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Rated: ASR · Serial · Sci-fi · #863530
Twi'lek Jedi Knight Terra Ysillia rushes to save the Ryotan system. (A five part serial.)

          A glint of silver in the pinpoint covered blackness of deep space, the small freighter made its way through one of the barest regions of the Mid Rim, an already sparsely populated region of the galaxy. The ship, called the Shade Icarus, was boxy but needed to be so to carry large shipments. The only window was in the front of the vessel, fittingly for the cockpit. Inside, a woman in brown robes stepped in through the heavy sliding door in the back of said room.
          “How long until we reach the Ryotan System?” Terra Ysillia, the newly knighted Twi’lek jedi, asked as she entered.
          The cockpit itself was small, but not quite cramped. It had only two seats, for the pilot and copilot. The tanned leather was showing little cracks of wear and the lights didn’t shine quite as brightly as they used to but the controls and screens themselves were in pristine shape.
          Much like the human pilot, Aryl Tirani, who idly scratched at the stubble covering his chiseled chin while sitting hunched over the freighter’s instrument panel. His receding brown hair was the only hint that he’d been a pilot for the twenty-three years his record said.
          He always wore the same thing when he was on the job, as if it was a uniform: A white collarless shirt and gray pants, which were immaculately clean, and his lucky leather coat that wrapped around Aryl’s muscular frame and matched the seats of the ship perfectly… showing little cracks of wear and tear. He never took it off.
          The pilot smirked, his cheeks flushing slightly when Terra’s hand patted his shoulder. “It should be about two more hours in hyperspace.”
          The Twi’lek’s gray eyes gazed over Aryl, to the instrument panel and back to the pilot. One of the two pale green tentacles, or lekku, growing from Terra’s head dropped from its resting place on her shoulder and absently drifted back and forth in the air between herself and the pilot.
          “That’s great, Aryl.” She patted his shoulder again. “That’s really great.”
          A light blinked on the instrument panel. “T-23 wants to see you in the cargo bay, Master Jedi.”
          “Thank you.” Terra turned to leave the cockpit, her hand lingering on Aryl’s shoulder.
          She still had to get used to being called “Master Jedi”. Terra had only taken the Trials to become a Jedi Knight a short time ago. In fact, this was her first mission since the Trials.
          The Twi’lek’s light brown robes hung loosely over her lithe frame, held closed around her body by her black belt. That held several pouches and Terra’s custom made lightsaber, a jedi’s traditional weapon. Her thigh high boots were highly polished, catching the light with every step as they emerged from her chocolate colored cloak.
          Upon entering the cargo bay, Terra was greeted by the nervous beeping of the anxious astro droid, T-23. The brass plated droid rolled up to the Jedi Knight, bumping into her hip, which was equal to the machine’s total height. The droid circled behind the twi’lek and started pushing Terra toward the tall stack of metallic boxes that lined the wall.
          She hadn’t seen the little droid stop for more than two seconds the entire trip. T-23 was always checking on something, oftentimes more than three or four times.
          “What’s wrong?” Terra was thankful when the corner of the astro droid’s casing stopped pushing into her backside.
          The freighter’s cargo bay was pretty sparse, only carrying a small shipment of thirty boxes on this trip. Along the starboard wall was the large airlock door. On the aft wall, the shipment was strapped down securely.
The boxes themselves were made of the same metal, it seemed, as the rest of the ship. They weren’t even that big, only about a lightsaber tall and wide each. Each had a red label, describing their contents.
          T-23 started for the far side of the boxes, stacked six high, which made up the entire shipment. One of the three brass panels on the front of the droid slid up, revealing an assortment of tools inside. A durasteel arm emerged from the hole, it pointed from one box to another on the bottom row, right beside the first.
          Terra knelt and inspected the boxes. Both had the Republic’s biohazard symbol on them. That wasn’t unusual, considering the vaccine enclosed within them. Nothing seemed wrong with the boxes, no leaking, dents or other damage.
          The Jedi Knight glanced over at the droid, who was still indicating that there was something wrong with the boxes. She looked again at the red labels. Box #27 of 30, containing Nrael Vaccine and box #26 of 30… the two boxes were stacked out of order. It should have been #26 then #27.
          “This is the only problem, T-23?” Terra scowled.
          The astro droid beeped in the affirmative.
          The Twi’lek rose to her feet. “There’s nothing we can do about it now.” T-23 started to protest. “I assure you that they’ll be unloaded in their proper order.” She patted the top of the droid as she left the cargo bay.
          Back in the cockpit, Terra dropped herself into the vacant copilot’s seat beside Aryl. He gave her a playful little smirk as he turned to look at her.
          “So what was the problem?” He didn’t seem too concerned.
          “Two boxes were stacked out of order.” Terra was slouched in the seat.
          Aryl chuckled. “I figured it was something like that.”
          Terra sighed. “I can’t wait to get back to Coruscant.”
          “T-23 is annoying you that much?”
          “No.” The Twi’lek straightened in her seat. “When I get back, I’m getting my first Padawan apprentice. He’s the same species as Master Yoda.”
          “I can see why you’re excited.” Aryl turned for a moment to press a few buttons. “I’m anxious to get back myself.”
          “Why’s that?”
          “Queen Amidala is getting sworn in as a Senator soon. What Noobian would want to miss that?” Aryl smiled.
          Terra smiled back, relaxing into her chair.
          The Twi’lek watched the stars stream by in silence, stealing occasional looks over at Aryl, who busied himself with piloting the ship. Neither spoke, they didn’t feel the need. Once, when she looked over at Aryl yet again, she caught him stealing a glance at her, just as she had been doing.
She blushed, her cheeks turning a dark green, when she remembered what Aryl said to Gingi the engineer about twi’leks just as she first boarded the ship…
          “Hey, Aryl! Can you hear me up there?” Gingi’s baritone voice popped over the comm.
          With a flick of the switch, Aryl responded. “Yeah, I hear you Calamari-boy. What’s up?”
          “Could one of you come back here and collect T-23?” Both Aryl and Terra had to stifle chuckles. “He’s messing with my engines again.”
          Suddenly the ship lurched as if it had hit a wall! Frantically, the pilot looked over the instrument panel.
          “What happened back there, Gingi?” Aryl’s brow furrowed.
          “I don’t know!” The Mon Calamari’s voice betrayed how uneasy he felt.
          Terra glanced out at the stars as she rose from her seat… and they weren’t there. Outside the ship was only blackness, no points of light or any hint that they had ever been there.
          “I’m going back to see what I can do.” Terra hopped to her feet.
          “Be careful.” The pilot didn’t look up from the panel. “Whatever shook us up could do it again. Watch your step!”
          “Absolutely!” The cockpit’s door shut behind her.
          The Jedi Knight rushed to the back of the ship. “What did T-23 do?”
          The Mon Calamari’s large eyes darted around on either side of his leathery head. “Nothing!”
          Computer screens lined both the port and starboard walls of the engine room. One large control panel ran along the middle of the room, separating it into almost perfect halves.
          T-23 frantically dashed from computer terminal to computer terminal on the port side. The droid’s eclectic beeping told both Terra and Gingi that he was as confused as they were.
          “He was just running a diagnostic!” Gingi’s brown webbed fingers started pressing buttons on the long control panel. “Everything was fine!”
          The Mon Calamari’s blue clothes seemed to fit him tighter than they should, probably due to the stress and the fact that he was hunching over from screen to screen to screen. His leathery brown skin started to glisten with what Terra would’ve described as sweat but knew that it was impossible for a fish-like Mon Calamari to do so.
          “What’s the status now?” The Jedi Knight started checking the engine’s gauges on the starboard side.
          “It doesn’t make any sense!” Gingi grunted. “Everything says the engines are normal but we’re… stuck!”
          “Stuck?” Something clicked in the back of Terra’s mind. “Call me up in the cockpit!”
          And the jedi rushed out of the engine room before he even had a chance to answer. The Mon Calamari watched her go with a confused look on his leathery face. T-23, on the other hand, started for the cargo bay.
          The Twi’lek jumped into the copilot’s seat. “I think I know what’s happening!”
          The frowning Noobian looked up at her. “You do?” A faint glimmer came into Aryl’s eyes.
          “What do you have in mind, Master Ysillia?” Gingi’s voice popped over the comm.
          “Take a thermal detonator from the weapons locker and eject it out of the airlock in the cargo bay!” Terra continued. “But don’t activate it!”
          “Are you crazy?” The Mon Calamari’s voice cracked.
          Aryl’s face made his confusion obvious. “What DO you have in mind?”
          “Gingi said we were stuck.” The Jedi Knight looked out the window. “While we can’t go forward, I’m willing to bet we’re drifting to the side.”
          Aryl looked down, checking all of the ship’s instruments. “You’re right.” His hazel eyes opened wide. “We’re inching exactly 87 degrees to the right!”
          “What I have to do is move the detonator to the starboard bow, there.” Terra pointed out the window ahead and to the right. “When I detonate it, it should knock us back and out far enough for you to get us away from it.”
          Pressing a few buttons, Aryl looked over at the Jedi Knight. “Away from what?”
          She didn’t answer him. The entirety of her attention was out the window.
“Gingi?” The Twi’lek finally said, feeling her patience become strained.
          “Alright.” The Mon Calamari’s voice popped over the comm. “Ejecting the detonator now.” T-23’s beeping could be heard in the background.
          With a faint hiss, the metal sphere floated into the Jedi Knight’s view through the window. She stared at it, concentrating to make it stop drifting… but it kept moving. Terra grunted with the effort but the thermal detonator kept moving, almost out of range now.
          Terra bit her green lip, all her muscles tensing. “I can’t stop the detonator… I can’t trigger it!”
          Aryl’s hand wrapped around hers. The soft look in his eyes reassured the jedi to keep trying. If she just concentrated a little harder…
          To both their surprise, a grappling hook shot out from beyond Terra and Aryl’s view and wrapped around the metal sphere. After a few moments T-23 appeared, magnetically adhering to the smooth surface of the freighter’s starboard side, rolling towards the cockpit.
          T-23 stopped beside the window. The brass droid reeled the thermal detonator in to the open, top panel on his front side.
          “What are you doing?” Terra jumped up, her hands pressing against the cockpit’s window.
          The grappling hook slowly spun around, revealing one of the claws hovering over the detonator’s triggering switch. It was the only claw not clamped down on the sphere.
          The Jedi Knight stared at the astro droid. The color drained from Aryl’s face. T-23 didn’t move and neither, seemingly, did the ship.
          “Aryl? Master Ysillia?” Gingi’s voice came over the comm. “Have you seen T-23?”
          Neither Terra nor Aryl answered.
          “He kept trying to take the thermal detonator from me before I ejected it.”
          The Twi’lek’s mouth went dry. The blackness outside interfered with her ability to use the Force. She wasn’t able to get the detonator out of the droid’s grasp. What could T-23 possibly want with the weapon?
          “T-23?” Aryl finally started to speak. “We need the detonator. Let it go.”
          The astro droid beeped quickly. “Jedi Master Terra Ysillia was unable to trigger the thermal detonator.” Aryl read the translation of the beeps from a screen on his console.
          Terra frowned. She couldn’t argue with T-23.
          “What do you suggest then?” Aryl asked.
          With a silent scrape, the droid’s magnets disengaged and it started floating away from the surface of the freighter. T-23’s bottom panel opened. A welding torch emerged from the hole. Sparks of energy started shooting from the end of the torch.
          “He’s using it to propel himself away from the ship.” Aryl stared out the window.
          T-23 drifted to the exact point Terra had in mind. With a short flurry of beeps, T-23 triggered the detonator.
          Small pieces of brass scraped on the hull of the ship a split second before the shockwave hit. Aryl and Terra were both thrown into their seats by the blast and the pilot grabbed for the ship’s controls.
Terra closed her eyes. The ship spun, flipping away from the blackness. She could hear the metal screeching under the strain as the explosion rumbled through the ship.
Feeling the shaking, her hands tightened their grip on the arms of her chair. As quickly as it started, even though it felt like the longest time, the shaking subsided. The silence made Terra uneasy… as if something else was waiting to happen.
          Slowly, the Twi’lek opened her gray eyes. There they were, the stars, and there he was, Aryl. The pilot looked relieved as he leaned back in his chair. He ran his hand through his short hair.
          He breathed a quiet sigh of relief. “We’re out of… whatever it was.”
          “It was a black hole.” Terra stood up, wrapping her brown robes tightly around herself.
          “What’s that?”
          “A black hole is a gravity well that seems to swallow everything, even the stars.” Terra started. “All we know about it is the record of a ship from shortly after the formation of the Jedi order.”
          Aryl asked. “If it swallows ships, how did the Jedi find it?”
          “The engines of the ship exploded, pushing it out.” Terra sighed. “Everyone on the ship was long since dead so we don’t know anything beyond that. It’s the only record the Jedi have of something like that.”
          “Until now.” Aryl added.
          “Until now.”
          “I’m setting course for the Ryotan System again.” The pilot turned to the ship’s controls.
          Terra started out of the cockpit. “I’m going to check on Gingi.”



