortage of people, that some of your needs might be filled up by some of the available folks who have some skills, but nowhere we can guarantee them work."

"If they're genetically compatible with one of our races, they don't need skills to have a place." Marie nodded seriously. "Colony life isn't an easy one, though. These aren't settled worlds, not even our early ones. But if they'll take the risk, we'll take them in."

"There's only one way to find out if they're willing," Shi said seriously. "Though I think Jay already had interviews scheduled with most of them, and I hope that most are able to be dropped off back home."

"I don't really have the bodies to spare right now to do interviews." Marie pointed out. "I only have a crew of thirty to run this ship and do everything else. I have no idea how he managed it by himself."

"Knowing Jay, I'd say intense stubbornness and the fact that the ship's AI was working with him at the time. It had complete control over all the droids, including assigning them to tasks they weren't originally designed for. As for the interviews, I imagine that Jay will still want to do those himself for the most part. We'll probably try and distract him with those once getting reacquainted isn't doing the trick anymore, if we're not there by then."

"It certainly wouldn't hurt. It would be a good way to assess his current mental and personality state as well; watching him deal with lesser ranked people." She nodded seriously. "Do you think you could ask for a half dozen or so people to help out with interviews? Jay really shouldn't do them all."

"Not until we're out of hyperspace, unless he's willing to trust some of the slaves he's already talked to to help. The rest of us will work on it too, of course - that's another four at least, when we're not keeping an eye on him."

"Once we get used to this ship, I can probably spare a couple bodies as well." Marie nodded in agreement. "It will be interesting to see him outside of a crisis situation. That can change a person a great deal."

"He's much more relaxed, normally," Shi agreed. "You can't imagine how badly I want this over with."

"Probably not," she said quietly. "Though I'd be willing to bet that Jay wants it 'over with' much more, and has for longer. We heard the echoes of this all the way in our home galaxy. Whatever happened, it was not a small move and the full consequences may not be known for some time."

"I'm just glad we found him before he reached the point where he didn't want help," Shi murmured. "Beneath the surface, at least. That's part of why I'm worried about what will happen when we find Mina."

"Beyond what is likely to be complete disregard for the risks, what?" Marie looked at her curiously, sure there was a concern beyond what she herself felt.

"Mina's a good example of it herself," Shivasta explained. "I know you don't have a real understanding of the Dark and Light sides of the Force, but it's like I said before. If Jay gives in to his anger here, especially as intense as it is, he may well cross the point of no return. The Dark Side offers power, quickly and easily, but it exacts a high price, and it's very hard to give up once you've begun to tread its path. Jay's already started, and I doubt that Mina is going to make it easy to get his kits back without following her further along it."

"You're talking good and evil, or something else?" Marie struggled to make the words make sense in any context she could with little success.

"It's not as simple as good and evil, though most Jedi would say you were right," Shivasta explained. "You're familiar with the Demon, and how it affects your family. The Dark Side is similar, but much more subtle typically. The difference between the Light Side and the Dark, in this case, is like the difference between working to improve your strength, or taking steroids. The latter is easier and faster, but it can have devastating affects on your health, physical and mental. People who follow the Dark Side of the Force, particularly sensitives, are more prone to evil acts of larger and larger scale. It starts out small, lashing out in anger at something, and progresses from there."

"That's not usually how a Clawson looses their mind, but he has been a Jedi a long time." Marie nodded slightly, consenting more than understanding. "Most of the time, killing her would be a great step back to mental health. It's a huge release of pain and rage to finally have an outlet and end something. But that's more my upbringing and experience talking. He is a Jedi, he may be different from us."

"And it's less of an issue for non-sensitives," Shivasta nodded. "As far as I know, there aren't many for your kin to have experience with."

"Perhaps more to the point, you are the ones who have to deal with him when this is over." Marie added. "By staying, he is accepting your standards. I am now only an advisor at most, not the one responsible for him and his actions."

"We wouldn't have considered you such even if he was returning to your galaxy," Shi smiled slightly. "Are there any questions you have for me?"

"Just what is the Force?"

"How technical do you want me to get?" Shivasta asked easily. "There's the layman's explanation, then the one for people we're trying to really explain it to."

"Start with the simple one," Marie chuckled. "I'm still not exactly fluent in Basic."

"That's what I figured, but I thought I'd give you the choice," Shi chuckled. "Besides, my Aristalin would probably be more painful for you. At its simplest, the Force is the universal energy field that binds all things together, the initial 'kick' that got things rolling, if you want to think of it that way. There is a Light side of the Force; warmth, life, caring. There's also a Dark side; death, anger, cold. The two of them are connected, but for obvious reasons we strive to hold to the Light. Ultimately, you can't have the one without the other; the natural ebb and flow of life is the way of the Force."

Marie considered that, going over a long lifetime of experience and much more that had been well recorded. At it's very best, she couldn't take this description of the universal power as anything other than very twisted from her reality and any reality she wanted to be part of.

"I see." She said guardedly, eyeing the Ice Walker with a whole new kind of suspicion. "I think Jay was correct in his assessment that he wouldn't be going back with us. I would appreciate if you did not discuss this with anyone else. That is a philosophy that we will not be taking back with us."

"Very well," Shivasta sighed, catching the shift in her reaction with ease. "I don't know if it simply doesn't operate that way in your portion of the universe or if it simply isn't as universal as we think, Marie, but that is how it works here."

"That is exactly why we will not take this idea back." The elder shekat said firmly. "Just as you can use the universal power to accomplish incredible things, you can alter its nature by your will. Spread an idea around enough so it is accepted, and the very fabric of reality will change. Now, something they may help Jay with his guilt." Marie drew the subject back to her brother. "We have a strong tradition of ... reparations. If he picked up on that, finding a way to help those he hurt might do him some good."

"Which means we'll have to get him to talk about everything he did," Shi murmured, leaning back in her seat, glad for the change in subject. "Any tips on the type of reparations that would normally be called for, or help most? I doubt monetary would have any real impact on him."

"No, not likely." Marie shook her head, even not knowing her brother's financial state. "The more manual, time-intensive and directly related to the crime and victim the better. You said he murdered a woman. If you can find out what she loved, if she had devoted herself to anything, and have him make it real by his own sweat. Or find her family and work on their farm or their business. Things that make a direct impact in lives and are something the victim would like to see done."

"What is the tradition if the family or next of kin would rather not have anything to do with them?"

"Can't say I've ever run across that, but it would go to close friends, or just to public service in something the victim would appreciate in life. If she were a teacher, he could teach her students, or work to make sure everyone in the area gets an education. Ask him what would be a suitable gift to her memory if it's not obvious. If he's interested in making reparations, he won't pick something that is too easy."

"Hopefully not," Shivasta nodded. "That will take some time, but I'm sure he'll have it. I just hope that he doesn't have too many people to make up for."

"He hasn't blown up any planets, has he?" Marie asked uneasily.

"Not that we know of; he hasn't had the Kraken long enough to do it, really, and nothing else he's had access to has the power to manage it. But he's had a lightsaber and a teeming mass of victims nobody'd miss."

