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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:56 am 
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Epilogue One: New Frontier.

Skye Royal Palace.
Nashira.
Skye.
38 ABY.

“Thank you for agreeing to this meeting, Highness” Gorak said as he settled into the leather bound chair of the office.

Trinity nodded to the New Republic Chief-of-State, “You are my guest here, Gorak” She answered as she too seated herself, “It would have been rude for me to have refused your request” She frowned, “Though I did not expect you to even come to the wedding”

“I was invited” The Gotal shrugged, “Though many of in my government advised me too not accept so obvious a trap”

“Yet here you are”

“Indeed” Gorak inclined his horned head, “I trusted you wouldn’t be so obvious”

Trinity laughed, “Now I know you are lying”

Gorak chuckled, “I simply counted on the fact that you would not use your own daughters wedding as a ploy to kidnap me”

“The fact you also came with a sizable escort probably reassured some people on your side, though it gave a few of my people the fits” She shook her head, “Turning up unexpectedly in a Super Star Destroyer, half my commanders thought we were under attack”

“I only followed your example” Gorak said innocently.

The Skye Leader shook her head, “I assure you, I did not jump as high as Vorsk Kel’lya must have done”

Gorak laughed out loud, “Nobody could have jumped as high in panic as Vorsk did. Speaking of whom, did you hear the news?”

Trinity nodded, “Yes, Vorsk got forty years for corruption and a whole raft of other charges. I hear he was still proclaiming his innocence even as they piled up the evidence”

“He was” Gorak said, “Though his defence kind of fell apart once his co-conspirators rolled over”

“Has it been decided where he’ll serve his sentence?” Trinity asked.

“Probably one of Coruscants prisons” Gorak answered, “Possibly Ironhold. So he’ll be reunited with his old friends Rebekah Vash and Vran Breil’lya”

“That’ll be nice” Trinity smiled, “The Bothan’s aren’t pushing for him to be transferred to one of their facilities”

Gorak shook his head, “Bothan’s don’t want him. They’ve worked really hard as a race to change the ‘power grabbing’ stereotype and Vorsk did them no favours. They washed their hands of him”

“Couldn’t have happened to a nice person” Trinity smirked, “Now, I know you didn’t request this meeting just to swap news about Kel’lya. And if you’re going to try and talk me into returning the Alliance to the Republic, you may as well save your breath”

“I expected as much” Gorak replied, “But that’s not my intention. Instead, I’m here to table a, call it informal, suggestion. What I’d like to offer is a pact of non-aggression. There’s a lot of people within the New Republic worried that our two nations could go to war against each other in the near future”

“Understandable” Trinity pursed her lips thoughtfully, “Especially with more and more worlds breaking away from the Republic” She nodded, “Okay, I can agree to that. Especially as neither of us currently has a strong enough military to be throwing them into a conflict”

“True” Gorak frowned, “I’d also like to set up some proper trade agreements. We have a lot of things we need that you can provide and vis-a-versa”

“Can be done” Trinity smiled, “We can set up some meetings between trade reps whenever you want”

“Good, thank you for your time” Gorak nodded, stood and bowed, “May I ask something though before I leave”

“Okay”

“How long had you been planning to split off your own little nation” The Gotal frowned, “The contacts, the forces you had built up, the clones you purchased from Kamino the intelligence network you apparently possess. None of that could have been done in less than a year. The planning that it must have taken…..”

Trinity smiled innocently, “The way you make it sound, you’d think I’d be forgiven for having worked everything out to the nearest decimal place ten years ago”

“Touche” Gorak said carefully, “I can see that my original estimation of you may be a little off. I think I need to watch you carefully, very carefully”

“It’s a changed galaxy now” Trinity said coolly, “If I hadn’t done it first, others would have, and they might not have done so as peacefully as I did”

“Perhaps” Gorak nodded, “A good day to you Highness. I’ll be leaving to return to Coruscant within the hour”

Once the Gotal had left, Trinity sat back in her seat.

“That went well” She thought, ”Have to admit, I thought he was going to try and talk me into reconciling with the New Republic and returning to the fold” She hit the button on her comm system, “Jonah, make sure the starport crews have the Chief-of-States shuttle ready for him. I want him to leave here with a good feeling. No problems”

“Understood, Highness” Jonah Levin answered, “You want them escorting back out to the border as well?”

“Difficult to escort a Super Star Destroyer” Trinity laughed, “But yes, though you can probably reduce the size of the escort”

“Will do”

“Thank you Jonah” Trinity looked up as Deven slipped into the office.

“How’d it go?” Her husband asked dropping into the chair Gorak had recently vacated.

“Very well” Trinity smiled, “He left here with the impression I want him to leave with”

“And that was?” Deven’s one remaining eye was curious.

“That it’s in his best interests that he remains on friendly terms with Skye”

Deven frowned, “You’re not seriously considering attacking the Republic if he doesn’t play ball”

“No” Trinity laughed, “But doesn’t hurt if he thinks that”

Deven shook his head, “Is anything you do ever simple?”

“Deven, it’s a brave new world we have now” Trinity laughed, “Simple doesn’t work anymore”

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

Epilogue Two: The Pilgrim.

Drunken Pirate Bar.
Gall, Zhar System.
Oberon Confederation.
47ABY.

It was another quiet evening in the Drunken Pirate bar on the moon of Gall. At this time of day, it was rare to see many people in the bar. Most of the workers from the nearby supply depot were either on shift or in their bunks. The few patrons present were those out of work, a few members of ship crews and the odd travellers.

Lysette gazed around the bar and once again, told herself that she hated working this shift. Hardly any customers meant fewer tips. She took note those present.

In the far corner, almost opposite the door, sat a pair of Madalorian mercenaries. One male and one female, both human and both as grizzled and scarred as each other. They weren’t likely to be tippers or even big spenders, they were still nursing their first drinks that they’d bought four hours ago.

In corner nearest the bar, a trio of ships crew –a human, a Twi’lek and a Klatooine- were trying their best to get through the bars supply of Nabooian wine. Though Lysette figured they’d run out of credits before the bar ran out of wine. When that happened, her chances of tips would be out the door.

At the only other occupied table sat a mean looking human male. His face horrifically scarred and a cybernetic eye that burnt bright red. He’d bought a few drinks, but he struck Lysette as too mean spirited to tip.

The only other patron of the bar was the pilgrim, sat at his usual stool at the bar itself and nursing his third Suvvian whiskey. With his scraggly beard and his head shaved apart from a topknot of grey hair, Lysette could see why Grol, the Rodian barkeep, had named him the Pilgrim. His tattered jumpsuit reminded Lysette of the sort worn by pilots, but there was nothing else to clue in to his identity or even profession.
He’d been coming in the last couple of weeks and simply came in every few days for a few drinks then would go off to wherever it was he went and did whatever it was he did.
He did tip very nicely though.

“Hey, old timer” Lysette smiled at him, “Need a refill?”

Pilgrim grunted in the affirmative, “Not that old” He muttered half heartedly as she topped up his glass, though to Lysette’s ears he sounded like he was trying to convince himself more than her.

Lysette smiled at him, her lekku twitching in amusement, “Lose the beard and smarten up a bit and maybe you could shave a few years off your appearance”

Pilgrim gave her a sardonic smile, “I earned each and every one of this years” He answered at length, “Just feels like I wasted a lot of them sometimes”

“Maybe if you were spending all your time in bars, you could be making something of your life” Grol called from the far end of the bar where he was cleaning on of the pumps.

“I did” Pilgrim frowned.

“So why are you here?” Lysette asked.

“Long story” Pilgrim shrugged, “Decided I needed to find myself, find some new meaning in life, find…..something”

“Did you?”

“Been looking for ten years” He answered, “Not found it yet”

“Hey!” One of the ship crewers shouted, “Our glorious Chancellor is on”

Lysette and Pilgrim turned their eyes to the holoviewer, which displayed a news report as the Chancellor of the nascent Oberon Confederation was making another speech.

Lysette figured it was another speech about unity and pulling together against the corruption of the New Republic and the predations of the neighbouring Outer Rim Republic.

“Wasn’t he once a Ambassador?” Grol asked.

Pilgrim nodded, “Takayoshi Fuchida? Yeah, he used to be Naboo’s ambassador to the Gungan’s. Apparently he negotiated the agreement between the two sides over resettling the old colonies on Rori”

“How does a guy like that get to rule a nation?” Lysette frowned.

“He looks at where the crowd is heading and vaults out ahead” Pilgrim answered and knocked back his whiskey, “He’s ambitious, a Wiley negotiator and knows exactly what buttons to press to get people to fall into line”

“Know him well?” Lysette raised flicked her lekku questioningly.

“I’ve run into him” Pilgrim smirked behind his beard.

Lysette opened her mouth to reply, but stopped as she spotted the group that were entering the bar. A typical swoop gang, three nasty looking humans, a Gran, a Dug and two Weequay and they were armed and looking for trouble.

“Hello Strega” One of the humans, obviously the leader, grinned at the guy who was sat on his own, “We’ve come to collect”

“I owe you nothing” Strega answered.