The Shade Icarus came out of hyperspace just outside the Ryotan System. The metal of its hull groaned slightly as the pressure of traveling so many times passed the speed of light suddenly ceased.
         Oddly, when the planet came into view of the boxy ship, it remained silent. The clouds drifted aimlessly in the bleak looking yellow atmosphere. No one spoke on the ship for a long moment until…
          “No one answers when we call and nobody’s calling us.” Gingi said from the copilot’s chair.
          “Should we land and find out what’s going on?” The pilot, Aryl, looked up at the Jedi Knight.
         Standing between the two seats in the cockpit, Terra thought for a moment. “What do the scans say?” Her emerald lips tightened, her gray eyes locked on the view outside the ship.
          “I don’t think they’re reliable.” The Mon Calamari, his large eyes darting out from the sides of his brown head, blinked as he cleared his throat. “They say there’s nothing down there. No life at all.”
          “Do you think they were damaged by the black hole?” The Noobian pilot asked, shrugging his leather jacket on his shoulders uncomfortably.
          Terra licked her lips, which suddenly became dry, uneasily. “No.” Without thinking her green hand rested on Aryl’s shoulder. “No, the scans were right.”
          “How can that be?” Aryl’s hazel eyes looked into Terra’s gray ones. “The Liveand Plague couldn’t possibly wipe out an entire System in only two weeks.”
          Terra took a deep, steadying breath. “I don’t know how but it seems to have done so here.”
          The sickly looking planet continued to grow in the window as quickly as the silence in the Icarus’ cockpit. Finally, the Twi’lek shook her head as if coming out of a trance, her lekku twitching as they swayed in front of her shoulders.
          “We should contact the Council.” She reached between the two men and started tapping instructions into the ship’s communication relay. “This is Terra Ysillia for any representative of the Jedi Council.”
          Static was the only response from the comm relay speaker. She tried the same message again with the same result.
          Aryl turned his attention to the comm system, tapping in the same commands the Twi’lek had just tried. “Gingi?” He glanced over at the Mon Calamari.
          He turned his bulbous eyes to a completely different monitor. “There’s nothing wrong with it on our end. No damage from the black hole, no feedback from any electromagnetic fields. Nothing.”
          Terra folded her arm across her chest, almost burying herself inside her deep brown cloak. She felt… cold. There was nothing of comfort here. Not for a Jedi who could feel the warmth of life even from a high orbit.
          Gingi grunted. “We’d best head back to Coruscant and find out what happened.”
          “I agree.” Aryl punched the instructions into the controls. “No good’ll come from us just waiting around here.”
          Without a word, the Jedi Knight turned to leave the cockpit. Her eyes stung at the emotion threatening to overwhelm her. She blinked hard several times to as the door opened.
          “I never thought I’d actually want T-23 around to distract me.” Terra heard the Mon Calamari say as she walked away.

