2011 Before/Saga Fanfic Awards Excerpt Thread

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  1. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    THE SAGA

    Best Alternative Universe

    Alliance of Heroes by JediMara77

    A/N: After Mara gets caught up in the defection to the Alliance, an already-smitten Luke ?interrogates? Mara at Leia?s request.

    Leia had asked Luke to speak to Mara because he could use the Force?and that?s what he would do. Intelligence had already asked all the mundane questions. Luke realized that he had been telling the absolute truth before?he was just there to talk. With the Force, that was all that was necessary for him to find his answers.

    And maybe even without the Force, too.

    Finally, he settled on an approach. ?How're you feeling??

    Her expression didn?t change this time, but he could sense her surprise. She had obviously been expecting, and preparing for, more hard-hitting questions. ?Um?fine, I guess. Really sick of all these debriefings.?

    ?I can imagine.?

    ?I doubt it. I bet you didn?t have to go through all of these when you arrived.?

    ?How would you know??

    ?Everyone talks about you, don't you know? I got the full story my first night here: Luke Skywalker shows up out of nowhere, rescues the Princess, and kills the bad guys. I'm sure there will be a million holos about it one day.?

    Luke blanched; he had never thought of such a possibility. Did people really talk about him that much? Why would people in the galaxy ever be interested in his story? He was just a guy from a moisture farm who got a lucky shot.

    Well, Wedge had always told him that he was much too modest about his accomplishments. Perhaps his best friend was right. Maybe that lack of confidence was what was holding back Luke's growth in the Force.

    Maybe.

    He shrugged sheepishly, deciding, for once, not to downplay his accomplishments. "I did do all that stuff. But I'm not so sure about the holos."

    She chuckled. ?Maybe I should have rescued Princess Leia, instead of being the one to get rescued. Then I wouldn't have had to go through this torture.?

    "So talking to me is torture, huh?"

    Her lips curled into a teasing smirk. "I'm not sure yet."

    ?

    "So." Mara leaned forward, her elbows on the table. "Your story?"

    "You are good, not letting me deflect your question."

    "I am good. So let's hear your answer. You're the one who wanted to talk."

    "Okay," Luke agreed, taking a deep breath. And he did talk, telling Mara about his childhood on Tatooine, meeting Ben Kenobi and leaving for Alderaan, escaping the Death Star and destroying the battle station. She listened intently, as if she hadn't already heard the story. In normal circumstances, he would probably find her scrutiny unsettling...but now he only found it intriguing.

    "So you're a farm boy," she said. She gave a throaty laugh that sent shivers down Luke's spine. "That actually makes perfect sense."

    "I was, I guess."

    "I've always heard you can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy."

    "If you say so."

    She looked him up and down; again, a gesture that he would normally have found unsettling. "I do, Farmboy."

    He could feel himself flush and then grew quiet, aware that their conversation had not proceeded at all the way he had planned. But yet, his sense of the Force was as clear as ever. He knew, somehow, that she had been completely genuine in their conversation. He sensed no treachery from her, no deception. He knew that he, and the Alliance, could trust her.

    He asked one final question, even though he already knew the answer: ?Are you a spy??

    She held his gaze for long seconds, not uttering a sound, but still he did not doubt. Finally, she shook her head slowly. ?No. I?m not.?

    Luke nodded. ?I believe you.? And he did; he was more certain of her honesty than he'd ever been of anything before in his life.

    She glanced down, studying her hands resting on the table. ?Why?? she asked in a small voice.

    ?Why shouldn't I??

    ?Well.? She leaned back, once again putting on that sarcastic aura of sel
  2. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    Holding Out Hope by Valairy_Scot

    So [Ventress] slithered and she ran, escaping doom. Escaping temptation. Escaping hope. And the sound of battle deescalated to silence, for here, the gasps and sobs of the dying were too muted to hear, if any yet breathed.

    Then a young voice wafted to her ears, far off in the distance, full of despair. ?She?s no longer here. Master, I promised I?d come back. I promised to give her my hand, to save her. I promised.?

    ?One should be very careful of one?s promises, Obi-Wan.? The voice was older, deeper, a man?s voice, not quite comforting yet not stern. A mentor?s voice, but a father?s voice as well. ?A Jedi always keeps his promises and rash promises in the heat of battle ? well, that is perhaps unwise.?

    ?I plan to keep this one, Master. Even if I?m old and crippled when I do.?

    Ventress almost turned around and went back. The words would haunt her for the rest of her life if she didn?t ? and she didn?t want to encounter this bright, fierce warrior boy as an old and crippled man, even if the spirit was undimmed by years.

    She even turned and reached out a hand ? because she knew he would reach back ? but it was red.

    And soon his would be, too.

    If she allowed him to keep his promise. He would save her, but doom himself. So she turned and fled.


    And here the man stood before her at last, perhaps a couple of decades older if not wiser. He was still trying to save the galaxy and, she sensed, her as well. Salvation one soul at a time. How quaint.

    How touching.

    And she didn?t know if she loved him for it or hated it. Because she knew his offer was still open and always would be.

    ?Ventress, my sweet.? Kenobi stood braced, lightsaber at the ready, a knowing smile curving at his lips.

    "Obi-Wan, darlin?,? she purred back.

    Anakin Skywalker said nothing, tense and poised at his master?s side, awaiting the fury within to be unleashed but as yet held in place by his master.

    The tableau held for a moment; then Anakin leapt forward ? and froze, held in place by a soft ?Anakin? and a hand on his arm. The two Jedi exchanged glances and then Kenobi advanced a step and switched off his lightsaber although Ventress noted he held it ready in his left hand. He was no fool, her Obi-Wan. The warrior-boy was now a warrior-man.

    And there was still no blood on his hands. Only on Skywalker?s ? and those warm, bright eyes were just as blind to that as they had been to the blood on hers all those years ago. In some ways, this way, he was just as much a fool now as then.

    He cocked his head to one side and took another step forward, hand extended. ?There is still hope, Ventress. There is always hope. Just reach for it.?

    And he offered his hand.

    It was the hand that Ventress remembered. A little more callused and worn, it was true, but the same hand that had offered hope with a smile all those many years ago. But even then it had been too late. Now it was beyond late, beyond any redemption.

    It only reminded her now of hope forever lost. And Kenobi, the fool, was too blind to even see it. He still smiled, his eyes still shone, and his hands were still unstained.

    ?Be careful of the promises you make in battle, my dear Obi-Wan,? she taunted him and saw his eyes widen with recognition.

    ?My hand is always at the ready, my dear. Qui-Gon never knew the other part of that promise; it was between you and I alone. You promised then to reach back.?

    ?Then take it, Kenobi!?

    She sprung and Skywalker quickly intervened, placing himself in her path to the elder Jedi. His lips curved to a smirk; he anticipated this match. Their lightsabers locked.

    ?You go through me to reach him,? his eyes warned.

    ?I?ll go through hell to reach him,? her eyes flashed back.

    Reluctantly, Obi-Wan relight his lightsaber, his eyes for the moment sad.

    The last thing she registered before losing herself in the heat of battle, was Obi-Wan?s whisper, for her ears alone, ?When you?re ready t
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    Alliance of Heroes by JediMara77

    A/N: In this scene, the group of Rebels and the Imperial defectors are ambushed on Dantooine.

    ?That was weapons fire!? Han yelled. ?What the hell is going on, Chewie??

    The Wookiee yelled furiously, pawing at the sensor readings and desperately trying to determine who was attacking them and where they were coming from. Without a second thought, Han?s hands danced over the controls, bringing the Falcon into the air again. ?Watch yourself, Princess, we?re going airborne!? As they lifted up he banked into a steep turn, facing the direction he thought the attack had come from.

    There, right in front of him, was the answer:

    Imperial TIE fighters.

    The Falcon?s comm hissed to life before he had a chance to open a line. ?Han, TIE fighters incoming!?

    ?We see ?em, junior?scratch that, we feel them! How many are there??

    ?At least two squadrons in the atmosphere, and more up above,? Luke replied glumly. ?It?s an ambush, Han. They knew we were coming.?

    ?Let?s worry about that later,? Han snapped as he pulled the Falcon into another steep turn. ?Can you guys cover us while we get the hell out of here??

    Luke?s reply was cut off as Leia came rushing into the cockpit. ?What are you doing?!? she screamed.

    ?What does it look like we?re doing, sweetheart? I?m getting you the hell out of here!?

    ?No, Han! We?ve got to go back! We can?t just leave them there to die!?

    ?Oh we sure can. They knew what they were signing up for! I?m not gonna have Princess Leia?s death happen on my watch just so we can save the lives of four Imps!?

    ?Rebels, Han. They?re Rebels now.?

    He was so infuriated that he didn?t even realize that she called him by his first name. But looking back on the situation, he wondered if perhaps that was the reason why he actually listened to her.

    ?Dammit Leia!? he yelled, slamming his hand down on the control panel. ?I don?t know how you get me dragged into these things!?

    Leia grinned and leaned towards the comm. ?Luke? It?s Leia! We?re going back around to pick up the defectors on the ground. Can the Rogues cover us??

    ?We?re on it.?

