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PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 10:51 am 
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Location: England
Terah Estate.
Mos Eisley.
Tatooine.
The Next Morning.

For the first time in who knew how long, Octavia Terah found herself waking slowly from a sleep that had been undisturbed by the usual unpleasant dreams. She was also pleased to note that it was past mid-morning, she hadn't slept late for a long while, the price of military service. She was a little less pleased to see she was alone, but hardly surprised. Octavia guessed that Blake had woken earlier and had left her to slept while he took care of Tavi.
Rolling over she stretched her arms to relieve the stiffness and then, in one smooth and slow movement, she sat up and reached forwards to touch her toes through the sheets. She held the position for a few seconds and then returned to a sitting position.

For a moment she considered going back to sleep, but instead decided to get up and about. Some time later she emerged from the bedroom, washed and dressed in a loose fitting tunic and pants. Her red hair hung loose and draped across her shoulders and back, a far cry from the tight ponytail required by military regs. She was a little annoyed to notice she started showing a few grey hairs, though they were still mostly lost amongst the fiery colour that had earned her the nickname 'Red'. Another -smaller- annoyance was the way her skin had taken on a slight sun burnt red colour, a reminder of the strength of Tatooine's twin suns and that she'd spent very little time on any planet since leaving home all those years ago.

Still it was good to be home, even if the repreive was only for this week.

She made her way through the underground chambers, marvelling at the little changes made since she'd last been home. A small water feature using recycled water here, a holo-picture display there, there was no extravagance of the style Octavia had once seen at a gathering at the estate of Huff Darklighter, but the little details helped make the estate feel like home.

She emerged into the kitchen and found her mother, Faith in the lounge along with Blake and Tavi.

Tavi was the first to see her and she leapt from her seat and run towards her, "Mommy!" The little girl yelled as she barrelled into Octavia's arms, "You're awake"

"I am" Octavia grunted as she lifted her daughter up into her arms, "What are you up to?" She asked as she leaned over and kissed Blake.

"We're watching the holo-news" Tavi answered, "Vos Kella is saying something about the rebbling commanders"

Octavia translated Tavi's little errors in her head. So Kel'lya was verbally attacking the fleet commanders who were still refusing to heed orders, "Nothing new then?" She smirked.

"About the same" Blake nodded, "Kel'lya's still ticked that commanders like you are still refusing to retreat to the core and leave the Rim undefended. From what the reporters say, recent victories have actually turned some of the senate against him"

"Good" Octavia smirked, "About time people realised what a Di'kut Kel'lya is"

"Octavia, language!" Faith Terah admonished in obvious shock.

Octavia turned crimson, "Sorry"

"Where did you learn to speak such awful language?" Faith demanded.

"The military, mom" Octavia shrugged, "You meet officers and troopers from all over the galaxy and you tend to pick up a lot of 'colourful metaphors' for use in very stressful situations"

"Well" Faith sniffed, "I don't like it, especially coming from you. I raised you better than that"

"Ok, I'll watch what I say from now on" Octavia nodded.

"Mommy" Tavi asked from where she was perched in Octavia's arms still, "What's Di'kut?"

Faith paled, "Now look what's happened" She sighed, "Just be careful in the future, okay?"

"Yes mom" Octavia nodded, "Now, what's for breakfast?"

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Kasen Moor's Office.
Nobility Class Star Destroyer Ackbar.
In Orbit Around Tatooine.

Kasen Moor scowled as she looked over the personnel files. She always hated finding replacement pilots, let along finding five. Since the battle at High Charity, Rogue Squadron had been five pilots light, losing Jenna Tarn to illness and briefly -as it was believed at the time- losing Jaina Solo, Lowbacca, Ganner Rhysode and Zane 'Oddball' Irelon first to business on Coruscant and then to their subsequent disappearance somewhere between Coruscant and Mon Calamari. The war had cause problems with availiable replacements and Kasen had been forced to lead a significantly reduced Rogue Squadron into battle.

Finally, someone in command had sent over the personnel files for eight possible candidates and after brief interviews she had grudgingly selected her five replacements.

The first was a human male from Corellia. Bradon Sorn, was a former Imperial pilot with nearly eleven years experience. His previous assignment -a TIE Interceptor squadron- had been disbanded due to massive attrition and Sorn had immediately requested a transfer to Rogue Squadron. He also brought his shield-equipped Interceptor, which was fortunate since they only had two spare X-Wings to go between five pilots. Jenna Tarn's X-Wing had been transfered down to Coruscant during the Ackbar's stop over there and both Lowbacca's and Ganner Rhysode's X-Wings had been transferred to other squadrons.
As well as bringing his fighter and experience, Sorn was also an experienced flight leader and Kasen had already decided her would be the new leader of Two Flight. There would be some friction with Sorn being a former Imperial pilot, but Kasen herself was ex-Imperial as was Galen Milstein, so she knew the friction would be limited.

The next pilot was a veteran pilot too, and a veteran Rogue too. Xarcce Huwla was a Tunroth from Saloch and had served with the Rogues almost thirty five years before during the battles at Brentaal IV, Axxila and Ciutric IV before being reassigned to a training squadron in 5ABY in the same way many Rogue vets had been. Xarcce had spent a lot of her time since then training new pilots before being assigned to a K-Wing squadron in 23ABY. When she heard Rogue Squadron was in need of pilots the former Rogue had immediately offered up her name as a candidate. Kasen had assigned her Oddball's X-Wing and had assigned her to replace Oddball in Three Flight.

Up third was Seren Khyl, a diminutive woman from the predominantly human world of Telos. She was reletively inexperienced, but she did bring another shield equipped TIE Interceptor to the squadron allowing her to assign Khyl as Sorn's wingmate. Her academy scores painted her as a very skilled pilot, but the lack of actual combat experience would slow her down initially.

Likewise, Koss Fe'len of the Bothan colony of Kothlis was also inexperienced, but also brought his own fighter, a new model X-Wing that was modified with additional comm equipment that would be useful in the field. In fact, Kasen had been suspicious at first. Fe'len's record seemed to clean and Kasen feared he may have been a Senate plant working for Vorsk Kel'lya. However, Kasen had called in favours and discovered Fe'len was a cousin of Trest Kre'fey and also harboured the same anti-politics stance of the fleet commander. He had also been reprimanded by Bothan High Command for his refusal to follow traditional Bothan rules and traditions.

The last new pilot was probably going to be the most problematic. Kevin Ross was an experienced pilot with three years experience and twenty three kills to his name. He had also been demoted three times and had been transferred out of his previous two squadrons for reckless flying and excessive insobordination. He was a loose cannon and despite his skill had been shot out of his fighter no less than five times. He was assigned as Koss Fe'len's wingmate and would be flying Jaina Solo's X-Wing. Kasen was hoping the need to watch his more inexperienced and level headed wingmate would keep Ross in check.

She had already ordered sim sessions to try and acclimate the new pilots with the rest of the squadron and she estimated it would be nearly two weeks before she could trust all the pilots to be flying almost seamlessly.

Still, she feared that they might not be ready when the next battle came up.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Guest Quarters Assigned To Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.
Bothan Assault Cruiser Ralroost.
Balmorra System.
One Day Later.

Luke frowned as he shook off the last vestiges of sleep and tried to recall the vision he had experienced. Like every other vision he had experienced, it's crystal clarity had been etched into his minds, allowing him to recall it in perfect detail. And he did recall it, concentrating on each of the flickers of images in turn.

An explosion tearing across Coruscant, reducing a significant amount of the city to rubble even as fleets clashed in orbit above.

A Republic fleet clashed with an unseen force above an unfamiliar planet.

Lightsaber wielding figures battled in the shadow of an immense humonoid shape.

Numerous senators and representitives walking from the Senate Hall, accompanied by jeers and shouts of outrage.

A Chiss officer, his face eerily familiar, standing on the bridge of a Super Star Destroyer.

His own neice hanging in a bacta tank fighting for her life.

"Jaina!" He shouted withdrwing from his memories.

What had happened? Was this the result of the vision Leia had revealed to him months ago? He knew Jaina had gone missing and that Han and Leia were looking for her, had they found her only just in time?

Behind him, the door hissed open and his nephew Anakin entered. As Luke turned he saw that Anakin was distressed and had clearly received news that had upset him.

"Anakin" Luke asked, "Is it Jaina?"

Anakin was momentarily surprised at his Uncle's question, but he recovered quickly, "Yes, I've just received a message from Mom and Dad on Lianna. They found Jaina and the others, but Jaina's hurt bad. They had her in a bacta tank all the way to Lianna and then transfered her to a medical facility when they made a landing"

Luke frowned, "The Falcon doesn't have a bacta tank"

Anakin shook his head, "They ran into Wraith Squadron and they put her in a bacta tank on their ship"

"Did they say what happened to her?" Luke asked.

"No" Anakin shrugged, "My Dad just said something about Darth Vader having more finesse on Bespin"

Luke nodded in understanding. Han's reference to Darth Vader and Bespin meant that Jaina had been tortured and that were as Vader had ensured his subjects had not been 'permanently damaged', those who had tortured Jaina had shown no such considerations.

"How is she?" He asked.

"They didn't say" Anakin sighed, "Just that she was improving"

"Do you want to head out?" Luke said questioningly, "I'm sure we can spare you"

"No" Anakin shook his head, "It's a twelve day round trip from here to Lianna and back. Anything can happen here or there in the meantime" He shrugged, "Besides, there isn't really much I can do there. Better I remain here with you and do what I've been doing so far"

Luke nodded, "Are you sure?"

Anakin smiled, "Uncle Luke, I know you're asking yourself the same questions. But like you I'm willing to admit this is where I can do more good"

Luke smiled at his nephew's words, but before he could say anything further the door hissed open and Mara strode into the room, "Have you heard?" She asked, "Kre'fey's put the fleet on standby alert"

Luke frowned, "What's happened?"

"Nothing yet" Mara answered, "But apparently Intel has been picking up Neo-Sep fleet movements that hint that they may be gathering for a major assault similar to strikes against here, Fondor and Mon Calamari. Kre'fey seems to think they may be looking to strike at some were in the core"

Luke turned to his desk and punched in several commands into the holo-projector on his desk. A second later, an image of the galaxy appeared in holo above the desk, then zoomed in on the core, "Corellia, Coruscant, Bilbringi, Kuat, Anaxes, Corellia are possible, high value targets. They might even make further attempts here or at Duro"

"Kre'fey seems to think those are all possible targets too" Mara nodded, "But he doesn't want to make his move yet. He wants to be ready to move a good portion of the First Fleet in when the Neo-Seps make their move. He's also calling in Farlander's Eleventh Fleet to stand by. Pellaeon's got the Ninth close by too"

"What about the Core fleets?" Anakin asked, "The Third, Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth, Fifteenth fleets are all deployed in the Core"

Luke frowned, "The Third and Fourth are at Coruscant, Kel'lya won't release them to any other systems whatever happens, even though the Coruscant Sector Fleet is strong enough to hold an attack off long enough for support to arrive. The Fifteenth is spread between Bilbringi, Borleias and every system between those two worlds. The Eighth are spread extremely thinly between Corellia and Abregodo-Rae. The Fourteenth is dug in at Kuat, but Admiral Illor has them running heavy patrols as far spinward as Duro and as far anti-spinward as Anaxes"

Mara smiled, "She's also made it clear that she's at Kuat because the shipyards need defending, not because Kel'lya is trying to win support from a certain Senator"

Anakin laughed, "Actually, I think Kel'lya's political relationship with Viqi Shesh may be about to take a body blow"

"What do you mean?" Luke frowned with an expression that matched Mara's.

"In the message Dad sent me was a file he asked me to pass to Admiral Kre'fey" Anakin answered, "Apparently, they ran into Viqi Shesh on Rhen Var and she wasn't a prisoner"

"A collaborator!" Mara said in a voice that was half shocked and half disgusted, "Oh, the media is going to love that one"

"Back to the subject in hand" Luke smiled, "Any thoughts on where they might hit?"

Mara shrugged, "Bilbringi, Corellia, Anaxes, Duro, Balmorra and Kuat have extensive shipyards and their loss would be a major blow. They are also heavily defended, by their own defense forces including Republic Fleet elements. Coruscant's loss would be an even greater blow, especially if they can take the Senators on planet"

"But Coruscant is even more heavily defended" Luke pointed out, "And the defensive grid can hold off an attacker for days. An assault on Coruscant wouldn't make much sense"

"Nothing the Neo-Seps have done has made much sense" Anakin pointed out, "They've attacked multiple worlds across large distances without adequete supply lines. They hit several worlds of little to no strategic value. The Hapan's were barely even involved until they hit Hapes. Then the hit Mandalore and stirred the Mandalorians up big time. Both the Hapans and Mandalorians would've remained on the fringes of the war had the Neo-Seps not attacked" He shrugged, "As a result, the Hapan's are fully behind Tenenial Djo's decision to enter the war and the entire Mandalorian Sector is stirred up like a Fire Hornet's nest"

"True" Luke conceeded. He looked at Mara, "I take it Kre'fey already reached this conclusion?"

"He did" Mara nodded.

"So we're heading to Coruscant?" Anakin asked.

"We are not" Mara shook her head.

"We're not" Anakin frowned, "I don't understand...oh wait, I do. If we relocate to Coruscant now, the Neo-Seps could hit here instead. By waiting until the hit Coruscant, Kre'fey can jump the fleet in and hit them from behind"

"Exactly" Mara nodded, "Glad you're getting the idea"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Primary Hanger Bay.
Nobility Class Star Destroyer Ackbar.
Tatooine Orbit.

His uniform cleanly pressed, Piggy held himself at attention as the boarding ramp of the shuttle slowly lowered to the deck. He knew Octavia had always insisted that nothing like this level of formality was neccesary. but he felt a little display was neccesary for her guests. Octavia was the first down the ramp, attired in a casual jumpsuit and looking more relaxed than Piggy had seen her in a while. Following her was a man Piggy recognised as Octavia's husband Blake Kale. He never met the man, but Octavia had shown him enough holos and told enough stories that Piggy recongised Octavia's husband.
The third person down the ramp, Piggy had met. An older man, Zan Terah held himself in a quiet, dignified way that put many politicians to shame. Piggy had met the career mechanic some years ago, back during the Wraith Squadron days and Zan had lost none of his spirit.
The fourth and final person, Piggy had neither met nor did he recognise, though he was easily able to work out who she was. She looked a lot like Piggy imagined an eight year old Octavia would look. This was Octavia and Blake's daughter, Tavi. As she descended the ramp she looked around the bay in a mix of wonder and excitement.

Piggy saluted, keeping his back ramrod straight and sucking in his gut as much as possible, "Welcome aboard General"

To her credit, Octavia succeeded in returning the salute despite her obvious embarassment and the way the blood ran to her face, "Thank you Commander, permission to come aboard?" She asked, trying to ignore the smiles of her husband and father.

"Permission granted" Piggy nodded.

"Thank you" Octavia said dryly, then turned to make introductions, "Commander Voort 'Piggy' saBinring, my husband Blake Kale. Blake, this is Piggy, my Executive Officer"

"Commander" Blake offered his hand.