"Hopefully he hasn't used them much," Marie sighed. "It sounds like you have a lot of unpleasant conversations ahead of you."

"I rather expected it," Shivasta admitted. "And a lot more if Mina manages to get away again. Still don't know how we're going to explain definitely that Jay wasn't behind those two ships being destroyed."

"I can find out, though my 'proof' may not be any more helpful than your word." Marie said simply. "Back home, we're established enough that we can testify to such things. Here ... I'm just his sister, really, and I wasn't even here."

"The fact that the attack stopped should serve as some proof," Shi murmured. "I just don't understand how it happened. It was like Kraken decided to help her escape somehow."

Marie cocked her head slightly. "They're rare here, aren't they?"

"Ships like Kraken? To the best of my knowledge, he was unique," Shi confirmed. There are droids with similar levels of intelligence, but models that are capable of killing sentients are mostly illegal in the Republic.

"An intelligence is an intelligence in a very real way. What makes them an AI is the ability to think outside their explicit programming. Once that happens, they're not much more predictable than any other person."

"Not programming, always," Shivasta said, but didn't explain any further as she remembered Jay's reactions over the past few decades. "But we don't really have full AI's like that even in droids, most of the time. The occasional protocol or astromech droid that advances beyond its programming, but that's about it."

"Pity," Marie said softly. "They're extremely valuable crew members. Some of the most loyal out there."

"Droid brains only really progressed enough to develop that far in the last thousand years or so, and even those were unusual prototypes," Shivasta explained as best she knew. "They only really hit the open market in the last generation or so."

"I'm sure Jay had some hand in that," Marie chuckled lightly. "He was very fond of Amy, the one of DS when he was growing up."

"Mmm ... he certainly didn't hurt," Shi smiled. "Though most of the projects he's worked on in that field have been more one of a kind than most. That does explain his reaction to Kraken though."

"How so?" Marie raised an eyebrow curiously.

"He was defensive towards him very quickly, despite the fact that Kraken had killed his old crew, and was programmed by the Sith. What's a DS?" Shi asked, not finding the term familiar.

"A Digital Sentience," Marie smiled slightly. "It's what AI's become when they continue to evolve, though a few other things fall under the heading as well. An AI is bound to its hardware. A DS can transfer to and from any system capable of supporting it. They are a type of insubstantial race."

"That's something we haven't developed so far, unless Jay hasn't mentioned it to me," Shi said easily, shaking her head. "No wonder I didn't recognize it."

"If you've barely developed AI's, I'm not surprised." Marie accepted it easily. "DS aren't really programmed, not at DS level at least, they are truly alive. It can be very startling at first to try to work your mind around a creature that isn't bound to their body."

"Not nearly as startling as working your mind around one that considers yours a perfectly valid place to hole up for a cold night," Shi chuckled. "I know what you're talking about there."

The shekat shuddered in a very old, and still very fresh, memory of such an event. "Been there, done that, really don't want to again. Our first alien encounter off Aristal was such a race. It didn't go very well for either side."

"Ugh. In my case, he really did just want to stay somewhere more comfortable for a bit. It was ... interesting, but not really that bad. Of course, I'm more of a telepath, so that might say something."

"Maybe, but he wasn't out for a permanent home either," Marie murmured and pushed the memories away again. "The ones we met weren't nearly so ... reasonable ... about their expectations. It'll be a couple generations before we're likely to take telepathic contact again without a bad reaction. You heard their voice first, then they were inside and taking over. We lost a lot of good officers that year, both to the battles and to the fallout after we won. Not everybody recovered, even after the things were removed."

"I'm sorry," Shivasta said softly. "There are races like that out there as well, unfortunately. People aren't nearly as reasonable as machines are, by Jay's accounts."

"Generally true," Marie nodded. "They know their purpose, they generally like their purpose if they're smart enough to care ... their logic is much easier to follow and if you ask them to do something they were designed to do, it's not very hard to get them to agree to."

"And they seem more fond of people who can contact them telepathically than ones who try to talk to them," Shi chuckled ruefully. "I'm seriously not a tech person."

"Some people aren't," Marie grinned at her. "It's not much different from the way some people aren't good fighters or people-oriented."

"You wouldn't believe how much teasing I've gotten from Jay and Fenrik both for it though," Shi chuckled. "Especially my utter lack of piloting ability."

"They're your mates," Marie winked at her. "It's part of their job."

"Mmm ... just lucky I'm not back home," Shivasta chuckled. "I'd probably have more of them than I know what to do with by now, and no real luck with half of them ... speaking of my mates, I think they've noticed I'm missing."

"You had best be going then," Marie smiled easily. "It's not good when they start to wonder."

"Mmm ... with these two, it just means that I expect to get pounced when I walk in finally," she chuckled, standing up. "Thank you for your help, Marie."

"You are welcome. Feel free to come by and talk any time you can escape." Her smile turned into a teasing grin. "Have fun getting reacquainted."

"Just make sure you tease him a little about it too, when you get the chance," Shi smirked back as she started to leave. "After all, you're his sister."

"And it is very much part of my job." Marie laughed. "I missed out on all the fun of him first falling in love too."

"Mmm ... personally, I'm going to call that a good thing," Shi smiled. "That was interesting enough all on its own without family teasing him." With that, she left, returning to her mates with a mental note that she would be there shortly.

Shivasta put her hand on Jay's shoulder as they paused outside the medical bay.

"Are you sure you're up to this just now?" She asked him softly. "We're going to be at Thurra in about one standard day."

"Better now than hunting him down after he's bolted." Jay nodded with a soft sigh. "He's terrified of Jedi capturing him."

"I don't blame him," Shi admitted. "I've run his record. Jedi or law enforcement, he's got one hell of a lot of legal trouble to answer for. You care for him, don't you?"

"Yes," Jay sighed and closed his eyes briefly. "He's not a bad person; he's just had employers who drew too much attention and a really short temper."

"And a string of murders and violent assaults longer than my arm," Shi pointed out. "But I understand. I'll break the bond and we'll see about getting him out of here safely. Is there a ship for him?"

"He can have Sharufa as far as I'm concerned." He shook his head with an uneasy chuckle, a little too aware that his own was significantly longer, just largely unrecorded as of yet. "Or the slaver's ship. He doesn't have one of his own yet."

"Just checking, since he'll probably want to be leaving as soon as it's feasible." Shivasta reached up, opening the door to the medical bay, smiling as she saw Vondra and Janos snuggled up with each other. Vondra blushed as the door opened, ducking her head a bit as the two Wolves were very nearly caught making out.

"We're here to take care of the bond between Janos and Jay," Shi explained.

"Take care of it?" Vondra looked between the two males and Healer uncertainly.

"If the bond isn't dissolved, it could have undesired effects for Jay when they're separated for a long time," Shivasta explained.

"And, no offense, but I'd rather not have the Jedi with a direct line to find me after I get out of this mess," Janos added. "Though I do have one question about it. Would it be possible to bond me to somebody else, instead of just breaking it?"