    * * *

    The Rogues pulled in a tight circle around the Falcon, engaging the few TIE fighters that actually approached this close to the ground. Briefly, Luke allowed himself to wonder why so few of the TIEs were engaging in the fight when there were many more showing on his sensor board.

    Then he noticed the stormtroopers rushing towards the defectors, their blasters out and blazing and most definitely not set for stun.

    Luke grit his teeth and flipped his comm. ?Three, this is Leader. I?m breaking off from formation to provide cover for those on the ground.?

    Wedge?s voice returned loud and clear in his headset. ?Copy, Leader. Need assistance??

    ?Negative, Three. Keep on the TIEs.?

    ?Copy that.?

    Luke jerked his flightstick toward the direction of the Imperial troops. The four defectors had taken cover behind a rocky outcropping and were fighting back valiantly, but Luke knew that if the troopers managed to get close enough, it would be a slaughter. He refused to let them die. He had done enough of that in his short time with the Alliance military.

    He pulled the trigger and laser fire rained down on the troopers beneath him. Some of the more tenacious commandos weren?t deterred, so Luke was forced to pull around for another pass and fire at them.

    On his second pass, he saw the Millennium Falcon slowly lower to the ground about fifty meters behind the defectors. In his mind, Luke yelled at them to run while they could, while he was keeping the troopers back and the other Rogues were taking care of the TIEs. He wished that he could speak to everyone through the Force. Or he just wished that the defectors had a headset on the ground.

    As the thought went through his mind, one of the defectors glanced up sharply, looking directly at his X-wing. Luke?s breath caught in his throat and it se
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    This is Not Our Fate by iceaffinity


    Nothing moved.

    Barriss cracked open her eyes. The world spun dizzily. She closed them, breathed in, tried again. Still, her body did not move. The fuzzy drone of battle whirred overhead. She could see blue and red streaks of light flying in the air above her. The battle was still ongoing. She breathed, mentally running down her body to check for damage.

    That was when she screamed. It did not come out loud, like a shriek, but a ragged, dry whisper. Everything was wrong. The slow fade in of pain was beginning, the feeling of little burning needles pricking her from her feet to her face. The shock stirred her, and as she struggled, trying to call for help, the severed limb of a droid rolled down onto her.
    She'd fought. Galle had come; she thought she was saved. Now she was lying in a ditch with dead droids. The half gasped scream came again with a more frantic struggle to move. Those were her men. These were the droids she'd destroyed. The clones were her men, her allies.

    They shot her. They shot her with a cannon. It hurt. It hurt everywhere.

    The mound of droids around her seethed, bucked, lifted as she freed herself, the pricking sensation roaring up into a scalding burn. She flailed, droid bits sliding under her weight as she tried to fling herself forward. She was drowning in scraps of metal. Barriss kicked her legs, scrabbling with her hands, trying to find more solid purchase. She felt two streaks of fresh pain course down her face, and realized she was crying, the tears cutting into raw flesh. It hurt, everything hurt, and she was drowning in dead droids, and her men had turned against her and she hurt. "Master Luminara?" she managed, rasping. "Master Secura?"

    She fell again. Floundered for a minute. Lay still. Her head lay turned on one side. The battle was still raging. It was close, but the tide had begun to spin further north, following the ravine. Mutiny, it was mutiny, but why? Master Secura. Master Secura was on Felucia too. Someone had to tell her. She and Bly could put it right.
    She thrashed, wriggling herself up and freeing herself from the mound of droids. Her legs refused to gather themselves under her, and so she crawled. She kept her head low, eyes on the ground, watching one burnt hand follow the other, her olive skin mottled a charred purple.

    Crawling into a thicket of towering pitcher plants, Barriss collapsed. The ground here was cool, moist with recent rain. The pitchers glowed iridescently, veins of gold running through their lavender leaves. She closed her eyes, feeling her head pound and her vision swim. She could ill afford a concussion. She forced her eyes back open, tried again to focus.
    As it had always been, the Force was a soothing pool of calm. She immersed herself in it, let it fill her. The fire raging across her skin began to cool, and the more she brought her mind to attention, the more soothing it began to feel.
    It gave her a bit of strength; she used it to reach out.

    It was then that she felt the absence. It was the same feeling of the Force in the blackness between stars, of sheer emptiness, of lack of life. "No," she said aloud, croaking. "No." She tried again, stubbornly reaching out and closing her eyes, seeking out the one bond she could always feel, matter how far away.

    It flowed strongly, as it always had. Once a small stream, it was fed by tributaries of respect and admiration, even friendship, widening into a shining river, always moving forward, rushing back and forth between herself and the Master who taught her so well. She followed that river, let its current carry her back to its source. But where there was once a great lake of strength and trust, the river's end now seemed to only fade away, streaming off into the absence.

    Her hoarse scream sounded again, heard only by the plants surrounding her. She dug her fingers into the moss, tore it up, then
  6. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    Best Romance

    Of Loyalty, Honor, and Love by FelsGoddess

    Soontir turned around towards the voice to see two senators walking towards him. He didn?t recognize either one. The two began rambling about piloting and politics. Soontir was polite, of course. He nodded in the appropriate places and agreed where necessary. He understood the importance of staying within the senators good graces. He did wonder what the men were doing now that their role was no longer needed.

    The scent of Corellian orchids wafted through the air. Soontir?s gaze snapped up. His eyes were granted with the sight of the most beautiful woman he?d ever seen. Her honey blond hair fell just past her shoulders, curling at the end. The lights cast a shine on the silken locks. Her blue eyes were alert with understanding and joy. She smiled brilliantly, causing his heart to pause. She wore a gold-colored strapless gown. Her skirts swirled around her, tamed somewhat by a stylish belt. The bodice of the dress accented her curves perfectly. She reminded of him of someone he?d seen before, but he couldn?t place her.

    She spoke with a slight Corellian accent. He was vaguely aware of her dismissing the two senators. She told him that she saved his life, for the senators stories were quite brutal. Part of Soontir, the part trained to respond when spoken to, thanked her profusely. The rest of him was captivated by her mere presence, a feeling he?d never experienced in his life. He was sure he must look like an idiot staring at her. He maintained enough presence of mind to offer her his arm as she led him from the room.

    ?Wynssa Starflare.?

    Soontir?s eyebrows shot up his brow when she announced her name. Wynssa Starflare. The actress. He was arm-in-arm with the most beautiful woman in the galaxy. She took his hand and led him to one of the lookouts aboard the skyhook. He listened as she explained why she ?saved? him. Her hair whipped in the wind as she gripped the guardrail. Down below, he could see the Imperial Palace. He wondered briefly in the Emperor was inside planning an effective strategy to deal with the Rebels.

    ?Tell me, Major Fel,? Wynssa said with a smirk as she turned to face him. ?Have you ever attended a premier??

    ?No,? he answered. He moved to stand next to her by the guardrail. Somewhat nervously, he took her hand in his. Her blue eyes sparkled with something he couldn?t identify.

    ?Tomorrow is the premier of my newest holodrama. It?s at 1900 hours at the Galactica Theater,? she told him. ?I could use an escort. I usually go with a friend, but he?s doing a favor for me and I suspect that you would be much desirable company.?

    Soontir tipped his head, unexplainably incapable of refusing her request, ?I will be there.?

    ?I thought so,? she quipped. She reached into the pocket hidden in the folds of her skirt and handed him a small slip of flimsy. ?Here?s my address. Don?t be late.?

    ?Ms. Starflare! There you are, my dear,? a middle-aged male human gushed as he walked onto the balcony. Wynssa turned to face him to scold him, ?Roth, you are making a spectacle of yourself in front of Major Fel.?

    ?Ah, congratulations, Major Fel,? Roth said with the tip of his head, clearly disinterested in the man.

    ?Is there something you need, Roth?? Wynssa asked.

    ?Yes, Commander Daq wishes to speak with you. His family-?

    ?-provided the ships. I remember, Roth. Give me two minutes,? Wynssa said with irritation. She waited until the man left before speaking to Soontir, ?Insufferable man.?

    ?Who is he??

    ?My agent?s assistant,? Wynssa responded as she turned to face him. She rested a hand on his forearm. ?I?m sorry. I have to speak with Daq before I leave.?

    Soontir tipped his head, ?I understand.?

    He lifted her other hand to his lips, pressing a soft kiss against her knuckles. ?I look forward tomorrow evening, Wynssa.?
    Wynssa squeezed his hand, and then stepped back. She smiled at him, ?Count on it. Thank you for the lovel
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    Braken Starblaster, Space Politico: Revenge of Vengeance by The_Face


    Acting Mayor Braken Starblaster entered the staff meeting with all the grace and bearing of a one-legged Ewok in mental decline. He slammed his hands down onto the two nearest corners of the table. ?Hello everyone. You're probably wondering why I called this meeting,? he said.

    ?Is it because we have a meeting every week at the same time in the same place?? guessed Deputy Mayor Zokk Hopscotcher, a young human with bright eyes and shaggy brown hair. He had been an intern under Braken during his days as a lawyer, and Braken's protegé in particular.

