2011 Beyond/NSWFF Awards Excerpt Thread

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Beyond-NSWFF_Awards, Aug 11, 2011.

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  1. Beyond-NSWFF_Awards VIP

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    Best Short Story continued...

    A Long Night of Hard Truths by Hazel

    (At the end of the Swarm War, Jacen is visited by 3 ghosts)

    ?We can?t stop yet.? The ghost told him, interrupting his recollections and making the images speed up again.

    ?Where?s your suit?? Jacen asked, not sure he wanted to hear the answer.

    ?You took it, Jacen. You?re the Sith now, you are Darth Caedus.? Anakin replied pointing at the younger man.

    Jacen looked down to find himself dressed in Vader?s black clad armor. Noticing his own hand was holding the back helmet, he released it to the floor willing it to disappear. It did not.

    Before him, the images were showing Mara?s funeral and he saw his future self walking in, dressed in a black clad uniform, a black cape on his back and a black helmet in his hand. A true image of Vader?s heir.

    ?No!? Jacen wanted to refuse his future, he wanted it to stop and he tried to use the Force to make it stop, but it wouldn?t.

    Next he watched as Caedus dispatched his troops to raid the Jedi Academy on Ossus and almost killing his old teachers Kam and Tionne - people the old Jacen look up to and even loved.

    As he watched his future self instructing Tahiri into the ways of the Sith, Jacen understood why his little brother would not stay with him any longer.

    The images continued to pass and Jacen watched as the Sith he would become ordered his flagship to rain fire down on Kashyyyk - his beloved childhood refuge, destroying Chewbacca?s old home and his memorial and killing countless Wookiees. He swore he could recognize some as old play partners.

    ?NO!? He heard himself scream.

    Then he was standing next to Caedus, while the Sith strapped Ben to the Embrace of Pain, torturing him to bring out the boy?s own dark side. How long it passed until Luke Skywalker came busting in, he couldn?t tell, but before the end of that fight, Jacen whished his uncle or his cousin would just kill the Sith and make the images end. Yet they did not and he had to wonder why.

    The words Yoda had spoken came back to him, ?Condemn her you do, for hurting your loved ones.?

    But Caedus had hurt Luke?s loved ones - he had killed his wife and tortured his son, not to mention the pain it would have brought to Leia and Han the knowledge of what their son had done.

    ?What do you think I should do to you for what you have done to the ones I love?? Anakin inquired coldly. ?Do you have any idea how much pain your actions have brought, not only to Luke, but to your parents - to your mother? Did you know that Leia didn?t want to have children for fear that they might take after me? Do you know how much it pains me to see her hurt like this??

    Feelings of shame and sorrow filled Jacen?s Force presence and Anakin took it as his answer.

    The images kept fast forwarding and next thing Jacen knew, Caedus had taken his daughter from her mother in retaliation for her taking sides against him. When Caedus threatened to kill Allana if Tenel Ka didn?t turn control of the Hapan military over to him, Jacen actually tried to strike him down only to land on the floor a few feet away.

    Jacen?s heart crumbled when he heard his daughter cry out that she hated him after witnessing his uncontrollable dark rage. His tears began falling freely.

    ?Why don?t they stop me?? He asked in a constricted voice.

    ?They will now.?

    It was then that Jacen saw Jaina moving on Caedus and stabbing him in the abdomen. The pain coursed through Jacen?s entire body, adding to the still unhealed lightsaber wound and Jacen thought he would black out from it. That darkness would have been welcome, yet it did not happen as Anakin standing next to him did not allow it and Jacen went on watching as his twin battled her brother.

    ?Why did it have to be Jaina?? Jacen asked. It seemed to him that that was Caedus? ultimate evil action - to have the one person that shared a twin bond with him kill him. Once closer than anyone would think possible, Jaina and Jacen woul
  2. Beyond-NSWFF_Awards VIP

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    Best Epic

    I, Mara Jade by JediMara77

    A/N: Mara has just risked her life to destroy Palpatine?s clone, and Luke is about to put her into a healing trance.

    It is, in one way, a logical extension of the bond that was created while I trained at the Jedi Academy?a bond that was cultivated during all of our time sparring, during all our meditation sessions, and the one night we spent together, when he held me in his arms and we blocked out the rest of the galaxy, seeing only each other and our love. But in another way, it is completely new.

    With Palpatine, I could hear his call from anywhere in the galaxy. I believed what I felt with him to be the ultimate power of the Force. But this?this is much more powerful.

    I thought I knew Luke Skywalker before. I thought I loved him more than I could ever love anyone.

    I was wrong. This is what it should be like. This is how we should feel?forever.

    As I lie there, dying in his arms, I know that he is feeling the same thing. Even if I couldn?t sense it through the Force, I can see it in his eyes. There is more love there than I could have ever imagined someone having for me, even after seeing all my failures, all my fears, all my weaknesses, and my deep and profound regret for what I once was. This time, I do not run away from the openness. I do not hide from the man in front of me. I allow him to see me?to really see me, deeply and truly, and along with that, the depths of my love for him.

    But suddenly, even as I have this epiphany about Luke, I realize that something is missing from the back of my mind. For the first time since Wayland, I no longer feel guilt for what I did as the Emperor?s Hand. I no longer wish I could go back and fix everything. I no longer believe that I am incapable of redemption.

    Thinking all of this, I smile. I don?t care if this is the end. It is the happiest moment of my life. And I get to have it lying in Luke?s arms.
    ?

    Luke shakes his head against my thoughts. ?You?ll get through this. We?ll get through it together. I promise. You just need to fight for me, okay??

    But I?m no longer concentrating on him, because suddenly, as if from a far off place, I see a man and woman standing over me. The man?s green eyes twinkle with happiness. The woman?s red gold hair whips around her face, framing the smile that graces her lips. I sense that they want nothing more than to be with me again, but they gesture for me to stay where I am. They say it?s not my time yet.

    I sense something else, too.

    ?They?re proud of me,? I whisper.

    ?Don?t talk, Mara,? Luke pleads. His expression is calm, hiding the fear and panic I feel deep inside of him. ?Just close your eyes, okay? You need to go to sleep. Then everything will be alright.? He places his hands on my forehead, pulling me into a healing trance. I start to drift away, but I force my eyes to stay open for just a few more moments. I have to tell him this in case the trance does not work.

    ?You wanted to know what it would take for me to finally forgive myself,? I croak, almost unable to get out my words. He leans down to hear me, his hands warm on the sides of my face, and I pull him to me in a kiss.

    I do not kiss him because I love him. I do not kiss him because I am grateful for his ever-present belief in me. I do not kiss him because I want to give him one last kiss before I die. I kiss him because, for the first time since I have known him, being with him feels absolutely right.

    Everything feels right.

    As I pull away, I find myself staring into his eyes again. I can feel his breath on my face, as if he is trying to put life back into my body. He searches me, trying to find the answer to his question. I recognize the expression all too well, because I have been looking at myself in the mirror the same way for many years.

    Gathering up my last bit of strength, I smile and tell him what he has so desperately wanted to hear, because he de
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    Best Epic continued...

    End of all Light by YodaKenobi

    The quad lasers were chugging above and below the Falcon, demolishing Raithian warbirds with each full-powered salvo pumped from the recoiling cannon barrels?not that it was particularly difficult at the moment. Space around the Millennium Falcon had grown so thick with warbirds that Han could have tossed C-3PO out the starboard airlock and hit one... which didn't sound like such a bad idea to him.

    At his side, Leia discharged a concussion missile each time the enemy starfighters threatened to overwhelm them, blowing holes through the swarm that the Falcon gracefully shot through, flames licking its gray armor and blast debris bouncing off its flickering particle shields. Jaina returned to the flight deck, then grabbed the corridor walls with her grease-smeared hands when the ship shuddered violently.

    "I managed to get the shields back up to thirty percent," she said. "I might have been able to route more power in from the weapons or the emergency systems, but you're running low on parts..."

    "That'll have to do then," Han replied. "Strap in."

    Another blast rattled the hull so hard it made Han's bones ache. He pulled on the flight controls and opened the throttles again, rising straight up through a tower of swirling warbirds.

    "I can't watch!" C-3PO cried, shielding his photoreceptors with his arms.

    Jaina fell into the seat behind her mother, who stirred in the copilot's chair. "Han... I think we're going to be okay. I sense Luke coming to help."

    "Really?" Han said, his spirits lifting slightly. "It's about time we had some luck here."

    "This is hardly a matter of coincidence, Captain Solo," the protocol droid said. "Master Luke is at Halo for the same reasons we are. The odds that he would come to our rescue in such a circumstance is approximately?"

    "Threepio, why don't you climb into the missile firing tubes? There's something I want to try."

    "Han, not now?"

    "Okay, but later?"

    "Han," Leia stressed. "That's the Exodus over there."

    Han followed the path of his wife's gesturing and spotted the dark shape of the Raithian flagship swelling in the viewport through the swooping warbirds and cascades of molten fusillade. The Exodus was taking fire from the Chiss-Imperial fleets?a lot of fire. Chiss megamasers and blinding turbolasers seemed to be streaking toward it from every direction, spattering its dark hull armor with dozens of blossoming explosions.

    Han felt his stomach sink. "All right," he said. "Once we get some of these warbirds off our tail, we'll board the Exodus and get Tahiri and our boys back."

    "This can't be happening," Jaina said, shaking her head. "Threepio, open up a channel to the Baron?I want to talk to Jag. Maybe I can?"

    Whatever his daughter was going to say next was lost when a turbolaser strike crashed against the Falcon's topside, torching a glowing scar through its hull and ripping the mounted rectenna dish from its moorings. The freighter shuddered so violently Han thought the ship was about to come apart around him?a fear that grew when the vibrations slowed and he looked out the cockpit's viewport to see a debris cloud floating ahead. Chunks of it bounced off the canopy, giving Han a clear view of the wreckage that made his stomach grow hollow when he identified pieces of the Falcon.

    "There go the shields," he said, watching the rectenna dish tumble away. "... And some other things."

    "Son of a Sith," Jaina cursed quietly.

    "I'm okay, by the way," Wrev said over the intercom from the dorsal turret.

    "Nobody asked!" Han slapped the intercomm off.

    Damage alarms blared in the cockpit as the Falcon lurched forward so violently Han was thrown against his restraints, then yanked back by the elasticity of his crash-webbing, his body slamming back against his flight seat. "What in the blazes?"