"I could manage that, assuming that that other party was willing," Shi nodded. "Probably be less painful for you too."

Janos turned towards Vondra, sitting up in bed and looking into her eyes.

"Think you'd be up for it?" He asked the white-furred shewolf softly.

"Yes ... but why?" She looked at him, every line of her barely clothed body uncertain and nervous about this thing she'd barely even heard of.

"I don't think it would affect you at all," Janos said, looking over at Shivasta for confirmation.

"Unless you're a sensitive and we haven't found out yet, it wouldn't," the Ice Walker nodded. "Not noticeably at least."

"But it would give me a way of making sure you're safe, and finding you if anything happened," Janos continued, caressing her cheek lightly as she settled and closed her eyes in pleasure at his touch. "I might not be good husband material, or even really good mate material, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let you get kidnapped by somebody again and not be able to know where to go to save you."

"I think you have shown to be good mate material." She murmured and pressed into his hand. "I will accept this bond, Janos."

"Thank you," he smiled, leaning down to kiss her gently as Shivasta smiled warmly.

"This should take some of the edge off the process too, I hope," she said. "So, are we all ready?" She asked, looking at Jay.

"As I'll ever be," he suppressed the quickly sharpening jealousy at what was between the Wolves and sat down nearby, willing to submit to Shi's skill and will once more.

"*He cares for you too, Jay,*" Shivasta told her mate mentally, sitting down between Kat and Wolf and focusing on their bond. Fenrik wasn't here, but he wouldn't need to be.

And frankly, Shivasta didn't want him here just now, given how he might react to Janos.

"*I don't let go easily, Shi.*" He murmured softly in reply, his eyes lightly closed and his head down somewhat in a posture of acceptance and deference to the Healer. "*Everything in me is demanding to bring him into the triad, no matter how impractical.*"

"*And if he doesn't want it?*" She pointed out, knowing that as much as Janos did care for Jay, it'd be a cold day in several Hells before he agreed to be bonded to three Jedi. She moved into Jay's mind, carefully finding the mental and emotional threads connecting them. It was much stronger than the bond between Jay and Mina, and would probably hurt Jay far more to break.

She heard the answer in his mind before he could censor himself.

'Kill him.'

Shivasta managed to keep her own reaction better under control than Jay's, and was devoutly grateful that Janos hadn't 'heard' it.

Jay had definitely slipped well into the Darkness, even if he wasn't showing it all the times.

She started to carefully untangle Janos' bond from Fenrik's, knowing that she had to be slower, more careful, about doing this than she had been with Mina's.

It helped a lot that Jay wasn't pushing for speed this time, and that she'd proven herself enough to him that he opened his mind to her efforts more readily. There were still very large parts of him, especially memories of the past half year, that were shielded on a whole new level, but they could wait for another time. They weren't entangled in the bond, at least not directly.

She strongly suspected she would regret needing to go into those parts of his mind too. The Darkness that licked from under the edges of some of the shields was unsettling enough.

She filtered out the anger and fear, focusing on what needed to be done, finding Vondra's mind. It was like trying to see a distant candle on a sunny day, but she managed, starting to redirect Janos' bond to her as it separated from Jay and Fenrik's. Fortunately, the new bond started to take form quickly, strengthening as she gave it more to work with, slowly peeled the growing layers of the connection between her mate and the Wolf off and sent the results over to the shewolf who had no idea what was going on behind the scenes.

It was soon difficult to focus on what she had to over the whimpers and raw pain that lanced its way through Jay's mind and body. Even the way his claws dug into his arms, which gave him some relief, made it more difficult for her.

Mercifully, it didn't seem to be nearly as painful for Janos, though he was putting up a brave front to hide what he was feeling, his jaw locked and grip on Vondra tight. She did what she could to sooth and distract him, even though she knew there wasn't likely much that could help.

Shivasta decided that their minds were close enough already; she brought her bond to bear, helping to soothe him and reinforce Fenrik's weakened tie, taking all the care she could afford to with the last stubborn remnants of Janos' bond to Jay.

They were being far more stubborn on Jay's end of things. His mind clung to the last few strands with the same tenacity that he did everything else he cared about.

Abruptly Fenrik's mind was there with intensely explicit reminders of just who really belong in that spot in the tom's mind and most of the resistance faded away quickly. Fading too, was Jay's strength to remain conscious for the last bit of the surrender, and the knowledge that it really might be better if he wasn't awake for it.

Just as Shivasta applied a little gentle pressure to his mind to follow that impulse the door opened for Fenrik, who's only focus was on his mate and the pain Jay was in. He spared her a bit of a dirty look for excluding him as Jay slumped into his arms and his attention was turned to gently licking the tears that had begun to seep from Jay's eyes.

She ignored it and quickly did the rest of the work to cement Janos' bond to Vondra and leave Jay's mind alone.

"Thanks," Janos said tersely, his jaw tight as the pain started to pass.

"Take care of each other," Shivasta said softly as Fenrik cradled Jay in his arms and stood to leave.

"Thank you," Vondra smiled warmly at Shi even as her manner shifted sharply to that of the noblewoman she'd been born as, though still minus most of the haughty airs. "Madam Healer. I am Vondra Santross. We have need of one of the ships on board this vessel; one capable of reaching Corellia with at least four passengers. My family will return it, or pay for it, on our arrival. We must leave soon though."

"If we can find sufficient crew, there's a small T'surr vessel available, that could carry you and your friends, and possibly others, to Corellia with ease," Shivasta said, not recognizing the full importance of her name. "The Sharufa is also available, though I'm sure Jay would prefer for that to be returned when it was ready."

"Sharufa would be best. I can promise its quick return." Vondra said easily. "The primary Temple on Coruscant, or another?"

"The main Temple," Shivasta nodded easily. "Are you sure you'll be up to piloting it?" She asked Janos, eyeing his still-healing wounds.

"Easier than it'll be with restraining cuffs on," he deadpanned. "Besides, we'll probably borrow one of the other pilots from the slave quarters before we get going. We'll turn him loose once we're at Corellia," he added quickly, catching Shi's dark expression.

"Or hire him for real if he's good," Vondra smiled easily. "Good pilots are hard to come by."

"That'll work," Shivasta smiled, standing up. "I'll leave you two be for a bit. Do you want to wait until Jay's recovered some?"

"Yes, to say goodbye," Vondra nodded when Janos hesitated.

"It'll mean a lot to him," Shi nodded. She stepped close to the bed, taking Janos' hand. "Thank you, for helping to keep him sane the past six months. You probably don't know just how much you did to keep him from being as bad as Mina."

"I think I've got an idea," the Wolf said softly. "You're welcome, and thank you for the help."

Shi backed off, bowing slightly before she turned to join Fenrik in taking Jay back to their quarters.

"He didn't want to take the chance that you might hurt Janos," she told the Panther softly.

"I'm not that jealous." He murmured, holding his mate close as the tom continued to sob despite being unconscious. "I'm just glad to have him back, and all ours again. We can finally sleep, and he can heal."