Piggy accepted the handshake, "Mr Kale"

Octavia moved to her father, "I believe you met my father once before?"

"I did" Piggy nodded, "Good to see you're well Sir"

"Not as well as I'd like to be" Zan remarked gruffly, "But all things considered, I could be worse. I'm pleased to see you're well and that you're still in the military. I always felt you were suited to the life"

"Thank you Sir" Piggy nodded, "And this must be Tavi?" He said turning to face the little girl.

At first, Tavi was clearly fearful of this big green Gamorrean. Her privous experience with members of his race were the traditional example of low level guards of low level intelligence and low tempers. She'd never seen one dressed in a New Republic uniform, talking in two voices -the traditional grunts and squeals that were all the average Gamorrean could manage and a mechanical voice- and she'd certainly never met one who was so polite. She quickly conquered her fear and stepped forwards, snapping off an inexperienced salute of her own that bounced off her forehead.

"Ow! Permission to come aboard, Commander?" She grinned.

"Permission granted" Piggy returned the salute with a smile as Tavi rubbed her head. He turned to Octavia, "Should we start the tour?"

"Of course" Octavia nodded, "But first, give me a quick report. I saw that we've got some friends?"

Piggy nodded, "Some of Commander Nay'lon's Renegade Battle Group began arriving a few hours ago. Nay'lon sent along a message that he would be here in a few days, but for now he's sent some of his ships here for a little break from patrols"

"Renegade?" Octavia offered a raised eyebrow.

"Nay'lon's idea" Piggy answered, "They've officially been branded renegades, so Nay'lon decided they would wear the name as a badge of honor for their refusal to submit to politics"

"I agree" Octavia smiled, "Anything else?"

"Rear-Admiral Pellaeon is still moving the Ninth towards the Core in anticipation of an attack there" Piggy continued the report, "He also asks if you are feeling better. I told him that you were"

"Thank you Piggy" Octavia smiled, "And that other matter?"

"Progressing slowly" Piggy responded, careful to avoid mentions of Lucas Penrose and his continuing interrogation, "Major Montjar is confident he can locate the blockage soon enough"

"A problem?" Zan interupted.

"Just a minor technical issue with one of the forward energy conduits" Octavia answered, "Sort sort of power lag"

"I have some experience with that" Zan said, "Maybe I could take a look?" He offered.

Octavia winced, "It's not neccesary Dad. We've already got techs crawling all over it"

"It won't take too long" Zan insisted.

"No Dad, please" Octavia shook her head, "Those crawl tubes are tiny and hardly the sort of place 'I'd' want to be. I don't want to go back to Mom and explain how you put your back out or worse"

"Fine" Zan grudgingly conceeded, he straightened up, "Now how about this tour of your ship?"

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Customs Warehouse Seventeen.
Mon Mothma Space Port.
Liberty District (Formerly The Works)
Coruscant.

Customs Officer Brin wasn't a particulary smart man, though he was competent at his job and had done his work well enough that he was soon in charge of Customs Warehouse Seventeen and after only twenty one years of dedicated work! Still, even then the pay wasn't very good, so he listened very carefully when the men came to him with a request and a lot of credits. All he had to do was let a container through without inspecting it.

The idea of not doing his job correctly did rankle Brin considerably, but he'd never seen that much in the way of credits before in his life. They were offering more than he'd make in a lifetime and more than enough to pay both his ex-wives their alimony. He could pay off the loan on his apartment and could finally clear all his debts. So he'd accepted and armed with the time the container would be arriving, the freighter it would be on and it's shipping number, Brin had agreed to do the deed.

Getting the container from the freighter to the warhouse had been easy. Only cursory checks were made, mostly ensuring the ID's on shipping manifest matched the cargo. Getting it past the usual scans had been trickier, but he'd forged a waiver indicating that the container contained rare artwork that was sensitive to scanning equipment and the container had passed into the warehouse without being scanned.
However, because the container hadn't been scanned it had been labelled from physical inspection. The container had to be opened and the contents examined by two Customs Officers. This was the hardest part. Brin didn't trust any of the other employees so he needed to get creative.
As Lead Customs Officer of the warehouse, he was able to juggle the scheduele to put the container down for inspection late at night, during the slow shift period. At that time, there were few employees around which gave him the time he needed. With documents on hand, he set out to find the crate and filled in the form with details regarding the crates demensions, weight and contents -twenty three rare Aldorian paintings- and signed the container off as opened and inspected. He also broke the shipping seals and immediately resealed the crate with tape emblazoned with the words 'contents cleared'.
Next he set out to find one of the new employees, a young man from Corellia and handed him a handful of forms regarding his contract, pay, health and safety regulations and shift patterns and asked him to read through and sign them. The young man did so and Brin turned to leave the young man, slipped the inspection form into the stack of forms and after a flick through, turned back to the young man and informed him he'd missed signing a sheet. The Corellian assumed he'd already read this form and merrily signed it before Brin went on his way.

Now with the paperwork complete, he headed to the offices and dropped off the young mans forms to Employee Resources -might as well keep things in order- and then headed to the shipping offices. He stamped the inspection form as passed and filed it. The paper work would reflect the container as being passed and would hold up to all but the most indepth investigation and then they'd need to question the young Corellian. Perhaps the man could have an accident before then, better not to leave a loose end.

But then again, Brin was no killer. Maybe he could frame the kid for theft or something.

Yeah, that would be easier.

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Turoblift Four.
Enroute To The Command Bridge.
Nobility Class Star Destroyer Ackbar.

"The tour" Octavia thought was going well, "Was going well"

Granted there was much she could actually show her family, a warship such as the Ackbar had a lot of area that were restricted to crew only with some restricted to only the crew assigned there. She was able to show them the hanger bays, the vehicle storage bays, the vehicle maintenence sections and the workshops. She was also able to show them some of the engineering bay via an observation blister which gave an overview of the bay as well as the powerful Hoersch-Kessel Drive Inc engines that propelled the Ackbar through space.
Also on the tour had been the pilot sim rooms and the variety of simulators that were kept aboard for training and mission preparation.

Her father had been appreciative of the workshops and maintenence bays especially of the equipment they were using. In fact, Octavia knew her father was thinking about what his next equipment purchase would be or at the least, the next purchase Quint would make once Zan had pursuaded him. He'd also been impressed with the quality of work being carried out by the techs in Engineering. It had really made him aware of the differences between servicing the freighters and corvettes that he normally worked with and servicing something the size of the Ackbar.

Tavi had been impressed by the hangers. She'd oohed over the ranked X-Wings of Rogue Squadron, aahed over the mixed starfighters of Kyp's Dozen and had been stunned into silence by the sight of Vanguard Squadrons Chiss Clawfighter TIE's as the hung in their launching racks. She'd been giddy as ever when Torin Dol -one of the Rogues- allowed her to sit in the cockpit of his X-Wing, though he'd made sure all the systems were offline as she insisted on waggling the control yoke and pressing all the buttons. She did have a chance in one of the sims, flying a simulated X-Wing around an equally simulated Ackbar. Fortunate really, since she crashed the X-Wing through the simulated Ackbar's bridge viewport. As of now, she was still giddy and bouncing from foot to foot and Octavia knew that when the giddyness wore off, she'd be tired, grumpy and difficult.

Blake had been interested in much of the workings of the Ackbar, but it was clear he was uncomfortable with being aboard. Octavia had a feeling it was down to the fact that it had been taking command of the Ackbar that had kept Octavia separated from her family for six months. He'd been less than pleased about the idea of showing Tavi around the Ackbar in case it -encouraged her- and she knew it would be a note of contention the next time they had some privacy. Still he had held his tongue for the most part and had allowed Tavi to enjoy herself and fortunately both Tavi and Zan seemed unaware to the chill between Octavia and Blake.

However, Tavi's exuberance served as an excellent distraction.

"What's next Mommy?" Tavi asked, bouncing from one foot to the other, "Where are we going next?"

Octavia smiled at Tavi's eagerness and was gratified to see the expression mirrored on Blake's face.

"We're going to the bridge" Octavia answered her daughter's questions.

"The bridge?" Tavi frowned, her brow furrowing in thought, "Why is it called that? Do things go under it?"

Octavia opened her mouth to answer, then closed it again as she tried to make sense of her own answers. Fortunately, her father jumped in with an explanation.

"The bridge is the where a starship like the Ackbar is commanded and controlled from" Zan answered, "The term 'bridge' dates back millenia to the times when our ancestors on numerous worlds explored the seas in sailing ships. The bridge was literally a raised walkway that allowed the ships commander to view the activity of the entire ship. As technolgy advanced, control of ships functions were relocated to a single area of the ship and the term bridge was adopted for that location and has stuck ever since"

"Oh" Tavi nodded, clearly even more confused with the explanation than she was previously, "I want to see the sea" She remarked sadly and suddenly with an unexpected change of subject.

"Well" Octavia stammered over the sudden change in subject, "We'll have to see about taking a vacation to Naboo when I can wrap up my duties for good" She looked to Blake and Zan and shrugged, ""I've managed to get a holiday home at Kaadara"

Blake looked suspiciously, "How can you afford a holiday home there? They cost millions" He asked, "Even as a General in the fleet you can't be drawing down more than a hundred thousand credits a year"

"Less than you'd think" Octavia said dryly, "The pay changes for my last two promotions still haven't caught up with me and I can't see things changing before the end of the war" She shook her head, "No, I actually got the home a few years back, won it from a Commander Sar in a Pazaak game. He put up the holiday home as collatoral and then blew it on a bad hand"

"Mommy" Tavi looked up, "What's Pazaak?"

Octavia was saved from answering the question when the turbolift came to halt and the doors opened onto the bridge. Octavia stepped through first and was happy to see her bridge crew working at their stations.

Though that changed quickly.

Piggy looked up from where he'd been standing overlooking the portside crew pit, saw them and immediately snapped to attention, "General on deck!" He called.

To Octavia's embarassment and annoyance, the entire bridge crew, including her senior officers snapped to attention. She felt her face flush red and felt an overwhelming desire to curl up in a ball and hide. She resisted the urge to do so and instead focused on speaking.

"At ease" She ordered and was relieved to see the crew do so, returning to their stations and their duties. She looked at Piggy, "I'll get you for that, Commander"

"I expect you will" Piggy grunted in amusement, "I expect you will"

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Medical Bay.
Defnder Class Star Destroyer Archer.
Lianna Orbit.
Two Days Later.

When he entered the medi-bay aboard the Archer, Jaden was pleased to see that Jaina was awake though she was hardly mobile. Her injuries had been severe enough that the MD's had instructed that she be left in a bacta tank for something like three more days. She'd already spent most of yesterday in it having been transferred straight from the Sacul's bacta tanks almost immediately on arrival. The MD's had also agreed that there were no problems with her being concious and communicating. To that end, her breathing mask had been fitted with a audio pickup with a matching earpiece and she had spent her time engaging her visitors in conversation.

"Finally" Jaina exclaimed, her voice sounding tinny and slightly echoey, "Please tell me you have news of the war. No one's telling me anything"

"Yeah, but thats because your health was a more immediate concern" Jaden nodded and leant against an empty bed, "I've got info. Like you asked"

"So what have I missed" Jaina demanded.

"Let's see. The Neo-Seps hit Mon Calamari with a big fleet, but the Ninth drove them back with minimal damage to the shipyards. Rodia and Falleen were also hit, but by smaller skirmish forces. They went in did, some damage and fell back before Republic forces could respond. The Republic Rangers booted the Neo-Seps off of Almania and other forces did the same on Tanaab, Aquaris, Mechis IV, Utapau and Zeltros. The Mandalorians have pretty much secured the Mandalorian Sector against all comers and are making life hell for the Neo-Seps in that region" He frowned for a moment, "There's been loads of other little skirmishes, but nothing major" He shrugged, "Also, the Genyosha hit the Neo-Sep headquarters on Ziost and took the old fortress this Society thats running the Neo-Seps was based"

"They found it?" Jaina asked, "The headquarters? Did they get the head honchos?"

"They got pieces of some of the head honchos" Jaden replied, "Seems that prior to the Genyosha arriving at Ziost someone let a Nexu loose in the council chambers there. It pretty much dined out on an interesting little group. Two former Imperial Moff's, a Tapani Sector Noblewoman, a couple of minor senators and an industrialist or two. Investigators also lifted the fingerprints of Viqi Shesh from a number of areas in the council chamber, which kinda fits with you lot seeing her on Rhen Var"

"Good" Jaina barked a laugh, one that came through fuzzy over the intercom, "I wonder how she'll try explaining that"

"Well, the news hasn't hit Coruscant yet, so keep it to yourself for now" Jaden grinned.

Jaina thought the drag effect of the bacta to give Jaden a thumbs up, "Will do? Any other news?"

"Just that someone made an attempt to kidnap the three youngest Tarns" Jaden said, "The attempt failed"

"What?" Jaina was shocked.

"Yep" Jaden nodded, "Apparently happened a week or so back, but the news was only just released. Deven's spitting nails, as if this thing with Jenna wasn't bad enough. He's currently waiting for a holonet connection to Skye"

"Damn" Jaina muttered, "Anything on Jenna?"

Jaden shook his head, "I'm afraid not. She was taken aboard the massive ship the Neo-Seps had at Rhen Var. No one knows where it could be, but we've got an alert out for any sightings"

Jaina sighed, "It's all we can hope for. Any other news?"

"Just some weird stuff" Jaden shrugged, "First is some weird disruption thats causing problems on the holonet, stations losing synch, transmissions getting cut off, that kind of thing. The second is actually unsettling a lot of people. A Super Star Destroyer has been seen at several battles, usually jumping out as Republic forces arrive to find the battle over and a dozen Neo-Sep ships hammered to scrap"

Jaina frowned, "Why is that unusual?" She scowled, "Wait, you said it 'jumped out when Republic forces arrived'. Does that mean it's not the Lusankya or the Guardian?"

"Apparently so" Jaden nodded, "Everybodies tightlipped on the details, but it seems that the Lusankya is at Mon Calamari and the Guardian is where it always is, being completely useless in Coruscant's orbit because Kel'lya won't release it take part in the war. All the other Executor class ships are accounted for as destroyed. So this is either a new ship or someone screwed up on reporting one destroyed when it wasn't"

"Wonderful" Jaina muttered, "As if there weren't enough problems in the galaxy"

"Moving on" Jaden said, "How are you doing?"

"Oh, I'm just peachy" Jaina sighed, her voice clearly tired despite the distortion effects of the intercom, "I refused to let them keep me sedated, so I'm in a fair amount of pain. I came in here with three broken ribs, a ruptured spleen, my intestine riddled with tears and a three inch gash in my stomach.Not to mention a cracked skull and various torn muscles"

Jaden shrugged, "At least most of your injuries are healed"

"Most of them" Jaina answered, "But not all, I'm still going to need another two days in here before the medics will let me out"

"What do you plan to do?" Jaden asked.

"I'm going after my friend" Jaina said with determination that belayed her weakened state.

"You sure?" Jaden knew what the answer would be.

"Yes" Jaina replied, "Even if I have to do it alone"

"Well, you won't be alone" Jaden answered with a smile, "I'll be with you too, so will Oddball. My dad's coming too and bring the Wraiths"

"And Deven?" Jaina frowned.