    "You've got a warbird on your tail!" Leia said, point
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    Best Vignette

    The Moment by Book-Geek

    ?Leia?Han?Mara.... Threepio, Artoo.... This is Callista.? He said.
    It was in that split second, I knew.
    I didn?t like Callista Ming.
    I didn?t like the way Luke looked at her.
    I didn?t like the way she touched him.
    I didn?t just not like her.
    I hated her.
    And I didn?t know why.
    It was a horrible few minutes, watching Luke and that... thing exchange lovey-dovey glances. And, to my chagrin, Skywalker?s sensible sister and reasonable brother-in-law were actually pleased. Impressed, even. They were happy for Luke.
    I knew I should have been, too, but I wasn?t. And it took settling Luke back into a bunk, watching as Callista began to nurse him gently and carefully, mentally cursing the blond, and piloting the ship to the planet?s surface for me to realize what my issue was.
    I had just landed the ship when it hit me like a speeder wreck. It was probably the most painful moment of my life: thousands of times more painful than the day I learned the Emperor had died and I had failed. A million times more than when the Empire crumbled, leaving me, not only without a job, but with little legal options of occupations. Billions more than any physical pain I?ve ever felt. It even topped the pain I felt only days before as I realized I had been lied to by the one I only wanted to impress, that I wasn?t the only Emperor?s Hand.
    I couldn?t believe it was possible. It was the one thing I would never let happen to me, and yet Skywalker?s blond pet dragged it out of me. I hated her for it, but I was also grateful.
    That was the moment I realized I loved Luke Skywalker.


    If He Can Fix a Hyperdrive... by Onderon1

    "Dwoot. Btwee-deet arftweep dweedoot," Artoo bleep-snapped, trundling over to the table. "Beep. Dweed-tweet ar-dweeot."

    "What? You think you can organize this better than I can? Artoo-Detoo, may I remind you that I am the protocol droid and you are a mechanic? Your function description does not include 'human-cyborg relations,' which taxation falls under," Threepio sniffed.

    "Ftweep dweedoot-btwee-bweefreep," Artoo pointed out, making an effort to not fall into yet another back-and-forth argument. Threepio was his best friend, so Artoo knew their relative strengths. He wouldn't pretend to tell Threepio how to translate some obscure language help negotiate a treaty ...

    Well, OK, he would help with the negotiation thing. Really, did it take a hyperdrive mechanic to figure out that putting a hoojib ambassador next to the amphistaff rack at that last meeting on Yuuzhan Vong trade routes was just asking for trouble?

    "Ah. Well, yes, you are able to calculate hyperspace coordinates, this is true. But that's mathematics, not organization!" Threepio huffed.

    "BWAAT. Fretweep artwee-deooot," Artoo shot back, and Threepio stood straight up like someone had zapped him with an ion probe.

    "I never! Fine. If you think you can negotiate bureaucracy and our Masters' thought patterns better than I can, then by all means, have at it," Threepio said, shaking his head.


    Just Forget the World by Jade_eyes

    Title: Just Forget the World

    Author: Jade eyes

    Genre: Snarkness & mush.

    Characters: L/M.

    Disclaimer: Borrowing for the mushy indulgence. Title is inspired by that wonderful song!

    Summary: A spat/snit during early newlywed days.

    For the oh-so-amazingly talented kataja--a fic-gift.

    When Mara took off on another jaunt for Karrde, it led to a small quarrel between she and Luke.

    "I thought you said you were cutting back," He said hotly, as the lowering clouds above them finally gave way to beginning rain.

    They stepped under the spreading branches of a nearby tree. He'd asked to see her privately after their last class, and they'd strolled out under threatening skies.

    It matched both their moo/>/>
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    Best Vignette continued...

    Resurrection by Raphire

    Small red eyes peered out of the darkness and curiously watched as a man strode past. The path he walked was overrun with vines and tendrils and in the dark of night he went to rendezvous with death. The animals could sense his presence and they left him alone for they knew him. His appetite for flesh was known to them; he had brought life into the world and like them he had taken it back out.
    His body reeked of blood but no animal would consider its succulent call. They knew what the man?s business was in the night and they would heed not his temptations. Death and life flowed through this man and in his hands he sought for the power over them. However at the nights end he would return home empty handed.
    His conscience could not bear the guilt so he shut it off and when the sun came down he forgot his human nature. He fell to his baser instincts, the desire to cheat death and the fear of being alone. So the animals watched him pass and none dared to challenge him.
    Upon his back he carried a shovel and in his hands he clasped a delicate blossom. His feet went over hills and through streams until they at last stopped before his ruins. His once mighty temple lay like a carcass before him and he walked through it without remorse. His hand gently traced the walls, feeling the coolness of the rocks against his palm. Then he felt the lever.
    His fingers twitched with anticipation and he slowly pulled down on the switch. A door slid open before him and he strode through with a lightness in his feet. The stairs are long and treacherous but with each step the man remembered what lies at the bottom. His heart burned with fire and he raced down the stairs with the carelessness of a child.
    The room at the bottom of the stairs was covered in dust and debris. In the center laid a grave. It appeared to be fresh but that was only because the man dug it up every night. Surrounding the grave were a set of stones. They encircled the grave and atop each stone is a bone fragment.
    Seventeeen stones, seventeen bones. Fowl, Fish, Beast, Man. The pelvic bone of a human female lay cloven in two and placed at the head and foot of the grave, facing inwards. Upon the dirty gravestone, which the man reverently placed against the wall was a bouquet of flowers in various stages of decay. One for everyday he tried and failed.
    The man knelt before the grave and placed the flower over his heart before laying it delicately aside. Then he pulled out the shovel and started to dig. Sweat glistened on his forehead and neck by the time he struck the wood of the coffin lid and he rejoiced just as he did the first night.
    He pried the lid from the coffin and pulled out his dearly beloved. Their empty eyes stared vacantly at him but he still held her to him. Then he placed her upon his lap and sat in the midst of the circle. Then he opened himself up and reached for the power around him. He had trained for years, searching for the right technique, and this time all his work would pay off.
    He sank within himself and reached for the life around him. He could feel every living creature and he called them to him. His voice, as sultry as a barmaid, brought forth even the shyest of animals. They trusted him for he was their brother. Then one by one, mammal and insects alike, he drained them of their lives. He could feel them inside of him and he felt true power, then he breathed them into his beloved. Finally after all this time, it was finished.
    Her eyes opened and he could feel her flesh regenerate in his arms. She was his again. He laughed with pleasure and grasped her tightly to his chest. But then she grew limp in his arms and when he pulled her away he saw the truth. Her eyes had gone dull once more. She slid from his grasp and sank back to the ground. The man felt his heart constrict. He had been so close and yet something was missing. He gently laid her body into the grave once more and placed the flower into the
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    The Color Yellow by Ceillean

    A quiet beeping tone from the com unit built into Jag?s desk made Kyp hope that Nikk had finally arrived and after a brief conversation with Jag?s assistant, the door to his office swished aside and Nikk strode in. As usual he brought along an air of confidence that bordered on cockiness. His grin was the kind that made women swoon and his swagger was sometimes even cause for humanoids to stop what they were doing to simply stare.

    Nikk was the kind of guy who could capture an audience with the snap of his fingers.

    He nodded towards Jag, a curt nod with a cold smile and then he turned to Kyp. Of course he started to laugh because that?s what Nikk did. He found humor in everything and anything, especially when someone was hurt. ?Really, Kyp? A headache?s got you flat on your back??

    Kyp took a deep breath and sat up slowly. When the world finally stopped spinning, he lifted his gaze to his best friend. He didn?t have to say a single world.
    It was written all over his face that if Nikk said another word, Kyp would seriously put the hurt on him.

    Again.

    ?Fine.? Nikk said with a sigh, hands going into his pockets. ?Next time just go see a medic.? He turned to Jag. ?Or ask Mister Cardboard over here for pain killers.?

    Jag politely cleared his throat and with half a smile he set his glass aside. ?Well, unlike you, I have power and with said power and I can do whatever I want. I especially like the insects I can simply squash under my boot.? He gave Nikk a pointed stare.

    Nikk snorted when he turned to face Jag, at the same time handing Kyp a tiny square case. Gratefully, Kyp snatched the thing from his hand, opened it and grabbed two small pills. He threw them into his mouth, swallowed and hoped that whatever the stuff was, it would give him relief and fast.

    While Nikk and Jag got into it yet again, Kyp lay back down and stared up to the ceiling. He thought about home and how his bed sounded perfect and how a cup of hot chocolate would be like heaven. But there was no one home to pamper him and doing all that on his own was depressing. He sighed and suddenly realized that Nikk and Jag had stopped talking.

    Kyp turned their way and raised his brows when Nikk grabbed the tiny square case that had held the pills. He gaped at it, his jaw almost hitting the floor and his bright blue eyes were wide. ?Aw, crap.?

    Kyp blinked a few times and then he cleared his throat. ?What??

    ?Crap. Crap. Crap!? Nikk dug his hands back into his pockets and a moment later brought out a similar small case. He popped it open and Kyp saw more pills. ?You took the wrong meds.?

    ?I took the wrong meds.? Kyp echoed, pursing his lips. ?If you?re about to tell me I just swallowed something that?ll make me grow a pair of breasts, I am going to shoot you.?

    Nikk pulled his forehead into a deep frown, totally appalled at the mere suggestion. ?I?m into a lot of kinky stuff Kyp but not even I?m that disturbed.?

    ?With you, one can never know.? Jag said, pushing away from his desk. He came around to stand at Nikk?s side and gestured to the pills. ?What are those??
    ?These ?? Nikk held up the little case. ?Are the pain meds.?

    ?So what were those?? Kyp asked, pointing to the other now empty pill case.

    Nikk rubbed his brow and grimaced, which made Kyp suddenly forget about the alien inside his skull hacking away at the bone. Because when Nikk got quiet and screwed up his face like that, something was up. ?What the hell did you just give me??

    ?It?s Jag?s fault!?

    ?My fault?? Jag asked with mild amusement.

    ?Everything?s your fault when you?re around.?

    ?Nikk!? Kyp got to his feet. ?What were those pills??

    Nikk swallowed. ?Well?um?let?s just say that in about thirty minutes?you?ll be pretty damned happy.?


    Sun and Moon by Overboard4aFel


    [link=http://boards.theforce.net/beyond_the_saga/b10477/31471583/>/>
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    Fireworks of the Soul by Hazel

    In the Realms of Possibility, 13th vignette from the Series

    It wasn?t like Mara Jade Skywalker to dwell on what ifs, but sometimes in the dead of night, when her husband was fast asleep and she was stuck in insomnia world, she just couldn?t help herself.