          Terra sat on her bed in the tight guest quarters. She didn’t move, didn’t speak. The Twi’lek barely allowed her brain to work. When there was a knock on the door, it barely registered to her. It was like an echo in the back of her mind.
          “Terra?” Aryl’s muffled voice came through the thin metal.
          It took a few moments for it to occur to her to answer. “…Yes?”
          “Can I come in?” The pilot’s voice was a little louder.
          Terra breathed deeply, in and out with deliberate precision. “Okay.” She tried to sound like the cheerful version of herself.
          The look on Aryl’s face when he came in told her that he wasn’t convinced. The pilot sat down on the thinly cushioned bed next to the Jedi Knight, leaning forward on his knees uncomfortably.
          “There anything we can do for you?” He gave Terra a little smile.
          She shook her head. “I’m just trying to figure out how to tell the Council that an entire System is dead because I failed my first mission.”
          “How did you fail?” Aryl gently rested a hand on her back.
          Terra slouched, her pale green face falling into her hands. “How can you ask such a silly question? I was supposed to get the vaccine to Ryotan and stop the plague!”
          “There was no way you could know that it would spread so fast.” Aryl lifted her chin to look into the Twi’lek’s eyes. “It’s not your fault.”
          Tears streamed from Terra’s eyes. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this!”
          Aryl couldn’t think of anything to say. All he could do was wrap his arms around Twi’lek. Her head rested on his leather covered shoulder as she silently sobbed.
          The Terra’s arms wrapped around Aryl. “Thank you.” She lifted her head to look into the pilot’s soft hazel eyes. “You’re very sweet.”
          Without thinking, Terra’s green lips met Aryl’s pink ones. She closed her eyes as her lips caressed the Noobian man’s. She knew she made a mistake when he didn’t kiss her back.
          She pulled away from him, away from his embrace, and rose from the bed. “I shouldn’t have done that.” The Twi’lek stood in the corner of the room, her back towards Aryl.
          Slowly, unsurely, the pilot rose to his feet. “No, Terra, it’s alright.”
          Aryl stepped forward, closing the distance between them, but turned to the door at the last moment. Opening the door to the room, the pilot opened his mouth to say something else but nothing came out. Instead, he made sure to close the door behind him as he left the small room.
          Terra hugged her robes tightly around herself. For the longest time, she didn’t move from the corner of her cramped little room. The Jedi Knight couldn’t bring herself to leave.
          Gingi’s deep voice popped over the comm. “Master Ysillia, we need you in the cockpit!”
          Frowning, Terra debated whether or not to answer. “I’m coming.” Finally, she opened the door of her room.
          When she stepped into the cockpit both Gingi and Aryl looked back at her questioningly. Terra and Aryl stared at each other, unable to say anything. The Calamari engineer cleared his throat.
          “We’re out of hyperspace.” Gingi said, his webbed fingers pointing out the cockpit window. “There’s a ship approaching from Coruscant.”
          “Really?” The Twi’lek stepped between the cockpit’s two seats and leaned forward to look.
          “Do you recognize it?” Aryl sounded uneasy.
          The ship was huge! Its triangular shape made it obvious that it was heading straight for the freighter. There were easily hundreds of windows lining the sides of the ship and along the bottom was a hole big enough to easily fit the freighter… and probably more.
          “Unidentified vessel.” A strange voice popped over the comm. “This is the Star Destroyer Pathos. Halt your approach toward Coruscant and prepare to be boarded.”
          All three looked at each other. “Star Destroyer?” Aryl asked.
          “I never heard of it either.” Terra glanced at Gingi, who looked equally clueless.
          Aryl’s brow furrowed as he stopped the ship. “That thing severely overmatches us.”
          Gingi agreed. Terra didn’t argue either. They all watched as the gray Star Destroyer drifted closer and closer. It flew over the top of the freighter and started to pull the smaller ship into the large hole in the bottom of the Star Destroyer.
          “This doesn’t feel right.” Terra didn’t move a muscle. “There’s no way they can have authority to do this.”
          “They can swat us down like a furry little Ixill.” Gingi folded his long, gangly arms.
          “That doesn’t give them any authority.” Aryl leaned back in his seat.
          He looked thoughtful and a bit defiant as the light of the stars were blocked by the massive body of the Star Destroyer. Terra gripped his shoulder tighter, a similar look on her face.
          “Well we can’t fight them!” Gingi gurgled.
          “Not directly anyway.” Both Terra and Aryl said at the same time.
          Again the Twi’lek and the pilot stared at each other. Both had coy smiles on their faces. Once again, Gingi cleared his throat.
          “So what do you want to do, Master Jedi?” The Mon Calamari squinted at Terra.
          Terra stood silently for a moment. “I want you and Aryl to hide.” She turned to the cockpit’s door. “I’m going to disable the ‘Star Destroyer’s’ engines so we can escape and they can’t follow us.”
          The Noobian pilot scratched his stubble covered chin as he looked at the Twi’Lek. After a brief silence, he nodded.
          “That’s not much of a plan.” Gingi rolled his massive eyes.
          “It’s better than nothing.” Aryl jumped up from the pilot’s chair. “Come on, Gingi. We can hide in T-23’s old compartment in the cargo bay.”
          “This is a bad idea.” Gingi muttered but still lifted himself from the copilot’s seat.
          “I just hope they don’t have scanners.” Aryl smirked, whispering to Terra as he and Gingi stepped out of the cockpit.
          Aryl looked back and caught Terra’s eye one last time. The Jedi Knight gave him a reassuring smile as she closed the cockpit’s door.
          “Relax Gingi, she’s a Jedi.” She heard the pilot’s voice fading away through the door. “You know the stories about how they took down…”
          With the clank of metal on metal outside the freighter, Terra knew that docking inside the Star Destroyer was complete. Slowly, she sank into the pilot’s seat, hoping that Aryl and Gingi had enough time to hide.

* * *

          The cockpit door opened with a hiss. “On your feet!” The voice sounded like it was coming out of a tinny speaker.
          Terra lifted herself from the chair, not bothering to look behind her. Slowly, her hand crept inside her cloak.
          “Turn around.”
          The Jedi Knight did as she was told. She saw the owner of the electronic sounding voice. The soldier was covered from head to toe in white body armor. The helmet, which completely covered his head, was designed to look like a fearsome face and there was indeed a small speaker embedded in it.
          Terra couldn’t see his face but she’d swear that he looked surprised at her appearance. “Wh- uh, hands up!”
          The soldier lifted his blaster rifle, pointing it straight at Terra’s chest. The Twi’lek’s fingers lightly brushed the handle of her lightsaber… then slowly slid off.
          As she lifted her hands above her head, Terra started to speak. “You don’t want to point that blaster at me.” She flashed him a charming smile.
          “I, I don’t want to point my blaster at you.” The rifle lowered to the soldier’s side.
          The old “Jedi Mind Trick” worked. He was weak willed, standing silently for her next instruction.
          “You want to take me to the ship’s cargo bay.” The Jedi Knight dropped her hands to her sides.
          “I want to take you to the ship’s cargo bay.” The soldier turned to leave the cockpit.
          Terra followed the soldier out. There was surely at least one guard by the air lock. The weak willed soldier would have to follow her out, pointing the blaster rifle to look like his prisoner. Then she would have to get to the engine room… difficult on a ship this big but not impossible. Finally, she’d have to get back to the freighter and fly away without getting blasted out of the sky. Aryl was a talented enough pilot that he could do that… probably.
          “What are you doing, Trooper?” A static warped voice bellowed as the soldier stepped into the cargo bay with Terra close behind.
          The Jedi Knight gasped when she saw that the cargo bay was not only not empty as she had expected it to be but it had three more Troopers in it, in addition to the one leading her. The shipment of vaccine had already been unloaded and two of the white armor clad troopers were searching along the cargo bay’s walls... with a scanner.
          The device looked a bit different than she remembered, but it was definitely a scanner. It was six feet long and so bulky it still took two people to carry it on each end. The glossy black finish of the machine was broken only by the readout screens, which told the viewer what the scans found.
          Terra didn’t know where T-23’s compartment was and wanted to make sure they didn’t find it either. The Trooper standing by the airlock, evidently the guard, pointed his blaster rifle at the Jedi Knight. She kept the other soldier in front of her, in the way of a clean shot.
          “I- I was…” The weak willed soldier stammered. “I mean, she wanted…”
          “Keep moving forward.” The Jedi Knight ordered. “And relax, he’s pointing the blaster at me.”
          The soldier started forward. Terra walked behind him as closely as she could. The other troopers, no longer looking at the scanner’s screens, didn’t move at all. They weren’t sure what was happening.
          “Hold it right there, Trooper.” The guard tightened the grip on his blaster.
          “I’m no threat. I’ve cooperated fully.” Terra whispered, continuing forward. “Keep moving.”
          “She’s no threat, sir.” The Trooper kept taking step after unsure step ahead. “She’s cooperated fully.”
          The other two stared at Terra and the weak willed soldier, dumbfounded. Each carefully dropped their end of the scanner and lifted their blasters from their sides.
          “What is wrong with you?!” The guard yelled. “I said stop!”
          “Keep moving.” Terra whispered through gritted teeth.
          She could see what was about to happen, but saw no way to stop it. She reached into her brown robes and tightly gripped her lightsaber.
          The other two troopers started to inch their way behind Terra. She didn’t need to look in their direction to know they were there. She slowly walked behind the weak willed one, waiting for all the troopers to get closer.
          “This is your last warning trooper!” The guard flipped a switch on his blaster. “My weapon isn’t set to stun. Stop!”
          Terra took one last deep breath before it happened. The guard shot the weak willed soldier in the chest. He fell to his knees, instantly dead. Using the Force, the Jedi Knight pushed the guard through the air and into the ship’s bulkhead before he could get off another shot.
          The other two troopers lifted their blasters but the Twi’lek spun around and with one fluid motion slashed the two weapons into four pieces with the green light from her weapon. One more spin and her foot smashed into the side of one trooper’s helmet clad head, knocking him into his partner. Both fell to the ground, unconscious.
          Terra let go of the breath she’d been holding. She frowned, looking down at the poor weak willed trooper. She hadn’t been able to see a way to get passed the guards without him dying. The only solace she could take was that she wasn’t the one to pull the trigger… and that didn’t help at all.
          A hiss from the wall caught the Twi’Lek’s attention. She looked up just in time to see Aryl jump out of the compartment in the wall, just ten feet from where the scanner rested, lift a blaster and point it at her.
          The Jedi Knight lifted her humming lightsaber to defend herself just as the shot from Aryl’s blaster sounded. The bolt of red light streaked passed Terra. Behind her, she heard the blast hit and a muffled groan.
          She turned and saw the guard that she threw into the bulkhead drop to his knees, his blaster still pointed at the Jedi. He fell onto his back, the unblinking eyes of his helmet staring at the freighter’s ceiling.
          “Are you okay?” Aryl asked, slowly stepping up to her.
          Terra didn’t look up from the guard’s body. “I- I thought you were aiming at…”
          “At you?” The pilot looked honestly shocked. “Never.”
          The Twi’Lek heard Gingi groan as he emerged from the hidden compartment. As quickly as the weapon had been pulled out, the lightsaber deactivated and returned to the belt under the Jedi Knight’s robes.
          “When we heard the first blaster shot, I peeked out and saw you fighting.” Aryl said. “You were amazing.”
          She didn’t think so but Terra couldn’t help but blush a deep emerald. With a quiet moan, the two knocked out troopers started to stir.
          “Um…” Gingi cleared his throat as he stepped up to the Jedi and Aryl. “I think we need to take care of them.
          The pilot started lifting his blaster but Terra pushed his hand back down. “No. I’ll handle it.” She stepped toward the two armored troopers. “You two get back in the compartment and wait until I come back.”