"I don't think any power in the galaxy would stop him" Jaden sighed, "But right now, he's torn between chasing after Jenna or racing for Skye. The news that someone tried to grab his other kids has really got him riled up"

"I'm not surprised" Jaina said dryly, "Have my parents left yet?"

"Yeah" Jaden nodded carefully, "They wanted to wait until you were out of the bacta though"

"I pretty much raised hell with them" JAina explained, "Told them they needed to get the proof of Viqi Shesh's treachery to Coruscant. Transmitting it would've taken too long, quicker and safer if they take it"

"Your mother wasn't to happy" Jaden smirked, " And your father looked almost as mad as Deven, maybe even worse"

Jaina gave a laugh that sounded like static across the intercom, "Sounds like him. It's always been said that the only thing worse than getting Darth Vader mad at you was getting Han Solo mad at you"

Jaden grinned and shook his head, "Glad to see you're not letting things get you down too much" He stood and sighed, "Listen, I've got some things to do, but I'll be back later, okay?"

"Yeah" Jaina sighed and waved, "I'll be here, not like I'm going anywhere"

"See you later" Jaden returned the wave and turned for the doorway.

"Jaden" Jaina said, "Thanks"

"Anytime" Jaden smiled.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Holonet Station.
Lianna.

Deven paced back and forth restlessly as he waited for connection. With the mysterious problens affecting the Holonet, it was becoming increasingly difficult to make a connection within a reasonable time. He'd already ordered the techs out of the small comm chamber and was now waiting for a reply from the other end. He'd already waited for twenty minutes without success and silently promised himself another twenty before giving up.

It was unneccesary however, as the previously static filled holo image resolved itself into the face he'd been dying to see.

"Deven" Trinity Oslo-Tarn exclaimed, "Finally! I've been trying to contact you for days, where have you been? Have you found Jenna?"

"Yes and no" Deven sighed, "I caught up with her, but was too late to stop her being carted off by the Neo-Seps"

"She's been taken?" Trinity gasped, "Where?"

"If I knew I wouldn't be standing around here talking to you!" Deven snapped, then winced at the look of hurt that flickered across Trinity's face, "Sorry, I'm on edge and I haven't slept for a couple of days"

"Deven, you're doing it again" Trinity said with concern.

"Doing what?" Deven frowned.

"You're pushing yourself too hard" Trinity answered, "You did the same thing when Jenna was out in Kurita Prime Deserts doing her survival trials. You worried yourself sick and you're not a young man anymore"

"This is my..our daughter, aren't you worried?" Deven scowled.

"Of course I'm worried" Trinity snapped with the same wounded emotion Deven had displayed moments earlier, "But I had my own situation to worry about here"

"I heard" Deven nodded, "What happened? Are the triplets okay? Are you okay?"

"They're fine, a little shook up, but they're safe" Trinity smiled, "I'm fine. As for what happened, a number of camo-suited commandoes infiltrated the palace, killed a number of guards and attempted to grab the kids. If Wes hadn't been here....."

"Wes?" Deven frowned, "Heavy set guy, eats unsavory meat products, likes to tinker. That Wes?"

"That's the one" Trinity nodded, "I brought him in to work on a project or two and he happened to spot the commandoes. Took two of them down and left one more than a little toasty. That survivor gave us the info to take down the rest of the team"

"And?" Deven prompted.

"We're still chasing up the trail" Trinity shrugged, "Whoever's behind it though had better start running"

"I don't doubt it" Deven said wryly.

"So, what are your plans concerning Jenna?" Trinity asked.

"I'm going after her. We've got some info we're going over that should give us a shot at catching up" Deven replied.

Trinity looked at Deven strangely for a moment, "Is there something you're not telling me? Something else about Jenna?"

Deven stared at Trinity's image for several moments before smiling, "Are you sure you're not force sensitive?"

"I'm sure" Trinity returned a reassuring smile, "I've just become very good at reading your moods"

"Even over Holo?" Deven raised a questioning eyebrow.

"Even over Holo" Trinity smiled, then sobered, "Deven, please find our daughter and bring her home"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cadet Briefing Room Beta-Two.
Lianna Military Academy.

Halley frowned and gazed at the holo image hanging above the projector, "So what is it?"

"It's a map Halley" Face smirked, "I thought even you'd know that"

"I know that" Halley shot a venomous look to the former actor, "I meant it in a different sense. This map is so incredibly detailed. You can see individual moons, asteroid fields, nebula and all the planets are easily identifiable, though there are some I don't recognise, yet I feel I should"

Oddball spoke up, "Thats because some of those worlds don't exist anymore, they were destroyed. Malachor V, Kashi, Polis Massa, Derr and countless others. All destroyed or lost long before any of us were born" He grinned, "Check out Corellia"

Halley frowned, "I can see what might be the Corellian System, along with what could be Corellia -though it seems out of place-, but where's the rest of the planets? Selonia, Drall, Tralus and Talus? And where's Centrepoint Station?"

Face shrugged, "Apparently the Corellian System hadn't been constructed when this map was made"

"How old is this thing?" Halley whistled.

"Anywhere beyond a million years ago" Oddball answered.

Halley shook his head in disbelief, "This is incredible, but what makes you think this can help find Jenna Tarn?"

"This" Oddball focused the image in time for the route to be traced from Rhen Var to a world out beyond Gamorr, on the edge of the galaxy, "When Jaden recorded the map, he also recorded this. It seems to be an automatic procedure, tracing this one route" He sighed, "I wish we had more than a recording to work with, but the original is buried beneath thousands of tons of rock, snow and the remains of a base"

"I think this map had a very particular purpose" Face nodded, "To show this specific route"

"Why?" Oddball asked, "What's on that world? And whats the purpose of the rest of the map and why go into so much detail?"

"For the first, there's no way of knowing" Halley replied, "As for the rest, I guess it could've been a case of showing off, though there may have been other functions you could have discovered had you had the time"

"Well, the roof was falling on our heads at the time" Face said dryly.

Halley snorted, "That seems to happen to you alot. Remember Garros IV?"

"Don't remind me" Face grimaced, a pained expression flickered across his face. His expression brightened, "I hear you've been kicking ass and taking names"

"What do you expect?" Halley shrugged, "My world got invaded, my cadets got the hell beat out of them and you know what the worst part is?"

"They threw your family in a prison?" Face said.

"Damn straight" Halley nodded.

"We saw a lot of the damage on the way in" Oddball cut in, "They must have come in with a big force"

"They did" Halley sighed, "Not that big of a force, but it was far bigger than what we had to defend with"

"But why?" Oddball frowned, "No offense, but Lianna is hardly an important world. The shipyards are only good for Corvette and light figates, the Academy turns out some of the finest pilots, but it's only one source of pilots for the New Republic Starfighter Corps. There's no major industry that can be turned to the Neo-Seps use. And as a gateway to other words, there are far better choices"

"None taken" Halley frowned, "But on the other hand, Lianna's liberation has tied up a fair portion of a Battle Group and the rebuilding will consume a lot of resources. That's why they attacked, make us spend time and resources cleaning up their mess"

"Makes sense" Oddball conceeded before standing and shutting down the holo-projector. He ejected the holotape and nodded to Face and Halley, "I'm going to take this down to one of the analysis suites. See if I can't find some more info out"

Once Oddball had left, Face turned to Halley, "So how's the family?"

"Doing well considering" Halley replied, "Tela and Mira are helping with the relief effort. Jaren's piloting a cargo transport running supplies out to the outer settlements"

"And you?" Face asked.

"Meh" Halley shrugged, "Just trying to get things back together. A month ago, there were six hundred cadets at this academy. Now, there's maybe two hundred that aren't in the infirmary or the morgue"

"Sorry" Face rested a hand on Halley's shoulder.

"Thanks" Halley sighed, "I've always accepted some of them will be killed, but I'd always assumed it would be after the graduate and they've been accepted into combat squadrons. I never expected some to be killed defending this world. The whole thing has hit me as bad as losing Galaxian Squadron"

Face was silent for a moment, before looking up and speaking again, "Seventeen"

"What?" Halley frowned.

"Seventeen" Face repeated, "That's how many pilots who have died while serving under my command. Some while under my direct command and some who died on a mission, following my orders"

"Never easy is it?" Halley offered a sympathetic smile.

"No" Face shook his head, "And it never should be" He sighed, "Change of subject, have you seen Deven yet?"

"Not yet" Halley answered, "But I heard. How's he holding up?"

"Better than expected" Face smiled, "His oldest daughter suffers what can be politely described as a mental breakdown, goes off on some personal vendetta and is captured by the Neo-Seps and at the same time, somebody else has a go at snatching his youngest kids. Any lesser man would have gone to pieces by now. Deven just gets more determined"

Halley scowled, "I remember Jenna from when she was a cadet here. Damn good kid. Lots of agression, tended to jump straight into a fight occasionally though. Picked up a few black marks for fighting. I can't see her giving up yet, she's a fighter"

"An unstable one according to Jaden" Face nodded, "But yeah, she's a fighter. We'll probably catch up to her and find she's on top of things and bringing down her captors. Chances are, we may find ourselves in the curious position of protecting THEM from HER"

"You're going after her with Deven then?" Halley smiled.

"Of course I am" Face grinned, "She's a Rogue, and if what Jaden tells me is accurate, she's a Wraith too"

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

System M-K 4779.
Neo-Separatist Staging Point Alpha.

Randolph Deegan, Supreme Commander of the Neo-Separatist military, stood on the bridge his flagship, the Sovereign Class Super Star Destroyer 'Mist Lynx' and looked over the fleet reports with satisfaction. Already, in just a matter of days, over five hundred vessels from the Neo-Separatist fleet had evaded New Republic patrols to gather here in this system and at five other systems, other vessels were also assembling. When it came to enact Operation Firestorm, almost seven thousand starships and ten times that number in fighters would take part in the assault, they would outnumber the New Republic defenders by almost three to one.

Granted, many of his ships were Clone Wars vintage and earlier though he did have some early Empire and later vessels at his disposal. Plus the Republic could bring in additional reinforcements and make it difficult for him to take and hold the target, but that was immaterial. His objective was simple, do as much damage as possible and keep the New Republic looking towards the core. This would be the last major battle of the war and Deegan intended for it to be a glorious one. Almost every last Neo-Separatist ship was commited to this operation and he had no doubt that barring a miracle, every last ship would be destroyed, though at great cost to the Republic.

"Yes" Deegan thought, "It will be a battle to remember"

He cast his mind back to his last battle whilst serving under Darth Zeev. After losing half his fleet failing to destroy a New Republic forward base, Darth Zeev had ordered him to make a suicide strike against a New Republic supply base as an act of redemption. As part of his redemption he'd been forced to make the strike with only a handful of vessels, including his flagship the Mist Lynx, an Imperator Class Star Destroyer. That battle had been fierce and glorious, despite the horrendous toll on his force. With his force gone and the Mist Lynx heavily damaged, Deegan had ordered a blind jump into hyperspace.
The strain of making the jump had almost torn the Myst Lynx apart and when it had finally dropped from hyperspace, the once mighty vessel had been reduced to a shattered shadow of its former self. With the Star Destroyer falling to pieces around them and with only a fraction of the crew left, the survivors made a real space voyage that lasted nearly two years before they finally reached the outer rim world of Astrokazy. There they were able to trade what was left of the Myst Lynx in exchange for a non-descript freighter. Of course, they'd booby trapped the Myst Lynx to completely destroy it as soon as they had cleared the system in their new freighter.

Accessing the news networks, they had learned that one problem was gone. Darth Zeev had been killed over a year previously and no longer posed a threat to them and no more suicide missions would be forthcoming. Instead of commiting his people to another conflict, Deegan had kept his people on the fringe of the galaxy, watching as the galaxy become embroiled in one war after another. Then fifteen years ago, the man he knew only as the Prime Councillor had approached him with an offer. Deegan would lead the meagre Society scout forces as they sought out derelict and mothballed ships that could be added to the growing fleet. Finding the abandoned CIS fleet had been a major boon, as was the operation that had led to the capture of over a dozen New Republic vessels.

It had been the discovery and activation of the Assembler that had put Deegan in command of one of the most powerful fleets in the galaxy. In addition, Deegan had been given command of a new flagship. A Sovereign Class Star Destroyer that had been found abandoned and drifting in a nebula between Yaga Minor and Bastion. Bringing aboard his old crew as core personnel and rounding out the rest with enlisted personnel and droids, Deegan had christened the vessel Myst Lynx in honor of his old vessel.

Again he would be commanding a fleet from a vessel named Myst Lynx, but this would be his final battle. There would be now jumping to hyperspace this time, every single vessel in the fleet would have its hyperdrive gimmicked to fail after jumping to the target system. With no escape, his people would fight harder and destroy more foes in order to live longer.

Yes, it would be a a battle to remember.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Supreme Commander's Office.
Republic House/Imperial Palace.
Coruscant.
One Day Later.

"Surpeme Commander Girdun!"

Heol Girdun head the shout from the oputer offices and with a sigh, he stood and waited behind his desk for the moment Chief-of-State Vorsk Kel'lya stormed though his door. On cue, his door hissed open and Kel'lya stormed into the room.

"Chief Kel'lya" Girdun gritted his teeth, "What an unexpected pleasure"

"Shut up Girdun" Kel'lya snapped, "What have you not recalled the Eighth Fleet as I told you too?"

"I saw no need" Girdun answered, "We already have the Third and Fourth Fleets here as well as the Coruscant Sector Fleet, which I might add would be enough to defend Coruscant long enough for a fleet to come from as far away from Duro. Not to mention Coruscant has a defensive network of a hundred Magnetic Accelerator Cannon platforms, twice that number in turbolaser and ion cannon platforms, ground based hypervelocity guns and the dual shield network. In a worst case scenario we could hold out for months"

"That is not good enough" Kel'lya growled, his neck hair ruffling with his irritation, "Coruscant is the capital of the New Republic, the seat of power, we cannot afford to look weak by opening ourselves to attack, we would lose too much prestige in the yes of the galaxy"

"And what of the cost of failing to protect worlds because we had the entire New Republic fleet trapped in orbit around Coruscant" Girdun demanded, straightening up before Kel'lya, "Failing to defend those who depend on us will cause far more damage to our image and the New Republic"

"Coruscant may come under attack" Kel'lya shot back, reeling from the shock that Girdun was actually standing up to him.

"And if it doesn't, those ships will be better used elsewhere" Girdun pointed out.

Kel'lya stared at him for a moment, "Regardless, you will call the Eighth Fleet here"

"I will not" Girdun said after a moments hesitation, "Those ships are needed elsewhere"

Kel'lya reeled back in anger, "I put you in this position. I chose you as Sien Sovv's replacement"

Girdun narrowed his eyes, "And I can see why you had to replace him. Even in wartime, you think of the military as a political tool to garnre support. Even now you're only thinking of the political side -of how you'd look- instead of the tactical and strategic considerations and I -in my position of Supreme Commander- am keeping the ships were they are needed, not were you think you can get the best political gain"

"You were just a desk clerk before I chose to make you Supreme Commander" Kel'lya shot back.

