OK now breathe out, no slowly… Good
Calm your emotions, remember your training.
Feel the Force flowing all through you, ugg, there it is.
Oh no, I’m going to throw up, again.
There is something cold, hard and wet pressed against my face. It smells like rotting fish mixed with field rations. Slowly I open my eyes. I’m lying in the center of the meditation chamber, my face half covered in my own regurgitation. Poodo, it’s in my hair too. How did I get here? Slowly I push myself to a sitting position.
I came in here and began to meditate… then I felt this… surge? No, more like a wound in the force, I swooned and retched. I tried to recenter myself then I felt the backlash again and now I’m here.
I have to go find someone who knows what’s going on. I rise on unsteady legs and after a few moments I physically feel like myself again. I enter my key-code into the number pad and the door opens with a hiss. Out in the hallway people are rushing with an almost panicked sense of urgency. A pair of hands grab me and drag me into the hallway just to the side of the flow of people.
“Evan, you have to see this. I’m sorry, but we’ll make those rebel bastards pay.” says Jian. Jian is my best friend and has been since we arrived at the imperial temple on Coruscant on the same day. He’s from Thyferra and was always a little soft, but we became friends that day and have been ever since.
“What’s going on, what happened?” I ask, then my face screws into a look of confusion, “And why are you sorry?”
“Just come and see.” He grabs my arm practically dragging me along as we rush down the hall to the common room. My gut ties itself into a knot as a very proper female announcer briefs us on the most recent development in the war.
“…ust confirmed by sources in Imperial Intelligence, Corellia has been destroyed by an, as of yet unidentified, rebel weapon. We must not allow this flagrant attack on our civilian population to undermine the security tha…” my mind begins to wander and I miss the remainder of the broadcast. I am vaguely aware of some of my fellow knights placing hands on my shoulder, or swearing revenge against some nameless “them.” They try to comfort me, but I’m not there, I’m on Corellia, and I’m 4 years old.
“No, feel the flow of the force. Let it guide your actions, like this,” a rugged baritone voice instructs from somewhere over my left shoulder. It’s my father’s voice, He’s tall and broad with piercing blue eyes and sandy brown hair. I have my father’s eyes, everyone says so, but the first thing people notice about my father is his warm smile. I turn to see him blindfolded, blocking attacks from 6 training droids. “You have to learn to trust your instincts. You are tensing in anticipation of the attacks and it’s slowing you down. Relax, tension kills speed.” I nod knowingly and my father laughs, “Here, try it again.” My training remote buzzes faintly in front of me sending out minor packets of energy, that jolt a little but cause no real pain.
An hour later we are eating lunch, sitting in the shade of a Yabba tree, eating the small lunches my mother packed for us.
“Daddy, why do we hate the empire?”
“We don’t hate them Evan, but we also can’t allow them to hurt people weaker then them. We must persevere and trust in the force. You know at times like this, I’m almost glad that Dooku betrayed the Jedi and scattered us across the galaxy, and do you know why?”
“No” I say, shaking my head, with the big inquisitive eyes only a four year old can posses.
“Well, if the Jedi weren’t scattered, then I wouldn’t have met your mother, and we would never have had you. And you, my son, are an experience I never dreamed I could know.” his big hand mussed up my unruly black hair. “Come on, I want to get a little more training in, and it looks like a storm’s coming.”
I’m lying in my bunk, the chrono in the room tells me that it’s several hours past midnight. I’m not sure how I got here, I’ve been walking around numb since I heard the holo-vid imparting literally world shattering news. Jian is snoring loudly from the top bunk and I focus on the rhythm, using it to slow my breathing and focus my mind.
I retreat deep within myself, searching my feelings for some insight on what was happening to the galaxy. No matter how many times I hear the woman in the broadcast, I can’t help but feel that there’s something not quite right. I spend the night in a trance looping her message over and over in my head, when I rise at 0400 rested is not the term I would use for how I feel.
The morning starts much the same as any other morning, running in the gym, hit the refresher station, and a quick breakfast with my unit. I walk in and all eyes are on me. Everyone knows I’m originally from Corellia, even though I’ve lived on Coruscant since I was 6, and today I’m treated like I just managed to escape before the explosion. I can tell by the looks on their faces they think I’m some kind of X-factor, an unknown variable that could produce any response from the slightest catylist. Of course I can hardly blame them, with my history and all.