"I know you're not," Shi nodded as the door closed behind them. "But Jay's comfort was most important for this, as much as it could be managed. Besides, there was also the bit about turning a Dark Sider loose that he wasn't so sure you'd appreciate."

"He kept Jay fairly sane, I can turn a blind eye in exchange." He sighed and laid Jay on the large bed before stripping to join him. "Not something I'd normally do, but this is as far from normal as it gets."

"No kidding," Shi agreed with a sigh, stripping to join the two males. "I think Janos is going to make a turnaround, for what it's worth. Good sign for Jay too. Fenrik... just so you're aware of it, I have a feeling he's going to have one hell of a long list of things he's done, longer than we suspected."

"If it's longer than I expected, he's probably not redeemable." The Panther murmured and snuggled in close as Jay instinctively pressed close to him, the loss of his lover still drawing tears. "I've seen that temper at work in the field. This isn't going to be the first mass slaughter he's committed, just the first of them that can't be justified."

"I just hope you're wrong, for all I don't think you are," Shivasta sighed. "Gods, how are we going to explain this all to the Council?"

"Very carefully," he bent his neck to lick Jay's face dry again. "Look at it this way; he hasn't killed a Jedi yet. That's a lot more than can be said of most who go as Dark as he feels."

"That's assuming they believe that Kraken acted of its own volition," Shi pointed out softly, rubbing Jay's side lightly. "We still have to find the records of exactly what happened to explain that."

"Jay's best defense there is going to be the simple fact that anyone survived." Fenrik pointed out. "Kat doesn't do things half way, especially not killing. The Council can force him to tell the truth as well."

"True," Shi nodded. "Doesn't hurt that we'll basically be telling the Council that they were right about Kraken all those years ago either. He's going to hate himself when he finally comes down from everything."

"Yeah, that's going to be ugly." Fenrik sighed and closed his eyes to hold Jay tightly. "We'll just have to keep him close until he's stable again."

"Only thing to do," she nodded, reaching around to hug them both. "At least we found him in time."

"And didn't have to actually fight him." He added in a murmur.

"Definitely a good thing," Shi agreed, rubbing Fenrik's back and pressing close against Jay's, feeling his pain against her mind.

There were going to be a lot more nights like this one to come.

"You're acting much more like your old self," Janos smiled at Vondra a few minutes after the Jedi had left. "Or at least what I imagine your old self was like."

"I was never that ... authoritative." She blushed and ducked her head a bit, though she wasn't ashamed at all. "The youngest of six daughters learns to defer."

"Never had anybody else to compete with, myself," he smiled, nuzzling her cheek. "It suits you. So, looking forward to going home?"

"Yes," she smiled and stretched out a bit, giving him a touch and glimpse of the body he'd grown very fond of recently. "It will be good to be back, to see everyone again. It will be good to live like a Santross again."

"Mmm ... I've gotta say, it'll be a shame losing you like this," he rumbled, running his hand down her side lightly. "But at least you'll be back home, and it's not like we're never going to see each other."

"As my lover, you're the one that will share my bed most nights," she pointed out with a soft, lusty sound and traced a finger lightly down his chest to circle teasingly around the opening to his sheath.

"Mmm ... when I'm around, I can live with that," he rumbled, his shaft starting to harden in his sheath. He kissed her, feeling interested in more than just snuggling for the first time since Mina's attack a few days ago. "Not sure how all that works out; you'll have to fill me in some time."

"I will, but you'd never have to leave or work again if you don't want to." She smiled seductively and moved her hand down to lightly roll his balls while she kissed her way down his chest. "Just keep me happy."

"Mmm ... I don't know that I'd like being that kept," he chuckled, reaching down to rub her white-furred ears and the back of her lupine head. "Can't say I'd mind vacations never having to leave the room though," he winked, then groaned as her tongue found the entrance to his sheath and slipped in.

"I think we can manage to find enough excitement and independence for you without leaving my bed cold very often." She grinned at him and pressed her breasts together just above his balls. "You are, after all, a reasonably wealthy Wolf all on your own."

"Oooh... we'll have to see," he groaned, his cock slipping free of his sheath, towards her tongue. "After all ... mmm ... your kin might just want to send me packing yet."

"They can try." She growled softly and lapped at the sensitive flesh emerging towards her. "That bond is going to be worth a lot towards your good name."

"Mmm ... just don't want you getting captured again," he grunted, his shaft hardening quickly, thick and red as she took it into her hot, wet muzzle. "Oh yeah," he moaned, intimately aware of how much she enjoyed this particular game because of how much she perceived he enjoyed it.

"I don't think we're going to be much on traveling for a decade or two." She chuckled grimly at the simple truth. The family's fortune hadn't been impacted, but its greatest resource, its members, had been decimated even if everyone who survived was found. They wouldn't make themselves vulnerable like that again anytime soon.

"Mmm... then we won't need to worry about it," he rumbled, thrusting lightly between her breasts, caressing her head tenderly as she worked him with a skill that seemed to improve every time they were together. He couldn't even begin to describe the rush it was to feel her enjoyment and arousal at pleasuring him.

He couldn't miss her expectations either. That his thick cock would be deep inside her body before long to push her own arousal to orgasm.

Well, it certainly wouldn't do to disappoint her.

"Come up here," he rumbled, reaching down to take her shoulders and pull her up, kissing her hungrily as he rubbed his shaft against her sex, the two of them on their sides. He was so lucky that the medical beds on this ship were economy sized.

"Think you can roll over, handsome?" Vondra rumbled when she finally let his mouth go.

"Mmm ... which way?" He asked her with a lusty grin. "You want top, or me?"

"I want to ride my Wolf." She claimed another kiss. "On you back."

"Yes ma'am," he chuckled, rolling onto his back with a groan, some of his muscles still protesting, but most of his body more than eager to go along with his lover. The incentive to go along only increased as she straddled his hips and rubbed her wet sex enticingly along his shaft, making him even more slick for when she lifted up and guided him inside her hot, tight sex.

"Ohhh yesss." Vondra groaned deeply as she felt Janos fill her to her limit.

The Wolf beneath her reached up, fondling her breasts as he pressed deeper into her. He moved one hand to lean up and lick at her hard nipple hungrily, his velvety tongue working it skillfully as her pleasure washed across his mind and body.

She leaned forward a bit, groaning at his efforts to pleasure her and the effects of her efforts to pleasure him. Every movement, every moment, pushed her a little closer to the edge she was so hungry for after days without sex.

Janos, for his part, was completely unprepared for the intensity of feeling her pleasure across the bond. After the past few days, and with the new mental intimacy, it wasn't long before his knot swelled inside of her, tying them together as he moaned, pumping his seed into her sex. He almost whimpered when she leaned forward, putting a little more pressure along the knot's base and claimed a kiss before her body stiffened with a howl as she came.

He moaned into her mouth, practically melting against her body as his orgasm seemed to stretch on forever, fed by the pleasure he was feeling from her, his arms wrapped around her tightly as he readily accepted a new definition of bliss.

