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Beyond - Legends Amethyst of Sernpidal (NJO AU; SkySolos, Psylocke, etc.; updated 3/11)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Onderon1, Nov 21, 2008.

  1. Lady_Jedi93

    Lady_Jedi93 Jedi Knight star 4

    May 11, 2010
    Scuse me, I have to pick my jaw up :eek:
    Sooooo, [face_thinking] Luke has a daughter and Han has a daughter and a grandson. I like it :D I also love anything that has to do with Jaina's time as a Rogue.
    Great job. =D=
  2. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    Lady_Jedi: Thanks. :) Danielle Kieran isn't my character - she's an obscure character from a series of gaming supplements from years ago - but a lot of fans do give credence to the idea that she could be Han's daughter. [face_thinking]

    And Leia's cousin Nial is a canon character, from Children of the Jedi. He's been presumed to have died with the rest of the Organa family when Alderaan was destroyed ... but there's been no confirmation of that, either. I figured I'd run with the idea from there ... :D

    - Thanks, [face_peace]
  3. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    Author's Note: Back to this ... [face_blush]:D

    And a slight change from canon in this scene ... [face_thinking]

    Chapter 18: 25.5 ABY: Belkadan, Outer Rim Territories (Extreme Galactic North):

    Jacen thought he knew pain - he'd been bitten by various exotic animals, scorched in lightsaber training, felt the horrific guilt of being unable to prevent the girl he loved from being maimed by his lightsaber.

    But compared to where he was now, he knew he hadn't really experienced pain. He hadn't even been in the same sector of space as pain.

    Well, I'm there now ... he thought, his jaw's ache the least of his worries and agonies.

    He was in something like a rack, except that racks didn't normally have their prisoners' heads facing toward the floor - or so Jacen thought. He was rather proud of the fact that until now, he hadn't had much experience with instruments of torture (at least not physical ones; Brakiss' mind games a couple years back had been sadistic).

    His wrists, ankles, and thighs were bound, and when Jacen tried to use a biofeedback technique to ease the pain in his arms, his wrists were twisted. He couldn't help but gasp a bit at that, and when his joints ached sympathetically - but the pain in his arms did ease up, if only because the bonds around them let up a little.

    It can measure my pain levels ... and it's keeping me in just enough pain to keep me from using the Force ... ? Jacen wondered, wincing at the price exacted even for trying to think. Pain for its own sake wasn't something he was used to, nor did he want to get that familiar with it.

    And there's no sign now of the Yuuzhan Vong ... or their slaves, Jacen worried, trying to sense anything through the Force - that didn't work, either, given the twisting around his ankles. Clearly, his shackles were designed to keep their prisoner from thinking too clearly.

    That was when things got worse.

    Something - looking like a crab with six legs, a rocky shell covered with grey coral-like dots, and four appendages that looked like something out of a medical droid's usual set - scuttled in, its compound eyes fixing on Jacen. He didn't like the look of it at all, and tried desperately to concentrate through the Force to reach for his lightsaber.

    There! Jacen thought, finally feeling a little relief when he saw his weapon on a shelf across the room of the - hut? - he'd been imprisoned in. The lightsaber rattled a little, and Jacen tried desperately to push past the pain before the creature got any closer.

    His guts spasmed with the effort of fighting the pain, and then Jacen's stomach plunged as the lightsaber rose - not under his control.

    Fortunately, the weapon nevertheless ignited, plunging through the creature and pinning it to the floor. Jacen wasn't exactly sure what had happened - he'd never studied Vo'ren Faalo's cadences, much less taken the time to learn the telekinetic lightsaber combat technique Faalo had pioneered, so he was sure he hadn't subconsciously used his lightsaber. But he wasn't going to argue with someone else cutting in.

    And then, through the pain, he sensed another Force-presence - not muted, like the slaves, but blazing bright.

    Another Jedi, Jacen thought, too relieved to make out the exact identity of the newcomer at the moment.