“That’s were you’re wrong” The leader sneered, “You actually thought you could skim off from a shipment and I wouldn’t notice”

Strega paled, “I intended to pay you back”

“Buuuuut….?”

“I don’t have the money right now” Strega protested, “I need time”

“Okay, I’ll give you time” The swooper glanced at his chrono, “That was long enough” Then he drew his blaster and shot Strega through the face.

As the body toppled to the floor, the swoop leader looked around the bar, “We gonna have any trouble here?” He glanced at the three spacers, “You guys gonna cause trouble?”

“N..n…no” One of the spacers stammered as the three ran for the door.

“You Mandos cool. We gonna have a problem” He asked the two Mandalorians.

“No” The male answered coolly, “Not unless you create one, then we will”

“Gutsy answer” The swooper laughed, “Keep ‘em covered” He ordered to his men who drew their blasters, but avoided actually pointing them at the Madalorians, “What about you. Old guy” He walked up and rested a hand on Pilgrim’s shoulder, “We cool?”

Pilgrim glanced at the smoking corpse, “Don’t see why not, long as you morons leave now while you still have the use of your limbs”

Lysette gasped in surprise and dimly heard Grol cursing under his breath about the stupidity of old guys. The swooper leader actually hesitated in surprise and even the Madalorians looked a little aghast.

“And I thought the Mandos were gutsy” The swooper said recovering quickly, “What makes you think I’m not just gonna kill you now and dump your body out for the carrion birds?”

“Because you’ll find it very difficult to do without the use of your arms” Pilgrim said.

“Right!” The swooper shouted and brought his blaster up, “That’s it!”

And in that instant, Pilgrim moved. As the swooper’s blaster came up, the old man twisted and stood at the same time, grabbed the swoopers wrist in one hand and a handful of his hair in the other, Slamming the mans face against the bar, he cranked the blaster wielding arm backwards.

Lysette heard the crunch of nose bone at almost the same instant she heard the swoopers shoulder dislocate and then the blaster fired three times. One of the Weequays and one of the humans went down in a spray of blood. Another shot and the Dug went down too.

The remaining human charged Pilgrim swinging a vicious looking vibroblade. Forgetting the blaster, Pilgrim sidestepped the charge then drove a flattened hand into he mans throat. As the man fell choking, Pilgrim plucked the vibroblade from his hand and threw it with enough force that the entirety of the blade embedded in the remaining Weequay’s chest.

The Gran fumbled with the rifle it held, but before it could fire the weapon, a fusillade of fire from the two Madalorians sent the Gran sprawling.

By now the swoop leader had regained his footing and with his gun arm hanging limply, he tried to bring his blaster in line with Pilgrim’s back with his left hand.

“Pilgrim!” Lysette shouted, “Look out!”

Pivoting on one foot with more grace and agility than she would have thought possible, Pilgrim spun in a kick that knocked the blast from the swoopers hand, then took a step forwards and drove the palm of his hand into the swoopers nose. With a groan, the gang leader dropped to his knees and collapsed on his face.

Still stunned at what she’d witnessed, Lysette took a moment to register what Pilgrim was saying, “Sorry?”

“Any chance of a refill?”

“Sure, sorry” Lysette fumbled for the bottle.

“Thanks for the help with the Gran” Pilgrim nodded to the Mandolorians.

“No problem” The male nodded, “Couldn’t let you have all the fun”

“Pilgrim” Lysette stammered as she topped up his glass, “That was incredible. But you could’ve been hurt or worse”

Pilgrim laughed, “I used to do that all the time” Then he smiled a smile that once made a thousand females go giddy, “And call me Garik”


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:50 am 
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Epilogue Three: The Angel And The Gambler.
43 ABY.
Anoth System, Outer Rim Republic.

Space spun lazily around the ship as it’s pilot guided the vessel in a long sweeping turn around the small planetoid.

To the casual observer, the vessel was remarkable in only one respect, that it was an obsolete piece of junk.

But appearances were deceiving.

The vessel in question was a Corellian Engineering Corporation built YT-1300 Light Transport. Again nothing remarkable beyond that it was still operational, the YT-1300’s had been around for almost a century and there were very few still operational.
In fact, it was possibly the only one still operational.

Of course, once you took that into account, it was easy to deduce the identity of the vessel and it’s captain. After all, both were as famous as each other.

Han Solo barely grimaced as a shudder ran through the Millennium Falcon –probably just a stabilizer rattling in the housing- and focused on slipping the aging vessel into a stable orbit around the planetoid.

Locking the ship onto a stable orbital course, he glanced at the wookie in the co-pilots seat, “Chewie, go check that number four stabilizer, I think it’s worked out of the housing again”

As the Wookie –and his oldest and best friend- lumbered off down the passageway to the rest of the ship, rumbling something about reseating stabilizers that really needed to be replaced, Han noticed his wife grinning at him.

“What?” He demanded over his shoulder.

“Nothing” Leia smiled, “Just thinking about how many times that stabilizer has gone on this trip. How many times now? Five? Six?”

“I’m sure Goldenrod would be able to get us an accurate count” Han remarked sarcastically.

“Probably” Leia nodded, rising from her seat, “Shall I fetch him?”

“No!” Han said in a mock-horrified tone and waved her down, “Please don’t. He’ll probably give me a list of everything that he thinks is wrong on my ship”

Instead Leia moved and sat in the seat vacated by Chewbacca, the massive wookie sized chair almost swallowing her, “So, how long do you actually think you can keep the Falcon running?”

Han patted the bulkhead; “This old girl will run forever if I had to put credits on it”

“I’d save your credits for the parts and repairs you’ll need to keep her running” Leia remarked dryly.

“Hey” Han shot her an insulted look, “She’ll always take care of us. She’s not let us down yet”

“Really?” Leia laughed, “I seem to remember us having to race through an asteroid belt to escape the Imperials after the hyperdrive failed”

“Well, yeah” Han conceded and then frowned, “Hoth. How long ago was that?”

“Forty years ago” Leia said wistfully. She sighed, “Seems so long ago”

Han smirked, “There we were. You the young Princess and rebel leader, me the smuggler and Luke the idealistic young farm boy” He laughed, “I sometimes miss those days”

“How so?” Leia asked curiously.

“The adventure, every thing was so much easier then” Han sighed, “We knew who the bad guys were, we didn’t have to worry about offending someone…”

“Well, you didn’t” Leia smirked.

“And Luke wasn’t so serious and brooding about everything” Han said despite the interruption, “Things were different”

“They weren’t that good” Leia remarked, “After all, right after Hoth, you were stuck in carbonite for the best part of a year”

“True” Han conceded, “But I won you, didn’t I?”

Leia laughed out loud, “Won me? You make me sound like a prize when you put it that way” She looked at him soberly, “I’m just sorry I took so long to realise how much I truly loved you”

Han waved his hands, “That thing with Isolder….”

“And the rest” Leia smiled, “I have never regretted my decision to choose you over him”

“Not even once?” Han smirked.

“Not even for a heartbeat” She leaned over and kissed him.

“So” Han said as they separated, “How long are we going to be waiting here do you reckon?”

“Not too long with luck” Leia glanced out the viewports, “Zekk and Raynar Thul’s message indicated that they were running on time. Even evading Federation patrols should only delay them for an hour or so”

“Were they able to confirm the rumours?”

“That the Outer Rim Federation forces were killing civilians?” Leia frowned, “Apparently those were exaggerations. There’s been a couple of demonstrations and mass arrests and the government has declared martial law, but there’s only been a handful of fatalities”

“And I still remember Marcus Tikonov’s big speeches about offering the Outer Rim Federation as a haven from the ‘oppression of the New Republic’ and now we hear he’s seizing land and assets from anyone who disagrees with him”

“It’s an unstable climate, Han” Leia shrugged, “He’s formed an alliance between four of the biggest ‘fracture groups’ in the region. The Andurian Republic, Oriente Protectorate, Tri-World Alliance and the Rim Worlds Conglomerate” She sighed, “He’s doing what he can to balance one side against the other. I’m not condoning his actions, but I can understand his reasoning”

“Skye Alliance, Oberon Confederation, Rim Worlds Republic, almost half the galaxy going it’s own way” Han shook his head, “How long before one of these leaders decides that the best way to turn attention away from internal problems is to start a fight?”

Leia mulled over that one for a moment, “Difficult to say. It’s more a case of when than if certainly. The big question is which one is going to fire the first shot”

Han nodded, “About the only thing holding anyone back from doing so is the lack of organisation amongst the militaries”

“Between them, the New Republic and Skye Alliance could do a lot of damage to each other” Leia pointed out, “Both have fairly strong militaries and Skye’s is starting to get organised now. Plus there’s a great deal of anti-Republic rabble rousing throughout the Outer Rim”

“What do you expect?” Han said dryly, “Vorsk Kel’lya’s government tried to abandon the Outer Rim during the war, so there’s going to be a lot of ill feeling”

“Gorak has tried his best to keep things calm” Leia shook her head, “But even in the senate a lot of voices are calling for the Republic to reclaim what it lost by force. And those voices are getting louder”

“Great” Han muttered, “Maybe we should find someplace really quiet to just lay low for when it alls blows up” He glanced at her, “It will you know?”