I am eleven and I am walking to my next class at the Academy when I hear a scuffle on the other side of the courtyard. As I approach I see Jian, bruised and bloodied, tumble out of the small circle of kids, landing hard on his back, before being pulled back up and thrust into the ring. I rush over and see his tormentor, a student a few years ahead of us, I think his name is Trystan or Tyrion something like that, regardless he’s notorious for bullying kids smaller than him. It should also be noted that he grew up on some high-G world in the middle-rim, so almost everyone is smaller than him. By the time I break through the wall of students, he’s holding Jian by the front of his shirt beating him further into unconsciousness. I announce myself and my intentions by flinging a round house kick squarely into the left side of his face. While my opening attack is quite flashy, it’s ultimately ineffective as evidenced by the backhand that catches me in the temple and sends me spinning to the ground a few feet away. As the fog clears from the edges of my vision I can see Jian lying on the ground, sputtering blood out from a broken nose, the giant moving inexorably towards me. Only my father’s training saves me from broken ribs as I roll away from a furious kick and kip up onto my feet.
“Boy, you’ve made two mistakes. First you got into business that had nothing to do with you. Second you made it have something to do with you.” After that witty remark my suspicions that Trystan/Tyrion is little more than a big dumb brute are confirmed. Unfortunately the emphasis is on big, as he launches a monstrous left hook that would have placed me in dire need of rescuing, had I not noticed it in time and sidestepped it. Just behind him I see Jian’s salvation in the form of Mari, the third in our trio of friends. She runs to Jian and with a stern glare convinces two spectators to help her drag him out of harms way. My duty is clear, I have to keep my sparring partner occupied long enough for them to get Jian clear. I step in executing a quick flurry of punches to his midsection, then realize in horror that he barely noticed, and now I’m within arm’s reach. Two meaty hands grab me by the throat and belt, hoist me into the air, and effortlessly slam me on the ground, knocking the wind out of my lungs. I brace for the impact that never comes. Blearily I look around through watering eyes and finally see the menace dragging Mari into the circle by the hair, his fist cocked to deliver a crushing blow.
Something snaps inside of me. My world is colored in a red haze as I rise to my feet. I still can’t breath but I don’t care All that matters is that my friends are being beaten bloody, one by one by this oaf and no one else is going to stop it. “E’chuta, slamo. Get back here, I’m not done with you yet.”
His head turns regarding me for a moment, “I must have hit you to hard, boy. You’re not done with me? I’m going to make you wish you had never been born.” He shoves Mari roughly to the ground and I roar as I barrel into him. We tumble to the ground thrashing about. Somewhere in the melee I get a bloody nose, but I don’t notice. All I care about is making him pay, pay for my friends, pay for all the other’s he’s beaten senseless over the years. I am unclear on what exactly just happened but now I’m lying on the ground holding my groin and Tyrion is standing over me holding a large chunk of duracrete over his head. I reach down, deep within myself, tapping into my rage, hatred…
He pauses a moment, a look of horror crossing his face. They say, “He who hesitates is lost.” I don’t hesitate. Images of Jian lying bloody on the marbled walkway; Mari, crying, her nerves shot; my blood running down the front of my shirt, dripping onto the concrete; my doom impending in the form of a block of duracrete suspended two meters above my head all fly into my mind at once. I raise my arms in front of my face. Brilliant energy crackles up my arms to my hands. My fingers splay as electricity arcs between them, building, then finally lances out taking Tyrion fully in the left side. He is blasted back several meters where he comes to rest, unmoving except for an occasional twitch.
The crowd parts, everyone giving me a wide berth. I look about, no one will meet my gaze. No one except Mari. She just sits there sobbing. Teachers come running up to the commotion, finally causing the crowd to disperse.
Medical units are called for Tyrion and Jian. Jian recovereds fine after a few days dip in bacta. I am later told that Tyrion spent two weeks in the bacta tank and still hasn’t recovered use of his left arm.