    He squinted as the first rays of Belkadan's sun came through the front door of the hut, and listened as the bellows of Yuuzhan Vong warriors turned to the occasional scream. The cries of combat - and pain - were undercut by the basic thrummm of another ignited lightsaber, combined with the VRUMMM of that same weapon's combat dance.

    One of the Yuuzhan Vong warriors stood at the door, his back to Jacen, and the ugly alien looked over his shoulder to stare at the impaled crab-thing bef
  4. Lady_Jedi93

    Lady_Jedi93 Jedi Knight star 4

    May 11, 2010
    I like :D
    Can't wait to find out more about the grandson, sounds like a great character.

    "'Several'? As usual, Tionne, you're kind. Let's see. There's Deena Shan; Callista; that poor Mary of Solay; Lumiya; Gaerial Capistan; Alex Winger; Akanah, sort of; Teneniel Djo - you ought to see how cute Luke blushes when I mention her; Dani, but that was pretty one-sided ... Farmboy might have that guilelessness about him, but he's not an amateur in the art of love," Mara said, counting off names on her fingers. [face_laugh] Go Luke [face_mischief]

    I'm looking forward to Lyska meeting the rest of the family.
  5. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008

    Lady_Jedi: Thanks. :D The amazing thing is, Luke's canon love life is more wild than most 'fic about him ... :p

    As for Lyska meeting the rest of the family, that's coming soon. Some quiet family time might well be needed after what's coming in the next few chapters ... [face_worried]

    Chapter 19: Ralroost, New Republic Cruiser, outbound to Dubrillion System, Outer Rim Territories:

    She'd checked out her XJ-3, at least, until R2-B3 had BLATTed at her to let him do his job. Then she'd run sims until she'd seen double, and then she'd worked out in the ship's gym.

    Jaina still wasn't able to shake the embararssment and haunted fear that had filled her after she'd felt Jacen's spike of pain through the Force - and, after that, nothing.

    I'd know if he was dead. I'd know it. I'm just more worried that he's hurt and alone and - STOP it! You have to focus on what you can do here, Jaina told herself, dressing after a shower following her workout. She lay on her bunk, trying not to think of the sympathetic pain in her jaw that had left her unconscious in Admiral Kre'fey's office.

    The med-droids told me I was OK, even fit to fly ... I'd just opened myself up too much to the Force, let whatever hit Jacen overwhelm me. I had to beg Colonel Darklighter not to take me off the active flight roster, especially since we're going to Dubrillion. I have to pull my weight, Jaina thought, rolling over and trying to sleep.

    She shivered as she thought of her twin, battered and bloodied, some Yuuzhan Vong standing over him with one of those snake-spears, ready to strike -


    Some Jedi I am, Jaina thought, blushing as she rolled back over and looked at a silhouette in the lighted doorway to the female Rogues' dorm. I didn't even sense - whoever it is - approaching ...

    She squinted, grateful as the questioner dialed up the lights just enough to let Jaina see, and sat up on her bunk. "Anni," Jaina greeted, half-smiling at the Corellian girl who was maybe - at most - five years older than Jaina was. Anni Capstan kept her blonde hair cut above the ear, in a rather pixie-like style, but her green eyes were alight with mischief, at least when they were prepping to run sims against the guys in the squadron.

    Now, though, Anni's expression was kind and sage, full of experience, and she gave Jaina a knowing look that eerily reminded the Jedi apprentice of a younger Tionne. "You're worried about someone?" Anni asked.

    "How - ? No, wait - someone did some simple arithmetic when they heard about the medical droid being called to the admiral's quarters. They saw the admiral and the colonel walking around all right, noticed me not be at the briefing at the course correction at Agamar, and figured 'Jedi girl' had a freak-out?" Jaina replied, wincing a little at the bitterness in her tone.

    Anni flinched, and Jaina immediately blushed. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean you thought that way - aaugh, me and my mouth. I just ... everything that's going on, it's got me pretty on edge," she said, hoping Anni would forgive her.

    "It's OK. You wouldn't be human otherwise. First real combat deploy, and we're not fighting pirates or unreconstructed Imps, but real aliens. With the number of times I got vaped in sims against those 'skips,' I'm not looking forward to this either," Anni said, smirking a bit.