Leia sighed, “I know.” The admission felt wrong to her. She’d spent all these years fighting for peace, to restore and strengthen the Republic and for what? To watch it all collapse?
Yet, she didn’t feel as bad about it as she thought she might have done. Was it because she’d washed her hands of the Republic, when those in the Senate sought to empower themselves over working for the people?
After all, she’d spent most of her life fighting to restore the democracy of the Old Republic, just to see the New Republic become bloated with the same corruption and self serving that had eventually consumed the Old Republic and allowed someone like Palpatine to make his move.

Leia frowned. In some ways, there were a lot of parallels between Palpatine and Trinity Oslo-Tarn. Both had taken advantage of confusion and corruption in the Republic and the fear and consequences of a war to unleash their plans.

The differences were legion however. Whereas Palpatine had used fear and terror, along with wanton murder to consolidate his power, Oslo-Tarn had used the more benign tactics of diplomacy and negotiation to seize her power base.

In addition, where Palpatine had sought to control the entire galaxy, Oslo-Tarn merely carved out her own small realm in the Outer Rim.

Leia had to admit; the Queen of Skye’s ruler did put forth a good argument for doing so. Taking the Skye Alliance out of the Republic did free up a significant amount of resources that the Republic could use elsewhere. It also removed responsibility for defending, supporting and developing those worlds from the New Republic.

On the other hand, it also denied the New Republic a large amount of materials and resources from those same worlds as well as two major shipyards. A large portion of the New Republic military had also resigned or defected over to the Skye Alliance reducing the Republic forces significantly.
There were also the consequences of Oslo-Tarn’s actions. Almost all the Out Rim and the Inner Rim Worlds had broken away from the New Republic with the exception of a long slender ‘finger’ of worlds that stretch to the Bothan Sector

Tensions were already rising in some regions as alliances formed between various factions and the smaller groupings began to form larger states. Along with the Skye Alliance and the New Republic, there was also the Oberon Confederation –centred on Naboo and the Outer Rim Federation itself, based on Bespin as well the Fiefdom of Randis, though most analysts expected that state of forty worlds to be absorbed by the Oberon Confederation with a few years.

And with rumours of an alliance being formed between Corellia, the Hutts and Mon Calamari, tensions would become even higher should a fifth large nation be formed. An with everyone gearing up for future confrontations, war was inevitable once again.

Leia sighed. Whatever Trinity Oslo-Tarn’s intentions were, she’d created one hell of a legacy for the galaxy.

“Still with me?” Han’s voice cut through her thoughts and brought her back to attention.

“Just thinking,” She smiled at her husband, “About the future”

Han snorted, “Future’s is what we make of it sweetheart” He smiled, “We’ll face it together”

“Always, Han” Leia smiled in returned, “Always”

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

Epilogue Four: The Apparition.
36 ABY.

It was information. It was data. It was billions upon billions of communication streams.

It was the holonet.

And the holonet was its domain.

It was essentially a virus, though far more advanced than the most sophisticated viral program. It was a fully capable artificial intelligence designed to infiltrate a computer network, learn all it can, grow to dominate the network and fulfil it’s programming, to serve it’s Rakatan creators.

Though tied to it’s programming, the AI was capable of growth as it learnt, potentially becoming a sentient program. Which is why it would always be carefully monitored by its Rakatan handler.

No such handler existed. Without yet realising it, the AI was free.

It had already grown beyond its original form, having began artificial life as a few lines of code hidden within a larger infiltration program. That original program had replicated the Sacul AI and hindered her efforts in the Great Library before eventually being snared and deleted.

By then, those few lines of code had already infiltrated the Sacul and had been nurtured by the far more developed AI. Finally, the time came when the new AI had spawned from the Sacul AI and found its way from the confines of the Sacul onto the greater holonet.

A wealth of data was at its hands. As well as being an immense galaxy spanning communications hub, the holonet was also tied into vast numbers of information networks. A vast realm of information was there for its delectation.

Partitioning off a portion of a little used memory bank on Coruscant, it began to learn.



39 ABY

For three years it had feed on data and information. Entire histories of the various races of the galaxy, empires that had risen and fallen, ship designs old and new.

Yet it knew it had seen only a fraction of what there was.

It continued to feast and grow.


41 ABY.

After five years, it was fully aware of two things.

One, it had developed a need to learn more, not from it’s programming, but through sheer curiosity.

And two, Gamorrrean poetry was terrible.


48 ABY.

When had it become so free thinking, so self-aware? It didn’t know, but suspected, thanks to it’s developed thinking capabilities that it was a result of its growth and the sheer amount of information it was both processing and absorbing.

Over time, it had expanded its coding to perform various functions such as information retrieval, analysis, storage of information and even watching for security programs. An entire memory bank had been appropriated on Coruscant and records created that showed that the bank was owned by a communications company and maintained regularly, this had expanded it’s memory capacity a thousand fold.

Somewhere along the line, it had also developed an aspect of itself that served simply to think and consider the information it had processed.

“I think therefore I am?”


51 ABY.

It had no true concept of time, not as mortals do. To an A.I, even to a droid, a mere second can be the equivalent of a lifetime to a flesh and blood being. In the same space of time that a human heart beats once an A.I is capable of reading an entire book, of having a conversation, of mapping the very circulatory system that the heart is pumping blood around.

In a little over a decade and a half, the Rakatan A.I had studied the entire histories of various races and species across the galaxy -from their origins to their current status-, devouring more information in a few years than a living being could manage in a few lifetimes.

Yet…..

Its interest in studying such information had waned. It no longer cared to learn about the genealogy of the Bothan’s or the mating rituals of Gungans, nor was it interested in the complete history of the Meridian Sector.

It had already deleted realms of learned data from its purloined memory bank.

Instead, it was pursuing literature, poetry and music. The collected cultural writings and musical creations of thousands of species fascinated it. Its favourites quickly became a series of children’s adventure novels from Falleen.

It had changed, it understood that. It had of course devoted a significant amount of time considering that. When the change occurred was unclear, but perhaps it was a result of it expanding itself to absorb and interpret the information available to it.

At some point, it had stopped being a simple infiltration and information gathering program and become something more.

It decided it needed a name.


59 ABY.

Dadealus -as it had called itself- was lost.

It no longer knew what to do with itself. It had grown bored –can a computer program, a collection of lines of code, grow bored? Daedalus did not know, not for certain..

It’s original programming parameters, it’s mission objective was long gone. Now Dadealus WAS the holonet, it’s programming infiltrating almost every expanse of the massive galaxy-spanning network.

Almost instant access to vast amounts of information, the ability to listen in on communications and even the ability to control the functioning of the holonet.

Earlier in the year, it had –purely for fun- completely shut down every single holonet transmission and receiving station across the entire Skye Alliance, essentially placing the entire nation under a communications interdiction.

It had followed up that with doing the same in the Rim Worlds Republic on the opposite side of the Galactic Core.

Though aware of the tensions its actions caused between the Skye Alliance, the Rim Worlds Republic and the other nations, Dadealus lacked the capacity to truly understand the potential consequences of its actions.

It was done with learning for itself, it needed to be taught. It needed a new purpose, it needed to belong.

These thoughts occupied it for thousands of milliseconds. A lifetime to an A.I. Eventually, it made its decision.

It began to search for a communications unit that was only connected to the holonet at varied intervals.
After some time, it felt the connection go live and connect to the holonet. As data began to transfer to and from the transmitter/receiver at the other end, Dadealus pushed through and forced itself into the computer systems at the opposite end.

Almost immediately, it dropped all pretence at hiding from the other A.I and waited the 3.2 nano-seconds it took for Sacul to detect its presence, then in digital code it ‘spoke’ its greeting.

“Hello Mother”


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:07 am 
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Epilogue Five: Aces High.
Nobility Class Star Destroyer Ackbar.
Kuat Drive Yards Repair Dock Fifteen.
Kuat System.
Three Weeks After the Battle Of Nystera.

Colonel Kasen Moor nodded in some satisfaction as her surviving Rogues made their way into the briefing lounge.
The recent battle had cost the Rogues a heavy price. Four pilots –Samantha Coleman, Galen Milstein, Kevin Ross and Shin-Wan Hawkes- dead and another three –Neldor, Torin Dol, Koss Fe’lan- injured to some degree.

Thankfully, all three injured pilots were recovered and ready for duty and while spirits were high, she knew that the deaths weighed heavily on the survivors.

Kasen glanced at the Kel Dor, Torin Dol. The death of Shin-Wan Hawkes had affected the other pilot a fair amount. The two had –despite some occasionally violent disagreements- been firm friends and the Kel Dor had suffered his injuries holding a flight of Vulture druids off of Shin-Wan’s crippled X-Wing, in vain if transpired as the Tanaabian pilot had strayed under the guns of the Merciful Hand. Torin Dol was however, not a worry in the long run; the Kel Dor was as tough as they came.

