Brothers All :: Forum
Clones & Star Wars => Fanfiction => Topic started by: ARC_Commander_Colt on March 12, 2013, 08:44:46 PM
This is something I thought up while I couldn't sleep last night and had to put down on "paper." Something like what Disney's movie could be.
Green light flashed through the narrow hallway, and the white-armored stormtroopers fell back to their positions in front of the gate. Luke Skywalker raised his lightsaber and swung the blade aside, deflecting their bolts to the floor. Beside him, his apprentice, Kam Solusar, swung his silver-blue blade and cut the arm from one trooper.
Within seconds, the troopers were dead or out cold. Luke stepped toward the door and rammed his lightsaber through the gate. Kam joined him, putting his lightsaber in the top corner of the door. Within a few seconds they had a square cut in the gate.
"Republic forces, this is Luke Skywalker," he said into his comlink. "We're in. Begin the attack."
"Roger that," replied Captain Wedge Antilles, leader of Rogue Squadron. "All right boys, let's give those Imps something to think about!"
"This is General Han Solo," another voice said. "All right, ground troops, move in."
Luke gave them a ten-count. When he heard the rumbles of explosions on the outer walls, he nodded to Solusar and entered the Imperial stronghold via the underlevels.
"This is it, Master Skywalker," Kam said. "Do you realize that? If we get the Imperial leader here, we can finally end the war!"
"I know," Luke said grimly. "No pressure, huh?"
Younger Kam smiled vaguely, nodded, and drew his blade. Luke followed his eager apprentice into the lower levels.
* * *
General Han Solo kicked down the door and stood aside as two of his commandos entered the base. The one on the left took down the stormtroopers guarding the entrance, while the second scanned the area with a motion sensor.
"All clear, General," the second soldier said.
"Roger," Han replied. "All forces, move in!"
Chewbacca whipped his bowcaster to firing position and stormed the base. Han followed, his DL-44 blaster held at shoulder height. Three more commandos followed them in.
"Secure the command center," Han said. "But don't get near the throne room. Let Luke and Kam deal with that."
Han stormed up the stairs with Chewbacca. A squad of stormtroopers came around the corner and opened fire. Han rolled aside in time to avoid the shots. He turned back, squeezed off a shot, and moved across the hall to fresh cover.
Behind them, the squad of commandos charged up. The first was cut down by the stormtroopers, but the others survived long enough to kill the rest of the stormtroopers.
"Enemies defeated," the commando sergeant said.
"Come on, Chewie," Han said.
* * *
Wedge Antilles spun his X-wing aside in time to avoid the barrage of a TIE interceptor. His wingman, Wes Janson, took out the interceptor and spun in a wide arc to rejoin Wedge.
"Hobbie, Tycho!" Wedge said. "Disable the turret towers! It'll make things easier on our ground vehicles."
"As ordered, Lead," Tycho replied.
Wedge watched as their X-wings looped away. He frowned. This was the Empire's final fortress! Why weren't they defending it with all their might? Endor had been more difficult than this.
"Something's up, Rogues," Wedge said. "Be on guard."
He received a series of confirming clicks from the others, but they were too busy eliminating the TIEs to respond verbally.
Wedge barrel-rolled and blasted apart a TIE interceptor, looped back, and killed another. Then he saw a wing of TIE bombers headed for the large Juggernaut tanks General Solo's forces were using.
"Antilles to all wings!" he said. "Take out those bombers!"
Corran Horn and Nien Nunb broke off and went to pursue the bombers. Wedge dived, peppered the stormtroopers outside the fortress with laserfire, and pulled back up to take out another TIE.
"Bombers diverted," Corran reported.
"Captain Antilles, this is Admiral Ackbar," came a sudden communication.
"I read, Admiral."
"We have a situation. Three Star Destroyers just exited hyperspace and engaged our fleet."
So that's what they were up to. Wedge flipped his comm channel.
"All wings, back to space!" he said. "The boys up there need a hand."
"As ordered," Corran replied.
"On our way," Tycho said.
* * *
Luke spun and decapitated a stormtrooper. The body fell over, its finger automatically triggering the blaster it held. The bolt flew high and slammed into a control panel on the wall. A door slid down between Luke and the throne room.
"Blast!" he growled.
Behind him, Kam finished off the last of the stormtroopers. He turned, saw the blast door, and stepped up beside Luke.
"Let's hurry this up," Kam said.
Luke nodded. Once again, they began to cut through the door. But Luke realized within a few inches that it would not be that simple. These doors were not made of simple durasteel.
"Some kind of processed animal hide," he said. "It's resistant to our lightsabers."
"No problem," Kam replied with a grin.
He stepped back, raised his hands, and with a mighty grunt, he blasted the door to splinters with the Force. Inside the door, two red-robed guards who had once protected the Emperor stepped forward and activated their electrostaffs.
"Same material as the door," Kam observed keenly.
Luke nodded. "Take them down any way you can. I've got the one on the left."
He leapt in and slashed. The guard raised his staff, blocking his lightsaber. Luke ducked under a horizontal slash that would have decapitated him and cut at the guard's legs. The guard jumped, and Luke redirected the blade. The guard dodged, but the green blade took off a segment of the red cape.
Luke tried to glance at the throne to see who had been behind the scenes this whole time, but the guard pushed him back in the moment of distraction and Luke had to desperately roll aside to avoid being impaled.
His gaze hardened and he lunged, his blade pointed at the guard's gut. The man tried to spin aside, but too late. Luke's blade pierced his kidney. The guard cried out and fell to the ground, where Luke decapitated him.
He spared a glance at Kam. His apprentice was still fighting his opponent, but he appeared to have it well in hand. Nodding to himself, Luke dashed for the throne.
* * *
Kam dodged a power blow from the guard, turned, and slashed at his enemy's side. The guard blocked with his lightsaber-resistant staff and pushed Kam back. The young Jedi back-flipped and landed on his feet, raising his silver-blue blade at guard.
The red-robed warrior stormed forward, but to Kam's surprise he pulled a small holdout blaster on him and fired. Kam deflected the shot into the man's shin. The guard grunted in pain, and Kam leapt in and impaled the man clean through the heart.
He sighed in relief and lowered his lightsaber. His master was headed for the throne now. He took a moment to refresh himself with the Force and then charged ahead to join Luke.
He caught up to the slightly older man quickly and stopped at the foot of the stairs to the throne. The high back of the throne hid the occupant from view, and Kam felt his pulse intensifying in fear and anticipation.
"Show yourself," Luke said softly.
The throne slowly began to turn. Kam raised his lightsaber instinctively. The throne finished its turn and Kam saw Luke recoil in shock. The man in the seat was dressed in deep red and gold armor, but his helmet...it was very reminiscent of Darth Vader.
"Skywalker," the masked man hissed.
"Do I know you?" Luke asked hesitantly.
"You did," the man said. Kam could see the smile beneath the semi-transparent mouth grille. "As I was, not as I am."
"What does that mean?" Kam challenged.
"We knew each other, once," the man said. "My name then is not my name now."
"You are strong in the Force," Luke observed. "I think I would have remembered meeting you."
"Oh, but you do," the man said with a laugh. "You must, for I was the first being you discovered with Force ability."
"Master...?" Kam asked in shock. "I thought I was the first Force sensitive you discovered."
Luke shook his head. "No, you were the first one I trained. I...discovered one before. I was going to train him, but there was a blast...an Imperial attack. I believed him dead."
"Not dead," the man snarled. "Reborn. I am the master of the Empire now, Skywalker. You should have looked for me!"
Luke stood firmly. "I'm sorry for losing you. But I will stop you."