    She became concerned again, and frowned a little as she said, "Don't let that idiot Sterhath or anyone else give you kark about being Force-sensitive. We don't all think the Jedi are mystics or hotheads. I've seen your numbers when you fly, and you do your part in the sims - you're a good wingman. If the Force helps you, I say use it."

    "Thanks. It's a double-edged vibroblade, though," Jaina said, letting her worry seep into he
  6. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008

    Chapter 20: 25.5 ABY: Dubrillion System, Outer Rim Territories:

    When they hit, the Yuuzhan Vong hit hard.

    The advance coralskippers reached the edge of Dubrillion's asteroid belt light-minutes before the cruiser analogues reverted to realspace, but that was enough to harass the last few ships that'd been able to make it off of Dubrillion. The Vong hadn't been expecting reinforcements to Dubrillion's ragtag defense fleet - now a mix of X-E-J3s, basically XJ-3s refitted for easy use by their Ewok pilots, along with the various snubfighters that had survived the early Vong raids - much less experienced enemy pilots.

    None of the New Republic-affiliated pilots had many illusions about their survival, though. This was a delaying tactic, to buy the evacuation fleet and its lightly-shielded, lightly-armored ships full of refugees time to escape along whatever hyperspace vector they could. Not even the Ewok naval flagship Glider of Decimation - which sported an enormous amount of firepower, the origin of which would later be traced to salvaged and repurposed Death Star II turbolaser emplacements - could be expected to halt three Yuuzhan Vong cruiser analogues.

    Aboard the Jagged Talon, flagship of the Yuuzhan Vong task force sent to bring Dubrillion under control, Commander Maghar Phath - a distant relative of one of the elite of the shaper caste, raised as a warrior to preserve ancient cross-caste aliances - sat in his command throne, neural feeds letting him experience the battle in real time. The scent of blaze bugs filled the air, the number, color, and scent of the insects painting a picture of the battle situation for those not linked to the yammosk war coordinator as Phath or his bridge crew were.

    To Maghar's satisfaction, the picture was one of rout. The uh'maans and their fellow native species were, predictably, attempting to save their civilians - not entirely unforeseen, thanks to the intelligence work of the Praetorite Vong in the years leading up to the invasion. But a running defense was a multi-front affair, and hard to defend.

    I have the numerical advantage. And even if some escape, there will be captives for slave-taking ... and other purposes, Maghar thought, flicking his sensory awareness back to the bridge at the yammosk's suggestion.

    "Commander, Yammka's Fist is moving to intercept the infidel refugee fleet's main mass. What are your commands for the Florid Spine?" Uhl Grahk, Maghar's second-in-command, asked, bowing his head.

    Phath smiled, watching another infidel coralskipper analogue flare into a blaze of flame and metal. "Direct Laar Mahk to begin the shield bombardment. These uh'maans and their fellow infidels think their pitiful, blasphemous defenses the equal of our living servants, the dovin basals? We will teach them the true nature of strength," he ordered.

    "Belek tiu, lord," Grahk replied. Phath just nodded slightly; Ulh Grahk was an effective and loyal, if unimaginative, subordinate, the kind a wise commander kept around to get things accomplished.

    Unlike Harj Tak'hal, Maghar considered, keeping a wary eye on the subaltern in charge of bridge security. Domain Tah'kal was one of the most dangerous domains, politically - not exactly powerful, in the sense of a Jaamane, Lah or Shai or Kwaad, or even Maghar's wider-spread Phath kin, but just close enough to the heart of the Yuuzhan Vong political apparatus to be hungry.

    Hunger breeds desperation. Desperation breeds keen senses. Keen senses let one find weaknesses ... and I have no plans for a coufee in my back, Phath thought, keeping part of his awareness on the battle's progress and part of it on Harj.

