My Pillar, My Beacon

Chapter 26

"You're taking Mission on this...mission?" Carth demanded, narrowing his eyes in thought. "She's a little young."

"She handled getting the accelerator back well. She slices better than I do. She's small. She's fast. She's sneaky. And she's probably not on any database for a facial recognition hit... and if we're taking her with us, it's time she earned her passage." She understood his reservations, but this was real. If Mission was the best/only one for it, then she'd take Mission. "I don't want to have to rescue you. Or Bastila, again."

"And I'd prefer to not have to rescue you, ever." He punctuated the statement with a finger into her shoulder, just short of painful.

"I can't make that promise." She muttered, and he shook his head. "And you've done it once already."

"Not comfortable with the idea of sending you into a Sith base. Not comfortable with the idea of sending Mission with you into a Sith base. Sarah..." He plowed on, ignoring the statement as if she'd never spoken it. She already owed him her life. And Bastila owed him... how could Sarah have rescued a woman she didn't remember in the first place? Mission owed both of them, equally. The only one who didn't owe...was Carth.

"Tell me my other options." There weren't any. She knew that, he knew that.

"There aren't any." He finally admitted, defeated, his shoulders bowing under the weight of his thoughts. She wished she could something, anything, to ease his very valid doubts. "Carth..."

"Don't you Carth me." He snapped, pulling her into his arms. He was big, solid, sturdy, comforting, safe. "Sarah. Please."

"We're out of time." There was no way in hell she wasn't going to take every single chance she had, it was time to risk everything now. The thought of just sitting around waiting for another Telos to come raining down on her head...on his head...no. She couldn't handle it.

"I know." He whispered. "I know. Just please, be careful...for me."

"Of course." She lied. To get him what he wanted, what he deserved, required her to be at her best. And that threw careful right out of the equation, she was going to be razor edged and bold...for him. It was the only way he was going to survive this. It was the only way that any of them were going to survive this. It would help if Bastila would stop with that measuring, narrow eyed stare... "You have a better idea?"

"No, Sarah, I do not." The younger woman finally stated after a long and thoughtful pause. What are you thinking? Sarah wondered, but only got an inscrutable gaze in return. Well, that one was the Jedi...Sarah was not.

"I'm going to go find Mission. You two stay put." Sarah sighed, shaking her head. It was hard to avoid Carth's eyes, she felt them firmly planted on her, but she had to. There was too much of a chance he might actually sway her...and she couldn't allow that.

"Good luck." He offered it up softly, and she bit her lip to remind herself to keep from looking at him.

"Thanks. Bastila." The name fell with a definitive note of command that surprised the hell out of her.

"Yes...Sarah?" Bastila's voice was still distant, still cautious. Sarah wished she could remember exactly what their relationship had been, what it was supposed to be now. The younger woman stood off to the side, her arms folded over her ample chest, her dark gray eyes never leaving Sarah's face. It was vaguely disconcerting, but Sarah was too proud to let her know that, if possible.

"Take care of him for me."

"I will. I promise you, Sarah. I will take care of Captain Onasi for you, until you return to do it yourself." It fell with a solid, binding weight and Sarah nodded. "Now, go do what you have to."

Time to go get this done. She breathed out, striding away from the pair... feeling their eyes focused on her, Carth's brown ones, Bastila's gray ones. She felt the swagger in her own step, the sway of her hips, the purpose in every inch of her body. By the time she'd hit the door out of the cantina, she was focused, cold, determined.

"Mission, you're with me." Sarah stated in that odd tone that seemed to be imminently agreeable to everybody it was unleashed upon. If it worked, then she would use it. It also seemed to do the trick on Mission, who nodded immediately, rising to her feet and checking her weapons. The Beks hideout was still quiet, most of the residents trying to recuperate from the previous night's party. Mission had been slouched in a corner, reading... Sarah's new datapad. Sarah made a mental note to not put anything interesting in it, since privacy seemed to be an issue with this one.

"Sure. What are we doing? And where's everybody else?"

"We're on our own for this one. And our first step is to go upside and pick up a droid. Do you know how to get upside without playing dodge the Sith?" Sarah would bet that she did...

"Of course." The young twi'lek wrinkled her nose at the idea that she might not know a way. "There's no way to completely lock down a place like this, Sarah. Come on, I'll show you."

It was not an easy path, and Sarah was left wondering how Mission could manage to get Zaalbar through this, and thankful that the racing gear she still wore helped her slide through some pretty tight places. The first left her wondering if this was some sort of joke or test, and the second merely reminded her she was about to pop up in the Upper City wearing stuff that left nothing...whatsoever...to the onlookers' imaginations. Both could be at least indirectly blamed on Mission, and Sarah sighed. "So, we're going to buy a droid?" The twi'lek asked, sliding sideways down a pipe access-way. "Careful, it's kind of tight here."

"Well," Sarah sighed, sucking in her belly and wriggling through. "That's the first thing we're doing today."

"And the second thing we're doing today?"

"Breaking into the Sith base."

Mission laughed outright, but it petered out when Sarah didn't so much as smile in response. "You're serious? Are you crazy? Where's Devid?"

"You think you could fit him down this?" If there were places down this miserable access-way where Sarah had to hold her arms over her head so that she could slide through, there was no way in hell, ever, that Carth could pass through here. He was not a small man, by any stretch of the imagination.

"No. He's... pretty big. Not like fat big. Just...big. Upper City big."

Well fed and healthy big, his homeworld had been a prosperous, lush planet before Malak's fleet had bombed it into ruins. "Uh huh." Sarah muttered,wondering mildly if Mission ever just took pause for a breath. For a thought. For a moment to just stop talking.

"But you...you're not Upper City big. You're like us."

Again, Sarah sighed. So many ways to go with that, the first was insult. The second was a pretty pointed statement that Mission, at least, was not going to stay 'like us' for much longer. It was a delusion, full blown puberty was panting at her heels. She'd be much more like Bastila than Sarah in another couple of years... "Uh huh." She repeated, wondering how many of them it would take before Mission caught on.

"Does he know what you've got planned?" Doubt colored Mission's words, and she glanced over at Sarah. "I mean, he loves you. He wouldn't just let you go do this, right? He cares."

He does, indeed. "It's got to be done, Mission." For him. For Sarah. For Bastila, and yes...for Mission. She was clueless, but that changed nothing.

"No! It doesn't! It's stupid. It's suicide! I won't..."

I can't let you do this, Mission. I won't let you back out of this. I won't. You have got to do this. Sarah glared at her, putting every ounce of willpower and resolve behind the stare. Why she thought that would work, why it didn't even really compute that it might not, she wasn't sure. All she knew was it would, and it had to be done.

Mission jumped like she'd been slapped, her wide, dark eyes jumping to Sarah's face. "I..."

Can do this. And you will.

"I can do this. I will do this." Mission sounded hesitant, uncertain, before she shook her head violently. "I mean, yeah. It can be done, sure."

"Of course it can be. And we'll do it." Sarah repeated with a long, slow breath.

That was dirty. That was wrong. But it had to be done, it's in her best interest as well. Carth's. That makes it valid.


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