Jay stood near the entrance to the Kraken's docking bay as Janos ushered the last of the slaves he and Vondra would be delivering onto the Sharufa. Misha, Y'alla, and Tamil had already boarded, planning on staying with him for the time being.

He could tell that Janos was in pain, though he was hiding it well. Every movement showed that his muscles still hadn't fully recovered from being electrocuted. As a Fox hurried onto the transport, the last of the Core natives from the slaves that would be going home, Janos turned to face him, leaning back against the ship, then looked over at Vondra.

"You go make sure our pilot's getting the new course in," he told his lover softly. "I'll be right along."

"All right," she nodded with a goodbye smile for Jay and left the two alone. This was going to be one goodbye she didn't relish being part of and gratefully escaped from.

Janos stood a bit straighter and approached his one-time mate.

"So, this is about it?" He asked him needlessly. They both knew it would be.

"Yes," Jay murmured, desperate to convince himself that letting go was the right thing. It wasn't working nearly as easily now, face to face with the Wolf, than it was in Fenrik's arms. He took one step forward and reached out to brush a hand along Janos' cheek. "You're still in pain."

"I ah... overexerted myself a bit," Janos chuckled, clearly understating the issue. "Don't worry, it's just a couple days to Corellia from here. I've got it on good authority that I'll be able to rest as long as I want there. Just you wait; I'll end up getting bored and be back on the Rim in under a month."

"*That's what I'm afraid of.*" Jay shivered and gave in a little, stepping inside Janos' personal space for a searing kiss and pressed his body against his former mate's.

Janos accepted the kiss, embracing Jay briefly to return it, setting off all manner of reactions in Jay's mind ... but nothing across the mental space where their bond had begun to form in its own right and not as just an overlay of Fenrik's. Even so, it was incredibly difficult to let the space between them happen again.

"Don't worry about me," Janos said easily as they stepped apart slightly, or rather when he stepped back. "Even if I am out there again, I won't have to be doing any work that I don't think is gonna be fun, instead of work."

"Try not to fight another Jedi." Jay almost pleaded. "I don't want to see your name on the hunting list."

"Promise," Janos murmured, kissing Jay's cheek and found his mouth claimed again as Jay lost a little more of his fight to let go. "Unless they come after me first."

"They won't for this, or what you've done so far." Jay drew a deep breath, trying to convince himself to step back and failing. Instead he pressed closer and ran his hands along the Wolf's powerful body. "The Santross will protect you some ... helping me will shield you some too."

Janos pushed him back slightly.

"It won't if I take you with me again, you know," he pointed out gently. "I care for you Jay, but you know I can't stay."

"I know," he swallowed hard. "Giving up ... it's not something I do." He finally managed to keep himself from stepping forward again and dropped his eyes for a moment. "Without the bond ... makes me realize just how much I do care for you." He look up to meet the Wolf's gaze and brushed a hand along Janos' cheek. "Don't be a stranger to me?"

"I'll try not to," Janos promised, taking his hand and squeezing it lightly. "You're a good kat, Jay. You belong with your real mates."

"You've got a very good one in Vondra," Jay shifted his hand to grip Janos' in return. "Invite me to the wedding?"

"If there is one, I will," Janos nodded. "But she's several leagues out of mine, and the Santross family is one I don't want to butt heads with too firmly when they're only objecting to formalities."

"We'll see," Jay managed a bit of a smile. "I'll miss you."

"Miss you too, Jay," Janos smiled back a bit. "Maybe we'll meet again some time, without the psycho sadist bitch having her hooks in you."

"Perhaps we can meet again on Mantessa in a year?" Jay suggested hesitantly. "I don't know if I'll be allowed to come alone, but I can promise your safety from anyone who does come to keep an eye on me."

"Sounds good to me," Janos nodded with a bit of a smile. "I'll be sure to bring some panthac repellent."

"And a taste for hunting dinner." Jay gave him something of a wink, memories of many similar trips hot and fresh in his mind and he shifted forward for a last kiss. It was easier now, with a plan to make this farewell no longer the final one.

"Will do," the Wolf chuckled, kissing him again lightly, then stepping back towards the ship. "We'll make sure the Sharufa gets to the Temple safe and sound once we're on Corellia," he promised.

"Thank you," Jay murmured, reluctantly stepping back so the ship could take off. This wasn't quite as bad as seeing Fen or Shi off on a mission, but it wasn't much easier either.

"See you around, Jay," Janos said, stepping up onto the ramp and giving him one last wave before he started up onto the ship, the hatch closing behind him.

Jay told Sharufa to take good care of them and watched until the ship was out of sight in hyperspace.

"You'll see him again," Shivasta said softly, stepping in from the other side of the bay door and putting a hand on Jay's shoulder supportively. She'd be lying if she said she wasn't pleased that he leaned into the contact.

"Yeah, he's not a bad guy, once you get past his file." Fenrik added and slipped his arms around Jay's body to pull his back against his chest.

"Have you contacted the Council again?" Jay murmured, looking for another topic.

"Just long enough to send a report," Fenrik murmured, kissing Jay's neck softly. "They know where we're going, and they wish us luck, but we didn't go for a particularly long talk about things."

"Did you get a feel for how displeased they are?" Jay glanced up and back at the pair even as he melted in Fenrik's arms.

"Not really," the Panther admitted. "Though I have a feeling that the Kraken's attack is going to be a serious issue when we get back. Come on, let's get you calmed down. Not even a full day yet before we're in the system."

Jay simply nodded and accepted both the pending issue and the fact that his mates didn't want him to worry about it. There were more pressing matters to deal with.

Jay looked up from cuddling with the four kittens in the nursery, catching Shi and Fenrik's attention from paying attention to both father and daughters.

"We're here." He said simply and gently disengaged himself from his sharp-clawed daughters

"We are," Fenrik nodded. "We aren't picking up any serious life signs on Thule, but the clouds surrounding the world are heavily charged; scanners can't penetrate them."

Jay nodded and dropped his head a bit, his eyes closed as he turned all his attention inward, seeking the fine parental bonds he had with his kittens.

They were there, along with a seething pit of anger and hatred directed at the Light and all things related to the Jedi.

The Demon was more than eager to get onto the ground here. The entire world practically boiled with Dark Side energies that were most concentrated around his kittens. Mina had chosen a good place to hide.

Jay shuddered as he backed off a bit.

"We have a problem." He murmured even as he had the ship's comm system page his sister to put a meeting together. "Sith homeworld, only very much still alive."

"That's not possible," Fenrik said, shaking his head. "How could the Sith have established an active planet in a known system without us knowing about them?"

"The same way you hide a candle flame by lighting the room," Shivasta pointed out. "If Thule was already heavily shaped by Dark Side energies, it would be harder to notice the additional ones. Come on, let's collect Kanna and the others. We should probably leave Cormoran on the ship."

"He's a hell of a fighter already," Jay pointed out even as they left the nursery. "Marie is calling a meeting so we can plan this out a bit. It's almost more a Clawson mission now than a Jedi one."

