Rogue Squadron Board

Welcome to the Rogue Squadron Community.
It is currently Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:29 am

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 8:25 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 3:58 am
Posts: 652
Location: England
Forward Hanger Bay.
Executor Class Super Star Destroyer Warrior’s Hammer.

Trinity stepped from the turbolift the moment the doors had opened and quickly entered the hanger bay. Dominating the centre of the bay was the battered Sacul, its hull slightly scorched from its escape from a superheating atmosphere.

The hatch of the ship was already down and techs and medics were swarming around the entrance to the ship.

The first to emerge were a Togorian and a Defel –Rrowv and Void respectively, if she remembered the Wraith dossier correctly. Between them they dragged a protesting woman, her hands cuffed behind her and her once exquisite outfit looking somewhat dirty and battered.

“Well, well, well, Viqi Shesh” Trinity smiled coldly, “Welcome aboard”

Shesh stared at Trinity equally coldly as a pair of the Hammer’s Marines moved to take custody of the Kuati. Ignoring her, Trinity refocused on the Sacul as Katrin Halcyon, Kai’ukes and a somewhat worse for wear, Garik Loren, one arm in a sling, emerged through the crowding techs and medics.

The two females moved to join their other comrades, but Face headed towards Trinity.

“Face” Trinity smiled, seeing the bruises on his face and the swelling that practically closed one eye, “You’ve looked better”

Instead of returning the smile, Face winced, “Highness, Trinity, there’s something you need to know….”

Before he could continue, there was burst of activity and the medics emerged from the Sacul surrounding a stretcher as it was borne by Corran Horn, Myn Donos, Deven and a young man Trinity didn’t know.
Whoever was on the stretcher was in bad state, judging by the shouts from the medics and the amount of blood visible from here.

“I’d heard that you had injured aboard, but not this bad” Trinity said, then as the stretcher was lowered onto a trolley, the young man moved a step back and Trinity caught a glimpse of raven black hair, followed an instant later by a clear view of the anguish on Deven’s face.

“No!” She shouted, breaking into a run, “No, no, no”

Deven looked up as if seeing her for the first time and moved to intercept her, “No, don’t look. Don’t see her like this”

“She’s my daughter, I have to see her” Trinity shoved him aside and staggered to a stop.

Jenna lay on the stretcher, bloodied and broken. Her body swathed in bacta bandages that had been applied in difficult conditions. Apart from a part of the left side of her face –the eye and cheekbone- her features were obscured, but her stomach dropped as she realised how lumpy the bandaged side looked.

Then she saw the stump of her arm.

Her stomach heaved and she sank to her knees allowing Deven to take her in his arms as the medics whisked Jenna away.

“What happened?” Trinity said through her tears.

“I failed to protect her” Deven’s voice was thick with pain, “I failed”

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

The Sacul.

Jaina sat alone in the Sacul’s Galley, paying little attention to the mess that had ensued when the Sacul had made its crash landing on the planet.

Instead, she simply held her head in her hands and tried to find some sort of balance in her mind.

The image of Jenna, lying there, near death and broken, continued to rise to the fore. As did the wave of anger that had threatened to consume her. When she’d had Jennir crippled at her feet, she’d very much wanted to take her anger and rage out on him right there.

Somehow though, she’d held back. Forcing herself to ignore that seductive dark voice that whispered to her constantly. Instead, she’d intended to take him in, make him stand trial for what he’d down.

Of course, the planet had begun to come apart and Jaina had left the old Jedi where he lay.

She was confident that there was no way Jennir could have escaped the dying world, not in the condition she’d left him in, but there was always going to be some degree of doubt that he did escape in time, that he was out there now making plans. That small wrinkle would haunt her for a long time.

The image of Jenna rose to the fore again and she shuddered.

What had made Jennir fall so far from the Jedi path that he would so callously do those things to a young girl? Destroy her sanity, and then when she came looking for revenge, inflict so much pain upon her.

Jennir had been a famous Jedi of the Old Republic, known for his fairness and compassion. He’d served well during the Clone Wars and then following Order 66, had spent some years evading the Empire but still helping out as a Jedi.

When had he fallen? What had happened?

Perhaps they’d never know.

Her thoughts drifted back to Jenna. What would happen to her friend now? She’d seen the horrific injuries Jenna had suffered. Could she bounce back from such?

Jauna knew her friend faced a long and difficult recovery, but she also knew that she’d be stood by her friend the entire time, supporting her every step of the way.

Jenna just needed to be willing to fight to survive first.

“So this is where you’re hiding”

Jaina started at the sudden words and turned to see Jaden in the doorway. Though his stance was relaxed, almost carefree, his expression was full of concern.

“I….I needed to think” Jaina sighed.

“About Jenna” Jaden asked settling into the seat next to her.

“Yeah” She nodded, “It’s not fair. She was already dealing with so much and now this” She shuddered, “Her injuries were….I’ve never seen anything that bad before, not when the person was still alive”

“I know what you mean” Jaden grimaced, “For her to still be alive, she has one strong spirit”

“She may not survive” Jaina sighed, “And somehow I think death may be her better option” She struggled to hold back the tears, “What kind of life is she going to have?”

“I’ve only known her a short time” Jaden reached out and rest a hand on her shoulder, “But I can tell she’s a fighter, she may yet surprise you”

In spite of herself, Jaina smiled, “You may be right. She’s going to need our support to get through this though”

“She has it” Jaden grinned, “And so do you”

Jaina shook her head, “I’m fine”

“No, you’re not” Jaden shook his head, “I don’t know all your history, but I can tell something happened to you, something bad. It left you just as fragile as Jenna”

“I…I….it was ten years ago” Jaina sighed.

“Still recent enough to still affect you now” Jaden pointed out, reaching out and taking her chin in his hand.

Jaina didn’t pull away, but her eyes did flick to the side briefly and a flash of shame crossed her face, “Yes, it is” She sighed, “I should have faced it long ago”

“Then do so” Jaden smiled, “But let’s do it together” He leaned forwards and kissed her.

Jaina stiffened in surprise, but instead of pulling away she reached out and grabbed a handful of his jacket, pulling him closer, kissing him deeper.

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

Command Bridge.
Nobility Class Star Destroyer Ackbar.
Three Hours Later.

The tech knelt at the base of the holocomm projector and fiddled with the innards for a few moments before giving Octavia a thumbs up and backing away as the projector burst into life.

Octavia smiled as the image of Gilad Pellaon swam in life, “Rear-Admiral” She nodded, “You’ll forgive me for not saluting I hope” She held her cast encased arm up enough for the holocam to pick it up and incorporate it into her image at Pellaeon’s end.

“Not to worry General” Pellaeon smiled, “I trust you have a satisfactory report?”

Octvia shrugged, wincing slightly as she got a twinge from her ribs, “The Neo-Separatist fleet here is destroyed, its leadership dealt with and whatever they were after on the planet has been removed from temptations way forever”

“What were they after?”

“Unknown” Octavia answered, “Right now, I have only two people who can testify on whatever was down there. One –Jenna Tarn- is currently in no condition to talk, she may not yet survive, and her injuries are reportedly severe”

Pellaeon nodded, “My best wishes for her. She is young and a fighter” He sighed, clearly remembering when he’d met the girl previously, “What of the other person?”

“Viqi Shesh” Octavia answered, “Currently a prisoner aboard the Warrior’s Hammer and currently refusing to divulge any information”

“I see” Pellaeon scowled, then frowned, “The Warrior’s Hammer? I do not remember that ship being among the forces I sent with you”

“It wasn’t” Octavia hesitated, “It was the reinforcements from Skye, the ones you requested”

“Ah” Pellaeon nodded, “I was hoping they’d get to you in time to help, did they?”

“Just about” Octavia replied, “They cut it close, but considering we had a head start, hardly surprising” She hesitated, “Sir, I have to ask and I’m not entirely certain I can trust this connection with information of this sort, but do you know what the Warrior’s Hammer is?”

Pellaeon frowned, “I don’t. I assume its one of their Battlemaster Destroyers”

“It’s bigger than that” Octavia winced, “A lot bigger”

Pellaeon stared at her for a moment, “I think we need to continue this in person. How soon can you get to Coruscant?”

Octavia ran the numbers through her head, “It’ll take another day for us to wrap thing up here and get my fleet underway to various shipyards and repair facilities. I’m planning on taking the Ackbar to Kuat for repairs. I can probably be there by the third of next month” She thought for a moment, “I know Oslo-Tarn is planning to be at the big Senate session in three weeks, I can leave Piggy –Commander saBinring- in charge of the Ackbar and catch a lift with the Warrior’s Hammer, that’ll get me there in two weeks, though I think that may make for an interesting entrance”

“Indeed” Pellaeon grunted, “But I’ll ensure the fleet is aware of your impending arrival. We’ll have a full debriefing for you with Fleet High Command, there’s a lot of question still need answering about this war and your input will be appreciated”

“I’ll be there” Octavia nodded, “Terah out”

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

Waiting Room.
Medical Bay.
Super Star Destroyer Warrior’s Hammer.
Five Hours Later.

Deven Tarn fought off his fatigue and held his wife tight as she gripped him in fear as the grim face Doctor Kiguri emerged from the operating theatre.

“Highness, Master Tarn” Kiguri said with a degree of weariness, “I’m relieved to say, the prognosis is good”

“Oh, thank you” Trinity whispered, her legs almost collapsing beneath her and only Deven’s grip keeping her up.

“How’s she doing Doc?” Deven asked.

“Well” Kiguri massaged his tired eyes with one hand, “She’s still in a critical condition, but we’ve got her stabilized. We were able to repair a lot of the internal damage, but for now we’ve hit the limit of what we can do. From this point on, it’s down to her and the bacta”

“Can we see her?” Oddball asked as he approached from where he’d been napping on a bench.

Kiguri thought for a moment, “For a few moments. She’s still in a coma and we still need to remain on alert in case she deteriorates” He glanced to Deven and Trinity, “I think her parents should go in first”

As Deven and Trinity were lead through to the bacta suites, Oddball sighed and then nearly jumped as Face dropped his free hand, the one not in a sling on his shoulder.

“She’s a fighter, kid” Face smiled, “She’s not going anywhere”


“Oh Jenna” Trinity whispered in horror as they stared at the broken form of their daughter.

Jenna was suspended horizontally in an emergency bacta tank that unlike the standard upright cylinder was more like an oversized bathtub that made it easier to access the patient in an emergency. Her body was almost mummified in a suit of bandages, leaving only a small amount of exposed skin and more tubes and wires than Deven could count made their way to various points onto and into her body.
On the stump of her right arm was a complicated looking device that circulated bacta to promote healing and also stimulated the severed nerves and ganglia to test their effectiveness for possible attachment of a prosthetic.

“Can you feel her?” Trinity asked, “In the Force? How does she feel?”

Deven reached out, “She’s weak, very weak. Tired too” He frowned, “But I can senses something, a spark” He gave a weak smile, “I don’t think she’s willing to give up yet”

“Good” Trinity gave an equally weak smile, “I want my daughter back” She sighed, “Deven, I know our priority is Jenna, but we do need to take about some things. Very important things”

“Such as this ship” Deven frowned, “When did Skye have an SSD?”

“I’ll tell you later tonight” Jenna sighed, “I’m going to need your support for what I plan”

“I’m probably not going to like what I hear too much” Deven said, “But you’ll always have my support” He looked at their daughter, “And so will Jenna”

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

Meeting Room.
Bothan Assault Cruiser Ralroost.
Coruscant System.
One Day Later.

“Is this accurate?” Luke Skywalker asked without looking up from the datapad he was reading.

“It is” Admiral Kre’Fey nodded, “As of this morning, the Neo-Seps forces on Tanaab, Obroa-Skai, Aquaris and Tirahan surrendered to Republic Forces. Apart from a few scattered skirmishes on Teyr, the war is for all intents and purposes over”

“Not hard to believe considering how much they lost here” Luke pointed out, “And just as well considering our own losses”

“Agreed” Kre’Fey growled, “Still, we’re holding off making it official until we can be sure. Just in case they have any surprises left for us”

“Any of the prisoners giving up anything helpful to indicate one way or the other?”

“Not yet” Kre’Fey shook his head and used one hand to smooth the fur on his neck, “The few that didn’t drug themselves into comas are being very tight lipped. We’ll have to see what the NRI can get out of them”

“Yeah” Luke nodded, uncomfortable with the idea of an NRI interrogation, but understanding the need.

“I hear your oldest nephew had some fun of his own out at Ossus” Kre’fey said changing the subject.

“Well, with Tenal Ka and Zekk” Luke smiled, “A bunch of pirates decided to hit the digs out there and try to steal what they could. They clearly weren’t expecting to find Jedi present during a war”

“Something that bothers me” Kre’Fey frowned, “What was this war about? They took and held a few worlds; they did some damage and inflicted significant losses amongst our armed forces. But they didn’t have any clear aim”

“Entirely possible that there was some darker plan at work here” Luke offered, “This entire war may have been little more than a sleight of hand, something to keep our attention focused”

“Possible” Kre’fey nodded, “I do know that Pellaeon did dispatch General Terah and task force to somewhere out on the edge of known space. Perhaps what was happening there had some significance” He scowled, “But why cause a war as a mere distraction?”

“The entire Clone Wars was just an elaborate scheme that allowed Palpatine to manoeuvre himself to the top of the pile, gather power to himself, raise an army and weaken the Jedi Order to the point where they couldn’t effectively oppose him”

“Point” The Bothan conceded, “But this war didn’t even have half the organisation the Clone Wars did”

Luke conceded the point with a nod, “It was very random. Some key worlds were attacked such as Fondor, Balmorra, Agamar, Bastion, Coruscant, Druckenwell and Naboo” He said, “But then worlds such as Iridonia, Aquaris, Almania, Tholatin, Mimban and Toong I were also hit, worlds that served no strategic purpose and did little but drain their resources to hold”

“I fear we may never know the purposes of this war” Kre’fey sighed.

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

When Jenna awoke, the wave of utter confusion that threatened to overwhelm her prevented her mind from focusing at first. Squeezing her eyes shut, she concentrated on the overwhelming amount of information that assaulted her senses and attempted to sort it.

First, her sense of smell was detecting the heavy perfumed smell of flowers. Lilacs, roses, a dozen others she didn’t recognise, but that she found pleasing. There was also an aroma of grass and the salty air she associated with being near the ocean. Interestingly, there was also the smell of meat being cooked over an open flame.

Sound wise, she identified the sounds of wildlife. The tweets of avians, the distant whinnies of horses and somewhere very close, the buzz of an insect. Again, she identified that someone had a barbeque nearby; she recognised the sounds of crackling coals, the spitting of flames and the sizzling of cooking meats.

To the touch, she recognised the soft grassy earth beneath her prone body, but that was all. He body didn’t hurt like her last conscious memory told her it should have and her right arm was happily intact.

She tried to open herself to the force, but the sense was just too overwhelming. The force was incredibly strong here.

With a sigh, she opened her eyes and sat up and found herself even more confused than ever.

She was sat in the middle of a meadow, green grasses stretched out in all directions, though to her left it petered out into a sandy beach that bordered the ocean. Behind and above her was a large tree, sheltering her from the warm, yet pleasant sun and at its base a whole host of flowers, a riot of colours and scents.

Bizarrely, a short distance away, her back to Jenna, a woman was stood at a barbeque, whistling as she cooked a variety of meats.

“Erm….hi?” Jenna said out loud.

The woman glanced over her shoulder briefly, but didn’t say anything and quickly returned to her task.

Grunting in annoyance, Jenna climbed to her feet and started towards the woman, “Excuse me” She said a little louder.

“Oh hello, Jenna” The woman said, “You’re up then?”

“Well….yeah” Jenna said with some degree of surprise. She knew that voice, despite never having met the woman before, “Though I’m surprised to see you up and around since you’re dead, Aunt Bel”

Bel Tarn smiled at her niece, “I’ll concede you that one. Though here it makes no difference. Heck, here I’m at least twenty years younger”

Jenna frowned, “Here? Where is here exactly?”

Bel pursed her lips in thought, covering the pause by flipping a couple of steaks on the grill, “I guess, it’s kind of like a holding area within the force. A place between the physical realm and whatever lies beyond”

It took a moment for Jenna to absorb the full impact of Bel’s words, “Am I dead? Is that why I’m here?”

“Well” Bel hesitated, “Not yet and you’re here for something important”

“Not yet?” Jenna blinked, “So am I dead or not?”

Bel shrugged, “Depends on you and whether you’re ready to give up on life. Right now, you’re in pretty bad shape, hanging on due to all the machines you’re hooked up to and what strength of spirit you possess”

“Are you saying I can choose to live or die” Jenna asked.

“Well, not that simplistic” Bel laughed, “Giving into death would be a lot easier than fighting to live, but it’s a choice you need to make”

“Ok” Jenna nodded, still somewhat confused, “Wait? If this is some kind of ‘waiting room’. Why are you here? Why haven’t you moved on?”

“Who’s to say I haven’t?” Bel smiled, “I’m actually just a shard, a memory of the Bel Tarn who passed through here when she died”

“And you’re here because?”

“You need some perspective” Bel said, moving the steaks to a plate and dropping some burgers onto the grill, “You’ve lost your way, big time”

“Wait, wait” Jenna shook her head, “How do I know this is even happening? I’ve gone through this before and I could never figure out if it was real or just my mind going into overdrive and conjuring things up. I’m not exactly stable, y’know”

“True” Bel nodded, “But even if it is just a figment of your imagination, won’t it be easier to go with the flow?”

Jenna scowled and stared at her for a moment, “Just give me a steak and start explaining”

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

Detention Level.
Executor Class Super Star Destroyer Warrior’s Hammer.

Viqi Shesh sighed and stared at the floor. Her eyes alighted on the same speck of dirt it had an hour ago and with a snarl, she flopped back onto the cot and stared at the ceiling.

She’d lost everything.

She could see exactly where things had gone wrong. Trusting the Prime Councillor -Dass Jennir- to actually know what he was doing, getting herself seen on Rhen Var by Leia Organa-Solo and her allies, getting caught.

Too many wrong steps and it had cost her everything.

Her status on Kuat was likely gone; they wouldn’t want a traitor representing them. Likewise, Vorsk Kel’lya would have washed his hands of her as would her allies in the Senate. She would be surprised if her accounts hadn’t been frozen and her assets seized.

Even if she wasn’t facing trial, a prison sentence and possible execution for treason, she’d have been hard pressed to rebuild what she’d had. If only she had escaped, she could have pulled a few favours and disappeared under a new identity.

But that was impossible now.

There was a slim chance that she could throw herself on the mercy of whatever caught tried her and possibly avoid the death penalty. But what would that get her, life in a penal colony?

She shuddered to think what that would be like without any of the luxuries she was used to.

Maybe she’d be better off with a sentence of death.

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

Jenna knelt down and ran her hand through the grainy sand, “Soooooo, what’s the meaning of life?”

Bel Tarn glanced at her, “What makes you think life has meaning?”

“Oh no” Jenna snapped, “We are not doing an ‘answering a question with a question thing’ here”

“Ok, ok” Bel smiled and picked up a hand sized flat rock before turning to face the ocean, “First, answer this and I’ll answer yours. Why must life have a meaning?”

Jenna frowned, “Because…because there has to be a reason why we go through life as we do, why we do what we do. There has to be meaning in life, so what is it?”

“Simple” Bel threw the stone, skimming it across the waters surface, watching it bounce three, four, five times, “Life is absurd”

“What?” Jenna said incredulously, “Are you telling me that…..what you are telling me?”

“That there is no special meaning to life” Bel laughed, “”We’re born, we die. What’s important is what we do in between”

Jenna shook her head, “This is insane”

“I’ve been trying to get my head around it for years” Bel grinned, “Never really sussed it out beyond what I’ve already told you”

Grunting Jenna reached down and found a stone similar to the one Bel had thrown, she threw it out at the water, but instead of skimming the surface, it just splashed hard into the water.

Bel laughed and started to walk further down the beach.

Clamping down on the anger, Jenna turned in pursuit, “Fine, new question. Why aren’t you all insane and evil?”

“And why aren’t you just laid on the floor in agony with an arm missing, half your bones broken, most of your internals ruptured and your mind so unhinged, all you can do is watch the grass melt” Bel turned and raised a questioning eyebrow.

“Well, yeah” Jenna blinked.

“Because only the best part of you, the purest element of your being seems to remain in this place” Bel shrugged, “Like I told you earlier, only a shard of you remains here, purged of flaws, of anger and of hate” She laughed, “I wouldn’t be surprised to find Anakin Skywalker around here somewhere, at least the good man who was Anakin”

“There are others here?” Jenna asked feeling a tightness in her chest.

“Sometimes” Bel answered, “Things are weird here. It’s difficult to find someone if they don’t want to be found. Plus the dimensions of this place are all screwy, you can walk for miles in a given direction and find nothing, but turn around and retrace your steps and you may find the terrain has changed completely. Time also seems to have no meaning here, from my point of view I’ve been here about a week or so, but shortly before you arrived I ran into a charming fellow called Zayne, who’s been dead for some four thousand years. From his point of view he’d just arrived too”

“Why would it be like that?” Jenna grimaced and fought to take a deep breath.

“Dunno” Bel scowled, “This place is the force in a way, it affects everything here and have you ever known the force to be orderly?”

Jenna shook her head and focused on trying to breath through the intense fire in her chest.

“Are you okay?” Bel asked with concern.

“No” Jenna gasped, “Something’s wrong”

“I know what it is” Bel sighed, “You’re dying”

“I…I can’t” Jenna wheezed.

“You are” Bel gave a sympathetic smile, “A heart attack by the looks of it, seems your battered body is struggling with the stress of keeping you going”

“What…..what…can I do?” Jenna dropped to her knees.

“You can go back and live” Bel stated, “It’s time”

“But…..but I haven’t found what I came here for” Jenna groaned.

“You have, you just don’t know it yet” Bel smiled, “You need help?”

“Yes” Jenna gasped.

Without a word, Bel reached out and placed her hand on Jenna’s chest. A hammer blow of pain shot through Jenna at her Aunt’s touch.

“What?” Jenna stared at her in disbelief, “What was that?”

“Clear” Bel said, her voice distinctly less female, putting her hand on Jenna’s chest and another wave of pain slammed into her, “Tell my brother I said hi”

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

Medical Bay.
Executor Class Super Star Destroyer Warrior’s Hammer.

“Clear!” Kiguri shouted a second before pressing the two paddles against Jenna’s bare torso.

High voltage current crossed Jenna’s torso between the paddles, caressing her heart in an attempt to restart it. The heart monitor interrupted its constant and depressing tone momentarily as her heart gave a double beat in response to the pulse that touched it, but the monitor returned to its single dreadful tone.

“Charge to sixty percent” Kiguri ordered. He waited until the power unit had reached the required charge, then placed the paddles against the girls body, “Clear” He shouted again with determination.

Another volt shot through the young girl’s body and again, the heart monitor blipped as her heart responded. This time though, the blips continued as her heart continued to beat weakly.

“Nurse” He shouted, “20ccs of Epinephrine. We’re not losing this girl”

Wordlessly, the MD-11 that acted as the chemical dispenser swung out its arm and injected the desired drug into the girls arm. Meanwhile, the actual ‘nurse’, a continued to monitor Jenna’s various stats.

To Kiguri’s pleasure, Jenna Tarn’s heart rhythm began to stabilise and though weak, continued with a now regular beat.

Kiguri sighed, she was still alive and for the moment, she still had a good chance. But she still had a long way to go.

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

The Sacul.
Forward Hanger Bay.
Executor Class Super Star Destroyer Warrior’s Hammer.
Six Days Later.

Katrin Halcyon reached into the depths of the console, manipulated a few wires and connectors and withdrew her hand.

“Ok, give it another go Sacul”

A moment later, the console flickered into life and once again displayed status updates on the Saculs condition.

All functions normal” Sacul’s voice said, “Well, for that system at least”

“Only the rest of them to do” Katrin snorted. She glanced at the pile of burnt out circuit boards, flash fried wiring and blown fuses, “We’re certainly going through a lot of spare parts to get you up and running”

Sacul’s voice was tinged with humour, “Good job we’re not paying” She gave a sigh, “Still, it’s going to take a proper shipyard stay to get me to a hundred percent”

“Yeah” Katrin nodded and stood up, “Stuff like the MAC, the hyperdrive. Heck, we probably did some damage to the space frame when we crashed. Besides, I’m no tech; I can only do a fraction of the stuff that needs doing”

“You’ve done pretty good” Sacul said gratefully, “At least I’m in better shape than I was, thanks to you. You’re a good friend Katrin”

Katrin grinned, “Yeah, I guess I am”

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

Coruscant System.
Ten Days Later.

For a world that had suffered a major terrorist attack, followed by a full on assault, Coruscant was still capable of panicking.

The arrival of a Super Star Destroyer, one that nobody had even known existed, set off a new wave of fear in many areas.

The military had been forewarned that a large vessel was arriving, though many hadn’t known the details and the appearance of the Warrior’s Hammer had resulted in the Officer of the Watch scrambling a full on defensive posture against the intruder.

Only several frantic calls, first from the temporary Sector Defence Commander and then from General Ackbar, Admiral’s Pellaeon and Kre’fey and finally, newly reinstated Supreme Commander Sien Sovv, had reined in the fleet and avoided a politically dangerous and embarrassing battle.

Vorsk Kel’lya had empathically refused to allow the Hammer to approach Coruscant any closer than the orbit of the first moon and had insisted on full security military escorts for Trinity Oslo-Tarn’s shuttle as it proceeded to the surface.