Terra quietly walked along the brightly lit corridor. The metal walls reflected the harsh, bright light into the Twi’lek’s squinting gray eyes. The highly polished black floor offered no solace as the Jedi started to turn yet another corner.
          “What are you going to do now?” Terra ducked back into a nearby doorway when the tinny voice from down the adjacent hall reached her.
          “I don’t know.” A pair of white armor clad troopers walked across a perpendicular hall, only visible to the Twi’lek for a moment.
          “With the emperor dead, no Star Destroyer or Storm Trooper is going to be welcome on any System.” The slightly shorter one said.
         The Jedi Knight slinked out of the doorway as the duo turned one of the many identical corners surrounding her. No one saw it, but her green face was a mask of confusion. Emperor?
         She continued through the hall, watching the walls for a map or any other type of guide. There wasn’t one to be seen. Unfortunately, without one, Terra had no idea how to get to the engine room. It sounded almost cliché but the Twi’lek would have to trust that the Force would somehow guide her.
         Terra scowled as she leaned against the cool metal wall of the corridor. It looked like every other one she had walked down. The Jedi Knight was sure she hadn’t gone in a circle… mostly sure anyway.
         Suddenly, she heard the clicking footsteps of a droid walking down another hall. Again the Twi’lek ducked into a shallow doorway and waited.
         Like the floors of the Star Destroyer, the black plating of the human sized protocol droid sharply reflected the light. The tray of food it carried shifted awkwardly in its metal hands as it walked.
          “Oh, pardon me.” It said, stepping to the side as a human stepped into view.
         She wore her raven hair up in a tight bun and the expression on her face was equally tight as she stared at the mechanized servant. Her dark gray uniform was covered with deep wrinkles. Terra had the feeling that she had probably slept in it. Or, more accurately, had tried to get some sleep.
          “Where are you taking that?” The woman squinted up at the taller droid.
          “To Captain Gregor’s quarters, Lt. Mean.” The droid’s expressionless face tilted to side slightly.
         With an annoyed sigh, the Imperial Officer waved the droid away. “Fine. You’re probably the last one who will obey an order from him anyway.”
          “Ma’am?” The droid’s head tilted even further.
          “The Empire is crumbling!” Lt. Mean blurted. “And he knows it!”
         She started looking around to see if anyone had heard her outburst. “Forget I said that.” The officer turned and started marching away. “I, uh, have to get to the engine room.”
         Terra’s head tails twitched. Biting her lip, she wrapped her hand around the lightsaber at her belt and started after the other woman.
         The protocol droid again started down the hall. “It is a shame that I have to play back her statement to Captain Gregor.” It shook its head as it muttered. “Her career had so much promise.”
         Hugging closely to the wall, the Jedi followed Lt. Mean. The engine room wasn’t far but Terra wouldn’t have been able to find it for a long, long time without the officer.
         Then the human stopped at a large doorway. It was made from the same black metal as the floor plates and was easily wide enough that four people could walk through side by side. Lt. Mean pressed a series of buttons on a panel just to the side of the doors, each one lighting up a different color. With a heavy hum, the doors pulled themselves apart to reveal the engineering compartment of the ship.
         Tall machines covered with screens and control panels lined the wall just to the right of the doorway. Several other humans, dressed very much like Lt. Mean, walked passed the woman going about their own business as she stepped inside.
         The doors, thick enough to double as blast doors to shield the rest of the deck from an explosion, started to close but Terra couldn’t follow without being seen thanks to Lt. Mean being stopped and speaking to another officer.
         Just as the doors hid the black haired Imperial Officer’s face from the Twi’lek, the other officer turned and walked away. Both humans turned their back to the blast doors! The Jedi Knight moved as fast as the Force would push her. Terra jumped through the narrowing gap and, snatching the end of her cloak from between the edges of the closing doors as they snap shut, made it inside the engine room.
         Lt. Mean turned and looked back at the doors, wiping stray black hair away from her face. Scowling, she looked for anything out of the ordinary… and found only the door.
         The Jedi breathed a silent sigh of relief as the Imperial Officer started back on her way. Sneaking out from behind the bulky computer terminal that served as her hiding place, Terra dashed to a shadow filled space between two consoles. Her gray eyes staying glued to her unwitting guide.
         A Storm Trooper strode by Terra’s hiding place. Cringing, the Twi’lek sank deeper into the shadows between the two massive hunks of metal. Just as that one passed, another appeared at the edge of the Jedi’s limited view.
         Lt. Mean stepped up to another officer, a young man with fewer square “pips” on his gray shirt. Then the white armor of the other Storm Trooper’s back filled the Jedi’s vision and stayed there.
          “Status report?” She heard Lt. Mean say.
         Terra lifted herself on her toes to barely be able to see the Imperial Officers over the Trooper’s armored shoulder.
          “The hyperdrive’s been repaired.” The young blond man responded. “We can get underway now.”
         The frown on the woman’s face deepened. “We’re not going anywhere until the… the captain orders it.”
         It was such a struggle for her to say that sentence. The disdain came spilling off the Lieutenant so badly the Jedi could swear that she saw the room darken for a moment.
         The young man turned to a terminal with a flashing blue monitor. “I just hope he decides to get us out of here soon.” He rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
         The Storm Trooper shifted, blocking Terra’s view. She had to grit her teeth together to keep from making a sound of annoyance.
          “He wants to have some leverage before he’ll take us to safety.” The Jedi heard the woman officer say.
          “Leverage?” The young man asked.
         The Jedi flicked her wrist and suddenly the Storm Trooper moved to investigate… something. He wasn’t sure what.
         Terra hugged her cloak tighter around herself, her view of the talking Imperial Officers finally unblocked. “He seems to think we can salvage something from that rundown freighter.”
          “That- that’s stupid!” The bewildered looking young man shrugged.
         The two officers started walking away from the blue terminal, their voices fading into the distance. Slowly, cautiously, Terra emerged from her hiding spot. She could hear random conversations and movement drifting from areas all around but, thankfully, the Twi’lek was alone in this one.
         The Jedi quickly slipped over to the flashing blue terminal. It was just as she thought. This was what controlled all the diagnostic functions for the ship’s engines. With the touch of a few buttons, Terra saw that they had been having trouble with the hyperdrive slipping into a diagnostic mode whenever they tried to activate it.
         It seemed that a polarized power coupling caused it. Terra pursed her emerald lips thoughtfully. If she could do something like that to the engines again, it would probably take them hours to fix. Most anything else she could do would be detected before she got out of the room, let alone back to the Shade Icarus.
         She knelt down, ducking under the terminal and sliding back the panel covering. Glancing back over her shoulder and seeing nobody, Terra chanced pulling out her lightsaber. Adjusting it to put out only a six inch beam, she activated it.
         With a loud thump, the main doors of the engine room opened wide. A group of twenty Storm Troopers spilled into the engine room, led by yet another gray clad imperial officer.
          “Spread out.” The middle aged officer ordered. “The Twi’lek could be anywhere.”
         Terra froze in place. How did they, could they know about her? She pushed the jade green light closer to the exposed power coupling. The hum from her lightsaber, which was a byproduct of the energy she hoped was re-polarizing the coupling, resonated so loudly the Jedi was sure they would find her instantly.
          “What’s that buzzing?” A tinny voice drifted to the Jedi.
         She waved the lightsaber across the power coupling, not quite touching it, even faster. At the same time, Terra stretched and felt for a specific button on the console.
          “Here it is!” Another Storm Trooper kicked the voltage regulator that controlled the lighting.
         Terra deactivated her weapon. “Yeah, that must have been it. The buzzing is gone.” Her other hand found the button it was looking for. The Twi’lek quietly closed the panel.
          “Focus, Trooper!” The middle aged officer bellowed as the Jedi pressed the button.
         The Star Destroyer’s alarm system suddenly activated, bathing the engine room in red light. “Unauthorized access of the hyperdrive!” Another voice blared over the speakers in the ceiling.
         In seconds all twenty Storm Troopers surrounded the Jedi. She lifted her green finger from the one button she pressed. Standing in front of the hyperdrive terminal, the Twi’lek turned to face the twenty blaster barrels aimed at her.
         Officer’s eyes opened wide when he saw her, but only for a moment. “Don’t try anything.”
         Terra raised her hands above her shoulders, exposing the lightsaber hanging on her belt. The middle aged man quickly snatched it away.
          “What is this?” His thumb drifted closer and closer to the activation button, the emitter unknowingly pointed at his stomach. “A weapon?”
         The Jedi stayed silent.
          “Take her to the brig with the other one.” The man stared at the weapon, then started in the opposite direction the Troopers started guiding Terra.
         The other one? Was it Aryl or Gingi? How could one have been found and not the other unless one of them, Aryl most likely, left the Icarus to find her?
         They walked down one of the nondescript hallways. The Jedi barely looked up as she was led along. Then the Storm Trooper in front of her stopped.
          “Yes, sir?” His free hand rose to the side of his expressionless helmet. “Understood, sir. We will escort the prisoner to Captain Gregor’s quarters.”
         Terra blinked in surprise. The blaster pushed into the Twi’lek’s back made her start walking again. After only a short distance, they were in front of a plain durasteel door.
         It was odd that everything seemed to be on this deck. The hangar and the engine room being close weren’t too unusual but the captain’s quarters? Those were usually near the bridge at the top or front of the ship.
         The lead Trooper pressed a button beside the door. “Sir? We’re here with the prisoner.”
          “Bring her in.” A gravely voice popped over the unseen speaker.
         The metal door slid open and two of the Storm Troopers stepped inside. At the prodding of a blaster barrel the Jedi followed.
          “She is unarmed?” An old man with black hair and a deeply creased face asked from a severely overstuffed chair.
         “Yes, sir.” The lead Trooper replied, cradling his blaster. “Major Tarpin took the only weapon she had.”
         The heavily cushioned seat didn’t fit the rest of the décor of the room. The rest of the furniture seemed so… temporary. There was barely even enough light to see the folding metal desk and equally flimsy chair on the other side of the room.
         The bed on the opposite wall as the desk, though, was even thicker than the overstuffed chair and looked equally out of place. Apparently, this room hadn’t always been the Captain’s quarters but it was definitely intended to be from now on.
          “Very well.” He said, waving his hand. “You may leave us now.”
         The look in Captain Gregor’s black eyes told the Storm Trooper not to argue. Equally silent and efficiently, all the Storm Troopers left the room.
          “You’re a trusting captor.” Terra said as the door closed behind the last Trooper.
          “Call it a calculated risk.” The creases in the man’s face deepened as a lopsided grin appeared.
          “So what’s to keep me from making you free my friend and leaving your… Star Destroyer on our ship?” The Twi’lek Jedi Knight folded her arms across her chest, a stern look on her face.
          “Two things.” Gregor slowly rose from his seat, a slight groan muffled at the back of his throat. “First, you don’t know where your friend is and I assure you it’s not the brig.”
         Terra’s gray eyes narrowed at the old human as he strode over to her. She had a feeling he wasn’t going to attack her but she did sense a certain… malicious purpose to his walk.
          “And the second thing?” She asked as the Captain strode by her, barely giving her a second look.
         He chuckled slightly, pulling a comm unit from his belt with his back to the Jedi Knight. “Oh, I wouldn’t want to give that away too early...”
         The Twi’lek’s brow furrowed. She stood motionless as the Imperial Captain mumbled into the communication device in his hand.
         Terra heard the door to the quarters open. She turned and saw two Storm Troopers holding Aryl by his muscular arms, their blasters at his neck.
         All the color drained from Terra’s face. “How- why?”
          “I decided to give you a special welcome.” The Imperial Captain’s raspy voice said.
          “Special welcome?” Her brain raced to find a way to escape without any harm coming to Aryl.
          “One has to teach you how things work in the post Jedi galaxy.” Gregor smirked, circling around the Twi’lek again. “So I have your first lesson.”
         Terra turned to keep him in sight. “You’re the first one to say I was a Jedi.” She heard the Storm Trooper’s shuffling behind her.
         Gregor stepped, almost stalking, around the Jedi Knight. “You have exceptional gifts. The fact that you are standing here is a testament to that, considering all other Jedi in the galaxy have been executed by Lord Vader.”
          “That’s impossible.” Even as the words passed her lips she knew that, somehow, they were true. She didn’t sense any deception from Captain Gregor.
          “So I’m going to have you use your special gifts on… him.”
         Terra scoffed. “You can’t make me hurt Aryl.”
         Gregor clicked his tongue on his teeth. “Make you? No no no no no.” He strode over to the Noobian pilot, who was a full head taller than the Imperial Captain. “You’re going to save him.”
         The Twi’lek couldn’t hide her confusion. She couldn’t see any way out of this without Aryl getting killed. Even using the Force, she couldn’t knock all three imperials away from him without one of them shooting him and she surely wouldn’t do anything to hurt the pilot.
          “If you don’t use your special abilities on this man…” Gregor tapped Aryl’s solid chest. “I will let my Storm Troopers shoot him, here and now.”
         The barrels of the Storm Troopers’ blasters pressed against the Noobian’s throat. He grunted with discomfort but otherwise gave them no response.
         Whatever Captain Gregor had in mind, Terra knew that she couldn’t kill Aryl. He didn’t want the Noobian dead, obviously, or he would have been so already. She had to hope that he wouldn’t be permanently hurt… and that he could forgive her.
         The Jedi slowly slid her cloak off her shoulders, letting it fall to the cold floor to reveal the long black sleeves of the shirt she wore under her short robes. The line of diamond shaped holes spiraled down her arms, exposing patches of her jade skin from her shoulder to her wrist. There, the tight sleeves wrapped around her hands, her bare fingers emerging from the dark fabric.
          “What do you want me to do?”