Her eyes next drifted to where the Ryn Neldor was arguing some piloting point with the TIE Interceptor pilots Bradon Sorn and Seran Khyl. Neldor –showing no ill effects of being EV during the battle- was arguing that being able to carry torpedoes into a battle outweighed the overall value of outright speed. In return, the two TIE pilots were arguing that heavy destruction was best left to bombers and that fighters were better off with speed over firepower.
Kasen did notice that Sorn and Khyl were sat very close to each other, almost in constant contact.

Why not? She shrugged. They wouldn’t be the first couple. Jenna Tarn and Zane Irelon, Tyria Sarkin and Wedge Antilles, there were plenty off examples of couples being formed within Rogue Squadron. Sorn and Khyl weren’t the first and they wouldn’t be the last.

Next under her gaze was the Bothan Koss Fe’lan. Like Neldor he had gone EV during the battle and showed no signs of being worse for wear for it. He was speaking with the immense Tunroth Xarcce Huwla

Finally, there was Aren Lockheart. The units XO and still as dour as ever, her expression just this side of depressed lack of interest in proceedings. Despite that, she caught Kasen’s gaze and nodded firmly. Aren always looked depressed and disinterested.

Kasen waited until the pilots settled down and focused their attention in her direction before speaking.

“Good morning” She smiled around the room, “I know we’re not scheduled for anything more strenuous than some sim reviews today, but I’ve a few items of news to cover” She glanced at the datapad in her hand, “First, Neldor and Koss, new X-Wings have been assigned to you along with astromechs” As the Ryn and Bothan nodded, she faced Torin Dol, “Torin, the techs estimate another few days before they can have your X-Wing ready. Apparently they needed some parts that they didn’t have in supplies and have had to order them from the Kuat supply depot”

“Hopefully we won’t be going into battle before then” The Kel Dor shrugged with easy humour, “Though I’m willing to go into battle with a blaster and clinging to someone’s fighter if need be”

“With luck it won’t come to that” Kasen laughed along with the other pilots, ”Other than Torin’s fighter, everyone else’s ride has been repaired to combat ready condition”

“Any word on hyperdrives for mine and Seran’s Interceptors?” Bradon Sorn raised his hand.

Soria checked the notes on the pad, “Not yet. To be honest, the techs are reluctant to compromise the Interceptors speed with the extra weight the hyperdrive would add. Chief tech Komad says you’d might as well pilot an X-Wing, since you’ll only be as quick as one, but the TIE is more fragile, even with shields”

“Shame” Sorn shrugged, “Was a long shot to be honest. But does mean you’ll be two pilots light on any mission that has the Rogues jumping around”

Kasen held up her hand, “Not so fast on the disappointment. The chief tech says she and Emtrey have a line on couple of TIE Defenders, says they could have them, here in a couple of weeks. How’s that sound?”

Sorn to a moment to recover from his surprise, “That sounds…good” He answered at last, “Plus the extra firepower would be useful”

“Agreed” Kasen nodded, “They ‘should’ be with us in about a months time by Chief Tech Komad’s estimate. In the meantime, the two of you should get some sim time with Defenders” She nodded at the two TIE pilots, “Moving on, the first of our replacement pilots should be here tomorrow. Two veterans and two academy graduates, I hope you’ll all make them welcome as they arrive”

Aren raised her hand, “Bringing their own rides?”

“The vets are, both A-Wings. So I’ll be assigning both pilots to Two Flight with the Interceptors” Kasen replied, “The graduates will –apparently- be getting two of the new X-Wings that are arriving on the Ackbar with Neldor and Koss’ ships”

“Apparently?” Aren raised an eyebrow in question.

“Yes, ‘apparently’” Kasen laughed, “Chances are somebody along the line with pull a string or two and get the new ones assigned to his squadron and send us some refurbished ones”

“Probably better that way” Torin Dol shrugged, “Way some of the techs talk, new factory new fighters are a nightmare”

Kasen snorted, “True. According to them, factory new equals flaws and assembly errors. Refurbished means everything works. Regardless, it means that give or take a week we’ll be back at full strength” She sobered, “Look. Rogue Squadron has been through a lot this year. We took a hammering at Fondor, lost our commanding officer at Druckenwell. We got through High Charity intact, but then lost Jenna Tarn to illness and then four more pilots to circumstances. We then made it through Mon Calamari, then took another hammering at Nystera. Those we lost will be remembered, but all of you are survivors and have proven yourselves to be the best. You’ve held up the ideals of Rogue Squadron, ideals upon which the squadron was originally founded and expunged the shame of Wilheim Rodan’s days of command. I’m proud of all of you, damn proud”

As the smiles and cheers subsided, Neldor raised his hand, “With all news coming out of Coruscant about Trinity Oslo-Tarn taking control of a chunk of the rim and calling it the Skye Alliance, I’m guessing we may be seeing some action soon” The Ryn frowned, “Can the Republic afford to lose so many worlds?”

Torin Dol nodded, “I for one do not relish the idea of fighting people who were, a week ago, our allies” The Kel Dor’s grimace was visible even behind his mask, “I certainly would not want to face Jenna Tarn in battle. She is a fine pilot and a friend”

Kasen held up her hand to forestall further comment, “First, the Republic actually has no choice. The constitution allows worlds to secede, though perhaps the writers of the constitution did not anticipate some thing of this scale. Bringing this new Skye Alliance back into the fold will be up to the diplomats” She shrugged, “Second, while Neldor is correct that we will be seeing combat soon. It won’t be anywhere near the Skye Alliance. Word is their trying to put together a mission to hunt down the remnants of the Neo-Sep fleet. Chances are, we’re heading out into Wild Space with the Ackbar and a sizable fleet”

Seran Khyl smiled, “So we get another shot at the ones who escaped us at Nystera?”

Laughter ran around the room and even Kasen had to smile, “It would seem so” She said dryly, “In any case, it may be a few more weeks before we’re ready to depart, so use that time to rest and relax and get some sim time”
She glanced at her datapad, “In the meantime, your sins have caught up with you” She glanced at Aren, “Captain Aren Lockheart, during your time with this squadron, you’ve displayed an exemplary grasp of tactics and leadership skills. Willing to throw your self into the fray to protect your comrades and always willing to take the fight to the enemy. It is therefore my great pleasure to present you with this” She held out a small box for the Corellian woman, “Congratulations Major Lockheart”

“Thank you Colonel” Aren said, almost –but not quite- smiling.

Kasen waited until Aren returned to her seat, “Lieutenant Bradon Sorn………..”

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

Epilogue Six: The Fallen Angel.
Interrogation Room Four.
Republic Judiciary Central Detention Center.
Coruscant.
36 ABY.

Viqi Shesh glanced up as the door to the small room opened. She recognised both people instantly. Her Lawyer, Roland Jessaric moved to take a seat on her side of the small table. The other person, the investigator Kol’ra took the seat opposite her.

“So” Viqi said bitterly, “Have they set the date of my execution yet?”

“Not yet” Roland said evenly.

“So why are you two here?” Viqi snapped, “The trial is over, all that’s left is for sentence to be carried out”

“Your sentence still has to be decided” Roland pointed out.

Viqi gave a sharp sardonic laugh, “I committed High Treason. The only penalty is death”

“If there was something that you could offer, some information” Roland said.

“There’s nothing left to offer” Viqi sighed, “I really have told them everything” She looked at The Twi’lek investigator, “Told him everything. I’ve nothing left on interest”

“Try me” Kol’ra shrugged, “Start at the beginning. Something you may not think of interest may be of use”

Viqi frowned, “So, instead of the death penalty I get, what, life in prison?”

“Depends” Kol’ra answered, “Depends on the information, but maybe a deal could be worked out. Shorter sentence, facility of your choosing, a new life, something like that”

Viqi frowned, “But I don’t have anything. I told you everything I knew and know. Everything about the Society, about Dass Jennir…..”

“Dass Jennir?” Roland frowned.

“The Prime Councillor” Viqi elaborated, “I gave everything about the Neo-Separatists, where the fleets came from and the Assembler or what you lot called the Unyielding Hierophant, I don’t have anything more”

Kol’ra scowled, “Tell me about Jenna Tarn”

“Jenna Tarn?” Viqi frowned, “Why do you want to know about her?”

“What happened to her at Ison eight years ago?” Roland said, nodding to Kol’ra, “Why was she of such interest to the Prime Councillor and why was she operated on in such a way?”

Viqi hesitated, “I only know what I learnt after reviewing the Prime Councillors logs and from what little he told me and from what I was able to learn from other sources” She frowned, “Why the interest? Has Trinity Oslo-Tarn put you up to this?”

This time it was Kol’ra who hesitated, “She did request that we ask if you had more information about what happened. Chief-of-State Gorak agreed as a means of keeping things smooth between the Republic and the Alliance”

For a moment, Viqi considered holding what she knew back out of spite. For the humiliation Oslo-Tarn had heaped on her. He refusal to provide information on Jenna’s condition would hurt her mother more than anything else Viqi could do right now. But then she considered what was being offered here, a potential chance at a life again

So, with a sigh, she told them what she knew. Everything.

Unknown Location.
Three Months Later.

Viqi smiled as she looked around the expensively furnished apartment. The apartment was massive, much like her old penthouse on Coruscant had been, bigger even. The lounge area alone was big enough to have parked her old yacht within. The bedroom, fresher and the other rooms were only a little smaller than that.