It was a move designed as an insult against Oslo-Tarn and an effort to prove Kel’lya still wielded power despite his setbacks. Instead, it came of as somewhat childish and the full military escort conferred upon Oslo-Tarn a significant measure of legitimacy and ensured that attention was fully focused on her arrival.

With Jaina Solo and Jaden Loran at the helm, the shuttle headed in towards Coruscant accompanied by an escort flight of X-Wings.

“By the force” Jaina whispered as she took the shuttle past the wreck of a Victory Class Destroyer that was slowly being towed by tugs towards a temporary holding area, “They got hit bad here”

Jaden nodded, “From what I’ve heard, The Sector Defence Force is gone, the Second Fleet is at less than fifteen percent. The Fourth Fleet is at about forty percent. Kre’fey and Pellaeon’s fleets are at better condition, between sixty and seventy percent. Ackbar’s force is at best strength; she lost only thirteen ships in the battle and another eight during the risky hyperspace trip they took here” She shuddered, “The Neo-Separatist Fleet was wiped out. Most in the battle, but some from self-destruct devices they had built in”

Jaina grimaced, “I doubt even think I want to see what happened planet side. From what I heard, that was worse” The navicomp beeped with a course update, she glanced at the display and winced, “Great, someone’s being cute”

“What do you mean?”

“They’re directing us down on a course that takes us over what’s left of the Liberty District” Jaina sighed.

“Some sort of message to our important passenger?” Jaden offered.

“Probably” Jaina nodded, “Kel’lya’s probably behind it. I’ve been watching some of the holo news reports and he’s suffered a huge blow to his power and prestige. He probably fears Oslo-Tarn setting herself up as a rival for Chief-of-State” She shrugged, “By having us fly over the Liberty District –what’s left of it- he’s maybe making a point about unity and banding together and how replacing the Chief-of-State, that’s him, at this point would be destabilising and dangerous to a New Republic that’s just come out of a war”

Jaden glanced back towards the cabin, “Somehow I think it’s a pointless effort. I suspect Oslo-Tarn is playing a much longer game. One Kel’lya won’t see coming”


As the shuttle cruised in low over the Liberty District, Trinity looked out of the viewport and shuddered at the sight.
Far below them, large portions of the district still burned, fires raging out of control in the shattered and ruined buildings that ringed the massive radioactive sinkhole that had swallowed so much of the district.

Rescue ships swarmed over the area, some deploying drones to scan for survivors, droids to dig through the debris and heavily shielded rescue crews to retrieve anyone who might still be alive. Other ships sprayed fire-fighting foam across the landscape, though the volume sprayed seemed insufficient against the sheer amount of fire that blazed through the ruins.

Trinity felt queasy as she thought about the sheer scale of the destruction and loss of life. She glanced over at her husband.

“There must have been thousands of deaths” She said quietly, “Millions”

Deven shook his head, “No way of knowing. Nobody has ever managed to take a census on Coruscant and complete it. Best estimates are there’s around a trillion residents…officially. But take into account illegals, unregistered natives, heck, there’s even supposed to be entire communities that have gone unnoticed for millennia, and those numbers are probably double, even triple” He grimaced, “A single district could probably have about a billion inhabitants”

“How many died instantly?” Octavia spoke up, “How many died in the follow up events, the earthquakes, the collapses, the explosions, the fires? How many are destined to slowly die from injuries, how many from the radiation? And what about the injured?” She shook her head, “The numbers don’t bear thinking about”

“That’s why I’ve never held a big liking for Coruscant” Face cut in, “Too many people in a small area. Even an air speeder crash has been known to inflict massive casualties here”

“I know what you mean” Deven said, “On Chandilla, Skye, Corellia, even the largest cities only have a few thousand inhabitants” He gestured to Octavia, “Worlds like Tatooine, I imagine it’s even less”

Octavia smiled, “Anchorhead has maybe seventy inhabitants and it’s classed as a major town. Mos Eisley and Mos Espa are the two largest cities and they have no more than a thousand permanent residents” She Shrugged, “Probably more people in a single Coruscant skyscraper than on the whole of Tatooine” She looked to Trinity, “Do you think this course choice is aimed at you?”

Trinity nodded, “Yes, Kel’lya thinks he knows my reasons for being here and thinks having us fly over this devastation will make me reconsider”

“Will it” Face asked.

“No” Trinity shook her head, “I’m doing what I’m doing precisely because it has to be done. The fact Kel’lya is choosing to use such a horrific even as part of a political game proves it”

“As long as this scheme of yours won’t affect Jenna’s care while we’re here” Deven said, glancing over at the hyperbaric pod that held Jenna’s still comatose form.

“It won’t” Trinity said confidently, “It won’t”

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

Chief-of-States Office.
The Next Day.

Vorsk Kel’lya growled with anger as he again watched the holo message he’d received from Trinity Oslo-Tarn in response to his request that she meet privately with him ahead of next week’s key Senate gathering.

“Chief-of-State Kel’lya” Oslo-Tarn was saying, “I received your request for a private meeting and while you did make some good points in your reasoning for me to accept your invitation, but I must decline.

I have a very important speech I must make at the before the Senate next week and for me to accept your invitation at this time could give the wrong impression and possibly prejudice opinions regarding my speech.

You could make the invitation again after the Senate gathering, but I very doubt you’d be in the mood”

She smirked.

“Goodbye for now Vorsk, speak again soon”


As the recording ended, Kel’lya span in his chair and faced out of the window, trying to get control of his anger.

How dare she? HOW.…DARE…SHE?

This was his realm, his battleground and no hereditary monarch from some backwoods world was going to get away with refusing his request.

But what could he do? He couldn’t make any overt moves against her, that could prejudice other Senators and besides, he didn’t actually know what she planned.

That was what he hated more than anything, not knowing what it was she planned. He knew she’d been building up some sort of power base of support amongst the Outer Rim worlds that neighboured Skye, but he didn’t know for what purpose.

Was she building up support to challenge her for the position of Chief-of-State or was she aiming to carve out her own realm in the galaxy? Or maybe she would offer to throw her support and power base behind him to shore up his own position in return for concessions that benefited her.

He growled in anger. He needed information, he needed leverage.

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

Royal Suites.
Skye Embassy.

Trinity rose and smoothed her gown as Hassid Ricol entered the receiving chamber; his aide who had entered with him bowed and left the room.

“Hassid” She smiled, “It’s good to see you looking so well”

“The pleasure is mine” The immense bearded man said, dropping to one knee and talking her offered hand to kiss the knuckle of her fingers.

Trinity smirked, “Let’s drop the pleasantries Hassid. The two of us have never got on well and I remember well our many confrontations in the past. I have never particularly liked you and I know you have ambitions far beyond your current status. But I need your help with what I have planned and I know your love for Skye will encourage you to help you”

Ricol feigned a hurt look, “Highness, I’ve always respected you and I loved your mother –my sister dearly-, so I do dispute some of your points. But yes, I love Skye. But more importantly I love it enough to do whatever you ask, regardless of personal opinions, not that I have any negative opinions about you” He added the last with a cheeky smile.

“Liar” Trinity answered with a smirk as she sat down and waited for Ricol to seat himself, “What I have planned could mean a very different course for Skye, for the galaxy. I have already built a lot of support, but I am going to need your help with the Senate. I’ll tell you what I plan and what I need. What I need specifically from you is knowledge on which senators could sway opinion against me as well as information that could bring them to my way of thinking. I have the support to push my plans through, but a single speech could make things a lot harder or easier”

“Consider it done” Ricol nodded.

As Trinity explained her plan, she watched Ricol carefully as he settled back and considered her words carefully. Even as she spoke she knew he was already listing the names of senators that could cause her problems and already developing suggestions for dealing with them.

She also knew he was looking at how he could benefit. Despite him being her uncle, Trinity had never enjoyed a happy relationship with him. Having served as commanding officer of the First Skye Guards, he’d protected Skye for many years, gaining a reputation as a shrewd and brilliant commander and during the last Imperial invasion had led his forces in defending the southern continent against the Imperial assaults.
But he’d always resented being passed over for the throne in favour of Marthe Oslo and had made a number of attempts to undermine his Sister’s rule and take her place. He had at least avoided violence and assassination attempts, instead plotting to beat her politically.

In the end, he had been forced to admit defeat when Marthe’s support following the war ten years ago had grown far beyond what he could ever hope to defeat.
When Marthe had died a few years ago, Trinity had feared that Ricol would now resume his efforts against her. Instead, she headed off any attempts by making him the Senator to Skye and sending him to Coruscant. He had opposed her efforts at first, but in the end he had taken the position.

In the two years since, their relationship had developed to the point where Trinity knew she could trust him to put Skye before himself. She knew she could trust him on this.

She also knew that once her plans came to fruition, she’d need to reward him immensely to keep him from focusing his ambitions again.

As she continued to outline her plans, she watched his reactions, noting the occasional flicker of surprise and the odd calculating look.

When she eventually finished, he sat silently for a few moments before wordlessly standing and moving over to door opening it, he barked on order to his aide to bring a ‘package’ from his chambers.

“Hassid?” Trinity frowned.

“Apologies, my dear” Ricol said, “I’ll explain more when he gets back. First, to these plans of yours. You are sure this is the right course? The right decision to make?”

“I’m sure” Trinity said confidently, “The Republic is too big and too weak and too self-serving to continue as it is. Changes need to be made, for the good of not just Skye, but for all worlds in the galaxy”

“What you’re doing could be viewed as treasonous at best” Ricol mused, “Despite the fact that the New Republic’s own laws allow it. You’re dealing with a significant number of unknowns here. How will the Republic react? Will the fact we’ve just come out of one war prevent another? How will the rest of the galaxy react? You’re playing a dangerous game here”

Trinity snorted, “I was with Imperial Intelligence, I lived with danger for the best part of a decade. Even after the Empire finally collapsed, we were still dealing with revenge attacks from what was left of Imptel”

“Different scale of danger here”

“True” Trinity conceded, “But as you say, the Republics own laws allow it. Though they probably weren’t expecting anything on the scale I’m planning when they wrote the constitution” She looked at him, “So, can I count on your support?”

“You can” Ricol said without hesitation, “You plan to make the big announcement at next week’s Senate Session?”

“I do” Trinity nodded, “With the vote of no confidence and the calls for an investigation in the way the war has been handled; this could be the last nail in Vorsk Kel’lya’s coffin”

Ricol smirked, “Hope so. Always hated that power grabbing twerp. Fortunately, these days amongst the Bothans, he’s the exception rather than the rule”

A knock at the door, signalled the return of Ricol’s aide. Returning to the door, Ricol opened it, took something from the aide and closing the door, returned to Trinity.

Seeing Trinity’s confused look, Ricol smiled, “Your Mother gave me this shortly after you returned to Skye all those years go. She asked me to hold onto it until you were ready for it” He shrugged, “When you banished me here, I thought about never giving it to you. But now….”

He opened the package and withdrew an exquisite jewelled cylinder. It was a work of art, one that had clearly taken a lot of time to make. Staring at the object, it took her a few moments to identify what it was and it was only when she saw the focusing dish and the jewel set into it, that she recognised it for what it was.

“A lightsaber?”

Ricol nodded, “It was a gift to King Ovold from a Jedi Knight that visited Skye almost two thousand years ago. The Knight had been hunting a Sith that had fled to our world and during the battle that claimed the Sith, the Jedi had been badly injured. Ovald had been a young boy at the time and had saved the man’s life. When Ovald was crowned, the lightsaber was a gift the Jedi made for him” Ricol frowned, “The lightsaber was passed down through the rulers of Skye, until the Empire came and your Grandfather hid it away after learning of what had happened to the Jedi Order. Your Mother felt that with your husband and children’s force sensitivity it would be very appropriate for you line to once again wear it”

Trinity looked at him in surprise, “I feel so honoured and surprised that I never knew of it”

“Most people had never even heard of the story even before the Empire came” Ricol shrugged, “One of those events that everyone had near enough forgotten after a generation or two”

“What happened to the Jedi Knight?”

“I don’t think it was ever really recorded” Ricol answered, “One source indicates that he left Skye and was never seen again. Another that he simply lived a quiet life on Skye”

Trinity eyed the lightsaber, “I think this is a very subtle warning from my Mother, much as it was when the Jedi gave it to Ovald. ‘The blade that cuts both ways is deadly indeed, to both the user and his opponent”

“A wise thing to remember”

Trinity nodded, “Indeed”

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

Valorum Medical Facility.

Consciousness returned to her very slowly. At first it came in the form of flashes of memory, elements of her life flickering by, distorted by time and an inability to focus. Efforts to focus, to concentrate, proved too difficult and success eluded her so she allowed things to just flow by.

Smell came next, but it took her several minutes to sort and make sense of the smells that assault her. The sharp tang of antiseptic, of cleaning fluids, of blood and that sugary sweet smell that seemed to be present at almost any location where medical treatment was administered, the smell of death and the perfumed smell of flowers that were always used –somewhat unsuccessfully- to cover up the other smells.

Hearing now, a cacophony of voices, the hum of medical equipment, the squeak of a trolley that needed oiling, the whir of droids going about their duties and the constant footsteps of people moving around. She heard the faint moans of people in pain too. From somewhere she heard the dim, almost tinny sound of an announcement on a tannoy system, but she couldn’t make out the words, not that she heard the full announcement as somewhere much closer, there was a thunderous clatter as someone dropped a load of bedpans.

She tried to reach out with the force, but the effort set off a major headache and for her efforts, her force sense was clouded and what she could sense was a mix of pain, of despair, of loss.

“Must be the painkillers clouding my sense” She thought.

With great effort, she struggled to open her eyes to no avail. At first, the fear that she was blind went through her until she became aware that he eyes appeared to actually be covered.

Her first attempt to reach up with her right hand and remove the coverings was unsuccessful; belatedly and depressingly she remembered that she no longer had a hand there.

Her second attempt with her other hand was equally unsuccessful, this time because someone grabbed her wrist.

“Easy Jenna” A voice she recognised as Oddball’s emerged from somewhere to her side, “Let me get the Doctor. Let’s do this properly”

“Wait!” Jenna rasped, her voice emerged as little more than a harsh whisper, “How bad?”

“All in good time” Oddball said softly and moved away.

He returned a few moments later accompanied by another set of footsteps.

“Ms Tarn” The Doctor’s voice was strong, confident, “I am Doctor Quros. How are you feeling?”

“Rough” Jenna rasped, “Anyone catch the number of that truck? How bad is it?”

“Actually, you’ve recovered extraordinarily well” Quros answered, “Had you come before me in the condition you’re record says you were in, I –admittedly- would have put your survival in the single percentiles. The fact you are here before me, alive and in surprisingly good condition is nothing more than a miracle”

“Tell that to my head”

“Humour is intact then” Quros said dryly, “A good sign. The headache is likely a side effect of the drugs we had to give you to supress your force abilities. As your condition improved, you were having some rather destructive telekinetic episodes”

“Ok” Jenna nodded, “My arm?”

“Amputated just above the elbow” Quros said carefully after some hesitation, “Though the cut was clean. Cauterized at the moment of amputation and enough of the nerves and ganglia are intact too”

“Options?”

“Reattachment is out” Quros said, “Your arm wasn’t recovered. We could bud and grow you a new arm, but we did tests and your body shows less than satisfactory conditions and a definite allergy to the drugs we use to speed up the process. Growing a new arm would be slow and could take years and in the duration it would look very peculiar”

“Prosthetics?”

“Certainly the best option” Quros answered, “As I said, the cut was clean, it’ll take a little time and patience during the attaching, but I do estimate that you would get nearly ninety percent operation with the prosthetic after rehabilitation”

“Okay” Jenna nodded, “Anything other than my arm?”

“You suffered a myriad of broken bones, torn muscles, ruptured organs and lacerations” Quros said, “Almost all of which have healed to almost perfect condition due to a combination of the human body’s natural healing abilities, bacta and your impressive force based healing” He sounded thoughtful for a moment, “Apparently Jedi Master Horn put you into a healing trance shortly after you were injured and that was the difference between life and death” He gave a small laugh, “I wish there was a way to medicinize that ability. It’d help a lot of people when a Jedi Healer isn’t available, but alas it’s something that just can’t be replicated”

“Y’know” Jenna whispered thoughtfully, he voice becoming a little bit stronger as she used it more, “I still don’t know what happened to me, not after my arm was…..was cut off. I remember a lot of pain and then nothing. Up until now, all I can remember since then are flashes of dreams, of memories” She decided not to share her experience in that ‘other’ place, not yet and not with someone that wouldn’t understand.

“I don’t actually know myself what happened to you” Quros said after some hesitation, though even with her heavily clouded force she detected a desire from him not to know.

“Jaina knows” Oddball cut in, “But she refuses to tell anyone. She won’t even tell your parents. I think she witnessed what happened and it freaked her out a bit”

“My parents are here?” Jenna asked, having caught that part in Oddball’s words. Then she frowned, “Matter of fact, where is here? What is this place?”

“You’re currently in the Valorum Medical Centre on Coruscant” Quros answered, “You were brought here as we have some of the best equipment in the galaxy, though our resources are currently taxed as we deal with the injured from the bombing”

“The bombing?”

“I’ll tell you later” Oddball said.

“Fine” Jenna sighed, “Can I at least see?”

“Of course” Quros said, “Let me just dim the lights, the drugs will have dilated your pupils somewhat. They’ll be sensitive to light for a little while”

There was a sound of movement and Jenna became aware of someone leaving over her and she felt a pair of hands -somewhat soft and almost feathery hands- begin to peel away the surgical tape that held down the coverings over her eyes.

“Now keep your eyes closed until I’m done” Quros said, “When we’re ready, I want you to slowly open your eyes”

“Understood”

“Okay” Quros said once the coverings were gone, “Open them up slowly”

Jenna did so and immediately shut them tightly as even the dimmed lighting was like a dagger into her eyes. Trying again, she squinted against the harsh light and forced her eyes to remain open as they adjusted to seeing again.

As the room swam into focus around her, two blurs resolved themselves into something she could recognise. The first person was Oddball, grinning down at her with that smile of his that still made her heart melt. The second, she knew had to be Doctor Quros, a somewhat tall, slim and almost fragile looking Omwati,

“Doctor Quros, I presume” Jenna nodded.

The Omwati smiled, and shone a probe into her eyes, “Any difficulties? Problems focusing?”

“Nothing immediate” Jenna answered, “Other than the fact I’m getting a bit of an ache in my eyes”

“To be expected” Quros nodded, “You’ve been unconscious for the best part of a month. It may take a little time for your eyes to recover from the lack of use” He smiled, “We have a number of tests we need to run to test how well you’ve recovered, but I’ll give the two of you a few minutes before we start”

“Thank you Doc” Oddball nodded.

Once Quros had left, Oddball moved closer to Jenna’s bed and took her hand, “How you feeling?”

“Good, surprisingly” Jenna said, then forced herself to look at something she’d been avoiding looking at, “Especially as I’m a cripple now” She sighed, lifting the stump of her eye and eyeing the bandaged end.

“You’ll be fine” Oddball smiled and stroked her hair, “You’re a fighter”

“Yeah” Jenna sighed, “I’m sorry”

“For what?” He frowned.

“For leaving” Jenna answered, “For giving into vengeance and going off. I cut myself off from everyone who could have helped me through what I’m going through”

“You were going through some really difficult things”

“Yeah” Jenna grimaced, “And with all the drugs I’m pumped full of, I’m thinking a lot clearer than I have in a very long time. I finally realise just how self-centred and stupid I was” She smiled, “I’m also very aware of how much I need to apologise to a lot of people”

“Well, regardless” Oddball said, giving her a soft kiss, “I accept your apology, despite it being unnecessary”

“Thank you” Jenna smiled, “So, if we’re on Coruscant, did we win?”

“We won” Oddball nodded, “But a lot of lives were lost and victory came in a way you wouldn’t believe”

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

New Republic High Command Headquarters.

Gilad Pellaeon rose from where he was seated as Octavia approached, the smile that crossed his face was genuine and helped alleviate much of the apprehension she’d been feeling.

“General Terah” Pellaeon nodded, “You look a lot more cheerful than when we last spoke”

“I feel it” Octavia smiled, and held up her now healed arm, “The cast came off this morning” The smile quickly faded, “So what is happening today?”

Pellaeon shrugged, “Just debriefing basically. All the fleet and battle groups have reported in at last and provided their reports, so we can finally go ahead with something of an overview of this blasted war”

“Well” Octavia frowned, “I can provide a lot of information, but I don’t really know how much of it will be relevant, there’s been so many weird happenings in this conflict”

“We won’t really know what’s relevant until we compile and analyse it” Pellaeon answered.

“True” Octavia conceded, “But without context for some of the data we’re going to struggle to make sense of it”

“Also true” Pellaeon smiled, “Well, let us begin” He lead Octavia into a large chamber dominated by a large ring of tables and seating and already filled with a number of officers.

Taking her seat, Octavia spent a few minutes identifying which officers she could. Though some names eluded her, she was able to pick out Commodore Turk Brand, General Etahn A’baht, Commander Uwlla Lillor, Jesmin Ackbar, Admiral Traest Kre’fey, Commander Tarla Limpan, General Keyan Farlander and Captain Alexandra Winger. Others, she could only identify their rank and –from their uniform insignia- their fleet assignments.

As the last few officers took their seats, the hubbub of conversation died down as –newly reinstated- Supreme Commander Sien Sovv, Admiral Hiram Drayson and Commander Atril Tabanne entered the room.

“Good morning” The diminutive Sullustian nodded to the assembled officers, “As you all know, the Senate has ordered a full inquiry into the way the war was handled. While it will take some time and have no bearing on Vorsk Kel’lya’s upcoming vote of no confidence, I do anticipate that even if he survives the vote, he will attempt to shove blame onto the military to shore himself up”

“Typical” Someone muttered, “We did all the work, they failed to do anything but handicap us and we get the blame. Kriffing politicians”

“True” A’baht added his own voice, “But hasn’t that always been the case” He indicated Pellaeon and Lillor, “Those amongst us who once served the Empire no doubt saw colleagues lose their lives because of the mistakes made by non-military types” The Dornean shrugged, “Even though the penalties are lesser, the situation isn’t really any difference”

As the rise of conversation rose again as everyone else offered their opinion, Sovv rapped the table gently to bring attention back his way, “The key of this meeting and others like it, is to deflect the Senates attempts”

“What do you propose?” Brand asked.

“Keep it simple” Someone said out loud, “Gather our data and give the senate sufficient evidence they can’t ignore. Make it perfectly clear the blame doesn’t lie with the military”

As nodding heads turned to look at her, Octavia realised somewhat belatedly that the voice she’d heard had been hers. Against the rising heat of a blush that she knew was becoming evident on her face, she forced herself to focus on the others.

Sovv indicated her with a nod, “General Terah has summed up my intentions perfectly” He held out his hands, “With the data we’ve all gathered through our operations during the war as well as information provided by the Genyosha capture of the enemy base on Ziost, the information the interrogations of Viqi Shesh, Jeffery Kusinoki and other captured enemy officers and the information General Terah brings with her” He glanced at her again, “Excellent work out there, General”

Fighting that rising blush again, “Octavia nodded in return, “Thank you Sir”

“What were you doing ‘out there’ anyway?” Brand asked.

“All in good time Commodore” Sien Sovv cut in before Octavia could reply, “The information the General gathered during her efforts will perhaps make more sense in the context of other information”

“From the beginning then? The attack on Fondor?” Kre’fey asked.

“A little earlier than that” Drayson spoke up, “The disappearance of several of our ships and..” He pointed to Farlander, “The skirmish at Byss”

“Stick to bullet points for this session” Sovv added, “We’ll add in detail at subsequent sessions”

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

Five Hours Later.

By the time the session had ended, Octavia was grateful for the chance to get up and move about.

Making her way over to where Jesmin Ackbar stood, Octavia smiled as she approached her old friend, “Congratulations Admiral” Octavia saluted, then offered her hand.

Jesmin returned the salute and then accepted the handshake, “Thank you General, apparently someone felt my contribution to the Battle of Coruscant –however late in the day it was- was significant enough to deserve a reward”

Octavia shrugged, “From the data we recovered, you headed off a massive suicide charge by the Neo-Seps. Coruscant got hit hard –I saw the devastation on the way in- but if you hadn’t arrive when and where you did, things would have been far worse”

“Worse than nearly getting killed by an exploding planet?” Jesmin said dryly.

Barking a short laugh, Octavia shook her head, “True. We did cut it close” She winced, “Still, had Oslo-Tarn not arrived with her own Super Star Destroyer, I may not have lived to see the planet go”

“Where did Skye get a Super Star Destroyer?”


“Beats me” Octavia shrugged, “Nobody would answer that when I asked. They either salvaged one the Empire built in secret and had abandoned or they built it themselves, which based on the stuff I’ve heard about this sudden jump in the size of Skye’s military, it puts a whole new spin on things”

Jesmin sighed, “I think things may not become clear until Oslo-Tarn makes her big presentation to the Senate. Just hope it doesn’t kick off another conflict”

“Hope is all we can do” Octavia sighed after a moment.

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

New Republic Intelligence Headquarters.

Showalter sat in his chair, maintaining his utter air of silence as Garik Loran entered the office and at Showalter’s gesture, took a seat.

Once the former actor had seated himself, Showolter silently opened up the data file in front of him and stared at Loran. Unlike a lesser officer, the man better known as ‘Face’ didn’t show any sign of finding the stare, nor the silence uncomfortable. Instead, he continued to sit there waiting expectantly.