    Braken cast his eyes downward and sighed. ?That is just the kind of in-the-box thinking that I would expect from you, Zokk.? He looked back up at his staff. ?People, we can't just think the same four ways over and over again. I want you to think in... the octagon, for example. That's twice as many ideas as a box. Or some even better shape than that. I want you to think of as many sides as you possibly can. Everybody, think of all the sides you can possibly think of.?

    A long awkward silence followed. Mouths were frowned. Brows were furrowed. Lips were chewed. Jim Halpert looked directly into the camera.

    Zokk raised his hand again. ?Twenty-one, sir!?

    Braken nodded approvingly. ?Yes, Zokk. Yes. That sounds like a very complicated shape. From now on, instead of a box, I want you to think in that.?

    ?Does this mean I get my own office?? Zokk asked with hopeful tears welling up in his young eyes.

    ?No, keep using your box.?

    ?But it smells like mynock.?

    Braken slammed his hands on the table. ?I did not call this meeting to talk about what Sullustan restaurant's dumpster I got Zokk's office from. I called this meeting to discuss the unsubstantiated rumors we've all been hearing on the streets, and seeing in the news, and reading in the encyclopedia.? He took a deep breath. ?The answer, is yes, I bought a scratch -n- sniff chocolate sticker two weeks ago.?

    Everyone gasped. And for good reason. Braken is, after all, a recovering chocoholic. He long avoided it due to his childhood home being broken by his father's chocoholism and the fear that he could follow in his dad's footsteps. But the sweet stuff's siren call proved too much and shortly before quitting law, he had an episode of binge chocolate-eating.

    A chocolate bar in one hand, Braken weeps as he puts his hand on the transparisteel in the prison visitor's room. On the prison side of it, Han Solo asks if he can go back to his cell now.

    ?I was feeling really stressed about the responsibilities of the new job. It was a moment of weakness. But even though I bought it, and I did let my fingernail drift over it, I want you to know I did not inhale.?

    ?Did you stick it to anything?? asked Merri Nebulos, the Adumarian girl with wide-set eyes and a bob haircut, who was taking the minutes of the meeting as part of her duties as secretary.

    ?Yes, my trapper-keeper. But that's not important. Sticking one thing to another thing never hurt anybody. The stance we have to make clear from this office is that I did not smell the sweet semi-sweet scent of chocolate.? He eyed his trapper-keeper hungrily.

    The next staff member to speak was Henshu Vennom. Henshu was a Dark Jedi, and Braken had once defended him against the charges of using the Force without a license. [Ed. Note: See ?The Dark Darkness,? true believers!] Braken did not have a lot of friends ? or business acumen ? so when it came time to hire his press secretary, he turned to this acquaintance. ?Weakling!? Henshu stood, pointing an accusatory finger at Braken. ?Your frailty has exposed this entire administration! We must carve a will out of your coward's heart with a blade of flame!?

    ?Yes, that's one idea,? Braken said. ?But I like my 'didn't inhale' one.?


    />
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    Alliance of Heroes by JediMara77

    A/N: During the Rebel Alliance?s escape from the Yavin IV base.

    ?This piece of junk is never going to get us past that Super Star Destroyer!?

    Han cringed and tried to ignore the shrill voice coming from behind the captain?s chair. ?Hey, flying in this ship was your idea, sweetheart, not mine!?

    ?Don?t remind me.? Han could almost hear Leia?s eyes roll.

    ?Are you at least strapped in back there? We gotta jump as soon as we get clear of these TIEs.?

    ?Of course I?m strapped in, you nerfherder! I do have some experience in space travel, you know.?

    Fortunately?or unfortunately, depending on the way Han wanted to look at the situation?See-Threepio?s chatter interrupted their bickering. ?Captain Solo, I do believe that Princess Leia is correct. The odds of successfully avoiding capture by an Imperial Super Star Destroyer are approximately??

    ?Shut up, Goldenrod, or you?re gonna find yourself blown out the airlock!?

    ??Shutting up, sir.?

    ?

    Growling in frustration, Han toggled the comm switch. ?Hey, kid, any time now!?

    Luke?s voice came through apologetically. ?Sorry Han, we got held up. Turn to point oh-seven; we?ll take care of the TIEs and escort you out.?

    ?Gladly.? As Han turned the Falcon as requested, he saw six X-wings approaching from behind. Several of the pursuing TIEs were vaped immediately, and their green laser fire finally stopped crossing the Falcon?s hull. Han breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Luke?s X-wing peel off from the others and close up with the ship, the other five snubfighters quickly demolishing the remaining TIEs.

    ?Are there any other transports on their way?? Luke asked. ?We lost communication with the base.?

    Han grimaced, dreading his next words. ?Sorry, kid, but I don?t think anyone else is making it off.?

    Han could hear Luke?s protest before it even began. ?But there?s only one ship out here, we can hold ?em off in time??

    ?Imperial troops are on the ground, Luke. Sorry, but you better make the jump right behind us if you want to get out of here alive.?

    After a few seconds, Luke sighed. ?You?re right,? he admitted begrudgingly. ?Go ahead and jump; we?ll see you at the rendezvous. May the Force be with you.?

    ?Yeah, you too, kid.? Toggling the switch again, Han turned to his co-pilot. ?Alright Chewie, punch it.?

    The stars outside the cockpit turned to lines, then the swirling patterns of hyperspace. Han leaned back in his chair in relief and pushed up his sleeves. ?See, Princess?? he said, turning around to look smugly at the woman sitting behind him, with her arms crossed over her chest. ?Nothing to it.?

    ?Yes, well. It?s a good thing Luke and the Rogues were there to bail you out.? Without another word, she rose from her chair and exited the cockpit.

    ?What the??? Han sputtered. After a moment, he hurled a stray datapad against the cockpit door. ?And you be quiet!? he added, trying futilely to quiet Chewbacca?s guffaws.

    * * *

    Luke watched the Millennium Falcon disappear into hyperspace, feeling both relief that his friends had escaped and dread that he and his Rogues had no choice but to follow. Han was right; with Imperial troops on the ground, there was no way any other transports would be able to launch.

    The Alliance had been prepared for an attack, but Intelligence had estimated that the attack would not come for several more days. They had hoped that the base would be fully evacuated by then, but they woke up to a surprise that morning: a group of Star Destroyers entering the system. Thankfully, the fleet had come out of hyperspace far away from Yavin IV, alerting the Alliance to the impending assault. General Dodonna?s staff had managed to calculate hyperspace coordinates that would allow the few remaining transports to get around the blockade, and had stayed on the moon to direct the evacuation. As much as Luke wanted to stay behind to assist in the general?s escape, h
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    Wife of Deceit, Book 3 by DarthIshtar

    Author's note: Following her second miscarriage, Lady Palpatine discusses the unfairness of life with her Jedi counselor.

    ?They said that it could have been caused by anything from a progesterone deficiency to chromosomal abnormalities. They want to test her...?

    ?The baby?? he prompted.

    ?Yes,? she said immediately. ?There had been no sign of difficulties before this other than, well, the other time. They said that because the aspiration went well, I should be able to carry a child again.?

    ?And that is what you want??

    ?I don't want to think about that right now,? Amne dismissed. ?I need to think about how I'm going to move past this.?

    ?No one would fault you if it took you some time,? he said. ?And I'm always here to talk..?

    ?I don't want to talk.?

    That stubborn statement brought on another bout of empty air. Dau stayed as motionless as a statue, as if she had forbidden breathing as well.

    Dau attempted mind-reading next: ?Healing from this will take time, politics be damned.?

    The politics of the situation had not entered her mind yet and she had preferred it that way. Other than resenting the fact that she was suffering this while her husband debated war bonds, she had not given thought to how this would be presented to the public.

    ?Why do you think politics should be involved??

    ?I don't,? Dau assured her, ?but having known you for years, I know that they always will be.?

    ?True.?

    Silence fell for another few minutes or maybe a handful of heartbeats.

    ?Have you spoken to your husband??

    ?Briefly.? An emotion finally surfaced and it was a kind of dull anger. ?He issued a statement of sympathy and said he'll be home as soon as he can.?

    Dau grimaced at the cold fury in her voice, but didn't comment on it for now. ?When was that??

    ?Two days ago,? she said. ?These things take time.?

    Dau, never one to make an emotional comment, grunted in displeasure. ?Would you like to meditate??

    ?I have no interest in what the Force has to say,? Amne replied immediately.

    It went without saying that the Force was not the only one being blocked out right now. She was speaking more to Dau than she had to her best friends and immediate family. Certainly more than she had spoken to her own husband.

    ?Sometimes, it does not speak to us,? Dau pointed out. ?It listens. Would you like to try??

    She wasn't sure which would be worse?feeling estrangement from the power that bound the Galaxy together or feeling its embrace and knowing that it was not enough to heal her wounds.

    ?No.?

    It was at this sort of impasse that he would normally reach out to her. Even with her fledgling sensitivity to his Force, she would feel a calming or soothing influence. Today, he kept his respectful distance and she was unspeakably relieved by that.

    ?I don't blame him,? she said.

    ?Is that true?? he rejoined.

    ?It's what I will be telling him,? she said. ?It's at least partially true, since I blame myself most.?

    ?Why?? Dau asked pointedly. ?You did nothing to put yourself in harm's way. There were no gunmen or captors this time.?