He nodded. "As I expected. Very well." He stood and reached for the lightsaber at his belt. "Then the Jedi will taste the blade of Lord Kueller!"
* * *
Wedge gritted his teeth, spun around, and took the TIE off Hobbie's tail. The pilot breathed a thanks and swept away to fire a proton torpedo at one of the Star Destroyers without shields.
"Good shot!" Tycho complimented.
Indeed, Hobbie's shot had gone straight into the Destroyer's hangar, destroying a wing of TIEs that had yet to deploy.
"This is Admiral Ackbar!" came a transmission from the capital ship. "All ships advance on the first Star Destroyer."
"Copy," Wedge replied. "Rogues?"
"Happy to comply," Wes said.
Rogue Squadron swept down and fired at the first Star Destroyer, their blasts tearing small holes in the surface. Wedge saw tiny points of white that were stormtroopers being sucked into space...
"Spacetroopers!" he said.
He pulled his ship aside, but not fast enough to keep a bulky-armored spacetrooper catch one of his S-foils and pull itself aboard his ship.
"Ar-five!" Wedge said. "Electrify the surface!"
His astromech beeped a reply and complied. The spacetrooper fell off silently as electricity zapped his armor. Hobbie and Wes weren't as lucky. Their astromechs were ripped apart by the space-troopers. Wedge gritted his teeth in determination and fired a quick volley. One of his bolts tore apart the spacetrooper on Wes' fighter. Suddenly, as if by magic, the trooper on Hobbie's fighter was lifted off and hurled away.
Wedge switched channels. "Corran?"
Corran Horn, Jedi, responded. "Yes."
"I thought you couldn't move things."
"I...can't. Not very well. See, I made the space-trooper think he was on the back of a TIE, so he jumped off for an X-wing he thought he saw."
"Clever," Wedge said. "Back to it."
* * *
Han holstered his blaster as the command center was cleared out. Two commandos lowered their rifles and stepped up to the terminals vacated by Imperial technicians.
"Okay," Han said. "Here's what we're doing. Get those terminals activated. I want the anti-orbital cannons online and taking down those Destroyers in one minute."
"Can do, General," one commando said.
"Good. And find my brother-in-law!"
* * *
Luke slashed at Kueller's head, and the Dark Jedi ducked the slash and side-kicked Kam. The younger Jedi fell back and hit the ground hard. As he fought Kueller, Luke wondered to himself where the man had gotten his training. Certainly not from any of Luke's handful of Jedi.
Luke back-flipped to avoid a Force blast from the Dark Jedi and leapt into the air, driving his saber down at the helmeted head. Kueller rolled aside and slashed his silver blade at Luke's neck.
Luke parried the blow and followed it with three quick jabs; one to the knee, another to the left elbow, and the third at Kueller's chin. Kueller parried all three, barely, and pulled back. Kam rejoined the fight and leapt high, striking at Kueller's shoulder. The Dark Jedi turned barely in time, but the silver-blue blade severed two fingers on his hand.
"Who trained you?" Luke demanded as Kueller switched his saber to his left hand.
"He's dead," Kueller rasped. "I killed him, as a true Sith does!"
Luke felt a strange relief at that. So Kueller truly was the last. If they could capture or kill him, it was all over.
Kam seemed to realize this too, and stepped up his attack. Kueller reversed his grip and blocked one of Kam's blows backhand, at the same time sending a quick blast of Force energy at Luke. Luke held up a calm hand and redirected the energy into the throne, knocking it to the ground.
Then he leapt in, flanking Kueller to the right. Kam was still pressing Kueller, and with a quick move Luke slashed Kueller's legs off at the knees. The Dark Jedi roared in anger and dropped his saber. Luke sighed in relief and pointed the tip of his green blade at Kueller's throat.
"Surrender," he said.
Kueller hit Luke with a suprising blast of Force lightning. Caught off-guard, Luke stumbled back a few paces. The lightning ended abruptly. Surprised, Luke looked up and saw Kam's blade protruding from Kueller's back.
"Kam..." he said.
"Sorry, Master," Kam replied. "He left me no choice."
"No matter," Luke said reluctantly. "Okay, let's tell Han the battle's won. It's over. The Empire will have to sign our treaty now."
Kam nodded, grinning. "Finally."
20 years later...
Jacen Solo twitched his lightsaber, deflecting a blow from his young cousin, Ben. The blond-haired boy grinned and leapt over Jacen's head, his training lightsaber coming down to hit Jacen on the back of the head. Jacen raised his own training blade and flicked Ben's aside, barely enough to keep from being knocked cold.
"Impressive," he said with an approving nod. "I have to say, you're improving."
Sixteen-year-old Ben nodded. "Yeah. Dad's been making me train a lot lately."
No wonder, Jacen observed. Ben still had not been chosen by a Master, for more reasons than one. First, his parents, Luke and his wife Callista, would not take Ben because they didn't want to appear partial. Second, Ben had been more intent on studying starships and potential girlfriends lately than he had lightsaber or Force technique.
"Your father is wise," Jacen noted.
He lunged forward, his blue-bladed training saber batting Ben on the arm. The teen grunted in a mixture of surprise and pain.
"Yow!" he cried.
"Keep your guard up," Jacen warned.
He spun around a sloppy strike and side-stepped a sloppier Force push. He shook his head and grabbed Ben by the back of his neck, and gave the boy a good hard push. Ben yelped and landed on his face.
"Hey! What was that for?"
"Focus!" Jacen snapped. Then he sighed. "What girl is it this time?"
Ben snorted, hesitated, and then straightened. "Seha," he admitted.
"Seha," Jacen replied. "Pretty girl. Know what makes her an even better choice? She focuses on her training."
Ben winced and gripped his training saber in a tighter grip, but his stance was sloppy. Jacen shook his head.
"Ben!" he exclaimed. "Form I."
Ben assumed the opening stance of Form I. Jacen nodded and leapt in at him. Ben successfully blocked, stepped back, and counterattacked. Jacen nodded in approval.
He lunged. Ben ducked, raised his saber above his head to block, and spun around to kick Jacen in the knee. Jacen jumped over Ben's foot, but it was a good effort all the same, he admitted.
"Okay," he said. "Form II!"
Ben sighed. "Really? How many..."
"All seven!" Jacen snapped. "Ready?"
Reluctantly, Ben assumed the Form II pose and prepared to defend himself. Jacen attacked with a Form IV attack and slashed high and low, and then slid under Ben's legs and struck at the boy's back. Ben pulled his lightsaber back behind him and blocked the blow.
"Good," Jacen said. "Form III."
* * *
Arms crossed, Luke watched his son train with Jacen. The boy was lacking, Luke knew. It was not all Ben's fault, though; Luke was to blame, as well.
"Hey, easy," Callista said. "It's not your fault our son can't focus."
Luke wrapped his arm around her shoulder and watched Ben successfully pull through a Form III sequence, protecting himself from Jacen's attacks.
"But it is my fault he isn't better trained," Luke countered. "Maybe if I'd been more intent on working with him instead of my older students..."
"Those older students were needed then," she argued. "Now, Ben's getting older, too, and it's his time to learn. Admit it, you had similar problems with Jacen and Jaina and Anakin."
"No, exactly the opposite," Luke said ruefully. "They were almost too eager. More than once I had to tell them to slow down and listen instead of do."
"Ben, I have to tell him to do more often, and listen more! He does neither."
Callista chuckled. "Don't worry, he'll turn into a fine young Jedi."
Luke nodded. "Yes." He looked down again at Jacen and Ben. "And I think I know who needs to train him..."