    What if they had met earlier? What if they had hooked up before? How could something so right take so long to come together?

    Now, looking back, why had she fought this for so long? She had felt it early on ? the attraction and such a feeling of comfort whenever she was with him that it bordered on the uncomfortable. Why had the right path seem so wrong, way back when?

    It was fear, she knew. Fear of giving herself and getting her heart broken. The irony was that the one person that could have helped was the one she was running away from.

    She could have stayed with him after he had given her his old lightsaber and embraced the path then, or she could have stayed with him when he started the Academy, or even she could have surrendered to his many pleas after that. But she didn?t and those had been her choices to make. To regret them now would be extremely uncharacteristic of her.

    But it still bugged her that, when the Reborn Emperor had surfaced on Byss, Luke had been alone in facing him. Maybe if she had helped him with that, things would have taken a better spin and wouldn?t have been in such a hard position. Of course, she could have ended up dead in the process... But no, Luke would have had her back and she would have had his. They always worked well together.

    Also, if she'd been with him, that whole Callista debacle... She shuddered at the though. At the very least, Luke wouldn't have suffered such a heartache.

    There were other times when they could have met. She knew their paths had almost intersected many times while she was still the Emperor?s Hand. What if they would have met then? Would she have fallen for his Farmboy charm or would she have taken him to the Emperor?

    What if Palpatine had ordered her to infiltrate the Rebellion? She was aware that he had thought of it, but something had changed his mind. Maybe he foresaw that it would not do to bring her so close to Luke in that guise.

    Was that why he had ordered her to kill Luke? What if she had succeeded? She dreaded to think about that.

    What if death had found them before they found each other? Their lives were certainly dangerous enough, especially in those days. She knew that if that would have happened, the void in her heart ? the one that was always there before Luke had filled it ? would have remained forever, it might have even taken over her whole heart.

    She tried not to think of that.

    What if she had left the Empire? Deserted and never looked back? Maybe if she had been able to see the Emperor for the monster he was.

    She had been so blind then.

    Or maybe she could have left after Alderaan was destroyed as many had done. She had been just as appalled as the common citizen at the ruthlessness of the act and yet had done nothing about it.

    She regretted that, she should have left.

    What if she had never been taken by the Emperor in the first place? She could have grown up happy and unaware of how terrifying the galaxy really was, but would they have found each other then?

    And what if the Empire had never been? Then his father wouldn?t have fallen and they might have grown up together in the Jedi Temple. No doubts, no pain, no war.

    That would have been nice.

    "Yeah, that would have been very, very nice." A sleepy, tender voice sounded in the dark and strong arms wrapped around her, holding her tight.

    "Were you in my head, Skywalker?" She asked, but not in her usual annoyed tone.

    "I?m always in your head, Jade. I told you, it?s my favorite place in the galaxy."

    She chuckled at his statement and held him back.

    "It doesn?t matter, you know." Luke said after kissing her neck and throat lingeringly. "The ?hows?, the ?whens?, the
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    Best Canon Interpretation, Male

    Luke Skywalker in I, Mara Jade by JediMara77

    A/N: Luke and Mara are in the Jade?s Fire on their way to Nirauan, and arguing about her leaving the Jedi Academy one year prior.

    ?What does me leaving the Academy have to do with how you decide to run the Jedi Order??

    ?Everything!? he exclaims, reaching his arms out to shake me, and I flinch at the intensity of his voice. ?Don?t you get it? Don?t you think that I began to plan things around you being there? I envisioned you helping me shape the Order. I envisioned you training apprentices alongside of me. You would have been amazing, Mara. And later, after everything that happened between us, I even began to imagine sharing a life with you, if only you?d do me the honor of having me.

    ?But then you left, as soon as I finally got my head on straight and told you exactly how I felt, because you?re too damn stubborn to let me help you. I knew the reason you gave me for leaving was a bunch of poodoo, but I didn?t press you, thinking that you needed some time to yourself and once you got that all figured out, you?d return to finish your training and we could be together again. But then you never came back, and I didn?t know what else to do, so I did the only thing I could think of?I dove headfirst into the Order. I took control. The Order is the only thing that I can control.?
    ?

    I take a deep breath to keep from yelling at him. ?You know that my leaving had nothing to do with what happened between us??

    ?That?s what you say.?

    ?You know that it?s true, Luke!?

    ?Yes, of course I know!? he explodes, launching himself from the bunk and pacing around rapidly. ?I know exactly what that night meant to both of us! I was so happy, Mara, thinking that we could finally be together, and I know that you were, too. I felt it. I saw it in your eyes. It was?something I?d never before experienced. It was the happiest moment of my life.?

    He turns back to me with tremendous pain and anger in his eyes. ?And then you left. The fact that your leaving had nothing to do with what happened between us makes it even worse, don?t you understand?! Because despite everything that we shared?despite how deeply I know that you cared for me?you still left. What I have to offer you wasn?t enough. It?ll never be enough, will it??

    ?I had no choice, Luke,? I whisper.

    ?Oh, I am so sick of this! What?s it going to take for you to finally be able to forgive yourself?!? Luke exclaims.

    I bite my lip. ?I don?t know,? I reply. ? I stare down at my hands, unable to look at him, and then, before I know what?s happening, years of bitterness and anger erupt to the surface, and I?m throwing another barb at him:

    ?When are you finally going to stop taking responsibility for everything else in the galaxy but your own damn happiness??

    ?

    Luke?s expression changes to one of pure anger, but then the mask falls into place once again. He nods curtly, and turns on his heel to exit the quarters.

    Before he leaves, without even looking back, he launches one more volley at me:

    ?At least I don?t keep running away.?

    Then, he is gone.

    This round goes to Luke Skywalker.

    * * *

    Later that night, after I?ve already settled in to my bunk, I hear the door to the living quarters slide open. Luke steps in quietly, and for a few seconds, he stands over me, the sounds of his breathing mixing in with the whir of the hyperdrive. It is unexpectedly calming.

    Before he can climb to the top bunk, I slide over, making room for him next to me. He hesitates for a moment, then wordlessly accepts my invitation, pulling the covers over him. At first we just lie there, barely touching, but then he breathes a heavy sigh and turns on his side, wrapping his arms around me. Without opening my eyes, I collapse into his embrace and bury my head in his chest, unable to look at him after yet another argument between us.
    ?

    We lay
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    Anakin Solo in End of all Light by YodaKenobi

    "This suffering is needless," Malig said. Once more, Anakin found himself looking down from the Embrace of Pain at only the Dark Lord in the small torture chamber, without a trace of his brother to be seen. "How long have you been hanging there, young Solo? Do you even know?"

    Instead of answering, Anakin gathered the metallic taste in his mouth and spat a wad of blood in Malig's direction. The crimson spray splashed on the deck in front of the Sith and speckled his black boots with little red pearls.

    "Defiant even now," Malig mused with a hint of something?admiration??in his voice. "Wouldn't you like to come down from there, boy?"

    How many times had he discussed this with Malig? How many times had Malig entered his cell in an attempt to coax him to the dark side? He remembered hours of Malig's voice telling him about how the Jedi Knight's aversion to emotion was inhuman and turned them into something droid-like, or how the powers they feared could actually do great things for the galaxy. Had it been a dozen times? A hundred? Anakin could no longer recall, but he felt as though he'd always been listening to the Dark Lord.

    Again, Anakin refused to dignify the shadowy figure's taunting with a response.

    "I can make it happen, if you want. All you have to do is ask."

    Anakin looked up. "What?"

    "All you must do to be released from the Embrace of pain, is ask," Malig said, coming nearer his prisoner. "You simply must ask me for your freedom, acknowledge that I am in control of you, that I am your master now."

    Anakin's lips curled in disgust and his eyes sharpened to slivers of ice while Darth Malig continued.

    "Ask, and all of this can stop. You can see Tahiri, ensure that she is unmolested since you doubt my word. The two of you can be together," the Dark Lord promised. "No more pain, no more anguish toiling up there alone... You can see your sister as well. She has been asking about you too. Ask, Anakin, and your suffering will end."

    Anakin hung his head in exhaustion. More than anything, he wanted to give in. He wanted to see Tahiri and Jaina, to make sure they were all right, to let them know that he was still alive too. He was so tired of hurting. He wanted it to stop.

    And it would be so easy to ask, to pretend for a moment that he'd given in to Malig, just long enough to ensure his sister and Tahiri's safety. But Malig knew he could lie too, and he was still making the offer?because Malig knew that even if Anakin pretended to serve him for a moment, he would be serving him. Somehow, Anakin would lose himself in the darkness again, without even realizing it, without even meaning to, he would join him.

    "Ask, Anakin."

    Gathering all his remaining strength, Anakin managed to lift his head and utter a single word in answer.

    "No."


    Kyp Durron in Attachment by Raphire

    ?You slept on the couch for me.?

    Kyp nodded and then got to his feet. ?Did you see the dress I found you?? The woman spun around and went to the bed. On it was a red strapless dress. He smiled as she ran to the bathroom. ?I wasn?t sure if it would fit or not but it was the only thing I could find.? He said through the door.
    ?It?s beautiful! And it fits just fine!? The woman said back, happiness tainting her voice for the first time. Kyp laughed with pleasure when he saw her exit the bathroom. She was breathtaking. The dress brought out the reddish undertones to her hair and a smile lit her face.
    ?You look wonderful.? He said as she twirled around the room. Her smile was still shy but she hugged him nonetheless. ?Thank you so much for this, having real clothes makes me feel almost human again!? Kyp nodded and grinned. ?Would some food help with that??
    The woman?s jaw dropped and she nodded emphatically. Kyp marched quickly from the room and a couple />
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    Best Canon Interpretation, Male continued...

    Kyp Durron in Awakened by Ceillean

    ?Kyp.? Master Skywalker said, sliding back from the dining table and getting to his feet with a little nod. ?I?m glad you could make it.?

    Kyp arched a brow. Master Skywalker made it sound like Kyp was there voluntarily. He cleared his throat. ?Sure. Not like I have anything better to do.? He forced a smile and pulled out a chair opposite the Jedi Master.

    ?A situation?s come up and ??

    ?And you need my help. I get that part.? He flared out his cloak and sat down, leaning back against the chair with a questioning look behind his green gaze. ?I?m not in the mood for casual chit chat and I?m sure neither are you.? He shot Leia and Mara a pointed glance. ?So why don?t we do us all a favor and get right to the point??