I enter the briefing room at 0700 hours. Commander Kree is sitting in his usual spot at the front of the room beside him is a small figure in black armor… Darth Tympos if I remember correctly. We sit in silence and there’s a tension in the air you could cut with a vibroblade. There’s a knot in the pit of my stomach. I can feel something important is about to happen, something… world changing… a lie? Impressions fly at me through the force. I hear my commanders speaking lies, but I hear no words, billions cry out then are suddenly silenced, lightning crackles on my fingertips. I see, a planet with lush vegetation. Felucia? Kashyyyk? Dathomir? I see my father, not as I remember him, but haggard, spent, like someone who has fought a long hard battle only to give up as you near the end. I see… an image of a man begins to form in my consciousness, then as suddenly as the vision began it ends. Kree is still describing the attack plan. It’s standard Imperial fare, orbital bombardment of key structures, followed by strafing runs, concluded by a sweep and clean by the ground pounders. Darth Tympos sits motionless through the entire briefing. He… she? She is quite unnerving. I feel as though she’s scrutinizing the unit, searching for a weakness so she can devour us the moment our guard is down. The briefing adjourns and I waste very little time escaping Tympos’s disturbing presence. We have 7 hours in hyperspace before we arrive at Dantooine and I almost make it to my bunk before my recent malady hits me again.
Elsewhere in the ship a holonet node comes to life, projecting a life size image of Emperor Dooku to a kneeling Darth Tympos. “Tympos, report.”
“I have delivered your wishes to the commander master and observed the boy. I sense he will attempt to betray us soon. Shall I destroy him?”
“No, leave him. His actions are of no consequence and will be made to serve our purpose in the end.”
“As you wish, my master.” Tympos raises her head, “but was he not a candidate for Stormtrooper training. Is it wise to…”
“Do not question my judgment. All is proceeding according to my plan. His unit is to be placed at the vanguard of the final assault. He is not to be harmed until then. Am I understood?”
“Yes, Lord Vader, it will be done.”
I feel the force, but it’s not flowing through me. It’s as though I am a dam and its energy is building, pressing against the flood gates, building to a inevitable and disastrous climax. Images from my past assail my senses. I see the last day I spent with my father. It is my sixth birthday and we are waiting for him to come in from the fields for dinner. Sounds of violence flood in from outside and my mother forces me into a cubbard and orders me to be silent. From my hiding place I can hear shouting. A door is kicked open. Boots clack on the tile floor in our kitchen. Someone stops in front of my door. “There’s supposed to be a child here, find it,” a slightly electronic voice commands. I hear things tossed about, furniture overturned. I want to cry, but mommy said… I squeeze my eyes shut and bite my lip to keep silent. I can feel a faint trickle of blood in my mouth. Light hits the outside of my eyelids and I open them to the sight of a black gloved hand hauling me from my hiding spot.
I am lead outside, the light stings my eyes. My Daddy is lying on the ground. He has several burn marks on his body and he’s not moving. My Mommy’s crying. I stand tall. I have to be strong for Mommy. A woman with close cropped blond hair grabs my face and appraisingly tilts my head to either side. “What is your name, child?”
“I’m Evan, and you can’t scare me, I’m six years old!” I puff my chest defiantly.
The woman smiles. It’s a smile somewhere between the love of a stepmother and a fox, smiling at a hen house. “Oh my, but you are a brave little man. Aren’t you? I have a special school where brave little boys, like you, can grow up into brave men. Would you like to see it?”
I look to my mother for a cue. Slowly she nods her head. I don’t see the pistol held into her back. I don’t know that they told her, that this was the only way they would let me live. The lady takes me by the hand and begins to lead me to a speeder parked nearby. I turn and look back at Daddy, then Mommy. She waves and blows me a kiss. I get in and we lift off. I don’t see Mommy standing resolute by the door to our home. I don’t hear the blaster fire, or the body falling heavily into our doorway. I hear how my daddy did a bad thing and had to be punished, just like I would have to be if I didn’t listen to my parents. And how my mommy was crying tears of joy, because I would get to learn at the big school at the center of the galaxy.
I open my eyes, I’m lying in my bunk, Jian is sitting by my bedside. “Hey. You OK? You passed out in the hall way, and I brought you in here. Drink this.” I sit up slightly and he offers me a glass of water. “If I took you to med-bay they would pull you off the roster for the mission. I can’t let them take your chance for paybacks, man. You rest, we’ve still got plenty of time before we jump out of hyperspace.”