"And I should have remained a desk clerk" Girdun snapped, "I have no doubt you will soon have me removed, but until then I am Supreme Commander and I make the military decisions and as of tomorrow, the Fourth will be moving outsystem and will take up positions in orbit around the outer most planet Hesperidium"

Shock rode freely on Kel'lya's face, "What?"

Girdun smirked, "Just because I believe an attack on Coruscant is unlikely, does not mean I think one is improbable"


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The Queen of Light took her bow and then she turned to go
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom and walked the night alone

Oh, dance in the dark night, sing to the morning light
The Dark Lord rides in force tonight, and time will tell us all

Oh, throw down your plough and hoe, race now to my bow

Side by side we wait the might, of the darkest of them all

I hear the horses thunder down in the valley below
I'm waiting for the angels of Avalon, waiting for the eastern glow

The apples of the valley hold the seeds of happiness
The ground is rich from tender care, which they do not forget, no, no
Dance in the dark night, sing to the morning light

The apples turn to brown and black, the tyrant's face is red

Oh, war is the common cry, pick up your swords and fly
The sky is filled with good and bad, mortals never know

Oh well, the night is long, the beads of time pass slow
Tired eyes on the sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow

The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath
The drums will shake the castle wall, the Ringwraiths ride in black (ride on)

Sing as you raise your bow, (ride on) shoot straighter than before
No comfort has the fire at night that lights the face so cold

Oh, dance in the dark night, sing to the morning light
The magic runes are writ in gold to bring the balance back, bring it back

At last the sun is shining, the clouds of blue roll by
With flames from the dragon of darkness, the sunlight blinds his eyes

Oh, bring it back, bring it back...


The Battle Of Evermore.
Led Zeppelin

Link to song on Youtube --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4oUJUCDX1s


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Devastator Class Star Dreadnaught Merciful Hand.
Unknown Location.
One Day Later.

Neither sleep nor unconsciousness was pleasant for Jenna. Her dreams were filled with visions of drowning in blood, of being cut open and hacked apart by grinning demons in surgical coats, of a life that was not her own and of a towering shadow standing in the midst of an inferno.

Interspersed within her dreams were flashes of memory, yet the memories were distorted, warped and twisted into a dark, grotesque mockery of reality.
Even an event as simple as her graduation from the Jedi Academy was altered into a bizarre parody with lightsabers that turned into serpents, Jedi Masters who seemed to melt into their own robes and architecture that seemed to simultaneously run like liquid and crack like stone with every heartbeat.

Trying to ignore the fact that the floor seemed to be composed of a reflective material that reflected only empty robes and not the person inside them, Jenna stepped towards where her father stood.

Or at least someone who looked like her father stood.

“Dad” Jenna said, grabbing Dream-Deven’s robe, “What’s going on?”

With an empty expression and an equally empty eye socket, Dream-Deven turned to face her, his mouth opening and closing silently. His face a mass of cracks and fissures as though he was made of rock.

Shocked by his appearance, Jenna spun around in horror and tumbled to her knees. Squeezing her eyes shut Jenna tried to focus.
She knew that at the most basic levels, dreams were simply the results of the brain integrating recently learned facts into the sleeper’s memory matrix. In addition, a force strong person was capable of pulling visions into their subconscious from the ether of the force. Armed with this knowledge, Jenna opened her eyes and looked up to decipher whatever information was being integrated and what it was she could learn.

To her surprise, she was know longer in the dream-warped Jedi Academy, but instead knelt at one end of a long corridor. Lined with what appeared to be gold plate and inscribed with images of creatures of mythology, scientific symbols and other icons of life from the galaxy, the hallway appeared to stretch off to infinity.

Hanging along the left hand wall was a series of portraits. Most were dark and old, with cracks forming in the paint as if they were ancient renderings by masters from centuries ago. She even recognised some of the styles; Mekar, Restine, Kinos Te-Ario, Liao, Parkin and Washburn, yet she knew none of those artists could have created these portraits. She knew this because all of the portraits were of individuals who had lived long after those masters had died.

Jenna slowly started down the corridor and saw that her grandfather Feinleck Reilorr was the first subject. Sharp-eyed and sharper-faced, Feinleck looked vital and full of defiant fire. Certainly that was the man her grandmother had always reluctantly described, but not the man history painted him as.
Glancing to her right, Jenna saw that a tall silver mirror had been added to the previously bare wall across from the portrait. Looking up she noticed all the portraits faced mirrors, further intensifying her desire to fathom the mystery. She did not see herself, but instead saw a chained and beaten lunatic, eyes full of madness and a mouth that seemed to utter half-truths and ramblings. This was the Feinleck Reilorr the galaxy chose to remember, a man whose madness undercut his own plans and control.

She pushed on and next saw Restine’s portrait of her father, Deven Tarn. Bold strokes and bright yellow paint traced the scar on Deven’s face. His one eye seemed full of energy and strength and his image seemed to radiate a quiet power. This was Deven as he was.
Looking toward the mirror to see what transformation it would work on Deven, she was surprised by the strong image reflected back. Here was Deven clad in a silvery suit of armour, a shining sword raised high. A halo of stars surrounded his head, and the scar on his face had become faint. His expression was almost serene and Jenna realised that this was how people helped by Deven saw him, as a protector who defended the weak, a knight sworn to a solemn duty.

Already a theory had begun to form in Jenna’s mind concerning what she was experiencing, so she rushed to forward to gather more data. In the next portrait she found her mother Trinity, rendered as a lazy, slothful noble. Lounging in a gown that must have cost more than most planets spend on a yearly military budget and attended by dozens of servants, she appeared to be the stereotyped noble. Lazy and pampered.

“Ah” Jenna thought, “Mother as she wishes others to see her”

Spinning, she saw her mother as she truly was, though exaggerated. Dressed in a paramilitary uniform and wielding blaster and rapier, she stood astride a dozen worlds, a hungry and determined look on her face. Jenna was alarmed by how much her mother looked the old holos of Palpatine prior to the formation of the Galactic Empire. Not so much in her appearance, but the way she held herself and the expression on her face.

“This is a caution” Jenna thought, “Perhaps Mother is following a path that is dangerous and potentially deadly, despite the rewards. She counts on her enemies underestimating her”

Jenna forced herself to travel yet further down the corridor. Jaina Solo’s portrait confronted her next, sending a thrill down her spine. Dressed in a flight suit and wielding a lightsaber, this was the Jaina that Jenna was familiar with. The warrior…and her friend
To her right, the mirror showed her a far different image of Jaina, one clad in a black jumpsuit, eyes yellow and skin blotchy with sickly corruption. One held a lightsaber that hissed and spat as blood from an unknown source dripped onto it, the other hand was held claw like as lightning crackled between jagged and blackened fingernails. This was the person Jaina feared, herself. Jaina had confided in her friend, once long ago, that she feared letting herself go in battle, in case she grew to enjoy the blood letting. This was the Jaina that revelled in the darkside.

Even as Jenna watched, the corruption spread across Jaina’s body, rotting it from within and without. Within seconds, Jaina Solo had crumbled to dust and scattered in an inexplicable wind. Trembling, Jenna looked away from the mirror and pressed on, even though every step felt like trying to move through tar.

After what seemed to be an eternity during which a palsy shook her limbs, Jenna came to a portrait of herself. Rendered in vivid colours and painted as if by a maddened hand, the portrait seemed to be a vision of her continually degrading mental state. She herself was painted as a foppish harlequin, her mouth hanging open in a lopsided, dim-witted grin. In one hand, she held a jewel encrusted hand mirror and rendered within the mirror, Jenna was shocked to see an image of Norikah, the woman whose life Jenna had briefly inhabited in other dreams.

With a shudder, she turned to the mirror opposite the portrait and saw….nothing. Her own body shook, and with a start she awoke, sitting bolt upright in bed.

Grabbing a handful of bed sheet, she mopped the sweat that ran from her body and fought to bring her breathing and heartbeat back under control.

The first inkling that something was not right was the sheets. Tamaranian Silk sheets were not not usual prison issue, nor were they normally found in medi-bays. For that matter, neither of those locations tended to have Emperor sized beds that felt like you were lying on a huge marshmallow.

Uneasy and with suspicion rising, Jenna gazed around the room she was in. To her surprise, she was in an elegantly furnish stateroom, the sort normally given over to high-ranking dignitaries. Large enough to park her X-Wing in, the room was dominated by the bed, but also held furniture so expensive Jenna felt an urge to stay absolutely still so as to avoid damaging anything. A bathroom sat off to one side, it’s access the only doorway. In fact, there seemed to be no other way out of the room.

Her attempts to reach out to her surroundings were quickly foiled when she discovered she was being blocked by a Ysalamiri bubble.

“Looks like they want me to behave” She muttered.

Still, she eased herself off the bed and gingerly stood. Despite the aching in her body she revelled in the feeling of the Kitorian hide carpeting that all but swallowed her feet.
Mindful of the twinges in her body and the fact she was naked, Jenna padded over to the large bathroom that sat just off the main room. Finding the full-length mirror Jenna was reminded of her dream and was relieved to see only herself reflected within.

She did note that her skin was a blotchy pink in places, a sign that her body had done some recent healing and from the amount of blotches, it was clear she had done a lot of healing.

Jenna shuddered as she remembered her last coherent memory. The sounds of lightning crackling across her body, the smell of her own flesh cooking and the agony flashing through her body with each burst of electricity Dass Jennir unleashed upon her.

At some point she had –mercifully- blacked out. Just as well really, she wouldn’t have liked to have seen the injuries that would have required that amount of healing.
She did remember much of the fight, including her lack of any control. She’d struck out wildly, seeking to simply overpower Jennir rather than find a way to get around his defences.

She’d underestimated him too. She’d assumed that his age would limit him; make him weak and an easy fight.

“That’s a mistake I won’t make again,” She vowed silently.

With a sigh, she leant against the wall and was surprised to felt the slight vibrations running through the surface, the ones she’d missed initially due to the thick carpeting.

“A ship” Jenna thought, “Big one too, judging by the vibration from the engines. Either that, or I’m right next to the power plant”

Moving back into the main room, Jenna located the wardrobe and began find something suitable to wear. She didn’t care for most of the gowns and dresses in the wardrobe, most were far too expensive to ever feel comfortable in or even near. Eventually however, she found a plain black jumpsuit, which twinned with a pair of leather knee boots would look somewhat presentable.

After a quick shower and general clean, Jenna dressed and moved back into the main room once more. Halfway through the doorway, she realised that as a prisoner here, she was undoubtedly under observation

She shuddered as she realised any observers had seen her naked.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Customs Warehouse Seventeen.
Mon Mothma Space port.
Liberty District. (Formally The Works)
Coruscant.

Customs Officer Brin watched as the coroner instructed the medtechs to take away the body of the young Corellian.
Brin was irritated, he’d spent all of the previous night shifting documents around and leaving a paper trail that would have the young man implicated in theft and then less than twelve minutes into his shift, the idiot had stepped in front of a twenty ton loader mech.

Even with just a glancing blow, the impact had been enough to inflict immediately fatal injuries on the Corellian. It had been pretty messy and had brought the local constabulary down on the warehouse. Fortunately, they’d treated the incident as the tragic accident it was and chose not to delve to deep into the warehouse operations.

There would be an investigation into the warehouses safety practices, of course. No doubt focusing on how the accident had occurred and how it could be prevented in the future. However, it would focus on general operations and training and would not look into paperwork and inspection assignments.

Which was good news for Brin, as the special crate was due to be collected in two nights time. It would take at least that long for the notification of the accident to work it’s way through the bureaucracy of head office’s health and safety division and likely a week before an inspection team was sent out.

That was fine by him. The sooner that crate was out of here and he was paid, the better.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Command Bridge.
Mediator Class Battle Cruiser Avalon.
Coruscant Orbit.

Commander Eldo Davip sighed and stared out the bridge view ports. Arrayed alongside the Avalon and filling space above Coruscant were thousands of vessels, the entirety of Fleet Groups Three and Four and the Coruscant Sector Defence Fleet.

Sharing the capital worlds orbit were five hundred Magnetic Accelerator Cannon platforms, a thousand turbolaser and missile platforms and twelve Golan III Space Defence Platforms.

And hanging in the middle of it all, the massive dagger shape of the Super Star Destroyer Guardian.

“It was” Davip thought, “An impressive force”

And all it stuck impotently above Coruscant because of the whims of a politician. Both the Third and Fourth Fleets could be sent out to the war and the Sector Defence Fleet deployed to surrounding systems at the very least, but Vorsk Kel’lya had ordered all three fleets to hold above Coruscant, willing to put the rest of the Republic at risk rather than risk the loss of face an attack on Coruscant would incur.

“It’s a shame Mon Mothma isn’t around to smack Kel’lya down” Davip thought, “She would have never stood for his nonsense. She understood the need to have units were they were needed rather than where they’d give a political boost”

Davip sighed, he remembered the days of Mon Mothma and the Rebel Alliance well. Back then military matters took precedence and the politicians concentrated on drumming up support for the growing Rebellion. Back then; the Alliance leadership had been a mix of Military officers and politicians. Admiral Ackbar, General Cracken, Treibakk and Sian Tevv all understood the desires of a soldier.

Somewhere along the line though, following the transition from Rebel Alliance to New Republic, politics had become the driving force, even during a conflict and the common soldier had found himself reduced to a simple pawn in the plans of politicians.

A scuff on the deck behind him dragged him from his thoughts. Turning around he saw his Mon Calamarian First Officer stood waiting with a datapad.

“An update, Major Jhementi?” Davip asked.

“Yes Commander” Jhementi nodded, “The Fourth Fleet is definitely gearing up to leave. Word is they’re being redeployed to the edge of the system and the Eighth isn’t being deployed here”

“Interesting” Davip nodded, “Seems Girdun may have seen some sense at last”

“Sir?” Jhementi blinked her eyes.

“By not ordering the Eighth here, he’s actually refused a direct order from the Chief-of-State” Davip answered, “And by directing the Fourth to the edge of the system, he’s acknowledging the possibility of an attack on Coruscant, but he’s put the Fourth in a position where they can jump back to the Coruscant if there’s an attack, but they can also cover Borleias or Anaxes”

Jhementi looked uncomfortable, “Perhaps Sir, let’s hope there isn’t an attack on Coruscant within the next few days”

Davip frowned, “What do you mean?”

“Supreme Commander Girdun and a couple of Advisory Council members are coming up for an inspection of the Guardian” Jhementi replied, “Admiral Kwi-Nam is running a major clean up on the Guardian to try and impress his guests. He’s already taken the reactor offline for retuning”

“Of all the….” Davip was shocked, “It’ll taken him days to get the Guardian’s reactor back online. Even a cold start will take hours, disastrous if there is an attack”

“Agreed Sir” Jhementi added, “If an attack comes, the Guardian will be completely useless”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Devastator Class Star Dreadnaught Merciful Hand.
Unknown Location.

As she waited for her captors to notice that their prisoner was up and about, Jenna thought about her dream and what it could have meant.