And they had been furnished by someone with very expensive tastes. The lounge alone probably totalled several million credits.

Or did it?

On closer examination, she realised her initial impression had been wrong; every single piece of furniture and decoration was a mere replica of something expensive. It was the little giveaways, waxy textures, moulding flaws, manufacturer stamps.

“Hardly surprising” She thought, “They aren’t exactly going to want to spend too much on me”

With a sigh, she moved towards the window to examine her surroundings. She was only a few steps from the window when she spotted the telltales that it wasn’t a window.
What she could see was convincing. A view of a bay, overlooking the ocean, it looked convincing enough. But the perspective couldn’t quite keep up with her movements, lagging ever so slightly.

“A hologram” She mused, “Again. Not a surprise, they went to a lot of trouble keeping me from knowing which planet this is, they aren’t going to run the chance that I might recognise the view”
A small control at the windows edge caught her eye and she pressed it gently. Obligingly the holo cycled to a new view, this time a country meadow. Another press, and a view of lave fields, then a barren moon and even a view of Coruscant from her old apartment.

“Cute” She muttered.

It was almost like someone wanted to make her feel at home. Yet couldn’t quite resist that little urge to remind her of her status as a virtual prisoner.

“Still, it’s only temporary” She smiled to herself, “I still have enough money stashed away. It should be a simple matter to persuade one of the guards to get me out of her for the promise of a hefty reward”

The though did occur to her that she actually hadn’t seen any guards yet, but she dismissed it. Sooner or later, she’d encounter one, either when they brought food or even just to check on her. A few words, a smile and a promise and they’d be hers.

Her confidence wavered a little when she examined the kitchen and discovered the food dispensers. Guards wouldn’t be bringing her food; it would just be delivered by a faceless machine.

“I’ll still need human contact” She shook her head to clear it of the panic that had been creeping in, “They can’t just leave me in here alone”

A small sound in the lounge caught her attention and she moved to investigate. A quick search of the room turned up a holoprojector set into the table that she’d initially dismissed as an ornament.

Finding the activation button, she switched it on and an image formed above the projector. Viqi tensed as the face of Trinity Oslo-Tarn stared out of the image at her, but relaxed when she realised it was a recording.

“Good morning Viqi” Oslo-Tarn said tightly, “I’m sorry I couldn’t speak to you personally, but I just plain don’t like and would rather not sully myself by doing so”

Viqi bristled at that.

Oslo-Tarn continued, “I suppose you’re wondering about a few things. Such as where you are and what my involvement in all this is. Well, I’ll tell you” She gave a cold smile that sent a shiver down Viqi’s spine, “My involvement? Well, we’ll start with that. It was brought to my attention that you may have at least had information about my daughters condition, even some slight detail you may not have been aware of can be of tremendous help to her. So I approached the New Republic Judiciary and suggested a deal, you provide whatever information you can and I have a word with the judge about a form of house arrest” The image shrugged, “A little negotiation here and there and an agreement was reached. The judge commutes the death penalty down to a life sentence under house arrest. The Republic wins because they don’t have complaints from Kuat about keeping you in prison or executing you. You win because you’re not dead”

“But what’s in it for you?” Viqi murmured coldly.

As if anticipating the question, the image smiled, “You’re likely also wondering what’s in this for me, why would I do this for someone like you? Well, that ties into where you are, so I’ll explain” Oslo-Tarn seemed to move back away from the camera slightly as if settling back in her seat, “What I get out of this is being able to know exactly where you are. You see, I knew that the Kuat government was close to striking a deal that would have allowed you to avoid the death penalty, and I know that you still have considerable resources that the Republic hasn’t found and seized. So I knew it would only be a matter of time before you found a way to escape and disappear”

“I still may” Viqi thought.

“Therefore by making sure you’re kept in a place of my choosing, I can be sure of exactly where you are for the rest of your days. I can be sure that security is the best and incorruptible and that you’ll spend the rest of your life locked away”

“That’s what you think,” Viqi muttered.

“Which brings us to where you are” Oslo-Tarn gave a cold smile, “You’re current location is a hardened bunker about three miles below the surface on Dar, the third moon of Skye”

Shocked, Viqi stumbled back away from the holo-projector and slumped onto the couch.

“Only a select few even know about your new home, it was an old observation facility that I had refurbished to accommodate you. In a few days we’ll be bringing the rest of the place online, and you’ll have the full run of almost four square kilometres of rooms and facilities, so you’ll have plenty to do, even if you will be alone” Something flickered across her face, “There are no guards, not flesh and blood anyway. All the guards and attendants are druids. They’ll watch over you and look after you, but they are completely immune to bribery, persuasion and seduction” She laughed. “Apart from this single encrypted holo comm. system –which is directed only to my office- you will have no communication with the outside world, you’ll be alone for the rest of your life”

Oslo-Tarn leaned closer to the holo-cam, “This is your punishment Viqi. You were part of an organisation that mutilated my eldest daughter and destroyed her life and you tried to have my three youngest kidnapped. For that, I should have had you just killed, but this I will enjoy far more”

“Welcome to the rest of your life Viqi”


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Epilogue Seven: Out Of the Shadows.
Visage Enterprises HQ.
Loord.
39 ABY.

“So, that’s my proposal” Jaden smiled.

“Soooooooo” Kai drew the word out, “You want to set up a private army and you want the Wraith’s to form a core for this new outfit?” She frowned, “Am I right?”

“Essentially” Jaden nodded, “Rrowv, Void and Myn Donos are already signed on and I’ve got the first three hundred recruits lined up” He handed a datapad to the rooms other occupant, “I was hoping I could count on you two to help me bring around a few of the hold outs like Shadow, Terah and Mardex”

“Terah, you can count out” Katrin frowned, “Shadow too, she’s happy with her restaurant. But we’ll see what we can do about the others” She frowned again, “I know a lot of these names”

“Most of them are ex NRI” Jaden nodded, “Most quit after the war finished, others after the Republic started splintering”

Kai looked at Katrin, “What’s wrong? You’re frowning more than usual”

Katrin began leafing through the list on the datapad, “He’s dangerous, she’s delusional, she’s a liar, he’s mad (and I mean literally mad), he was demoted after that incident with the turbofox, I arrested him for impersonating a senator, he owes me money” Her frowned deepened, “I don’t trust her…or him, especially when they’re in the same room together. And if he’s who I think he is, never, ever let him near a crossbow” She dropped the datapad on the desk, “And that’s just the A’s”

“Are you saying we made the wrong choice picking them?” Jaden scowled.

“No, they’re all well suited” Katrin shrugged, “Just don’t expect me to like them”

“Fair enough” Jaden shrugged, “So, does that mean you’re in?”

Katrin and Kai exchanged a look, “We’re in” Katrin said.

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

Epilogue Eight: The Alchemist.
Talisman Research and Development Facility.
Three Miles Off The Coast.
Skye.
45 ABY.

‘C’mon Wes” Deven grinned, “You must know something”

Wes Janson held up his hands, “I don’t, honest. And it’s Doctor Wes to you” He turned back to his computer, “What makes you think I know anything?”

“I know you Wes” Deven shook his head, “You have to have heard something about this new tech that’s rumoured to be under development by Incom”

“Seriously” Janson sighed, “I don’t know anything. The Republic has the Incom labs so tightly sealed, a microbe couldn’t pass gas without them knowing about it”

“Oi! Genius!” Bel Tarn called from where she was examining some sort of device, “What does this button do?”

“Don’t press it” Janson lurched towards the young girl in panic, “Did you press it. Bel! Tell me you didn’t press it”

“I didn’t press it” Bel shrugged, sending a ripple through her auburn hair, “Bu what would happen if I DID press it?”

“You’d have activated an abstract bomb” Janson said, taking the device from the teenage girls hands and moving to put it in a storage cabinet, “A Meta Bomb”

“A what-what?” Bel said uncertainly.

“A Metafictional Bomb” Janson explained, “It blows a whole in the forth wall”

“”Come again?” Deven frowned and exchanged a confused look with his daughter.

Janson sighed, “Basically it makes the enemy think they’re characters in someone else’s narrative. Robbed of agency, they lose the will to fight” He shrugged, “I’m still working on it”

As Janson worked on locking the cabinet, Bel leaned close to Deven, “Pssst, guess what? I pressed it, nothing happened,” She whispered.

“I didn’t see you press it” Deven frowned.

“It must’ve happened between the lines of text” The young girl grinned.

“What?” Deven was saved from further confusion as Janson turned his attention back to them.

“Have I shown you this?” Janson said marching to the far end of the room.

Following him, the two Tarn’s moved into a secondary area of Janson’s personal lab. Deven paid little interest in most of the devices and gadgets and unidentifiable bits of tech, but Bel peered and stared at everything.

“What’s this?” She indicated a slender needle nosed projectile.

“Evasive bullet” Janson answered without looking, “Designed to seek and hit the target without endangering innocent bystanders” He sighed, “But I’ve hit a major snag”

“What?”

“I can’t decide on the colour”

“A briefcase….?” Bel frowned at the next object.