With a grimace, Showalter silently awarded this round to Face, “Colonel Loran, I dispatched you to locate information leading to the possible locations of a number of missing vessels. That was several months ago” He glanced at the datafile, “Since then, I have not received much at all in the way of status updates. The last one was shortly after you were on Taris. Beyond then, you appear to have been engaging in your own little operation” He frowned, “Admittedly, the few status reports you bothered to send, did indicate that you were enjoying significant success. Still, I do not appreciate being kept out of the loop”

“We were operating under significant enemy scrutiny at times” Loran shrugged and smirked ever so slightly.

“Don’t feed me that fodder” Showolter snarled, “It’s only the fact that that information you were able to gather was so significant. The location of the Neo-Sep shipyard, the identity of the enemy leader and the location of him, all were important and lead to some of our best successes” He scowled, “You also withheld information and were also responsible for delaying our own efforts to capture and question Grok Treth on Terminus”

“We were working a very limited schedule” Loran shrugged unapologetically, “We needed to get the location of Dass Jennir out of Treth as quickly as possible”

“For the sake of one young renegade” Showalter snapped, “Jenna Tarn cut her ties with the New Republic Military and chose to go on her own quest of revenge. She caused several very delicate diplomatic situations in the process and has a murder warrant on her. That last one I think the Hutt’s may drop if we meet some conditions that will ‘grease the wheels’ a bit”

“Good to hear” Loran smiled.

“Was she worth it?”

“Definitely” Loran said without hesitation, “Not only am I a friend of the family, but I think the girl has significant potential she deserves to build upon” He grinned, “Plus we had to stop her before she went further over the line than she had. Even you would admit that a rampaging and mentally unstable Dark Jedi is not something we want”

“Point taken” Showalter answered dryly, “A Dark Jedi with a fleet of droid ships was bad enough” He sighed, “Fine. What even prompted you to even head out to look for the shipyard?” He glanced at the notes, “Via Duro and Tatooine?”

“Thank the Jedi for that” Loran answered, “One of their archivists uncovered a link to a Rakatan built shipyard the Old republic and the Jedi had a hand is destroying a few thousand years ago. One that could maintain the speed and level of ship construction we were seeing”

“The Rakata?” Showolter snorted in disbelief, “Ten years ago, five years, maybe a few months ago. I’d have said that those primitives couldn’t have built something like that” He shrugged, “But I’ve seen the evidence that points to them being far more sophisticated at one time” He shook his head, “How does a race fall so far?”

“Hubris” Loran answered, “Same thing that claimed Palpatine and his Empire and has threatened the New Republic on many occasions”

The Wraith leader laughed, “Pride comes before a fall”


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:16 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 3:58 am
Posts: 652
Location: England
Valorum Medical Facility.
One Day Later.

The camera panned across the devastated cityscape. Buildings lay shattered and torn, some toppled around the sides of the immense crater, others still stood but were skeletal. The burnt out and torn wrecks of airspeeders and starships littered the landscape. Fires burnt across wide portions of the ruins, though there were signs that the fire fighting efforts of the Disaster Responders was finally starting to have an effect.

Every so often, static chewed through the image as the high levels of radiation overwhelmed the shields on the camera droid and scoured its visual sensors.

Jenna shuddered in revulsion as she watched the news report. She’d muted the sound, but the visuals seemed twice as horrifying without the news commentary. She almost turned the audio back on, but she hated the nasally tone of the anchorwoman.

She’d spent a considerable amount of time talking with Dass Jennir while in his custody and had managed to talk the doctor into giving her access to a library computer so she could research the man, but she was still struggling to comprehend how a Jedi of the Old Republic could have ordered the bombing of the Liberty District.

The act seemed such a contrast to how history remembered him, as a Jedi who had fermented a dozen resistance movements across numerous worlds during the early days of the Empire. A man, who helped the downtrodden, protected the weak and struck a blow against Palpatine’s tyranny.

Strangely, there was no record of him after the first four years of the Empires rule. No mention of him ever interacting with even the earliest days of the Rebellion. Not even vague sightings of him. It was as if he’d vanished from the known galaxy.

“What on Alderaan had happened to him?” Jenna thought silently, “Did the Empire finally catch him? Did the Emperor turn him? Or did he stumble across some ancient artefact that corrupted him like similar items had corrupted others in the past?” She sighed, “Or maybe the simple explanation was the correct one, that Jennir’s activities during the so called ‘Dark Times’ slowly drew him down the dark path”

On the holo, the view of the devastation suddenly vanished in a storm of static – the radiation had finally overwhelmed the droids visual sensors – and the news program cut back to the studio.

Deciding that she’d had enough of the news, Jenna reached for the remote to change stations, but a frown crossed her face as her arm failed to respond. A few heartbeats later, she realised why, she reached out with her right arm, the one that terminated at the elbow.
With a shudder and a muttered curse, she reached out with her left hand and snatched up the remote.

Flicking through the few channels on offer proved somewhat fruitless. Most of them were taken up with ongoing new reports, special documentaries looking back at the recent conflict and a handful of repeats.

Settling on an episode of Monty Python’s Intergalactic Circus, Jenna dialled the volume up to background noise levels and sagged into her bed with a sigh. She forced herself to look away from her maimed limb, instead focusing on the rest of her body.
The bacta had healed most of her visible injuries and almost all the internal ones, but she still had a lot of aches and pains. Not to mention the non-physical injuries, the psychological ones, they would take a lot longer to heal.

Looking back with a clarity that was no doubt due to the various medications being pumped throughout her body, Jenna was aware of just how badly her life had gone down the fresher.
Her military career was finished; even the best anti-psychotic drugs couldn’t give her the mental stability required by regulations.
The Jedi would keep her under intense scrutiny and the Council would refuse to give her assignments that were too critical, she’d been skirting far too close to the Dark Side and could easily fall further.
Too really rub salt in the wound, her Father had told her that she also had two outstanding warrants for her arrest. One on Bespin for unpaid berthing bills – that one wasn’t so bad and was easily handled, and one for the murder of Del Korvata on Nar Shaddaa. Apparently the good doctor had had some powerful friends amongst the Hutt’s, several of whom were pushing for the New Republic to have her arrested and shipped to Nal Hutta for trial. Fortunately, as yet the Republic was refusing since it was clear the Hutt’s price for dropping the charges –which were flimsy at best considering Korvata’s record- was for the Republic to look the other way on the Hutt’s illegal activities.

She wasn’t really sure what her first mistake had been, but it was obvious she’d made quite a few bad decisions over the last few months. Cutting herself off from her friends and family –her support base- had been her worst one. Without them to help her, to guide her, to be there when she was at her lowest, she’d done herself a considerable amount of harm.
She’d come so close to falling into darkness, that had it not been for Jaden she’d probably would have been a lost cause.

“As much as I think he’s a jerk,” She thought, “I owe him a lot for being there, for caring, even when I didn’t”

Where did she go from here?

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

Borsk Fel’lya Memorial Plaza.

Face watched as the shuttle lifted off from the hospital landing port and moved off across the city, ferrying the less critically injured to smaller facilities and freeing up space here at Valorum Medical.

He had no doubt the same scene was being repeated at other hospitals across the planet as facilities struggled to cope with the millions injured –many of them critically- during the bombing and the subsequent attack. Coruscant’s medical capabilities were being strained beyond their limits.

“Depressing isn’t it?” Deven asked from where he stood leaning on the railing that ringed the overlook area of the plaza.

“Which part?” Face grimaced, “That Coruscant’s famed medical services are barely able to cope or that people are being subject to the discomfort of being shuttled from hospital to clinic to hospital?”

“Both” Deven laughed humourlessly, “For years, Coruscant Medical Services has boasted of a Doctor for every citizen, and now that lie has been revealed in the most horrific circumstances. Fact is, no one even planned for what happened here. No one was prepared for the level of destruction that detonating an atomic weapon would cause”

“Complacency” Face sighed, “Everyone was so confident in the protection of the shields, of the fleets up there, that no one even thought the enemy would stoop to terrorist tactics” He blew out his breath in a single burst, “Change of subject, how’s Jenna?”

“Recovering” Deven said, “Physically, with the exception of her arm, she’s almost a hundred percent. Psychologically though, the docs are damned worried and so am I”

“Yeah” Face nodded, “Jaden said she was verging on depression, but there’s something else too isn’t there?”

Deven nodded in reply, “Yeah, despite the depression, she’s too accepting of the loss of her arm. Main consensus seems to be to expect a major blow out anytime now”

Face winced, “She’s just burying all deep inside is she?”

“Yeah, and sooner or later, she’s not going to be able to contain it any more” Deven shook his head, “Anyway, how are you? That Black Knight fella gave you quite the beating”

“Yeah” Face sighed, “And that bothers me. I’m one of the best hand to hand combatants in the galaxy, maybe not the best, but I’m definitely up there. And that guy was –at times- smacking me around like I was some first year trainee. It was sheer luck that I knew a few tricks he didn’t have” He grimaced, “But had I not got lucky he would have had me. I thought I was getting out of shape, but it’s not that, it’s like….like..like”

“Like you’re getting to old for this poodoo?” Deven gave a sympathetic smile.

“Yeah” Face sighed.

“How about that?” Deven laughed, “The great Face Loren is finally catching up with the rest of us”

Face shook his head in denial, “But I can’t be, I’m only……” A look of calculation flickered across his face followed by realisation, “Ah”

“Yeah, you’re ‘only’…..” Deven nodded, “You can’t beat time Face”

Face leant on the rail and stared across the city for a few minutes, “When did we get old?” He asked at last.

“Round about the time our kids started saving the galaxy” Deven answered, “Face it, we’re already a generation out of date. We started the slide down the moment we hit forty” He shrugged, “We’re the heroes of yesteryear and it’s widely expected for us to just shuffle off into retirement and let the young take over”

“Yeah, right” Face snorted, “As if we would”

“True” Deven smiled, “Mostly its stubbornness. That’s the main reason I got involved in all this. I’m damned if I’m gonna let the young have all the fun”

“Besides” Face grinned, “Some of these kids still need to be shown how to do things with style”

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

Valorum Medical Facility.
Two Days Later.

“Hey kid” Jaina said slipping into Jenna’s room and taking a seat, “How you doing?”

“Meh” Jenna wobbled her left hand in the air, palm facing down, “Good days, bad days”

“Well, you’re better than when I last saw you” Jaina gave a weak smile, then stared at the floor.

“Jaina” Jenna frowned, “What’s wrong?”

Jaina sighed, “I’m sorry”

“For what?” Jenna frowned deeper.

“For not visiting sooner” Jaina answered, “I wanted to, but I just felt guilty”

Jenna frowned in confusion, “Ok, you’ve lost me”

“I felt guilty” Jaina repeated, “If I’d got to you quicker, then Jennir wouldn’t have nearly killed you. I was literally seconds away when he hit you with that big chunk of metal”

“Jaina” Jenna said quietly, “It’s okay, I’m just glad you were there to stop him finishing me off” She smiled slightly, “From what I hear, you finished him off”

“In a way” Jaina shrugged, “Unless he had some last minute miracle, he was still on that planet when it blew. The way I left him –alive, I should add- he wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry”

“Wait, what?” Jenna stared at the older woman, “The planet blew?”

“No one told you?” This time it was Jaina’s turn to frown.

“Beyond the fact we’re on Coruscant, we came here on my mothers Super Star Destroyer, the war is over and we won and that my mom has some big speech to make in the Senate today” Jenna shrugged, “I know little. Everyone’s been focused on my recovery”

“Well” Jaina sighed, “Turns out Jennir and his people triggered some sort of booby trap. Kicked in some sort of fusion reactor that boiled a massive underground ocean to the point the planet cracked apart. Of course, by then the fusion reactor had gone into some sort of cascade situation where it developed into a miniature sun” She smiled, “It’s a lot more spectacular visually than it sounds. As it was we barely got off planet before it became a huge fireball”

“Something left behind by the original inhabitants?”

“Maybe” Jaina replied, “Or someone that came after. Jaden managed to pull some data from Jennir’s systems that mention that the Rakata had been there a few times”

“Makes you wonder about what Jennir was after, when even the Rakata left it alone” Jenna scowled.

“Speaking of which, there’s a whole host of Intelligence types lining up to talk to you about what you know” Jaina waved in the general direction of the door, “Non of the Neo-Seps captured there were all aboard the starships and had no idea what was happening down there. So that leaves you and Viqi Shesh, and she’s not being very talkative at the moment”

“I’m sure I could get her to talk” Jenna smirked.

Jaina stared at her friend for a few moments, “We’ll put that offer on the side for the moment” She said dryly.

Jenna winced, “Okay, just realised how that sounded”

Jaina smiled, “I’ve been there myself. So, change of subject, What’s your Mom’s big speech about?”

“No idea” Jenna shrugged, “She wouldn’t say. Said to focus on getting well, something I’m hearing a lot of lately” She sighed, then glanced up at the holo projector, “Whoa! Turn the sound up. The Senate session is starting….”

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

Senate Hall.

Vorsk Kel’lya held his head up high as the Chief-Of-States podium swung out into the centre of Senate Hall. He forced himself to exude an appearance of confidence that he didn’t feel.
He knew this was his make or break day, he’d either leave this chamber in triumph or shame. This was the day he’d dreaded, the day of the vote-of-no-confidence.

Despite the effort he had put in the last few weeks, striking deals, making promises and calling in favours, he was still uncertain of how the vote could go and he certainly couldn’t repeat the same actions that had got him voted into the position to begin with. Everything hinged on his ability to sway the Senators and of course, there was also Trinity Oslo-Tarn’s anticipated speech. Would she throw her support behind him in expectation of concessions from him or would she announce her intention to challenge him?

He glanced over to the Skye booth. Oslo-Tarn sat there next to her husband Deven Tarn, Skye’s representative Hassid Ricol and a number of aides. Seeing him looking in her direction, she gave him a tight smile and to his anger, a quick wink.

“How dare she?” He thought, smoothing down the fur on his neck that had risen up, “How dare she taunt me?”

Clamping down on his anger, he took his place at the podium, “I call this senate to order” To his satisfaction, his voice was clam and steady and betrayed none of his feelings.

Much of the first half on the session was taken up with standard business, discussions of trade deals and other trivial details.
Eventually things moved onto discussions of the recent events with motions to hold an inquiry into the bombing of the Liberty District, aid for the survivors and the possibility of a memorial to those lost. Motions were proposed for all three subjects and all three motions were passed and ratified.
In the end, the senate voted for the inquiry, which was to be overseen by a hand picked inquiry board that would look at the information that was available, interview witnesses and piece together the events that led to the detonation of the device. In the process, Kel’lya was forced into three concessions, that the Senate itself selected the board, that it included at least one member of the Jedi Council and that it was an open inquiry and not the closed doors investigation Kel’lya had wanted.

They also voted for almost thirty billion credits to be set aside for aid to the injured from the bombing, a further one hundred million for cleaning up the Liberty District with an eye for rebuilding and an as yet undecided sum for a memorial.

Kel’lya had winced when the amounts were decided and accepted, the amount of credits agreed on would take a massive bite out of the Republic Treasury, almost forty percent of the reserves.

Things had then moved onto discussion of various programs needed for rebuilding and handling the injured from the other planets in the Republic that had been hit in the war.
At one point, a shouting match had erupted between the Kuati and Sullustan delegations after the Sullust Senator had suggested that Kuat should contribute more to the rebuilding programs due to the treachery of Viqi Shesh.

After allowing them to shout it out for few minutes, Kel’lya cut into their argument and asked for calm.

He couldn’t delay it any longer, it was time.

“During the last major gathering of this body” Kel’lya said evenly, “A motion was passed for a vote of no confidence in myself. That vote was deferred until the conflict was resolved, to now. Therefore I…..”

“Chief-of-State Kel’lya” Trinity Oslo-Tarn cut in, “I would like to say something that may have a bearing on this vote”

“The Royal representative from Skye is granted the floor” Kel’lya announced with a mix of relief and trepidation. The vote was delayed a little while longer, but it was time to find out what Oslo-Tarn intended.

“Good Senators” She said in a loud, clear voice as holorecorder druids swooped close in on her, “We have over the last few months been engaged in a vicious and destructive war, one that has cost an untold number of lives both here and across the galaxy” She paused to allow the translator druids to handle her words, “We faced an enemy willing to use multiple tactics that were as dishonourable as they were despicable. The bombing here, the attempted coup they supported at Hapes, even the attempt to kidnap my children, all deplorable tactics”

She seemed to pause as if to gather her thoughts and prepare for a response from the senate. Kel’lya relished the moment; she still had some uncertainty over what she planned.

She continued, “Yet we have emerged victorious, though the losses we have suffered, the price we have paid, makes it a bittersweet victory. Dozens of worlds face years of rebuilding, our military has lost thousands of trained personnel, families have been sundered and entire bloodlines lost” She glanced around the chamber, “An aura of safety we had developed with the destruction of the Empire has dissipated, leaving us no longer feeling safe” She stared up at Kel’lya, “Yet we succeeded, despite an ineffectual leadership that hampered our military’s ability to wage war and chose to distract this governing body with plays for power and motions to saddle an already overwhelmed civil service with additional bureaucracy and red tape that served only to boost the power afforded to a small number”

As shouts of outrage and surprise filled the hall, Kel’lya stood to add his own objections, but Oslo-Tarn thundered on.

“On the Chief-of-States recommendation, Admiral James Kwi-Nam was given command of the Super Star Destroyer Guardian and the Coruscant defence forces. A man, whose rank was little more than a political gift and who had never commanded anything larger than a desk, was given full command of one of the largest vessels in the Republic fleet” She paused for effect, “A man so incompetent, he had an on duty vessel undergo a full power core shutdown that left it completely helpless when the Neo-Separatists attacked. That incompetence resulted in the destruction of the Guardian and likely contributed to the loss of the entire sector defence fleet”

Kel’lya slammed his hands against the podium, “The loss of power to the Guardian was the result of sabotage” Voices shouted out support of him, he’d made sure that the Senate had seen the doctored recordings from the Guardian’s black box.

“I have seen the data from the black box” Oslo-Tarn spitted him with an incendiary stare, “I requested a copy direct from Admiral Kre’fey and received one very different from the one provided to this Senate” She held up a data pad and tapped some commands, a few seconds later the Senate hall echoed with the double beep of each senator receiving a data burst on their own datapads. Kel’lya glanced down at his own datapad and his stomach sank, “The information I am providing has been corroborated with New Republic Intelligence and New Republic Fleet Intelligence and shows that Kwi-Nam ordered a full power core scram, which resulted in a complete shutdown. Outside of a shipyard, it takes two days minimum to restart the power core of an Executor Class Star Destroyer and that’s if ninety percent of the safety checks are skipped. Thus the Guardian was barely able to defend itself against a flit gnat when the assault fleet arrived”

Outrage echoed around the chamber again, but this time directed at Kel’lya with demands for why the truth was being suppressed.

Oslo-Tarn was not to be stopped however, “So we have a Chief-of-State that falsifies information that is passed to the Senate, who grants critical commands to political appointees, who attempts to claim the emergency powers for reasons unknown to anyone but himself and…” She paused and sent another databurst.

As Kel’lya’s pad beeped he glanced at his screen and felt like he’d just been gut shot, “No” The thought blasted around his head, “This isn’t possible”

Oslo-Tarn continued, an almost malicious smile on her face, “And a Chief-of-State who rigged his own election”

This time, she allowed the outrage to rumble around the senate hall. The rage and anger and hate that Ke’lya felt directed at him was terrifying, “Vorsk Kel’lya paid bribes, had personnel switched and voting software sliced in order to hand him a victory. On your datapads right now, you see the proof. Transactions, data trails and enough rope to hang a corrupt being who brings shame on us all and who resurrects the corrupt stereotype the Bothan people have fought hard to eliminate”

Tras Fel’kan, the Bothan Senator and one of Kel’lya’s strongest allies slowly stood, “Two days ago, I declared my full and unwavering support for Vorsk Kel’lya” He stared a look of hate in Kel’lya’s direction, “Bothawui now withdraws that support and I suggest we move straight to the vote of no confidence, so that we can remove this….stain”

Kel’lya opened his mouth to defend himself, but was drowned out by the shouts that roared around the senate.

Oslo-Tarn raised her hand and slowly, the noise died down, “Before we vote, I still have something I have to say” As expectation filled the chamber, Kel’lya slumped in his seat, dreading whatever came next, “In light of the incompetence, the corruption and the infighting that has dominated this war. I am taking the decision to withdraw Skye from the New Republic”

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

Valorum Medical Centre.

Jenna sat up as straight as she could, “Did I just hear that?”

Jaina nodded numbly, “You did. You definitely did”

“Wow” Jenna slumped back, “Just wow”

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

Senate Hall.

Oslo-Tarn allowed the shocked noises to rebound around the hall for a few moments before continuing, “Skye will maintain its embassy here on Coruscant, our senator will be replaced with an ambassador and we remain committed to funding for reconstruction, survivor funds and memorials, at least for the short term, but Skye will be pulling out of the New Republic”

“You cannot” Kel’lya said with a roar of anger, “Skye cannot pull out of the Republic”

“I think you’ll find” Oslo-Tarn said coolly, “That the Republic’s own laws allow worlds to leave the New Republic”

“I won’t allow it” Kel’lya shouted above the rising clamour, “One world cannot stand alone”

“You have no say in the matter” Oslo-Tarn said coldly, “And you will likely have even less say in the matter shortly” She smiled, “In any case, Skye does not stand alone”

To the astonishment of many in the hall, other Senators and their aides stood and stood in silent solidarity with the Queen of Skye.
To Kel’lya’s horror, he counted almost two hundred senators, some from key worlds such as Munnilinst, Bastion, Elom, Agamar, Telos, Toprawa, Adumar, Ithor and Garqi, their actual number barely an impact on the Senates numbers, but responsible for a large region of space in that area of the Outer Rim.

“The worlds represented by the senators you see standing have signed an alliance with Skye” Oslo-Tarn announced above the rising hubbub of noise, “One month ago, the Declaration of the Skye Alliance was signed and ratified, putting me at the head of a two hundred system alliance of worlds. All of us independent from the New Republic”

“You will no longer receive the benefits of being a member of the New Republic” Kel’lya snarled, “A handful of defensive fleets are insufficient to protect you and if you think you’ll be able to survive without trade, ha!”

“I’ll choose to ignore the subtle threat there” Oslo-Tarn said, “And as I already pointed out, it’s unlikely to be any concern of yours after today. We have our own military and navy with which we will defend our selves, which is more than this Republic was willing to do during the war” She scowled, “And I think you’ll find that the New Republics own laws also forbid you from blocking member worlds from trading with independent worlds, systems and nations. The Skye Alliance will have it’s own military, it’s own economy and it’s own currency and we won’t be governed by unseen figures on a far away world that didn’t even care enough to send sufficient forces to protect half our worlds”

Despite his boiling anger, Kel’lya found he had nothing left to attack Oslo-Tarn with and he slumped into his seat with one last, pathetic salvo, “I won’t let you do this” He muttered.

A new voice cut across the mixed voices that dominated the chamber and appealed for calm. Eventually, the voices died down enough for Senator Gorak, the Gotal Senator to speak.

“I believe” Gorak said serenely, “That little more can be done about the decision of this fledging Skye Alliance” He glanced to Oslo-Tarn and the senators who stood with her, “I wish circumstances were better and that you didn’t feel that this step wasn’t necessary. However, the step has been taken and I offer you luck in this endeavour”

“Thank you” Oslo-Tarn nodded.

Gorak paused for a moment, “You are right in saying that the New Republic’s law allows this, but even if it did not, I fear that to try and stop you would sunder the Republic completely. I would prefer a Republic reduced to a Republic destroyed. My hope is that this is not a permanent decision and that we can welcome your worlds back into the Republic at a later date”

“Perhaps” Oslo-Tarn conceded, “Maybe not in our lifetimes, but who knows what the future may hold”

“That is my hope” The Gotal inclined his large horned head, “However, present matters require attention” He stared at the deflated Kel’lya, “We have an albatross to remove and a new Chief-of-State to elect. I must ask that the Skye Alliance representatives leave the chamber as this is a Republic matter and no longer your concern”

Oslo-Tarn nodded, “While I disagree that it’s not a concern to the Skye Alliance who the new Chief-of-State will be, I do agree that our involvement in proceedings here has ended” She nodded to the new representatives of the Skye Alliance, who began to filter out, “I look forward to meeting with the next Chief-of-State”

Once Oslo-Tarn herself had left, Gorak looked around the senators, “Now, we have a vote of no confidence to carry out. The conclusion is forgone, but let us at least maintain some semblance of propriety”

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

New Republic High Command Headquarters.
Two Days Later.

Octavia frowned as she looked over the information on the datapad, with a shrug she looked up at the person who had spoken, “I’m afraid, Commodore” She sighed, “I don’t have a definitive answer to that. I know for fact that at least twenty to thirty Neo-Separatist vessels survived the battle at….”
She glanced at her datapad for the name of the world, “…Nystera. But how many of those ships escaped the system before the planet blew? I can’t be sure. Our own sensors were clouded by what was happening and we did have our own concerns. Review of sensor logs did show a number of hyperspace jumps take place just before our own, but no telling how many may have escaped”

“And based on what was happening, the only thing we can say for certain is any that didn’t jump in time would never have made it” Commodore Brand conceded and glanced at the only other person at this small meeting, “I don’t like dealing with unanswered questions like this, but until those ships do show up, we might never know how many made it clear”

“So” Kre’fey nodded, “With the number of vessels that were not present here at Coruscant nor at Nystera, but that we know were part of the Neo-Separatist fleet prior to those battles. We have approximately two hundred enemy vessels unaccounted for”

“Uhhhhhh” Octavia punched through her datapad files, “There’s a note here from a New Republic prowler stationed near Lok reported a number of Neo-Separatist dropping from hyperspace and jumping off on a course out into Wild Space. Add in a couple of other reports from across the galaxy of ships jumping towards that area of the Outer Rim, and potentially they’ve fled into Wild Space”

“I don’t like working with assumptions” Brand grimaced.