She didn’t even know where to begin with most of her dream. Much of it was intensely chaotic, made little sense and was already becoming fuzzy in memory. The corridor scene however, was still firmly entrenched in her mind.

Realising she didn’t have the knowledge to interpret the dream fully, she instead approached it with the intention of finding the simplest answer.

The portraits, she theorized, represented the people as they saw themselves or as Jenna’s subconscious saw them, based on the predominant image within her memories. The image of her Grandfather from the stories of her Grandmother’s, her Father and Jaina as she had last seen them, the image of a lazy noble that her mother had always said was her greatest weapon against pushy Republic diplomats and Ambassadors.

Her own subconscious image of herself was disturbing, but she tried not to linger on that.

The mirrors on the other hand reflected –what- a possible future? A true image? Some sort of vision from the Force?

The lack of reflection to her own portrait did disturb her. Did it mean she had no other image other than one of madness? That she had no future?

She shuddered, the image of that grinning, mad harlequin rising back in her mind.

The sound of a security door opening stirred her from her thoughts. Shaking her head to clear her mind, she turned her attention to the here and now.

A section of wall had swung open revealing a doorway and a ships corridor beyond. Admitted into the room were two guards and –to Jenna’s surprise- Kuati Senator Viqi Shesh and two guards.

“Ahh” Shesh nodded, “You’re awake” She said it as though she hadn’t been notified as soon as Jenna had awoken.

“Senator Shesh” Jenna nodded carefully, “Or is that title inappropriate since you appear to be with the Neo-Separatists”

“And you’re so sure this isn’t a Republic vessel?” Shesh smiled sardonically.

“I’m pretty sure Jennir wouldn’t have incapacitated me and handed me straight over to the Republic” Jenna snorted.

“Jennir?” Shesh frowned.

“Your boss” Jenna scowled, “Dass Jennir. The Prime Councillor as he seems to be better known”

“Of course” Shesh nodded and silently added, “Finally something I can use against the old fool”

“As well” Jenna continued, mentally filing away Shesh’s reaction to the name, “I doubt if I had been rescued by my father, that he would have allowed me to be kept prisoner like this”

The Kuati woman smirked, “He may have had no choice. It seems that you and your friend left a trail of destruction behind you on your way to Nar Shaddaa. Dead bodies and unpaid landing fees on Bespin and more dead bodies on Nar Shaddaa” Shesh laughed, “It seems that Del Korvata still had some very powerful friends in Hutt Space despite his fall from grace. The Borusi Hutt clan has put a bounty on your head’

“As if I didn’t have enough problems,” Jenna muttered.

Shash smiled, happy with Jenna’s obvious discomfort at the news, “Never the less” She said, “Your original assumption was correct. I am very highly placed within the Neo-Separatists”

“You’re a member of the Society then?” Jenna asked.

Shesh hesitated, “You’re well informed,” She said carefully.

Jenna grinned coldly, “I like to know all about the people who mutilate me”

Something in Jenna’s tone and expression forced Shesh to take a step back, “Well, you’ll be learning a lot more about us and our organisation” She shot back, “You’ll be with us a while” She turned and made for the door.

Jenna nodded and then stared intently at the Kuati Senator, “Fine, but just so as you know. When I’m free of this place, I will hunt you down and I will kill you…..slowly”

Viqi Shesh turned to deliver a retort, but something in Jenna’s eyes made her hold her tongue and she fled the cell, the guards following and sealing the door behind them.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Medical Bay.
Defender Class Star Destroyer Archer.
Lianna Orbit.
One Day Later.

Jaina slipped the shirt over her head and pulled it down over her torso. Though still mindful of all the little aches and pains, she was happy to note that that last bacta dip had eliminated the sharp pain on the left side of her ribcage.

She was even happier to be out of the bacta tanks completely. Her interrogation-induced injuries had been severe enough to confine her to bacta tanks on an almost constant basis for several days. Yesterday she’d been pulled out of the tank for a full body scan and the MD-Bots had proscribed a day of bed rest and one last dip today.

An hour ago, she’d emerged from the tank for the last time and following a lengthy and slightly humiliating bacta collection process –even her ears had been drained of bacta residue- she’d been cleared and discharged from the care of the Archer’s medical staff.

Grabbing her jacket from the bench, she stepped from the small changing cubicle off set from the main medi-bay and found Jaden waiting for her, an odd smile on his face.

“Jaden” Jaina smiled, “I take it you’re here to take me planetside?”

“Yep” Jaden Loran nodded, “I’ve borrowed one of the Lianna Academy shuttles to get you back planetside before we head out again”

“We got a destination yet?” Jaina asked as Jaden led her out into the corridor.

“Well” Jaden answered carefully, “We’re still trying to interpret the recording of that map I made, but it’s low quality and incomplete, so it’s slow going” He shrugged, “In the meantime, Alya Ven provided us with a copy of the data dump from the Neo-Seps main base”

“Anything interesting?” Jaina raised an eyebrow in question.

“Of course” Jaden grinned, “We’re heading to Terminus. Seems the Neo-Seps have an important agent there. We’re going to go after him and get him talking, see if he can point us in the right direction”

“As long as it leads to Jenna, I’m game” Jaina nodded, “I’m not giving up on my friend”

“Neither are the rest of us,” Jaden said solemnly.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dodonna Memorial Highway.
Liberty District. (Formally The Works)
Coruscant.

Lieutenant Gavos Shan of the Coruscant Constabulary watched as the emergency teams began the process of cutting open the speeder to retrieve the corpse of the man inside.

It had been a particularly nasty accident. Dumb hotshot in a brand new XP-70 Sports Airspeeder had lost control of his shiny new toy, bounced it off a freight hauler and dropped two hundred feet down onto the Dodonna Memorial Highway, forcing sixteen landspeeders and a bus full of tourists into a complete fender bender that blocked the entire highway.

Miraculously, apart from cuts and bruises, the only casualty was the idiot in the XP-70, killed when his airspeeder had hit the ground.

Shan watched the rescue team lift the roof from the speeder, then looked at the ID he had pulled from the dead mans jacket.

“Ov Brin” Shan muttered to himself, “Customs Officer, Warehouse Seventeen, Mon Mothma Spaceport”

Shan had run into Ov Brin twice before. Most recently, Shan had been the investigating officer on site at an accident at Warehouse Seventeen only a day ago. Some kid had gotten himself mashed by a loader mech. The other encounter had been about six months ago, when Shan had been the responding officer to a domestic disturbance between Brin and his now ex-second-wife.

At the time, Brin had been pleading with his ex to cut some slack with his alimony payments as he barely made enough from his job as a customs officer to pay both ex-wives.

“Now suddenly” Shan thought, “Brin has –had- a brand new XP-70. That’s a half a million in credits there. Where did he suddenly get the cash? Is it connected to the death of that young Corellian?”

One thing he’d noticed about the crash was the damage to the port thrusters. It didn’t seem as if it had been caused in the crash. In fact, it seemed more like it had suffered a small explosion inside the thruster tube, one that was too concentrated to be accidental.

Shan arranged the facts in his head. Young man is killed in an accident, shortly after a previously cash strapped fellow customs employee purchases an expensive airspeeder and is also killed in an apparent accident.

“Is there something bigger going on here?” Shan thought, “If there is, I’ll find it. We’ll get this speeder back to the lab and go over it with a fine toothed comb”

“And then, we’ll start on that warehouse”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cadet Briefing Room Four-B.
Lianna Military Academy.
Lianna.

As Jaden led Jaina into the briefing room, she took a moment to glance at the occupants within,

Both Face and Halley Kadorto stood in the centre of the ‘bowl’, next to the holo-projector that dominated the room.

On the left hand side of the walkway were the Wraiths –Kai, Katrin Halcyon, Void and Rrowv- along with a man Jaina didn’t recognise, though she did note that he wore the Corellian BloodStripes.

On the right hand side, Deven Tarn and Corran Horn sat towards the front as they discussed something on a datapad.

A short distance further around, Oddball and Lowbacca were sat together. Both perhaps feeling they didn’t really fit in with any of the others in the room.

Face saw the two of them enter and nodded in greeting, but held off speaking until Jaden and Jaina had joined Oddball and Lowbacca.

“Ok” Face said, once the two were seated, “I’ll avoid the usual pre-briefing talk and skip straight to the bare bones” He gestured to Halley and the Academy Commandant activated the holo-projector, “This is Grok Treth” He said as the image of a Gotal appeared above the projector, “He owns a number construction and shipping companies on Terminus and according to the data recovered by the Genyosha, he’s also a Neo-Separatist agent with a direct line to the Prime Councillor”

“Our best bet for catching up with Jenna and that massive battleship” Deven cut in.

“Indeed” Face nodded, “We’ll go in and grab him and get him to talk. There are a few issues however”

“Such as?” Jaina asked as she leant forwards.

“First, is the word in question” Face answered as an image of Terminus sprung to life in holo, “Terminus is on the edge of Hutt Space and despite –or because of- it’s proximity to the ass-end of nowhere, it is heavily trafficked by smugglers, slavers and shipping companies who prefer to avoid paying transit taxes. Its level of lawlessness also makes Mos Eisley look like a police state” He sighed, “Finally, We don’t have recon on this one. We have two possible addresses for our target so we’ll be hitting both locations and hoping to the Force he’s at one of them”

“And the hard part?” Kai smirked.

Face shot a disproving look at the Twi’lek, “Make no mistake, this is going to be messy. We’ll be going in hard and fast and facing off against both the Terminus Security Forces and Treth’s private militia. We may also have to deal with New Republic Forces”

Corran sat up, “This is off the books then?”

“Yes” Face nodded, “I’ll understand if any of you don’t want to get involved, but if the NRI get Treth, we may never get Jenna back or stop the Prime Councillor before it’s too late. Incidentally, We’ve confirmed from the part of the exoskeleton we recovered and some blood samples on it that the Prime Councillor is Old Republic Jedi Knight Dass Jennir”

“So we have a name to go with the man” Deven scowled.

“We do” Face glanced at Jaina and her group and indicated the man with the Wraiths, “For those of you who haven’t met him. This is Myn Donos. Many years ago he served with the Wraiths and served as the squadrons second-in-command as well as the unit sniper. He’ll be joining us from now on and will be our ace in the hole if things go hot”

“At least I finally caught up with you” Donos grinned, “Been chasing you guys halfway across the galaxy. Thought you might have needed my help after that big tussle in the Deep Core”

“We appreciate it” Face smirked. He nodded to Halley, “Thanks to Halley, both the Sacul and the Wraith have been repaired and rearmed and we’ll be using some of the Visage patented equipment we took on at Tirahnn”

“The basic plan is as follows. Team One –consisting of myself, Deven and Katrin will hit Treth’s offices at the Treth Construction Company in the capital city of Terminus-Prime” As he spoke, the holo focused on a tall glass sided building that looked out of place next to the older, squatter buildings that comprised much of the city.

“Security?” Katrin asked.

“Light” Face answered, “Apparently Treth relies on his private militia for security instead of paying for expensive anti-intruder systems. At the same time, Team Two –Corran, Void and Rrowv- will hit his private penthouse here” The holo moved to display a building that was shorter than the TCC Building, but no less arrogant, “Objectives are the same for both teams, get in, determine if Treth is present, grab him and reach the exfiltration point”

Donos picked things up at this point, “Kai and the Sacul will drop me off on the summit of the tallest building that sits on a straight line between both targets. From there I’ll be able to provide fire support to both teams if needed” He gestured to Lowbacca, “Lowbacca will be backing me up”

Face nodded, “Kai will be flying support in the Wraith and will drop off Teams One and Two and will be standing by pick up both teams and the package”

“I’d prefer to take the Sacul in,” Kai muttered.

“The Sacul is too easily recognised” Halley pointed out, “Which is going to be a real problem if you run into New Republic or NRI teams out there”

“That’s why the Sacul will be on standby in the shadow of the moon” Face nodded, “If things get too hairy, Sacul can fly herself in to support us, but only as a last resort”

Jaina exchanged a look with Jaden and Oddball, “What about us?” She asked.

“You’re our backup plan” Face replied, “There’s a TCC Super Freighter docked at one of Terminus’ orbital facilities, We’re pretty sure it’s heading out to somewhere on the Rim, possibly where the Prime Councillor and Jenna are headed. If we can’t get Treth then it’ll be up to you three to get aboard that ship with a hypercomm tracer”

“Seems easy” Jaina frowned, “Why isn’t that the primary plan?”

“Because the freighter is droid crewed, no organics, hence no atmosphere” Face continued, “You’ll spend the entire trip –however long it is- in EV suits”

“Ahhh” Jaina nodded in understanding.

“Now” Face nodded, “That’s the basic outline. Let’s get working on the details”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Academy Landing Fields.
Twelve Hours Later.

“Thanks again for all your help, Halley” Face smiled as He offered his hand.

“A pleasure” Halley accepted the handshake, “Sorry I couldn’t drum up more help”

“We’ll make do” Face shrugged, “Getting our ships bumped up in the repair lists was appreciated as was the use of your academy facilities”

“Not a problem” Halley smirked, “Anything to help old friends. I’d come with, but so much to do here”

“And Tela would kill you?” Face pointed out.

“And Tela would kill me” Halley agreed, “It took months for her to forgive me for that jaunt to Skye ten years ago with you guys” He scowled, “Speaking of which, you still owe me for that shuttle that got wrecked giving you and Corran that lift”

“Really?” Face looked hurt, “I thought Visage Enterprises had that covered”

“They did and they sent a squadron of X-wing trainers as well as a replacement shuttle,” Halley answered, “But ‘you’” He poked Face in the chest, “still owe me”

Face winced, “A favour then?”

“A favour” Face grinned, “Back to the main topic. You sure about this little unsanctioned mission of yours? You’re intending on grabbing this Treth and keeping him from Republic hands. If you get caught snatching the prize, you’re liable to be labelled renegades”

“I know” Face sighed, “But if I could count on the NRI getting the info from Treth quickly enough to make it count, I’d let them do the job. Unfortunately, they’ll wait until the have evidence to support his arrest and interrogation and then they’ll take their time doing it”

“Good point” Halley nodded, “You guys be careful okay”

Face smirked, “Hey, we always are”

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Military Landing Zone Three.
Ten Miles East Of Nashira.
Skye.
Two Days Later.

Colonel Soria Onasi, commander of the Republic Rangers, felt a deep sense of foreboding as she rode in the landpseeder on its way from the Military Spaceport.
For two days since her Rangers had made landing, they’d been restricted to the spaceport grounds and held incommunicado and now suddenly, a speeder had been sent to collect her and her XO, Sharon Omizuku.

Questioning of the Liaison Officer had been non-productive with the man shrugging off her queries and concerns and with the holo-net access locked down; Soria couldn’t even glean news from the local networks.

Curiously, it had been Jonah Levin himself who had come with the speeder, but both he and the driver were sidestepping her questions.

Their silence did irritate and annoy her, but that paled into insignificance next to the feeling of unease the descent planet side had elicited. A full battle group –five hundred ships- sat in orbit around Skye and together with Skye’s twin Golan II’s, six MAC platforms and turbolaser defence grid, made it the most heavily defended world in the sector.

Was someone expecting Skye to come under attack?