* * *
Jacen was about to tell Ben to enter the stance of Form VII when Luke entered the training room. Other Jedi looked up and bowed their heads or nodded in respect. Luke raised a placating hand and walked over to Jacen and Ben.
"Hey, Dad," Ben said.
"Hello, son." Luke glanced at Jacen. "And to you, Jacen."
"Hello, Uncle Luke." He chuckled. "Or 'Master' would be more appropriate at the moment, right?"
Luke smiled. "No, I've always been Uncle Luke to you and your siblings. Come on, I need to talk to you. Ben, keep practicing your forms."
Ben started to protest, and Jacen pointed a finger at the boy. "Form VII," he reminded him.
Ben nodded glumly.
As they walked out of the training room, Jacen placed his training lightsaber on the wall rack and retrieved his own saber.
"What is it, Uncle Luke?"
"I want you to train Ben," Luke said.
Jacen's eyes widened for a moment. He paused to consider this.
"I've already been training him."
"You know what I mean," Luke said sternly. "I want you to take him as your formal apprentice at the apprenticeship test next week."
"Me?" Jacen asked, still surprised. "I mean, I was only knighted two months ago myself. Do you really think I'm ready to train my own apprentice?"
"My father was younger than you when he took an apprentice," Luke said.
"I didn't know Anakin Skywalker ever took an apprentice," Jacen said with a frown.
"It's not something most people talk about," Luke admitted. "Even I had to pry it out of Master Yoda. Apparently the old Jedi were all embarrassed by her, because she was framed for something, and when it came down to it they all failed to side with her, instead banishing her from the Order. When my father proved her innocent, she was offered a spot back among the Jedi. But they'd broken her trust, so she left."
Jacen nodded. "Ah. A black mark on their record of perfect judgement. They made a stupid mistake, so instead of blaming themselves, they blamed the source of their embarrassment."
"My father apparently taught her quite well," Luke continued. "No one doubted that, but they had to blame her leaving on something..."
"So they blamed it on his teaching?" Jacen finished. His ears burned. "That's...disgusting."
Luke nodded sadly. "Yoda didn't see the Jedi's corruption until it was too late. It's why I strive to protect us from such dogma."
"Okay, but we've kind of strayed off-topic. You wanted me to train Ben?"
"I've seen you two train," Luke said. "You are the only one who can get him to focus. And I can see that he likes training with you."
"Well, he has a lot of natural talent, even if it's untempered. With training, he could..."
"He could surpass almost everyone here."
Jacen nodded. "Right."
"I'll do it," he said.
* * *
Ben had just fallen into his Form VII sequence when the door opened again and Seha Dorvald entered the training room. Ben's heart skipped a beat. There she was. Pretty, red-haired, petite...
He grunted as he lost concentration and hit his own arm with his training saber. He grunted and shook his head. He was about to deactivate his saber when she saw him.
"Oh!" she said. "Hi, Ben. Need a partner?"
He stammered. "Oh, uh...yeah, sure!"
He mentally slapped himself in the forehead. What a lame response. He glanced across the room and saw his friend Valin Horn, age seventeen, glance at him and shake his head firmly. Ben could almost tell what he was going to say: Don't embarrass your-self, moron. She's way better than you. Ben sighed and shook his head at Valin. His friend groaned and moved closer to provide emotional support.
Seha stepped into the training ring and removed her outer robe. Ben stepped back and held his saber in the two-handed grasp of Form V. Seha smiled an almost sympathetic smile as she placed her own lightsaber on a rack and picked up a training blade. She ignited its yellow beam and assumed the stance of Form IV.
Battlemaster Kyle Katarn, seing the beginning of the duel, stepped into the ring and held up his hand, preparing to signal the fight to begin.
Ben glanced around the room, feeling time slow. Valin and several other young Jedi, including Raynar Thul and the Wookiee Lowbacca, had gathered around the ring, and Ben's cousins Jaina and Anakin looked up from their own practices to come over. Ben winced mentally, really hoping he didn't lose.
"Go!" Kyle said, and stepped back.
Ben focused himself, leaping forward with a brutal strike. Seha lithely dodged aside and brought her blade around behind him. Ben pulled his saber back, parallel to his back, to block the blade. He spun around and the two of them stood opposite where they had been before.
Well, that's a few seconds longer than I thought I'd last.
He lunged again, this time with a middle blow. She side-stepped his blade and swung a fast strike at his neck. He ducked, turned, stabbed at her. She hit his blade with her own, and his went high in the air. He jumped back just in time to avoid a swipe at his gut.
He was surprised, despite himself. He knew he was not much of a duelist, because of his lack of practice, so holding his own this long against one of the academy's top students was amazing.
Just like her green eyes...
He grunted and sloppily plopped himself on the ground to avoid another stroke. Stupid, stupid! He flipped onto his feet and turned barely in time to block a blow that would have ended the duel.
Focus, Skywalker, he told himself.
He lunged again, trying to catch her across the midriff, and she slid aside. She's so good...
He groaned as she bashed him across the back of the head. He hit the ground hard and rolled over. Her yellow blade terminated a centimeter from his eyes.
"I win," she said sweetly.
He sighed and deactivated his lightsaber. There was a round of applause from the audience. Ben caught Valin's eye, and his friend shook his head and chuckled. Ben started to get up...and saw his dad and Jacen standing at the back of the room.
He sighed and placed his training saber back on the rack. He walked over to them, rubbing the back of his neck. Luke had his arms crossed, and Jacen had his hands on his hips, staring at the ceiling in despair.
"Oh, hey," Ben said meekly.
"Ben..." Luke said. "You lost focus, didn't you?"
Ben nodded. "Teach me to fight a pretty girl..."
Jacen sighed loudly. "Ben, you can fight all the pretty girls you want. Just stay focused when you do! You had her for a brief second before you lost your focus."
Jacen turned and walked over to his siblings. Ben looked at his father.
"It was her eyes, wasn't it?" Luke asked.
"Don't look at her eyes, Ben. Never look at the eyes."
Then he walked away, too. Ben sighed, returned to the ring, and picked up his personal lightsaber, robe, and left the training room.
Kyp Durron spun his lightsaber and cut the training droid cleanly in half. Another droid leapt at him, its burning blade nearly taking off his ear. Kyp whirled and rammed his lightsaber into the droid's chest. It fell to the ground. Kyp stepped back, letting the purple glow of his blade light the room.
He knew full well every one of those droids could kill him, and not only with their full-power lightsabers. They could knock him over and impale him on his own blade, or ram him into any of the ray shielded walls. So he had to be ready, just in case there were more hidden in the shadows.
"Well done, Apprentice Durron," a silken female voice said inside his head. "You are the greatest of us all."
"Thank you, Master," he replied, though he was not sure she could hear him. He never knew; she spoke to him through an implant in his skull.
"You may lower your blade," she said. "Take a brief break and get some water. Then return."
Kyp nodded and moved toward the exit of the dark training chamber, but did not deactivate his saber yet. She'd tricked him before.
But he reached the door with no further attack, so he shut off his blade and clipped it to his belt. As he left, his master continued to speak.
"You are the greatest of us all...you are destined to return us to glory...to defeat the traitors."
"I am honored, Master."
"You will learn the ways of the Force, as I did from my Master before me, and you will lead our great army of Jedi against the pretenders."
Kyp gritted his teeth, letting hate well up in him as he thought of the false Jedi Order pretending its protection upon the galaxy.
"They will pay."
"Yes," his Master said. He was surprised. It was the first time she'd ever responded to something he said. "Yes, the pretenders will pay. Luke Skywalker will pay."
Kyp nodded. "He will pay, for his pretending..."
"And for the death of your brother," promised his Master.
