The final written chapter of Different Rules!
Stepping back out of the trance, she closed her eyes and began to chant. Her grandmother had taught her this spell first in her training. She opened herself to her brother and felt his mind touch hers. E’Ren had not been trained in the ways of Sorcery as Xing had been, but as soon as their minds melded it did not matter. Their minds one, the Zhu twins delved into the human’s subconsciousness. Deep in their trance, neither noticed the prisoner’s convulsions as the forced will from the Arian rulers was enforced upon his mind.
The illusion cracked and the information flowed over the twins’ minds. Galaxy charts, some random schematics for ship parts including some brief glances at newer hyperdrives, all thinks that would assist them and their ‘guizu lun zhe’, if she chose that path. Backing down once more to gather strength, the twins made the final push.
They were two fighters to the human’s one. The Arian twins followed him, shooting past his ‘shields’ to break into his ship and decimate it. Somehow though, the human launched another one of his ‘drones’ and caught E’Ren’s ship full on. With the explosion of E’Ren’s ‘ship’ came the pain and backlash of being forcibly ejected from the human’s mind.
On the physical plane, E’XingXin awoke with a start and had to hustle to keep her brother from beheading the human prisoner. Lightsaber lit, she countered E’Ren’s attack. The two sabers crossed and hissed above the prisoner’s head, E’XingXin looked into her brother’s hate filled eyes.
“Why do you stop me?” He demanded, “The human is useless now, we have what we need.”
Xing shook her head, “No, brother. He has but another use. We might know what is in the galaxy, but we still yet do not know the way there.”
E’Ren held his position a moment longer then stepped back, deactivating his lightsaber. “What are you suggesting then?”
Xing shut down her saber as well and called for one of her solders. He came in carrying a tray from which she picked up an item so small E’Ren had to step in close to see what it was.
“Ah, a tracking chip. Very well sister, shall I leave you to your work?”
E’XingXin nodded her assent. “If you would contact our ‘friends’ that we are willing to further our relationship, now would be a good time.”
“As you wish.”
Sighing, E’Xing took the needed scalpel from the still proffered tray and prodded the human with the toe of her boot. Satisfied that he wouldn’t be putting up a fight, she crouched over him and inserted the scalpel into the middle of his back, just off the left side of the spine. Dabbing away the blood that oozed out the wound, Xing carefully inserted the chip under the human’s skin. After using the scalpel to assure the chip was placed correctly she held a hand over the wound and summoned the Force to heal the flesh wound. To the common eye, the wound would not even show, the only evidence being the small tear in the human’s flight suit.
Smiling over the still somewhat trembling human, Xing smiled. “Now you may run, human, but you cannot hide. Not for long.”
Standing she strode out of the cell and ordered the guard to change more often. Also she comned Commander Jiang with a somewhat peculiar order but one that she knew would be followed. Jiang knew better than to defy her, even if he did not fully understand her plan.
What had the human done?
The twins rushed out into the corridor. As they became distinctly aware of the severity of the disturbance, the Fabric guided them toward the disruption. E’Ren had expected they’d be nearing the detention area, but as they turned into a wide open area, the Regents found themselves in the last place E’Ren had expected the prisoner to be able to make it to: the hangar!
“Your skill in the healing arts must be improving greatly, my sister,” E’Ren said to the woman beside him. “If he made it this far on his own power.”
Xing only shook her head, as she walked farther into the hangar. The general had focused in on something that E’Ren’s politically oriented mind had dismissed almost before glancing at it: the carnage. There were two bodies on the ground, one dead, and one injured and unconscious.
“He had help,” E’XingXin said softly. “His droid.”
E’Ren noted his sister’s emotions. She was upset by the death of the soldier; his sister had always had a soft spot for her followers. He briefly considered using one of the more powerful techniques he had learned, but dismissed it. Even if he could pull it off, there was more benefit in leaving the human alive than killing him.
Xing sensed much of her brother’s feelings, and his conclusion, and her quills bristled. “He killed him, E’Ren,” she said, anger filling her voice. “The human killed him.”
“Yes, my sister, but the plan does not change.” E’Ren was wary; it was not a good idea for one to stand up against his sister. No more than it was a good idea for one to stand up against him. “He is of more use to us alive than dead.”
E’Ren’s twin sister drew her hand back, her talons tensed to draw blood. The Commander in Chief’s wings flapped, and her tail rattled quietly. She looked into her brother’s eyes, and hesitated.
“We will find him, XiXi,” The Warlord assured her. “He will pay.” The words sounded so much like those he would say to his nobles, but both of the Zhu twins could feel the true difference in them. When Zhu E’Ren spoke to his sister, he was honest.
“You’re right, DiDi,” she said, composing herself. She folded up her wings, and looked toward the sky.