It was possible. The Neo-Separatists had shown little logic in most of their attacks, but they had struck at some important worlds. Fondor and Mon Calamari for the shipyards, Tanaab for its position on the Perlemian Trade Route and Druckenwell and Balmorra for the weapon design labs and assembly factories. Skye provided a significant amount of minerals and resources mined from it’s moons and it’s loss or at least the disruption on the mining operations would hurt the New Republic for at least the short term, enough to shift the war in a new direction.

Planetside, things were a little subtler in terms of defensive preparations. A few troops here, a patrol there. A few key buildings or locations had been reinforced, but as far as Soria could see, things were business as usual on Skye.

But the possibility of an attack on Skye did not explain the mobilization of forces Skye wasn’t supposed to have. Large numbers of troops and ships bearing Skye colours had deployed at nearly a hundred worlds in this area of the rim, yet Skye should possess only a tiny fraction of those numbers.

Where were those forces coming from? Why did they have Skye insignia? What were they doing?

She was stirred from her thoughts as the speeder pulled onto the main street leading up to the Royal Palace. Soria was surprised to see a small gathering outside the gates, from what she could see, they appeared to be protesting.

“What’s going on?” Sharon Omizuku asked.

“Usual protest” Levin answered, his first real words of the trip, “Last three days they’ve been protesting regarding proposed tax on certain pesticides and animal feed”

“Let me guess” Soria sighed, “They’re the farmers affected by the tax”

“Actually” Levin laughed, “The tax is offset by subsidies on crop seed and machinery parts, so the farmers aren’t to miffed. These guys are protesting that the tax doesn’t go far enough. Mostly out of towners paid by a couple of the farming conglomerates to try and turn attention on the tax. Nothing important”

Soria frowned, “Are you saying you don’t have discontent here?”

Sharon snorted, “It’s been a few years since I left, but I doubt Skye has changed that much. Every government decision made ticks somebody off”

Levin smiled, “It hasn’t changed. A few months ago there were a series of strikes by workers on the shipyard facilities”

Sharon nodded, “We have just as much discontent as any other world, its just Skye has a long history of peaceful protest. If we’re unhappy about something, we turn up, complain and then go home”

“So how do you enforce change?” Soria frowned.

“We hope someone listens” Sharon deadpanned.

“And will someone finally start listening to me?” Soria asked.

“Yes” Levin answered.


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Location: England
Royal Museum.
Skye Royal Palace.
Nashira.
Skye.

To their surprise, Soria and Sharon were not conducted to Oslo-Tarn’s main offices, but were instead escorted to the Royal Museum.

In the museum lobby, Jonah Levin indicated one of the passageways, “Just follow the route around until you reach the Pre-Empire exhibits, they’re signposted, can’t miss them”

Soria nodded, then set off in the indicated direction before stopping and turning to Sharon who had begun to follow.

“Actually, Sharon” Soria said, “It might be better if I did this alone, might seem less confrontational”

“But..” Sharon started to say, “Okay, I’ll wait here”

Setting off again through the museum, Soria ran things through her mind. Clearly Oslo-Tarn wanted whatever was said to remain unofficial, why else would the meeting be here in the museum rather than her offices?

Whatever it was, Soria guessed she was going to discover the answers to many of her questions.

“Such as where all those Skye troops have been coming from,” Soria mused, “Why they’re reinforcing the Rim so heavily and why I’ve been held incommunicado for the last two days”

As she made her way through the various exhibits, she marvelled at the variety of artefacts that had been collected here. She felt overwhelmed by how much time, effort and credits it must have taken to build such a collection, one that almost rivalled that of the Galactic Museum.

She found the Pre-Empire exhibit easily, The massive head of a Clone Wars era AT-AT prototype sat on a large pedestal in the archway that lead from the Past Skye Fashions exhibit to the Pre-Empire Exhibit.

It was a dead giveaway.

Stepping around the disembodied cockpit, Soria moved into the chamber that housed the Pre-Empire exhibit and in amongst the Clone Trooper armour, the LJ-50 Concussion Rifles and the long inert Battle Droids, she found Trinity Oslo-Tarn, Queen of Skye.

To her surprise though, Oslo-Tarn wasn’t alone. With her was a blue skinned Chiss in an old style Imperial Grand Admiral’s uniform.

It took Soria a moment to recognise the Chiss, but when she did she almost stumbled in shock. She’d not been in the military when he’d lead the big Imperial Counter Offensive against the New Republic, but she’d seen enough of the holos and the historical vids to recognise one of the greatest tactical minds ever to have lived.

Grand Admiral Thrawn.

The brilliant Imperial commander, who was supposed to be dead, killed by his own bodyguard.

Forcing herself to focus on Oslo-Tarn and avoid staring at the apparently resurrected Thrawn, Soria saluted the ruler of Skye and executed a respectful bow.

“Highness” Soria said respectfully, making sure she kept her tone suitable for addressing a planetary leader, “You requested my presence?”

“I did” Oslo-Tarn nodded, “I have a proposition for your unit, but first I need you to tell me you’ll at least hear me out”

“What if I hear you out and don’t agree to this proposition of yours?” Soria asked carefully, wishing she had brought Sharon Omizuku with her to even the odds.

Oslo-Tarn hesitated for a moment, “It depends. Depending on your reaction to my proposition we may have to hold you and your Rangers here on Skye until such time as I deem otherwise”

“Hostages?” Soria said carefully.

Oslo-Tarn shook her head, “No, you won’t be harmed and I promise, once things are in place you and your Rangers will be free to go….assuming you don’t accept my proposal”

Sora thought for a few moments, “Fine, I’ll hear you out. It’s the least I can do”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Customs Warehouse Seventeen.
Mon Mothma Space Port.
Liberty District. (Formally The Works)
Coruscant.
Three Days Later.

Lieutenant Gavos Shan of the Coruscant Constabulary scowled as he looked over the reports and forms.
After finding nothing definitive on the wreck of Ov Brin’s speeder Shan had ordered an inspection of Customs Warehouse Seventeen. He obtained a warrant and with a full investigation team had begun the process of turning the warehouse upside down.

Shave snorted in disgust. Brin may have thought he was covering his tracks well, passing an un-inspected container through and then implicating an innocent young man, but Brin had been too sloppy.

The framed Corellian wasn’t even cleared for inspecting cargo, so his signature on inspection paperwork stuck out like a sore thumb. Digging deeper, Shan pulled up images from security cams Brin hadn’t even been aware of. Those images showed Brin breaking the seals on the suspect container and immediately resealing it without even looking at the contents.

Once he’d seen those images, Shan began putting things together.

Someone had paid Ov Brin a considerable sum of credits to pass an un-inspected container through this warehouse.

Brin had implicated a junior customs worker. If he was responsible for that man’s subsequent death, then Shan would find the evidence.

Whoever had paid Brin had then subsequently eliminated him via tampering with his shiny new speeder.

Still, knowing what Brin had done was one thing, but Shan now had three jobs. Finding were the container had come from, where it was going and discovering the identities of Brin’s paymasters.

Shan looked up as a member of his investigation team –Taggart- entered the little office Shan had appropriated in the warehouse.

“Sir” Taggart –a young woman from Tanaab- nodded, “We scanned the area that container had been located in and, well, we found something”

“What?” Shan asked as Taggart handed him a datapad. He frowned at the contents then looked back at her, “Radiation?”

“Only small traces” Taggart replied, “But definitely in the gamma range”

“Atomics” Shan muttered, “What the hell kind of fool brings something like that here?”

“I think” Taggart said carefully, “The real question is, what do they plan to do with them?”

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Devastator Class Star Dreadnaught Merciful Hand.
Unknown Location.

Jenna hated to admit it, but she was impressed with the Merciful Hand. She knew this ‘Devastator’ class was a larger and more powerful variant on the old Invincible Class Star Dreadnaught.

As powerful and deadly as an Executor Class as it was, Jenna was relieved to discover that the Neo-Seps had only managed to build one of these before the loss of the Rakatan shipyard.

And apparently even now, work crews continued construction work of much of the ships internal structure.

Jenna was even more impressed by the sheer amount of droid control over the ship. A standard Invincible had required over twelve thousand crew members, a ship this size should have needed almost five times as much.
However, Jenna had been told –though she didn’t consider the information completely reliable- that the Devastator was crewed by less than ten thousand organics. Another twenty thousand droids and ten thousand droid brains rounded out the crew numbers.

However, Jenna may have been impressed, but she was also angry. She was onboard one of the most powerful vessels in the galaxy and she couldn’t do anything about it.

She glanced down at the thick bracelet that tightly ringed the wrist of her right arm. Viqi Shesh had taken great pleasure in describing the features of the ‘Pacification Bracelet’ to her. Shock charges for initial pacification, with increasing levels of shock the more she resisted. A specially developed neuro-toxin that would spike her blood pressure and heart rate and allow the knockout juice to take her down in seconds.

The last part, Jenna didn’t want to think about too much. Three pounds of Nergon-7 laced into the bracelet, just enough to take her arm if it was detonated.

She shuddered as she tried not to think about what that would feel like, but was stirred from her thoughts as the door to her room/cell opened and admitted two guards, one of whom wore a Ysalamiri harness.

“Come with us” The guard without the harness ordered and gestured with his blaster.

With a sigh, Jenna nodded and allowed them to escort her from her room. She considered asking them where she was being taken, but her arm still tingled from the stun charge that had been unleashed the last time she’d asked them.

Of course, goading them would be even stupider. I that case, they’d use the highest stun setting and then for good measure, beat her.

Jenna did have to admit her guards were experts at administering beatings. Inflict as much hurt as possible without doing any actual damage. She’d picked up more than a few bruises over the last two days, but nothing particularly major.

To her surprise she wasn’t conducted to one of the secure lounges she’d previously been led to. Instead, the guards escorted her to what looked to be a dining room.

The room itself was tastefully decorated with expensive drapes and carpeting, though the variety of Jedi and Sith artifacts arranged on pedestals around the room raised or lowered the level of taste depending on their origin.

The longest wall of the room was a single view port –at the minute showing the swirling blue of hyperspace- and was covered in the almost tiny telltales of holoprojectors, telling her that that view of space could be replaced with a holo of a planetary landscape at any time.

The centrepiece of the room was an enormous table, one that was loaded with food, dishes from across the galaxy. Crepes Malrequx, Fiery Fornax Rings, Spiced Grazer Loaf, Ramorean Capanata, Melahnese, Nyork Chowder and even Moonglow.

Just the sight of all that food set Jenna’s mouth watering and with the rumbling in her stomach reminded her that she hadn’t eating more than a few bites in almost a week. The smell of spices and oils assailed her senses and she fought her urge to dive at the table and stuff her face. She fought against the urge so much however, that it took a moment to realise that the guards had left her alone in the room, though she noted the one bearing the Ysalamiri remained outside the door so as to keep her covered by the negative force bubble.

Hungrily she pounced on the selection of food on offer, grabbing handfuls of food and stuffing her mouth full before forcing herself to slow down and take smaller bites.

“So this” A voice cut into the air behind Jenna, “Is what passes for etiquette and civility in the New Jedi Order?”

Jenna spun around in surprise, mouth full of Orlisian Nut Loaf and sauce still dripping down her chin.

Dass Jennir –attired in an older style Jedi tunic and robes that just covered his exoskeleton- stood in the open doorway of a second door into the room. His age lined face bore an expression that was a mix of amusement, disgust and an air of superiority.

“What do you expect?” Jenna spat out the mouthful of food and swiped the sauce from her chin with the sleeve of her jumpsuit, “Your bully boys have near starved me since I was brought onboard”

“My apologies” Jenner said dryly, “But perhaps if you hadn’t tried escaping, the guards wouldn’t have had to suspend your meals as punishment”

“Touche” Jenna remarked, “Perhaps if I weren’t being kept against my will, I wouldn’t be trying to escape”

“You can leave anytime” Jennir smiled.

“What?” Jenna frowned.

Jennir nodded, “There’s an airlock just down the corridor, but unfortunately, I can’t spare any EV suits”

Jenna stared at him for a few moments, fighting a growing desire to strike out at the aged Jedi. Instead, she satisfied herself with the metal image of using the force to wrench open his mouth and cramming every piece of food on the table down his throat until he exploded.

Unfortunately, that image was very unlikely to happen. The Ysalamiri was blocking her, her control wasn’t that good, plus her medication –courteously provided by her captors- was keeping her worsening mental state in check which meant that she likely couldn’t bring herself to do such an act.

Instead, she asked, “Why am I here?”

“On this ship or in this room?” Jennir asked.

“Both” Jenna snapped, picking up a Corellian Spiced Ball and taking a bite.

“You are on this ship because you still have a part to play in my plans” Jennir answered coldly, “As for why you are in this room, well…” He glanced at a chrono on the wall, “…If you’ll turn to the viewports, I believe you’re about to enjoy a sight few have enjoyed for Millennia”

Frowning, Jenna turned to the view port just in time to see the swirling colours of hyperspace collapse into real space. From the sparseness of the stars in the immediate vicinity and the sight of the Galactic Disk told her they were on the very edge of the galaxy.

She wondered briefly which ‘edge’ they were on until she remembered the holo map on Rhen Var that had traced a route out past Gamorr.

“There it is” Jennir whispered.

Jenna looked where Jennir was pointing and saw a world slipping into view less than a hundred kilometres distant. From this distance, she could tell oceans from land, and the world itself seemed quite pretty and almost habitable; the seas were blue and the land a mix of brown and green.

However, Jenna knew something was wrong with the world she was looking at. Much of the planet was swathed in thick clouds which were almost as black as the void of space itself and even without having access to the force, Jenna felt what could only be a great darkness emanating from the planet.

As the Merciful Hand approached the planet and began to settle into an orbital path, Jenna began to pick out other details.
Grey areas that had once been cities, blasted into ruin and overgrown by plantlife, massive craters that time had turned into circular lakes and oceans and one feature in particular. A massive chasm that tore across one of the largest continents and had to be wider than this ship was long and almost ten times that in length.

“What happened here?” Jenna whispered aloud.

“The final act of a war that almost wiped life from this galaxy before current history was even written” Jennir answered, “And were I shall in a single action bring about the birth of a new galaxy under my guidance”

He turned to Jenna, “Ms Tarn, welcome to Nystera”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Terminus-Prime Capital City.
Terminus.
Seven Thousand Feet Straight Up And Falling Fast.

They burst from the highest level of cloud cover like missiles. Well, humanoid sized and shaped missiles. Arrayed in loose formation, the three objects continuously made slight adjustments to their courses, keeping themselves on a tight and very specific trajectory. Aiming for the one building that stood taller and more arrogantly above the rest of the buildings of the city of Terminus-Prime.

Clad in his Sylph Combat Drop Armour, Deven could not feel the air tearing across him as he dropped at several dozen meters a second and other than a slight whistle could not hear its roar either.

Though visually little more than an aerodynamically styled set of Infiltrator Armour, the Sylph was actually one of the most advanced pieces of tech to come out of the New Republics Research and Development Department.