I sit up in my bed, something is wrong and I have 5 hours and 47 minutes to sort it out in. I breath deeply using the force to probe inward. If my connection to the force could be described as a wellspring, this would best be described as a tsunami held back by a wicker dam. As best as I can discern when Corellia was destroyed, something broke inside of me causing my connection to back up like a bad plumbing system. Now I have unspent energy bleeding off causing various secondary problems. I search for the root of the problem and keep coming back to the news report about the destruction of Corellia. I reach out with my feelings, this unique build up granting me power of a magnitude I’ve never felt before. I swim backwards in the flow, seeking out Corellia. I see the system, Centerpoint Station, a… moon? What is that? I feel a surge of energy blast from the moon striking Corellia. Even in the vacuum of space I hear the screams. I feel a lingering horror as… Jedi? Definitely force users of some kind. Flee, I share their anguish as our home devolves into a quickly expanding asteroid field. My senses seek out the “moon” I feel…? Satisfaction, shock, jaded execution of duty, pride at being chosen? My consciousness plunges into the moon. I fly through the corridors horrified at what I see. It is full of Imperials, the same men and women I’ve been serving with. I surge into the command center. Darth Vader turns to regard me. I flee out into the vastness of space, conflicted by the horrors I have just witnessed. In the distance I feel a presence… It cant be! He died!
Passion churns the reservoir that has built up within me. Confusion weakens the levy I’ve constructed. I strain against it, but I can’t hold it any longer, my power roars free like floodwaters. I am thrown back against the wall in my quarters and everything goes black.
I awake and my quarters are a disaster. Above me, Jian’s bunk looks like it has been molded around a huge sphere. All our personal effects are littered about the room. The walls of the room bulge slightly outward and I can hear the motor of the door try to open it in defiance of it’s new shape. I can feel the force flowing normally through me again and I accept the horrid realization that the the Empire, MY EMPIRE, destroyed Corellia. I sit here for several long moments with my face buried in my hands. In the hall I hear the telltale snap-hiss of a lightsaber being ignited and smell the acrid smoke as it begins to cut the warped door from the porthole. “Lieutenant Hinder, what is going on here?”
“Sir, I am unclear, sir. I was feeling unwell, so I came in to lay down. I believe I had some sort of nightmare, Sir.” I report, using half truths, so as not to be detected as lying.
“You expect me to believe you caused all of this in your sleep? If you were sick why didn’t you report to med-bay?”
“Sir, if I had reported to med-bay, I might have missed my chance to get my hands on the people responsible for the destruction of Corellia,” my eyes narrow. “And I’ll make them suffer, if it’s the last thing I do.”
My commander chuckles, “All right son, clean up this mess. You’ll have your chance in about 2 hours. Be ready, I’m putting you in the vanguard.” He leaves, leaving me alone in the room
Two hours. In two hours, I’ll probably be dead. I can’t fight for the empire, not now that I know. It’s about time for me to leave my life here. Perhaps it’s time for a little rebellion of my own.
Flames lick the view ports as we pierce the atmosphere. In the distance bombers are dispensing their deathly fare. The instillation ahead of us is dark with the exception of small fires burning in some of it’s ruins. We fly over a ruined shield generator and receive small arms fire for our trouble. Desperate men fire weapons without hope of penetrating our shields. Our fighter escort strafes them sending them diving for cover, only a few of them make it. This isn’t a battle, it’s a massacre, and it’s my job to murder anyone who survived the initial onslaught. The thought churns my stomach and brings a sneer to my face. We near our LZ and I look to the men assigned to me: Jensen, Dewlani, Kinard, and Hess. I think of the imperial war machine, the beast that made each of us. They’re not bad men. These are the men I’ve trained with, lived with, and bled with, for the past 2 years. Our orders are to frag and clear every room in the command center and the hangers. Our pilot gives the signal and we drop ropes. I’m the first one down, Jensen and Hess laying down suppressive fire to cover my descent. Once all of us are on the ground, it’s show time.