    ?Yet I failed my own child,? Amne insisted. ?I failed to conceive for ten years and then my body killed all of my children. Why should I not blame myself??

    ?Because it is an unhallowed principle that only the unworthy suffer.?

    She considered that bald statement for a handful of moments. ?That doesn't make me feel better.?

    ?It wouldn't,? he said. ?Not now, but I hope that it will someday make a dent.?

    This time, when she said ?thank you,? it wasn't a hollow phrase.

    She spent another long minute staring at the decorations on the ceiling. The Chancery mansion was full of ornamental frivolities meant to look artistic or festive or simply elegant. The frieze of idyllic scenes was an example of that and for some reason, the stylized demi-gods annoyed her.

    ?If I have one more miscarriage, it will be called Recurrent Pregnancy Loss,? she said. ?Another word for it is habitu
  11. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    Forgiveness by earlybird-obi-wan


    He was falling and he was alive. But he was feeling that his life-forces were draining away rapidly.

    There was regret. His life ? his short life ? was about to end in a few minutes.

    There was shame. He had not been able to slay both Jedi.

    For a moment he had felt the victory when his opponent was hanging in that pit.
    The Jedi should have fallen down to his death.

    For a moment he had felt the anger and fear radiating from the young man.

    For a moment he had seen himself fuelled by anger and fear doing tasks at his master?s beck and call.

    For a moment he had grasped what the Force was implying. Light and dark were two sides of the Force needing each other.

    He saw the fear and anger in the murky blue eyes of the Jedi staring up to him.
    And he saw that fear and anger replaced by something else; love and forgiveness. The Jedi forgave him. He had killed the master. But the Jedi forgave him.

    That was the moment after the Jedi leaped out of the pit, calling the lightsaber of his fallen master to his hand and swiping it through his middle, cutting him in half.

    That was the moment when he forgave the Jedi for killing him.

    And he didn?t feel anything anymore. Or was it?

    He was one with the Force.


    Holding Out Hope by Valairy_Scot

    Your challenge is to write a scene focused on Ventress?s first encounter with either Obi-Wan or Anakin or both.

    It was the hand that Ventress remembered.

    ?Hey, there ? take my hand and I?ll pull you free. I will save you.?

    Yes, she remembered, both the hand and the eyes ? the latter with a twinkle in them, though it was in the midst of battle. A young boy, it had been, squatting beside the pile of bodies haphazardly stacked like an unkempt wood pile above her and reaching a hand to hers. Hers was red, she remembered, red and grimy. His, pale and untouched.

    She had almost believed him.

    ?Obi-Wan,? another voice rang out, an older voice, a note of warning and perhaps ? perhaps a note of fear.

    ?Sorry, but I?ll be back,? the boy whispered. ?I promise.?

    The next moment he was gone, jumping to his feet and twirling, his lightsaber held before him to block the blow that might have taken his life, had he not heeded the warning in time. The blow that took him away from a scared, bloody little girl?s side, leaving her underneath a pile of bodies.

    Bodies, whose life blood dripped into her face. Onto her hands. Their blood was on her hands, for she had killed some of them, but not in time. So much blood for a child?those who killed her parents before her eyes and died for their deed years ago. Those who killed Ky Naroc not so long ago and died, also, for their deeds.

    She was trapped in a coffin of her own making.

    She couldn?t move, couldn?t breathe, couldn?t die like this, a frightened and angry child of nine under a pile of those whom she had killed.

    ?Are you okay?? That cultured voice came close again, a whisper.

    ?Save me,? she whispered and slid a hand out. A hand grasped it, closed around it. Warm and comforting. Hope was in that hand. Life was in that hand.

    Blood was on that hand.

    Her blood and the blood of those she had killed.

    Now it was on his. This boy, not much older than her. Contaminated, this beacon of light in the darkness, by whom he reached to. She would be his downfall rather than he her salvation. To save him she would have to sacrifice herself.

    ?Go,? she croaked. ?I?ll be here when you finish?come back when it?s safe.?

    ?Are you sure?? This warrior boy sounded doubtful. ?I think my master can finish this without me.?

    ?Go!?

    After a moment?s hesitation, she heard his feet shuffle. He ducked down and stared into her eyes. ?When next you clasp my hand, know I will pull you to safety. I promise.?

    His voice was so young and sure. His eyes so warm and confident. His hands now so red like hers.

    ??kay.
    />
  12. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    Fallin' by Valairy_Scot

    I keep on fallin', in and out of love witha you
    I never loved someone the way that i'm lovin' you



    ?Obi-Wan, it looks like I may never see you again. I don?t quite know quite how to say this; I?ve loved you from the moment you came to my aid, all those years ago.?

    His heart fluttered as it had all those years ago. Was he about to lose this woman like he had lost Siri? Some men were meant to love, and some were meant never to know love. But truth had to be spoken, if just once ? and he could not speak of love, not now, when duty ? when Satine?s very life ? depended on him being a Jedi, not a man.

    ?Satine, this is hardly the time or place for ? oh.? Recognition came slowly. Satine was distracting Merrick, her wishes telegraphed by the tilt of her head and the words she would never have spoken had they been true.

    He was a Jedi and she was a Duchess.

    But for just once in his life, he would let the man speak as the Jedi used those same words as a distraction.

    ?All right; had you said the word, I would have left the Jedi Order.? The man?s eyes were focused on Satine while the Jedi?s eyes were focused on Merrick. Would he have? He didn?t know. But there was admission of his feelings underneath the words, if Satine cared to hear them.

    It was the only admission he could make.

    ?That is touching, truly t?is, but we really must be going,?

    ?You have the romantic soul of a slug, Merrick!?

    With a decisive stomp of her foot, Satine smashed her heel into Merrick?s foot and grabbed his blaster. The hostage holder was now the hostage yet Merrick retained the remote device to blow the entire ship.

    And Obi-Wan was helpless once more. He could not let Satine violate her beliefs; he would have to sacrifice her respect if he were to save the ship. Strike Merrick down and lose Satine. Let Merrick go, and lose Satine and everyone else on the ship as soon as he was away.

    He knew what he should do.

    ?And you, Kenobi, you?re no stranger to violence. You?d be hailed as a hero by everyone on the ship, almost...,? Merrick smirked as he cast his eyes to Satine, ?everyone.?

    The Jedi should have struck. The man ? hesitated.

    This is why a Jedi does not know love, Obi-Wan realized. This is why?this Jedi cannot love.

    Though Anakin then struck the blow that saved them all, Obi-Wan wasn?t so sure how he felt about being saved from a decision he hadn?t wanted to make.

    With a heavy heart, he sacrificed love. He was a Jedi.

    And a Jedi knew not love.


    (Bridge x2)Oh baby
    I,I,I,I'm
    Fa-a-allin'
    I,I,I,I'm
    Fa-a-allin'
    Fall,fall,fa-a-a-allin'

    (Chorus)
    I keep on fallin', in and out of love witha you
    I never loved someone the way that i'm lovin' you


    The rest of the trip went uneventfully. As Obi-Wan and Anakin stood together at the foot of the ramp, Satine came up to them, her manner subdued. Their exchange of words was courteous and verging on formality, as befit words between a Duchess and a Jedi.

    ?And yet,? she added thoughtfully, stepping back and placing a finger on her lips as she studied Obi-Wan.

    ?What?? Obi-Wan cast about for whatever prompted this strange scrutiny.

    ?I?m still not sure - about the beard.? As she spoke, her hand lifted and slid along Obi-Wan?s jaw line before dropping to his shoulder.

    ?Why ? what?s wrong with it?? He didn?t bother to hide his surprise.

    ?It hides too much of your handsome face.? Her hand lifted and lingered, cupping his chin for a moment before she turned away.

    I'm fallin', in and out of love witha you
    I never loved someone the way that i'm lovin' you



    ?What was that all about?? Anakin shook his head, hiding a bit of a smirk at his former master?s bemused look. As if sensing Obi-Wan?s mood, he sobered and laid a hand on the man?s shoulder.

    ?A very remarkable woman,?? Anakin commented quietly.

    ?She is, indeed.?

    Obi-Wan watched her walk away.

    It was never love, he told himself. One doesn?t let love walk away.

    Unless
  13. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    My Son by earlybird-obi-wan

    Timeframe: TESB
    Characters: Vader
    Genre: Victorian roulette challenge


    Note: I got 54. ?He covered page after page with wild words of sorrow and wilder words of pain. There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.?
    ~ Oscar Wilde, ?The Picture of Dorian Gray?

    My son

    He didn?t know what had sparked the flash-back.
    Was it after he had seen the hand of his son with the lightsaber falling down the abyss?
    Was it after Luke shouted ?Never? and stepped in that abyss.
    Or was it when he saw the Millennium Falcon escaping from his trap.

    He was now in his hyperbaric chamber and saw one of the faces of the younglings he had slaughtered.
    A blonde boy with Luke?s features asking him to help.
    He had cut the boy down with his lightsaber.

    I had to kill the traitors.

    I had to save Padmé.
    I had to save my unborn child.

    I had to pledge my loyalty to my master
    To my new master
    I had to

    Obi-Wan no
    My treacherous former master.
    He was conspiring with my wife.
    She was conspiring with him.