“Agreed” Kre’fey scowled, “We need to get a recon fleet out there as soon as possible. As long as those ships are still operational, they are a threat” He looked to Ocatvia, “I would ask you to head it up, but I hear you plan on leaving the service”

“I am” Octavia nodded, “I’ve a family I’ve not seen properly for the last few years and an eight year old daughter who has probably seen me for only a handful of months in her entire life” She sighed, “I think it’s time I got out”

“Can’t say I blame you” Brand nodded, “Does anyone have a recommendation then?”

“Well, I am transferring my command to my XO, Voort Sabinring” Octavia answered, “I’m confident in his ability. He can do the job”

Kre’fey looked thoughtful for a moment, “Very well, though we still have the issue of what size force to send. Our entire navy is possibly at sixty percent, if we’re generous. Ground forces are better, eighty percent. But we took a lot of loses”

“Not to mention” Brand cut in, “With a good chunk of worlds leaving the Republic as part of this Skye Alliance, we may see a lot of resignations of personnel from those worlds. They aren’t going to run the chance of being forced to fight against their own people, however unlikely”

“Well, We’ve already lost the Republic Rangers” Kre’fey sighed, “Hardly surprising though. The commander is from Telos and a large chunk of the personnel are from Telos and Skye” He reviewed some data on his datapad, “I fully expect us to at least also lose the Garqi Grenadiers, the fleet group of Elomin ships and all three tank battalions from Ord Rodama”

“What about our fleet commanders from those worlds?” Octavia asked.

“General Farlander has already declared his intention to retire though he has assured me that he’ll stay on till his successor is up to speed” Kre’fey nodded, “The Supreme Commander has already initiated steps to reform our military in smaller groups to account for our losses and to absorb any subsequent defections to the Skye Alliance”

“I envy you General” Brand said to Octavia, “You getting out now is probably a good move. I have a feeling things are going to be getting worse. Even though Trinity Oslo-Tarn made her big announcement two days ago, there’s already similar rumblings from a variety of Outer Rim worlds. We could see more worlds declaring their own independence and forming their own nations”

“It’s going to get very complicated “ Kre’fey grimaced, “The fact that a lot of those worlds went unprotected because decisions at government level left half our fleets at Core worlds that weren’t under threat”

“And things are going to get worse as the election nears” Octavia pointed out, “The next chief-of-state is going to have to do some serious bridge building with the Outer Rim otherwise we could see a lot worlds going their own way”

Kre’fey nodded, “It was bad enough five years ago when members of the Advisory Council tried to withdraw funds for Outer Rim worlds on the basis that ‘They weren’t as important as the core worlds’, that caused a lot of friction back then. This time round, we had an Advisory Council that was trying to push for those same Outer Rim worlds to be abandoned. I don’t think we’ve seen the extent of the fallout yet”

“Let’s hope things stabilize quickly” Brand sighed.

“We should be so lucky” Octavia muttered.

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

Conclave Chamber.
The Jedi Temple.

Luke Skywalker waited until the various Knights, Masters and Students had left the vast chamber before turning to the six who remained.

It’s decided then” Kam Solusar was the first to speak, “We’re going to be independent of the New Republic then?” He frowned, “That is, we’re going to remain independent? They aren’t going to demand an oath of loyalty or anything like that in the wake of Oslo-Tarn’s declaration?”

“No” Luke shook his head, “I’ve received assurances from all three candidates that the situation will continue as it has. The Republic will not try and absorb us into their structure”

“Good” Corran cut in as he settled into one of the front row seats, “I think the last thing we want is for the Jedi to become some sort of militia for the Republic. What about the situation with the Skye Alliance?”

“That ones in the air for the moment” Mara answered for her husband, “While we have been told that the Alliance won’t hamper the Orders efforts in finding and helping force sensitives, the situation is politically delicate”

“So, the Republic would rather we didn’t at this time?” Tionne asked from where she stood next to Kam.

“Pretty much” Luke nodded, There’s a fear that we could be seen by some as trying to reinfluence some people within the Alliance on behalf of the Republic”

“Speaking of which” Corran frowned, “Have the borders been decided yet?”

“Tentively” Luke nodded, “It’s being considered as a line drawn down from Ankus to Wayland to Yavin to Ziost and up to Sernpidal. The Alliance has pretty much claimed that entire area of the Rim, though a lot of those worlds out towards the Tingel Arm have signed up to Oslo-Tarn’s nation yet”

“Most of them were barely even a part of the New Republic anyway” Jaina snorted from where she sat on the edge of the meditation pool, “No doubt the Republic will barely notice their loss and will be grateful for not having the responsibility”

“Probably” Kyp Durron laughed, having been silent till now, “What of the rumours of other worlds wanting to go the same route?”

“I’ve heard of a few vague mutterings” Corran answered, “There’s a lot of friction between the rim worlds and the Republic. The conduct of Kel’lya and his cronies didn’t exactly endear them to the worlds they wanted to abandon”

“There have been marches on quite a few worlds” Mara nodded, “Demanding that the planetary government pull the world out of the Republic, demanding greater concessions for rim worlds and so on”

Tionne sighed, “Are we looking at the potential collapse of the Republic?”

“At least a diminishing of it” Luke shrugged, “Much of the chattering is focused in the rim with pro-Republic feelings high in the Core out as far as the old Colony regions. One exception is Corellia, the only Core world demanding independence from the Republic, but then Corellia has always been a hotbed of independence”

“I imagine the Bothan’s are on the Pro-Republic side?” Kyp smiled, “Less power to share round when you’re not part of the big side”

“True” Luke nodded, “Hopefully, the situation will settle down once the Republic has a new Chief-of-State. Though I can imagine we may get a request to act as mediators in some situations”

“We’ll struggle” Jaina sighed, “Too many worlds, not enough Jedi”

“You’re friends with Jenna Tarn” Mara said, “Did you know anything about what her mother had planned?”

“No” Jaina shook her head, “And neither did Jenna before you ask. She’d been a bit busy recovering at the time”

“How is she?” Mara asked.

“Getting there” Jaina sighed and dipped her hand in the pool, “She’s in a bit of a rut right now, coming to terms with the loss of her arm and still dealing with her…..other issues”

“Is she at risk of falling to the dark side?” Kyp said, wincing when he realised what he’d said.

“Blunt as ever, Kyp” Jaina gave a weak smile, “I know that’s the worry of everyone here, and Jenna feels the same. She knows how close she came and it scares her”

“I can understand that” Kam nodded, “At least two thirds of the people in this room right now have been close too”

“True” Mara smiled, “Her Mother carving out her own little nation isn’t going to affect Jenna’s recovery is it?”

“No” Jaina shook her head, “She was due to be discharged from Valorum Medical next week, even before what happened. Her next stage is preparation for a prosthetic and that’s not the sort of thing ValMed handles anyway. She’ll be completing her rehabilitation home on Skye”

“I wish her well” Luke smiled, glancing at his own artificial hand. Then his face became serious again, “Jaina, I know she’s your friend, but we need to know, is there a chance she could fall? She’s not exactly stable mentally”

Jaina didn’t answer at first, instead she focused on making waves in the meditation pool with her hand. Eventually, just as the silence began to make those present uncomfortable, Jaina looked up, “To be honest, I don’t know. As I said, she scared herself with how close she got, and that may help. But she has a lot of healing to do. She needs to find her place again and until she does, she’s at risk” She sighed, “Much as I was after my own brush with the dark side. Much as Kyp and Master Solusar were. Much as you were, Uncle Luke”

“Point” Luke conceded, “In your opinion, does she require watching?”

“I’ll answer that” Corran cut in, “Deven’s smart enough, he’ll be able to watch over his own daughter. He’s had enough experience with the Dark Side to be able to keep Jenna on the right track”

“Love has always been a strong barrier against the dark side” Tionne said, slipping her arm around Kam’s and casting a look at her husband.

“Ok, that’s one thing sorted for now” Kyp nodded, “What’s the plan for now with everything else?”

“We watch and wait” Luke sighed, “We work to maintain a balance of sorts between the New Republic and this new Skye Alliance. Do what we can to prevent tensions boiling over and we continue to go on as we always have”

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

Skye Embassy.

“Well” Deven said dryly, “There’s definitely less of them out there today”

Trinity joined her husband near the window, a frown on her face, “Are you sure? Looks about the same to me”

Deven laughed and indicated the group of protesters gathered outside the Skye Embassy, “I’m sure, for a start you can see pavement in places”

“I stand corrected then” Trinity shook her head and returned her attention to the other occupant of the room, “I don’t envy you having to deal with these protesters, Hassid”

Hassid Ricol, former senator and now temporary Ambassador, shrugged his immense shoulders, “They are fairly peaceful and not too much of a nuisance, Highness. Besides, I only have to put up with them until my replacement arrives” His dark eyes narrowed, “Which I would hope will not be long”

Trinity smiled, “I’ve already received word that Kurlen Strik is already enroute to take up the Ambassadorial post here. Three weeks at the longest”

“Good” Ricol nodded, “Coruscant has never been to my tastes and things are only going to get difficult once a new Chief-of-State is selected”

“How do you rate the candidates?” Trinity asked.

Ricol scowled for a moment as he considered his answer, “The Gotal, Gorak is probably the best choice for us. Good and honourable, has a great deal of respect for the law, which means that everything he does regarding the Alliance is going to be above the board. He’s also well respected in the Senate” A pause, “Of the other two, Tor Miraborg is our worst hope. Typical old Imperial Coruscanti, believes in the supremacy of humans, though he doesn’t make much fuss about that. There are rumours he has his hands in a few criminal pots, but nothing has ever been proven. The final one, the Geonosian Deetle isn’t even worth consideration, he ran the last election and barely even got enough votes to have an influence on the results. This time I expect him to do worse”

“I was surprised to hear he got so many last time” Deven said from where he still stood at the window, “Geonosians have hardly been a well-liked species. They seem to go out of their way to be as rude and abrasive as possible”

“True” Ricol nodded, “Still you can’t fault him for trying”

“So, between Gorak and Miraborg, who’s the front runner?” Trinity asked.

“Gorak” Ricol said with little hesitation, “He impressed a lot of people when he took charge of the Senate the other day after you dropped your explosive surprise. Made a lot of people look at him in a different light I think” He shrugged, “Doesn’t hurt that he’s got Cal Omas and Princess Leia endorsing him”

“Always good to have solid backing” Deven said, then frowned out the window, “Anyone notice that the protestors are almost all from Core worlds? Coruscanti, Kuati and some from Anaxes judging by the Imperial style of dress” He smiled, “Kinda surprised there’s no Bothans”

“They’re over at the Bothan Embassy” Trinity laughed, “Demanding Vorsk Kel’lya be put on trial for corruption and bringing shame on the Bothan people”

“Most people aren’t that worked up about what we’re doing with the Alliance” Ricol pointed out, “Once you make them aware that all those worlds we’ve claimed are no longer draining resources from the Republic, they start seeing the plus side”

“Speaking of which” Deven turned from the window, “Is this whole Skye Alliance idea really feasible? I mean economically, we’re okay, at least for the short term. Trade between the Alliance and the Republic is no problem, there’s no restrictions on us and whoever becomes Chief-of-State isn’t going to risk a political nightmare by trying to impose any” He dropped into a free seat, “What about defence? At best, with planetary defence forces, militias and the few units coming over to us from the New Republic, we can maybe defend thirty percent of the Alliance”

“You haven’t told him?” Ricol frowned at Trinity.

“Told me what?” Deven asked.

“I actually started taking steps for this sort of scenario ten years ago” Trinity answered, “I didn’t want us getting caught out should the Republic fall as it very nearly did then and as it very nearly did again this time” She fidgeted uncomfortably, “I placed an order with several contractors to create, train and build a military force that could be used as an ace in the hole. Back then it was planned to be a sort of emergency asset, but my plan changed as the situation during this war changed. As a result, the Skye Alliance has a fully ready and equipped military”

“And this contractors?” Deven leaned forwards.

“The troops we acquired from Kamino” Trinity winced, fully aware of her husband’s dislike of clones, “Weaponry we got from various sources, same with ships, though we were able to use shell companies to purchase a large number of heavy cruisers and destroyers from Sorosuub and Kuat Drive Yards. CEC on the other hand were happy to sell to us on the condition we gave a vow that they wouldn’t be used against Corellia”

“Clones?” Deven grimaced at the use of the word, “Don’t they only have a limited life span? And with Kamino still a part of the Republic, you can guarantee that’s one place we’ll be prevented from purchasing from again”

“The Clone Masters perfected the technique a bit” Trinity replied, “This clones will last fifty years, before they are no longer combat fit. By that time, We’ll have at least two generations of personnel trained to replace them”

“Thought of everything then” Deven said with a sigh.

“You don’t approve?” Trinity frowned.

“Actually, I do” Deven waved a hand, “I’m impressed too. I’m just a little overwhelmed and a little put out that I was unaware of a lot of this” He shrugged.

Trinity looked at the floor, “I didn’t want you burdened until things were ready, and then when my plans changed there was no opportunity to tell you”

“I understand, I think” Deven smiled and took her hand, “What is the long term plan for the Skye Alliance? Is this a permanent thing or what?”

“For the time being, permanent” Trinity said, “Until and unless, the New Republic can sort itself out. An event I believe is very unlikely, there’s too many not getting enough of the pot, and too many getting more than their fair share”

“Which I believe was the downfall of the Old Republic” Ricol rumbled, “Too much corruption, and far too many voices going unheard”

“And an absolute monarchy is better” Deven raised an eyebrow, “How did you talk everyone into agreeing to that?”

“It took some doing” Trinity shrugged, “But the throne and the ruler on it will be primarily a figurehead with the final decision on major issues, but actual day to day government will be handled by an elected parliament and ministries, with each planet providing each least two representatives”

“Speaking of which” Ricol put in, “Has a location been decided yet for the Parliament? I know the plan is avoid basing it on Skye”

“Still working that one” Trinity answered, “I’m thinking Agamar is the best choice, but a final decision has yet to be agreed”

“Why avoid having it on Skye?” Deven frowned.

“To avoid too much prestige going to Skye” Ricol replied, “Though I don’t necessarily agree, I do see the reasoning. It’s too avoid elevating Skye above the other worlds of the Alliance”

“My rule will already be based from Skye” Trinity nodded, “If the Parliament is based there too, it might give the impression that I want to look over the Parliament’s shoulders”

“Don’t you?” Deven smirked.

“Yeah, but it shouldn’t be too obvious” Trinity laughed.

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

Jaina Solo’s Temporary Residence.
400 Republica.

As Jaina invited each of her parents into the suite, she mentally admitted to herself just how much she had missed the pair of them.

Han Solo, was just as she always remembered him, a little greyer perhaps, a few more wrinkles and definitely carrying a little more bulk around his midsection, but he still carried himself with that air of roguishness that had so excited her as a child. The hug he enveloped her in, carried with it a sense of relief that his daughter was okay, that she was safe and in a damn better condition than when he had last seen her.

Leia Organa-Solo still carried herself with that regal air, mixed with the calmness of serenity that had once made her an excellent senator and later, a sometime Jedi. Despite the brittleness of their relationship, mother and daughter embraced with a level of love that surprised both and Jaina realised that somewhere along the line, they had both come to terms with each other.

“You’re looking well” Leia was the first to speak, “More balanced and in tune with yourself too”

“I think I am” Jaina nodded, “I’m still working through a few things and I’ve a few new things to work through, but I’m getting there”

Han smiled, “So, basically, you’re facing it like a Solo. Head down and charging forwards?”

“In a way” Jaina laughed.

“Oh?” Leia looked at him, “Now if I’d said that, you’d have been insulted”

“True” Han chuckled, “So, how’s life, Kiddo?”

“Better” Jaina said, “A lot better. How’s Anakin and Jacen? I know their okay, I can feel them through the force, but how are they?”

“Anakin’s well” Leia replied, “He took part in the battle with Luke’s Jedi squadrons, did very well I’ll admit, he and Tahiri are engaged and planning a wedding next year”

“Good” Jaina smiled, “It’s about those two made it official”

“Hey” Han laughed, “At least they didn’t leave it long as me and your mother did”

Once the laughter from all three had died down, Jaina found her voice again, “And Jacen?”

“Still on Ossus with Zekk, Tenal Ka and the Iron Knights” Leia said, “They sat most of the war out over there, but were able to capture a Neo-Separatist Destroyer that strayed in system. Turned up a wealth of information”

“So, what’s your take on this Skye Alliance, Mom” Jaina asked, “I mean, you worked so hard to keep the New Republic strong, all the way back to when it was the Rebel Alliance”

I won’t say I like it” Leia sighed, “Though I can understand Oslo-Tarn’s reasoning, plus it does free up a considerable amount of the New Republic’s resources, which admittedly are going to be stretched thin as it is”

“There have been a few protests” Han pointed out, “Mostly centred around the fact that ten years ago, Skye wasn’t even a part of the New Republic and know they’ve pulled out with nearly two hundred worlds with them” He shrugged, “I suspect most of the protests were organised by Tor Miraborg, he’s trying to appear very proactive over the issue, advocating for bringing those worlds back into the fold, one way or another”

“Politics” Jaina rolled her eyes, “Speaking of which, what’s this I hear about you getting involved in politics?” She asked her mother.

Leia sighed, “I know I swore to keep out of politics, but Kel’lya betrayed everything the New Republic stands for, he had to be brought down. Though I’m at a loss for how the information about his rigging the last election got into Oslo-Tarn’s hands”

“I think we know now who was paying Miss Kargin’s fee” Han offered.

“Who?” Jaina frowned.

“The slicer who brought us the information” Leia answered, “Was working some other investigation and stumbled upon Kel’lya’s corruption and brought it me, I took it to Cal Omas and we were going to present it to a Senate Committee, but Oslo-Tarn revealed it first, quite dramatically I might add”

“And now you’re endorsing one of the candidates” Jaina smiled.

“Yes” Leia sighed, “Gorak is currently the best choice. He’s level headed and isn’t going to cause a major incident over the Skye issue. If my endorsement of him prevents a human supremacist like Tor Miraborg become Chief-of-State, all the better”

“Is Gorak going to be able to hold the Republic together?” Jaina asked, “I’m hearing rumours of a lot of worlds in the Expansion and Rim regions clamouring for independence from the Republic too. Is it possible we may see may worlds splinter off to form their own nations?”

“It’s already happening” Han said, “So far fifty worlds have gone independent, some forming little alliances of their own and some just going on their own. The largest ‘splinter nation’ so far is Atreus, Marik and Oriente and they’ve formed the Oriente Triumvate”

“I can’t see that one lasting long” Leia put in, “All three worlds are under developed, nothing really worth exporting from there. All three are likely to rejoin the Republic or if neighbouring systems go independent, they could get absorbed by a larger, more viable nation”

“I’m surprised the Advisory Council hasn’t tapped you for assistance in talking to the worlds that are questionable. Your name and word do still carry a lot of weight” Jaina smiled.

“True and they did” Leia conceded.

“And?”

“And nothing” Leia replied, “Honestly, I can’t argue with those that want independence. Until the Republic can balance itself again, this course may be unavoidable. Better they leave peaceably now and on good terms with a chance of returning, rather than them remain and choose an armed rebellion at a later date that could poison feelings on all sides”

“But it could mean war anyway” Jaina pointed out, “At some point, somebody is going to decide they would prefer to have a world under their umbrella than somebody else’s”

“Then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” Han shrugged, “We can’t force people to remain in the New Republic, we just have to do our best to keep things from reaching a flashpoint”

“You’re being very laid back about this” Jaina frowned at her mother, “After all you did for the Republic, to see it crumble”

Leia sighed, and looked weary, “Sometimes, you just have to accept things”

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

One day later.

Coruscant News Service.

And the results are in, Gorak of Gotal has been elected Chief-of-State with a landslide victory, taking almost eighty percent of the vote.

His victory was boosted slightly when Deetle of Geonosis pulled from the election yesterday and urged his supporters to shift their allegiance to Gorak.

The other main candidate, Tor Miraborg of Coruscant, blamed his defeat on a ‘xenotrash conspiracy’ and vowed to contest the results. A second vote in the Senate resulted in his censor and the start of a process to remove him from his position.


Bothawui Bugler

Disgraced former Chief-of-State Vorsk Kel’lya was today bound over for trial for Corruption on Coruscant.

Though an offer was made to hold the trial and –should he be found guilty- for him to be imprisoned here on Bothawui, the Elder Council voted unanimously to turn down the offer, a decision seeming popular here on the Bothan homeworld.


Skye News Service

Though opinions have been mixed, Queen Trinity’s decision to not only pull Skye out of the New Republic, but to form a new nation with other rim worlds has been seen as a wise one.

Whether it was the right one remains to be seen, but many citizens polled have been hopefully optimistic.

Will our Skye Alliance be everything it’s hoped to be? Time will tell.


Pirate Transmission

We should throw off the shackles of the oppressive New Republic, an entity that has become as bloated and corrupt as the Empire once was.

Let us declare independence and take hold of our own destiny once again.


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

Valorum Medical Centre.
Three Days Later.

Jenna pulled on her jacket with some difficulty, mindful of the way the right arm sleeve hung empty below the elbow. Getting the stump of her right arm into the sleeve was easy, but then she was left trying to pull the jacket up and slide her left arm in the sleeve and only having on arm to do it.

In the end, she gripped the jacket with the force and held it as she slipped her arm through the sleeve. With the variety of medications and drugs still pumping through her system, the effort was enough to give her a cracking headache and she massaged her temple to try and sooth the feeling.

“You okay babe?” Oddball asked.

“Yeah” Jenna grunted a little frostily, “I’ll just be glad when the only chemicals floating around my bloodstream are the anti-psychotics.”

“Can understand that” Oddball nodded, “Sometimes, I think Doctors pump patients full of stuff just to see what it does”

“I can believe it” Jenna’s mouth twitched into a slight smile and Oddballs knew he’d at least scored a victory with her.

Things had been less than great the last couple of days since Oddballs had finally told her his full name of Zane Irelon and that his father was Morgan Irelon, the ex-NRI officer who had been so paranoid about Jenna’s ‘future treachery’ and that his brother Regis was an ex Lianna Military Academy student whom Jenna had clashed –somewhat violently- with during her cadet days.
Though she hadn’t exactly banished him from her sight, she had been less than happy about his hiding of who he was and who his family was. The first day, they had barely spoken beyond Jenna asking what sort of things he’d passed to his father. Denials of any sort had just resulted in her sulking or snorting in disbelief.
The second day, things had been even worse with barely a word between them until Jaina had shown up, asked him to leave the room for a couple of minutes and then proceeded to ‘have a serious word with Jenna’. Afterwards, Jenna had been more cordial and things had improved bit by bit since.

“So what are your plans?” Oddball asked, “I know you’re heading home to Skye to continue rehabilitation and get a prosthetic fitted. But then what?”

“I honestly don’t know” Jenna shook her head, “I’ll have to see how my new arm works out. Beyond that, I have no idea. You?”

“Much the same” Oddball sighed, “Colonel Moore says she can offer me a spot on Rogue Squadron, but I’m not sure it’s what I want to do anymore. You heard about Jaden and Jaina?”

“Yeah” Jenna smiled, “I’m happy for them, though I always thought she had a soft spot for Jagged Fel. Still good luck to them, apparently they plan on staying her for another month and then moving off to travel the galaxy a bit”

Oddball looked at the floor for a moment, “Jenna, do you still think there’s a chance for us?”

A sad look crossed Jenna’s face, “I don’t know. I really don’t know”

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

Palace District Spaceport.
One Week Later.

“Well” Deven said, “I guess this is goodbye, for now at least” He offered his hand to the two men with him.

“For now” Face nodded accepting the handshake, “But we’ve said that before”

“True” Corran said as he shook Deven’s hand, “Though the political situation was a little different then”

“Also true” Deven smiled, “It’s very different galaxy we’re facing now. I wish we could have delayed leaving long enough for Octavia to be here, but Gorak was very clear in asking us to leave and I see his point. Once Trinity is away from here, maybe things will calm a bit”

“There’s a lot of tension and everyone is in a bit of a tizzy” A voice cut in as Octavia made her way into the shuttle bay, “But a General has some privileges, such as being able to duck out a meeting”

“Glad you could make it, Red” Deven grinned and hugged her.

“Ahem” Octavia scowled theatrically, and tapped the rank bars on her collar.

“Sorry” Deven winked, “General Red, though scuttlebutt has it you aren’t planning to be one for much longer”

“Scuttlebutt has it right” Octavia nodded, “Soon as this whole inquiry is done, I’m getting out of the military once and for all and heading home to Tatooine. What about the rest of you?”

“Retirement for me too” Deven shrugged, “Trinity offered me a post in her new position, but I don’t want the work”

“Happy being the Queen’s consort?” Face snickered.

“It has its privileges” Deven laughed, “What about you, Face?”

Face shrugged, “Haven’t decided yet. Showalter wants me to take over from him, but I’m not sure it’s what I want to do anymore. The rest of the Wraith’s all handed their resignations in this morning. Won’t be the same without them”

“Feeling old?” Octavia said, picking up on something in the former actor’s voice.