The Storm Troopers wrapped their hands around Aryl Tirani’s arms, pulling him up from the floor where he laid in a heap. His head drooped, unconscious as the troopers wrapped his bare arms around their armor covered necks.
         Another picked up the shredded fabric remains of the Noobian’s shirt. The door to the Imperial Captain’s quarters opened to let the Storm Troopers out with their prisoner.
          “I always knew the principles of the Jedi were no more than unrealistic ideals.” The many lines on Captain Gregor’s face deepened into a sadistic grin. “Thank you for proving my point for me.”
         The Twi’lek Jedi Knight slipped her cloak back onto her shoulders and pulled up the hood over her head. She said nothing, but bowed her head so that the cloak’s thick fabric blocked her view of the imperial officer.
          “Tell me truly, Master Ysillia,” Gregor was practically giddy, “You did enjoy that, at least a little, didn’t you?”
          “I wish to go to my cell now.” Terra turned away from the black haired human to face the two Storm Trooper guards just entering the room.
          “So soon?” The Imperial Captain made his way back to his overstuffed, luxurious chair. “I was hoping that we could speak for awhile. It is important to know one’s property, after all.”
          “I am not your slave!” Without touching them, the two Storm Troopers slammed into the wall on either side of the quarters’ entrance.
          “My, if I didn’t know better, I’d say that was an angry outburst.” His smile was so broad it looked like it hurt.
         Terra clenched her hands into tight fist, her nails digging into her palms. He was right and it was really starting to worry her that he was so perceptive. The entire time she’d been here, he only spoke truthfully and he saw everything in a way that was so… dark.
         The aged human sat and looked at the jedi for an uncomfortably long time, his crooked finger tapping against the tip of his craggy chin. “What about another subject? The Ryotan System perhaps?”
         Terra’s entire body tensed. “What do you know about Ryotan?
         The Captain was practically giddy as he leaned toward the Twi’lek, resting on one elbow. “I took the liberty of looking it up after confiscating the shipment from your quaint little freighter.”
         She stood motionless as Gregor continued to speak.
         “Apparently, it was afflicted with a nasty little outbreak and they came to the Senate to beg for help. They let the Jedi Order have every bit of vaccine on hand, which wasn’t much by the way, in hopes that they could take it, copy the formula and manufacture more planet side.”