The normally cruel and merciless warlord put an arm around his sister’s shoulder. Arian physiology was not made for much in the way of physical contact- spikes on their arms made sure of that, and the unusual way they were born did much to remove the physical need most mammals felt. Still, E’XingXin took comfort in what, for their people, was a very affectionate gesture.
She sighed, a gesture that took place more on the pores of her scalp than her mouth. The damned humans could not come to Aria without destroying something.
Maybe today would be their last chance to visit. The thought brought a toothy smile to her face.
Xing looked on as her fighters chased the Human out of the system. Her gaze grew cold as the ship winked out of normal space and into hyperspace. She nodded at her brother’s statement and added her own sentiments.
“The droid, Didi…” She said with threat dripping from her voice. “We assumed that it was worthless. We underestimated it. And if it wasn’t for that meddling droid, we’d have succeeded and not have had to resort to our back up plan.”
E’Ren nodded his assent. “Still, with what you foresaw sister, I wonder why you would bother planting the tracking chip. You know the human will disable it.”
“Indeed, but we do have a starting point.” E’XingXin replied. To her brothers inquisitive look she continued, “I trust you made contact with our friends? Good.”
E’Ren looked at his sister oddly, this was a side he had only seen once before. It was the same determined, focused and to one that did not know her frightening look and attitude that presented itself when the Mandalorians invaded. It was a strength that showed what Xing was truly made of. It made him proud to watch his sister blossom into the trained warrior that brought honor to their family and their species.
E’XingXin took out her comn and spoke with Commander Jiang. As she did so, a primal smile spread across her face. It piqued E’Ren’s curiosity and he cocked his head at his sister. She looked fairly victorious as she broke the news in a quiet voice.
“The human has given us far more than he has realized, my brother. We have a vector into a bigger world. Now is the time to advance our plans. Now, my brother, we have a way to fight back.”
This time it was E’Ren who shared the predator’s smile. He knew his faith in his sister was not misplaced. “You planned for the human to flee.”
“Yes, he was far to stubborn to outrightly give us the information we wanted. However, he underestimated us in the information he gave us.” Xing explained to Commander Jiang, “Information he viewed as minor was more than enough to collaborate with Lady Katanra’s information. Combined with the hyperspace vector you captured we now have a way to pay an ‘encouraging’ visit to our allies.”
Jiang bowed to E’XingXin, “As you command, wo de Zhu. Will we be away long?”
Xing shook her head, “I will be gone as long as it requires, but my brother and myself will visit privately with our friend until our agreement is reached.” She smiled wryly, “I think the humans and any others are in for a nasty surprise if they decide to visit make a return.”
Jiang nodded, “The Elite are most resourceful. I’m sure they could manage.”
“I wouldn’t trust in any other people to supervise in my absence.”
“Sister, you’re sure this is the wise course?” E’Ren inquired as he strapped himself into the rear seat in his sister’s fighter. “We both know what revealing our existence could do here.”
“Yes, I am aware of the consequences DiDi. I am also aware of the benefits. Grandmother gave me some very detailed instructions.” She went on, “We are not contacting any of their higher castes, we are dealing with a lesser clan. One that Grandmother set things up for us to deal with a long time ago.”
E’XingXin launched her ship and reflected to herself. And I’m sure they’ll be so happy to see us cash in on that favor that they owe.
A few months later…
The Zhu twins walked alongside their ally as they surveyed the progress on the Harper’s Way. Xing surveyed the workers as they showed her engineers what upgrades were being made and how to maintain the new systems. She knew that it would take quite a bit more work, but her people caught on quickly. Once they were back home things were going to move very quickly.
The meeting with their ally had not gone smoothly at first, but then once the Zhu twins made their offer their host was very willing to listen. An obtuse individual, but also an astute one. His ideals not quite that of his people, but it allowed for a very lucrative deal to be made. She would train a few of his personal guard and he would arrange for her best to learn about the new tech that the rest of the galaxy was using.
The training had gone poorly for his troops at first, Xing’s standards were exacting and left no room for error. Adding in the factor that Xing was of another species that the fighters had never seen before, the stress had proved to be almost too much. But the ones that survived became a par above any of the rest.
The time came for the farewells and promises of partnership. This part was E’Ren’s specialty and he plied his craft well. Xing nodded her respect for their ally along with a few words of her own about said promises. The required politics out of the way, the Zhu twins took their leave. It had been their first trip outside the Arian system and they were eager to return home.
Zhu E’XingXin couldn’t help but poke at her brother as they returned in system. The site of the ancient ship yards up and waiting for their return was more than enough to make her smug. The retention of the Elite after the twins’ ascension to the throne had been a source of contention in the past.
E’Ren fluttered his wings at his sisters teasing but shared her appreciation of her guards’ efforts. He knew with his sisters and his own encouragement the adaptations and upgrades would take less time than was projected. Most of the Arians wanted revenge and would follow their leader’s efforts to obtain it, whatever it may cost.
It was the Arian way.