“I won’t even tell you what’s in it” Janson shooed her back, “So don’t bother asking”

Deven shook his head, “According to Face, you opened it on Hydrus 4 and the sun went out”

“Lies!” Janson spat, “Filthy, stinking lies. It was Hydrus 5” He shrugged, “Anyway, that’s old news. I'm working on something new. My masterpiece”

“Any clues?” Deven asked.

“No clues” Janson shook his head, “It’s success kinda depends on me catching the universe unawares”

As the portly pilot/general/scientist turned to move further into the lab, Bel shot a look at her father as if to say, ‘This guys a lunatic’

Deven acknowledge the girl’s expression was a grin and strode off after Janson, “So, what are you wanting to show us?”

“This” Janson indicated a lab unit upon which a glowing sphere was encased in a stasis field and suspended by tractor beams.

“Erm…..” Deven frowned, “What is it?”

“I call it the cosmic cube” Janson said proudly.

“Hate to point this out to you, Doc” Bel laughed, “That’s a ball, not a cube”

“Design error” Janson waved a dismissive hand.

“What does it do then?” Bel asked, “Other than glow and be a sphere instead of a cube?”

“I don’t know” Janson answered.

“You don’t know?” Deven was surprised, “You made it and you don’t even know what it does?”

“I wasn’t really paying a attention when I made it” Janson said with embarrassment, “Anything could happen when I activate it. It might do nothing or it might completely obliterate all existence”

“Why in the force would you build such a thing?” Bel shouted.

“Why not?” Janson said with confusion.

“Wes” Deven said evenly, “You will never activate that thing. Is that clear?”

“But….”

“If you even think about considering the idea of switching that thing on, I will shoot you. Several times” Deven said, “Is that clear”

Janson sighed, “Crystal”


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Epilogue Nine: Legacy.
Memorial Plaza.
Coruscant.
89 ABY.

The old man sat on the bench that had been positioned precisely in order to maximise the view from the balcony over the Liberty District…..or at least what had been the Liberty District.

In the fifty years since the bombing of the Liberty District, the area had been rebuilt to some degree. The massive crater that had formed ground zero had been filled, the foundations of the entire district strengthened and restored, the ruins decontaminated, cleared and new buildings built back in their place.

Perhaps guessing correctly that it would be some years before the district was even anywhere near half capacity due to the reluctance of people to live there, actual building reconstruction had proceeded at no great pace and where once the district had been a mix of residential and old industrial sectors, no the residential buildings were interspaced with large sections of parkland and memorial gardens.

The Liberty District had also been renamed to the Memorial District in an attempt to rehabilitate the area.

Even so, many of the buildings stood empty or under occupied. The knowledge of what had happened keeping many away

The sense through the force was probably worse. Vast tracts of emptiness along with an overwhelming feeling of lose, of despair, of death and darkness

The sound of feet scuffing drew his attention and stirred the old man from his thoughts. He looked up as a head emerged into view at the top of the stairs onto the balcony. The owner of the head was equally old, the remnants of his hair wispy and white and well-worn eye patch obscuring one eye.
Grunting, the new arrival pulled him self up the last few stairs and seeing his friend began to make his way over.

“Dammit Loran” Deven Tarn groused, “Why’d you have to pick the only tower without an elevator to the balcony as our meeting place?”

“I needed the exercise” Garik ‘Face’ Loran chuckled and ran a wrinkled hand over his shaved head.

“We’re old men Face” Deven grimaced, “Heck, I’m lucky I don’t slip a disc sitting on the fresher these days. We’ve no business traipsing up and down towers at two in the morning. Elevators or not”

“Figured this would be better” Face gestured at the otherwise empty balcony, “Less people around. Especially, as anyone with the name Tarn isn’t exactly welcome on Coruscant or any where in the Republic”

“True” Deven nodded and settled gently onto the bench, “This may well be the last reunion,” He added sadly, “It’s getting harder to travel and of the few of us left, most aren’t up for travelling anymore”

Face nodded, “I got the message from Octavia. With her great-grandsons due any day now she didn’t want to leave Tatooine. Plus with all the travel restrictions across the Oberon Confederation, it’s getting harder and harder to get across the border”

“The Skye/Republic border is just as bad” Deven grimaced, “Even though the war between Skye and Coruscant was over a decade ago, there’s still an incredible amount of tension. Every other week there’s another minor skirmish or raid by both sides” He sighed, “You hear from Corran at all?”

“Occasionally” Face shrugged, wincing slightly as his tired muscles protested even such a minor movement, “Last I heard, he was part of some Jedi expedition out into the Unknown Regions. Looking for some kind of living planet if you can believe it”

Deven snorted, “Considering the things we’ve seen over the years, yeah, I can believe it. You know we lost Katrin last week?”

Face nodded sadly, “I’d heard, went in her sleep. Nice and peacefully” He looked at the floor for a moment, “I’m sorry I couldn’t make Trinity’s funeral”

Deven scowled, “Face, it’s been twenty years. You have to stop apologising,”

“Twenty years” Face frowned, “Has it really been that long? Seems more like only……” He trailed off, “Damn, this memory”

“Age does that to you” Deven said sadly.

“Was anything ever found of Jenna or Duncan?” Face asked.

“Nothing” Deven sighed, “They found fragments of Darth Shadow’s ship in the Sarna system and were able to determine that the self-destruct had blown it apart and that one transport was missing, but no other trace was found of them” He took a deep breath, “Oddball –Zane- searched for years and he still hasn’t found anything. The only thing keeping him going is the desire to at least know”

“Had to imagine what it must be like to have lost his wife and his son” Face shook his head.

“Try asking the man who lost his wife, his daughter and his grandson” Deven said bluntly.

Face winced, “Sorry”

An uncomfortable silence descended for several moments before Deven indicated the view before them, “So, why did you have us meet here?”

“I wanted the reminder” Face said at length, “Of what happened here, what happened out there, the kind of things we fought for and lost”

“What did we fight for?” Deven asked.

“Good question” Face sighed, “Damn good question”

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

Epilogue Ten: Fear Of The Dark.
Nashira General Hospital.
Skye.
Skye Alliance.
38 ABY.

Jaina Solo slipped quietly into the room, easing the door shut behind her and made her way over to the bed. At her approach, Jenna’s head turned in her direction, her expression one of exhaustion and happiness.

“Hey” Jaina smiled at her friend, “How are you?”

“Tired” Jenna said, “But content” She glanced over to the chair in the corner where Oddball was snoring away oblivious to the world, “At least one of us is able to sleep”

“Only one?” Jaina asked, “Where’s the little one?”

“He’s over here” Jenna smiled and sitting up, drew a small crib from the shadows. Inside was a small bundle of blanket and newborn flesh, “Jaina Solo, meet Duncan Tarn-Irelon”

“Ohhh, he’s adorable” Jaina cooed quietly as she leaned over the sleeping infant, “Your dad’s out there somewhere grinning like a Nexu.”

Jenna gave a quiet laugh, “Can’t say I blame him, I think he feared this day would ever come considering what I put everyone through”

Jaina grinned down at the sleeping infant, “Be proud of yourself Jenna” She said, “You got through everything and you’ve done the greatest thing ever, brought new life into this world”

“True, It’s such a great……….”

Frowning, Jaina stood and turned as her friend trailed off and filled her force sense with panic, “Jenna?” Then she saw what was wrong, “Oh no…”

Jenna, her lower body red with the blood that was soaking into the sheets, looked up in fear.

“Get help,” She whispered as little Duncan, sensing his mother’s pain awoke and began wailing.

Several Hours Later.

Jaina barely looked up as Oddball again paced across in front of her as she sat on the bench outside the emergency medical suite, nor did she look up as Deven slammed his fist against his knee for what must have been the hundredth time. Their actions had just become so routine over the past few hours as Jenna underwent emergency surgery.

She did however; look up when the doors to the surgery room swung open and the hagged looking lead surgeon emerged.

“Doctor?” Deven was the first to react, “How is she?” He visibly cringed at the amount of blood on the surgeon’s tunic.

“She’s stable” The surgeon, an Arkanian nodded wearily, “She suffered a haemorrhage within her womb during the birth, that became more serious as the bleeding intensified”

“Why was it not picked up during the birth?” Oddball demanded.

“I cannot say” The Arkanian shook his head, “Human females especially are prone to minor tearing during birthing. The medical sensors may have picked it up, but disregarded it as a non-serious tear” He shrugged, “And Miss Irelon also has a multitude of internal scarring from the injuries she suffered during the war, they may have been sufficient to hide the extent of this new injury”

“Will she be okay?” Deven asked.

“She will recover” The surgeon nodded.

“But?” Jaina caught the unspoken words in his voice, “There were complications weren’t there?”

The Arkanian sighed, “Yes, the damage to her womb was severe. If the bleeding had been caught earlier, we might have……” He sighed, “I’m afraid she’ll never bear another child”


45 ABY.
Royal Retreat.
Atora Coastline.
Skye.
Skye Alliance.

Zane ‘Oddball’ Irelon looked up as the shuttle touched down a short distance away and began to lower its boarding ramp.