“Funnily enough, I am” Face sighed, “I’d like to just relax, find a nice little house somewhere with a great view and write my memoirs”

“Don’t we all” Deven murmured, “What about the Sacul?”

“Already had her shipped to a Visage Enterprises facility were she’ll be repaired and respeced. After that it’s up to her” Face replied, then looked to his left, “Corran, I know you plan on staying with the Jedi”

“I do” Corran said, “Need to do something to keep me busy”

“I hope this isn’t the last time we stand together” Octavia said quietly, “I would hope that even with the galaxy going the way it is, we can still manage our Rogue and Wraith reunions”

“Nothing will ever stop those” Face laughed.

Deven frowned, “Did you ever think, during our efforts of the last five months to keep the New Republic intact, that we’d end up watching it fragment?”

“And that your wife would be behind some of the fragmenting?” Face pointed out.

“Or that my wife would be behind some of the fragmenting” Deven repeated with a grimace.

“In a word, no” Face replied, “It was unexpected to say the least, though with hindsight, hardly surprising”

“What do you mean?” Octavia asked.

Face shrugged, “We’ve all seen it this last ten years, maybe even the last few decades. The Republic has become unwieldy and bloated. Voices that might have once been heard are being ignored again. Credits that should have gone to development projects on poorer worlds are being used to fund unnecessary projects or just used to line someone’s pockets”

“It’s been worse these last ten years” Corran said, “Without an outside force such as the Empire posing a threat, half the people were becoming complacent and the other half were no longer distracted and were able to take a closer look at what the Republic was –or as in most cases, wasn’t- doing for them”

“Then this new war came along and the conduct of some in the government showed the people just how much they really mattered” Deven scowled, “Hence this sudden burst of discontent now the war is done”

“Speaking of the war” Octavia said, “Did Intelligence ever figure out why those dozen or so ships went over the Neo-Seps right at the beginning?”

Face shook his head, “Nothing for definite as we were never able to capture any of the crews, but it does appear that the entire senior crew went over and managed to shift things around to put a Neo-Separatist crew on board. It’s taking time to unravel that problem, so we still don’t know for sure”

“I know that fifteen of them were accounted for” Octavia said, “Destroyed or captured. That leaves about eight of them. I think the consensus is that they did a runner for Wild Space with the rest of the Neo-Separatist remnants”

“We’re talking, what? About one-hundred-fifty to two-hundred vessels still running loose with at least a significant complement of starfighters and ground forces?” Deven frowned, “Bit of a significant threat there?”

“High command thinks so” Octavia nodded, “They’re trying to muster a force together to head out after them” She shrugged, “They did want me to lead it, but I recommended Piggy for the task”

“He’ll make you pay for that one” Face smirked.

“Probably” Octavia chuckled.

A cold wind blew into the bay as the entry hatch irised open. With a shiver, Deven glanced over his shoulder at the waiting shuttle, sighed and adjusted his eyepatch, “I guess that’s my cue. It’s better me and Trinity get off world before somebody leaks that this is where our shuttle is and a bunch of protestors turn up”

“It was good to be fighting alongside you again, Deven” Face smiled and offered his hand to touch off another round of handshakes.

“Likewise, Face” Deven smiled, and turned to the others, “Corran, I imagine the Jedi Order is going to benefit from your wisdom for a long while yet”

“Wisdom?” Octavia winked, “That’s an odd word to use when talking about Corran”

“Funny” Corran remarked dryly, “Aren’t Generals supposed to be above that kind of thing?”

Octavia shrugged, “Urban legend. From what I hear, Traest Kre’fey knows some pretty dirty limericks and is more than happy to share after a few beers”

“Speaking of beers” Deven smiled, “It was good we all managed to get a bit of a get together at that bar. Would have been nice if some of the others could have made it to Coruscant, but those of us that made it certainly rang the night out”

“I’m sorry I missed it” Octavia gave him a hug, “I did hear about Kai starting a fight with a bunch of spacers and Void and Rrowv finishing it”

“We’ll make it up at the next one” Deven smiled, “Well, I guess its goodbye for now, my friends” He started to move towards the shuttle, but turned and tossed off a salute, “The force be with you all”


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 11:14 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 3:58 am
Posts: 652
Location: England
Briefing Chamber.
Skye Royal Palace.
Skye.
Skye Alliance.
Two Months Later.

Trinity fought down the urge to smile as she entered the briefing chamber. Every single one of the occupants noted her entrance and stood in respect, but nobody fawned all over her entrance.

She vaguely remembered the various Imperial Admirals and Commanders she’d encountered many years ago who’d pull officers up on charges of insubordination if they didn’t immediately leap to attention when they entered the bridge.

Here she was offered a respect of her station, but the actual business of the meeting wasn’t going to be pushed aside in favour of competing for her blessings. She knew that had she attended the meeting in full Queen garb with flowing gown and makeup, they might have felt obliged to do more than just stand, but she’d chosen a simple military style uniform.

“This meeting needs to be full on business” She thought to herself, “They know that already, but doesn’t hurt to focus them on that”

She took her seat at the table and waited until everyone else was reseated and then punched up the notes of the last meeting on her data terminal.

“Good morning” She began, “I know we’ve been very busy these last few months, but I think we need to at least compare notes and see what we’ve got” She nodded to the person of her immediate left, “Admiral, if you’d like to start?”

Thrawn nodded and rose to his feet with an uncertainty that betrayed his continued struggle to adapt to being the clone of Grand Admiral Thrawn, especially since his existence had been made public knowledge with his appointment as the Skye Alliance Supreme Naval Commander.

He glanced at his data pad and nodded, “First, let me begin by saying that we are still a long way from having all our disparate fleets and planetary navies integrated. But our current strength does allow us to at least defend our new holdings for the short term” He winced, an expression that seemed out of place on that blue skinned, red eyed face, “Assuming they can work together. Once we iron out the conflicting doctrines and favoured tactics thing should progress smoothly” He glanced at the datapad again, “Combining all out numbers, we have approximately seven-hundred vessels of varying classes. The majority are between corvette and heavy cruiser size – mostly Dreadnaughts, Assault Frigates, Nebulon-Bs, Victory Class Star Destroyers and similar ships. We do have around sixty starships of heavier classes – Battlemasters, some Imperator Class Star Destroyers we captured and some that defected from the Republic to join us and of course, one Super Class Star Destroyer”

Trinity nodded, “With the shipyards at Telos, Yaga Minor and Bastion added to the shipyards here at Skye, we should be able to start production on additional fleet assets within the next few weeks”

“I’d recommend at least tripling fleet numbers” Thrawn said, “Until then, The Republic’s superior numbers will allow them to roll right over us” Then he added, “Should they actually attack”

“I don’t plan on that happening any time soon” Trinity smiled, and then looked to the next person around the table, “Starfighters?”

Jagged Fel looked even more uncomfortable than Thrawn had done, no doubt due to his promotion from Squadron Leader to Air Commander, responsible for the Alliances Starfighter corps, “Numbers are somewhat promising. Over three thousand fighters, bombers and interceptors currently in service. Mixed lots, TIE variants, X, Y, B, A, K and E-Wings, Preybird Interceptors and a whole variety of older models. Downside is, a lot of TIEs need upgrades for shields and hyperdrive before I could consider them to standard and some of the older ships really should be scrapped and replaced”

“Again, shipyards should be able to get production up soon” Trinity nodded, “In the meantime, we can probably have smaller facilities turn field upgrade kits for the TIEs. What about pilots?”

Fel considered for a moment, “As of now, we have enough. But at some point, unless we up recruitment, we’re going to run out of asses to fill seats”

“Noted” Trinity entered details on her datapad, “Organisation of squadrons?”

“I’d like to keep current squadrons together for the most part, but we could perhaps rotate more experienced squadrons so that some are deployed in critical systems and some are helping with training new pilots” Fel shrugged, “Six month rotations until we start getting the flight academies turning out pilots”

“Makes sense” Trinity looked around to the next person, “Ground forces?”

Soria Onasi stood with ease, obviously comfortable with her new rank of General, “Varied. We have a lot of good units to form a core around which we can build our armies up, but until then those same units will need to support the less experienced militias. At best count, we have maybe twenty fully experienced units” She glanced at her notes, “My Republic Rangers –we’re still polling the troops for a new name-, the Garqi Grenadiers, all five Hastati regiments, all six Skye Ranger Regiments, all three Ord Rodama Armoured Cavalry Battalions, the Seventh and Eleventh Regimental Combat teams, the Genyosha and both regiments of the Telosian Guard. We also have the seven clone regiments, but they are currently long on training and short on actual experience”

“Maybe five thousand troops total?” Trinity grimaced.

“Closer to forty thousand with support personnel” Soria nodded, “A drop in the ocean to what we need. Any three units ‘could’ defend a world against anything between a raid and a half-hearted invasion, but we’re going to need a lot more”

“A recruitment drive then” Trinity nodded, “As well as additional training to bring less experienced units up a few levels”

“At the very least” Soria sighed.

Trinity released her own sigh, and turned to face the portly man lounging in his seat, “Research and Development?”

Wes Jason smiled, but did not stand; instead he tipped his chair even further back, “Depends what you’re hoping for”

Trinity frowned and ignored the snickers from some of the rooms other occupants, “Some good news is what I’m hoping for. Your last status reports contained some mixed details. Do you have any updates?”

Janson shrugged, “Well, the Battlesuit project has more or less stalled until we can get the power plant sorted”

“I thought you had one sorted?” Soria Onasi cut in.

“Technically, yes” Janson nodded, “But it’s too bulky for what we want, I plan on the finished Battlesuits being much smaller. Heavier than power armour certainly, but a lot smaller than the prototype. Plus the current power plant generates too much heat and half the power generated is just wasted”

“And the other projects?” Trinity asked.

“Varying” Janson answered, “The new targeting systems for starfighters should be ready within the next couple of weeks. Same with the Astromech upgrades and the prototype for the Catapult Missile Systems” He sighed, “Slower progress on the Infantry based tech, looking at another year maybe. Everything else kind of falls in between”

Trinity nodded, “It’ll have to do. Better they work first time than fail first time” She turned to the next person, “Hoping for better news regarding our economy”

Franklin Hecht winced, “It depends. The Galactic Bank has accepted our collateral and is in the process of minting our new currency” He passed out several credit chits, “Nothing too fancy, just enough to differentiate for New Republic Script”

Trinity held on up to view, her face in profile one side and the Alliance insignia and the denomination on the other, “Exchange rate?”

“The bank is trying to avoid favouritism, so they’ve set out a 1:1 exchange to begin with and will let our respective economies set the ratio over time” Hecht nodded.

“And our economy?”

“Strong at the minute” Hecht answered, “Our worlds are still trading with the New Republic as well as each other even with the increased prices some of our more ‘patriotic’ members have set for New Republic buyers” He glanced at his notes, “That could change if the New Republic decides it doesn’t want to buy from us and there’s also the prospect of other worlds breaking away from the Republic to form their own nations, that could also have a positive or negative impact on trade”

“Our treasury?” Trinity asked hopefully.

“Again, strong” Hecht replied, “We’re currently working on a formal budget that should be ready by next week. We have a lot of reserves, but it’s not infinite” He glanced at the others, “So don’t go overspending,” He added with a smile.

As the laughter died down, Trinity sought out the last occupant, “Anything to add Jonah?”

Jonah Levin shrugged, “As of now, very little. Public Support across the Alliance is strong, there have been a few protests against the decision to go independent, but the fact is the Republic hasn’t made itself popular in the Rim. We’ve also had a number of worlds petition to join us, I forwarded those to Duke Ricol” He checked his datapad, “We’ve also received another request from Gorak to meet to negotiate our return”

“Not going to happen any time soon” Trinity muttered, then looked around the table, “Anyone have anything further?” Seeing the shaking heads, she stood, “Then I call this meeting to an end and we’ll meet again two weeks from now. Hopefully, we’ll have a better briefing room ready by then. Good day to you all”

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

Marthe Oslo Memorial Park.

Deven smiled as he watched his three youngest children charge around the park in fits of squeals and giggles. It hadn’t been until he’d got back to Skye and reunited with them how much he’d actually missed them and their carefree attitude was a breath of fresh air in light of current events.

His mind turned to his other child, to Jenna. She was becoming increasingly withdrawn as she continued to deal with her many issues. Whilst her medications kept her mind in check, she was immensely depressed. A situation not helped by the fitting of her new arm, mostly due to it not having by fitted with synth skin yet, whilst the doctors and technicians worked to adjust the arm for her, and she was constantly reminded of her loss by the unsightly skeletal arm of titanium.

Like before though Jenna refused support from friends and family, instead burying herself in trying to adapt to her new arm. Despite everyone’s best efforts she refused all offers. It didn’t help that she and Oddball –Zane- were still barely on speaking terms, well, Oddball was happy to speak, it was Jenna that was being stubborn as usual.

It also didn’t help that Trinity was so focused on getting her new Skye Alliance up and running, a task that Deven didn’t envy. He’d tried to involve himself in the details, but it just seemed so daunting. Despite his suggestions, Trinity was devoting a lot of time to tasks that she could have delegated and was spending most of her time in meeting rooms, audience chambers and diplomatic receptions. As a result, it was possible that Jenna was feeling a little neglected by her own mother when she needed her the most.

Deven sighed, despite the fact his family was together again on one world, it still felt like they were apart.

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

Medical Wing.
Skye Royal Palace.

Servomotors whirring and artificial ligaments twitching, Jenna rotated her arm, flexing the joints and wriggling the fingers. It was strange. She hated the ugly, metallic nature of the arm, it’s exposed workings and the way it bore no feeling beyond where her flesh ended, but it was an arm again.

Soon, synthskin would be layered over the arm in a shade to match her own flesh, complete with artificial nerves to transmit feeling, yet she knew it would still feel as artificial and unliving as it did now.

“How does that feel?” The MedTech asked, then paled when he realised how it sounded, “Sorry, I meant, has that improved”

Jenna nodded, “It feels more responsive, easier to work. I’m not having to work the muscles of my upper arm as much as I was”

“Any discomfort?”

“The usual” Jenna said after a moment, “Still feels like a heavy weight on my arm and I still feel like my flesh and blood arm is hanging down at my side”

“Phantom limb pain” The MedTech nodded, “I can’t tell you it’ll ever go away or if you’ll get used to it, but you’ll certainly learn to live with it”

“Feels weird” Jenna muttered.

“I can’t even begin to imagine” The man shook his head, Anyway, we’ll see how you go with the new calibrations and we should hopefully be able to start with the synthskin in the next week or so”

“Good” Jenna sighed, “I like having an arm again, but not this lump of pig iron”

“As if we’d make them out of something as primitive as that” The Medtech laughed, “I think I understand what you mean though. Just keep up your exercises and you should be able to reach the point where you barely notice the weight at all”

“Hope so” Jenna gave another sigh.

Recognising that Jenna needed some time to herself, the medtech made his excuses and left the room. Staring at the lifeless appendage that now replaced her right arm, Jenna fought to keep her anger and despair under control. The prosthetic was a sickening reminder of the mistakes she’d made these last few months.

Mistakes she needed to learn from.

Slumping back into the bedding, she began to list every single bad step of the way and promptly gave up when she reached the double figures.

With a snarl of disgust she scrambled out of the bed and stormed from the medibay, painfully aware of the bed rail being warped where she’d grabbed it.

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

Chief-Of-States Chambers.
Coruscant.
New Republic.
One Week Later.

Gorak –recently elected to and already regretting taking the job of Chief-of-State- grimaced and massaged his horns as his aide gave him the daily updates.

“Trinity Oslo-Tarn decision to carve her own little nation out of the New Republic has had a massive knock on effect” The aide –an avian Calibop- was saying, “Numerous planets, current count is about five hundred-seventy, are either making noises about going independent and forming their own nations or threatening to do so”

Gorak pulled up the list on his own datapad and grimaced again, “Mon Calamari, Bespin, Naboo, Sluis Van, Clak’dor VIII, Bakura, Geonosis, Ryloth, Lianna….” He threw the datapad aside in disgust, having only read half of the first page, “This is madness”

“Madness perhaps” Cal Omas nodded from his seat at the far end of the offices lounge area, “But they are within their rights”

“Indeed” Gorak sighed, “It was perhaps a mistake to allow the worlds of this Skye Alliance to leave so freely. Too many saw it as an endorsement”

“What could you have done?” Omas shrugged, “Attempting to stop them and it would have had to be done forcefully, would have likely created this same scenario” He said, “Though I imagine in that case, the political fallout would be incendiary at best”

“Recommendations?” Gorak asked.

“Stick with what we’re doing” Omas answered after some thought, “Use diplomatic channels to keep open dialogue. Do what we can to alleviate their negative issues. Increase supplies of commodities and goods to improve goodwill” He shrugged, “We may not be able to stop them pulling out of the New Republic, but we can delay that occurrence until we can find some other way to persuade them to remain with us”

“Very well” Gorak nodded, “How goes the inquiry?”

“Slow” Omas nodded, “We’re fairly certain that the initial blast occurred about seven miles south of the Liberty District shield generator on Highway Seven. Elements of the Corusacant Constabulary from the Liberty Precinct had set up a roadblock there and became engaged in a fire fight with unknown perpetrators” He glanced at his own datapad, “Apparently a suspicious death investigation by an Inspector Gavos Shan had discovered that the deaths had occurred as part of an operation to smuggle atomic weapons on planet, via……” Another review of his datapad, “Customs Warehouse Seventeen, also in the Liberty District at the Mon Mothma Spaceport”

“How did they smuggle atomics past our security?” Gorak asked.

“Unknown as yet” Omas sighed, “We’re still sifting through what data we do have. Unfortunately, most of Shan’s notes were lost in the bombing and we’re having to work from reports and data he’d sent up the chain of command. Plus the bombing itself and subsequent attack means that there’s a large backlog of messages in the Constabulary comm systems. It’s taking a lot of time to work through them”

“How soon before you can make a preliminary report to the Advisory Council and Senate?”

“How long is a piece of string?” Omas sighed.

Gorak frowned, “I don’t understand”

“Sorry” Omas smiled, “It’s a human saying. ‘How long is a piece of string?’ to which the answer is ‘Twice the length from it’s middle to it’s end’”

Gorak nodded in understanding, “In other words, you cannot know how long until you have a definite ‘half-way point’ from which to measure”

“Exactly” Omas nodded, “I can make a report, but it’s not going to be worth the time I take up. Better we hold off until we’ve recovered enough data to make a worthwhile report”

“Very well” Gorak said, “Keep me updated and thank you for agreeing to head the inquiry”

Omas shrugged, “Not a problem” He gave a wry smile, “I guess this my punishment for maneouvring you into the President’s office”

Gorak gave his own smile. “Indeed. You do have a lot to answer for”

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

Command Bridge.
Nobility Class Star Destroyer Ackbar.
Kuat Drive Yards Repair Dock Fifteen.
Kuat System.
New Republic.

General Octavia Terah nodded in satisfaction as she glanced around the bridge of the Ackbar. The damage that had decorated the bridge the last time she’d been here was gone, only the unblemished shine of new plating evidence of repairs.

A few techs were crowded around the inactive consoles at the rear of the bridge, and even as Octavia watched, the consoles hummed into life and the techs declare their job done.

The bridge crew went about their duties with a cheerfulness of anticipation, though several members of her senior bridge crew were casually watching from the corners of their eyes.

Smiling, Octavia turned to the officer next to her, “Well Commander, every thing appears to be ship shape and in order. Congratulations and getting the repairs completed in such a short time”

“Eager crews get results” Commander Voort ‘Piggy’ saBinring shrugged, “I had volunteers pulling double shifts to help with repairs, though I daresay I had to order more than a few officers to go off duty for their rest periods”

Octavia nodded, “As you say, ‘Eager Crews’” She smiled, “Also, additional congratulations are in order. As of eleven-hundred hours today, you are officially the commanding officer of the Ackbar”

“Retirement official then?” Piggy asked.

“It is” Octavia smiled, “Admiral Kre’fey has asked me to stay on till the new year, but after that I’m hanging up the uniform permanently”

“Why does Kre’fey need you?” Piggy asked, his curiosity evident even through his mechanically translated voice.

“He and Sien Sovv need time to reorganise the New Republic Military command structure” Octavia sighed, “Several commanders chose to retire and several others –including Gilad Pellaeon and Keyen Farlander- chose to go over to the Skye Alliance”

“From what I hear, more officers may be lost”

Octavia nodded, “Garis Bragin resigned his commission this morning after Naboo and the rest of the Chommel Sector declared it’s independence. Jesmin Ackbar also resigned to avoid being caught between the New Republic and Mon Calamari”

“Mon Calamari has gone independent?” Piggy said surprised.

“Not yet” Octavia shook her head, “But that entire area of the rim is pretty shaky and the anti-Republic feelings are gaining ground there”

“How is the Republic standing on the issue?” Piggy asked.

“As well as they can” Octavia sighed, “Those worlds are well within their rights to go independent, as per the New Republic Constitution and it’s hardly surprising considering the way a lot of those worlds were more or less abandoned during the war” She shook her head, “Changing the subject, looking forward to you first mission as a ships commander?”

“I’m anticipating the experience, yes” Piggy nodded, “Just as I do any new challenge”

Octavia smiled and rested her hand on the back of the command chair, the one that used to be hers, “I’m going to miss this, you know? Sitting in the big chair”

“You just miss your family more, am I right?” Piggy offered his own smile.

“You’re more than right” Octavia grinned, she looked over to Lieutenant Vekker on the communications station, “Lieutenant, give me a ship wide broadcast channel”

“Channel open General” The Quarren nodded.

Picking up a headset and holding it so she could use the mike, Octavia paused while the trill of the announcement bell sounded, then she began to speak.

“Good morning to all of you aboard the Ackbar” She said, “In just under an hour, this ship will be leaving these shipyards and heading out on a new assignment. Aboard her will be one of the finest crews it has ever been my pleasure to serve with” She paused for a second, “I’m just sorry I won’t be heading out with you, but it’s time to part our ways. Regardless, it is my hope that you all will continue to serve your new commander as diligently and as professionally as you have always done. Thank you”

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

Piggy stood at the view port and watched as the Lambda shuttle bearing Octavia made it’s way back to the ‘Borsk Fel’lya’, the Bothan Assault Cruiser that had brought her to Kuat.

After overseeing the relaunch of the Ackbar, Octavia had consented to dine with Piggy in the Captain’s private mess hall, before taking her leave to return to Coruscant.

Watching the shuttle cross the distance between vessels, Piggy thought about how in less than two months, Octavia would be leaving the military life and returning to her family.

He envied her that. The ability to have a family. As an anomaly amongst his people, the only genetically enhanced Gamorrean, he was essentially alone. His won species shunned him for the most part, as if sensing that he wasn’t the same as them.

Likewise, he felt uncomfortable around his lesser brethren, unable to tolerate their aggressive nature that invariably led to constant tribal warfare as well as their lack of understanding towards concepts he considered ‘basic’

Still, he continued to hold onto that hope of finding a female he could spend his days with.

“Commander?” The voice of his new executive officer stirred him from his thoughts.

“Major” Piggy nodded to Ryan Montjar, “Have KDY Control finally given us clearance?”

“They have” Montjar nodded, “We’re ready to proceed on our patrol out to Yag’Dhul”

“We’re not due on station for another week” Piggy said.

“A shakedown cruise first then?” Montjar asked.

“Yes” Piggy said thoughtfully and turned back to the view port.

An expectant silence descended on the bridge, “Course Sir?” Laura Barnes asked quietly.

Piggy considered the question for a long moment, and then a stray memory clicked. One of an old human story he’d once read. A smile slowly came to his face as he gave his order.

“Second star on the right and straight on till morning”

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

Republica One-Fourteen.
Palace District.
Coruscant.
New Republic.

“Where is he?”

Face slowly looked up from his desktop terminal, having shown little reaction to his office door -an almost ancient looking oak thing on elaborate hinges- being thrown open with enough force for the heavy brass handle to dent the wall.

Stood in the doorway, a dangerous look on his face and hands planted angrily on hips, stood Han Solo.

“Where is who?” Face asked calmly, “Also, thank you Han for the damage to my wall. Does add character to the room I’ll admit”

Hesitating slightly at Face’s casual tone, Solo ploughed on, “I’m looking for your son. Where is Jaden?”

I don’t know” Face said coolly, “What difference does it make?”

Han’s anger cooled in the wake of Face’s apathy. Hesitating again he forced a stern note into his voice, “It makes a difference to me. He’s with my daughter”

“Then my question still stands” Face smiled, “What difference does it make?”

Blindsided by Face’s attitude, Han stepped forwards and slumped into the seat opposite Face, “She’s my daughter and she’s with a man I don’t approve of. He’s no good for her, he’s a…..a….”

“A rogue?” Face offered, “Like you? Or is this a standard father’s protectiveness?”

His rage dissipating, Han slumped deeper into the chair, “I almost lost her Face” He said wearily, “I don’t want to lose her again”

“You won’t” Face responded, reaching under the desk and producing a bottle of Correlian Whiskey and two glasses, “She’ll be fine with Jaden” He added pouring a measure into each glass.

Han accepted the offered drink, “Come off it Face, even you’ll admit your son hasn’t got the best record with relationships”

“True” Face conceded, “Takes after his old man in that regard” He sighed.

Han took a slug of the whiskey, “Good stuff” He muttered, “I don’t want her getting hurt. She may seem pretty strong, but she’s still pretty fragile on the inside”

“Actually” Face mused, “It’s Jaden I worry for”

Han reared back in surprise, “Him? Why?”