    My ?brother?
    He maimed me.
    He left me to die

    My new master saved me
    He tortured me
    He kept me conscious during the surgery that made me into his puppet

    He told me that I killed Padmé
    He said this; ?I'm afraid she died. ... it seems in your anger, you killed her.?
    He deceived me

    I have a son
    I have a SON
    Luke is my son

    Obi-Wan saved my son
    Obi-Wan offered his life to save my son

    But
    Luke refuses to believe that I am his father
    I couldn?t persuade him to join me
    He is blaming me.

    I am his father.
    Luke is right
    I have done wrong

    I won?t turn my son to the dark
    I will save my son

    FIN


    The Death of Mace Windu by tjace

    Green was the color she chose to wield,
    To carry to become freedom?s shield,
    No enemy foul would make her yield,
    Her weapon, her soul were as bright as gold,
    And myriad futures she had untold.

    Green is the color of growth, like she
    Who came, although forbidden it be
    To be even as daughter to me,
    Of saber, of Force a master became
    Knight of the Republic, valorous Dame.

    Green was the saber that pierced my side,
    Loyalty, reason, both she denied,
    Depa chose the jungle; so I died.
    Mace Windu will not return to the Core,
    No longer will he fight the Jedi?s War.
    />
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    Yea, Though I Walk by Harpalyce

    --------

    "I'm here because I intended to be here, Shepard." He said icily.

    "Then what the hell, Vader? You can't just waltz into somebody's head like you own the goddamn place, it's - it's as personal as a person ever gets -"

    "I am merely returning the favor," he said lazily. "It's just that your attempt to get into my head was a bit more polite, and named Kelly Chambers."

    Shepard grimaced. "All right, you've got me there. It still doesn't mean that I'm happy about it."

    "I'm looking forward to hearing exactly how insane she thinks I am," the young man said with an air of amusement. He had turned away from her, but now looked back over his shoulder - and now appeared to be all silhouette and fanged, predatory smile. "But if anyone approaches me with what may be a tranquilizer, I will not hesitate to dismember them."

    "Good to know. ...And I don't blame you much. I have the same thing with needles." She paused a moment before sighing, reaching up to run a hand through her red hair. "Okay. I know you're not here for a goddamn heart-to-heart. If we're going to play twenty questions, can we at least... be somewhere?"

    "Fine." The blank void was replaced in broad strokes - large, open windows surrounding a circular room, an intricate yellow-and-sepia pattern on the floor. Twelve chairs sat in a ring around the design. The sunset through the windows made a pattern like black lace out of the city, and long shadows lapped at her ankles. It was a pleasant enough place, and quite frankly, she was surprised by it - until Vader went to sit in one of the chairs with a smug expression on his face, leaning back as if gloating about being there. Shepard didn't recognize the place, but it was obviously important to him. She couldn't have known that the cityscape through the windows was Coruscant, and that the room was the chamber of the Jedi High Council. But she did see how he took his seat with a certain satisfaction, as if it had been denied to him and then reclaimed by blood.

    It was not a very comfortable room to be in the middle of.

    "So, Shepard," he said, grinning, tone mocking: "Tell me how you're feeling."

    "You know, you don't really have to mock Kelly. Or if you are, at least go for something funnier." She sighed, pulling down her nightshirt. The marble floor was awfully cold for bare feet. "What do you want me to say? That I'm scared, so you can feel like a bigger man?" He simply continued giving her a maddening smirk. "Fine, you bastard. I'm afraid of you. There, I said it. Now get to the part where you mock me and then I get to go back to sleep."

    "I'm not concerned about your fear, Shepard. I'm waiting to see what you do with it."

    "So is speaking like a goddamn fortune cookie your second hobby, after being a complete bastard?" She huffed. "Fine. Tell me what I should feel, then."

    "Privileged," Vader said, almost lazily. "I've had more extended conversations with you than I have had with my own son."

    "You're telling me that just to get a rise out of me," she spluttered.

    His smile became broader. "You're smarter than you look, Shepard."

    "Thanks," she grumbled, making sure her tone was properly sarcastic. She turned, starting to pace in back and forth while keeping an eye on him. "You still haven't gotten to the point of all this. Besides you wandering around my head for some giggles. And if that's really all this is, you need to, I don't know, take up knitting."

    "I'm here to see if you realize how similar we are," he said, grinning. "Nearly identical, even."

    "Identical? Go to hell, Vader," she snapped. "I do this because I care about people. I'm doing this for the entire goddamn Citadel, and for my crew." Her nostrils flared as she gave a snort. "I remember the size of those ships. I bet you don't even know the names of all your crew, much less a damn thing about them."

    That maddening smile was still on his face. "Third chair communications
  15. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    Best Short Story


    Braken Starblaster, Space Politico: Revenge of Vengeance by The_Face


    We open on a sepia-toned rooftop in a part of Imperial Center just run-down enough to be sympathetic, but not so run-down that it frightens the upper class. In the center of the frame stands Rick'ee with a quetarra slung over him. He makes a few perfunctory attempts at simulating the act of playing it. Meanwhile, an electronically-generated quetarra melody plays.

    ?Oooooh,? he croons. ?I just can't believe what I read in the news today-hey-ay-yayyy...?

    ?Baby baby hey hey yeah,? Mick'ee harmonizes, forgetting what song they're playing.

    ?Everywhere I look there's injustice and pain / Makes me really really so sad / I cry tears that are also sad,? Rick'ee continues. ?But just when I'm at my saddest / and things look the baddest... there's a ray of hoooooooope...?

    The other band members join in suddenly, pretending to play their respective instruments. Rick'ee's quetarra sound inexplicably changes from acoustic to electric. The sepia tone is replaced by vibrant blasting of teal/orange qualities in every color. A beam of light shines.

    ?His name's Braken Starblasterrr! He is running for mayorrr! He's a person you can vote forrr! You might as wellll!?

    A silhouette strides toward the camera, bathed in light, and is revealed to be Braken.

    ?He started out in the court, fighting for what's right / Now he needs your vote to give him the might?

    Braken gestures broadly in front of a green-screened courtroom. The SaeseeTones play from their position in a green-screened jury box.

    ?His fist is a gavel and his eyes shoot liberty / Now that's a candidate that appeals to me!?

    Braken awkwardly puts his arms up and looks to the ceiling. Special effects make him soar into space unconvincingly.

    ?His name's Braken Starblasterrr! He is running for mayorrr! He's a person you can vote forrr! You might as wellll!

    ?Do you hate terror? So does he!?

    Braken punches the masked face of a man* dressed in an all-black jumpsuit emblazoned with the white letters TERROR.

    ?Do you love tax breaks? So does he!?

    Braken cheerfully signs a giant document ? the title and entire content of which consist of the words ?GOOD LAW.?

    ?Do you love children? He maintains a respectful distance!?

    Braken stands several meters away from a mother and her infant. He nods and claps in an understated but appreciative fashion.

    ?Respectful diIIiistaANnce!? repeats the auto-tuned voice of featured artist D-Vade, a stout man dressed in a colorful fur coat and wearing over-sized sunglasses styled after Vader's helmet.

    At this point, Vinn'ee approaches a microphone and begins to rap. ?St??

    D-Vade interrupts, shouting, ?Vinn'ee on the miIIIiiic!?

    Vinn'ee stares back.

    ?YeeeeEEAAAaaAAhh,? D-Vade adds.

    Vinn'ee hesitates, then goes ahead. ?Starblaster's his name and he's here to stay / Seekin' reelection in a major way!?

    ?Why's he the best?? D-Vade asks.

    ?He's cooler than a Hoth night / So bright he's the destination of any moth flight / He cuts partisan politics like a razor / That's why I'm spitting this red-hot verse ? turbolaser.?

    ?Tell 'em!? enthuses D-Vade.

    ?His policy's so sick it's got its own hospital ward / He's more hood than a shadowy cloaked Sith lord / Accept nothing but total victory ? he's a tie-fighter / When you vote Braken Starblaster, the next day looks the brighter.?

    The camera swings back to the roof where Rick'ee's arms are spread wide. All pretense at his playing an instrument has been seemingly abandoned. ?His name's Braken Starblasterrr! He is running for mayorrr! He's a person you can vote forrr! You might as wellll!?

    The power chord resonates into the waning daylight. With all the instrumentation faded, the SaeseeTones sing gently together. ?You probably won't... reeeegret iiiiiiiiit!? On that last high note, the camera pans up to the sky, where Braken's smiling face is superimposed over a lo
  16. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    Alliance of Heroes by JediMara77

    A/N: During the Rebel Alliance?s escape from the Yavin IV base.

    ?This piece of junk is never going to get us past that Super Star Destroyer!?

    Han cringed and tried to ignore the shrill voice coming from behind the captain?s chair. ?Hey, flying in this ship was your idea, sweetheart, not mine!?

    ?Don?t remind me.? Han could almost hear Leia?s eyes roll.

    ?Are you at least strapped in back there? We gotta jump as soon as we get clear of these TIEs.?

    ?Of course I?m strapped in, you nerfherder! I do have some experience in space travel, you know.?