"The decision is ultimately up to Kanna," Shi agreed. "And at this point, it is." She and Fenrik followed Jay to the meeting room, neither sure what sort of measures the family would resort to. When it came right down to it, they suspected there really weren't any limits.

"Yes," Jay nodded to both statements and caught a speeder to the meeting room. When they reached it, one of the large ones near the bridge, it was already crowded. Every Clawson was there, all thirty of them, in body armor and armed with an assortment of ranged weapons and devices that were clearly related to many of Jay's designs.

It was an impressive display, even to the seasoned Jedi. Kanna arrived shortly after they did, something in her expression suggesting a serious headache that she was hiding.

Shivasta knew how she was feeling, though it wasn't as strong for her. The negative emotions from the planet were practically palpable, even from this range. With Kanna's talent for seeing the Force, it was probably a lot like sitting next to a speaker turned up to the highest volume and set to throb at a bone-rattling frequency.

You could almost pick out which Clawsons were sensitives just by their overly aggressive demeanor right now. Thule was affecting them too, but on a much more subtle level.

"*A Clawson sensitive would have grown up knowing they were even more special, and powerful, than the rest of the family. The front line in our wars, the best at their jobs ... they'd be the aggressive ones no matter what.*" Jay told the other Jedi silently as the room fell to order without a single noticeable reason.

Marie was the immediate focus of the entire gathering, though the Jedi recognized that she wasn't the mission leader in the manner of those in the room. That fell to Jay and Jennie.

"We have found our kittens," Marie said simply and forcefully, her personality holding the group together as expressions went both grim and joyful. "This world is Omega central and we have to go into the heart of it."

Shivasta and Fenrik exchanged subtle glances; with that one statement, from what they knew about the Clawsons, Marie had just justified shooting first and not bothering to ask questions.

"*Did she just declare a small war on Thule?*" Fenrik asked Jay silently.

"*Only if they shoot first.*" The tom replied grimly. "*We do not slaughter the helpless. It is not our way, even in times of war.*"

"Mina is not to come out alive." Jennie stood and took center stage. "We have next to no intel, but these creatures are incredibly dangerous if the Jedi are to be believed at all. This is not, however, our war to fight." She paused to lock eyes with each person there. "This is a seek, destroy and retrieve mission only, not an invasion."

Shi and Fenrik relaxed once they heard that, settling back to hear the rest of the briefing.

"Jedi, do you wish to join us on this mission?" Jennie focused on the three not related to her.

"We do," Shivasta nodded. "We have some knowledge of the locals that may prove useful."

"Very well. You will join Jay, myself and Teris," she motioned to a slender chocolate-furred tom in his early forties and heavy with the Force. "We are the main search team. "Shadow, Grace and their partners are our sniper backup. Six teams will provide air support and the rest are sweepers to keep things quiet while we hunt. Questions?"

"None," Fenrik said, knowing that all three of them were familiar with this style of mission, though not typically this scale.

"Very well." She nodded. "SWAT scramble!" She raised her voice in the traditional call to arms for her kind.

The three Jedi were on their feet along with the rest, following Jay as they made their way to the ships they would be using to land on the planet. It was immediately apparent that the Clawsons came from a very different military culture. Everyone, even the rescue team, went down in two-person black fighters with gold and red trim that felt much like Jay's lightsabers and Glovatrix -- like the Force made solid.

A pilot and gunner were in the cockpit, while those being dropped off were in the bomb bay of the jets, a place that held vehicles as well as weapons and was clearly designed with people in mind too. It also broke the laws of physics even more than Jay's Glovatrix.

There wasn't a transport of any kind among them, and no one flew solo. The next thing that hit the Jedi were just how free these people were with their use of Force, and how completely unorthodox it felt in use. It was much like Jay, early on. He'd toned it down and learned how Jedi use the Force since, but they had no compunctions about using any tool at their disposal freely.

Jay was with Fenrik in one fighter's bomb bay, the kat's excitement at getting to ride in one of these jets almost palatable. The eight-year-old kitten was back and bright-eyed, innocent and eager once more, even if only for a few moments.

The Panther had to wonder if there was any chance they'd be willing to leave one behind in exchange for some of Jay's designs; he was sure it'd be weeks before the middle-aged tom came out of the hangar if they were. Just seeing him this excited about them made it likely that it would do wonders for him; give him something to focus on while the Dark Side bled away a bit and he could exist more comfortably among the Jedi.

The power of their liftoff made them both brace a bit against the abrupt shift in momentum.

"It won't be long now, Jay," Fenrik promised him. "We'll get them back, then things can get back to normal."

"Eventually," he murmured over the soft rumble of powerful engines and leaned against his mate. "Hard to believe it's only been half a year."

"Feels like ten times that long," Fenrik agreed, leaning back against him as the ship rattled in the ever-present storms surrounding Thule. "What did they tell you?"

"About what?" Jay looked up at him, fingering his Glovatrix that resonated with the Force so much like these fighters.

"That led to that message back to the Council," Fenrik clarified. "They had you thinking the Order had turned on you."

Jay paused, dredging up memories that seemed a lifetime old. "They said that Shi was worried about it happening, and had them promise to take care of me if anything happened to her. That I was too dangerous and they'd finally decided to do something about me. That they'd tricked you into attacking us and you were under their sway, not believing that the Order would hurt me. Between the bonds almost snapping and them in those places, I thought you were both dead, I wasn't really in a state to really think it through."

"Explains being worried about what they'd do to you too," Fenrik murmured, hugging Jay lightly. "We'll get through it now."

"Yes," he shivered slightly, still very uneasy about going back, though he wasn't fighting it anymore. He'd let running again go when he'd let Janos go the day before.

"Get ready, we're in position for the drop." The pilot's voice came over the comm link.

The two toms shifted into position quickly, getting into the mission mindset they were so familiar with.

"Ready," Fenrik replied. "Are we getting any attention from the locals?"

"Plenty," the pilot replied grimly. "Air and ground. Work fast or there are going to be serious casualties. We can only be so gentle with these people without endangering ourselves."

"We'll work fact," Fenrik agreed with equal seriousness as the bomb bay opened to reveal the buildings of Thule's only city beneath them, several units of troops massed and waiting for them.

This was going to be messy, however it worked out.

"*Good time to put Master Zraii's mods to work,*" Shivasta told her mate, knowing that she'd have to remind the Panther to keep him from simply slaughtering them alongside Jay.

"*Right.*" He nodded and caught Jay moving from the corner of his eye.

Jay, for his part, was locked onto the location of his kits and dove out of the hovering jet as he lit all four of his blades, all but heedless of everything else.

Fenrik followed him, his own white blade gleaming and crackling with the new modification. They landed in the midst of a unit of Thulium troops, a practical hail of blaster fire greeting them as they plummeted towards them. Fenrik started striking out at the troops, most of them collapsing, stunned by the electrical feedback they weren't prepared for.

Fortunately, it seemed the troops weren't nearly as prepared for Jedi as they'd thought they were.