* * *
Anakin Solo exited the Jedi Academy at the head of a group of young Jedi. At nineteen years old, he was one of the youngest to attain the rank of Knight. His uncle had asked him to take these students out for a morning exercise.
"Come on," Anakin said. "We've got a lot of ground to cover, and lunch is in two hours."
Tesar Sebatyne, a Barabel, and Lowbacca ran up to the front of the line. Both were athletic and loved the outdoors. Anakin would not be surprised if they performed the best out of the students today.
Raynar Thul, Valin Horn, Seha Dorvald, and Ben followed them, and the rest of the students slowly filtered into the clearing around the Jedi Academy. Anakin stood at the center of the small ring they formed.
"You will run into the jungle until you reach the river," he said. "Run, not walk." Several of the less athletic students groaned. Anakin grinned. "Then you will cross the river on the boats there, jog down the shore on the other side until you reach a bridge, cross it, and return to the Academy."
There was a chorus of "understoods" from the students, and Anakin stepped out of the circle. Then, to the surprise of the students, he dashed out into the jungle ahead of them. He could hear Lowbacca roar in glee as he took off after him.
Anakin knew several shortcuts to the river that were not known by most students, so he took them and arrived, as expected, ahead of all of the others. He leaned over and put his hands on his knees, panting. He felt sweat bead on his forehead.
"Phew!" he muttered.
Two minutes later, Lowbacca emerged from the jungle, followed by Tesar and, not surprisingly, Seha. Valin showed up shortly after. The others reached the shore more slowly. Anakin reached over and grabbed his girlfriend Tahiri by the waist and kissed her on the cheek.
"Not last," he said with a grin. "Good work."
She smiled back, but then sobered. "Look who is last."
Anakin groaned inwardly, already knowing who it would be. Ben came out of the jungle, huffing, and rested against a tree.
"It's so odd," Anakin said. "He's physically very fit, especially for his age. But he just can't keep up with the others."
"He hasn't been properly trained," Tahiri replied with a sad smile. "He needs a Master."
Anakin nodded. "Yeah. I know." He raised his voice. "All right, into the boats! Let's go, let's go, break time's over!"
* * *
Jacen watched as Anakin led the others back into the Academy. He had his arm wrapped casually around Tahiri's neck. Though she was still an apprentice, she was only a few years younger than Anakin, and she was a good match for him.
"They'll make a good couple," Tenel Ka said.
Jacen glanced over at her and smiled. "Like us?" he asked.
She nodded, deadpan. "Fact."
He laughed and looped his arm through hers. They watched the students enter the Academy, and Jacen sighed and shook his head as Ben entered last, sweat practically pouring from his hair.
"Ben," Tenel Ka said. "He bothers you."
"His lack of training is what bothers me. He has more raw talent than anyone I know other than my brother, but he doesn't use it."
"Because he hasn't been taught."
"You're going to teach him, aren't you."
Jacen looked at her, grinned. "Fact," he said.
He untangled his arm from hers and walked up to his brother. Anakin saw him coming and let his arm fall from Tahiri's shoulder. He motioned for her to join the other apprentices for lunch.
"It's about Ben," Anakin said.
Jacen stared at him. "Stop doing that. You're not my twin, Jaina is."
Anakin laughed. "So? I've still known you for as long as practically anyone else."
"Yes, it's about Ben."
"We need to do something. He's just...not into his training."
Jacen nodded. "Yeah, I've noticed. You saw his fight with Seha yesterday?"
"Yeah. He was actually doing well for a while, until..."
"Until he focused on her looks, not the fight."
"Did that ever happen when you fought Tenel Ka?"
Jacen chuckled. "Only once. She beat me on my butt so hard it still hurts."
Anakin grinned. "Same thing happened when I fought Tahiri once."
"Last time it ever happened."
They paused there, for a second.
Finally, Anakin said, "He needs focus."
"Yes," Jacen replied. "If he could focus, he could be the best of the students. I had focus, and you had focus. It's natural to be distracted by a pretty girl, but if it happens more than once..."
"And if it affects all your other training..."
Jacen nodded, debating with himself. "I'm going to take him as my apprentice during the test next week."
Anakin's eyes widened. "You think you're ready for a student?"
"Uncle Luke thinks I am. It was his idea."
"Okay, then. Good luck."
They began to walk together down the corridors of the Academy. As they passed the cafeteria, Jacen glanced in. Ben was sitting with Seha, and they were laughing at some joke or another.
"Focus," he whispered. "He needs focus..."
Luke swung his lightsaber in a cross stroke. Callista held her lightsaber high and blocked it, leapt back, and threw a Force push at him. He followed it and let it carry him back. Then he stopped himself and landed on his feet.
"Still the best, Skywalker," she said with a grin.
He lunged in and slashed three times, ducked, and jabbed. She blocked all his blows as if she had seen them coming. Good thing, too; they were not using training sabers.
"Luke," someone called.
He looked up. Kyle Katarn entered the training room. His hands were clasped behind his back, his long lightsaber prominently displayed on his belt.
"It's time, Luke."
Luke nodded. "Come on, Callista," he said.
They left the senior training room and went down the hall. Luke took a short lift to the second level and walked into the glass observation room above the junior training room. He took a seat with the other Jedi Masters.
Below, Jacen, Anakin, and the Knights were taking seats around the ring, along with the Masters who were considering taking on students. Only Kyle, Callista, Luke, the Mon Calamari Cilghal, and Corran Horn were in the observation dome.
The students were gathered in small circles based on their age. Kam Solusar entered the ring and began speaking. The speakers in the box relayed his voice.
"Students, Knights, Masters!" he said. "This is an event that comes but once in an apprentice's life. The choosing. Fight well, for the skill with which you fight may determine which Master chooses you." He pulled out a datapad. "For the first fight, we will use these pairings: Lowbacca versus Tesar Sebatyne. Raynar Thul versus Valin Horn. Seha Dorvald versus Tahiri Veila. Ben Skywalker versus Bandy Geffer."
Luke and Callista traded glances. Ben had been training all week for this, and Bandy Geffer was a fairly average apprentice. He wondered if Kam had selected the pairing intentionally.
They'd just have to wait and see what happened.
* * *
Ben clenched his fists around his training saber. Bandy Geffer stood across from him, saber angled in the opening stance of Form VI, the simplest form. Ben grinned to himself. This wouldn't be too hard.
"Go!" Solusar said.
Ben leapt forward in Form V, bringing his saber down on Bandy's. The other boy rolled aside and made a simple series of chops at Ben's sides, but he easily parried them and flung Bandy's saber out of the ring. Bandy reached for his saber with the Force and it flew back into his hand. Ben kicked out and landed a blow on Bandy's shin.
Bandy grunted in pain and fell back. Ben pointed his lightsaber at Bandy's throat. The boy reluctantly patted out.
Ben sighed in relief.
"Skywalker versus Geffer, Skywalker wins!" said Solusar. "Skywalker moves to round two."
Slowly, the other duels finished. Lowbacca beat Tesar by a bare margin, only because his brute force could handle more than Tesar. Valin beat Raynar, and Tahiri and Seha ended in a draw.
"Next round, Valin versus Tahiri, Skywalker versus Lowbacca! Dorvald will fight the winner of Valin versus Tahiri."
Ben felt a hollow in his stomach. How could he fight Lowbacca, a Wookiee? Ben fought with Form V, a brute-force form, and no one could out-brute a Wookiee.
His stomach settled into resolve, and he stood walked over to the corner of the ring. Lowbacca came over from the other ring and howled at Ben, a mixture of apology and good wishes.
Ben nodded at him seriously.