    ?You in a hurry to be somewhere?? Han asked with a grin. He stood leaning against the opposite wall, thoughtfully rubbing his chin.
    ?Actually, yes.?

    Mara Jade frowned. ?What could be more important than a mission??

    ?Hm.? Kyp said. ?Let me think?uh?how about?none of your damned business??

    From the corner of his eye, Kyp caught Han smirking.

    Master Skywalker cleared his throat. ?Alright.? He said slowly, eyeing each of the occupants in turn, although his gaze lingered on Mara Jade. Was it a silent plea for her to keep her cool? Because to Kyp it looked like she was about to lunge over the table and strangle him.

    ?It?s a simple search and rescue mission.? Master Skywalker said, sliding over a data pad. Kyp took it quickly and scanned the contents while the Jedi Master continued. ?A young man, was caught in a political turf war and he?s being held against his will. All diplomatic interventions have failed. It?s adamant that he be rescued and returned to his family.?
    ?It?s a political thing.? Kyp said with a grimace.

    ?Yes. It?s important he be brought back alive. It seems he carries valuable information. It?s a rather delicate matter.? Leia said, eyeing Kyp carefully. Oh, like Kyp couldn?t handle delicate?

    He snorted. ?If it?s so delicate, why are you asking for my help??

    ?Because you?re the best we?ve got.? Han said with a proud smile.

    Kyp wasn?t in the mood to return the warm gesture, though. ?No, actually Master Skywalker is the best you?ve got. Why are you asking me??

    ?I?m needed here, Kyp. And we need a straightforward person for this mission.? Master Skywalker began. ?Someone who can see straight through lies and deceit.?

    ?Ah.? Kyp said. ?You need me because I don?t take anyone?s sithspit and I could care less about rules and regulations. Whereas you, Master Skywalker, are bound because you?re a public figure. I mean, sure, why not send me out there to do the dirty work, my reputation has gone straight to hell anyway, right? I have nothing to worry about.?

    ?That?s not what I meant.?

    Kyp waved the remark away. ?Is this all the information you have??

    ?Yes.?

    ?When do I leave??

    ?In two days.? Leia answered, brown eyes leveled on his face with something akin to sadness. Or remorse maybe?

    Having second thoughts, are you dear?

    Kyp stood and tucked the data pad into his pocket. ?I suppose we?re done?? He asked with raised brows.

    Mara Jade snorted and Leia looked away. They didn?t trust him. They?d never trusted him, not after Exar Kun and certainly not after Carida.
    ?Thank you, Kyp.? Master Skywalker said with a slight nod. ?I appreciate your help in all this.?

    Kyp bit his tongue. Help? Yeah right. You didn?t say no to the Jedi Master. Period.

    Han followed Kyp towards the door. He felt Han?s heavy hand on his shoulder a moment later and almost reluctantly, Kyp turned around.
    ?What was that all about?? Han asked with raised brows.

    Where to begin?

    ?Look Han, I am beyond thankful for everything you guys have done for me. But I?ve been on missions for the Jedi since being Knighted. I haven?t had any time to actually think through what I?ve been doing and now I?m being sent away yet again. I?d really like
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    Mara Jade in I, Mara Jade by JediMara77

    A/N: This excerpt is from my first-person Mara epic, I, Mara Jade. Luke and Mara are trapped by sentinel droids inside the cloning chamber on Niruaun, where a cloned Palpatine is ready to be reborn. As they try to figure out how to escape, Mara realizes that her actions have damned Luke to death.

    ?I?m sorry,? I whisper.

    ?What??

    ?You said we should go back and get help, but I wouldn?t listen to you. I never listen. This is all my fault.?

    ?No, Mara,? Luke says, clutching my hand even tighter. ?Don?t talk that way. We?ll figure something out.?

    But even now, I still refuse to listen to him. I finally meet his gaze, and seeing the love in his eyes, I feel like the most awful person in the galaxy. ?I?m sorry, Luke. I?m sorry for not opening up to you?I?m sorry for leaving?I?m sorry for everything...?

    ?Stop it!? he yells, shaking my shoulders. ?What the hell is wrong with you?! This isn?t the Mara Jade I fell in love with!?

    I wish I could rejoice in his declaration, but with the realization of what I?ve done hanging over me like a fog, I cannot feel any joy, only heartache. ?It?s too bad, you know,? I say, brushing a lock of hair from his face. ?We did make a good couple, after all.?

    ?We do make a good couple. Listen to me, Mara,? he cups my face in his hands. ?You promised me that we?d talk after leaving Nirauan, remember, and I?m holding you to that promise! You?re not getting out if it that easily, you got that??

    I can?t respond; instead, I spare another glance at the cloning cylinder?at Palpatine, the man who stole my life. If only I?d been able to resist him, I could have ended things. I could have killed him in his sleep. I could be free now.

    But then, as my eyes lock on to the generator?I realize that I can end this, after all. Instead of killing Luke, I will save him.

    I will defy the last command.

    I give Luke a bittersweet smile as I turn back to face his perfect crystal blue eyes. No matter what, he always had hope. He always had faith in me, even when I had none. Now, it is my turn to repay the favor. This is my moment of reckoning.

    ?You?re right about one thing,? I tell him softly, taking his hair in my fingers again. ?You will get through this.?

    ??What???

    Cutting off his question, I stroke his cheek and pull him into one last kiss. ?See you later, Farmboy,? I whisper against his lips.

    ?What?what are you doing?! Mara?! NO, MARA, STOP! MARA, NO!?

    Before he can pull me back, I dive off the balcony and hit the ground in a roll. The sentinels start firing as soon as I get to my feet, but I ignore them, not even bothering to block their shots, and sprint towards the cloning cylinder as fast as I can. I ignore the pain that courses through me as their blaster bolts pierce my now-defenseless body, focusing only on getting to the cloning cylinder in front of me. Breathlessly, I drop into another roll, and then, as if from a memory long past, I find myself kneeling in front of my old master. Unable to move, unable to even think, I stare up at the thing that stole my life, and I struggle to stay upright as I hear his voice inside my head, just as I had for so long?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    I cringe and shut my eyes against his last command, refusing to allow myself to succumb to it, remembering the little girl who was stolen away from her home and molded into someone completely new and completely wrong?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    Remembering five long years of hopelessness and despair as that girl grew up and became a woman, all while seeking a revenge that was never deserved?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    Remembering how that woman created a new life as a Jedi but was forced to leave it behind, because she had been broken and did not know how to fix herself?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    Gathering eve
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    Best Canon Interpretation, Female continued...

    Viqi Shesh in Sunny Side Up by Blue_but_beautiful

    Be it chance or some form of Bothan sixth sense, Borsk raised his violet eyes, bushy brows beetled for a heartbeat as he held the Kuati?s gaze for long enough to make her feel uncomfortable enough to recede back into her chair again, albeit with an arrogant jut of her perfectly formed chin.

    Letting the pod?s seating gel conform to the shape of her spine?s curvature she settled back, crossing one leg elegantly over the other, and returning her gaze front and centre.
    Correction, she thought to herself, this was going to be a VERY tedious meeting.
    Smoothing down the fabric of the skirt that had fallen ever so slightly out of place, she leaned ever so slightly to one side, raising a hand in a subtle shielding motion, muttering almost conspiratorially to her telbun and aide.

    ?Re-schedule my appointment with Senator Miransi.? Shesh said flatly, with a slight raise of her slender eyebrows ? We are in for a long wait.?

    Instead of turning to the datapad held between his hands, the Telbun slid his gaze towards her, the barest flicker of a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. To the innocent onlooker, it would have not been noticeable, but to the well trained Kuati eye, any display of emotion from one who was all but invisible during most day to day interactions, was like a blaring siren signalling the blatant breach of manners and protocol.
    Had Viqi been anywhere aside from this current setting, she might have chosen to punish him for his blatant lack of subtlety, but here that would have caused a scene, besides, whatever thought had crossed his slightly deviant mind, had clearly amused him greatly.

    And that was it, the seed of unseemly curiosity had been planted firmly in her mind, she knew now that choosing to acknowledge what she had just witnessed would also be a break in protocol and indeed her own, well educated sensibilities. But not knowing what, exactly, had tickled the man?s humour was going to chip away at her resolve not to ask throughout the strenuous tedium that was sure to follow. And that would be infuriatingly annoying.

    ?If something amuses you, I would hear it.?

    This time, the telbun did not smile, nor did he look up or directly at her, head lowered in a piously polite bow of an apology. He did, however, speak.

    ?It was nothing of interest mistress, an inexcusable mistake on my part.?

    Viqi dared to raise a manicured eyebrow again, her tone while hushed, was far from being without acute punctuation and the way in which the words were uttered left no doubt about her feelings on the matter.

    ?Indulge me.?

    Another pious bob of the cylindrical hat - ?As my mistress wishes...?

    Viqi leaned forward in her comfortably aesthetic chair, hands placed neatly in her lap, one leg crossed over the other.

    ?I wonder, mistress, if you are familiar with the saying ?Bothans always land on their feet??? The Telbun asked, daring to meet her gaze, every bit conspiratorially as it was mischievous. Viqi made a mental note that she rather liked that glint in his eyes, the one that seemed to set them alight with the fire of a man who had at least a measure of spirit. It wasn?t true power, but a measure of the correct kind of defiance was rather comely to her.

    Shesh nodded curtly.

    ?Then am I correct in assuming that you are also familiar with the saying that nerf-buttered tusken bread inevitably lands butter side down??

    The Kuati woman?s eyes narrowed ever so slightly, suspiciously. Where was he going with this, and what did Tusken bread have anything to do with anything? Yet despite herself, she smiled ruefully, mirroring that flicker of a smirk she had seen on her aide?s lips moments before, only more pronounced.

    ?Yes...?

    Now it was his turn to lean in conspiratorially, lowering the tone of his voice so that she had to almost strain to hear it.

    ?It made me wonder what would happen, if a bothan....say one Bors
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    Alec in Incandescence by FelsGoddess

    Operation
    Alec adjusted his surgical mask and gloves. He barely glanced at the other medics in the operating room. He was grateful that only his eyes were visible. He hoped no one would question his presence.

    He?d killed before; you couldn?t work for Aki and not commit such an act. He?d never gone after a child before. It left him feeling rather unsettled.

    He didn?t have a choice, though. He had to kill Nadia Fel in order to succeed. Aki told him that the only way this would work was that the girl had to die.

    He had no other options.