Aerodynamically styled to minimize air disturbance, it was designed specifically to allow troops to be inserted onto an enemy held world without the need for a landing craft.
Manoeuvring vanes on shoulders, hips and legs offered some degree of control and with an advanced Heads Up Display that tracked targets and threats on both the ground and in the air, displayed weather patterns and provided relevant information such as airspeed, height from ground and temperature, the Sylph was one of the R&D Departments best kept secret projects.

How Face had acquired five of them, Deven didn’t really want to know. But he was grateful for them. Plus once they were on the ground, the energy dampening plating and ballistic cloth would be most appreciated.


Since he, Face and Katrin had jumped from the Wraith two thousand feet higher up; the adrenaline had been pumping big time.

THIS was what he missed. The adventure, the death defying antics, the jumping out of a perfectly good spacecraft for the sheer hell of it.

Granted he –like most of the old Rogues and Wraiths- was getting on in years. He wasn’t a young man anymore, he only had one eye and most of the people he encountered –regardless on whether they were on his side- were half his age, in better shape and hadn’t been retired for the last ten years.

But he didn’t care; he was having the time of his life.

With a twitch of his shoulders he sent himself drifting closer to the forms of Face and Katrin.

Up ahead –which also happened to be down below- the target building towered above the surrounding buildings in the same way that a kid held back several grades at school towers over the other kids in his class.

The Treth Construction Company Headquarters was a testament to the arrogance of one Gotal and the ease by which planning permission can be granted on Terminus.
It was a massive granite and transparisteel monstrosity that looked completely out of place amongst the Pre-Empire construction around it and would’ve been more at home on Coruscant.

The landing pad on the roof –large enough to land a Corvette sized vessel- was their landing zone and considering the size of the pad, they’d need to be incompetent or drunk to miss it.

Fortunately they were neither.

“Three thousand feet” Katrin’s voice crackled across the comms.

“”At two thousand five hundred, we’ll deploy our first stage chutes” Face instructed, “At two thousand, cut the primaries and deploy secondary chutes and we’ll glide in from there”

“Copy” Deven answered as he readjusted the blaster rifle strapped to his front. Last thing he wanted was to land hard, catch the rifle with his knee and break his own jaw with the butt end.

They’d decided to make their insertions just before dawn. The darkness would hide their landings and they would have time to infiltrate the building before Grok Treth arrived.

“Assuming he arrives at the same time as the rest of his employees” Deven thought.

That was why Corran and Team Two were hitting Treth’s penthouse. With any luck, if he was late setting off for the office, they’d catch him there.
Of course, there was the risk that he might be enroute between locations when the teams hit. But they’d deal with that if occurred. As Face had pointed out, they didn’t have the recon on this mission so they’d be winging it.

They were on a tight schedule though. As they had hit planetary atmosphere and prepared to jump, Sacul had reported that she’d picked up New Republic Intelligence Encrypts from somewhere in Terminus-Prime, meaning that the NRI where likely after Treth too.

From the encrypts Sacul had decoded she had established that the NRI forces were still setting up and wouldn’t be ready to move on Treth for at least a few more hours. It was a narrow window, but it still left them a chance to grab Treth before the NRI did.

There was the chance that they would have to go up against the NRI, but that was a worse case scenario. They fully planned to have Treth off planet before the NRI even moved for him.

“Two thousand five hundred feet. Mark!” Katrin called.

Cursing himself for getting distracted with his thoughts, Deven pulled the ripcord for his primary shoot and nearly lost his lunch as he was suddenly jerked upright. Above him his primary chute –no bigger than a Tauntaun- rippled furiously as it fought to bleed off the tremendous speed he’d built up doing his descent.

Off to his left Face had also deployed his primary chute and to the former child actors left Katrin had done likewise. Gently, Deven pulled on his steering cords, redirecting himself back towards the TCC rooftop and their landing zone.

The next five hundred feet seemed to take hours, but at the speeds they were still travelling, it was no more than a minute or two.

“Two thousand feet. Mark!” Katrin again called out.

Obligingly all three cut their primary chutes free and after a few brief seconds of free fall deployed their secondary chutes. The secondary chutes were far larger than the primary’s and were easier to manoeuvre. The purpose of the primaries was simply to bleed off a huge chunk of speed, otherwise the secondary chutes might not have deployed correctly if they were descending too fast.

Happily, everyone’s secondary chute deployed correctly and soon all three were descending towards the TCC headquarters roof.

When the landing came, it was rougher than Deven would have hoped. His right knee buckled and he tumbled to the side, turning into a roll that bled off his momentum.
Coming back up on one knee, Deven glanced over to where Face and Katrin had made their own landings and then began winding in his chute, ready to tuck it back into his pack.

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Orbital Docking Facilities.
Terminus Orbit.

Space around Terminus was crowded. As well as two antique Golan Defense platforms and a massive Cardan-Class Space Station, the orbital paths of Terminus were filled with freighters and transports of all sizes and conditions, cargo haulers and patrol craft.
Meanwhile, a few squadrons of fighters patrolled the local area, lazily circling the area.

Cutting through the chaos that dominated Terminus’ orbit was a small Dewback-Class Cargo Hauler tracing a route from a cargo storage area to a large Galactic-Class Freighter on the fringe of the high traffic zones.
Clinging to the haulers belly like offspring were two cargo containers and attached like limpets to those containers were three EV suited figures.

Gripping the handgrips of her magno clamps tighter Jaina tried to will her body closer to the container. Considering her bulky EV suit, she doubted she could actually get any closer.

“Nervous?” Jaden’s voice crackled across the comline.

Jaina turned her head to try and see Jaden’s EV suited form, but in the bulky suit she achieved little but to see more of the inside of her helmet.

“A little” Jaina answered, “Never liked zero-g. Too disorienting, can’t sort up from down, makes me sick”

“You need to take your mind off things” Jaden replied, “Focus on something else”

“How about this?” Oddball’s voice cut in, “If a woodchuck could chuck wood, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

Jaina frowned, “A woodchuck would chuck no amount of wood since a woodchuck can’t chuck wood”

Oddball chuckled, “But if a woodchuck could chuck and would chuck some amount of wood, what amount of wood would a woodchuck chuck?”

Jaina shook her head, the movement feeling weird in the lack of gravity and large helmet, “Even if a woodchuck could chuck wood and even if a woodchuck would chuck wood, should a woodchuck chuck wood?”

Another chuckle, “A woodchuck should chuck wood, if a woodchuck could chuck wood, as long as a woodchuck would chuck wood”

Jaina sighed in exasperation, “Shut up”

“Heads up” Jaden cut back in, “We’ve got a patrol craft coming this way. Radio silence”

Jaina nodded, with the heavy duty comm encrypts and the transmitter strength turned right down, it was unlikely there comm traffic would be picked up, but it was best not to take chances.

Twisting slightly, Jaina managed to align her view with the incoming IPV-1 System Patrol Craft. The wedge shaped craft was on a course that would bring it passing by the Dewback, very close by.
Their proximity to the Dewback would shield them from a sensor scan, but the IPV-1 might pass by close enough to spot them visually, at that range the naked eye would be far more accurate than any sensor.

It was tense few minutes as the patrol craft passed by them. Jaina’s heart seemed to hammer its way up to her head and bounced away between her ears as the IPV-1 passed so close that she imagined she could reach out and brush her hand across the hull.
Reaching out with the force, she sensed the presence of the Patrol Craft’s four man crew, all four filled with boredom and a lack of attention to the duty they were performing.

Soon enough however, the Patrol Craft had passed by without any sign or sense of alarm. As she watched the Patrol craft get smaller, Jaina let out a sigh of relief, one that turned into a startled hiccup as her view of space spun around as the Dewback turned onto a new course.

“Another ten minutes and we’ll be close enough to cut loose and drift across to the target” Jaden’s voice came back across the comms.

“How long before the point of no return?” Oddball asked.

“Two hours” Jaina answered glancing at the holo-chrono in her helmets HUD, “That’s when the Pride Of Tatooine makes her hyperspace jump. If we haven’t received an abort code from any of the other teams within an hour, we cut our way into the Pride and hunker down for the ride”

And that was the big problem with the plan. The three of them were assigned to board the massive Galactic Class Freighter under the belief that the other two teams would fail. If either team succeeded, then an abort code would be sent to the aptly named ‘Infiltrators’ and they’d call in the Scaul for an immediate pickup.
If they didn’t receive the abort code then it would be assumed that the other teams had failed and that locating Jenna, the Prime Councillor and wherever they had gone would fall to the Infiltrators.

Problems would arise however if the abort came after the Infiltrators had cut their way into the Pride, then depending on how close they were to the point of no return, they would face a race against time to get of the ship before it jumped into hyperspace.

And haste had a tendency to get people killed.

To that end Jaina, Oddball and Jaden had agreed that regardless of whether they received an abort code, they would still board the Pride for its hyperspace jump. They’d decided that they couldn’t delay in reaching Jenna, a decision that had been hastened by a sense of foreboding that had apparently surrounded a vision Jaden had experienced.

Jaden had refused to elaborate on the details of the vision, but he had implied it was serious.

Jaina was extremely worried by the implication. She remembered the events on Hapes and Jenna’s anguish and feelings of anger and desire for revenge after her diagnosis and removal from the flight roster.

Jaina remembered the silent promise she’d made to Jenna after the incident, that she would kill her friend rather than allow her to fall to the Dark Side.

And it was a promise she’d keep.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Grok Treth’s Private Penthouse.
Terminus-Prime Capital City.
Terminus.

“Rarely” Corran thought, “Has an operation gone so smoothly as to be completely uneventful and still be a failure”

With a sigh, Corran glanced around the empty penthouse as Void and Rrowv poked around in the other rooms. They’d hit and made entry into the Penthouse on time and without any trouble at all.

There had been only minimal security and everything had gone smoothly.

Only for them to find Treth hadn’t been there for some time.

A quick check revealed that he hadn’t used his key code for three days and a review of his comm turned up a standing notice from Treth that he would be using accommodation at his main offices for the next week or so while he finalised some big contracts.

“Anything useful?” Corran asked as Rrowv re-entered the main room.

“Nothing” The Togorian growled in answered, “It would seem that Treth keeps nothing here that could incriminate him”

“So it would seem” Void hissed emerging from the bedroom.

Corran sighed again, “At least we should be grateful we had no major trouble. Hopefully, things are going better for one of the other teams”


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Treth Construction Company Headquarters.
Seventy-Third Floor.

Deven wasn’t sure which was funnier. The expression on Grok Treth’s face when Face kicked his office door in, or the expression on his face when Deven, Face and Katrin all pointed their blasters at him.

“What? Who? Who are you?” Treth spluttered in shock.

“Hi, Grok Treth?” Face grinned from behind the mirrored faceplate of his helmet, “We have some questions for you and we’d like the answers”

“What are you talking about?” Treth protested, “What questions? I have no idea what you are talking about. What about the questions I asked you?”

Face gestured with his blaster, “We’re the ones with the weapons. We get our questions answered first”

For a moment it looked like Treth was going to argue, but he slumped back in his seat, “Fine, but I don’t know what I can really tell you. I am just a building contractor after all”

Face took two steps forwards and leaning across Treth’s desk, put the barrel of his blaster under the Gotal’s chin, “You are also highly placed within the Neo-Separatist organisation, with a direct line to the Prime-Councillor himself”

“I don’t…..I don’t know what…..” Treth stammered, then looked down at the blaster under his chin, “Fine” He sighed, “What do you want to know?”

“I hear you have a very large shipment heading out” Face answered, then nodded to Katrin who stepped forwards.

“Forty-two hundred and fifty thousand tonnes of duracrete, transparisteel and durasteel, two city class EVS Construction Droids, three self deploying docking facilities” Katrin said, “Two hundred drop and deploy turbo laser batteries and one hundred D&D concussion missile batteries and one self deploying Titan Class Command Facility”

Treth’s mouth worked for a few moments, “How do you know this?”

“We have our sources” Face laughed, “Plus your security net is pretty poor. Now where is that shipment heading?”

For a heartbeat it looked as if the Gotal was going to refuse the question, but then he remembered the blaster under his chin, “Out beyond Gamorr. The Prime-Councillor has found some planet out there and he wants to establish a base as soon as possible. The shipment is due to leave within the hour and will arrive in about a week, The Prime-Councillor wanted it there when he arrived, but we had delays”

“Where is this planet?” Deven demanded.

“I have the coordinates on a data pad in my desk” Treth answered reaching for the draw.

“Not so fast” Face warned, then glanced at Deven, “My friend here will get it”

Stepping around the desk, Deven opened up the draw and produced a data pad and small holdout blaster, “Weren’t planning on using this were you?” He asked as he passed the data pad to Katrin.

“No, no, no, no” Treth shook his head in terror, “I wouldn’t have”

“Good” Face nodded, he turned to Katrin, “Well, is it legit?”

“Looks like it” Katrin replied, “Won’t know for sure till I can compare it to our own star charts and that recording from Rhen Var”

“It’ll have to do” Face sighed, glancing at Treth, “I think our friend here might be able to shed more information given time, but I have neither the patience or inclination to drag his ass to the evac point”

“Can’t leave him here to call security on us as soon as we leave the room” Deven pointed out.

“Good point” Face shrugged, “Deal with him”

“Wait” Treth protested, “You can kill me, I helped yo……..” His protests were abruptly cut off as Deven drove the butt of his blaster into the back of the Gotal’s head and blasted him into unconsciousness.

“No one said anything about killing you” Face said to the still breathing, but oblivious form. He pulled out his comlink, “Team One to Grey Null. Objective achieved, requesting pick up at Evac Point One in Thirty Minutes”

“Negative Team One” Sacul’s voice answered, “We have a problem. New Republic forces have made their move. The Seventh Combined Arms has moved to secure Terminus Prime and assault teams are hitting key locations such as the local garrison, police headquarters, TCC Headquarters and Treth’s penthouse. Grey Null is currently attempting to extract Team Two, estimated Evac Time is forty minutes plus”

“Dammit!” Face snapped, the plan had just gone to hell, “Status of Team Three?”

“They’re making entry now” Sacul answered.

“Send the abort code to them, tell them to back off” Face ordered as the dull thud of breaching explosives erupted somewhere in the building.

He looked at Katrin and Deven, “Good thing we changed our minds about taking Treth with us. I think things are going to be hot enough without dragging his ass with us”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Primary Workshop.
Terah Estate.
Mos Eisley.
Tatooine.

“Amateurs” Zan Terah was saying, “Should not attempt complicated work of this magnitude and then leave it to us to clean up”

Octavia smiled as she looked where her father was indicating. They were inspecting the innards of an E-Wing Starfighter that had been refitted –badly- as a racing ship. Whoever had done the work had apparently thought that patching the controls directly into the thrusters and bypassing the R7 Astromech and the computer core would increase manoeuvrability and not result in an overload and burnout that occurred the moment the pilot started the ignition sequence.