Ben leapt in, slashed at Lowbacca's left. The Wookiee dodged easily to the side and bashed Ben on the back of the neck. Ben almost felt himself black out, but he forced himself to roll to his feet and keep fighting. Lowbacca jabbed his saber at Ben, and Ben blocked and riposted.
This was going nowhere.
Abruptly Ben knew what he had to do. In a quick move, he changed tactics, no longer fighting with the brutal efficiency of Form V, instead taking the defensive stance of Form III. Every move Lowbacca made, Ben was not only ready for it, but actually ahead of it, anticipating and redirecting his friend's attacks.
Lowbacca growled quietly in frustration and delivered an overhead chop. Ben rolled aside and delivered a singeing slice to Lowbacca's back. The Wookiee roared and patted out the tiny flames.
Ben grinned and took the time to deliver a brutal kick to Lowbacca's face. The Wookiee toppled. Ben pointed his training saber at Lowie's face, and the Wookiee patted out.
* * *
"I don't believe it," Callista said in awe.
Luke was having trouble believing what he was seeing, too. Who was this young Jedi warrior, and what had he done with Ben? He grinned in pride and watched his son disable and defeat Lowbacca.
"Jacen has a magical touch," he observed.
"I can't think of a better teacher for Ben," she agreed.
Luke raised a hand to quiet her; Tahiri and Valin were beginning. Valin opened with an artful sweep of Form II, which Tahiri easily batted away with a Form III defense before switching to the acrobatic Form IV and leaping over Valin's head and delivering a backstab. Valin whirled in time to catch her blade and stepped back.
Tahiri swept her blade at Valin's legs, and the boy jumped over the blade and punched her in the temple. She recoiled, rubber her head, and sent a blast of Force energy in Valin's direction.
"Tahiri has a lot of potential," Callista said.
"Like Anakin would choose anyone else," Luke replied wryly.
Valin followed the wave of energy, landed on his feet, and extended his hand to return a telekinetic blow...and nothing happened. Luke winced in sympathy as Tahiri took advantage and brought her boot down on his crown.
"Poor Valin," Callista said. "He tries so hard to use telekinesis."
"He's just not gifted in that area. He has other talents."
Below, Valin had surrendered to Tahiri, and now she was moving to fight Seha Dorvald.
"I hope for Ben's sake Tahiri wins," Callista said.
Leia Organa Solo reclined on the couch, her head resting on Han's lap. Another long day in the Senate, fighting not with blasters or lightsabers, but with words and double meanings.
"Will Borsk Fey'lya ever learn?" she wondered aloud.
"I can teach him," Han replied cheerily. "Hand me my blaster?"
Leia smiled wryly. "I wish, but that's not the way the Senate works. If I ever want to get through to him I have to convince him the old-fashioned way."
"That's no fun," Han said sadly.
Leia reached up and rubbed the scar on his chin between her thumb and forefinger. He caught her wrist and massaged it.
"How are the kids?" she asked.
"Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin are still doing well at the Academy," Han said. "Bree? Who knows."
Leia sighed. Their first child, Breha, named after Leia's adopted mother, had been born a year before Jacen and Jaina. She had no Force sensitivity in her. Despite that they'd had no reason to be any less proud of her than the other three.
Bree hadn't seen it that way.
She could shoot as straight as her dad, fly as well as him, and speak as eloquently as her mom. But she had been overshadowed by the powers of her three younger siblings. At age eighteen, she'd bought an affordable but stylish SoruSuub yacht and left Coruscant in the middle of the night.
They hadn't found out until the next day when they found her holorecording on the kitchen table.
She still called occasionally, perhaps once or twice a month. She usually asked if they'd seen her on the news. They replied that they had.
On the entertainment channel.
* * *
Bree Solo had set out on her own because of her lack of Force sensitivity. She hadn't been ashamed; far from it. But she'd slowly grown bored of always hearing about how great Jacen was doing in his animal language class, or how great a swordsman Anakin was, or how Jaina was top of her class in every class in the Academy, from lightsaber dueling to Force persuasion.
Bree had her achievements, too, but they had always been compared. Oh, can you imagine if Jaina tried that? How good she'd be! I'd bet Anakin would excel at that! Jacen was doing that at half your age!
The part of her that was Bree always tried to insist that she hadn't been jealous, but the part of her that was Breha Solo asked why she hadn't told anyone she was leaving, if she hadn't been jealous.
Bree tried to quiet the Breha-voice when she could. It made things easier.
Bree sighed and shook her head, attempting to clear it. She had to focus, now. Shortly after leaving Coruscant, she'd gone to the vacation world Glee Anselm, a world of beautiful oceans and beaches. Bree had spent a carefree week there using the money she'd inherited from her parents; with an ex-Chief of State for a mother and an ex-General and current pilot instructor for a father, that was quite substantial.
It had been a wonderful week, doing nothing but lounging on the beach tanning herself in a swimsuit. Her mother never would have approved. Daughters of chiefs of state should never dress so. They should always cover all parts of their bodies except when dictated to be acceptable for a party dress or gown.
So when she'd gone to Glee Anselm, she had, quite deliberately, chosen to buy a swimsuit that would have made her mother faint.
She'd enjoyed those days, lying on the beach and reading holobooks on her datapad; adventures of good old-fashioned, non-Force users. Smugglers and bounty hunters had been the focus of a great many of these, though the smuggler stories usually reminded her too much of her father and thus she enjoyed them substantially less than the others.
That fifth day on the beach, just as she'd been ready to return to her luxurious hotel suite and pack up her things, she'd been approached by a Nautolan native of Glee Anselm. He had a business associate, he said, who would find her quite intriguing. Bree had, of course, been quite cautious. After years of strenuous exercise with friends whose parents made them attend the New Republic Military Academy, she had a body most would have considered beautifully fit.
From stretching, and jumping exercises she had long, toned legs. Fighting and lifting exercises had given her muscular arms that were just the right size to not be considered mannish, but neither could they be called thin.
And from sit-up and twisting exercises, she had gained a perfectly toned abdomen.
At first, she had assumed this was why the Nautolan had approached her. He had no business partner, he was just looking for a woman. So she had said that she would meet his alleged partner as long as she could return to her hotel and change into something more business-appropriate first.
To her surprise, he had agreed; in fact, he had agreed not to escort her to the hotel, but to meet her at a local tapcaf.
Despite this, Bree had her reservations, and so went to her hotel suite and pulled on a tight pair of brown pants, black belt and boots, and a white v-neck shirt that was just a little revealing. Then she'd pulled on a black vest over it, and stuffed a holdout blaster down the vest pocket.
Mildly more surprising, the Nautolan actually had a business partner.
A Zeltron, his partner had apparently been the woman in charge of a league of special entertainers. She'd spotted Bree on the beach and decided she'd fit in perfectly with the entertainers. Bree had, once again, been reluctant, but the Zeltron had eventually explained that she would have a number of different opportunities.
So, over the past two years, Bree had done quite a number of new activities. First, she'd performed in an acrobatics competition, then a series of relay races, and repeated these activities across dozens of planets.
Now, two years later, she'd entered the activity that she realized the Zeltron had planned for her all along.
She was a swimsuit model.
Bree sighed and prepared to go on. Despite what Breha-voice told her, she was ready for this. In fact, she was excited. Bree-voice shouted down Breha-voice.
She looked at herself in the mirror. She still had a nice tan. Her face was made up in a way that she was even more beautiful than her mother had said she was as a child. But the holocams wouldn't be focusing on her face.
She wore a tight, close-cut two-piece. It had a black front to accentuate her fair skin with orange stripes down the sides.
She had to admit, she looked dazzling.