    Guidance
    Alec studied the girl in front of him. The lead surgeon was removing shards of metal from her legs. Alec eyed the various fluids entering her system. He had a few options. The easiest, and cruelest, would be to hook up a bag of disguised poison when one of the bags ran out. She would survive the surgery, but within two days would start wasting away. She?d be dead in four days.

    The kind thing to do would be to kill her before she awoke. It was better than what Aki would do. He was doing her a favor, really.

    Caution
    Alec?s gripped his shaking hands behind his back as he assured the remaining nurse in the room that he could handle swapping medicine bags. With how many injured beings waiting for aid, she didn?t have time to argue. He wouldn?t be attending to the daughter of the Imperial Head of State if he was incompetent or a risk, she must have thought.

    Alec swallowed. He was going to increase her pain medication before he slit her throat. It was the least he could do. He couldn?t think about how much Nadia looked like Lucia.

    Trembling fingers reached for the controls?

    Drugs
    The last image Alec saw with a trickle of blood running down Nadia?s throat. Now all he saw was white. His back and skull pounded. He was nauseous. He felt like a frozen knife was stabbing his right knee. His right side was bleeding, he thought, but he didn?t know. He didn?t even know if he was alive. All he could remember was the trickle of blood, the open brown eyes and the scream. The scream, that if he was alive, he?d never forget. Those brown eyes began to push through the white, begging to know why.

    He couldn?t answer.

    Why?
    ?You tried to kill a little girl, my little girl,? Jag stated to Alec. ?Do you have any children, Alec??
    ?Yes.?

    ?Boy or girl??

    ?Girl,? Alec rasped out. ?Nadia-?

    ?Don?t say her name!? Jag snapped angrily. ?You have no right.?

    ?She looked at me. I almost stopped.?

    Hands pressing down on his shoulders were the only thing that stopped Jag from killing the man on the spot. That Nadia saw what was happening to her destroyed hi last bit of control.

    The lights in the room flickered and the table began to vibrate violently, causing Alec to freeze in fear.

    Wrath

    Alec swallowed. He couldn?t betray Aki, but he was terrified. Jagged Fel wanted to kill him. Alec knew there was no way to make the man understand why his daughter was a target. If he could only convince Fel to give up Entralla. Then Nadia and the rest of the Fels would be safe.

    Alec squeezed his eyes closed in an attempt to drown out the bright lights. He wished he could clap his hands over his ears to block out the buzzing. He couldn?t crack. He couldn?t let Aki down. He?d sacrificed Lucia for this cause. He couldn?t give.

    Terror
    ?Daddy! Daddy stop her!? Lucia?s screamed.

    Alec pushed himself out of the pilot?s seat and ran through the ship. He found her clutching her broken arm. Aki was standing over her, ?Alec, she?s dead. There?s nothing you can do.?

    Alec picked his dying daughter in his arms. ?No, Lucia, don?t go.?

    Lucia screamed again, thrashing wildly. A blast hit the ship.

    ?Get up there and fly, you fool!? Aki snapped. ?I will take her to the medbay.?

    Alec brushed a kiss on Lucia?s forehead as he passed her to Aki. ?Stay with me, baby.?


    Alec awoke in his cell screaming.

    [h
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    Fiolla Flotto in X-Wing: Knights of Plooma by JediMara77 and Lane_Winree

    A/N: In this story, Luke, Mara, Corran, and Hobbie are involved in diplomatic relations on the planet Plooma, where the citizens revere the Jedi. Due to a mix-up involving the use of the word companion, Luke and Mara are assumed to be married and forced to go along with the ruse.

    ?And here Master Skywalker you can see our vast collection of information regarding the old Jedi Order which encompasses many shelves of our database and some of the information came directly from the Jedi archives in the old Jedi Temple and the information was stored here for safekeeping and my family made sure that our historical archives were protected from any outside attack and we made it our life?s work to protect that information and to spread it to the Ploomians and let them know the triumphs of the Jedi Order and??

    Corran leaned his head back and rolled his eyes for the thirty-ninth time as Fiolla led them on a tour of Plooma?s vast archives. ? Corran certainly understood its importance.

    He just wished that Fiolla wouldn?t drink so much caf before leading them around. He was beginning to get a headache just listening to her.

    ?Oh! Master Skywalker! This the data I was most excited to show you! Please, if you will, follow me!? Fiolla grabbed Luke by his sleeve and yanked him down one of the large aisles that were lined with old-fashioned books, datacards, and other information storage devices.

    ?

    Fiolla?s voice pierced through the cavernous room. ?This is the information we have about Master Yoda! He was one of the Jedi Masters who instructed you! Along with Master Obi-Wan Kenobi! His file is right here! Let me show you!?

    ?

    He saw Luke striding towards them, having extricated himself from Fiolla?s grasp. The blonde woman trailed dutifully behind him, practically stepping on his cloak in her earnestness. ?Ambassador Gemar, your archives are extremely impressive,? Luke stated. Behind him, Fiolla beamed with pride. ?Would it be possible for me to copy several of the documents onto my personal datapad??

    ?Certainly!? Fiolla exclaimed, jumping towards Luke and grabbing his datapad out of his grasp. ?I will copy whatever data you desire!?

    Luke thinned his lips, and Corran sensed him reaching out to the Force for patience. ?That would be lovely, Fiolla. I was hoping to copy the information about Master Yoda and Master Kenobi.?

    ?It would be my great honor!? she cried, running away at top speed to one of the computer terminals. ? As soon as Gemar was gone, Luke placed his head in his hand. ?I don?t know about you, Corran, but this whole worshipping the Jedi thing is starting to bother me,? he said.

    Corran clasped his hand to his heart, feigning disbelief. ?No, you don?t say??

    Luke grimaced, looking over to where Fiolla was happily punching away at a computer terminal. ?Oh, I hope it wasn?t obvious to Fiolla?I don?t want to hurt the poor girl?s feelings??

    ?Don't worry, you?re doing a good job of hiding it.?
    ?

    Before they could continue their conversation, Fiolla ran up to them, thrusting the datapad back into Luke?s hands. ?I transferred the data just as you requested, Master Skywalker! Is there anything else that you desire?? she asked, beaming up at him.

    ?No, thank you Fiolla, that will be all for now. If you don?t mind, I?d like to examine the archives myself now.?

    ?Of course, Master Skywalker! Whatever you desire!?

    Luke turned to Corran, motioning him to follow, and they began to walk towards the computer terminals. Luke suddenly turned around, causing Fiolla to almost run into him. He reached out and touched the girl?s arm. She immediately turned a bright red.

    ?Fiolla, I was hoping to examine the archives with Jedi Horn.?

    ?Yes, of course!? she replied, nodding her head vigorously, but making no effort to leave them alone.

    Luke grimaced apologetically. ?Privately, please.?

    ?Oh.? Fiolla looked down at
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    Best Original Character, Female continued...

    Aero Gin in End of all Light by YodaKenobi

    "You are a foolish girl."

    The voice was not Cilghal's, but the rasping metallic voice of the infirmary's only other patient?a bounty hunter named Aero Gin?or rather, what was left of her.

    Aero Gin was more machine than woman, having been damaged and rebuilt more times than she could have remembered even if her mind hadn't been altered. Her entire lower half was as cybernetic as C-3PO's, her legs dangling over the side of the bunk nearest Tahiri's still lacking their synth-flesh covering, exposing the whirring servomotors, pistoning electrodrivers, and bundles of alloy ligaments.

    The woman's upper body had fared somewhat better, with a heart and handful of other internal organs remaining that were living tissue, but most required technological assistance to remain functional. The rest of her torso and arms were high-tech cybernetics, wrapped in a layer of artificial muscles and synthetic olive skin that had the bounce and feel of real flesh.

    Aero's face was perhaps the only real skin she had left, but her mouth and nose were covered in a black plastoid processing filter that facilitated her wheezing breath and allowed her to eat and drink. Above it were a pair of eyes like dark pools that had seen more pain and misery than even Tahiri's, and were forever jaded by it.

    She had been beautiful once, Tahiri thought as she studied the woman's features and long mane of straight, silky black hair?but even that vision was tarnished when she shifted slightly, exposing cords of alloy tendons in the back of her neck and chrome shell where the base of her skull had been replaced.

    "I'm sorry?" Tahiri questioned, her own eyes sharpening in a glare.

    "You are foolish," Aero repeated. "To do this... to surrender an advantage over our enemy such as this... it is an unforgivable idiocy."

    "Well, I guess I'd better rethink it if the blood-thirsty cyborg-killer says it's a bad idea." Tahiri rolled her eyes.

    The bounty hunter's expression soured further. "More foolishness. You will be giving him back all his power, and putting the rest of us in danger."

    "Maybe," Tahiri admitted. "But it's not a power I want?not one a Jedi could wield. If I did, I would be no better than him."

    "That is the point, is it not?" Aero hissed. "I cannot imagine a fate more befitting. Don't you want vengeance for what he did to us?"

    Tahiri's gaze fell back to the bounty hunter, this time welled with sympathy.

    Aero's family had been the slaves of some small-scale crime lord in Raithian space. When she was still only a girl, her parents and sister were butchered by Sith forces, and Aero was similarly rent and left for dead?most likely, because they were latent Force-sensitives.

    The slave-owner found her alive, and sparked by interest in her due to her Force-sensitivity, went to the trouble of saving her life with a series of complex procedures that were the beginnings of what she would become. Her master would go on to use her as his enforcer, having her collect from truant debtors and eliminating threats. In order to motivate her further, the slaver would implant false memories in Aero's fractured mind so that she believed her targets were also her enemies?often, the people who were responsible for the deaths of her family. It was a trend that would continue for decades as she moved on to other employers who repeated the practice.

    Eventually she began working for Faybol.

    "He destroyed our minds," Aero pressed, pointing at her own temple. "You should destroy his?that is balance. That is justice."

    Tahiri shook her head. "That's revenge."

    "There is no difference."

    "There's a galaxy of difference. Vengeance is not the Way of the Jedi."

    Aero scoffed. "Even many of your comrades disagree. I heard what Durron said to you. He believes this is craziness."

    Tahiri's brow flattened at the Aero's persistence.

    "I know what I'm doing," Tahiri replied.

    The
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    Best Child

    Ben Skywalker in So NOT A Stay At Home Mom by Briannakin

    ?I want to try something I learned from an Old Republic Jedi holocron. I think it will clear Luke?s system of the poison. I will need to hook Luke and another person of the same blood type and approximate midiclorian count together so that they will share the same blood supply. With the poison spread between two people, the concentration will be lower and this will make it so you and I can easily cleanse it from their system using the Force.?