“C’mon Han” Face laughed, “You know your daughter. Would she really let Jaden get away scot free if he broke her heart?”

Han smirked, “Not a chance”

Face shrugged, “But to answer your earlier question. I honestly don’t know where they are”

“They didn’t tell you?” Han frowned.

“Not a peep” Face shook his head, “I got as much notice from my son as you did from your daughter”

“Where would they go?” Han threw his arms up in exasperation.

“Difficult question to answer Han” Face smiled, “It’s a big galaxy after all”

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

Golden Shores Resort.
Golden Lake.
New Horizons.
New Republic.

“This is beautiful” Jaina mused aloud, and looked to her present company, “Thank you for suggesting it”

“You’re welcome” Jaden smiled, “It’s one of the Wonders of the Galaxy and always worth seeing”

Jaina glanced over her shoulder at the sprawling villa that dominated the beach area and then cast her gaze side to side and took in the miles upon miles of deserted beach, “I can’t believe we have so much of the beach to ourselves”

“It’s all Visage Enterprises property” Jaden grinned, “My dad had this retreat built a few years back and to my knowledge he’s never even used it”

Jaina frowned, “But won’t he know you’ve been using it? I thought the plan was to just stay under everyone’s radar?”

Jaden laughed, “By the time word gets back to him, we’ll have moved on”

“Where to next then?” Jaina asked laying back on her towel. When he didn’t immediately answer she looked up to see him propped up on one elbow admiring her bikini-clad form, “Hey, eyes up here” She grinned. She may have been in her thirty’s, but she was damned proud of her body and his admiring of it pleased her immensely.

He smiled, “Any thoughts?”

Jaina thought for a moment, “Skye is only a weeks travel from here”

Jaden nodded, “And there’s no sign that anyone’s going to be closing the borders anytime soon” He laughed, “I’m not sure if anyone even knows where the border even is yet”

“Then we can go?” Jaina asked.

“It’ll be my pleasure” Jaden leaned over and kissed her.

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

Royal Suite.
Skye Royal Palace.
Nashira.
Skye.
Skye Alliance.
One Week Later.

Deven looked up with a smile as Trinity breezed through the door to the main chambers, threw a pile of files onto the table and then flopped bonelessly onto the couch.

“Tough day?”

Trinity looked at him wearily, “Tough would be a major understatement” She sighed, “We’ve been trying to hammer out the details of the new parliament”

“What’s the issue?” Deven frowned.

“Mostly arguments about how Representatives will be selected” Trinity answered,
“Everyone agrees that there will be two from each world. But a couple of worlds want to only have their representatives come from specific areas of their societies”

“Such as?” Deven said.

“Well, The Adumari only want pilots to represent them” Trinity grimaced, “The Dathomiri will only allow female reps for them” She sighed, “Those I could probably accept, “But a few of the former Imperial worlds. Bastion, Yaga Minor and Garqi are wanting to only select human reps”

“Delicate issue then?” Deven sat up.

Trinity nodded, “I know. In the end we compromised. I allowed them their restricted selection for one of their reps. The other they agreed had to be from their less dominate areas. The Adumari was allow for the election of a non-pilot, the Dathomiri a male and the former Imperials will allow for the election of a non-human”

Deven frowned, “Must have taken some doing”

“The governments of Garqi and Yaga Minor were the most stubborn” Trinity shrugged, “I have Gilad Pellaeon and Admiral Parck to thank for winning them over in the end” Seeing Deven’s scowl, she smiled, “Still not used to the idea of actually working with Imperials then?”

“It’s not that” Deven shook his head, “It’s the fact that all that Imperial hardware and all those troops were sat out there in the Unknown Regions and they were never put at the Empire’s disposal, even at it’s lowest point” He winced, “I keep thinking what Daala or Brand or Reillor or Haarsk would have achieved, had they had the assets of the Hand Of Thrawn at their disposal”

Trinity ran a hand through her hair, “But they didn’t. For whatever reasons, Thrawn ordered them to remain out of the Empire’s conflicts unless he ordered otherwise” She shrugged, “According to Parck, they were even ordered to avoid making contact with Palapatine when he returned”

Deven frowned, “So why would they decide to throw in with you and support the Skye Alliance?”

She gave a shrug, “Apparently, one of their ‘assets’ are a group of force using monks. Some splinter from the ancient Jedi. One of their number had a vision that hinted greatly at disaster unless they sought me out” She scowled, “According to Parck they rarely take much notice of what the monks say, but in this case the monk also had a vision of Thrawn’s return, albeit in the form of his clone”

“What about the Chiss?” Deven asked, “Where do they stand?”

“They want no part of the Alliance” Trinity replied, “But they will respect our shared border with them and we’ll do the same in return. We did cede a few systems to them –about three dozen- that were part of the Empire of the Hand, but most were either too remote for us or of no strategic value”

“Plus it creates a good sentiment with them” Deven pointed out.

Trinity laughed, “According to Parck, at best it’ll make setting up diplomatic talks with them a little easier. We’ll only have to jump a dozen hurdles, rather than a dozen and one” She sobered, “I’m worried about Jenna”

Deven nodded, “I know. She’s adapting okay, but it’s like she’s just going through the motions. She doesn’t seem to have any drive anymore”

“Oddball said the same thing” Trinity sighed, “It’s as if she has lost her reason for living, but refuses to give up doing so”

“She lost her arm, lost her place in Rogue Squadron, lost her self control several times” Deven grimaced, “She’s lost. She came so close to the Dark Side and the chance that she could fall is eating at her”

“We need to do something,” Trinity said.

“Agreed” Deven replied, “I received a message this morning. There’s someone on their way here who might know just the thing to help Jenna”

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

Prezno Valley.
Twelve Miles West Of Nashira.
Four Days Later.

Sweat glistening off of her brow, Jenna swept her lightsaber through a series of twists and cycles. The twin blades of her weapon –newly built to replace the one lost on Nystera along with her arm- hummed with restrained energy as she sketched a series of infinity twists.

Kicking off with one foot, she swept her other foot through the air in a flying roundhouse as she twirled her lightsaber below her, then as she landed and pivoted into a three-hundred and sixty-degree spin, brought it rotating up and around her body.

She froze her movement in a ready stance with the hilt flat against her artificial arm, hand to elbow with the blades parallel to her body.

Breathing heavy from the exertion, she deactivated her lightsaber and slumped to sit on the dew-wet grass.
She tried to focus herself within the force to refresh her aching body, but the balance she sought seemed to elude her just as it had done ever since she came out of her coma on Coruscant all those weeks ago.

With a sigh, she pushed herself back to her feet and made her way to the narrow stream that cut through this area of the valley. Kneeling by the stream, she splashed a few handfuls of fresh water onto her face and then greedily drank a handful.

A shifting of stones behind her caught her attention and she spun up to a her feet, bringing her left hand with her inactive lightsaber up into a high guard position., her finger gently pressing for the activation button.

Before she could even complete the motion, a hand grabbed her wrist, locked it and with a shift of body weight threw her into the stream. Splashing and spitting up great mouthfuls of water, Jenna pushed herself back above the surface and scrambled unsteadily to her feet. Her jumpsuit was heavy with absorbed water and her wet hair hung haphazardly across her face.
With a snarl, she swept her free hand across her face to clear her vision and sought out her assailant.

Jaina Solo stood there casually, both hands planted on hips and a smirk on her face.

“Jaina?” Jenna snapped, “What the hell? Why did you attack me?”

“I didn’t” Jaina replied calmly, “You attacked me. Or don’t you remember swinging at me with your lightsaber?”

“I….” Jenna stared at the lightsaber in her hand as if noticing for the first time, “I thought you were someone sneaking up on me”

“Sneaking?” Jaina frowned and cocked her head to one side, “I called your name out three times and you never even heard me”

Water dripping from her, Jenna stared at her friend, “I was….focused”

“On what?” Jaina raised a questioning eyebrow, “I could feel your turmoil before I even descended into this valley”

Jenna looked away in shame. This was her issue, her pain to deal with, “I can’t talk about this. I have to deal with this myself”

“Don’t….You….Dare!”

The naked fury in Jaina’s voice startled her and she took an involuntary step backwards, almost slipping on the wet stones and falling back into the stream, “What?”

“Don’t you dare” Jaina repeated angrily, “Don’t you dare stand there and shut me out. I’m your friend Jenna and I want to help you. We all do” She sighed and looked away for a moment, “We went through hell and back to rescue you and we have no intention of leaving you to deal with your pain alone now”

Grimacing, Jenna shook her head, “No one can understand what I’m dealing with”

“You honestly think I don’t understand?” Jaina snapped, “You went through some seriously bad experiences and almost fell to the Dark side. I may not have had the same experience, but I know exactly what you are feeling and going through now” Her voice softened, “You’re doubting yourself, doubting your abilities. You feel you’ve lost your balance and don’t know where to go from here”

Jenna said nothing in reply, though the shame that coloured her face fought with the anger and anguish that bubbled inside her.

Jaina pressed on, “And what about Oddball, he loves you dearly and I thought you loved him back”

“I do” Jenna said.

“Then why are you shutting him out?” Jaina demanded, “You say you love him, but then you all but ignore him at the best of times and treat like some servant at worst”

“I don’t” Jenna snapped defensively, then added in a small voice, “Do I?”

Jaina’s expression was more than enough answer.

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

New Republic High Command Headquarters.
Coruscant.

Octavia sighed as she looked over the various screens before her. Readiness reports, reorganisation schedules, rearmament plans, troops numbers. Suddenly her retirement in a month seemed as if it would be a billion years away.

In the wake of the war and subsequent defections of troops to both the Skye Alliance and to the various little ‘Indi’ nations that were springing up, the New Republic Military had been forced into a massive top down reorganisation. There hadn’t been a single department in the military nor navy that hadn’t been gutted by loss through death or defection, retirement or resignation.

High Command had itself lost a lot of key officers. Gilad Pellaeon and Keyen Farlander had gone over to the Alliance. Jesmin Ackbar had resigned after Mon Calamari started the process of breaking away. Commodore Brand had announced his retirement, though like Octavia, he too was staying on until the reorganisation was under way. Hiram Drayson and Etahn A’baht were also gone, their retirements finalised only days ago.

In total, of over two hundred senior Fleet and Army officers, the High Command had been reduced to sixty-seven. Losses across the entire military were even more significant. Thousands of personnel had lost their lives or been injured and maimed to a degree where they’d never serve again. Thousands more had defected or quit, further reducing numbers. In all, the New Republic Military had been reduced by nearly a half.

Supreme Commander Sien Sovv intended to reorganise the thirty sector fleets into just twelve with a further four ‘reserve’ fleets. Each sector fleet would comprise twenty battle groups as opposed to the current ten. Each fleet would be directed from a sector HQ which themselves would be directed by High Command. In the event of High Command being cut off, destroyed or compromised by political appointees, the sector hqs would be able to maintain a command structure and keep the fleets directed.

Starfighter command would be undergoing similar reorganisations. Efforts to keep squadrons together would be made, though some squadrons would be merged and others rotated to reserve status until replacement pilots could be found or trained. Compared to the fleet reorganisation, the Starfighter Command changes would be relatively painless.

On the Planetary Ground Forces side of things though, the reorganisation would be anything but painless. Losses amongst ground personnel had been high. Entire Regiments had been reduced to a mere company in strength in some cases. In too many cases, some units could –on paper- field more support personnel than they could actual combat ready troops. And that didn’t count the units that had been essentially wiped out.
For example, the Fifth Deneb Light Cavalry had come away from a brutal battle on Taanab with less than fifty troops and support personnel and a pair of heavily damaged Spartan Light Tanks out of four hundred troops, two hundred techs and other support personnel and two hundred and thirty tanks of multiple classes and weight.

On Axton, the Second Acturian Guards had held the world in the face of a Neo-Separatist assault. But had taken massive losses in the process, reducing them to just over a battalion in strength and it’s command structure had been decimated after an artillery barrage had wiped out every officer above Captain following the calling of an ill timed briefing session at the units hq.

Looking at the figures, Octavia worked out that out of the eight regiments tasked to defend the Perlemian Trade Route, they’d be able to get perhaps a single regiment out of the survivors. Perhaps one and a half, ‘IF’ they also counted the wounded and equipment that was barely functional.

Sovv wanted to maintain units where possible however, merging only when units had suffered more than sixty percent losses. Instead he wanted the survivors of each unit to form the core of a rebuilt force, bringing numbers back up through training and recruitment. Some units though, such as the Fifth Deneb and the Second Acturian would be rebuilding for years.

Of course, the ground forces had also been heavily reduced by defections to the Skye Alliance and the other ‘Indi’ nations.

Overall, once the injured were back at their stations and existing units brought up to full strength, the New Republics Armed forces had been reduced by nearly forty percent. On the other hand, with the New Republic having lost control of a significant portion of the galaxy anyway, the Republic might actually be able to manage with a smaller military. Less worlds and systems to defend did mean less troops and ships were required.

Not all the defecting forces had gone over to the Skye Alliance and the other smaller nations. Some had formed mercenary units and were offering their services to the highest bidder. From simple infantry platoons to tank battalions to starfighter squadrons to even starships of various sizes.

Questionably legal to be sure, considering the equipment they were using was technically New Republic property.

“Not that that stopped the ones who ran over to the Alliance” Octavia muttered aloud.

“Sorry General?” A voice cut into her thoughts.

Octavia looked up at Sien Sovv, the New Republic Military’s Supreme Commander, “Sorry, I hadn’t realised you were there”

“No worry” The diminutive Sullustan officer waved a hand, “I just came to see what you made of the information I sent over”

Octavia leaned back in her seat, “Better than might have been expected” She said, “I know a lot of people were dreading that the entire military would fragment, and it has to a degree, but not to the extent we expected” She shrugged, “Certainly, the loss of all those troops, equipment and ships hurts us considerably, but we can still deploy a significant force as and when needed”

“I think the Advisory Council is worried about being able to defend ourselves if attacked” Sovv nodded, “And I agree to a point, thoughts?”

Octavia hesitated, “I think an attack on the Republic is unlikely at this time. The Skye Alliance is too busy consolidating it’s position to think about striking out. Trinity Oslo-Tarn convinced a lot of worlds to join here, but the Alliance is well under defended at the moment. They aren’t going to invite a counterattack from us” She glanced at her screens, “As for all the little nations that now border Republic Space, I think they are more likely to strike at each other rather than pick on the nation with the overwhelming force”

“My thoughts too” Sovv sighed, “I think what has hurt us most is the loss of so many experienced officers and personnel. I’d been expecting to lose Gilad Pellaeon, he’d told me he’d planned to retire after the war was done, though that was prior to Oslo-Tarn’s announcement. But losing Farlander, Ackbar, Drayson and A’Baht has gutted High Command” He gave another sigh, “I’m grateful you and Brand agreed to stay on for a short while, it’ll at least help the transition”

Octavia shrugged, “Not a problem. You did ask”

“I did” Sovv finally slumped into the offices empty chair, “I do sometimes wonder about my decision to return as Supreme Commander when I was asked. Had I known what was going to happen I might have turned down the request”

“Yeah, nobody wants to be in the position of being blamed for half the military running off”

“Thank you for reminding me” The Sullustan remarked dryly, “I do fully expect that some in the Senate will try to blame me for failing to keep the military together, though I imagine their efforts will be somewhat distracted by the number of worlds and systems breaking from the Republic itself”

“I never thought we’d save the New Republic in the war, just to watch it fragment afterwards” Octavia scowled.

“True” Sovv nodded, “Though Queen Oslo-Tarn did have a point when she said that the Republic had abandoned huge portions of the Rim and left them to fend for themselves, even if she hadn’t gone and formed her Skye Alliance I think we’d still be looking at the same situation”

Octavia nodded, “At least Vorsk Kel’lya isn’t in charge any more”

“In that case” Sovv grimaced, “I think I’d be joining you in retiring”

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

Guest Suites.
Skye Royal Palace.
Nashira.
Skye.

Zane ‘Oddball’ Irelon leaned on the railing of the balcony of his room and looked out over the Palace Gardens. It was certainly a sight to admire. Beautifully tended lawns, bordered by colourful explosions of flowerbeds, perfectly trimmed trees and a trickling stream cut through the middle.

Well, that much he could see at least. The gardens were immense; he’d seen landing bays smaller than the gardens. Then again, the Palace itself wasn’t exactly small. It was the size of a small cruiser sized starship, heck; he could manoeuvre a Corvette in the main ballroom and not even have to worry about scuffing the walls.

The Palace had been built some nine hundred years earlier from what he knew and centuries of expansion and rebuilding had expanded it from its original footprint by a significant amount. Though the utmost care had been taken to ensure that additions were inline with existing construction, Oddball could still identify little telltales of building styles and construction methods to pin down additions to within a century or two.

It was an impressively beautiful building, but admiring it did little to alleviate the unhappiness that threatened to crush him. He’d been so joyful when Jenna had regained consciousness a couple of weeks ago back on Coruscant. He missed her so much and had feared the worse when he’d seen her in her father’s arms back in the Neo-Separatist base.

Since then though, she’d kept him at arms length. Treating him like some stranger at times and downright ignoring him at others. Occasionally, she’d shown a burst of affection for him, but it rarely lasted.

He knew why she was doing it. Her experiences and torments had left her struggling to find her balance again and she was –either consciously or unconsciously- pushing him away because she perhaps didn’t feel she deserved him.

He’d done what he could to dissuade her of that notion, but so far, all his efforts had done little to lift Jenna’s spirit. He hoped that seeing Jaina again would help Jenna, and maybe her friend could find a way to restore whatever it was that Jenna had lost.

A part of him realised that this was the sort of thing that his father would have gloated about. Jenna stumbling into the dark side, leading him into despair. Granted, Morgan Irelon had been well off the mark when he’d claimed Jenna would destroy the Republic. It had been Jenna’s mother, and she hadn’t exactly destroyed it either.

Dimly, he thought of his father. The elder Irelon was currently in a mental asylum, his paranoid beliefs over Jenna having consumed his mind and driven him over the precipice of his sanity.
A part of him wondered if perhaps his decision to pursue his relationship with Jenna may have contributed to his father’s madness, but he shrugged it off. He’d never enjoyed the best relationship with his father. Morgan had always paid more attention to Zane’s older brother Regis –who had his own reasons for hating Jenna- then he had ever shown his younger son. He could care less about his father.

His thoughts were of his mother though, Wendy Irelon had long had to suffer at her husbands whims. Ignored at the best of times and belittled at the worst, she stayed with him out of love.
Oddball knew she had to be feeling lost now, wanting to help her husband, but perhaps also feeling the first pangs of freedom. He did hope that maybe she would finally, cut herself free of the man who had made her life a misery, yet he knew love would make her stay.

The sound of the suites door opening grabbed his attention and he turned and moved back into the room to welcome his visitor.
To his surprise, Jenna stood there looking like a drowned rat. She looked like she’d gone for a swim fully clothed. Her jumpsuit was absolutely sodden her hair was plastered against her head and face and despite the water dripping from her, he could see that she had been and still was crying.
As he approached, she shuffled from foot to foot, her boots squelching in the rapidly forming puddle at her feet and he wondered were she’d been and how far she’d come in that state.

“Jenna?” He said, “What hap….” He stopped as she held up her hand.

“I’m sorry,” She said quietly, interrupting him.

“Sorry?” He shook his head, “You have nothing to be sorry for”

“Yes” She nodded, “Yes, I do” She sighed, and the water dripping from her made her seem even more forlorn, “I’ve treated you so badly these last few weeks and I was too wrapped in myself to realise it”

“Jenna” He protested, “This isn’t necessary”

“Yes, it is” Jenna sighed, “As much for me as it is for you” She looked away for a moment, “I was so wrapped up in myself and my problems, I never stopped to think about you and how you were there for me. You were willing to give your all for me and I barely acknowledged it or you” She sniffed and tried to hold back the tears, “And for that I’m sorry. I’ll understand, if you think it’s over between us” A small sob escaped her to punctuate her words.

Oddball took hold of her gently and pulled her into an embrace, “Jenna” He said quietly as he held her, despite the wetness now soaking into his own clothes, “I love you and I’ll always be here for you. No matter what” He took her chin in his hand and lifted her head up, “I want to support you through whatever may come and I will”

“Thank you” She whispered, “I love you too”

He hesitated, “I did want to do this sooner, but no time ever seemed appropriate with what you were going through, but I’m just going to do it”

He reached into his pocket and produced a small box. Mindful of the way his shirt and trousers were wet down the front, he dropped to one knee and held up the box, now open to display the ring inside.

“Jenna Tarn” He said quietly, “Will you marry me?”


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:10 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2004 3:58 am
Posts: 652
Location: England
From the Memoirs of Deven Tarn.
Two Months Later.

So much has happened over the last two months, it’s a challenge just to keep track of it all. The galaxy has changed so much since the war ended, despite our victory….or perhaps because of our victory.

First things first, Jenna is recovering well. She still has her bad times and her dark days (Those ones are the worse). But she gets through. After all she has her family to support her and more importantly, she has her fiancé.

Ok, so I wasn’t particularly happy to learn of it, but I have to admit that Zane –Oddball- did pick a good –if slightly undignified- moment to propose to Jenna. She was at her lowest and this has given her hope. She still has a lot of healing to do, but she’s well on her way.

They’ve tentively set a date for next summer.

In the wider galaxy things continue to change.

The Skye Alliance continues to gain strength, despite the occasional worrying blip in aspects such as the economy and trade. Trinity continues to work hard at leading her fledgling nation and I continue to support her.

(She did offer me a position within the government. I said no, didn’t want the headache)

Skye’s military, despite the rough edges are about as proud as can be and is slowly gaining strength. And despite fears that there might be conflict between us and the Republic, so far that hasn’t happened, though there have been a few staring matches over the border.

The Republic itself is floundering a bit, though it may just be temporary. The loss of a large amount of worlds has really impacted the economy there and the New Republic Credit took a big nosedive last month. Current exchange rate of Republic Creds to Skye Script is something like a 3:1 ratio.
I did speak with a few experts and they seem to think that once confidence rises again in the Republic, the economy should strengthen. Or something.
The loss of a large chunk of it’s military has both hurt and benefited the Republic bizarrely. On one hand, they have fewer forces to defend themselves with, but at the same time, they aren’t spending as much on military expenditure and wages and the like.

As to the rest of the galaxy. It’s a mess. Nearly forty percent of the Republic has broken away and gone independent.

Well, actually. That’s forty percent of the Republic that hadn’t already broken off to form the Skye Alliance. Most are going it on their own, for however long that’ll last, whilst others are forming their own little nations and alliances. It remains to be seen how that works out for them.

There is a lot of polarizing occurring in the Outer Rim, so we could be seeing rivals to the Republic and the Skye Alliance forming.

Whatever happens, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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

Tatooine.

Octavia Terah, former General and now retired, sighed as she gazed out of the landspeeders windows at the rushing desert landscape.

“Regrets?” Quint asked from the drivers seat.

Octavia turned to face him with a smile, “Just that it took so long to do this. I’m just glad I made it back for the New Years celebrations. I was dreading not being able to get here soon enough”

“Travel trouble?” Quint frowned.

“You could say that” Octavia gave a short laugh, “About four days ago, the Rodian’s and Aqualish decided it was time to settle a few bad debts with each other. Started knocking seven shades of poodoo out of each other. When the fighting threatened to spill over to Falleen, The New Republic put a travel embargo on that sector till Peacekeeping forces could sort the situation out” She shrugged, “I ended up having to make a transfer to a different passenger liner on Druckenwell that took a roundabout route via Naboo”

Quint shook his head, “Not surprised really, entire rim is pretty unstable”

“Anything in that regard happening here?” Octavia asked.

“On Tatooine?” Quint laughed, “Nobody is really that concerned. Tatooine will survive just as it always has. Heck, even if we leave the Republic, we can still trade with Republic worlds, the New Republics own laws allow it”

Octavia snorted, “I’ll admit that out here on the ass end of no where, it makes no difference who’s flag is flying over the government building. Heck, even the Empire barely paid us any heed”

Quint nodded, “We’ll still have the usual assortment of smugglers, mercenaries and bounty hunters that we’ve always had”

“True” Octavia smiled, “Change of subject. How is everyone?”

“About the same” Quint shrugged, “Dad passed his last health check, not exactly flying colours, but he’s doing better. Mom’s about the same, as for everyone else, they’re well and you’ll see for yourself soon enough” He smiled, “Though I think you are more interested in knowing about two others in particular”

Octavia nodded slowly, “It’s only been a few months since I was last here, but it feels like a lifetime………again”

“Well, you’re home now” Quint said, “Are you?”

“Yup” Octavia smiled, “For good this time. I am officially retired and drawing a military pension”

“Any plans for retired life?”

Octavia shrugged, “Not made any solid decisions yet. Definitely plan on spending more time with my family, especially my daughter and husband. Beyond that? Take it easy maybe, write my memoirs, build a small fort, who knows?”

Quint laughed, “I could always use an experienced tech in the workshops”

“I’m retired remember,” Octavia chuckled, “But I’ll think about it, just don’t expect me to give you an answer for a few months”

She looked back out the landspeeders window. Darkness was starting to creep across the landscape as the twin suns dipped below the horizon.

“Sorry I didn’t get planetside sooner” She said, “I never liked travelling the desert in the dark”

“We’ll be fine. We’re almost there” Quint reassured her, “Few more minutes tops”

As Quint expected, the rest of the journey passed without incident, though darkness has fallen completely by the time he brought the speeder to a rest in one of the estates garages. With the twin suns having dropped below the horizon, the only light came from the stars and the estate itself.