They certainly weren't prepared to face a borderline psychotic one with four blades out to kill, or the way his cousin used the Force to create fireballs and arch lightning across the battlefield with disturbing ease.

The door at the base of the building was carved open without any effort, and Jay, Fenrik, and the Clawsons were on their way in. Shivasta and Kanna met up with them shortly afterwards, cutting through side doors to meet them.

The Triad were the first three to burst through the door of the central room. Shivasta and Fenrik were greeted with a blast of Force Lightning strong enough that it threw them both physically back into the hall, bowling Kanna and a number of the Clawsons over.

"I knew you'd find me here, Jay," Mina purred, holding both their kittens in one arm, the other extended towards Jay at the entrance. "Do you think I made a good choice?"

"You won't leave with them," he countered evenly, his lightsabers deactivating abruptly. "Your army is no match for my kin."

Almost no one noticed the way Jennie carefully stood and began to weave the Force around her into something invisible but potent.

"Mmm... technically, they're not mine, I'm just borrowing them for a bit. "Though I really don't need them to handle the Clawsons here. Thule protects its own, you see, particularly those with the Demon's help."

She got no further as Jennie's Force-energy ripped across the space between them to freeze time itself for a brief moment around the shecat. A moment just long enough for Jay to bolt forward and grab one kitten, his hands burning from crossing the barrier before it fell apart.

Mina didn't say a word, just hit him with a blast that sent him flying back against the wall, clutching their son to his chest protectively.

"Clever, but stupid," she snarled as she saw Jennie preparing to use another 'spell.' The next blast broke any semblance of concentration the shekat had, fur and armor singed by the raw Dark Side energy made manifest.

"Listen to me, Jay," Mina growled, her face barely masking the very real physical pain she was feeling inside. "I could just kill each and every one of you now. Instead, I'm going to offer you a little deal. You take our son and go. Our daughter will be my apprentice, once she's old enough. You're getting three to my one; I'd say that's more than a fair split in custody."

"*She's killing herself,*" Shivasta told Jay mentally. "*I can practically watch her power tearing her up inside.*"

"*Remind me not to stick my hand across a spell again,*" Jay asked Shi, his mind in intense pain itself from the smoldering fur and shattered flesh that had cross the barrier for his son.

Then he closed his eyes briefly and glanced at Jennie, who nodded.

"Agreed." Jay told the mother of his kittens softly.

"Good," Mina smirked. "I guess Tembrys was right about you being a genius after all." She turned to start making her way towards a window. "Now get off of my -"

She didn't have the chance to finish her sentence before a plume of red burst from her chest, her body falling back as her legs fell out from under her, the sharp retort of the sniper rifle reaching them only after the bullet had done its work. Everything seemed to move in slow motion, Jay and Jennie both starting forward as Tessra fell towards the ground. Shivasta was the first one to reach her, the Force wrapped around her body, blurring her motions as she snatched up the infant before she could be hurt.

Mina's body fell to the floor with a dull thud, her eyes wide in disbelief, her breathing shallow as she bled out, a growing pool of dark crimson on the floor beneath her, flecks of black inside it betraying the level of damage the Dark Side had already done to her body.

"Thank you," Jay whispered, his body shaking in pain as he took his fourth kitten into his arms and held her tightly, nuzzling her for a long moment before Jennie took the pair and called in the pickup.

"You're going to let me look at those hands once we're on the fighter," Shivasta said firmly, with all the weight of her Healer's rank as Fenrik, Kanna and Teris dealt with the remaining military forces outside the door until they could get inside and lock it.

"Yes, ma'am." Jay murmured, almost sheepishly.

"Head for the roof," Jennie informed them simply. "We'll be picked up there."

Shi, Kanna, and Fenrik exchanged glances, then nodded in agreement. Fenrik's blazing white lightsaber stopped crackling as he switched it to its normal mode, and the three Jedi went to work carving the shortest possible path to the aforementioned roof.

The Sith might have reinforcements on the stairs, but they wouldn't have them in every room along the way.

Teris stopped them after a couple stories. "Allow me." He said smoothly and pulled the Force around them before sending a huge bolt of energy skyward, blasting a hole in the roof several yards wide. He then focus on the ground and lifted all 5 of them up on a translucent circle of solid Force energy.

"Your kin definitely don't wield the Force the same way we do," Kanna observed. "Is this the tradition you developed in your galaxy?"

"As much as we'll ever develop of one," Jay nodded. "It's a lot simpler than anything around here."

"I think it'd be best if we waited to compare notes until after we're out of here," Fenrik pointed out, tossing a few soldiers that came to see about the noise out of the way. "Please tell me those fighters we came in are prepped for a space fight on the way back?"

"Always," Jennie grinned viciously, though her care of the kittens in her arms was never far from the front of her mind. She even shifted to shield the newborns from the buffeting of the jets coming down. "If they manage to scrape anything together for that."

"Call it a hunch, but I think they scraped it together," Fenrik frowned, pointing out an approaching transport bristling with guns. "Let's move people!"

The group split up, Fenrik going with Jennie and Teris into one fighter, Shivasta following Jay onto another as blaster fire starting to rain down towards them.

Then the transport found itself the target of a half dozen sleek black fighters, two of which lined themselves up from top and bottom and slammed right threw the ship with black energy crackling around them as they cut it in three even pieces.

More ships were already scrambling to meet them as the fighters took off for the atmosphere, but the battle was already a foregone conclusion. The Thulian military was prepared for fighting mass battles in space, not dogfights in their own atmosphere.

By contrast, it was exactly the sort of fight that the Clawsons were best prepared for.

"Hold on, we're engaging Speed of Heat." The pilot in the jet holding Jay and Shi called to them over the comm a moment before they were thrown against the back of the bomb bay.

"Okay, whatever this Speed of Heat is, I officially don't like it anymore," Shi muttered to herself as she picked herself up off the floor where she'd fallen. "So, think you're up to showing me those hands?"

Jay could only nod and held his hands out. The skin, where it still existed, was blistered and black; in several spots she could see charred bone where the ravaged flesh was gone.

"Holy...." Shivasta bit her lip, shaking her head. "I'd ask what you were thinking, but I already know. Never do something like this again, Jay." She held her hands near his, trying to do what work she could to heal them, but it wasn't much.

"*Didn't know it would happen.*" He managed to tell her telepathically, his body in far too much pain to really speak.

"I can't do much more than start the healing," she said softly. "The tissue damage is incredible... you'll probably want to be on some pretty heavy painkillers for a few days, at best."

"Yes." He nodded as the pain subsided some. "Can they be fixed?"

"Over time, some of it can be," she nodded. "But I'm afraid I'd have to recommend seeing Master Kalin about having the palms replaced," she added with a shudder.

"Cybernetics aren't that bad." He murmured.

"I know," she admitted. "I just don't like suggesting it, you know that. Just at least give me until we're back to decide, and preferably a second opinion."

"Sure," he mumbled, closing his eyes briefly as they set down on board the Kraken with a light thump.

Shi paused for a moment, then decided it was worth the chance.