Kinard sets the breaching charges on the front doors of the command center as we take up positions for a firing solution to anything that comes out. I can sense two lifeforms just inside the building, neither appear to be force users. I give the signal. There’s an explosion followed by quick bursts of blaster fire. The two lives fade out. As we enter the building I take point with Jensen and Hess serving as sweeps, Kinard is in the center of the formation providing small arms and demolitions, and Dewlani serves as rear guard with a heavy autocannon. The hall is filled with smoke and my lightsabers illuminate it in a hellish red glow. Blaster fire screams at us from somewhere on our left flank, either the shooter isn’t very good, or we’re lucky. They carve fist sized divots in the wall between Hess and myself kicking more dust into the air. We switch to thermal imaging and a quick burst from Jensen and the shooter falls. We begin to systematically search every room. First I sense, then Kinard breaches any stubborn portals and Jensen and Hess take care of anything that crawls out of the woodwork. It works without a hitch until we get to the subbasement.
Rebels must have gotten sick of us walking over them, because they trap the corridor to the hanger so tight that a greased monkey-lizard would have trouble squeezing through. Kinard says he can disarm them, but it’s going to take time because there’s so frakking many of them. By the time I sense the ambush it’s almost to late. We take fire from both ends of the corridor pinning us down and setting off some of the sequencer charges in the tunnel. Within seconds Jensen is down with shaky vitals and Kinard has taken shrapnel to the hip and flank. If we don’t do something soon, we’re going to get shot, or buried, or both. Dewlani spins back the way we came opening up full out sending our would be executioners diving for cover. And Kinard uses that break to send his own little care package in the form of a thermal detonator. The walls shudder as the tunnel behind us collapses. I shift my visor to the ultraviolet spectrum and give myself wholly over to the force. Using my fathers training I make my way down the corridor, diving around and under traps, blocking the miscellaneous blaster fire that is directed our way. Finally I reach the end of the corridor and dive over the barricade, my assailant stumbling backwards from the furry of my assault. I look down, expecting to see a soldier. What I get is a kid… a girl… Mari? I haven’t seen her in four years, when she was transferred to the diplomat corps. How in the Emperor’s name did she end up here? With them?
There was a time, forever ago it seems. When I thought there was something between us. Being around her lifted me up, diminished my anger. We would sneak off together. One night I worked up the courage to kiss her. The next day she was gone.
And now, here we are, she’s lying on her back I have a lightsaber held centimeters from her throat. For the first time, I hesitate. We stay there, frozen for several tense moments. “Lieutenant, what’s your status?”
“All clear, move up,” I turn to Mari. “Don’t move! Don’t even make a sound, and you may live through this.” Kinard moves up the hall slowly, leaning heavily on the Hess.
Dwelani trudges up alone. “Jensen’s gone.”
“All right men, we still have a job to do. Kinard, can you move?”
“Piss poor, Sir. I’m only going to slow you down at this point.”
“Dewlani, help him. We’re going to find somewhere to hole up where we can get him out once we’re finished here. Hess you’re with me.” Telepathically I add to Mari, “Go to the hanger.” We move on. I keep expecting a shot to the back that never comes. I signal a halt at the first surface access we come across and climb the steel rungs. A few moments later I return, “It’s blocked, lets keep moving,” I lie.
We arrive at an intersection in the tunnels. Dewlani and Hess set sequencer charges on prox. sensors ten meters down each hallway. A short time later we arrive at another access hatch. Hess checks it and reports that it opens to the surface. “Dewlani, you have guard duty. Take position back down the hallway a few meters. If anything comes down this hall way that isn’t wearing armor, frag it.” He knods an affirmative. “Kinard, I’m going to need the payload. Hess, you’re on the left.” I take Kinard’s satchel and we proceed onwards to the hanger.
When we get there it’s pretty much in ruins, the north wall is completely collapsed, and only a battered freighter remains. It looks to be of Correlian make. The irony isn’t lost on me. I can sense several people laying in wait. “Hess, I set the charges and was about to escape when I was wounded and caught in the explosion. Take cover in the hallway, wait five minutes, then get Kinard and Dewlani out of here.” I use the force to create the vision of what I just said in his mind and watch as he retreats a short distance down the hall. “Show yourselves, I know you’re here.” No one moves. “Start prepping that shuttle, we’re getting off world, and I’m blowing what’s left of this hanger.” I sense confusion as I make my way to the primary support beam. Somewhere behind me a soldier opens fire. I spin, my lightsabers take on a life of their own batting blaster bolts from the air around me. “Mari! I don’t want to kill these nerf herders but they’re not going to give me much of a choice.”