“Looks like a full tear out and replace job” Octavia shrugged, “Wirings fried, couplings are burnt out, most of the circuit boards and chips are just useless plastic and melted metal”

“Well” Zan answered, “It’s not a high priority job” He indicated a YT-2100 Light Freighter behind him, “That YT-2100 is a rush job for a client who paid extra for the work to be done. The owner of this…” He waved at the E-Wing, “Paid the bare minimum for the work and then went off world, he’ll be back in about two months, it’ll be done by then”

Octavia nodded, “Job gets done, but you don’t break a sweat doing it”

“Exactly” Zan smiled, “I’ve learnt my lesson”

At the mention of her father’s health issues, Octavia sobered slightly, “How have you been Dad? Really?”

“I have good days and bad days” Zan shrugged, “The worst part was having to take a step back and let others do all the work”

“You don’t regret handing over to Quint?” Octavia asked.

“No” Zan shook his head, “Your brother has done a wonderful job, but I felt so lost at first. It was difficult to just relax. Still, I had too. Or I’d be as dead as Huff Darklighter”

Octavia was surprised at that, “Huff Darklighter is dead?”

“Yes” Zan nodded, “A stroke. He’d sunk a lot of money into hotels for the spectators for the pod races. Almost all his fortune went into two big hotels out in the Dune Sea. First Tuskens kept attacking and then a Krayt Dragon set up a nest nearby. Final straw was when the Hutt’s decided to change the route. Leaving Huff’s hotels on the wrong side of the Dune Sea”

“Harsh” Octavia winced.

Huff smiled, “Indeed. Apparently Huff’s last words were an hour long tirade against everything and everyone and littered with much profanity that even the most foul mouthed smuggler would have been offended”

“What happened to his holdings?” Octavia asked.

“Well, it went to his third wife” Zan replied, “But she couldn’t manage the place so she passed it onto Huff’s brother Jula. He sold some of it to various other moisture farmers to cover Huf’s debts, then handed Huff’s estate to his children”

“I imagine Huff wouldn’t have liked that” Octavia smiled.

Zan gave a hearty laugh, “Jula did say he expected Huff to rise from the dead to try and stop him”

Briefly, the image of Huff Darklighter digging his way free of his grave rose in Octavia’s mind and she laughed as she recalled how the moisture magnate would have loathed such physical activity.

Zan smiled at his daughter, obviously sharing the same thought, “It’s good that you are home Octavia. Even if it is for only a short time”

Octavia took a step forward and hugged her father, “It’s good to be home Dad”

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Mariska Savage’s Apartment.
Republica One-Twelve.
Senate District.
Coruscant.
Shortly After Midnight, Coruscant Time.

Holding a hand to her mouth, Lyn Kargin yawned and with her other hand poured some more of the harsh tasting caf into her mug.

She had been pouring over her gathered information for hours now, trying to find the original source of the order to kidnap the Tarn children.

And now she’d found it, thanks to a lot of hard work and Leia Organa-solo’s recent revelation in the Senate.

After hearing Organa-Solo’s announcement and her presentation of the evidence that Kuati senator Viqi Shesh was a Neo-Separatist agent, Lyn acted on a hunch and hacked Shesh’s files.

Her hunch paid off big time. Shesh had been careful in covering her tracks, but her efforts weren’t perfect and Lyn was able to salvage enough semi-deleted data to prove the Kuati woman had ordered the kidnapping.

Granted it was flimsy evidence, but it was enough for her to focus her search.

Tagging notes to her files, Lyn began the process of copying, packaging and encrypting her collected data. At a pre-assigned time tomorrow, she’d drop the package off at a dead drop where another of her father’s agents would collect it and send it on through a chain of agents and associates until it reached Dru on Talus in about a week’s time.

In the meantime, she’d continue digging for that all-important evidence.

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Treth Construction Company Headquarters.
Eightieth Floor.
Terminus-Prime Capital City.
Terminus.

The three Republic soldiers -their uniforms bearing the Insignia of the Seventh Combined Arms Infantry and the temporary markings of New Republic Intelligence- moved quickly though the corridor, rifles sweeping left and right.

As they between the empty cubicles of the Accounts Department, they were attacked by three lightly armed figures, charging at them from the shadows of the cubicles.

Face reached his target first, grabbing the blaster rifle from his hands and then reversing the motion, slammed it butt first into the Republic soldier’s faceplate. The impact shattered the visor and snapped the man's head back as he was blasted into unconsciousness.

Deven’s method was far more direct, a solid one-two punching combination that ended with the soldiers helmet tumbling off in time for Deven to land a punch at the side of the man’s head that knocked him out cold.

The third man had turned to bring his rifle to bear, when Katrin stepped up behind him and suddenly the soldier went into spasms and collapsed to the floor.
As Face and Deven turned to her, Katrin held up a small hand held device, one that still arced with electronic discharge.

“Personal stunner” She laughed, “Extremely short range, but packs a heck of a punch”

“Tad unsporting, do you not think?” Face mimicked an upper class voice. He nodded, “Let’s move I don’t want us running into too many Republic guys. We are on the same side after all”

Quickly the three of them left the bruised, unconscious and –once they regained their sense- soon to be annoyed soldiers behind and headed for the roof.

Halfway there, Face’s comlink trilled for attention.

“Team One” Corran’s voice called, “Suggest you pick up the pace. Local troops have finally responded and are engaging the Seventh. Looks like four units of Treth Security Forces have already made it into the TCC building”

“Understood” Face responded, “Five minutes and we’ll be ready for pickup”

“We’re still ten minutes from pick up” Corran answered, “Sit tight and watch your heads. Grey Null out”

The rest of the ascent to the roof was uneventful, but as the three of them burst from the roof access door and run towards the landing pad. Deven suddenly grabbed Face and Katrin was the force and pulled them back several feet.

“Wha…” Face began to protest, but cut off as heavy blaster fire stitched the roof tarmac, pitting it with smoking hot craters.

An instant later, a battered and antique Multi Altitude Assault Transport flew into view, the insignia of the TCC Security Force on its hull and it’s weapons tracking towards them.

The MAATs blasters cut loose and Face dived to the left as Deven and Katrin went right. He heard Deven curse loudly as several of the hot energy bolts passed almost too close to him.

Coming up on one knee Face sighted in with his borrowed blaster rifle and sprayed a burst of laser fire at the transports cockpit. The blaster lacked the power to penetrate the cockpit, but it did unnerve the pilot enough to force him to back off.

“Anyone hit?” Face shouted taking advantage of the moment.

“No” Katrin answered.

“Little sunburnt” Deven groused, “But I’m good” He started to rise from where he’d ducked behind a ventilation unit, but dropped back down as blaster fire from the transport stitched smoking craters across the vent unit. Meanwhile his return fire did little more than burn paint from the MAATs belly.

Face activated his comm, “Null, we’ve got a problem here. We’re taking heavy fire from a TCC air unit and need support”

“We’re less than a minute out” Corran’s voice answered, “Local air assets or clashing with Republic Squadrons. Makes flight a little hazardous”

“Hurry please” Face muttered over the comlink as more laser fire sprayed molten roofing material in his direction”

“Grey One” A new voice cut across the frequencies, “Keep your heads down just a little longer”

“Oh, no worries there, Grey Eagle” Face laughed. However, his laugh cut off as the transport swung around above his head, its weapons tracking towards his position. Before it could fire, there was a flicker of light and the pilot’s canopy seemed to explode, followed an instant later by a portion of the pilot’s head and helmet.

Suddenly robbed of pilot control, the transport dropped away out of sight.

“Appreciate it Eagle” Face glanced in the general direction of the building Myn Donos and Lowbacca had set up a sniper position on and smiled, “Impeccable aim as always”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rooftop.
One Mile East.

Nodding with satisfaction, Myn Donos lifted his head clear of the targeting scope of the Zeus Rifle he’d just used to bring down the transport that had pinned down Team One.

“Not a bad shot if I say so myself” Myn grinned as he looked towards his spotting partner.

Lowbacca rumbled something noncommittal and turned to look at the Wraith as it approached the roof to pick them up before it would head off to pick up Team One.

Myn frowned as he once again wished he knew how to speak Wookie, then rolled onto his knees and scooped up his rifle and along with Lowbacca headed towards the Wraith.

It was good working with the Wraiths again.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Galactic Class Freighter Pride Of Tatooine.
Terminus Orbit.

The hatch swung open silently, the only sound was the clunking of door pistons and that was felt through the deck rather than heard.
A few seconds later, Jaina stepped through the doorway, her magno boots keeping her firmly attached to the deck and upright. Wary of the bulk of the extra air canisters and Oxy-Gen unit she carried on the back of her EV suit, she stepped into the chamber beyond.

She activated her comlink, “Looks like we’ve found the Portside Cargo Offices”

“It’ll do” Jaden answer easing himself into the chamber.

Oddball slipped in behind him. That is, slipped in as much as one could in a bulky EV suit and glanced around the barren chamber, “We have to be in here how long?”

“Hopefully no more than a week” Jaina answered, “Any longer and we’re going to have issues with food, water and most importantly air”

“Pretty sure it won’t be that long” Jaden cut in, “I really don’t see it being longer than four days. Anything beyond that and we’ll be heading out beyond the galaxy itself”

“Good to know” Oddball sighed.

A moment later Sacul’s voice cut across their comm systems, “Infiltrators, abort code is given. Aleph-Seven-Three. Repeat, abort code is given. Aleph-Seven-Three. Get your asses out of there and be ready for pickup”

“Understood” Jaden answered, “Infiltrators out” Once he’d cut off the comlink, he turned to the others, “We’re still all sure about this?”

“Yes” Jaina bowed slightly, the best approximation of a nod she could manage in the bulky suit, “This is the quickest way of reaching Jenna. I plan on saving my friend and I can’t waste time”

“Likewise” Oddball added.

“Good” Jaden continued, “Just making sure we’re committed to this” He glanced around the chamber, “Let’s try and get comfortable, we’re in for a long trip”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The World Of Nystera.
The Edge Of Wild Space.

Being planet side was no improvement to Jenna’s mind. She was still in the company of people she didn’t like, she was still under guard by at least three troopers –one of whom had a ysalamiri and she still wore the prisoner control bracelet.

Worse yet, there was something ‘wrong’ about this world.

The shuttle bearing Jenna and her guards, two squads of Neo-Sep marines, Dass Jennir, Viqi Shesh, a man named Conner Black, a well dressed man Jenna vaguely remembered from Bespin and a team of scientists, had landed on a flat plain that had actually turned out to be an ancient, heavily cracked and eroded landing field.

Stepping from the shuttle under the watchful gaze of her guards, Jenna felt a constant growth of the sick feeling that had plagued her since before the shuttle had even entered the atmosphere.

Something utterly terrible had happened on this world at some point in the mists of the past. Something that had all but destroyed whatever civilization had called this world home.
But unlike the feelings she’d experienced at places like Caamas or Alderaan, whatever happened here had involved a great deal of dark and evil intent. Yet much of that intent felt as if it had been focused outwards.

Further more, despite the fact that whatever had happened here had happened millennia ago; the feelings were strong as if there had been no degeneration as time had marched on.

The Dark Side was thick here across this entire world.

And Jenna could feel it even through the Ysalamiri bubble that cut her off from the force.

In the absence of a compass, Jenna designated north as the direction the shuttles nose was pointing. She then set about examining their surroundings.

To the north, was the massive chasm she had seen from orbit. Down here on the planet she could only see the drop off at this distance, the land ahead of her appearing to simply stop dead.

To the east lay a great plain –an actual one, not a long overgrown landing field-, a grassy savannah that ran alongside the chasm. From here she could see a herd of some sort of livestock grazing, though she couldn’t identify it at this range. But at least some form of intelligent life existed here.

To the south and west, a number of squat, square hills reached up some two dozen meters at their highest. This was the remains of one of the planets cities; its buildings mere stunted ruins, eroded by time and overgrown with rampant plant life.

Kneeling down, Jenna brushed aside enough of the topsoil and plant growth to reveal the cracked and timeworn stone of the landing field. The best she could tell, the stone was of quite a considerable thickness, capable of taking a lot of weight.

“Could probably handle anything up to a cruiser,” She thought, glancing around the area, “Quite a lot of them as well”

By now, the others were making their way towards a series of ruins at the edge of the landing field, so with prodding from her guards, Jenna headed in that direction.

As she walked with the two guards behind her, Jenna noticed the wind had picked up somewhat.

“Odd” She thought, “A minute ago, there wasn’t even a gentle breeze”

A quick glance at the sky showed the already black clouds seemed to actually be growing thicker and darker.

“Looks like a storm rolling in” One of her guards said.

Jenna looked over her shoulder, “Best hope not,” She said dryly, “Shelter is a little sparse out here”

When they caught up with the others, they found Jennir and Viqi Shesh engaged in a heated argument.

“And I submit Prime Councillor” Shesh was saying to Jennir’s hooded form, “That you were wrong about this world. There is nothing here, just ruins of a long forgotten people. Anything useful that was here has long since rusted away”

“Viqi” Jennir’s voice emerged from the shadows of his hood, “Are you suggesting I’ve wasted time and effort”

Shesh exchanged looks with her compatriots, but despite receiving no support from either Conner Black or the Dapper Gentleman, she pressed on, “Yes, I do. There is nothing worthwhile here”

Jennir slowly shook his head, “Viqi, Viqi, Viqi. What I seek isn’t on the planets surface, but under it and I know from the evidence I have gathered over the years that it is still there, still intact and still functional. It just waits for us to reactivate it”

Jenna never caught Shesh’s reply as the wind speed suddenly picked up further, blowing hard enough to drown out the traitorous senators voice.

“Definitely a storm rolling in” Jenna muttered.

As if to punctuate her thoughts, a flash of light illuminated the area. There was a scream of agony, a wet explosion an explosion that threw Jenna forwards.
She hit the ground hard on her front, dimly aware of how thin the dirt actually was and how hard the stone of the landing field was.

Trying to force herself past the pain in her body and the ringing in her ears, Jenna forced herself to roll over onto her back and then levered up onto her elbows.

One of her guards was down and groaning in pain, his uniform burnt and tattered down his left side and his exposed flesh looked flash burnt.
The other guard –the one that had carried the Ysalamiri- looked in worse state. Both he and the poor ysalamiri looked as if they had been overcooked. Badly.

“Lightning strike” Jenna thought weakly and averted her eyes from the sight, dimly aware of other flashes of light and booms of thunder.

She was also aware of shouts of panic and disorganisation, but before she could refocus her addled mind, a pair of hands slipped under her armpits and she was half dragged- half carried to the shelter of one of the ruined buildings at the edge of the field.

Inside one of the buildings, she managed to look at the face of her rescuer.

“How many fingers am I holding up?” The Dapper Gentleman asked holding up his hand, whilst his other put his top hat back on his head.

“Three” Jenna groaned, “I’m okay”

“Just remember I have one of these” He remarked, now holding up the control for her prisoner control bracelet.

“No worries there” She glanced out through what was left of the roof, “Some storm” She said as a crack of lightning split the sky above them.

“Almost as if this world is protesting our presence here,” The man mused.

Jenna opened her mouth to fire off a retort regarding the stupidity of that statement, but immediately closed it without a word.

From what she’d felt since they got here, a feeling that was growing even greater with the ysalamiri gone, it was entirely possible that the well-dressed man was onto something.

“What the hell is on this world that Jennir wants so bad?” She thought, “And how dangerous is it when the world itself is trying to stop us?”


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