    Fortunately?or unfortunately, depending on the way Han wanted to look at the situation?See-Threepio?s chatter interrupted their bickering. ?Captain Solo, I do believe that Princess Leia is correct. The odds of successfully avoiding capture by an Imperial Super Star Destroyer are approximately??

    ?Shut up, Goldenrod, or you?re gonna find yourself blown out the airlock!?

    ??Shutting up, sir.?

    ?

    Growling in frustration, Han toggled the comm switch. ?Hey, kid, any time now!?

    Luke?s voice came through apologetically. ?Sorry Han, we got held up. Turn to point oh-seven; we?ll take care of the TIEs and escort you out.?

    ?Gladly.? As Han turned the Falcon as requested, he saw six X-wings approaching from behind. Several of the pursuing TIEs were vaped immediately, and their green laser fire finally stopped crossing the Falcon?s hull. Han breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Luke?s X-wing peel off from the others and close up with the ship, the other five snubfighters quickly demolishing the remaining TIEs.

    ?Are there any other transports on their way?? Luke asked. ?We lost communication with the base.?

    Han grimaced, dreading his next words. ?Sorry, kid, but I don?t think anyone else is making it off.?

    Han could hear Luke?s protest before it even began. ?But there?s only one ship out here, we can hold ?em off in time??

    ?Imperial troops are on the ground, Luke. Sorry, but you better make the jump right behind us if you want to get out of here alive.?

    After a few seconds, Luke sighed. ?You?re right,? he admitted begrudgingly. ?Go ahead and jump; we?ll see you at the rendezvous. May the Force be with you.?

    ?Yeah, you too, kid.? Toggling the switch again, Han turned to his co-pilot. ?Alright Chewie, punch it.?

    The stars outside the cockpit turned to lines, then the swirling patterns of hyperspace. Han leaned back in his chair in relief and pushed up his sleeves. ?See, Princess?? he said, turning around to look smugly at the woman sitting behind him, with her arms crossed over her chest. ?Nothing to it.?

    ?Yes, well. It?s a good thing Luke and the Rogues were there to bail you out.? Without another word, she rose from her chair and exited the cockpit.

    ?What the??? Han sputtered. After a moment, he hurled a stray datapad against the cockpit door. ?And you be quiet!? he added, trying futilely to quiet Chewbacca?s guffaws.

    * * *

    Luke watched the Millennium Falcon disappear into hyperspace, feeling both relief that his friends had escaped and dread that he and his Rogues had no choice but to follow. Han was right; with Imperial troops on the ground, there was no way any other transports would be able to launch.

    The Alliance had been prepared for an attack, but Intelligence had estimated that the attack would not come for several more days. They had hoped that the base would be fully evacuated by then, but they woke up to a surprise that morning: a group of Star Destroyers entering the system. Thankfully, the fleet had come out of hyperspace far away from Yavin IV, alerting the Alliance to the impending assault. General Dodonna?s staff had managed to calculate hyperspace coordinates that would allow the few remaining transports to get around the blockade, and had stayed on the moon to direct the evacuation. As much as Luke wanted to stay behind to assist in the general?s escape, he kne
  17. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    Holding Out Hope by Valairy_Scot

    Then a young voice wafted to her ears, far off in the distance, full of despair. ?She?s no longer here. Master, I promised I?d come back. I promised to give her my hand, to save her. I promised.?

    ?One should be very careful of one?s promises, Obi-Wan.? The voice was older, deeper, a man?s voice, not quite comforting yet not stern. A mentor?s voice, but a father?s voice as well. ?A Jedi always keeps his promises and rash promises in the heat of battle ? well, that is perhaps unwise.?

    ?I plan to keep this one, Master. Even if I?m old and crippled when I do.?

    Ventress almost turned around and went back. The words would haunt her for the rest of her life if she didn?t ? and she didn?t want to encounter this bright, fierce warrior boy as an old and crippled man, even if the spirit was undimmed by years.

    She even turned and reached out a hand ? because she knew he would reach back ? but it was red.

    And soon his would be, too.

    If she allowed him to keep his promise. He would save her, but doom himself. So she turned and fled.


    And here the man stood before her at last, perhaps a couple of decades older if not wiser. He was still trying to save the galaxy and, she sensed, her as well. Salvation one soul at a time. How quaint.

    How touching.

    And she didn?t know if she loved him for it or hated it. Because she knew his offer was still open and always would be.

    ?Ventress, my sweet.? Kenobi stood braced, lightsaber at the ready, a knowing smile curving at his lips.

    "Obi-Wan, darlin?,? she purred back.

    Anakin Skywalker said nothing, tense and poised at his master?s side, awaiting the fury within to be unleashed but as yet held in place by his master.

    The tableau held for a moment; then Anakin leapt forward ? and froze, held in place by a soft ?Anakin? and a hand on his arm. The two Jedi exchanged glances and then Kenobi advanced a step and switched off his lightsaber although Ventress noted he held it ready in his left hand. He was no fool, her Obi-Wan. The warrior-boy was now a warrior-man.

    And there was still no blood on his hands. Only on Skywalker?s ? and those warm, bright eyes were just as blind to that as they had been to the blood on hers all those years ago. In some ways, this way, he was just as much a fool now as then.

    He cocked his head to one side and took another step forward, hand extended. ?There is still hope, Ventress. There is always hope. Just reach for it.?

    And he offered his hand.

    It was the hand that Ventress remembered. A little more callused and worn, it was true, but the same hand that had offered hope with a smile all those many years ago. But even then it had been too late. Now it was beyond late, beyond any redemption.

    It only reminded her now of hope forever lost. And Kenobi, the fool, was too blind to even see it. He still smiled, his eyes still shone, and his hands were still unstained.

    ?Be careful of the promises you make in battle, my dear Obi-Wan,? she taunted him and saw his eyes widen with recognition.

    ?My hand is always at the ready, my dear. Qui-Gon never knew the other part of that promise; it was between you and I alone. You promised then to reach back.?

    ?Then take it, Kenobi!?

    She sprung and Skywalker quickly intervened, placing himself in her path to the elder Jedi. His lips curved to a smirk; he anticipated this match. Their lightsabers locked.

    ?You go through me to reach him,? his eyes warned.

    ?I?ll go through hell to reach him,? her eyes flashed back.

    Reluctantly, Obi-Wan relight his lightsaber, his eyes for the moment sad.

    The last thing she registered before losing herself in the heat of battle, was Obi-Wan?s whisper, for her ears alone, ?When you?re ready to take my hand, you will find mine still outstretched.?

    As one still was.

    Open, palm upright ? extended to her - waiting patiently, always waiting?

    ? for her to simply reach back.


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    Said the Joker to the Thief, What Any of it is Worth, This is Not Our Fate by iceaffinity


    (A/N: Approximately eight years after Order 66?.)

    Jedi, soldiers, civilians. Human, Togruta, Gungan, from Kamino, Shili, Naboo, Ghorman, Alderaan. Such a mix of faces, species, races, backgrounds, all sitting and laughing around the same table. It was not quite the way the Jedi Temple looked, but the variety was there. The difference was that one of them was a Jedi, while the others were not. Ahsoka had integrated herself with them fully, attracted them to her, bound them all together. Nura watched as the swamplands she called home were set on fire, Imperials tearing them apart to find her daughter. And then there was Behri, smiling and laughing, an elbow on the table and her chin in her hand, who suffered at the hands of the Empire, who watched stormtroopers beat her people down, and yet sat beside them, married one of them, had a child with one of them.

    Out of so many disparate backgrounds and lives and cultures, came one unit. One group bearing a torch to ward off the Dark, driving it back. They were not the Jedi Order, nor were they even all Jedi, and yet, they worked to create the peace, to defend it.

    When she arrived in this place, the younglings asked if she were a Jedi. She'd answered yes.

    For seven years, she'd been powerless, left alone. It did not need to be so, anymore. She was tired of being helpless.

    ***

    It was not the same sight that welcomed her as a girl, but there was a similarity to it, all the same.

    Younger children were wedged between adults and older children. A high chair was squished between two of the adults, who were taking turns at coaxing the baby into eating pureed fruit. One of the younger children was passing a tray of steaming pasta over the heads of everyone, her hands in the air and carefully floating it, another child waiting with his hands also in the air to catch it, lowering it down before scooping out a helping for himself and passing the platter on with his hands instead of with the Force.

    It was noisy, and boisterous, and things floated over people?s heads on a regular basis, everyone occupied with filling their plates, making sure younglings were seated in their chairs opposed to standing on them or running around the table. People shouted up and down the table, carrying on conversations that overlaid other conversations, everyone lifting their voices to be heard by the ones they were talking to.

    Barriss paused for a moment in the archway that led from the kitchen to the dining room, watching the event. It was loud, almost to the point of being overwhelming, and she hung back for a moment to watch as Nura hugged Roo with one arm, as Waxer chided Neaera for taking more than she could possibly eat, as Rex leaned close to Ahsoka and said something that made her laugh, as little Sia accepted a spoonful of baby food that she did not instantly spit back out, as Behri and Fives exchanged a look of relief and victory, as Echo handed Suisen a tray of vegetables, and as Maera levitated the pasta across the table to Rithron.