From behind cover a woman shouts, “HOLD YOUR FIRE! Who are you?” Slowly I remove my helmet. “EVAN?!” Mari, breaks cover, her blaster trained on me. Four other soldiers emerge sighting in on my exposed head. “What’s going on?”
“I’m delivering my resignation. I’ll walk out with you or over you. Your choice, but this building’s coming down and I’m leaving on that freighter.” Several of the soldiers eye each other nervously before refocusing on me. “Once we’re gone you can drop me off and be on your merry way, but this is your last chance to get out of this intact.” One by one the soldiers lower their weapons. They can tell by the look in my eyes I mean every word I say. Mari knows I’ll do it.
A few minutes later the charges are set with a six minute timer. We board the freighter and prepare for a rough flight. “Mari?”
“Don’t even speak to me, Imp! You have no idea what’s been going on for the last three years. We’ve been running and fighting for our lives and you’ve been HUNTING us.”
“I’m sorry,” I put my hand on her shoulder. “If I ha…”
A fierce right hook interrupts me mid sentence and shatters my train of thought, “Don’t touch me! When we were little,you had a monster inside you. Now I look at you and I can’t tell how much of you is left in the monster.” I stare in confusion as Mari stalks off deeper into the freighter.
Bewildered, I make my way to the cabin, insisting that the rebel lets me pilot our escape. I settle into the pilots chair allowing a light force trance to overtake me. I can feel the ships overhead swarming like insects over the ruins of their hive. “Hold on to something, this is going to be rough.” I gun the throttle and streak off into the sky narrowly missing a pair of droid fighters. I turn to the rebel clutching the copilot’s chair desperately trying to fasten the harness, “You, I angle the deflector shields to the rear NOW.” I hear a click as he, I think it’s a he, finally gets the harness fastened and nods to me dumbly searching the board with the speed of a one legged Astromech. “You may want to hurry it up, or this is going to be one short, painful ride.” I faintly hear a sorry in the background, but my focus is now wholly on flying, flying and not getting blasted to small flaming metal bits.
The ship lurches as we are grazed by a couple of poorly aimed blasts. The shields aren’t up yet. I glare at the copilot before executing a barrel roll followed by a snap turn left and up to avoid incoming fire from several unfriendly ships, including (I believe) the drop ship that flew me in. The sky fades into starfield as we breach the planets ionosphere with two fighters hot on my six. Two more blast rock the ship and pit the armor. The third has a diminished impact as the shields finally come on line. Quickly I scan the console for weapons controls and come up empty. The ship is completely unarmed…
“Take everything that you can live without and shove it in the air lock,” I shout over the com.
“I thought you were flying the ship,” I hear in a staticy rendition of Mari’s voice.
“Ha, Ha. Just do it. If we can’t get rid of our company, we’ll never make it out of the gravity well. A small light on the control panel flashes red indicating the interior door of the airlock is open and safety mechanisms are engaged. Another pair vectors in from 9 o’clock and I sweep up and right to avoid them. My pursuers fall into formation behind me as the indicator goes from red to green.
“That’s all we could find, mostly just some crates. Why are we doing this again?”
“Because we don’t have conventional weapons and this might work. Speedy, drop the shields.” I break hard port exposing my flank to the wing pursuing me. Several blasts pit the armor as various alarms roar to life. I ignore them until our pursuers are close enough that my plan has a chance of working, and open the air lock jettisoning the debris into space.
The lead fighter in takes the debris full on, and its wingman follows the same programed course colliding with a canister and sheering off a wing. Two down, two to go. I just have to get clear before that star destroyer moves into range. “All right, Speedy, angle deflector shields forward it’s time to play rough.” The shields come up. Speedy might turn out okay after all.