So shut up, Breha, she told herself. Go out there, make a few pictures, and make every male in the galaxy want you. How bad can that be?
Kyp Durron bowed in the darkness, eyes straining to see his Master. But, as always, she was hidden in, or by, the shadows.
"You have passed all your tests," she said. "But one remains...your final trial."
"I am ready, Master," he said eagerly.
"Good." She smiled. "You will go forth, and bring me a child of Solo."
"Solo's children are Jedi," he said.
"Not the fourth."
"They have a fourth child?"
"Where will I find this child?"
"I will tell you. You will bring her to me, and we will use her..."
* * *
Lightsaber gripped in his hand, Ben groaned as Seha finished off Tahiri. Great. Now he had a problem. With a quick glance behind him, he saw Jacen nod. He could do this.
"Good luck," Seha said, oozing sweetness.
"Fight!" Solusar said.
Ben lunged forward. Seha moved lithely aside and swung her blade at the back of his neck. He ducked under the blade, turned, and swept at her waist. She yipped in surprise and fell back.
Ben turned and advanced. He determined that he would stay focused on the fight this time, just keep focused...
Then she was on him, with a one-two-three strike than had him almost to the edge of the ring. He jumped to the side just in time and booted her in the back. She growled, turned, and unleashed a blast of Force energy that sent him sprawling.
Ben leapt immediately to his feet and stabbed at Seha. She blocked it, and he immediately came around to slam his saber into hers, once, twice, three times. On the fourth time he followed it up with a kick. She grunted as his boot planted firmly in her gut.
His blade brushed her red hair, turned, and touched the tip of her neck.
"I win," he said sweetly.
* * *
Captain Gilad Pellaeon of the Star Destroyer Chimaera clasped his hands behind his back and stepped forward to examine the combat taking place on his hangar deck.
A squad of his finest stormtroopers was facing down a pair of short gray aliens called Noghri. They were servants of the Empire's new Master, or so it was said. And they were expert killers.
Sergeant Grodin Tierce, Pellaeon's top trooper, led the way with a teräs käsi strike at the first Noghri's throat. The Noghri ducked under Tierce's legs and came around behind in a motion so fast it appeared only as a blur, and then leapt into the air and performed a perfect spinning kick to the back of Tierce's neck.
Tierce grunted in pain and fell forward, rolling immediately to his feet and bringing himself up to resume the fight. The Noghri hissed and lunged, fist coming at Tierce's gut. Tierce side-stepped and chopped down on the back of the Noghri's neck, a disabling strike. But the Noghri went with the blow and managed to stay active.
Meanwhile, the other four stormtroopers were engaging the second Noghri. The gray alien had alreay disabled one and rendered a second unconscious, and the other two weren't faring much better.
"Impressive, are they not?" a female voice breathed.
"Most impressive," Pellaeon agreed, not daring to meet his Master's gaze.
The second Noghri had now rendered the other two stormtroopers unconscious as well, and was now moving to help his clan mate fight Tierce. The stormtrooper sergeant grinned and leapt at the one he'd been fighting from the beginning, grabbed him by the nape of his neck, and hurled him at the second.
The Noghri didn't pause. He leapt over his airborn ally and slammed a fist into Tierce's throat. Gagging, Tierce went down, but he brought the Noghri with him in a devastating leg twist.
"Not invincible," Pellaeon noted.
"No one is," the female voice agreed. "However, they are quite difficult to defeat, even for one so skilled as Sergeant Tierce. I reccommend he be promoted, by the way."
"As you wish."
But his Master was already gone.
* * *
"All done, Breha!" the cameraman said. "Great work. You can go change now."
"Actually," the Zeltron manager said, "I have a special reward for Bree. We don't usually do this, but do you have someone special?"
Breha considered. She'd always been infatuated with Kamren Antilles, son of Wedge Antilles. They'd been briefly involved before Bree had left home.
"Yes," she said.
"Well, we'll make you a recording to send him, no charge. Make it good." She nodded to the camera-man. "Go."
"Rolling," he said.
Bree leaned down, grinning, toward the camera. She put her hands on her knees and her chest at the height of the camera, giving the viewer an eyeful of her barely-covered chest.
"Hi, Kammy," she said seducively. "Do you miss me? I miss you." She blew a kiss toward the camera. "Keep this close...it'll remind you of me..."
The cameraman shut it down. His eyes were twitching, she noted.
She could get used to this.
"I choose Ben Skywalker as my apprentice," Jacen said.
Even as the words left his mouth he felt an intense wave of relief. He'd done it; he'd actually done it and now no one else could take Ben on, and he would be able to make a fine Jedi out of his cousin.
Across the room, Jaina raised a puzzled eyebrow at him. Jacen just grinned at her and nodded. She nodded back.
"You...what?" Ben exclaimed.
Jacen nodded. "You're my apprentice, Ben."
The other Jedi Knights and Masters chose the students they wanted as their apprentices. When it was over, Luke stood and activated the loudspeaker.
"This is a tremendous milestone for every Jedi student," he said. "I am honored to have overseen the training of each of you. You are apprentices now. Go, and make the galaxy a better place."
Ben grinned at Jacen. Jacen grinned back.
* * *
Kyp crouched in the shadows of the hallway, staring at the dressing room down the street. He sensed she was coming out...
She stepped into the hall, a beautiful woman with brown hair and eyes to match. She wore a teal bathrobe that extended to her knees.
He leapt into action.
She turned in surprise but didn't get a word out before he put his black-gloved hand over her mouth. He touched the barrel of a hold-out blaster to her neck; it was more convenient to hide than his saber.
"Silently, now," he said. "Say a word and I shoot; I expect your death will have an equally satisfying result as what my Master has planned."
Eyes wide with fear, the Solo girl nodded.
"Let's go," Kyp said.
* * *
Pellaeon stepped up and bowed at the waist, trying to catch a glimpse of the Master behind the veil of shadows that seemed to surround the throne.
"Ah-ah, Captain," she said. "No peeking..."
"Apologies, my lord."
"Noted, Captain. Have you taken my advice regarding Sergeant Tierce?"
"I have, my lord. You will be pleased to hear that he is now Lieutenant Tierce."
There was a moment of tense silence, during which Pellaeon feared that the Master would reach out and kill him, as Vader would have. But she did not.
"Ah, good." Her hidden eyes turned to her right, to the figure standing there, also concealed by shadow; her doing rather than his, Pellaeon figured. "Grand Admiral, you may begin preparations for Stage One. The codes will be mine shortly."
The Grand Admiral bowed at the waist.
"At once, my lord."
As the Grand Admiral departed, Pellaeon fidgeted. He had not, technically, been dismissed as yet...
"You may go, Captain," she said, almost as if an afterthought. "Contact Talon Karrde. The smuggler may be of some use to us."
Pellaeon grimaced. Dealing with smugglers was as utterly unpleasant as dealing with bounty hunters.
"Yes, my lord," he said.
He turned and exited the throne room, and he wondered just what purpose the Master had for scum like Karrde.
* * *
Ben tossed off his outer robe as he sat down in the closed but comfortable confines of Jacen's personal starship.
"So," he said eagerly, "where are we going?"
Jacen glanced at him sternly. "Ben, fold up your robe."
Ben sighed. "Yes, Master."
He did so, deciding that it would take a great deal of getting used to, having Jacen as his Master instead of his cousin and friend.
"We are headed," Jacen said while Ben folded, "to a planet in Wild Space known as Ziost."
Ben considered. "I've heard of it. A Sith world, right? Palpatine was rumored to have a fortress there."
"Correct," Jacen said. "You've been studying."