    ?Okay, but who do we?? I instantly grew pale as I realized the answer to my own question. There is only person with the same blood type as well as a midiclorian count nearly as high as Luke?s.

    Ben.

    ...

    I stopped at our apartment first, to get Ben?s stuffed ewolk, favourite blanket along with some of his pyjamas as well as a few things to keep me sane. Then I made the walk to the Solusars? apartment.

    As soon as I entered Ben ran to me. ?Daddy? Daddy??

    I signed and I briefly told Kam what was going on. I then picked Ben up and we sat down on the couch.

    ?Ben,? I was suddenly thankful for my years as an assassin. I was able to do this without wanting to break down. ?Daddy is sick. Daddy needs your help.?

    ?Ben help,? he said, eagerly. There is no doubt that Ben is Luke?s son.

    ?It?s going to hurt,? I wanted to warn him.

    ?Daddy Ben?s hero. Ben needs to help Daddy. I see Daddy??

    ?Yes,? I said, getting up and resting him on my hip. ?We can see Daddy now.?

    ....

    I opened the blanket resting in my arms and revealed the sleeping, slobbering toddler in my arms. In his arms were various stuffed animals brought to Ben over the past few hours by various Jedi and friends.

    Luke?s eyes went from my face, to Ben?s face, to Ben?s arms, to the machine to his own arms and he figured it all out.

    ?Oh, Ben,? Luke sobbed. I knew he felt ten times worse than I felt at the moment. I might have made the decision to put him through this pain, but Luke was the reason Ben had to suffer.

    Luke reached out and touched Ben?s chubby hand. ?Oh, my Ben. I am so sorry, but thank you. Thank you so much. Why, Mara?? he asked me.

    I sighed. ?I figured a day or two of pain would be better than years of pain. We both grew up without our parents, Luke. We promised we would do anything to keep Ben from experiencing that pain.?

    He nodded. ?Even though neither of us like it, you made the right decision, Mara. Thank you.?

    ?Besides, he wanted to do it. He told me that he wanted to help his hero.?

    I haven?t seen Luke smile so big since we were reunited with Ben. ? Can I hold him for awhile??

    I nodded and carefully handed him Ben. Luke rested him against his chest.

    ?Daaaa?? came a tired voice from the bundle of blankets.

    ?Hey Ben,? Luke cooed. Luke does that a lot.

    ?Daaaa better??

    ?Yes, Ben. Daddy is feeling a lot better. Thank you. How are you feeling??

    ?Sleepy,? Ben replied with a yawn.

    ?Well, why don?t we have a nap together? Would you like that??

    Ben nodded.

    ?Okay,? Luke said, lying back. ?But do you want to hear a secret first??

    ?Wha?? Ben tilted his head to the side when he asked this. I?ll tell you this: I have a damn cute kid.

    ?Ben is Daddy?s hero.?

    They are both sleeping now with smiles on their faces.


    Ani in The Uprising by FelsGoddess

    Tahiri padded through the halls Shelter. She glanced down at Ani, who was skipping beside her. Ani?s hair hung in two braids that bounced off her back. She wore a small Jedi robe that trailed on the floor.

    ?Gramma Leia?s leaving,? Ani said. ?Grandpa Han doesn?t like Bespin.?

    ?No, probably not,? Tahiri said with a chuckle.

    ?Why did you color your arm?? Ani asked, looking at Tahiri?s tattoo on her wrist and arm.

    ?To express my personality,? Tahiri responded simply. She had picked up several quirks from the implanted personality of the Yuuzhan Vong identity Riina. While she hadn?t gone so far as/>
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    Marhl in Talon Intelligence Squadron: The Catch by TalonIntelSquad

    Author notes: Marhl Kahqiln is a female Togorian, and was part of the second wave of replacements in Talon Intelligence Squadron. A fierce warrior, Marhl has also grown to greatly care for those in her unit and is willing to do whatever it takes to bring down the Black Fire Mercenary Group that has long been seeking to destroy the Talons. The following scene features Marhl and Quis Heartilly while the two are on guard duty at the Talon's headquarters, known as the Nest.

    [That was some great pizza,] Marhl said while picking the last pieces of salted bantha meat from between her sharp teeth with her equally sharp claws. It made her look strangely savage and predatory, and it made Quis shudder slightly.

    Marhl drank the last of her nerf milkshake from its paper cup, wiped the drops from her whiskers, and stood up from her chair. [Let's do another round,] she announced, taking her blaster from the table and putting it into its holster on her belt.

    Quis quickly followed after her as Marhl walked across the mess hall and into the hallways of the Nest's fifth floor.

    Quis quite liked guard duty at night. She liked to see the Nest while it was quiet and peaceful. It gave her time to think, to reflect on her work. And it gave her a good excuse not to be in her lab for a while. She really didn't need an excuse... she was free to go and do what she wanted in her off-time, but she always found herself drawn to that small room in the basement...

    Marhl kept a steady pace, the sound of her claws clicking on the Nest's floor reverberating through the darkened hallway. Quis did her best keeping up. They didn't talk much. Marhl didn't really strike Quis as the talking type, anyway, but that was fine. They got along well and when they did talk, Quis found that Marhl had a genuine interest in her work and always asked the right questions.

    After they secured the fifth floor, they went down a level and walked through the hallways of the fourth floor. They passed by the rooms of the other Talons, who were all sleeping soundly. As they passed Kendrick's door, Quis couldn't help smiling slightly. She liked him and his quiet ways. She had always liked the adventurous spirit of fighter pilots and when she was a kid, she had even had a crush on Wedge Antilles. But she had always hated their cocky swagger. Ken was everything she liked about fighter pilots wrapped into a nice, humble package. He was much more like herself than any other fighter jock she had ever met.

    The thought of his sleeping cozily behind that door, tucked away under his blankets, made her want to crawl up against him and bask in his warmth. But Ken was yet to really admit his interest in her, though Quis was quite sure it was there. What was she thinking? And besides, she was on duty. She shouldn't be thinking that way at all!

    [You like this one, don't you?] Marhl shocked her from her distracted thoughts. The Togorian pointed a sharp claw at Kendrick's door.

    "W-What do you mean?" Quis replied, obviously startled by the sudden sound of Marhl's snarly voice.

    [Lieutenant Quinn... you're quite fond of him, aren't you?]

    "Well..."

    [You're wondering how I know, right?]

    "Umm, yeah." Quis was glad the hallways weren't lit well at night. Marhl would've seen her blushing embarrassingly.

    [I can smell it. Your smell changes when you're near him.] A smile exposed her silvery teeth. [It's a hormonal thing, you know.]

    "That's... umm, handy." Quis's nervous laughter was short-lived.

    [There's no need to be ashamed. It's just biology. And,] she added with a mischievous glint in her feline eyes, [your secret is safe with me.]

    "Thanks," Quis breathed, relief all over her. They stepped into the elevator to go down another floor. "Can I ask you something?"

    [Sure,] Marhl said, pushing the button to close the doors.

    "Well... at the risk of sounding childish..." Quis paused for a second, considering whether s
  19. Beyond-NSWFF_Awards VIP

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    Darth Malig in End of all Light by YodaKenobi

    It was so quiet in Darth Malig's private chamber that it seemed Danni Quee was not the only one who'd died. Jacen Solo stumbled back from the spinglass table upon which he'd laid the body, his knees nearly buckling beneath the weight of his grief. Even two staggering paces away, the tang of iron still lingered, swirling around his shock-numbed senses like the perfume of death itself.

    "You said you can save people from death," Jacen began. "I want you to bring her back to life."

    A grim figure loomed before Jacen, unmoved by his demand or the sight of the dead woman.

    "Why?"

    It wasn't the response Jacen had expected. A refusal or the admission that such a thing was impossible would not have surprised him, but asking why Danni Quee should be allowed to live actually stunned him...

    "Why?" Jacen repeated, blinking in confusion. "Because you can help her... Why wouldn't you?"

    "She doesn't need help anymore," Malig said flatly in his warped, metallic tones. "She's dead."

    "What?"

    "It is you that needs, Lord Havok?you that wants your friend to live again. She wants nothing?she's gone."

    "Fine, then do it because I want it."

    "No," the Dark Lord refused cruelly. "I am not here to satisfy your childish desires. I am here to deny you. To make you stronger. Your attachment to this woman?to anyone?is your greatest weakness, Lord Havok. It will be exploited by your enemies if you continue to indulge it."

    "Help her!" Jacen demanded, charging toward his master.

    Malig did not budge. "There is no help for her."

    "Look at her! She's hurt."

    "She was hurt. She feels nothing any longer. She's dead."

    "And you can fix that?can't you?"

    "I can make her live again, yes," the Sith admitted, completely unmoved by Jacen's welling emotions. "Is that fixing anything?"

    "Of course it is..." the young man replied, shaking his head in confusion. "What do you mean?"

    There was no trace of compassion in the thin, dark visor slashed through Malig's black and blood-red mask. "Perhaps Danni Quee is at peace now. Do you really want to tear her from whatever she's found? That is supremely selfish."

    "I didn't realize Sith were hung-up on selfishness," Havok spat.

    "I only wish you to acknowledge the truth of what you're asking. This is not an act of nobility. This is not an act of selflessness?you are not doing this for her. She doesn't need anything any longer. You want to resurrect Danni Quee because you need it, because you need to assuage your guilt, and because you can't accept losing the last person who still cares for you. This is about you."

    For a moment, Jacen was silenced by his Master's harsh words, wondering if Malig was right. Was his desperation to save Danni only motivated by guilt? Did he really care about her, or anyone, anymore? It was too painful a thing to entertain for long and impossible to admit.

    "No, this has nothing to do with my feelings." Jacen raised his chin in defiance. "This isn't fair. She doesn't deserve this! She doesn't deserve to die!"

    By the tilt of Malig's head, Jacen could almost picture his master raising a brow at what he'd said. "So you, Lord Havok, decide who deserves to live and who deserves to die?"

    "Yes," Jacen said, his jaw clenching as soon as the word left his tongue.

    There was no denying the pleasure in Malig's response. "Good."

    "Then you'll do it?" Jacen asked, trying hard to mask the glimmer of hope in his voice. "You'll save Danni?"

    "No."

    The refusal was another brutal blow to Jacen's aching heart. There was no feeling, no sympathy or consideration?just cold certainty. No argument in Danni's favor would persuade or provoke Malig's assistance.