His eyes go wide as I pull a sharp U turn and vector directly for the lead fighter. Blaster fire riddles the shield producing a kaleidescope effect. It would be quite pretty if the monitors didn’t report shields at 42% and falling. I smile a lunatic grin and glance over at Speedy as I bare down on the fighter on the right. It’s a narrow miss until I angle down slightly and clip it’s tail. The lead droid spirals out of control, losing momentum and falling toward the planet. Shields are down and we’re leaking trace amounts of atmosphere into space.
“EVAN, ARE YOU DRUNK OR DID THEY JUST BEAT ANY SENSE OUT OF YOU? YOU’RE GOING TO FU…”
I switch off the comms and focus on the last fighter coming at us. “Speedy, I need you to prep the escape pod for launch.”
He shoots me a querying look.“Are we abandoning the ship into that mess?” he says with a grand flourish towards the view port.
“Not exactly. Just do it,” I glance toward the Star Destroyer. “And do it quickly we’re runnin’ out of time.” I’m flying immersed in the force now, any mistakes will be the end of us. I dive, bob, juke and weave. Anything to keep that fighter from getting a clear shot. A few moments later speedy sticks his head in the cockpit.
“She’s ready. But I don…” I snap a sharp turn that smacks him hard against the bulkhead. He falls to the ground unconscious. I feel bad about that, but I don’t have time to check on him right now. I fire retrorockets cutting our momentum and the fighter begins to shoot past. In the force it all feels as though it’s happening in slow motion. The fighter approaches for an underside pass. I roll the freighter orienting the escape pod toward what was down. Speedy slides along the floor wedging under the copilot’s chair with a solid thud. The escape pod launches, center punching the fighter, causing it to explode in a cloud of fuel and debris scattered in our wake.
I punch it up to full throttle and vector away from the star destroyer, setting the navcomputer to calculate a series of hyperspace jumps to get us out of here and somewhere safe. Hmmm.. Muunilinst and Bastion are out right off the bat… Interesting, Telos, no tactical value, minor resources, little military presence… I instruct the navcomputer to calculate a seven jump course to take us to Telos. Moments later the stars elongate and we’re safe, for now.
Black boots clack on a floor polished to a mirrored shine. A cell door opens, inside is a man, worn, haggard from years of abuse. He hangs in the center of the room, shackled and suspended in a stasis field. His face is gaunt, his body emaciated, his hair is peppered gray, but his eyes are indomitable spheres of blue fire. He glares at his guest, a gaze of undisguised contempt that would crush a lesser man. Asajj Vintress is not a lesser man. There was a time when she knew fear. That time is long past. She meets his gaze levelly. A smirk crosses her lips, but her eyes aren’t smiling. “Alistier, you act as if you don’t enjoy our little talks.” He would spit in her face if he had enough fluid to make saliva. “Come now, you’re being rude,” she begins to pace around the prisioner. “Perhaps I should leave. Return when you’re feeling more receptive to what I offer,” her eyebrow raises inquizitavely as she pauses, staring intently into Alistier’s eyes until he submits and looks away. “Very good, you’re learning. Now, beg. You know this isn’t free.” The stasis field drops and Alistier falls to the floor landing hard on his knees then tumbleing roughly onto his shoulder planting the seeds of a new bruise.
Vintress reaches out with the force draging him up to his knees. Forcing him to kneel before her, manipulating his broken body like a pupetmaster. “Excelent. now show me you want it.” Her eyes narrow as Alistier attempts to exert his will and rise. She slams him hard into the floor breaking his nose. “Now, now,” invisible hands grip him by the throat closing off his airways and hoisting him into the air. “Don’t you want to hear about Evan? It’s very interesting, but if you won’t behave…” She releases him and reactivates the field turning to leave.
“p…pllleee…plleeeasssse.” his voice is little more than a hoarse rasp, but she turns to reguard him.
“Oh, and have you found your manners?” He knods weakly. Her smile would curdel nerf milk and cause a sarlac to retreat in fear, “Evan is dead.” She waits a moment reveling in the looks of disbelief and horror moulded onto Alistier’s face. “He died, fighting your rebels on Kashyyyk. Master Yoda slew him himself. It was artfully done. I would have brought you his head to keep you company, but you know how the jedi adore buring the dead.” Deep inside him something breaks and the fire in his eyes goes out. Asajj leaves the room laughing. It echos back to him long after she’s gone filling his mind. His body is wracked by dry heaving sobs as he is left alone in darkness.