Climbing from the speeder, Octavia shivered at the feel of the chilly night air before the garage doors drew shut cut off the slight breeze.

“We’re so late” Octavia frowned, “Everyone’ll be in bed by now”

Quint shrugged, “I guess reunions will have to wait till morning” He answered, grabbing her bags from the speeders luggage bay.

“Yeah” Octavia sighed, “Just feels a bit too much like I’m sneaking in”

“Just like we used to do all those years ago,” Quint grinned.

Octavia laughed, “I still remember that night dad caught us trying to sneak back in after that late night party at the Washburn’s place” She headed for the door that led directly from the garage to the kitchen.

“Yeah” Quint shook his head as the memory brought a smile to his face, “I remember he was sat waiting for us in the kitchen”

“You don’t think?” Octavia eyed the door suspiciously, “That he’s sat there right now, waiting?” She frowned, “Do you?”

“Not these days” Quint said reassuringly, “Besides, we’re adults”

“True” Octavia nodded as she palmed the door control and, expecting her father to be there, stepped through…..

………into a darkened and empty kitchen.

“Oh” Octavia felt her anticipation evaporate.

“You sound disappointed” Quint said, resting a hand on her shoulder.

Octavia sighed, “I guess I am. I was sorta hoping somebody would still be awake to welcome me…..”

She was suddenly interrupted as the lights blazed into life and a chorus of “Welcome home!” echoed around the kitchen.

Caught be surprise, Octavia hopped back and let out an involuntary squeal as he feet tangled around each other and she fell back against Quint.

Laughter echoed around the kitchen as Octavia regained her footing and what was left of her dignity. As the family – her parents, her brothers, her sisters, her nieces and nephews- gathered around, Octavia found herself looking for one pair in particular.

Her eyes found her husband’s eyes first. Blake held himself at the back of the group that surrounded her, but his face shone with that smile that she’d seen precious little of over the last few years. She gave him a smile back and felt a little giddy when he winked back at her.

Then Tavi cut between Nikana and Barrad and launched herself at Octavia, “Mommy” Tavi squealed.

“Hey Baby” Octavia laughed, scooping her daughter up and –despite the protests from her back- lifted the eight year old girl into the air.

Octavia smiled. She was home.

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

Senate Hall.
Coruscant.
One Week Later.

Gorak sighed and forced himself to maintain his attention as the Senator from Fondor –Naz Taren- continued the tirade he’s begun almost an hour earlier and had thus far succeeded to maintaining despite the efforts of Gorak and various other senators.

“And I reiterate my request that the funds be allocated to allow for the rebuilding of the Fondor Shipyards” Taren shouted, “With Mon Calamari, Skye, Sluis Van and Telos having left the Republic, and with the Corellian System looking shaky, we need all the operational shipyards we can get” He waved his hands, “Without Fondor to build it’s fleets, the Republic is surely threatened”

“Very melodramatic words” Squawked the representative from Trell, “But the Republic also has firm control over the shipyards at Kuat, Bilbringi, Sullust, Bestine and Kothlis. Everything does not hang on Fondor” The Avian ruffled her feathers, “In any case, Fondor has already been granted several billion credits towards rebuilding”

“An insufficient amount” Taren sniffed, “More is required”

“Perhaps if your people were better at managing their finances, then you wouldn’t be wasting credits on consultancies and mismanagement and you could devote those credits to actually rebuilding” Someone shouted, Gorak thought the voice came from the Empress Teta chair.

Seeing the red of anger colouring Taren’s face, Gorak decided to put a stop to things, “Enough!” He called, “Enough bickering. We are reduced enough” He waved a hand to indicate the empty booths around the hall, “That we do not need to fight amongst ourselves so” He stared at Taren, “Senator, the treasury is not infinite. Fondor has already had more than it’s fair share. Until the treasury can be bolstered again, you will simply have to make do. And even then, spending will be done on a priority basis. Other worlds were devastated during the war too, not just Fondor and not just Coruscant”

“Bah” Taren waved away Gorak’s words, “We should never have allowed all those worlds to leave the Republic. Their lose has damaged our economy and brought us to the edge of financial ruin” The Fondorian stared at other senators in the chamber, “I still believe we should mobilize our forces and take back those worlds. Crush the rebellious governments and reabsorb their worlds!”

Gorak held off a reply until the resulting uproar had died down. To his satisfaction, he noted that while a portion of the Senate –what remained of it- did cry out in Support of Taren, a larger proportion did not. The majority were far less inclined to going to war again than Taren’s supporters were.

“Those worlds were well within their rights and within the laws of the Republic top do so, I might add” Gorak said evenly once the noise level had subsided somewhat, “This body will not, I repeat, not condone aggressive action that would lead to war” He stared at Taren, “Is that clear Senator?”

“Crystal” Taren replied icely as he resumed his seat.

“Good” Gorak nodded dryly, “To other business…..”

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

Chief-Of-State’s Office.
One Hour Later.

Gorak sighed and massaged his horns as he slumped back into his chair.

“That could have gone better” He remarked wearily.

“But it could have gone much worse” Leia Organa-Solo pointed out, “We always expected friction from some of the Core Worlds, especially those that still carried a little of the old Imperial attitude”

“Fortunately, those like Taren are a small voice at the moment” Gorak nodded, “But unless the economy can recover, those voices are going to get louder”

Organa-solo frowned, “I remember what that was like. Hoping the economy will bounce back”

“Indeed” Gorak sighed, “And somehow I don’t think we can appeal to the Hapans for financial aid this time around”

He glanced at the offices other occupant, “Where DO we stand on the economic recovery?”

The Bothan senator and recently appointed economics minister, Tras Fel’Kan glanced at his datapad before speaking, “The economy is stable at the moment after last months free fall, but it’s still pretty weak” The Bothan grimaced, “Between half the Republic going independent and Vorsk Kel’lya’s embezzlement from the Treasury, there’s not a lot of spare capital to play with”

“Isn’t trade continuing between the New Republic and the Skye Alliance?” Leia frowned.

“It is” Fel’Kan Nodded, “But consumer confidence is still low. Oslo-Tarn is still forced to come to us to purchase certain goods that none of the Alliance worlds possess. Stuff like Dolovite, Varmigio, Kammris, Hfredium and Ardanium. On the downside, we also are stuck purchasing some things from them especially Doonium and Oridum Ore as well as various food stuffs”

“Not to mention a lot of credits are tied up in rebuilding” Gorak added, “The clean up of the ruins of the Liberty District, it’s rebuilding and the associated projects are expected to consume upwards of several billion credits”

Organa-Solo gave a wry smile, “I’m not here because you need a loan are you? You should know, I’m not exactly solvent myself these days”

Gorak smiled, “That’s not necessary Highness. I just wished to avail myself of your experience before you leave Coruscant and to ask if you’ve reconsidered my offer”

“I have” Leia sighed, “And the answer is still no. I got out of politics a long time ago and I have no desire to get involved again”

“Your endorsement of the current Chief-of-State not withstanding” Fel’Kan chuckled.

“Better to get that much involved than let someone like Tor Miraborg get put in charge” Leia shot back, “I did what was best for the New Republic”

“But you won’t accept a position on the Advisory Council?” Gorak asked.

“No” She shook her head, “ In any case, I don’t have the political standing anymore. Yes, I have influence, but no legitimate standing to take a Council position” She sat back, “Cal Omas is the Representative for the Alderaan Peoples, I gave that role up when I became Chief-of-State all those years ago”

Gorak exchanged a look with Fel’Kan, “We could certainly find a way to get you on the Council”

“Thank you, but no” Leia smiled, “Naz Taren and your other political opponents would have a field day with that one. The Chief-of-State isn’t supposed to bend the rules like that, not for anyone, even a former Chief-of-State”

“You’re right, of course” Gorak nodded.

“Short term though, I can act as an informal negotiator to try and keep some of these new factions and nations from each others throats for a little while” She looked thoughtful for a moment, “I know Luke’s offered the services of the Jedi for the same thing”

“Yes” Gorak said, “Master Skywalker has already offered the Jedi Order’s services. Though he has made it clear they won’t take specific sides, they can at least get sides talking to avoid shooting”

“The best we can hope” Fel’Kan added.

“Not what a Chief-of-State expects for his first year” Gorak remarked dryly.

Leia smiled, “At least I had a lead in before I had to worry about galactic crisis’” She laughed, “I think I had about a month before my first big challenge”

“I would hope that at the end of my term, I’m fondly remembered as you are” Gorak sighed, “Though I do believe that’s unlikely considering recent and current events as well as what may yet come, I may be lucky to be remembered as adequate”

“It’s all going to depend on how you handle things from here on out” Leia said, “And how well you are able to handle Taren and his allies”

“That” Gorak remarked dryly, “May be a challenge beyond me”

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

Geers’ Estate.
Tralus.
Corellian System.

Dru sat back in his chair and waited a few moments to see if Lyn had anything further to add to her report.

She’d arrived back on Tralus just that morning, having spent a few extra weeks on Coruscant before returning home. Due to the current political climate, a four day voyage on a passenger liner had turned into nearly two weeks after the Neimodia Commercial Authority had impounded the Corulag owned liner and it’s passengers over an unpaid ‘Passenger Transit Tax’ that the Neimodian government had just instituted.

The week and a half hostage situation –as there was no other way of describing the forced interning a four hundred and seventy-three beings- had been defused two days ago when the Chief-of-State warned Neimodia that failure to release the ship and passengers would result in Neimodia’s share of the repair and rebuilding fund would be forfeited.

Weighing the ten thousand-credit tax they were trying to extort against the million credit R&R fund payment, the Neimodian’s quickly gave in.

Still, the time spent as the Neimodian’s guest hadn’t been too wasted for Lyn. Despite the situation, Lyn had been able to hack into the Neimodian’s computer networks remotely and had obtained quite a lot of interesting information.

A lot of the economic info, Dru knew he could sell to the Neimodian’s opponents. The Commenor government for example would be very interested to here about the real estate scams that were being run of their planet by their galactic neighbour.

Some of the other information was less than useful for the moment, though it could be fruitful at a later date.

Of the greatest note however, was the information that the Neimodian’s had been making overtures to the Corellian Government in light of Corellia’s growing independence movement. It seemed that the Neimodian’s wanted in with Corellia, to the point that they were promising all sorts of things to sweeten the deal. Resources, ships, tech, stuff Neimodia didn’t have. That set alarm bells ringing for Dru. Neimodian’s as a race were cowards, but even they could sometimes grow enough of a spine to steal from others.

Were the Neimodian’s willing to go to war just to have an ally in the form of Corellia?

Dru knew he’d have to dig further into this. But for now, there were other priorities.

He looked up at Lyn. His daughter looked tired, hardly surprising considering recent events, but her eyes were alert. The big family reunion had been this morning, it had of course, been the big priority. Dru would have lived to regret keeping mother and daughter apart had he tired to do so.

Still, reunion over it was time to get down to business.

“When you went out to Coruscant” Dru said dryly, “I only expected you to gather information, not help bring down a corrupt Chief-of-State”

Lyn shrugged and smiled, “Nor did you expect me to get trapped on planet with atomic weapons being detonated planetside and an assault fleet in orbit”

Dru grimaced, “Don’t remind me” He frowned, “Though that doesn’t explain how you came to go from a information collection mission to bringing down a Chief-of-State”

Lyn shrugged, “What can I say? I hate corrupt politicians who cheat the system”

Dru raised an eyebrow at that, but just smiled. “Well, regardless, we received the payment from, Trinity Oslo-Tarn two days ago. Even gave us a bigger bonus than expected, full payment was an even million credits”

“Wowser” Lyn whistled, “Did we still get that ‘something extra?”

Dru nodded, “The first four arrived the day after you’d headed out. Final two arrived same day as the payment. Just need to get pilots trained up on them”

“Can’t say I expected her to split half the Rim from the New Republic and form her own nation” Lyn said.

“This Skye Alliance is hardly ‘half the Rim’” Dru smiled, “But no, I didn’t see it coming. Though in hindsight it explains all the diplomatic activity that was happening out there”

“Heck of a gamble carving her own realm out of the Republic” Lyn pointed out, “I’m surprised Coruscant didn’t try to stop her”

“How?” Dru asked, “The New Republic Constitution allows member worlds to withdraw. Though I dare say they expected something on quite this scale when they wrote the Constitution

“Point” Lyn nodded, “Short of going to war, I don’t think there’s much this new Chief-of-State can do”

“Economic pressure is one option, I suppose” Dru shrugged, “Though with the Republic economy so shaky, they need the trade with Skye and other independent worlds”

“What about the rumours I’ve heard of Corellia pushing for independence?”

Dru waved a hand, “Accurate and unsurprising. Corellia has always had a strong independent streak. Successive Galactic Governments have always been happy to allow us free reign in day-to-day activities. During the Clone Wars Garm Bel Iblis pushed to have the entire sector secluded from the greater conflict….”

“ Contemplanys Hermi?” Lyn frowned trying to recall her Old Corellian lessons.

Dru nodded, “Medative Solitude. A clause in the Old Republic constitution that allows Corellia and it’s sector to withdraw from the affairs of the Republic. Basically, Corellia surrendered its veto in the senate, and sacrificed some benefits of Republic membership without actually withdrawing”

“Is it in the current constitution?” Lyn asked.

“No” Dru answered, “The Empire outlawed it and the New Republic never reinstated it. Though it hardly mattered, the Empire basically allowed the Diktat to run Corellia like his own personal fiefdom and that continued till Corellia finally joined the New Republic” He shrugged, “So it’s hardly surprising the famed Corellian streak of independence is flaring up again”

“I don’t think the New Republic is going to be so happy about Corellia being independent and having access to a Super weapon like Centerpoint”

“Good point” Dru nodded, “Granted, nobody has been able to make Centerpoint function since Anakin Solo iimprinted onto the system back during Thracken Sal-Solo’s coup, but it’s still a potential weapon if anyone can ever decipher it’s systems again”

“So what do we do?”

“We do what we always do” Dru smiled, “We ride the surf and see were it takes us”

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

Bulwark Cruiser Xerxes.
System 487-3998-AK.
Wild Space.
Two Weeks Later.

Rear-Admiral Drooto Fen paced back and forth on the bridge of the Xerxes. Occasionally, he glanced over to the navigation console where the engineers were still trying to bring the system back online.

“How long?” He demanded as his patience wore thin.

“Another few minutes, sir” One of the engineers, a Twi’lek answered, “We’re just reconnecting the datalines now”

“Good” Fenn nodded and turned to the communications station, “Have the fleet standing by to jump the moment we are ready. I want us away from here as soon as possible”

“We could send the fleet ahead to the next system” Dol Herren, Fenn’s XO said stepping up next to the Rodian commander.

Fenn considered that for a moment, “No, if the New Republic forces catch us again, I want to be able to throw something at them to delay them. The last time cost us a lot and that was only dealing with those three Corvettes and the Cruiser that caught us””

And cost them it did. The New Republic task force that was pursuing them and had almost caught them at the last stop had apparently been a lead scout force. Only four vessels against his nearly one-hundred and seventy three, but surprise had been on their side and they’d already been breaking for hyperpsace by the time his forces realised they were there.
The incident had so unnerved several of his commanders that a couple had made jumps into hyperspace without basic navigation checks, co-ordinate checks or in some cases recovering patrolling fighters.

Twelve vessels, including two of his remaining five Providence Class Destroyers had been destroyed in collisions and lost. Another twenty four were missing, having made random jumps, though he did have several scout units out looking for them, assuming they hadn’t jumped straight into a star or planet.

The Xerxes itself had taken heavy damage when a misjumping Tartan class Frigate had slammed into the Bulwark’s port side, tearing a massive rent through the armoured hull and damaging the subspace drives. Fenn’s ship had successfully jumped following the collision, but the damage had caused a cascade failure to the navicomputer, leaving the Xerxes stuck here to the system was repaired to allow her to jump again.

Fenn himself hadn’t escaped unscathed. His left antennae had been severed by shrapnel, though considering the piece that severed it would have taken his head if it had been lower, Fenn considered himself lucky.
The left side of his torso was also taped up and his flesh felt like he’d spent too much time near a furnace.

“Incoming ships dropping from hyperpsace!” The sensor officer called, then added slightly calmer, “They’re ours. The Glorak, Bloodletter and the Dirk, coming in from spinward to our position”

Fenn nodded, “The scout ship Dirk and two of the missing ships it had been sent to find” He said aloud, “Things are looking up at least”

The sensor officer called again, “More contacts dropping from hyperspace. Republic Ids, approximately ninety contacts”

“They followed the Dirk!” Herren snarled.

“No” Fenn glanced at the screens, “Completely different vector, they didn’t follow the Dirk here” He looked the engineers, “How long?”

“Five minutes and we can jump” The Twi’lek answered, “Primaries only though, no backs up so it’ll have to be a careful jump”

“As quick as you can” Fenn sighed, “Helm, lay in a course for the Dirk’s current position. Start calculating a jump solution. Comms, pass the same order to the fleet”

“Trying to keep ahead of them?” Herren asked.

Fenn nodded, “When I stand and fight it’ll be on my terms in a system of my choosing and with a ship that isn’t limping so badly”

“Additional contacts dropping out ahead of us” The sensor officer shouted, “Fifty vessels, broadcasting Republic Ids”

Fenn looked at the view port and even at this distance could see the lead elements of the second Republic group exchanging fire with the Scout ship and the two Recusant frigates with it.

“New course” Fenn shouted, “Bearing Two-five-zero-seven, keep the Republic ships to our rear”

“That will limit our exit vector” The helm offer said.

“Understood” Fenn nodded, “Find me one”

“More Republic vessels” The sensor officer sound panicked, “Thirty plus, blocking our new vector”

“New course” Fenn began, then a tremor ran through the decks.

“Gravity well generator” Herren said unnecessarily, “They’ve got an interdictor out there somewhere”

Fenn nodded as three more tremors ran through the deck, “At least four to be accurate” He gave the Rodian equivalent of a sigh, “Very well, battle stations prepare for combat. Launch all fighters, order the fleet to do the same. We fight today”

“Signal from the Republic Flagship” The communications officer called.

“Put it through” Fenn indicated the holo-projector, “might as well here what they have to say”

Seconds later, an image swam into life above the projector and Fenn felt a moment of confusion. The person at the other end appeared to be a Gamorrean in a New Republic Naval officer’s uniform.

“This is Commander Voort saBinring of the New Republic Star Destroyer Ackbar, commanding Task Force Anvil. I am calling upon you to surrender yourself and your vessels and prepare to be boarded and taking into custody”

Fenn’s confusion grew as he beheld a Gamorrean that seemed to be speaking basic. Then he registered that the tone of the gamorreans voice was artificial, a translator that overlaid basic over it’s standard grunts and squeals. Then the name registered, Voort saBinring, the only Gamorrean to have served in the New Republic military as a pilot and later a fleet officer.

“Commander saBinring” Fenn said with more confidence than he felt, “I am Rear-Admiral Drooto Fenn of the Neo-Separatist Flee. We will not surrender this day, though I will gladly see your ships destroyed and torn open to vacuum. Bring your worst” As a final gesture he drew his blaster and shot the projector in glittering pieces.

“Was that wise, Sir?” Herren asked.

“Probably not” Fenn admitted, “But we’ve come to far to surrender now”

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

Nobility Class Star Destroyer Ackbar.

For a brief moment Piggy continued to stare at the Holo-projector, then he shrugged, “Stubborn Rodian fool”

“Rodian’s are like that certainly” Ryan Montjar nodded, “Though it’s hardly a trait unique to their species”

“Agreed” Piggy said, “Battle stations, launch all fighters and bombers” He thought for a moment, “Orders are to disable were possible. Let’s give them plenty of chance to surrender. I’d like to avoid a slaughter”

“Somehow I don’t think they have the same hang-ups” Montjar said as the first of the Ackbars fighter squadrons, the A-Wings of Lance Squadron and the shield equipped TIE-Interceptors of Alpha Squadron raced free of her bays.

“Just because they will not hold to civilised ideals, does not mean that I will throw aside the same” Piggy said gruffly.

“I know Montjar smiled, “Just needed to point out the obvious” He frowned at the holotank, “Lead elements of group one are engage their rear guard”

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

It was a foregone conclusion.

On one side, were one hundred and forty battered starships, most with some degree of battle damage and crewed by weary and demoralized crewers.

One the other side, one hundred and eighty New Republic starships. Fresh and damage free, crewed by some of the best and brightest of the New Republic’s military.

Caught between the three prongs of the Republic force, Drooto Fenn opted for a ‘Wagon-Train’ defence. His largest starships formed a core fire base to protect the more heavily damaged vessels, whilst his lighter faster ships formed a rapid response ring around them.
The few hundred fighters Fenn had his disposal he deployed in a rolling screen, but held back several squadrons to use as ‘fire fighting’ units. The lack of bomber squadrons hurt him considerably though, his last few squadrons had been lost during the panicked retreat form the Republic all those weeks ago and they’d been unable too find replacements.

Without bombers he had to rely on his capital ships to destroy his opponents starships, thus putting his own vessels at risk.

In contrast, Piggy deployed his forces as standard. Corvettes, gunships and Lancer Frigates formed the tip of the spear and supported by starfighters, thrust forwards to sweep aside the Neo-Sep fighters.
As breaches were widened in the enemy lines, bombers and heavier starships pushed through to widen the gap and engage the lighter of Fenn’s ships.
Bringing up the rear and providing the heaviest firepower were Piggy’s Cruisers, Destroyers and heavy Frigates.

Forced to fight on three different flanks, Fenn was forced to divide his attention and found himself becoming too focused on what was happening in one area that he missed events in another area,

It was only when his last remaining Venator Class Destroyer was torn apart by the combined firepower of a pair Assault Frigates, that he realised he’d made a tactical error. He should have attacked, thrown his forces at only one of saBinring's forces and pushed past them, so that the Republic forces would have been forced to fight past their own ships to get to him.

A flight of TIE fighters flashed past the bridge viewports, laser fire splattering against the Xerxes’ shields. Further out one of his Lucrehulks was momentarily eclipsed by the flash of it’s own reactor breaching.

Elsewhere a pair of battered old Nebulon-B’s that Fenn reckoned had been with the Republic fleet since Endor were lacing one of his Providence’s with enough laser fire to burn through the thick armour over the engines, a brief flash and the Providence went dark and began to drift.

“Sir” Herren said, “We have two choices left to use. Surrender and live or continue fighting and die”

“I will not surrender” Fenn answered, “However, that choice can be taken from me if you wish” He indicated the blaster on Herren’s hip, “Do what you need to”

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

Command Bridge.
Nobility Class Star Destroyer Ackbar.

“Sir” Major Vekker called, “Signal from the Xerxes. Audio only”

Piggy nodded, “Put it on”

A voice cut across the comms, “This is Commander Dol Herren of the Xerxes, acting commander of this fleet. We….we surrender. All of my ships are standing down”

Piggy glanced at the screens, sure enough, the remaining Neo-Separatist ships were breaking away from combat and powering down, “Understood Commander, We will cease fire too. If I may ask, what happened to Rear Admiral Fenn?”

Herren hesitated, “He..ah…he made a different choice”

Piggy exchanged a look with Montjar, who could only shrug, “Very well, please await further instructions whilst we handle logistics to take you back to the
Republic “

“Understood. Xerxes out”

Montjar was the first to voice the question, “How exactly are we going to take them back?”

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

Royal Gardens.
Royal Palace.
Skye.
Six Months Later.

As the bride and groom moved off to have their first dance as a married couple, Jaina slid up next to Jaden.

“I think Jenna made a wonderful bride, don’t you” Jaden smiled, “I think she’s found her way again”

“I think so too” Jaina smiled, then sighed, “Can we talk?” She asked.

Jaden frowned, “Sure, what’s up?”

“Not here” Jaina shook her head, “Let’s find somewhere more private”

A few minutes later, in the shadow of a cherry tree , Jaina found the strength to speak her piece.

“Jaden” She sighed, “I…I’m breaking up with you”

“What?” Jaden was shocked, “Why?”

“I don’t think we’re going anywhere” Jaina replied.

“I thought we were great together”

“We are” Jaina smiled, “But that’s it. I like you a lot and love you to bits, but I look to the future and I don’t think it’s working in that regard”

“What do you mean?” Jaden asked carefully.

“We just kind of fell into a relationship Jaden” Jaina smiled softly, “Stressful, life and death situations are never a great way to kick off a relationship. Sooner or later, we’re just going to either fizzle out or blow out and I’d rather we end things while we’re happy”

“But I thought we were….that we….” He stopped as admitted she was right, “Do you think there might be another chance in the future?”

Jaina looked away for a moment, “I honestly don’t know” Leaning over she kissed him briefly, “See you around, Jaden Loran” Then she walked away, leaving him stood there alone.

“Hey “ A voice intruded on his thoughts, “What you doing over here on your own?”

Jaden turned and saw his father stood there.

“Let me grab a beer and I’ll tell you all about it” Jaden gave a weak smile”

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

Skye Royal Palace.
Banquet Hall.

Face gratefully accepted the offered bottle of beer from Deven and leaned back against the ornately carved rail that border the balcony overlooking the Banquet Hall and the celebrations still in progress.

“Thanks” Face nodded, popping the cap and taking a good long swig, “That’s the stuff” He smiled appreciatively.

“Figured I’d find you up here” Deven shrugged, “Still don’t do weddings well?”

“No” Face sighed, “Not since….”