"Yes, Ziost is a Sith world, but we're not going because of anything related to Palpatine's rumored fortress. We're going because there's a rumor that smugglers may be trafficking guns through there to insurgents in the Outer Rim."
Ben frowned. "There hasn't been a problem with insurgents since the official pronouncement of the New Republic."
"True," Jacen replied. "But we still can't get complacent. We have to make sure."
"Strap down," Jacen said. "Prepare for the jump to hyperspace."
Screaming in protest, Breha Solo was dragged into the darkened interrogation room in the Chimaera. Pellaeon kept his hand near the butt of his blaster.
The black-cloaked lad shoved her to the ground and reached down to pull the mask off her head. As soon as it came off Breha began screaming bloody murder at the shadows, though of course she could not see anything except her young kidnapper.
"Why did you bring her here?" Pellaeon asked.
The Master glanced out of the shadows at him. Breha could not hear them, either.
"Did you notice her rather unusual dress?" asked the Master.
Pellaeon frowned. "A bath robe. So? Did your man kidnap her straight out of the shower?"
A small laugh. "No, but she doesn't have much more on underneath."
Pellaeon frowned. The Master hit the intercom button on her chair.
"Remove the robe," she said.
Durron did so, revealing a swimsuit underneath. Pellaeon looked away discreetly.
"Direct her to put it back on," the Master said. "Odd for a Solo, eh, Captain?"
Pellaeon considered. "Yes."
"Organa Solo especially would never allow a child of hers to dress in such a manner."
"Of course not; as former Chief of State she has certain standards her whole family must live up to, and frollicking around in clothing that on some worlds might not even be considered decent for underclothes doesn't meet those standards."
"Do you know the reason?"
"Separation from her family?"
"In a way. Not voluntary, though she believes to her core that it was."
Pellaeon frowned. "What?"
"When Breha Solo was a child, just before the fall of the last true Imperial strongholds, she went to a medic on Coruscant for a routine health checkup. What her parents did not know was that the doctor had been replaced by an Imperial spy."
"I believe I see."
"Let me explain," the Master said. "The spy made modifications to Breha's brainwave pattern that would not manifest for many years. That was quite intentional. In fact, the modifications did not activate until her most recent birthday."
"Your doing, I presume."
"Yes, the spy ingrained the brainwashing to activate this year quite intentionally. All is going as I designed."
"So what was the programming?"
"Breha now has two dominant personalities, but not dominant enough so she would be considered schizophrenia. In fact, no one would be able to tell the difference between the two Breha Solos, but for one small modifiction: the original Breha Solo is the same reserved, polite girl she always was. But the new, implanted personality has no inhibitions. In fact, the second personality encourages acts that the old Breha would find disgusting."
"Hence the swimsuit?"
The Master nodded. "Yes. The new personality became fed up with her siblings' Force sensitivity and moved off to discover her own way of life; that, of course, was also by design."
"Bringing her within reach."
"Yes, but also putting her in position to help us combat the New Republic."
"Surely the older personality would win out over programming directly contrary to her beliefs. Isn't that how brainwashing works?"
"Yes. That is why I must bring out the newer personality and hibernate, if you will, the older."
"With the Force." The Master touched the intercom again. "Kyp, strap her down."
* * *
Jacen pulled on the brown jumpsuit and clipped his lightsaber to his belt. Robes were well and good around the Academy, but he hated wearing them in the field; they got in the way. So, he gave Ben one of the jumpsuits he'd worn at Ben's age, and they went out, just two guys in utilities save for the lightsabers.
"Let's go," Jacen said.
"Right. Uh, Master."
Jacen grinned and led Ben out into the cold wind of Ziost. Snow blew gently across his skin, and he paused to savor the feeling for a moment. He had always enjoyed nature, this was just another part of it.
"So, where do we investigate gun runners?" Ben asked. "Local cantina?"
"Yep," Jacen replied. "But you," he directed, "stay outside. You're underage."
Jacen entered the cantina, being cautious to tuck his lightsaber out of sight in his jacket pocket and tug his blaster more prominently into sight.
"Give me a Gizer," he said.
The bartender, a grizzly, bald man, nodded and moved off to brew the drink. Jacen casually glanced around the cantina, letting the Force guide his eye. He caught a glimpse of a man in a brown jacket and wide-brimmed hat with a neatly-trimmed goatee.
Talking to a man in a gray uniform.
So it was worse than just guns going to Outer Rim insurgents. The Empire was on the rise again. Jacen waited a moment, watching the gray-clothed man leave the cantina. Then he took his Gizer and went to sit across from the man with the goatee.
"Jakkin Thral," he introduced himself. "You look like a man in need of hired muscle."
The man with the goatee frowned, not showing any sign of surprise. "What makes you say that?"
"A hunch," Jacen said coolly.
"Huh. I like a man who follows his hunches. My name is Talon Karrde."
Jacen knew the name; Karrde was a big-time smuggler and had basically been running the crime scene since Jabba the Hutt's death.
"Of course you are," he said with a grin. "Who doesn't know the great Talon Karrde?"
"I'm flattered," Karrde said, deadpan. "Listen, I would love to talk more business with you but I am short on time. Perhaps I am not your man."
"No," Jacen said firmly. "I think you are."
Karrde sighed. "This how it's going down?"
"No violence is required," Jacen said.
"No?" Karrde chuckled. "I suppose not. Care to take this outside?"
Jacen nodded. "Sure."
* * *
Kyp stood calmly to the side as the Master entered the room, her voluminous black cloak hiding her true appearance as always. Breha Solo snarled and pulled against her restraints fearfully.
"Don't resist," the Master said, and Kyp felt the Force suggestion carry even from where he stood. "You are a good little child."
"I...am...good..." Breha said.
Her half-naked body stiffened perceptibly and her eyes became vacant.
"Good." The Master continued her suggestion. "You are a servant of the Empire. You will do exactly as I say to the letter."
Kyp glanced at Pellaeon, who was clearly uncomfortable with the entire situation. Pellaeon caught Kyp's look and nodded ambiguously.
"You will go to Coruscant," the Master said. "Avoid your parents at all costs; do not tell them you are even on-planet. Here is what you will do..."
* * *
Jacen grunted in surprise as a booted foot caught him in the head as he exited the cantina. He rolled with the blow and landed on his feet, reaching for his blaster since his lightsaber was out of reach in his jacket.
"Ben!" he snapped.
But Ben was nowhere to be seen. Karrde smiled a little and motioned to his side. Ben stood there in a chokehold, a small girl about his age pointing a blaster at his head with the hand not choking him.
"I don't want to have to execute your kid," said Karrde. "Just leave me alone and you can have him."
Jacen sighed, nodded...and unleashed a blast of Force energy that knocked Karrde, Ben, and the girl on their backs. Jacen switched his blaster to stun and fired, once at Karrde and once at the girl. The girl rolled aside miraculously and fired at Jacen with a bolt that was not set to stun. Jacen leapt aside. Suddenly the girl went down, Ben's feet wrapped around her ankles.
"Ben, let's go!" Jacen snapped.
Ben took off after him.
* * *
Talon Karrde snarled under his breath and reached for his blaster. The two young men were already halfway down the street.
"Get up, Mara!" Talon ordered.
Mara Jade shook her head and stood, reaching for the hold-out blaster she'd dropped. Then they set off in pursuit of the two.
"Aves, Dankin!" Karrde said over the comlink. "We've got two interlopers! Come around to my location via the side streets and cut them off!"
"Yes, sir," replied Aves.
Karrde fired a trio of stun bolts ahead, careful not to his bystanders. He was a smuggler, but not a killer.
As he moved, he did not notice Mara hiding the younger boy's lightsaber in her jacket.