         The Imperial Captain crossed his legs and leaned back in his seat. “That was rather foolish, don’t you think? Putting all hope into one ship?” His black knee high boots glinted in the room’s artificial light. “Do you think that was why the Jedi were hunted down and exterminated? For that betrayal of trust?”
         Terra remained silent but inside she was trembling. If they could have, her gray eyes would have burned holes not only through her hood but the human as well.
          “Captain Gregor… sir.” The familiar, bitter voice of Lt. Mean interrupted over the Imperial Captain’s communication unit. “We’ve finished our inspection of the hyperdrive.”
         Silence permeated the room as the man pulled the comm from his belt. Gregor’s narrow eyes looked at the communication unit expectantly.
         Finally, the Captain broke the silence. “And?”
          “According to our scans we got to the Twi’lek before she had a chance to sabotage the hyperdrive.”
         Gregor smirked at the Jedi, stuffing the communicator back into his belt. Even if Terra attacked him, it wouldn’t get Aryl or herself free. Besides, Gregor told her in so many words that she had no sanctuary to retreat to even if they escaped.
         How could one man have killed the all Jedi? Not even a Sith Lord could have accomplished something like that in the matter of weeks it took to fly from Coruscant to Ryotan and back. Terra’s mind raced, trying to make sense of everything.
         “Whatever could you have been up to that would make you abandon all those poor people for decades only to come back now?”
         Decades?! Terra couldn’t hide her surprise, even through her thick robes when she heard that. Of course Gregor noticed and arched a black eyebrow, making the skin on his forehead fold over itself again and again.
         “You didn’t know it had been that long?” His fingers folded together in front of him and rested on his stomach. “How interesting…”
         Captain Gregor lifted himself from his chair. “That’s enough fun for today. We’ll see what kind of games we can play tomorrow.”
         The Storm Troopers had long since lifted themselves from the floor and looked none too happy (at least as unhappy as one could through an expressionless helmet) about what had happened to them. The Captain ordered them to take the Jedi Knight to the brig and they did so, not sparing the use of the barrel of their blasters into the Twi’lek’s back.
         When the heavy metal door slammed into the grated floor and locked shut behind her, Terra collapsed onto the metal slab that served as the cell’s bed. Tears welled out of her eyes as she remembered what she was forced to do to Aryl. To save his life, she had violated principles of the Jedi that she had held sacred her entire life.
         Pulling her knees to her chest, the Twi’lek Jedi fought to control the emotion welling up inside of her. She felt her body start to shake and the skin under her black headdress start to itch. Struggling to keep taking slow, deep breaths, Terra prayed for sleep to finally overtake her…
         The Twi’lek woke up by slamming into the floor. The cell vibrated and shook so hard it seemed to warp and bend the durasteel walls. The Jedi wasn’t surprised when the lights started to flicker, in fact she expected this to happen sooner or later.
         The Imperial engineers hadn’t noticed what she’d done to the power coupling. Her lightsaber caused it to polarize and have the exact same, apparently undetectable, problem that they thought had been fixed already.
         Terra turned to face the thick metal door. Raising her green hands, the Jedi Knight focused on making it open. The room’s shaking intensified as the door, malfunctioning just like the lights, groaned. The Force strained the computerized locking mechanism, making it smoke as it overloaded.
         With a shower of sparks the cell door finally slid open. Wiping beads of sweat from her brow, Terra stepped out into the hallway.
         The shaking subsided just as a lone Storm Trooper turned to see the emerging Jedi. When he lifted his blaster, he was shocked to see it fly from his hands and into the Twi’lek’s outstretched ones.
          “Into the cell!” Her head tails shuddered when she pointed the weapon at the trooper.
         He did as she ordered and the heavy door dropped back into place, jammed tightly shut by the Twi’lek and the Force.          Fortunately for the Jedi the trooper didn’t notice that her hand was barely on the handle, let alone her finger on the trigger, of the blaster.
         Seconds after the cell door closed, the blaster was on the grated floor and Terra was tapping on the control panel of the next cell. Inside was Ensign Pulver, arrested for insubordination.
         Moving to the next, Terra read the display screen. Lt. Breens, in the brig for insubordination. Another cell, another incarcerated for insubordination.
         Storm Trooper Farva… insubordination. Engineer Montgomery… insubordination. Gingi Blastoise… protective custody.
         The Twi’lek had to reread the panel. It truly was the Mon Calamari engineer of the Shade Icarus. With the pressing of a few buttons, the heavy slab of durasteel slid up and out of place.
         The large round eye on one side of the engineer’s leathery head pivoted toward the unexpected intrusion. Gingi jumped to his wide, stubby feet in surprise when he saw the Jedi step inside.
          “Master Ysillia! What are you doing here?” His bulbous eyes darted around as he spoke. “How did you escape?”
         Terra’s eyes narrowed at the engineer. How did he know that she’d been captured? The only way that made sense, of course, was that he had betrayed her and Aryl. Her head tails swaying, she finally turned to leave the cramped cell.
          “Help me find Aryl.” The Twi’lek’s emerald fingers tapped the door’s control panel.
          “Of course!” The Mon Calamari just avoided the cell door as it suddenly crashed down behind him. “He should be on this level.”
         Terra strode back over to the discarded blaster and picked it up. With slow, cautious precision, she aimed the weapon and shot a hole into the ventilation cover in the floor just big enough for her to slip through.
          “Good.” The Jedi tossed the blaster in the direction of the nervous Mon Calamari. “Get him and make your way to the Icarus.”
          The Jedi Knight was gone before the bulky blaster landed in his hands. He looked down at the weapon then up at the nearby cell unsurely:

         Aryl Tirani, awaiting questioning.

         “Where are you going?” Gingi muttered, not really expecting an answer since Terra had again deserted the Mon Calamari who contemplated getting back into his cell.
          “To get my lightsaber back.” The Twi’lek’s voice suddenly echoed from the vent, making Gingi jump and head for the cell holding Aryl.

* * *

         Major Eisto Tarpin hunched over the metallic cylinder. It couldn’t be what he thought it was. The Jedi were extinct and no one but them could use their laser swords. First, he had to figure out how it worked and then he could find out for sure.
         He ran his fingers over where his brown hair would’ve been if it hadn’t receded over the years. Every one of his tests said that it was the traditional weapon of a Jedi.
         Tarpin had seen a Jedi Knight on Coruscant shortly before they were all hunted down. His weapon was reminiscent of this, but still…
         He heard rumors of a new Jedi killing the Emperor. Could that Twi’lek have been the one? Who could have trained her?
         Major Tarpin finally decided it was time to know for sure. Rising to his feet, he held up the cylinder and pressed the single red button on its chrome and black surface…
         Nothing happened.
          “You have to click down the safety lever before the saber will activate.” A voice whispered from over his shoulder.
         He turned his head to see a robed figure emerge from the shadows of the dimly lit lab. Tarpin hadn’t even noticed the lights had deactivated. Instinctively, his hand wrapped tightly around the cylinder.
          “Who are you?”
          “Terra Ysillia. A Jedi Knight from Coruscant.” The figure said, removing its hood.
         It was the Twi’lek from the engine room. She stepped closer to the Major.
          “That’s impossible. All the Jedi are dead. The temple’s been abandoned for years.” The Major frowned, noticing he was only slightly taller than the supposed Jedi.
          “I’ve been told as much.” She nodded, her head tails curling slightly as her attention turned to the cylinder in Tarpin’s hand. “Nevertheless, I am a Jedi… and I’d like my lightsaber back.”
          “How did you find me?” He pulled the cylinder further away from the Twi’lek.
         She held up an Imperial communicator unit. “A return trip to engineering, Lt. Mean and a little ingenuity.”
         Tarpin gulped. “Did you kill her?”
         The Twi’lek blinked at the unexpected question. “No.” She shook her head. “No, I don’t kill unless I have no other choice. It’s against the Code.”
         Tarpin’s pale brow furrowed. “And if I don’t give you back your lightsaber?”
         The Jedi’s gray eyes stared into the Major’s brown ones. He expected to see a peaceful power to her, like the Jedi he saw as a child. What he saw was like dark storm clouds. There wasn’t anything peaceful inside this woman. In fact, the feelings of sadness and dread that used to well up inside him during the dreary rainstorms on his home planet started going through him again.
         Feeling his hand start to tremble, he offered the weapon to the Twi’lek. The rest of his body stayed stiff and still as the woman took the cylinder from him.
          “Thank you.” She turned away from Tarpin and started toward the open grating of the lone ventilation shaft embedded in the wall of the room.
         “Where are you going now?” The words left his mouth before they could stop them… and his cursed himself for his stupidity.
          “I have a trap to spring.” The chocolate colored hood hid the woman’s jade colored face again in shadow. “People may die. And if you call for help, people will surely die.”
         A bead of sweat dropped into the Major’s eye, making the imperial officer flinch. After blinking the sting from his eyes, he looked up and saw that the Twi’lek was gone. There wasn’t even a sign that she had been here, except that the Major was now lacking the lightsaber he’d been studying.
         He had to call security, to tell Captain Gregor. So why wouldn’t his hands or feet move?