Deven gave him a sympathetic smile, “I understand. But it’s been twenty-five years, give or take. Face, she wouldn’t want you to spend the rest of your life moping around and alone”

Face swallowed against the lump in his throat, “I know. And I haven’t been alone, there’s been others” He shook his head, “It’s just I constantly find myself comparing them to Asha. How they don’t measure up to her, how I don’t love them like I loved her and things just go sour”

Deven winced and massaged his forehead, “Face, you can’t keep doing that to yourself. It’s destroying you from the inside” He glanced to one side, “Maybe it’s time to let her go”

“Let her go?” Face stiffened, and a vice closed itself around his heart, “But that would mean….”

“Accepting that she’s gone” Octavia said interjecting into the conversation, “Moving on? ‘Sometimes you have to accept the cards fate has dealt you’ someone once told me”

“Who?” Face frowned, his voice trembling.

“You did” Octavia smiled sadly, “Face, for twenty-five years you’ve been in a form of denial. Refusing to let Asha go, even though there’s nothing you can do to change what happened”

“You still blame yourself don’t you?” Deven said, “For what happened?”

“Yeeeeeessssssss” The word came out in a long hiss filled with grief and sorrow and Face slumped back against the rail, “If I hadn’t ducked, if I’d pulled her down, if I’d just dealt with Shira earlier, stopped her sooner, Asha would still be here”

“If. If. If” Deven shook his head, “We can either spend our lives dwelling on the ifs. OR we move forwards, make our lives meaningful” He smiled, “Make her life and her memory meaningful”

“That’s what I’ve been doing all these years” Face sighed.

“How?” Octvaia frowned, “By shooting the bad guys in the face and blowing stuff up? It also has to be meaningful for you”

“Face it” Deven said, “You died twenty five years ago on the Queen’s Pearl and you’ve been walking dead ever since”

“Di’Kut!” Face snarled, his fist arcing towards Deven’s head. To his credit, Deven didn’t even react, even when Face caught himself and aborted the punch before impact. Octavia’s gasp of surprise echoed the surprise Face also felt, that Deven has got such a reaction out of him, told him that the Jedi had hit all the right buttons perfectly.

“You’re right” Face said at last as he stared at the offending fist, “You’re both right” A sharp pain went through his chest as realisation unlocked doors he’d never even been aware of. In it’s wake, a dull ache of grief, yet also acceptance. He looked at Deven, “Don’t ever go into psychiatry, Deven, your tact stinks”

Deven grinned, “I…we weren’t aiming to hurt you, we just needed to make you see that you were hurting yourself”

“You okay?” Octavia said with concern, “Do you need anything?”

“I need…” Face frowned, “I need a little time to think” He smiled and wandered away, almost in a daze, in the general direction of the gardens.

“He going to be okay” A voice said behind Deven and Octavia, causing them both to jump.

“Dammit, Corran” Deven said, trying to push his heart back down from his throat, “How long were you there?” He demanded as the elder Jedi stepped from around the corner, followed a second later by Janson.

“Long enough” Corran shrugged.

Janson nodded, “Heard what you said, saw his nearly take your head off” The portly man shrugged, “Have to say, both of you, your methods suck. Though your hearts were in the right place”

Octavia sighed and nodded in the general direction Face had gone, “Needed to be done”

“Agreed” Corran scratched at his beard, “It needed to be done a long time ago” He sighed, “About twenty-five years ago”

“But we let it slide, because this was Face” Janson added, “The stone-hearted unflappable one. He seemed to be handling it, so we just looked the other way”

“What do you think he’ll do?” Deven asked.

“That’s up to Face” Corran answered, “Only he knows” He smiled, “To change the subject, lovely speech by the way from the father of the bride”

“Aye” Janson grinned “Very moving”

“Almost brought a tear to my eye” Octavia added with a smirk.

“Oh, shush” Deven laughed, “Could I help it? I actually never thought I’d see this day. Jenna deserves all the happiness she and Zane can get. She’s been through a lot. Can I help being proud at how she’s survived and thrived?”

“How is she doing?” Corran asked.

“Good days and bad days” Deven replied, “Things haven’t been easy and the stress and nerves of the wedding preparations didn’t help, but she’s definitely getting better” He smiled and indicated a group clustered around Jenna down on the main hall floor, “Helped a lot that Gorak brought Rogue Squadron as his personal escort”

“Speaking of which” Octavia frowned, “Why the invite for Gorak?”

“Trinity felt having the New Republic’s chief-of-state attend could help smooth relationships between Coruscant and Skye” Deven shrugged, “The Alliance isn’t likely to be rejoining the Republic anytime soon, but a little friendship can go a long way”

It’s also been good to see all the old faces too” Janson smiled, “Those who made it, of course”

Corran frowned, “Wedge and Tyria were coming, but Tyria wasn’t feeling up to the journey. She’d had a bad few days”

“Piggy also wasn’t able to make it, the Ackbar is tied up with that brewing problem between the Oriente Protectorate and…” She frowned, “….The Adurian Collective”

Corran nodded, “It’s the same all over. The Skye Alliance withdrew pretty peacefully, but not all worlds have done likewise. It was only a matter of time before someone started sabre rattling”

“Both nations number only a half dozen world between them” Janson pointed out, “Next to no industrial base and no military beyond basic militias. They’ll either get pulled back into the New Republic or some other nation will absorb them”

Deven looked down at the dance floor of the hall, spotting Myn Donos and Katrin Halcyon dancing together, whilst Kai intercepted a waiter carrying a bottle of some liquor.

“Do you ever think our lives would ever turn out the way they did?” He asked, “What we might have been doing if fate hadn’t intervened?”

“All the time” Octvia nodded, a motion echoed by Corran and Janson, “It’s natural to wonder about what might have been if we’d done things differently, not made the same mistakes” She smiled, “But you know what? If I did it all over again, I’d make the exact same choices”

“Likewise” Corran nodded.

“Same here” Deven added.

“I’d probably…..no….I’d do it exactly the same” Janson chuckled, “No doubt about it. What we did makes up who we are now”

“This is starting to go to deep for me” Deven laughed, “Let’s get back down there before all the food gets eaten”


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

Royal Suites.
Some Hours Later.

With a sigh of relief, Jenna whirled and flopped backwards onto the bed, not caring how the dress bunched up into the air around her prone form.
As she lay on her back, pair of hands moved the frills of the dress out of the way so he could look down her face.

“Why hello there, Mrs Irelon” Zane –Oddball- grinned.

“Hello to you too, Mr Irelon” Jenna giggled.

“What a day, huh?” Oddball smiled sitting on the edge of the bed next to her and taking her hand in his.

Frowning slightly, Jenna pulled her artificial hand free and offered him her flesh and blood left hand, then smiled, “Heck of a day, I am so exhausted”

“I’m surprised by how many turned up, it was like half the galaxy was there” Oddball frowned.

“Well, the moment Gorak was invited, it became a Galactic event” Jenna answered, “Inviting the Republic’s Chief-of-State and the Advisory Council was a good idea of my moms. Helps repair a few bridges between our two nations”

“Ignoring all the VIPs” Oddball smiled, “It was nice seeing everyone again. I can’t believe your Dad managed to talk all the old Rogues and Wraiths into being an honour guard. Those that are still around that is”

“Most still are” Jenna laughed, “And apparently it wasn’t that hard. It’s a shame, the Antilles’ couldn’t make it, but Tyria wasn’t feeling up for travelling and Wedge didn’t want to leave her”

“I hear she’s a heck of a fighter considering what she deals with”

Jenna shrugged, “She has her good days and her bad days, like me”

He gave her hand a squeeze, “You did great today. Your dad looked so proud when he walked you down the aisle. As for your mom, I’m surprised she managed to hold the tears back as long as she did”

“We did have a few moments while I was getting ready” Jenna smiled, “Speaking of moms, your mom was really nice, a strong spirit too”

“She needed it, to be with my dad” Oddball sighed.

“Did you here back from your dad when you told him about the wedding?”

“Yeah” He sighed again, “Wasn’t pleasant, just confirmed my decision to cut him out of my life. My brother sends his best wishes though and an apology”

“Really?”

“Yeah” Oddball nodded, “After being expelled from the Academy, he bounced around the galaxy a bit and ended up on some dust world in the Outer Rim and kind of found himself apparently. Got a wife and a kid on the way”

“Good for him” Jenna smiled, “So he’s not an ass anymore?”

“Nope” Oddball laughed, “He’s still an ass, just a better ass”

Jenna laughed, “Thank you by the way”

“For what?”

“Everything” Jenna smiled and gripping the front of his jacket pulled him in for a kiss”

“No, thank you” He returned the kiss, “I’m proud of you and I know your parents are. Though I did think your Dad was going to have a panic attack when Octavia’s husband offered you some champagne”

Jenna laughed, “Dad was just his usual worrywart self. Blake wasn’t to know that I’m dry these days”

“Nine months and doing great” Oddball smiled.

“It’s been hard” Jenna nodded, “Really hard. I’ve spent some days clawing at the walls and wanting to drink the edge off. But I know I’ll just be back at square one”

Oddball squeezed her hand, “Tell me about it. But you’ve been strong and you’ll get through it”

“I know” Jenna smiled, “I’ve got you to get me through it all”

“And don’t you ever forget it”

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

CEO’s Office.
Visage Enterprises Headquarters.
Loord.
One Month Later.

Tapping a few commands in his display , Jaden looked towards his secretary, “Have Korben put in an offer for those surplus hyperdrive units Incom have put up for sale” He said, “Usual spend budget, if he can get them, he’s to send them straight over to the boys on the Phobus project. They’ve been after some X-Wing size hyperdrives”

“Yes, Mr Loran” His secretary nodded.

“Also find out from someone when those new fighters for our security teams are due to be delivered” Staring at the screen for a few minutes, he sighed and then standing, wandered over to lean against the window.

“Sir?” His secretary asked with concern, “Is everything okay?”

“No…I…it’s just…” He sighed again, “It’s Jaina, she broke my damn heart” He rubbed his temples, “You know how little I usually care. Dumping Jennifer by holo-mail, Brittany by skywriting, but Jaina she was different. She was fun to be with, always up for a laugh and up for anything, even those extreme sports you usually only see the insane do. She was like me, only with breasts”

“I don’t know what to say, Mr Loran” She shrugged.

“It’s okay” He started to turn away from the window, then suddenly turned and pressed his face back up against it as something in the street below caught his eye, “Emperor’s Black Bones! The macrobinoculars, quick!”

“What?” The secretary jumped in surprise, then quickly grabbed and handed him the requested item.

Taking the macrobinoculars, Jaden brought them up and focused them on the object of his interest, “The display focused in on a shapely woman, her blond hair pulled into a pony tail and her clothing suitable for the warm Loordian summer.

“Why hello, you little minx, when did you breeze into town?” Tossing the macrobinoculars carelessly onto his desk, Jaden headed for the door, “Contact Tyrell and have him ready the beach house, and break open the bottle of champagne I save for emergency seductions and have my shuttle ready on the rooftop in ten minutes”

His secretary was confused, “Yes sir, but what about Jaina? What about your broken heart?”

“Never underestimate the healing power of a blond, Miss Potts” Jaden grinned as he stepped through the door.

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

New Republic Intelligence Headquarters.
Coruscant.

“I can’t convince you to change your mind, Colonel?”

Turning his attention away from the box he was filling with the few meagre possessions he kept in office, Face looked at Showalter, “Afraid not, General” He answered, “I’ve been in this game far to long. I’ve been neglecting the rest of my life and it’s time I rediscovered it”

Showalter sighed, “I hate to admit it, but I understand completely. And I’ve been expecting it since the rest of Wraith Squadron handed in their own resignations” The head of New Republic Intelligence shrugged, “I’d kind of hoped you’d stay on, but it was a false hope. I am grateful you at least stayed on this long”

“I hear you narrowly escaped a near one recently” Face smiled, “Some voices in the Senate wanted your head on a platter for ‘failures in information gathering’”

Showalter nodded, “Yeah, some of Kel’lya’s old allies in the senate wanting to know why we failed to stop a war happening and why we failed to discover what Trinity Oslo-Tarn was doing. Cooler heads did prevail, but I’ve still been asked to quietly stand aside and select a successor in order to quiet the voices” He smirked, “Was planning on retiring anyway”

“Typical politicians, blame everybody else” Face snorted.

“A lot of heads in a lot of departments are rolling” Showalter nodded, “There’s been a lot of bad judgements this last year, maybe longer”

“So who’s your replacement?”

“Was going to be you” Showalter smiled, “Till I got your resignation notice. Now I’ll have to rethink”

“Sorry about that” Face said, not that he felt all that sorry.

“So, what are your plans?” Showalter asked.

“Not sure” Face shrugged, “Pay a visit on my son, catch up with old friends, I’ve considered taking up fishing or some other hobby. Y’know something that doesn’t involve killing someone or blowing something up. He held up and glanced at a small, palm sized holo projector, ”And one little important errand to run

“Something boring then” The NRI chief laughed.

“After these last few months. Boring is good” Face said with total seriousness.

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

Commandant’s Office.
Lianna Military Academy.
Lianna.

Halley Kadorto sighed as he watched the groups out on the graduation field. Young men and woman milled around with their families, laughing and joking. Celebrating their graduation.

“What’s wrong Love?” Tela asked from beside him.

“It’s just…” He hesitated, “It’s just that those young people out there may be the last graduating class from this academy for a while”

“How so?”

“Well, with Lianna moving towards independence along with the rest of the sector, the Republic isn’t going to be sponsoring us to train pilots who could potentially be flying for whichever nation or faction we end up a part of” Halley replied, “Likewise, whoever we end up with isn’t going to want us to be training pilots for the Republic either”

“So, the academy shuts down?” Tela frowned.

“For the short term at least” He replied and moved to sit on the couch, “I suppose someone will restart the funding, but who knows when that might be” He waved in the direction of the window, “Even that group out there is smaller than it should be. There should have been another fifty-six cadets out there graduating today. Fifty-six, who despite their incomplete training chose to give their lives to protect this world”

Tela sat next to her husband and rested a reassuring arm around him, “At least they had the chance to fight, to make a difference”

Halley leaned forwards and rubbed his hands against his head, “I memorized their names, you know. Every last one of them”

“Oh, Halley” Tela sighed, “Don’t do this to yourself. This isn’t Galaxian Squadron again”

Halley shook his head, “No, you’re right. But some of those who died, their next of kin didn’t survive the war. Others were the last of their family line. At least, this way someone will still remember them. I’ll remember them”

“You’re wrong” Tela said firmly.

“What?”

“You’re wrong if you think you’ll be the only one to remember those who died” Tela stood and walked to the window, “Every cadet out there lost friends. They’ll remember them too, and they’ll remember them with a far lighter heart than you’re saddling yourself with. They’ll remember their voice, their laughter, their personality , they’ll remember the little quirks that made them laugh. They’ll remember their friends faces” She looked at him, “You? You’ll remember a name. You didn’t know those kids”

“They were my responsibility” Halley protested.

“That’s nerf poodoo” Tela shot back, eliciting a shocked look from Halley at her language, “Yes, you were the Academy head, but you didn’t train any of them personally and you could no more stop them climbing into a cockpit to defend this world than I could stop you from doing the same” He scowled, “Let me ask you this. Do you feel responsible for a pilot who graduates, is assigned to a squadron far from here and is killed defending some planet on the other end of the galaxy”

“No” Halley answered carefully, “But that’s different”

“Why? Because they are fully trained by then?”

“Yes, no, I don’t…….” Halley winced. Tela was rarely ever this blunt, but she was often right on the money, “It’s because until the graduate they are still my pilots, until they graduate theirs still more they can learn, to be prepared”

“Prepared for death?” Tela sighed, “They wouldn’t have wanted to become starfighter pilots if they weren’t aware that they could be killed” She knelt down in front of him, “Halley, you’ve rarely ever directly trained any of them. You were never responsible for those who died even if they’d never completed their training because you never trained them”

“But they were under my watch as Commandant” Halley grimaced.

“did you do everything you could for them in that capacity?”

“Yes” Halley nodded, “But…..”

“No buts” Tela shook her head, “If you did everything possible that you could do, then you aren’t responsible” She frowned, “I imagine what poor Jenna Tarn is going through causes a lot of guilt in her parents”

Halley nodded automatically, then stopped, his face thoughtful, “Deven does feel that he failed Jenna, even though he had no responsibility nor control over what was done to her” He grimaced, “Just like I have no responsibility nor control over what happened to those cadets”

“Finally!” Tela gasped and collapsed onto the couch, “You get it”

“I usually do eventually” Halley nodded, “Not saying I don’t feel some responsibility, but I do feel a bit better about it now”

“Good” Tela smiled, “C’mon, let’s go celebrate with your newest graduates”

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

Mandalore.
Five Weeks Later.

It was a windswept day on Mandalore. The Veshok trees rustled in the winds, branches creaking with the movement and grasses rippled with each gust.

Out here, the breezes were the only sound. There probably wasn’t another soul around for miles.

Which is why he’d originally picked this location. So quiet, so peaceful.

Dropping to his knees in front of the simple memorial stone, Garik ‘Face’ Loran felt an overwhelming sense of uncertainty, a sudden belief that maybe this wasn’t the right course.

Gently pushing that feeling aside, he reached into a pocket of his jacket and pulled small preservation case, it’s transparent sides clearly displaying the single rose preserved inside.

“Hi honey” He said quietly, “Sorry it’s been so long since I last visited, but things have been seriously bad this last year. Bit of a pretty bad war and all that”

He sighed and a single solitary tear rolled down his face, “No that doesn’t excuse why I didn’t visit after the war ended. Yeah, I was busy with the clean up –though I thought about you constantly- but then five weeks ago, Deven and Octavia ambushed me and really threw me off balance”

Another sigh, another tear, “What they said, really got to me, got me thinking and they were right, I think?” He grimaced and the tightness in his chest almost folded him over, only his hands holding him up on his knees, “I love you so much and I always will, even though you’ve been gone all these years. I know you would’ve wanted me to love again and I’ve tried. Force knows I have, but I’ve always screwed things up”

He grimaced, “I was always convinced you’d never approve or that they’d never measure up to you, and they didn’t and never will. But I never properly gave myself a chance. And in doing so, I forgot how to live, until sneaking around and killing and doing all those spy things just became all I was, all I could be”

A flow of tears now, “And it’s all because I never forgave myself. I blamed myself for so many years for what happened on the Queen’s Pearl, if I’d only just…..” He trailed off, “Asha, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to save you. I’m sorry that we couldn’t have the life we wanted and…” He choked back a sob, “I’m sorry I didn’t live the life I should have”

He slumped forwards into the dirt, his forehead pressing against the wet grass, “And I’m sorry for keeping you bound to my selfish heart all these years”

“Apology accepted” A voice said with just a hint of amusement, “Though not that necessary. Your heart here this day brought all the apology needed”

Surprised by the voices sudden intrusion, Face reared back from his prone position, back onto his haunches and looked at the source of the voice and then surprise sent him flopping onto his back.

Before him, dressed in a flowing gown and her long auburn hair drifting gently in the wind, her face still as beautiful as he remembered, Asha smiled down at him. Blue glow cast off by her form seemed to radiate almost as much as her beauty, but she was almost as he remembered her.

“A….A….A” He stammered, “Asha? But how?”

There’s so much to the universe than you may ever no, my love” Asha smiled, “We both were never able to touch the force, but it still touches upon us. And right now, the force is granting us this one miracle”

“But why now?” Face frowned, still trying to collect his thoughts, “Why not before?”

“Because you were never open to it” Asha said sadly, “You closed yourself off to love and hope”

“I’m…I’m sorry” He said dumbly.

“Oh, stop apologising” Asha smiled, “You weren’t to know” She knelt and reached out to stroke his cheek.

Face gasped at the sensation, it wasn’t quite a physical touch, but it was damn close and if he ignored the blue glow and the transparency of her form, he could almost imagine she was here with him once again.

“You were the best thing that ever happened to me” He managed to croak out.

“And you were the best thing to happen to me” She laughed.

“I wish we could have spent more time together before…before..” Face trailed off.

“I know” Asha nodded, “And I do too. Perhaps we’ll have all the time we desire in the next life”

“What do you mean?” Face asked.

“Shhhhh” Asha shook her head, “Not now. I’ve already said too much” She smiled, “For now, you have a life to live” She leaned forwards and kissed him.

His lips tingling with the touch, Face savoured the moment, until with a brief gust of wind, she was gone.

Staggering to his feet, “I’ll always love you” He called to the winds, “But for you, I’ll live a life to make you proud”

“Good” He voice drifted over the breezes, “And know that my heart will always be yours, forever, my love”

And then she was gone.

Suddenly hit with a sensation of lose, but finding himself filled with new purpose, Face staggered back in the direction of civilization.

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

From The Memoirs of Deven Tarn.
Nine Years Later.

Okay, turns out I’m terrible at these things. One entry and then nothing for nine years, how pathetic is that?

Anyway, so what’s new?

Well, family wise, there have been a few changes.

Me and Trinity are still happily married, no changes there. Just a few extra wrinkles and a few more grey hairs. Plus a little arthritis on my part.

Within a year of being married, Jenna gave birth to a boy. Duncan Tarn-Irelon. Heh, never seen a guy do a full lap of the palace whilst whooping in joy till that day when Oddball laid his eyes on his boy.

Sadly the joy was tempered by sadness, when Jenna learnt that due to complications, Duncan would be an only child. As if she hadn’t suffered through her life enough. We almost feared she’d turn back to drinking or backtrack on her meds like the old days, but she found her inner strength and kept going forwards.

She did however choose to remove herself from the line of succession though. She does still struggle a lot, but she does have both Oddball –never been able to think of him as a Zane, funny that- and Duncan to support her.

Jasek too, removed himself from the line of succession. Went off to become a fully-fledged Jedi.

Bel too has shown no desire to take the thrown, nor has she done her Jedi training beyond the basics of control. Instead she seems to have developed an intense interest in history and archaeology.

Malcom thus is the heir to the throne. He’s already taken a sort of apprenticeship with his mother to try and learn the ropes as it were. Seems to be getting the hang of it.

The Skye Alliance continues to thrive. Strong military, strong economy and almost doubled in size in the last decade, though it’s certainly not the only one.

The Republic did recover, though it’s now the fraction of it’s original size, comprising almost all the core worlds and a sort of finger of territory that reaches down to Bothawui and it’s neighbouring systems.

The Outer Rim Federation was the next ‘large sized’ nation to spring up following that first year after Trinity created the Alliance. Based on Bespin, the Federation is loose alliance of smaller nations and independent worlds and by the end of 40ABY, they had a functioning government and a working, if weak economy.

Three years later, in 43ABY the Oberon Confederation was formed on Naboo and quickly became involved in a major staring match with the Outer Rim Republic. Lot of tension in that region.

In 45ABY, along came the Free Worlds League, reaching from Mon Calamari all the way to the Corellian Sector and encompassing Hutt Space. Makes the Free Worlds League the biggest ‘post-fracture’ nation. Currently the government offices reside on Mon Calamari though I think there’s still some disagreement on that with Corellia and the Hutts.

Then of course, the same year, the Circinus Federation popped up in a wedge of unclaimed worlds that included Almania and the old Corporate Sector. A little nation, just sort of sandwiched between the Skye Alliance and the Free Worlds League and a few clusters of as yet unclaimed worlds.

And there are a lot of as yet unclaimed worlds and minor nations and factions that either haven’t decided to lump in with one of the larger ones or are still trying to go it alone. At last count there was still nearly a thousand worlds and systems unclaimed, forming a sort of ‘no mans land’ between the five larger states.

And with New Republic Chief-of-State Gorak’s big speech about how those unclaimed worlds were nominally still part of the New Republic, it may only be a matter of time before things kick off. War drums beating and sabers rattling and all that.

In other news.

Jaina Solo married Jagged Fel, believe it or not. Who’d have figured. Everyone kind of expected Jaina to get back with Jaden, but I guess that was never to be……but Captain Tight-pants? Still apparently, despite the tight pants, things still work as she just gave birth to their daughter Elisa.

Speaking of Jaden, I got a message from him a few days ago. Apparently, he finally received a message from his dad. Yeah, that’s another thing, Face disappeared nine years ago. Resigned his commission with the NRI, took a trip to Mandalore and no ones seen him since.
Occasionally, Jaden gets a message to reassure him that his old man is okay, but not much more than that. Lucius Xoff theorised that Face is repeating the journey that he took back at the beginning of his career, a sort of journey of rediscovery.
Whatever it is, I wish him luck and hope he finds what he’s seeking.

Dru Kargin –who it turns out was a big help to both Trinity and Jenna during the war- managed to finagle himself a sweet government post in the Free Worlds League. Don’t know how he did it, not really sure I want to now.

Octvaia now runs her families repair business on Tatooine or part of it at least. Seems they’ve managed to turn it into a world wide thing. At the last reunion, Janson joked that that’s how the Kuat company started when they began KDY, but who knows.

Speaking of Janson, He got his facility here on Skye and apart from an incident involving a sixty-foot tall robo-tauntaun, things have been productive. He finally got his battle suit tech perfected, standing about eight feet tall; they’re now effectively power armour on steroids. Bigger and more powerful than Atlas power armour for example, but not the behemoth that the prototype was. As he says, start big and work smaller.

Corran is still a Jedi Master, and apparently may have found someone to spend his military pension on. He’s staying tight lipped though, damn him.


The galaxy has changed a lot. But I guess as they say change is inevitable. You get a little older and while your not looking something new pops up. People find new ways at looking at the world, at the universe and at life in general.

And meanwhile, on a world somewhere there’s another sunrise.

Hmmmmmmmm…….maybe there’s a story there somewhere.


THE END (Apart from the epilogues)


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group