Here it is...
Luke Skywalker stood still as the Star Destroyer reverted to real-space. Below, the planet Ossus hung like an orange jewel among the stars.
“Beautiful,” he said.
“Yes,” hissed young Saba Sebatyne.
A few years Luke’s junior, Saba was a Barabel. Master K’Kruhk had discovered her on Barab I just before the fall of Coruscant. Luke had taken her on as his temporary apprentice. As a Jedi Knight, there hadn’t been a more opportune time to train a Padawan.
Luke glanced to his left and his heart sank. The Mandalorian Kad Skirata was standing alongside Jedi Padawan Mara Jade. Luke had taken a liking to Mara the first time he’d met her. And now, she was standing there, holding hands with a Mandalorian.
“Are you jealous?” asked Saba, with a flurry of sissing.
“No,” Luke lied.
Sissing was the Barabels’ way of laughing, Luke knew, and the Barabels had a very strange sense of humor that only other reptiles seemed to understand.
They were also very sensitive to emotions.
“Go over and talk to her,” Saba whispered.
“Saba, I can’t just–”
Luke sighed, motioned for Saba to stay where she was, and moved over to where Mara and Kad were. To his discomfort, they were now facing each other, and he had both of her hands grasped in his.
“Hello,” Luke said.
Embarrassed, Mara smiled shyly and took her hands away from Kad, who seemed more annoyed than angry.
“Hi, Luke,” she said.
“Hello, Jedi Skywalker,” Kad greeted.
Luke stumbled over what to say next, glanced back at Saba, and cleared his throat. It seemed as if his tongue was a desert, and the oasis had been long evaporated.
“Um,” he said. “Lovely view, eh?”
More annoyed, Kad said, “I was just saying as much to Mara.”
“Ah. Um, sorry?”
“Yes, of course,” Kad replied. Coming from a Mandalorian, it sounded more like a threat. “I understand. But now, if you would be so kind…?”
Luke cleared his throat again. What to do?
“Actually, I came over to ask Mara if she wanted to have lunch in the mess.”
Kad’s face softened. “Ah, I didn’t realize you two were…”
“We’re not,” Mara quickly said.
“Oh. Excellent then!” Kad beamed. “Perhaps we could all have lunch, then?”
Luke realized what a huge mistake he’d made.
“Of course,” Luke mumbled.
“Excellent,” Kad said. He seemed almost…cordial. “Then we will meet in the mess. I’ll be bringing some friends.”
To Luke’s anger, Kad leaned down and kissed Mara’s forehead. As he walked away, she watched him go. Luke felt his face redden and used the Force to calm himself.
“Mara,” he said.
“Don’t say it, Luke,” she replied.
He found himself worried that he’d angered her.
“Mara, if you like him more, then…”
“Luke, he approached me. I have no interest in him. Other than learning how to fight Mandalorian-style, of course.”
“You’re using him?”
“No!” Mara exclaimed, seeming hurt at the accusation. “I intend to tell him what I want at lunch! If you’ll just give me some space to do that.”
“He’s bringing friends,” Luke said, changing the subject. “Is it a Mandalorian tradition? Maybe he thinks you like him. What if–”
“Luke!” she said. “Since when do you control my social life?”
As she stormed off, Luke kicked himself mentally. That could have gone better. And he was almost sure he could hear Saba in a fit of sissing.
Anakin’s starfighter exited hyperspace somewhere above the water world Mon Calamari. The Republic was relocating, jumping every which-way to keep away from the Vong. Some of the survivors from Coruscant had made for Mon Cal, others Ossus or Yavin.
“Beautiful,” a pilot said.
“Cut the chatter, Red Three,” Garven Dries said.
Anakin bit his lip. He’d lost many men in Shadow Squadron during the Battle of Ithor. Shadow Three; Noirah Na–a Jedi Knight female human–had been among those that had not returned.
“All wings,” Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “prepare for landing.”
Anakin twisted his controls and headed for Mon Cal.
Czulkang Lah watched as Supreme Overlord Shimrra ascended his throne. Lah shouted in excitement along with everyone else. As the warmaster of the Yuuzhan Vong forces, Czulkang Lah would get special honor for the conquering of Coruscant.
“Exalted one!” the Yuuzhan Vong shouted.
“We shall have victory over the infidels!” Shimrra said.
More cheers. Czulkang watched as Onimi, Shimrra’s jester, slinked up to sit beside the throne. He noted something odd in the eyes of the jester, but he was caught up in the ceremony.
It had probably been nothing, anyway.