    Hot tears spilled from Jacen's eyes. "You can't do it, can you? You can't save people from death and neither could Plagueis. You're refusing because you can't do it... You're a fraud."

    Silence crept into the cavern, as menacing as any response h
  20. Beyond-NSWFF_Awards VIP

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    Best Ensemble Cast

    X-Wing: Knights of Plooma by JediMara77 & Lane_Winree

    An hour later, they were sitting in one of Rogue Squadron's briefing rooms, waiting impatiently. Wes was repeating "Plooma" over and over, while Tycho and Hobbie were reading their datapads, trying desperately to ignore him. Mara's hand was inching closer and closer to her lightsaber. Corran sighed, deciding not to dissuade her from killing Wes, and checked his chrono. Wedge and his Jedi recruit should be arriving at any moment.

    Corran glanced over at Mara, her Force sense as annoyed and disinterested as ever. Sensing him watching her, she shot him a disgusted look. "Lightsaber incident," he mouthed. Before she could retort, he sensed two people approaching the briefing room and breathed a sigh of relief. ?Ah, that?ll be our fearless leader now,? he announced. He turned towards the door?

    And Mara suddenly slammed her hands down on the table with brute force, forcing Hobbie to jump in his chair and Wes to trail off mid-syllable on one of his Ploooooomaaaaaaaaaaaas. Tycho merely raised an eyebrow in curiosity.

    Mara turned to Corran again, the glare on her face much, much more annoyed than before, but before he could even give her a questioning glance, the door to the briefing room opened?

    And in stepped Wedge, along with the Jedi he had recruited for this mission. Upon seeing who it was, Corran immediately grimaced and covered his face with his palm. The other Rogues, even Tycho, couldn't suppress their laughter.

    Luke Skywalker greeted his old friends cheerfully, then his face lit up as he saw Mara sitting at the table. ?Mara! So you?re in on this, too? Excellent!?

    Very slowly, Mara tore her glowering gaze from Corran and gave Luke a sickly fake smile. ?Well if it isn?t the great Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. I should have known they wouldn?t have been able to resist dragging you into this.?

    Ignoring her animosity, Luke crossed the room in several long strides and opened his arms to Mara. Surprisingly, as annoyed as she was, she stood up and returned the hug?just briefly.

    When she?d settled back in her seat, she hissed, ?I swear, I?m going to kill someone for this.?

    ?You always want to kill someone; go for something with a little more meaning,? Corran pointed out, unable to resist teasing her.

    ?

    ?Luke, Mara?thank you for accepting this mission. I know you?re both very busy and we appreciate you taking the time to assist the New Republic.?

    ?Anytime, Wedge,? Luke replied, smiling.

    ?My pleasure,? Mara growled.

    ?I trust Corran has been briefing you about the situation?? Wedge asked Mara.

    ?Well, he left out some pieces of information,? Mara said, glancing over at Luke, ?but yeah, I get the gist.?

    ?Excellent. We?ll be heading out to Plooma??

    Wes began giggling incessantly.

    ??Shortly, but before we do that we have one last thing to take care of.? Wedge took a piece of flimsi out of his pocket and tore it into three strips?two the same size, one shorter than the others. ?Cracken wants another Rogue to fill the last spot of the diplomatic envoy, and I?d like it to be somebody with diplomatic experience. Unfortunately, our diplomatic experience is limited to the Adumar situation, and I need to be at the safehouse, so that leaves you three.? He gestured at Tycho, Wes, and Hobbie.

    Tycho nodded. Wes grinned maniacally. Hobbie grimaced.

    ?To make this as fair as possible?? Wedge trailed off, holding up the pieces of flimsi in his hand so they all appeared to be the same length. The three men each grabbed a piece, then held them up to compare. Tycho seemed slightly relieved when his piece matched Wes's, although Wes seemed overtly disappointed.

    * * *

    Hobbie Klivian stared at the treacherous slip of flimsi in his hands. Slowly, he looked up and met his CO?s gaze.

    Wedge shrugged. ?Guess you?re it, Hobbs. Better pack your dress uniform.?

    Hobbie slowly looked around the room, taking in his fellow dipl
  21. Beyond-NSWFF_Awards VIP

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    JediMara77

    A/N: This excerpt is from my first-person Mara epic, I, Mara Jade. Luke and Mara are trapped by sentinel droids inside the cloning chamber on Niruaun, where a cloned Palpatine is ready to be reborn. As they try to figure out how to escape, Mara realizes that her actions have damned Luke to death.

    ?I?m sorry,? I whisper.

    ?What??

    ?You said we should go back and get help, but I wouldn?t listen to you. I never listen. This is all my fault.?

    ?No, Mara,? Luke says, clutching my hand even tighter. ?Don?t talk that way. We?ll figure something out.?

    But even now, I still refuse to listen to him. I finally meet his gaze, and seeing the love in his eyes, I feel like the most awful person in the galaxy. ?I?m sorry, Luke. I?m sorry for not opening up to you?I?m sorry for leaving?I?m sorry for everything...?

    ?Stop it!? he yells, shaking my shoulders. ?What the hell is wrong with you?! This isn?t the Mara Jade I fell in love with!?

    I wish I could rejoice in his declaration, but with the realization of what I?ve done hanging over me like a fog, I cannot feel any joy, only heartache. ?It?s too bad, you know,? I say, brushing a lock of hair from his face. ?We did make a good couple, after all.?

    ?We do make a good couple. Listen to me, Mara,? he cups my face in his hands. ?You promised me that we?d talk after leaving Nirauan, remember, and I?m holding you to that promise! You?re not getting out if it that easily, you got that??

    I can?t respond; instead, I spare another glance at the cloning cylinder?at Palpatine, the man who stole my life. If only I?d been able to resist him, I could have ended things. I could have killed him in his sleep. I could be free now.

    But then, as my eyes lock on to the generator?I realize that I can end this, after all. Instead of killing Luke, I will save him.

    I will defy the last command.

    I give Luke a bittersweet smile as I turn back to face his perfect crystal blue eyes. No matter what, he always had hope. He always had faith in me, even when I had none. Now, it is my turn to repay the favor. This is my moment of reckoning.

    ?You?re right about one thing,? I tell him softly, taking his hair in my fingers again. ?You will get through this.?

    ??What???

    Cutting off his question, I stroke his cheek and pull him into one last kiss. ?See you later, Farmboy,? I whisper against his lips.

    ?What?what are you doing?! Mara?! NO, MARA, STOP! MARA, NO!?

    Before he can pull me back, I dive off the balcony and hit the ground in a roll. The sentinels start firing as soon as I get to my feet, but I ignore them, not even bothering to block their shots, and sprint towards the cloning cylinder as fast as I can. I ignore the pain that courses through me as their blaster bolts pierce my now-defenseless body, focusing only on getting to the cloning cylinder in front of me. Breathlessly, I drop into another roll, and then, as if from a memory long past, I find myself kneeling in front of my old master. Unable to move, unable to even think, I stare up at the thing that stole my life, and I struggle to stay upright as I hear his voice inside my head, just as I had for so long?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    I cringe and shut my eyes against his last command, refusing to allow myself to succumb to it, remembering the little girl who was stolen away from her home and molded into someone completely new and completely wrong?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    Remembering five long years of hopelessness and despair as that girl grew up and became a woman, all while seeking a revenge that was never deserved?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    Remembering how that woman created a new life as a Jedi but was forced to leave it behind, because she had been broken and did not know how to fix herself?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    Gathering every last bit of strength, I scream, shutting out ever
  22. Beyond-NSWFF_Awards VIP

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    JediMara77

    A/N: This excerpt is from my first-person Mara epic, I, Mara Jade. Luke and Mara are trapped by sentinel droids inside the cloning chamber on Niruaun, where a cloned Palpatine is ready to be reborn. As they try to figure out how to escape, Mara realizes that her actions have damned Luke to death.

    ?I?m sorry,? I whisper.

    ?What??

    ?You said we should go back and get help, but I wouldn?t listen to you. I never listen. This is all my fault.?

    ?No, Mara,? Luke says, clutching my hand even tighter. ?Don?t talk that way. We?ll figure something out.?

    But even now, I still refuse to listen to him. I finally meet his gaze, and seeing the love in his eyes, I feel like the most awful person in the galaxy. ?I?m sorry, Luke. I?m sorry for not opening up to you?I?m sorry for leaving?I?m sorry for everything...?

    ?Stop it!? he yells, shaking my shoulders. ?What the hell is wrong with you?! This isn?t the Mara Jade I fell in love with!?

    I wish I could rejoice in his declaration, but with the realization of what I?ve done hanging over me like a fog, I cannot feel any joy, only heartache. ?It?s too bad, you know,? I say, brushing a lock of hair from his face. ?We did make a good couple, after all.?

    ?We do make a good couple. Listen to me, Mara,? he cups my face in his hands. ?You promised me that we?d talk after leaving Nirauan, remember, and I?m holding you to that promise! You?re not getting out if it that easily, you got that??

    I can?t respond; instead, I spare another glance at the cloning cylinder?at Palpatine, the man who stole my life. If only I?d been able to resist him, I could have ended things. I could have killed him in his sleep. I could be free now.

    But then, as my eyes lock on to the generator?I realize that I can end this, after all. Instead of killing Luke, I will save him.

    I will defy the last command.

    I give Luke a bittersweet smile as I turn back to face his perfect crystal blue eyes. No matter what, he always had hope. He always had faith in me, even when I had none. Now, it is my turn to repay the favor. This is my moment of reckoning.

    ?You?re right about one thing,? I tell him softly, taking his hair in my fingers again. ?You will get through this.?

    ??What???

    Cutting off his question, I stroke his cheek and pull him into one last kiss. ?See you later, Farmboy,? I whisper against his lips.

    ?What?what are you doing?! Mara?! NO, MARA, STOP! MARA, NO!?

    Before he can pull me back, I dive off the balcony and hit the ground in a roll. The sentinels start firing as soon as I get to my feet, but I ignore them, not even bothering to block their shots, and sprint towards the cloning cylinder as fast as I can. I ignore the pain that courses through me as their blaster bolts pierce my now-defenseless body, focusing only on getting to the cloning cylinder in front of me. Breathlessly, I drop into another roll, and then, as if from a memory long past, I find myself kneeling in front of my old master. Unable to move, unable to even think, I stare up at the thing that stole my life, and I struggle to stay upright as I hear his voice inside my head, just as I had for so long?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    I cringe and shut my eyes against his last command, refusing to allow myself to succumb to it, remembering the little girl who was stolen away from her home and molded into someone completely new and completely wrong?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    Remembering five long years of hopelessness and despair as that girl grew up and became a woman, all while seeking a revenge that was never deserved?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    Remembering how that woman created a new life as a Jedi but was forced to leave it behind, because she had been broken and did not know how to fix herself?