"Jay, if I can deaden the pain until you get something to take it out more normally, will you promise not to do anything that'll need fine manipulation until we do get you something?"

"Deal," he gritted his teeth as a fractional movement shot pain through his body.

She reached out through the Force, touching the exposed flesh and nerves, putting them to sleep without affecting the rest of his body - but practically killing the feeling in his hands in the process.

"That should last long enough for the painkillers to help," she explained as he slumped forward in the sudden relief.

"Thanks," Jay mumbled and struggled to his feet when the bomb bay opened.

"Marie wants to see you," the tabby tom motioned towards their ship.

"Right," Jay nodded and headed for the sleek flying wing design of the main ship, careful of his hands least he do even more damage.

Shivasta was close behind him, ready to handle anything he had to touch, keeping a close eye on his mind to try and catch his intent to do so before he could act on it and hurt himself. Fortunately, he was very aware of the state of his hands and used his mind, either by command to the ship or by telekinesis, to deal with anything he had to touch.

"Ah," Marie looked up at him as they entered the small medical facility on board. "Are your injuries healable here?"

"Possibly, but not easily," Shivasta told her. "I would take quite a bit of work, or technology we don't have yet. Bacta isn't quite up to the level of damage I saw."

"We can repair the damage, if you are willing to stay with us a couple weeks." She offered evenly. "It is not an unknown injury to us."

"Are you willing to let me observe, perhaps learn the techniques involved?" Shi asked, realizing the question was directed at her as much as, if not more than, Jay.

"You are welcome to observe," the older woman nodded easily and motioned to Jay to lie down on one of the three beds. "It uses our family Gift; I would be surprised if you could learn it."

"What a Furlong won't do," a deep brown shekat in her late twenties shook her head as she came out of the corner of the room to examine Jay's hands. "You made a mess of yourself. "

Shivasta simply waited silently and watched. Frankly, as far as she was concerned, Jay deserved every ounce of healer-scolding he got.

"Have you learned how to convert material to flesh?" Zaxie asked him evenly.

"A little ma'am." He nodded meekly. "I did some work on my ear."

She nodded and shifted her attention to the still-missing flesh, running her fingers along the smooth edge. "It's a start," she agreed. "I can fix that too, if you wish."

"Yes," he murmured and closed his eyes briefly.

"Then lets get to work on those hands so you can sleep tonight." Zaxie turned away to pull a handful of lightly metallic flakes from a drawer that opened for her and sprinkled them across his left hand before focusing on the area, melting them into his flesh. "Try to help out, it will go better. You know your body better than I do."

"Yes, ma'am." Jay agreed submissively.

"Master Shivasta, would you happen to have a good quality three dimensional image of him before all this damage?" Zaxie looked at the elder healer.

"Technological, or would shared mental suffice?" Shivasta asked, knowing the reaction to telepathy without permission wouldn't be particularly good. "I'm not sure about the first, the second I could offer quickly and be out without doing any harm."

Zaxie looked between her leader and Jay nervously, the idea of letting another person into her mind setting her on a razor's edge.

"She's one of us," Jay said softly. "An oath-bound Healer. It's safe."

Despite the assurances, the younger shekat shook her head. "Try to find a technological one, please. I'll ... think about the other if you can't."

"I understand," Shivasta nodded easily.

"*Fenrik, do we have any saved holos of Jay that can be viewed by mixed company?*" She asked the Panther. "*The more recent the better?*"

"Is there anything you can do about the scarring on his face, if he wants?" She asked Zaxie while waiting for Fenrik's response.

"I meant that as part of the ear," she explained a little sheepishly. "It's clearly the same wound."

"I knew," Jay murmured. "It's warrior shorthand."

"I'm sorry," Shi said, lowering her head a little bit in apology. "You'd think I'd know it a bit better myself, by now."

"*I found a couple.*" Fenrik got back to her, something in his mind-voice very thoughtful and almost painfully attached to what he was now holding. "*Where are you?*"

"*The Clawson flagship. Is something wrong?*" Shi asked curiously, knowing that he wasn't with the kits just now and at a loss as to what else could inspire such feelings.

"*Just an old cat's foolishness.*" He shook his head. "*I'll be there in a few minutes.*"

"*Whatever it is, we'd probably both think it was sweet, not foolish,*" Shi replied with a soft smile.

"We'll have pictures here in just a couple minutes," she explained. "Fenrik managed to find some."

"Good," Zaxie nodded and turned her full attention to melding the metallic flakes into Jay's hands, creating a kind of protective layer for the badly damaged flesh. "Reconstructive work is always easier with references."

"Especially doing it like this," Shivasta murmured with a nod, watching the work in the Force and finding she couldn't understand it any better than she could anything Jay did. On the other hand, it meant there was a good chance he could understand it if necessary.

The minutes until Fenrik's arrival passed in silence; Shi watching in frustrated fascination, Jay watching in comprehension and helping with what he could, and Zaxie putting her full natural talent to work on his mangled hands.

"Force!" Fenrik drew all of their attention to him when he entered the room and saw Jay's hands under good light for the first time.

"From reaching across that barrier," Shi explained quietly. "We need the pictures to help Zaxie fix the damage."

"Right," he nodded and produced a holocube from his robes. "It can show them life-sized, but you might get more information directly from the cube." He explained and offered Zaxie the small object, both the other Jedi in the room now very curious as to why he could be so attached to some pictures.

"Isn't that the cube I started just after we met?" Jay looked at the object curiously as Zaxie accessed it directly and got what she needed.

"Uh-hu," Fenrik mumbled and only just managed to avoid ducking his head.

She smiled and reached over to take his hand. She had a similar cube of her own, though it was back at the Temple just now. Jay had given it to her years ago, with a number of moments from their relationship that meant the most to him. He kept updating them, frequently without mentioning it, as time or moments happened.

"*Told you I'd think it was sweet,*" she told Fenrik mentally.

"*Jedi shouldn't be that attached to things,*" he reminded her, feeling a bit guilty about it.

"Jay, are any of these actual recordings and not your memories?" Zaxie looked up at the injured tom.

"The first one, the five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty and forty anniversary, my knighting, Master Artisan and Form confirmation portraits." He nodded.

"Good," she murmured and went after those.

"*It's not the thing you're attached to,*" Shi pointed out. "*It's what it represents, the memories. The thing just contains a few reminders. I feel the same way, it's why I didn't bring it with me on the original mission.*"

"*True,*" he murmured, watching the healer without any Force sensitivity he could detect work on his mate's hands, slowly adding metallic flakes until there was a solid coating melted into the shape of hands. It was obvious she was using power, decades of watching Jay work had taught him well what the Clawson Gift looked like in action, it just wasn't the Force as he knew it.

"Do try not to use your hands," Zaxie told Jay sternly with a look at his mates to make sure they'd heard as well. "For now, see your kittens, get some rest, and we'll work on this more in the morning."

"And yes, that does mean you're going to let us take care of you tonight," Shi pointed out quietly to Jay as they made their way out of the ship.

"Yes, ma'am." Jay murmured, half submissive, half teasing.