* * *

          “The Icarus is just around the next corner.” Gingi leaned just far enough to see that the adjacent hallway was empty. “I think.”
         Aryl frowned at the Mon Calamari’s back and tugged at the tight collar of the tan shirt he’d been given to replace his old, shredded one. The pilot followed after his shipmate, who cradled the only blaster they had in his leathery arms, trying to make as little noise on the smooth hard floor as possible.
         As he reached the next corner, the Mon Calamari suddenly blurted out. “Master Ysillia!”
         A familiar green hand slapped over the engineer’s mouth from the hall Aryl couldn’t see. Pinching Gingi’s lips together, the Jedi pulled him around the corner. After a few moments the cloaked, hooded figure of the Twi’lek stepped into the hall with the Noobian pilot.
         “Aryl, please.” Her voice was hushed, her face concealed in the shadows of her hood. “Let me help you get away from here.”
         The pilot leaned against the glaring white hallway wall. He couldn’t bring himself to look at her. His eyes slowly drifted down to the gleaming black floor and the rest of him didn’t move at all.
         She stepped closer to him. He still didn’t move. Aryl didn’t move until Terra’s hand started toward him. Before it could close the distance between them, the Noobian was around the Twi’lek, her robes billowing around his feet, and around the corner almost immediately.
         The pilot nearly ran into Gingi as the Mon Calamari leaned toward the corner. Rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly, from the stern look on Aryl’s face, it was obvious that Gingi had been caught peeking on them.
         The Jedi was only a couple steps behind. “There are thirty Storm Troopers in the hangar bay.” She stepped around the two men and turned to face them.
          “Like they’re waiting for us.” Aryl’s arms were tightly crossed over his chest.
         The Twi’lek nodded. Though her face was still shaded, Gingi thought he saw it move to look at him.
         She turned and started down the hallway toward the hanger. “They won’t shoot immediately.” Terra whispered but both men could still hear her clearly. “They want us alive.”
         Aryl scowled, his arms still folded over his broad chest. “Why?”
          “The Captain fancies himself a slave trader.”
         Gingi’s webbed fingers tightened around the blaster. He felt the muscles in his face tense as they got closer and closer to the wide blast doors that were the entrance to the hangar bay.
         Slavery was illegal in the Republic! This was impossible! What had happened? How could things have changed so dramatically in only a matter of weeks?
         The Jedi stopped in front of the blast doors’ control panel embedded in the wall beside it. She pulled her hood down, revealing the pale green skin of her face and head tails to the harsh light of the hall. It must have been a trick of the light but the Mon Calamari thought that Terra looked… miserable. Even more so than when she learned of the fate of Ryotan.
         They’d had been through a lot, to be sure, but just by looking at her, Gingi got the feeling that they were all going to die. Or worse that Terra was going to die and Aryl and himself were going to be sold into slavery. And no matter what the jedi did, she couldn’t stop it.
         Her hand hovered over the button to open the doors. It stayed there for a long, long moment. Just as her finger started to move to press the button, the Mon Calamari grabbed her wrist.
          “They’ll expect me to come in first.” His leathery head dropped. “After I gave you the all clear, they were going to surround you as you entered the hangar.”
         A slight smile tugged at the edge of Terra’s emerald lips, although the misery stayed on her face. Her head tails swayed she looked over the Shade Icarus’ engineer.
          “You son of a mynock!” Aryl cursed through gritted teeth, his arms unfolding to slam his fist into the white bulkhead.
          “I’m sorry, Aryl.” The Mon Calamari turned to face the human. “They told me that we would be allowed to leave after they’d captured Master Ysillia.”
         Aryl cursed at him again.
         “But they don’t realize that she has her lightsaber again.” Gingi held the blaster out to the Noobian.
          “You should keep it, Gingi.” Terra interjected. “They may shoot Aryl if he has it. They won’t be surprised to see you armed.”
          “What do you mean?” He turned to face the Jedi Knight again. “Don’t tell me you still want to go in there?”
          “What other choice do we have?” She said, her hand returning to the control panel. “I promise you that our fates won’t end here.”
         She started tapping the command for the doors to open. With a loud clank, the mechanism started moving.
          “I have a bad feeling about this.” Aryl said.