A few minutes later a holovid terminal flares to life within Vintress’s personal chambers producing a glowling, slightly transluscent, image of Emperor Dooku. “Master, Hinder has broken. He is ready for you.”
“Excelent, bring him before me. I wish to speak with him before offering him a chance for revenge.”
“As you wish.”
Minutes later a shuttle was embarking for Coruscant, human cargo in tow.
We approach the blue planet. Several thousand years ago, right after the Mandelorian Wars, Telos was bombarded to the point of being uninhabitable. After generations of teraforming people are finally settling on the surface again. A satic voice hails us asking our purpose and point of origin. I tell them I have a small group of refugees that ran afowl of rebels and we need to stop for repairs and refuling. Landing codes are verified. I make berth in hanger 78. The freighter has seen better days. There’s a six meter scar where we rammed the fighter and numerous pit’s and pockmarks where we took fire. Speedy is up and about, allthough moving slowly. I’m sure he has atleast some cracked ribs. Mari has been giving me the cold shoulder for the duration of the trip. The other rebels have been flat out avoiding me. I sense fear in them, fear and something… else.
I am stopped at a check point by a minor imperial official. He has a smug demeanor and a sweat stained uniform. He briefly attempts to cop an attitude, feeling the superiority his position provides him over anyone attempting to disembark from the spaceport. I regard him coolly and submit to a search of my person and belongings. They pause when they see my armor under my cloak bearing the insignia of Vornskr battalion. His eyes go wide as he uncovers the paired lightsabers hanging from my belt. “Are we done here?” My demeanor brooks no argument.
I walk the streets of Telos Prime for what seem to be several hours, but when you’re lost in thought time loses a good deal of meaning. I look briefly at my surroundings and realize that lost in thougth may not be the only applicable type of lost for me at the moment. While I realize that I have no idea where I am, I know the spaceport won’t be difficult to find. Down the street something, someone, catches my eye. It’s like something out of a half remembered dream and without thinking I find myself running down the street to where I saw it. No, him. He ducks into a building down the alley and I find myself sprinting to get there. The door opens to my proximity and I ignight my lightsabers in anticipation of a trap. The interior is dark, illuminated only by a flickering light that has long since fallen prey to disrepair. I proceed down a long corridor, my eyes adjusting to the darkness. Whoever is ahead is a beacon in the force with only a thin door seperating us. I take a long slow breath steeling myself for the confrontation to come and kick in the door. I surge into the room anticipating an attack that never comes. Before me stands a man, or rather the image of a man, he is tall with sharp features and long hair. My eyes go wide as the realization hits me like a runaway bantha. This is the man from my vision. He speaks in an accented baratone, very softly but full of power, “Hello, Evan. I am Qui-Gon Jinn. I was your father’s master.”
I raise my eyebrows in suspicion, “Right, didn’t he die about 10 years before I was born? Even if you are, why did you wait until now to show yourself?”
“Death becomes a trivial thing when the force is your ally. And I have chosen now to reveal myself to you because your father is in grave danger.”
“What in danger of coming back as a ghost like you? He’s dead.” I add in under my breath, “Happy birthday to me,” and look away.
“No, your father lives.”
My attention snaps back to the spirit, “WHERE IS HE? TAKE ME TO HIM!” I can feel the rage building inside of me, yearning for violent release. He senses it too and glowers at me.
“You are not prepared to face him. Your training as a Jedi is incomplete and were he to see you in your present state, it would crush what spirit he has remaining.”
“Then tell me! What do I have to do?”
“Seek the chosen one. You must find Skywalker” With that the spirit fades echoing one last time. “Find Skywalker”
I stand there alone in a room illuminated only by my lightsabers. I extinguish them as I sit heavily on the floor exahusted from the burden that has been placed on my shoulders. Find Skywalker. He says it as though it were an easy task. If we knew where Skywalker was this rebellion would be over and there would be peace in the galaxy again. No, that would be a lie. I’ve seen first hand the peace the Empire brings.
I waste no time finding my way back to the hanger where we are docked. We’re fuled but there hasn’t been any time for repairs. I don’t care. My father lives, and somewhere out there is the man who can help me find him.