    YOU WILL KILL LUKE SKYWALKER!

    Gathering every last bit of strength, I scream, shutting out
  23. Beyond-NSWFF_Awards VIP

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    Talon Intelligence Squadron: The Catch by TalonIntelSquad

    Author's Note: Torin Salos is head of the Intelligence High Council, which was recently exposed as nothing more than minions of the Black Fire Mercenary Group.

    The panic in his chest was stifling, urging him to hurry faster than he knew would get the job done right. Admiral Torin Salos tossed another flimsy behind him into the basket to be incinerated. There were simply too many files to destroy. There were too many datacards to copy and secure. His hands uncovered additional material in his bottom desk drawer that he had forgotten he had stowed away there. With a quick jerk Salos ripped the drawer out of its frame and tossed the entirety into the basket on the back wall of his office.

    A polite knock at his open door startled him. His eyes shot up to view the intruder. He recovered quickly, but not quickly enough to avoid the embarrassment of being frightened by his personal aide. "What is it?" he asked curtly, continuing to clear his desk at a furious and sloppy pace.

    The redheaded aide hesitated, drawing further ire from his boss. "Do you have news or not?!" Salos bellowed, flinging three folders of material behind him with surprising force. He slammed his hands onto his desk, his annoyance and frustration more than obvious. "I'm sitting here blindly! I need you to either have news or get it for me! Now!"

    The skinny Human sergeant found the nerve to answer quickly. "Sir, the status on that list of facilities is questionable. We believe they've all been compromised."

    Salos had forced another drawer open with more force than was really necessary, breaking the duraplast stops that normally held it in place. "The hospital... that I'm holding you responsible for," he shot back, venom drenching each word. "You executed my order too late on that one. That Talon shouldn't be escaping from anywhere... she should be dead!" Salos tossed aside a thick set of writing instruments and blank flimsies, scattering them across the floor without concern. "Why can't the Guard find them?! I want them taken down now!" Below those flimsies were a number of ornamental medals in a bag, medals he put on for special occasions to parade around in front of his squadrons... as he flung the bag at the opposite wall with a feral growl he noted how cheap they sounded. They all fell to the floor like petty credit coins.

    Taking a moment to breathe, Salos planted his hands on his cleared desk and took another look around his office, at the destruction. Where one problem remained, another was easily solved. Any damning evidence would be erased in minutes as he left the building, and all that would be left would be his escape. Almost as an afterthought, Salos turned back to his aide and nodded his way. "I want another Guard unit outside this building," he said calmly, pointing out his window, "and I want another out searching for the Talons with the others.

    "They need to be brought down before they get here!" His voice raised an octave with the statement, his panic soaring well over the edge of reason. "If the Guard can't bring them down, kill them! I want them all dead!"

    The sergeant nodded eagerly, a large gulp of nervousness preventing an immediate response. "Yes, sir. I'll alert the Guard now. Anything else, sir?"

    "Just stay the hell out of my way and get the hell out of my office!" he ordered gruffly, grabbing his jacket and beginning to stuff its pockets full of the datacards he had collected from his desk. His aide had maintained the good sense to close the door on the way out, providing Salos the opportunity to read a flimsy he had found hidden among his things, a note that he had never seen before.

    It didn't take long to understand that the flimsy he held in his hands was the grand prize of all damning evidence. Taking a breath to steady himself, he crumpled the personal letter from Sondara Carre and hurled it into the incinerator basket.

    His office door burst op
  24. Beyond-NSWFF_Awards VIP

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    Superman: The Man of Steel (Book 2 of 3) by mrjop2

    ?Stupid young punks!? Lieutenant Inspector Dan Turpin swore as he took cover behind a postal delivery truck. Breathing heavily, he took the moment to catch his breath. How did things get this bad? With Lex Luthor dead, things should have improved in Metropolis. Who would dare commit crime in Metropolis, now that Superman was here?

    However, the criminal underworld took on a new form with this gang of hostile young men and women known as the Intergang. On the outside, they looked like your typical, head-banging kids, but they operated very efficiently like an organized criminal ring. There had to be one or more crime lords lurking in the shadows of this gang. The kinds of weapons that these kids were packing were beyond anything he had ever seen. These weapons proved difficult to handle, even for Superman. They looked like weapons that came out of a comic book.

    This gang had no fear of the authorities, and ran around as if they owned the city. Inspector Henderson of the Metropolis Police Department found himself overwhelmed by the gang, and that was when Turpin?s organization, Metropolis? Special Crimes Unit, joined the fray.

    ?Dan, are you okay?? Captain Maggie Sawyer asked, hiding behind a four-door sedan. He and Sawyer were good friends, having served together ever since she graduated from the academy. When they first met, he had a crush on her, but he soon made the awkward discovery that she was not into men. More recently, she started a relationship with Toby Rains, the lovely, young female reporter for the Metropolis Star. He was good friends with both ladies; but since then, he had not really been interested in another woman. That was okay with him, though; he was married to his job, and hardly had the time to go on dates these days.

    ?I think someone forgot to spank these kids while they were growing up. Now, they?re spanking us!? Turpin growled.

    ?Those weapons are killing us!? Sawyer replied. ?Where are they coming from??

    ?Beats me,? He replied. ?Whenever we get lucky and confiscate one, they seem to magically disappear in the evidence warehouse.?

    Sawyer peeked over the hood of the car before kneeling back down. ?I feel bad about shooting at them; they are, after all, just kids.?

    ?Mags, if you don?t shoot them, they?re gonna? shoot you.? Turpin peered around the postal van to see a young man with long black hair and a tattoo that covered the whole right side of his face aiming a bazooka-like weapon in their direction. ?Aw, crap! Clear out!?

    The two of them ran in separate directions from their hiding places as the young man fired his weapon. A blue beam came from the weapon, hitting the delivery van and causing a giant explosion which engulfed the sedan in front of it. The windows of the nearby storefronts shattered from the shockwave, causing the alarm to go off in one of the stores.

    ?Damn it, where?s my back-up!? Turpin shouted as he found another hiding space behind a postal box.

    The young hooligan found the Lieutenant Inspector and pointed his weapon at the postal box. ?One roasted pig, comin? up!?

    A red beam came out of nowhere to hit the barrel of the weapon in his hands. Within seconds, the weapon became scalding hot to the point where he could no longer hold it any longer, and he dropped it.

    Looking slightly upward, he saw Superman floating downward with his arms folded. Superman?s silky black hair waved with the wind as he stared at the boy with his piercing dark blue eyes. The frown on his face made it clear that he was not going to make any smart remarks this time around. He was quickly tiring of having to deal with this gang time and time again. ?Okay son, you have had enough fun for one day.?


    [How To Train Your Dragon] Trial By Fire by mrjop2

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  25. Beyond-NSWFF_Awards VIP

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    Jul 21, 2011
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    Best Drama

    [Tangled] I Love You Most by Raphire

    She sat on the cold tower stairs and watched. Mother was walking. Mother walked back and forth throughout the kitchen like an old hobbled woman. Her old bones were creaking and groaning with every step. She was humming a song. The one she would sing to her every night when she fell asleep. It was her song.

    Ever since she was a child she could remember that song. It had hurt her, tugged on her head like a headache but now she was used to it. Her ears no longer rung and she didn?t get as dizzy anymore. But now mother was growing old.

    She wished she could help mother but whenever she sang mother would wince. Her voice was too shrill. Sometimes when mother wasn?t in the tower she would sing to herself. She would sing her song. It always made her feels much better. Just like Pascal.

    But mother didn?t like Pascal so she hid him, just like her voice. Mother would be so displeased if she heard her sing her song. She acted like it was a sacred song, one only meant for special occasions. This was why she never sang it around mother.

    She had tried to sing other songs around mother but she hated those. She complained of her tinny little voice and said that when Rapunzel was older maybe she could hit the right notes. Then she said she was only joking and left the tower. This is why she would never sing for mother again.

    When she was alone surrounded by her golden hair she would sing her song at the top of her lungs. It made her feel warm and safe. It also made her hair sparkle in the sunlight. Pascal seemed to like it too.

    But then mother would come home and tuck her in at night. She would sing it softly in her ear like a secret and tell her to shut her eyes. The moon was so bright against her eyelids though. She always wanted to watch it glow but mother said she needed sleep. Then the headache would start.

    Mother said that they were migraines from staying up too late but she knew better. They only happened when mother sang to her.

    Now she watched her mother make dinner and listened to her creak. Mother had started to sing her song more and more; it wasn?t just at bedtime any longer. Mother had started brushing her hair at midday. She would sing it then as she ran her hands through the long strands. Mother pulled on her hair sometimes.

    Now it seemed as if her song had taken over mother?s mind. She hummed it as she cooked and sung it during the day. She never left her side lately. Mother used to go on walks but now she just sat and watched her do her chores. Maybe mother was sick.

    Dinner was quiet except for mothers humming and afterwards mother offered to brush her hair. She could never say no to mother.

    She sat on her stool and watched mother brush her hair. Occasionally mother would run it through her fingers and sing. She used to sing with it with an excitement in her voice but now the song seemed to make her sad. Mother always sang to her when she was unhappy.

    She cleared her throat. ?Two little monkeys sat on the monkey tree.? Mother looked at her hands and sighed. ?Dear what did I tell you? Please don?t sing mother has a headache and your noise just makes it worse.?

    Rapunzel looked down and her lips started to tremble. A tear slid down her face and plopped to the floor. Mother quickly backpedaled. ?Dear Mother didn?t mean it like that. I just don?t like that song. Maybe when you?re older you can sing a song mommy likes.?

    Rapunzel nodded her head slowly and then cautiously said. ?I could sing a sing you like now?Maybe?? Mother didn?t answer so she hurried onward. ?Flower gleam and glow.? Her eyes shut and she tilted her head upwards. ?Let your power shine, make the clock reverse. Bring back what once was mine.?

    She heard mother gasp and opened her eyes quickly. Her hair glowed golden like the sun and mother? She stood like she had weeks ago. Rapunzel laughed with delight. She had healed mother!

    Mother just stared at her in shock. Then a small smile
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