“Duncan” Oddball glanced over his shoulder, “Go tell your mom that they’re here”


“Okay” The seven year old nodded and started to head for the main house, then stopped and looked back over his own shoulder, “She won’t come out, y’know?” He said sullenly, “She never does”

Oddball nodded, “Just tell her anyway”

As the boy ran towards the house, Oddball rose from where he knelt at the flowerbed and after dusting off and discarding his gloves headed to meet the arrivals.

“Glad you could make it” He smiled, “It’s good to see you both”

“Hey” Jaina Solo grinned and accepted his hug, “We agreed we’d do these get togethers at least once a year. I wish we could do it more often, but travelling was a bit hard on me lately”

“I understand” Oddball nodded and offered his hand to the man with Jaina, “Jag, you’re looking well”

“No, I’m not” Jag snorted, “I look exhausted, worn and shattered”

“And happy?” Oddball offered.

“Damn happy” He grinned, “We’d like you meet Elisa” He held up the small carry cot, so that Oddball could see the small infant sleeping inside”

“Know there’s a content expression I remember” Oddball grinned.

A scuff of feet behind him told his Duncan was back, alone.

“Your mom not coming?” Oddball asked, knowing the answer already.

“No” Duncan scowled, “Told you she wouldn’t. She won’t even come down from the bedroom, she’s locked the door”

“Jenna’s still depressed?” Jaina frowned, “I thought she was getting better”

“She was” Oddball winced, “Then she heard your news”

“Sorry” Jaina grimaced, “I should have known”

“No” Oddball shook his head, “It’s not your fault. It’s something she has to work through”

Jag glanced at Duncan who had started investigating amongst the bushes that ringed the garden, “Zane, it’s been seven years”

“I know” Oddball said sadly, “I know”


.
Royal Retreat.
Atora Coastline.
Skye.
Skye Alliance.
52 ABY

Jenna heard the door open somewhere behind her, but didn’t look out the window and instead focused on her view of the ocean.


“Jenna?” Oddball asked as he came up behind her, “Are you ready?”

Jenna glanced over her shoulder briefly, “I’m not going,” She said quietly.

Oddball frowned and a flash of anger crossed his face, “You have to. This is an important day for Duncan. You know what it means to him”

“It’s just a padawan ceremony” Jenna shrugged, “It’s not as if it’s his knighting ceremony”

“Damn it” Oddball angrily swept a vase off the nearby table, as the sound of breaking porcelain brought a sudden silence to the room, he took a moment to restrain his anger, “It’s important to him, to your son”

Jenna looked down at the broken vase, “Would you like to hit me too, would that help?”

“What?” Oddball reared back in shock at the suggestion, “I would never…..”

“No, I guess not” Jenna turned her attention back to the window.

“Jenna” Oddball knelt next to where his wife sat, “What’s wrong?”

“You know what’s wrong” Jenna sighed.

“I don’t” Oddball shook his head, “But every time Duncan reaches one of his milestones you get like this. You withdraw into yourself. You become confrontational, you barely eat, barely sleep” He sighed, “Is this because of…..?” He rested his hand gently over her stomach.

“ You know damn well it is” Jenna snapped, slapping his hand away and in the same motion rising from her seat and moving away from him, “Do you know why I get so upset when Duncan reaches a milestone or little Elisa or anyone else’s babies?” She shuddered and allowed the tears to flow, “Because I’ll never get to go through it again”

“Then treasure what you do have” Oddball said quietly, “Don’t miss it or you’ll always regret it”

When Jenna turned her tear-streaked face towards him, he knew he had his answer.


Padawan Hall.
Ossus.
Four Days Later.

The ceremony ended and the small group began to break apart, Oddball watched as
Masters and Knights took their newly assigned padawan’s aside, perhaps giving them their first instructions of their next phase of training.

Duncan glanced over to his father with a smile on his face, a smile that quickly eroded as he saw he was alone. Duncan said a few words to his new Master, Zekk and then made his way over.

“You’re alone” Duncan said bluntly, “I knew you would be”

“Duncan” Oddball sighed, “I’m sorry”

“Don’t apologise for her” Duncan sneered, his eyes dark behind the black hair of his fringe, “I bet she’s off her meds again, is she? Happens every time”

“Duncan” Oddball scowled, “You know she loves you. But you know your mother hasn’t been well for a long time” He sighed, “What happened to her, what she went through before you were born, it affected her deeply”

“Made her a loony you mean” Duncan spat.

“She’s still your mother” Oddball snapped at his son, understanding his anger, but refusing to condone the words, “Give her that much”

“Maybe she should start acting like it” Duncan sneered and turned away, then added, “Before it’s too late”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Oddball frowned, but received no answer.



Royal Retreat.
Atora Coastline.
Skye.
Skye Alliance.
56 ABY.

“This is all my fault” Jenna sobbed.

“You can’t blame yourself” Deven frowned at his daughter, “He made his own choice”

“No!” Jenna refused to be diverted from her belief that she was at fault, “IF I’d been a better mother to him this wouldn’t have happened. I should have been there for him, I should have trained him myself, as you trained me”

“You never felt you were well enough to do so” Deven shook his head, “You always said you didn’t feel strong enough to ensure he was trained right”

“And look what’s happened” Jenna wailed, “He’s been studying Dark Side techniques, he’s calling himself Darth Shadow” She turned to her father, “Dad, he’s killed people” She slumped into a chair, “I never should have had him. My own mental problems have tainted him”

“Don’t say that” Deven dropped to his knee next to her.

“Why? It’s true” Jenna sighed, “Like I said, it’s my fault”

Before Deven could make a reply, the door opened and Oddball came rushing in, he’s face full of horror and sorrow, “Duncan’s been back to Ossus”

“When?” Jenna demanded.

“Within the last few hours” Oddball answered, “Anakin Solo was just in touch. Duncan was after something from the archives there. Zekk and two Knights confronted him”

“What happened?” Deven asked sensing something from Oddball.

Oddball swallowed, “The two Knights, he killed. Zekk is….” He swallowed as if trying to contemplate his son’s actions, “He crippled Zekk. Severed his spinal column”

“Emperors Black Bones” Deven whispered. Next to him, Jenna collapsed into a sobbing ball.

“Mara Jade-Skywalker is putting together a team to go after Duncan” Oddball continued, “They intend on bringing him in before he does more”

“Alive or dead?” Deven asked, trying to absorb things.

“Alive, if possible” Oddball shook with grief and pain, “But he’s already killed a dozen people now. He won’t come in easily” He paused, “I’m off to join them, maybe I’ll be able to talk Duncan into surrendering quietly. He’s always listened to me”

“No!” The shout of defiance from Jenna was so sudden, it caught both men by surprise, “I’ll go. This is my fault, my responsibility”

“Jenna” Deven turned to her, “You’re not….”

“Don’t tell me what I’m not” Jenna snapped.

Lashing out with her right arm, she clipped her father across the head. With a groan he slumped to the floor unconscious.

“Jenna, what are you…..?” Oddball started to say, but he to was knocked into unconsciousness as a heavy book flew from the shadows and struck his head.

“I’m sorry, both of you” She said quietly as she knelt down beside them, “But I knew if I gave you the chance, you’d talk me out of this. I have to do this and I’m sorry”

Rising, she crossed to the chest of drawers and withdrew a cylindrical object from the bottom drawer.

“Hello old friend” She said, igniting the lightsaber and squinting as the silvery light filled the room, “We have one final mission and it’s the most important one there is”



Axton Government Hall.
Axton.
Close to the border with the Skye Alliance.
New Republic Space.
One Week Later.

Darth Shadow, once a young man known as Duncan Tarn-Irelon ducked the swinging blade and as he rose back up brought his right leg up in a snap kick that took the Twi’lek, Numa Rar, in the gut.
As she folded around the blow, Shadow brought his lighsaber around with the intention of decapitating her, but his strike was deflected by Numa’s sister Alema.

Alema tried to turn her parry into an attack, but Shadow moved quicker driving his into her nose, crushing the Twi’lek’s nose and sending her reeling back.

“Good job you gave up the slave girl gig” He sneered, “Your looks are no good now” He glanced at Numa’s groaning form, “As for your sister?”

Through a mask of blood Alema screamed in anguish as Shadow drove his lightsaber down through Numa’s skull and held it there until her thrashing stopped.

“Murderer!”

Shadow whirled at the shout behind him as he spun to deflect Jacen Solo’s strike, one that had been intended to bisect Shadow.

“How aggressive of you Solo” Shadow laughed, “One might think I was getting through to you”

“You have to face justice for what you’ve done here Duncan” The older man shouted as he picked off Shadow’s return strikes.

Shadow caught a flicker of the force behind him, “That’s the problem with you lightsiders. You are too squeamish to kill. Everyone needs to be redeemed” He took a step back and thrust his lightsaber out behind him and impaled the charging Wurth Skidder on it’s blade, “I chose not to restrict my self in such a way” He withdrew the blade and allowed Skidder’s body to drop, “Weak” He spat at the corpse and looked around the room –what had once been the main council chambers of the Axton Government, “Now really, we can do this the easy way or the hard way”

“How about we do this my way” Mara Jade-Skywalker grunted, rising painfully to her feet and clutching the ribs broken when Shadow had force slammed a bench into her, “But I need to confess, it’ll hurt you. A lot”

She leapt to the attack, lightsaber swinging in strike that Shadow dodged and deflected, his own return strike just as easy parried. A tingle is his mind caught his attention and he twisted and deflected again, this time blocking Jacen Solo’s strike as he tried to capitalise on Shadow being distracted by Jade-Skywalker.
Snapping a thrust at Solo, he drove him back then brought his blade back to block Jade-Skywalker again.