    It was not the stately elegance of the Temple, though it was now her home as much as the Temple ever was.

    She had lived too long in the past, with past fears and old angers. She now needed to not only live in the moment as it was, but to look to the future they were trying to create. Jedi, soldier and civilian were all gathered here, drawn together by a common purpose which united them as both family and friends. Barriss slid her hand off the arch which led to the dining room, and slowly stepped inside.

    Amid all the chaos of feeding so many people, there was an empty chair left at the table. She slid into it, almost unnoticed by the larger group, so occupied with their own food and preparations and conversations. She placed her hands on the table, touched the base of the fork and knife on either side of the white plate before her.

    From her left, a pla
  20. Before-Saga_Awards VIP

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    Luke Skywalker in Alliance of Heroes by JediMara77

    A/N: After Mara gets caught up in the defection to the Alliance, an already-smitten Luke ?interrogates? Mara at Leia?s request.

    Leia had asked Luke to speak to Mara because he could use the Force?and that?s what he would do. Intelligence had already asked all the mundane questions. Luke realized that he had been telling the absolute truth before?he was just there to talk. With the Force, that was all that was necessary for him to find his answers.

    And maybe even without the Force, too.

    Finally, he settled on an approach. ?How're you feeling??

    Her expression didn?t change this time, but he could sense her surprise. She had obviously been expecting, and preparing for, more hard-hitting questions. ?Um?fine, I guess. Really sick of all these debriefings.?

    ?I can imagine.?

    ?I doubt it. I bet you didn?t have to go through all of these when you arrived.?

    ?How would you know??

    ?Everyone talks about you, don't you know? I got the full story my first night here: Luke Skywalker shows up out of nowhere, rescues the Princess, and kills the bad guys. I'm sure there will be a million holos about it one day.?

    Luke blanched; he had never thought of such a possibility. Did people really talk about him that much? Why would people in the galaxy ever be interested in his story? He was just a guy from a moisture farm who got a lucky shot.

    Well, Wedge had always told him that he was much too modest about his accomplishments. Perhaps his best friend was right. Maybe that lack of confidence was what was holding back Luke's growth in the Force.

    Maybe.

    He shrugged sheepishly, deciding, for once, not to downplay his accomplishments. "I did do all that stuff. But I'm not so sure about the holos."

    She chuckled. ?Maybe I should have rescued Princess Leia, instead of being the one to get rescued. Then I wouldn't have had to go through this torture.?

    "So talking to me is torture, huh?"

    Her lips curled into a teasing smirk. "I'm not sure yet."

    ?

    "So." Mara leaned forward, her elbows on the table. "Your story?"

    "You are good, not letting me deflect your question."

    "I am good. So let's hear your answer. You're the one who wanted to talk."

    "Okay," Luke agreed, taking a deep breath. And he did talk, telling Mara about his childhood on Tatooine, meeting Ben Kenobi and leaving for Alderaan, escaping the Death Star and destroying the battle station. She listened intently, as if she hadn't already heard the story. In normal circumstances, he would probably find her scrutiny unsettling...but now he only found it intriguing.

    "So you're a farm boy," she said. She gave a throaty laugh that sent shivers down Luke's spine. "That actually makes perfect sense."

    "I was, I guess."

    "I've always heard you can take the boy off the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy."

    "If you say so."

    She looked him up and down; again, a gesture that he would normally have found unsettling. "I do, Farmboy."

    He could feel himself flush and then grew quiet, aware that their conversation had not proceeded at all the way he had planned. But yet, his sense of the Force was as clear as ever. He knew, somehow, that she had been completely genuine in their conversation. He sensed no treachery from her, no deception. He knew that he, and the Alliance, could trust her.

    He asked one final question, even though he already knew the answer: ?Are you a spy??

    She held his gaze for long seconds, not uttering a sound, but still he did not doubt. Finally, she shook her head slowly. ?No. I?m not.?

    Luke nodded. ?I believe you.? And he did; he was more certain of her honesty than he'd ever been of anything before in his life.

    She glanced down, studying her hands resting on the table. ?Why?? she asked in a small voice.

    ?Why shouldn't I??

    ?Well.? She leaned back, once again putting on that sarcastic aura of self-confidence. ?I guess if you believe me, the
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    Mara Jade in Alliance of Heroes by JediMara77

    A/N: In this story, Mara witnesses the destruction of Alderaan and begins to have doubts about the Empire. To remind her who she serves, the Emperor tasks her with uncovering defectors in the Imperial Navy. She goes undercover as a TIE fighter pilot and joins up with Tycho Celchu and two other defectors. After earning Tycho's trust, Mara begins passing information to the Emperor, with the intention to betray her new friends. In this scene, Mara and the group of defectors are waiting for the Millennium Falcon to arrive on Dantooine. After a conversation with Tycho, in which he points out that the evils of the Empire are because of Palpatine, Mara begins to have even more doubts about the Empire and the upcoming mission.

    They grew quiet again, waiting for the rendezvous countdown to finish. She glanced at her chrono?five minutes now until the Rebels arrived. Not long after that, the Empire would follow.

    She sighed.

    Then, just as her breath had grown slow and steady, Tycho?s words began to echo ominously through her mind:

    Look at the people Palpatine surrounds himself with. Are they noble? Are they honorable?

    There was only one answer Mara could come up with:

    No.

    She distrusted them. She disliked them?Vader, Tarkin, Isard, Pestage. Everyone else in his retinue. How many times had she questioned why Palpatine placed so much trust in them? Why he gave them so much power? She had never been able to understand why such a noble man as the Emperor would have someone like Vader as the second-in-command of the Empire. How many times had she wondered if Palpatine would finally come to his senses and get rid of the man?

    But what if...what if she had been wrong all along? What if, instead of being the noble, honest man she'd been led to believe...what if the Emperor was just like Vader?

    Or what if he was worse?

    She suddenly knew that it all was true...and Palpatine had chosen her to be his precious Hand. She held a trusted position among his closest acolytes. What did that say about her?

    She was about to betray a person she knew was completely honest and loyal; a person who, against all her better judgment, she had come to think of as a friend. She would point a blaster at his back while Imperial commandos led him and the others away. When it was all over they would surely be executed, and they would go to their graves knowing that it had been Mara Jade, the Emperor's Hand, who had betrayed them.

    Every fiber of her being screamed out not to do this, yet she had no other choice. This was her life. She'd been raised and trained to do the Emperor's bidding without any regard for her feelings and emotions. She didn't know how to be anything else. The thought of betraying Tycho and the others made her feel sick, but the thought of failing her master made her want to stop living.

    There was only one conclusion she could draw.

    Her comlink beeped softly, insistently. Mara glared at it for a moment, then a switch flipped in her mind. Her jaw set in determination and her holdout blaster jumped to her steady hand.

    Rising to her feet, the Emperor's Hand clicked her comlink once in affirmation, then followed Tycho and the others into the morning sun.

    Perhaps she did belong with the Empire after all.



    Barriss Offee in This Is Not Our Fate by iceaffinity


    (A/N: Approximately seven years post-Order 66?.)


    Nar Shaddaa was dead to the Force, in so many ways, and yet also so vibrantly alive with it.

    The moon was all but dead, covered from pole to pole in writhing, filthy humanity. There was little beauty in this place, excepting the many colored neon lights that filled the streets at night and set the world to shining.

    Barriss had called it home for a little over a year, now. It was the first place she stayed longer than a few mo/>
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    Padmé in The Rise of Lady Vader by ccp

    This excerpt occurs after the destruction of the Death Star shortly after the christening of two new Executor class Star Destroyers. Amidala/Padmé is aware that Leia is her child but has kept that information from Vader, she is not aware that her son also survived, yet.

    The Negotiator, Amidala's new flagship

    Amidala was walking around the expansive suite of rooms which would be hers on the new ship, her husband stood in the middle of the room waiting for the Noghri scanning the room to finish. She could feel the approaching storm that was Lord Vader's temper. It erupted as soon as her protectors filed from the room.

    "You dare honor that traitor by naming a ship after him," Vader growled, "after everything he has done to us." He stalked around the room like a caged beast. "Tell me," Vader roared at his wife, "did you ever intend to reveal to me that my child survived only to be hidden away by Kenobie." She immediately stepped away from him eyes wide and angry. "Your coconspirator will no longer be able to hide him from me, Kenobie is dead."

    "What are you talking about," she spoke harshly to hide the fear that Leia had been discovered, "our child is dead."

    "No," he was still bearing down on her, "my spies have uncovered the name the rebel pilot who destroyed the Death Star. It was the same boy who helped the princess escape the death star. Luke Skywalker," he hissed out, "it was our favored name for a boy."

    "Impossible," she breathed quickly leaning back against the large viewport, "our child died."

    "No," Vader spoke gently, "he was stolen from us by Kenobie."

    "And," she asked, "If it is the child of Padme and Anakin, what will you do if you catch him?"

    "He is our child," he spoke a smoothly as the voice modulator would allow.

    "NO," she interrupted harshly, "he bears the name Skywalker, you told me Anakin Skywalker didn't exist anymore."

    "That name has no meaning to me," he growled, "You know that."

    "Then how do you dare to claim his child?"