         Gingi Blastoise, the Mon Calamari engineer, stepped into the hangar bay and saw a sea of white. Rows of Storm Troopers surrounded the Shade Icarus, cradling their blasters in their arms much like he himself was doing.
         He was surprised not to see any gray uniformed officers with them, until he looked to his right. In the control room, about twenty feet up and behind large clear windows, was Captain Gregor himself. Evidently he suspected that things might not go quite as planned.
         The Mon Calamari shook his head. As planned. He had planned to betray the Jedi Knight that accompanied them on their freighter so that he and Aryl Tirani, the Shade Icarus’ pilot, could leave the imperial ship and get on with their lives. Gingi should have realized, along with the Star Destroyer, the Empire and everything else that was new to him, there were new rules to play by in life. Namely, if you’re an “officer” you don’t have to hold up your end of any deal.
         That’s why he was in here now. The Jedi had a plan to get them all off the Pathos and to freedom. Looking on the endless white ahead of him, Gingi had no idea how she could do it. At least with Master Ysillia you knew she would at least try to keep up her end.
         Not like Captain Gregor, who evidently fancied himself some kind of slave trader. The Mon Calamari had to fight the urge to point his blaster at the man and pull the trigger. The main reason he didn’t was because he knew that clear material the control room’s windows were made from would stop the blast… and Terra wasn’t in yet.
          “Give them the signal, Blastoise.” Gregor’s voice popped over the intercom, not loud enough to be heard outside the wide open doors.
         Gingi’s webbed fingers slid to the commlink in his belt. With the press of a button, the signal that was meant to tell them it was all clear was transmitted.
         The Twi’lek Jedi and the Noobian pilot dashed into the hangar. In unison, the blasters of the dozens of Storm Troopers suddenly rose to point at all three of the escaped prisoners. Terra’s hands rose, opening her chocolate colored cloak and revealing her short Jedi robes and leather belt underneath. A belt that, the Mon Calamari realized, was lacking her lightsaber.
         Aryl’s arms stayed folded against his wide chest, his hands buried under the tan sleeves, as he stared at Gingi with cold eyes. When his attention shifted to the control room, a barely restrained rage radiated from the pilot’s face.
         The Imperial Captain’s craggy voice popped over the intercom again. “Follow the good Jedi’s example and raise your hands, son.” Even though he was twenty feet above them, they could all see the satisfied grin on Gregor’s deeply creased face.
          “I’m not your son!” Aryl stepped toward the control room, many of the blasters following him. “If you were going to kill me, you’d have done it already! What do you want from me?”
         Defiantly, the Noobian kept his arms folded as he continued toward the windows of the control room. Behind him, Terra inched toward the Icarus, her arms still up and her body still facing the direction of the control room. Gingi stayed where he was, the blaster hanging loosely in his webbed hands.
         The Mon Calamari gulped, one of his bulbous eyes twitching, as he felt more and more exposed. The Storm Troopers were all around them now. The entrance to the hangar bay was closed off from the trio now, as was the stairway that led to the control room. Whatever the Jedi’s plan was, it’d better happen soon. He didn’t like being stuck between two people who were getting further and further away from each other.
         Gregor replied. “It’s quite simple. I need you to show my techs how your lovely ship works. Then I’m going to sell it, perhaps you with it if you behave.”
          “And if I don’t?” The anger seemed to be less… potent in the pilot.
         The Noobian’s face, along with his arms seemed to start to loosen up. He finally came to a stop, a couple of meters from the durasteel wall below the control room. The rage in the man seemed to have been replaced by a look of expectation.
          “I’ll just have to kill you, the Mon Cal and sell your ship at a discount.” The Captain chuckled.
          “What about Terra?”
         Gregor chewed his lip as he looked down at the much younger man. “Even after everything she did to you, you still worry about her?”
         Aryl stood silently. His hazel eyes took in sight of the half dozen Storm Troopers that had immediately swarmed around him with their weapons aimed squarely at his chest or head, without any look of worry, and back up at the Imperial.
          “She is none of your concern, Tirani.” Gregor finally said. “Regardless of whether you live or die, she’s mine.”
         “That’s just what she told me you’d say.”
         A flash of green light suddenly erupted from the pilot. Swirling in an arc around him, the light struck down the entire circle of Troopers around Aryl. It was Master Ysillia’s lightsaber!
          “Terra!” The Noobian yelled, holding the weapon aloft.
         The Twi’lek raised one green hand, making the Troopers around her fall to the ground. Then she lifted the other one.
         The lightsaber flew from Aryl’s outstretched hand and, still activated, flew toward the Jedi. It tumbled through the air, striking every Storm Trooper between the two as they started to turn their weapons at either Aryl or herself.
         Gingi hoisted the blaster up to his side and shot the Storm Trooper closest to him, then the next and the next. Bolts of red light leapt from the weapon as fast as the Mon Calamari could pull the trigger.
          “Stop them!” Gregor screamed, his voice tinny over the speaker. He ducked when a struck Trooper’s stray blast ricocheted against the window.
          “Get in the ship!” Terra yelled just as her lightsaber cradled itself into her hand.
         Slashing the blaster, as well as his hand, from a Storm Trooper as she turned, the Jedi looked at the Icarus’ boarding ramp. It started to lower just as Gingi reached the Twi’lek.
          “Did you notice that the shield was still up?” The Mon Calamari asked as another blast from his weapon struck a Storm Trooper in the head.
         Gingi didn’t realize that a Trooper had fired at him until after the Jedi had knocked the shot back at white armored man with her lightsaber. “Leave that to me.” She said.
         Aryl reached the two just as the ramp touched the metal ground. He shot blast after blast, having taken a blaster from one of the fallen Storm Troopers, as he made his way up.
          “We’ll hold them off while you get the shield down!” He dropped to one knee, just avoiding the red blaster bolt of one of the Troopers.
          “You need to start the Icarus’ engines!” The Twi’lek Jedi blocked shot after shot from the enemy as she started toward the control room’s steps. “And get that ramp up!”
          “Not until you’re back!” Aryl fired off two more shots before running for the cockpit.
         Gingi inched his way up the ramp, thankful for the at least partial cover the ship gave him. As he reached the top of the ramp, the engineer laid himself on the floor to keep shooting at the approaching enemy.
         With a quick slash of jade light, the door to the control room fell open in slabs. Terra stepped into the room to see two Troopers raising their blasters at her. They hit the hard, translucent material of the windows before the blaster barrels were even near her direction.
         Gregor stood stiffly before the Twi’lek, his hands clasped firmly behind him. “Going to strike me down now?” His lined face was creased with a deep frown, but he still seemed… arrogant.
         Terra’s lightsaber turned off just as the Imperial Captain’s feet left the floor and he slammed into the ceiling, a mess of sparks from the screens smashed by his back showered down. Then he smacked into a wall of shelves, slicing his forehead open and dropping plasteel boxes on top of him when his body finally settled on the floor. The quiet groan from the pile of rubble told the Jedi that he was still at least barely alive.
         With a few presses of many buttons, red lights and sirens started to go off in the hangar bay. The metal entrance to the hangar closed, sealing the bay from the rest of the ship, but the energy shield holding the oxygen in the hangar was still in place.
         The Twi’lek looked for the command to deactivate it. She found, however, an emergency lockdown override placed over it encoded by Captain Gregor. She looked over at the pile of plasteel boxes and junk, her gray eyes narrowed and emerald lips twitching, and then pressed a button on the commlink she took from Lt. Mean.
          “Get that ramp up, Aryl.” She said into the handheld device.
          “Not until you’re on board, Terra.” He responded.
          “You’re only going to have a few moments before the backup shield activates, Aryl.” She reactivated her lightsaber and stabbed into one of the protective windows.
          “What are you talking about?” The pilot asked. “Gingi’s got the rest of the Troopers pinned down outside. You can make it to the ship during the countdown after you turn off the shield!”
          “I can’t turn it off.” The smell of the melting window filled Terra’s nostrils, making her eyes water. “He locked down the computer. The only chance we have is for me to destroy the primary emitter with my lightsaber.”
          “But that’ll leave you defenseless! Get to the Icarus and destroy it from here!”
         Beeping from the computer told the Jedi that more Storm Troopers were just about to open the hangar doors and renew the attack. “No time, Aryl.”
         The lightsaber leapt from Terra’s hand and trough the molten hole in the window. In a stream of emerald light, it streaked for the shield emitter at the edge of the hangar bay’s entryway. In plunged through the dull durasteel and the unit exploded in a ball of flame, enveloping and disintegrating the lightsaber along with the emitter.
         The strength of the air being blown from the hangar made the Shade Icarus skid across the floor a few meters. The bodies of the dead and injured Storm Troopers flew out into the vacuum of space and the ship’s ramp finally rose back into place before all the oxygen could be sucked from the small freighter.
          “I didn’t tell you everything I saw.” Terra said into the commlink after she used the Force to slap a slat of durasteel from the wall over the hole she made in the window. “I knew I wasn’t going to be joining you.”
          “What are you saying?” The Shade Icarus quickly turned as its landing gear rose and soared out of the Star Destroyer. “There was no way you could get off the Pathos with us?”
          “Not without sacrificing you or Gingi.” The Jedi didn’t notice a plasteel box fall from the pile behind her.
          “There has to be another way for you to leave. A shuttle or an escape pod?” The backup shields finally snapped on in a flash of blue light.
          “I wouldn’t get very far without my lightsaber.” Terra leaned against the computer console, watching the scanner as the freighter flew away from the Star Destroyer and avoided the gun turrets just starting to train in on them.
          “I don’t know how to repay you.” The commlink’s reception was starting to fade into static.
          “No need.” Her green head tails laid still on her shoulders for the first time in a long while and a soft smile pulled at her emerald lips. “I’m a Jedi.”
         Terra felt the barrel of a blaster pistol press against the back of her head. From the sound of the labored breathing behind the Twi’lek, she guessed that Gregor had regained consciousness.
          “Indeed you are.” Warm air washed over the back of Terra’s neck as he spoke.
         The smile would leave Terra’s face. “Going to strike me down now?”
          “I should. I really should.” The Captain coughed.
         The hangar bay’s doors opened, letting in what seemed to be every Storm Trooper left on the ship, which was many, into the room. Some saw to the few remaining laid out on the hangar bay’s floor while most made their way for the control room.
          “But I won’t leave this planet with nothing.” Gregor spoke as more and more Storm Troopers entered. “I would’ve been happy to sell that Mon Cal and the ship and keep you for myself, but now…” He spat a mouthful of copper tasting blood from his mouth. “Just imagine how much a Force sensitive slave will fetch me with the Hutts?”
         The Imperial Captain pulled Terra’s heavy cloak from her shoulders, the material ripping as he did. Then she felt his hand tear at the black leather belt holding her robes closed.
          “You may have been a Jedi.” He threw her belt to the floor, smashing all the little items in the few pouches that lined it. “But now you are my property.”
         Two Storm Troopers grabbed Terra’s arms, pulling them behind her back and slapping on restraints. Only then did the Imperial Captain close the distance between himself and the Jedi Knight.
          “You have no rights.” Gregor said as an armor covered elbow slammed into her back to make her start walking out of the room.
          “You have no friends.” Her shoulder slammed into the doorjamb of the control room as they shoved her out.
          “You have no name.” Gregor gripped her head tail and pulled her head around to face him. “Slave.”

         Coming out of hyperspace, the Shade Icarus approached the planet of Mon Calamari. In the cockpit, Aryl acknowledged the signal from the System’s control station that had kindly given him permission to land.
         The door leading into the cockpit slid open behind the Noobian. Gingi slowly, quietly, took the other seat and looked out the window.
         After a long, long time, in which the Icarus had entered the planet’s atmosphere, Gingi finally asked. “What are we doing here?”
          “You betrayed my trust… my friend.” Aryl stared straight ahead. “I should’ve killed you for what you planned to do to Terra.”
          “I thought…” Gingi started.
          “I don’t care what you thought!” The pilot spoke over the engineer.
          “Then why didn’t you?” The Mon Calamari blinked his large round eyes as the oceans of his home world came into view.
          “She wouldn’t have wanted me to.” Aryl punched in the commands for the ship’s final approach to the landing pad. “She sacrificed herself so that both of us could escape. I guess she felt you were worth saving for some reason.”
         The Shade Icarus landed on the floating platform so softly it was obvious a veteran pilot was at the controls. Again, uncomfortable silence filled the cockpit.
          “Why bring me here, then?” Gingi finally asked, not moving in his seat.
          “Can’t you tell when you’re fired?” The Noobian tapped the controls to open the loading ramp. “Get off my ship.”
         The engineer nodded miserably, lifting himself from the chair taking more effort that it should have. He ran his webbed fingers over his leathery head self consciously as he started for the door.
         “What are you going to do now?” The Gingi asked as he reached the cockpit door.
         “I’m going to find Terra and get her out of wherever Gregor decides to put her.” Aryl tapped a few buttons and the freighter’s engines already started powering back up.
         The engineer started to step out of the cockpit but stopped. He started to say something but no words would come out. Finally, he started for the landing ramp.
          “Oh, and Gingi?” Aryl still stared straight ahead as he spoke.
          The Mon Calamari turned to face his, whether Aryl wanted him to be or not, friend. “Yes?”
          “May the Force be with you.”

© Copyright 2004 Spencer Stoner (sjcloudxiii at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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