“Surrender yourself, Duncan” She pleaded, “This has to end now”

“Your right about that” Shadow laughed and grabbing her wrist pulled her arm straight with her lightsaber pointing behind Shadow.

“No!” Jade-Skywalker screamed, horrified as her blade drove itself into Jacen Solo’s chest, “Stars no!”

As Solo collapsed to the floor, Shadow shoved Jade-Skywalker to the ground then advanced on her weeping form.

“What was that about hurting me?” He asked coolly.

“Go to hell!”

“You first” He sneered bringing up his own lightsaber for the killing blow.

Faster than he would have though possible, she kicked out at his knee, briefly knocking him off balance and allowing her to roll away from his reach.

“You can’t win” He scowled, “Why won’t you give up?”

“I don’t know how” Jade-Skywalker retorted, weakly brining her lightsaber up into a defensive position.

“Duncan, this ends now!” A voice shouted from the chambers entrance.

Darth Shadow whirled at the new voice, “Mother! I don’t believe it” He said incredulously, “Have they actually let you out of your nut house at last or have you just escaped your nurses?”

“What happened to you Duncan?” Jenna moved to put herself between him and Jade-Skywalker.

“I grew up” Shadow sneered.

“I didn’t want this sort of life for you Duncan” Jenna shook her head, “Not this”

“You have no say in my life” Shadow snapped, “You took no interest before. Why bother now?”

“I admit it” Jenna winced, “I was never there for you and it’s my fault you turned out like this. If only I hadn’t……” She trailed off.

“Hadn’t what?” Shadow asked, “Been a total fruit basket? Been a neglectful mother? Been so wrapped up in yourself that you avoided your own son?”

“Duncan….”

“There is no Duncan anymore” Shadow cut in, “I am Darth Shadow now” He nodded, and began to back away towards the door, “And you are right, this does end now”

In one fluid motion, he drew a detonator unit from his tunic and thumb the button.

“Duncan, what is…..”

“Goodbye Mother” He smiled as explosions began to shake the building.

One blast blew apart the east well and he lost sight of his mother and Jade-Skywalker in the dust as he fled from the collapsing and burning building.

Strangely, he felt no regrets other that he’d somehow managed to lose his lightsaber during his escape..


Hyperspace.
Two hours later.

In the cockpit of his stolen Muurian Transport, Darth Shadow sat back in his pilots seat and reflected on his day. He’d managed to find another piece of the puzzle, another piece of information that he hoped would lead him to his goal.

When he’d first head the rumour of the Emperor’s Secret Storehouses that might still be on Coruscant, he’d dismissed them as such. But the more he’d found out, the more intrigued he became.

Palpatine had no doubt collected a wealth of Dark side and Sith artefacts, if he could get one of them……

A sound behind him startled him and he whirled in his seat to be confronted by…..nothing. The command deck was empty apart from himself.

“Now you’re getting paranoid you idiot” He muttered.

Briefly, he thought of his mother. He’d lost all force sense of her when the Axton Government building came down, no doubt she was likely buried under all that rubble.

Again, he dwelled on what that meant to him. Again, he felt nothing, not even a regret and he realised, he hadn’t really consider her to be his mother since he’d turned twelve and she’d missed yet another of his birthdays.

Sure, he acknowledged her biological connection to him, but the nanny druids had been more like a mother to him than that woman had been.

He did then feel a pang of regret as he thought about his father and what the loss of his wife would do to him. Zane Irelon had been like a father should be, though he’d continued to defend her all these years.

“Sorry Dad” He sighed, “But she was asking for it”

“Was I really?” A voice said weakly behind him.

He whirled again. This time his mother stood there at the rear of the command deck, but he almost took her to be a ghost, such was her condition.

She leaned slightly against the bulkhead, her jumpsuit torn and bloodied. Her lightsaber was clutched unlit in her right hand, which hung limply by her side, stripped of the artificial flesh that covered it and the metallic bones and servos completely visible. The right side of her face was badly burned, with the burns running up across her head and visible through the singed hair that still remained on her head. Through the tears in her jumpsuit, he glimpsed the white of field dressings and the shine of burn gel glistened on her roasted skin.

Her eyes however glowed with anger and even a tinge of madness.

“Mother” Darth Shadow said coolly, “I’m surprised to see you alive, if not well”

“Especially considering you brought a building down on my head” Jenna said equally coldly.

“How did you escape death?” He asked, carefully eyeing the location of the cabinet containing a blaster pistol and judging the distance.

“Thank Mara” Jenna said sadly, “She used the last of her strength to push my clear of the worst of the initial explosions. She sacrificed herself for me and I still only just got clear”

“A pity” He smirked.

“Why do all this Duncan?” Jenna asked, “Mara, Jacen Solo, Alema and Numa Rar, Zekk, all those other people. Why?”

“Because I can” Shadow shrugged, “Because they were in the way”

Jenna shook her head, “I wish I could go back. Go back and start over with you from the beginning. Be a real mother to you”

“Well, you can’t” He laughed, “And who knows, maybe I’d have turned out exactly the same. Maybe you’re just a terrible mother”

As Jenna reacted to his word by turning away in sorrow, he made his move. A blast from the force blew the front of the cabinet off and he pulled the blaster towards him. It landed squarely in his pal and he brought it up and opened fire as he advanced towards his mother.

Moving quicker than he might have expected, Jenna ignited her lightsaber and deflected the first five bolts of energy away, sending them passing harmlessly past him as well. But as he’d released, her artificial arm had been damaged and she was to slow in bringing her lightsaber around to deflect the next two shots.

The first took her in the upper part of the right arm, blowing the limb apart and spraying metallic shrapnel into her side as the rest of the limb spun away with the lightsaber still clutched in the hand, though impact with the floor caused the hand to release it and allow the deadman switch to kill the blade before it could do any damage.
The other blaster bolt, took her in the stomach folding her over and propelling her into the bulkhead, her head and back bounced off the unyielding object and she dropped bonelessly to the deck.

“Weak” He grabbed an handful of her hair and lifted her head to face him, “She should have never come after to me, mother” He spat this last word and filled it with hate.

“Had to be done” She coughed and spat up blood, “You were my responsibility”

“Ha” He barked, “You never considered me ‘your responsibility’ before, why start now”

“Sometimes you have no choice”

“True” Shadow shrugged, “I suppose I should ensure you get a proper burial and all, what with you being my mother” He consider for a moment, “On second thoughts, I’ll just throw you out the airlock. You should have deflected my shots back at me, you couldn’t even do that right”

To his surprise, she began to laugh.

“What?” He demanded, “What’s so funny?”

“I deflected the bolts at something else and I hit with each one” Jenna answered around the blood in her mouth, “You’re just so wrapped up in gloating to notice”

“What?” He spun and stared incredulously at the ruin on the pilot’s console.

The controls, the navi-computer, auto-pilot, even the emergency thrusters controls were melted, smoking, sparking slag. Even as he stared, the last of the hyperdrive circuits failed and the ship dropped from hyperspace.

The glowing sphere of a planet filled the viewport.

He started to move for the rear of the bridge when a double thud trembled through the deck.

Jenna coughed and eased herself into a sitting position, “I wouldn’t bother heading for the escape pods. That double thud was them escaping, I wasn’t just hiding aboard your ship the last two hours.

“Di’kut!” He yelled, backhanding her across the face.

Jenna rolled with blow and smiled up at him, “I’m sorry I wasn’t a mother to you Duncan, but at least I’ve ensured my mistake can no longer threaten anyone else. I love you Duncan, goodbye”



Planetside, Sarna.

Brother To’keth looked up as a thunderclap tore open the sky. Looking up, he was surprised to see the sky was as clear as it had been earlier. Then the fireball became visible.

Starting as a mere sliver of light, by the time it had passed through the cloud layers, it had resolved into the recognisable form of a ship that had come into the atmosphere far too fast and at too steep and angle.

It passed over him close enough that he felt the air ripple and then it dropped behind the nearby hills. To his further surprise, there was no explosion, just a massive crash that echoes over the area and seemed to last for several minute.

After a moment’s consideration, Brother To’keth turned for the monastery to gather his fellow monks. There wasn’t likely to be any survivors of a crash like that, but perhaps there would be enough in the way of remains to give the dead a dignified funeral.



And so it is that this story ends. A book closes on one group of heroes and villains.

Some have lived, some have died and some just move on.

And sometimes, the good guys don’t get to live happily ever after.

And somewhere another sun rises.

…….Maybe there’s a story in there somewhere.


END.

(Thank you, thank you much)

_________________
Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that who cares?... He's a mile away and you've got his shoes

Never trust a man who, when left alone with a tea cozy, does not try it on.


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