    "Our child," he repeated, "he belongs by our side, with our combined power we can overthrow the Emperor."

    "What are you saying," she looked up to him understanding dawning, "I won't allow it."

    "He will be trained in the ways of the force," Vader trailed off as she stood to face him fully he retreated a step when her hand lashed out a finger jabbing into his chest next to the control panel.

    "Absolutely not," she growled out to him, "you will not turn that child into," she gestured wildly as words failed her, "you."

    "This could be the culmination of everything we have worked for," Vader spoke as he gently grasped her arm, "you would finally sit on the throne you deserve." She sighed stepping away from his grasp shaking her head as she walked back to the viewport.

    "A throne," she leaned against the glass, "that I still don't want. That I have never wanted. What do you know? Where did he grow up?"

    "Tatooine," the planet still angered him, "from what information there is it appears that he was raised by his aunt and uncle. His family appears to have been killed around the time we were searching for the Death Star plans."

    "Oh," she looked to him her eyes pleading, "You didn't."

    "No," he had the courtesy to turn away, "it was done without my knowledge."

    "I will fight you on this," she couldn't look at him, "till my dying breath."

    "I have been dispatched to Yavin," he spoke, "to aide in the blockade and hopefully put a stop to this rebellion." She turned back grasping his one real hand tightly.

    "Be careful," she looked to his eyes, "we will discuss this later." He accepted the cease fire and allowed her to walk him to the hanger.


    Asajj Ventress in Daughter of Vengeance by Mechalich

    She clenched her teeth, and hands tightened on slender bands of metal below the table, just waiting for the provocation to go farther. ?Ho/>
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    Nat Meloc in of Love, Loyalty and Honor by FelsGoddess

    Wynssa ducked her head through her bedroom door as she slipped one of her earrings through her earlobe. She called out, ?Who??

    ?Nat,? Myra?s voice echoed through the apartment.

    ?Oh, well he can wait.?

    ?See how she treats me?? Nat said in mock-annoyance.

    ?A real shame,? Myra responded dryly. Wynssa chuckled as she stepped back to her dressing table. She checked her earrings, adjusted the blood crystal pendant around her neck and gave her hair one more glance. She?d spent the last two hours getting ready for the premier- and her first date with Major Soontir Fel.

    ?You look marvelous, darling!? Nat drawled in a horrible imitation of the head designer at Quartz Fabrics as he stepped into her bedroom doorway. The designer frequently analyzed Wynssa?s wardrobe when on his weekly show. He never let go that she had returned an awful dress he?d designed two years ago with a polite refusal. How he?d managed to acquire his job, she didn?t want to know. She raised her eyebrows at his appearance. He?d paired his black suit with a loud orange tie covered in some type of odd-looking pattern. His shoes were orange and patterned as well. Following her glance, he explained, ?It?s not enough to put me on the worst dressed list, but it?ll do enough. My getup at the art gala tomorrow at the Regency should do it.?

    Nat?s goal was the land on the worst dressed list for 10 consecutive weeks. So far, he?d managed three. Why he wanted to do this, she had no idea. Wynssa rolled her eyes as she said, ?Get out of my room, Nat.?

    ?I see the Major isn?t here yet,? Nat responded as he stepped aside to let Wynssa through the doorway.

    ?You were early.?

    ?I had to be here when this man shows up.?
    ------------------------
    ?You look a dance ball.? Nat commented, gesturing to Wynnsa?s elaborate hairstyle and glittering dress.

    Wynssa glared at Nat while one of the stylists adjusted her large, silver orchid hairpin. She flicked her fingers at him as she said, ?No one asked you. Why are you here, anyway??

    ?We?re on in three minutes,? Nat answered, leaning against the doorframe of the dressing room. He was wearing a black suit with a bright orange tie. Unwilling to risk losing his spot on the ?worst-dressed? list, he paired the tie ensemble with chartreuse green boots.

    The stylist warned Wynssa as she stepped away from her, ?Everything is taped and pinned but don?t do anything too rough.?

    ?Oh we won?t,? Nat said with a grin as he handed Wynssa a piece of flimsi. ?Remind me why we are here again??

    ?Oh you love it,? she said with a laugh. They were presenting a directing award for the Coruscanti Entertainment Society. Their agents set it up to help promote the release of their next movie. Captain Luci was undergoing the finishing touches. It would be a few months before release, but the production company wanted to start promotion early.
    --------------
    ?Wynssa!? Nat shouted. He jogged over to her. ?There you are.?

    ?Was someone looking for me??

    ?Yeah, me,? Nat stated. He took her arm, ?Come on. Let?s get out of here.?

    ?Is something wrong??

    ?Nah,? Nat said. ?It?s boring in there and I want out of this suit. Besides, you need to get out of that dress for the good of the people.?

    ?The people?? Wynssa asked, raising an eyebrow.

    ?Yeah. With all the light you?re reflecting, no one is going to be able to sleep.?

    ?Shut up, Nat!? Wynssa groaned. ?And your boots and tie aren?t doing anyone any favors.?

    ?Okay, okay, truce,? Nat said as they approached the speeder provided to them. They climbed inside and the driver took off.

    Wynssa leaned back in her seat across from Nat. He had already loosened his tie. She asked, ?What did your agent say when you told her you were taking a month off??

    Nat grimaced, ?She almost shot me.?

    Wynssa chuckled, ?Nah, she wouldn?t kill one of her biggest assets. She can?t do anything that would give you scars, either.?
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    Trixie McVzlste in Braken Starblaster, Space Politico: Revenge of Vengeance by The_Face


    ?Before you became mayor, you were an attorney at the law firm Palpatine, Palpatine, and Palpatine. And during this time, you were dating a lovely woman named Trixie McVzlste? Am I saying that right??

    ?There's literally no way of telling.?

    ?Do you even know how to pronounce my name?? asks Trixie.

    ?Sure I do... baby!? Braken replies.

    Trixie sits up, moving her shoulder out of Braken's arm. ?I meant my last name, but now you have me worried.?


    ?And what happened there?? Dr. Fett inquired.

    ?I don't really see how this is relevant. I want to drive home that these accusations will not hamper my administration. I remain strong and steadfast.?

    Fett leaned forward and put a hand on Braken's knee. Braken stared back into Fett's compassion-filled visor. ?She broke up with you, didn't she, buddy??

    ?I... I'm a good mayor.?

    ?How did it make you feel??

    ?I felt bad, alright? Of course I did! Break-up makes guy feel bad! There's your headline! You happy??

    The words Break-up Makes Guy Feel Bad replaced I Think My Mayor Might Be a Jerk! in the corner.

    Fett nodded solemnly. ?Happy? Is that how my line of questioning makes you feel??

    ?Why are you doing this.?

    ?But Trixie has come back into your life, am I right? Can you talk about that??

    Braken wiped his hand over his face and pulled himself together a bit. ?Okay okay okay. So, I dated Trixie for a while. We broke up and she left the law firm. And now she's working for Ace Beamray on his campaign. It's really not a big deal.? The words Across-the-Aisle Lovers Putting the Date in Candidate? became the corner descriptor.

    ?What would you say if you had a chance to talk to her?? Dr. Fett asked.

    ?Something very clever,? Braken answered. [Ed. Note: You can't just leave placeholders like this.]

    ?Well, Braken... you have that chance.?

    ?Come again??

    ?Trixie McVzlste, please come on out!?

    Braken stood. ?What?? A burly guard immediately grabbed his arms to restrain him, despite no indication that he was going to do anything more than stand.

    Trixie entered the set from backstage to applause and a couple whoos from the crowd. She waved politely, then took a seat on the third of the four stools. ?Hello.?

    ?Trixie,? Dr. Fett. ?Your relationship with Braken ended and now you're helping the man who wants to knock him out of his new job. Are you just trying to get back at him??

    ?Hey, yeah, are you?? Braken chimed in.

    ?What? No, absolutely not. Our past is just that ? the past. This is all about Ace Beamray being the best thing for Imperial Center. Dr. Fett, I originally left Palpatine, Palpatine, and Palpatine because I was unhappy with the direction this planet was taking. Ace Beamray gives me a new hope for reform that will benefit all of us.?

    ?But it brings you back into contact with your ex. How does that make you feel??

    ?Indifferent??

    ?Surely the two of you being together brings up a lot of feelings,? hinted Dr. Fett.

    ?Oh, yes, doctor,? Braken volunteered, eyes on Trixie the whole time. ?I feel betrayed. Trixie, smooches aside, was my best friend at the firm. Admittedly, that was by default because I hated Jamie a lot, and CL-113/9 was always a bit weird, and Ajian smelled like death. But still.?

    Trixie cocked her head. ?What about Zokk??

    ?Oh, you were a better friend than Zokk.?

    ?Didn't he leave his brother's funeral to set your holovision recorder??

    ?Yeah, and it was a really disappointing episode.?

    What neither knew was that My Brother was what Zokk had named his puppy in his lonely childhood. The dog's rapidly advancing age (approx. seven years annually) led to its death and the subsequent wake.

    ?Starting,? Braken said, ?with the Skywalker trial (which I was involved with, by the way, Imperial Center), you've been putting yourself on the opposite side of me. It was assigned
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