Kamren Antilles walked down the hall, confusion and other emotions fighting for dominance in his head. He'd always been good friends with Breha Solo, but he'd never thought of her in a romantic way, let alone as she apparently did, given her...gift.
Kamren shook his head and turned into the big foyer of the New Republic Starfighter Command building. And he froze.
Standing in the center of the room was Breha Solo, wearing short shorts and a skin-tight jacket. She saw him and wiggled her fingers in greeting.
"Breha, what are you doing here?" he asked.
She giggled and slammed into him, planting her lips full against his. Kamren probably wouldn't have protested, but he was in his flight suit, and still on duty, technically. So he pushed her back gently.
"Aren't you glad to see me?" Breha pouted.
"Don't call me that," she said. "I'm Bree."
He nodded. "Okay, Bree, then. Listen, Bree, I have to go over and inspect the new recruits. I'd love to catch up later, but not now."
"Oh, come on," she said, grinning.
She unzipped her jacket, just a little too much.
"Show me around the place," she insisted. "Maybe starting with your quarters...?"
* * *
Ben slammed face-first into the ground, wishing he'd had time to retrieve his lightsaber from that red-headed girl. But instead he had to clumsily dodge blaster bolts from half a dozen smugglers and return fire with the blaster Jacen had handed him.
"Stay down!" Jacen ordered.
His green blade swung through the air, swatting blaster bolts away. He was always sure to keep them from hitting the shooters, Ben noted. Whoever was shooting at them, Jacen didn't want to make them madder than they already were by killing their men.
"Stun bolts only," Jacen said.
Ben nodded, stood, and fired, once at the long-haired blond man and once at the bald man with blue tattoos on his forehead. Both dodged and kept firing kill shots.
"No fair," Ben grumbled. "They obviously don't mind killing us."
"I'll explain later," Jacen replied.
He leapt into the air, drawing the fire of both men. Ben stood, catching the tattooed man with a stun bolt. He went down with a thump. The blond man returned his attention to Ben and opened fire. Ben rolled away from his cover, fired twice at the blond man, and ran into the alley, dodging the shots of the other four shooters.
"Ben!" Jacen called from around the corner. "Just go! I'll be fine–run!"
Ben started to protest, but the man in the wide-brimmed hat came around the corner of the alley. Ben sighed, Force-leapt atop the building, and ran, leaving Jacen to fend for himself.
* * *
Mara fired at the brown-haired man with the green-bladed lightsaber, wishing she'd had more time to work on her own lightsaber skills.
But she'd been lost before she was old enough...
She shook her head to clear it and fired. Karrde was moving into the alley to get the younger Jedi, leaving Aves to command the rest of the smugglers. Dankin was down, smoke rising from where the stun bolt had struck him.
There were still three men shooting at the Jedi. Mara made her choice.
Pulling a medkit from her belt, she injected a stim into Dankin's neck. The near-human jerked and sat up, reaching for his fallen blaster. Mara put her hand on his shoulder.
"Thanks, kid," Dankin rasped.
"No problem," Mara replied. "Get the Jedi?"
Dankin nodded. "Kill bolts aren't working. Switch to stun."
Mara nodded. The Jedi could reflect multiple kill shots, maybe even multiple stun shots, but not both at once.
"Now!" Dankin said.
Mara trained her small blaster on the Jedi's back and fired. The Jedi whirled, caught her bolt, and turned back to block a killing shot from Chin. Mara fired again, as did Dankin. The Jedi leapt over Dankin's shot, but Mara anticipated the move and shot the Jedi mid-flight. The Jedi gasped and fell to the ground.
"Nice shot, kid," Dankin said. "Come on, let's help Karrde."
Bree grinned seductively as she shut the door to Kamren's quarters behind her. His heart was beating rapidly; she could tell by the shallow breaths he took. She leaned in to kiss him...
And jabbed a dart into his thigh.
Kamren gasped and fell to the floor, out cold. Bree swiftly removed her jacket and shorts and put on a black mimetic suit. She dragged Kamren's body onto his bed and activated the mimetic suit. She was instantly invisible.
She crept out into the hallway and moved for the command center. She fingered the compact blaster hidden in its holster.
Don't do this, Breha said. You're betraying your family.
What do I care? Bree demanded. They don't care about me as much as they care about the others. This serves them right.
Breha shut up, but Bree couldn't help but feel a little guilty all the same. She snuck swiftly into the command center. It was currently running on a light crew; not surprising, since the Republic hadn't been at war for ten years.
Bree quickly sealed the door behind her and blasted each of the technicians in the room as she deactivated her mimetic suit. The commander on duty whirled, and Bree shot him clean in the chest.
She looked down at her blaster and frowned. How had it gotten set to stun?
No matter. She had to download the location of the Republic's trade routes and their plans and get out.
* * *
Ben huffed as he reached the hangar. Jacen's ship was just ahead; all he had to do was power it up and take off...but where was Jacen?
The man in the hat was right behind him, Ben knew. He couldn't wait. He'd power up, fly the ship over to Jacen's last location, and pick him up.
Ben leapt into the ship and locked the hatch, and then powered it up. He had the flying skills of his father, but he'd never had time to practice his piloting.
He transmitted a request for takeoff and lifted the ship just as the man in the hat entered the hangar. Ben had the ship out of the dock as blaster bolts bounced uselessly off the hull.
He flew the ship down to the last avenue he'd seen Jacen on and hovered there. A cold lump formed in his gut. No Jacen...no smugglers.
"Oh, blast," he muttered. "What do I do?"
He flipped the switch on the ship's comlink and put in the coordinates for Yavin IV.
"Jedi Academy, this is Ben Skywalker," he said. "Put me through to Grand Master Skywalker."
"Ben," said the Jedi on the other end. "Where's Jacen?"
"No time," Ben replied. "Hurry!"
"Just a moment."
While the Jedi channeled him through to his father he flew for open space. He'd come back to Ziost if it turned out Jacen was still down there, but for now he'd hover here and wait to see if any ships launched. If one did, Jacen might be aboard.
"Ben?" Luke's voice came.
"What's wrong, Ben?"
"Is he okay?"
"I don't know. We got in a firefight with a band of smugglers. One of them took my lightsaber. Jacen told me to run for it and he'd be right behind me. I got to the ship and came back for him...and they were gone."
Luke paused to take it in. "Blast. All right, Ben, stay there. I'll send Anakin to help."
"All right, Dad. Thanks. Love you."
"Love you too. May the Force be with you, Ben."
* * *
Jaina Solo was suiting up for her flight to Coruscant when Anakin ran into the hangar, pulling his flight suit on.
"Anakin, what's wrong?" she asked.
"Ben's in trouble," he replied as he jumped into his X-wing.
"No," Anakin replied. "You go to Coruscant, I'll deal with Ben."
Luke had gotten a contact from Kamren Antilles that Breha Solo, Jaina's sister, was on Coruscant and had hit him with a stun dart. They'd found the entire crew in the command center unconscious and several critical plans missing.
Jaina, personally, believed it was an impostor, but she had to investigate all the same.
"Say hi to Mom and Dad for me," Anakin said.
"Sure," Jaina replied. "Good luck."
Anakin grinned. "No such thing."
This fan fiction sounds way better than what we got with the actual movie. They could have chosen any director other than J.J Abrams. When you ask Abrams to make a new entry in an existing franchise/series, he never makes anything new, he just remakes the same old stuff already existing in that series. This fan fiction is 100 times more creative than Abram's copy and paste of Episode 4. I wonder what would have been in that story treatment by George Lucas that Disney threw out? This fan fiction could make for a good "what if" version for what was in that discarded story treatment.