    So, perhaps, Maghar Phath could be forgiven for not noticing the arrival of a Mon Calamari star cruiser and, arguably, the most famous starfighte
  7. Lady_Jedi93

    Lady_Jedi93 Jedi Knight star 4

    May 11, 2010
    There are quite a few different characters in your story, I'm having a little trouble remembering them all. 8-}
    Han and his grandson were great, made me laugh :D Ready for more.
  8. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008

    Lady_Jedi: Thanks. :) Sorry I hadn't updated before now - busy week. :p

    Chapter 21: 25.5 ABY: Chief of State's Office, Coruscant, Core Worlds:

    The air was charged with emotion, so much so that Plif had to shield himself against the outrage and suspicion that greeted him as he hopped into Borsk Fey'lya's office.

    Still, being Bothan - and Borsk on top of that - he's not letting his hand slip, the hoojib Senator thought, hopping up to the top of a chair in front of Borsk's desk. The Bothan COS turned around slowly, clearly attempting to make a dramatic impact, and Plif tried not to roll his eyes at the display.

    "Senator. I've been piecing together some very interesting reports from various sources about activity in the northern Outer Rim. Along with some interesting meetings you've been having lately," Borsk began, half-closing his eyes.

    Great C'Tn'tal spare me this cat-descended power-broker's ego ... Plif prayed to the hoojib trickster deity, maintaining a calm demeanor as he met Borsk's attempt at a stare.

    ~As a senior Senator on the Commerce Committee, Chief Fey'lya, it's my responsibility to maintain proper connections with trading partners and monitor economic activity. Especially when reports of decreased trade from the northern Outer Rim are starting to affect markets. We don't want a panic, after all,~ Plif replied, keeping his telepathic voice calm.

    Borsk's eyes widened a bit as he snorted. "Zeltros is in the Inner Rim, Plif. And a flotilla of ships so numerous as to rival the entire Fifth Fleet was sighted at Dubrillion - reports are that they were there on a 'mission of mercy.' Never mind that a fighter carrier approaching the size of a Super Star Destroyer - run by Ewoks, no less - was sighted there, also, attacking Yuuzhan Vong craft. To top all THAT off, the Ralroost - A NEW REPUBLIC DEFENSE FORCE vessel, need I remind you - was also sighted at Dubrillion, on a THOROUGHLY unauthorized military action," the Bothan counted off, frowning more deeply with each sentence.

    Plif narrowed his own eyes, not letting Borsk's glare intimidate him. ~It was my understanding that Baron-Administrator Calrissian asked for assistance in evacuating Dubrillion, Chief. If the Zeltrons - and others - volunteered ships to save innocent lives, then I have to say I stand with them, approving of their efforts to help those in need. As for what the Ewoks or Admiral Kre'fey might be doing with their ships ... I really don't know anything about that,~ he sent.

    Technically, it was all the truth. Plif hadn't directly received a request for help from Lando - Leia had relayed it. And Kolot had no more confided the existence of an Ewok starfleet to Plif than Kre'fey had said anything about going to Dubrillion to help cover the evacuation.

    Borsk, of course, wasn't naive. He tilted his head - then, in a move that might've thrown lesser politicos off their game, gave Plif a mournful look, even radiating sincere concern. "Had we known that the Vong were attacking Dubrillion, I would've authorized Traest and one of the entire fleets to go out there. I'm no more fond of seeing innocents slain than you are," he said.

    Plif nodded in recognition of Borsk's sincerity. He didn't think the Bothan was heartless - but neither did he believe for a moment that Borsk was failing to look at ways to manipulate the situation to his advantage. ~There's only so much the New Republic could do to evacuate an entire planet in that short amount of time,~ Plif allowed.

    Borsk leaned forward, seemingly in agreement, but Plif just carefully listened. "I appreciate your understanding. The question now becomes, what to do about this entire scenario? The last report I received suggested that Agamar was a way station for a sudden, enormous influx of ref
  9. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008

    A/N: Given that the Battle of Dantooine was quite messy in canon, I'm toning this down ... but there's still violence here. Mods, if there's anything questionable, please let me know and I'll edit. [face_peace]

    Chapter 22: 25.5 ABY: Dantooine, Outer Rim Territories:

    For a moment, at least, Luke flashed back to the Rebellion days - or even the start of the New Republic, looking around the hastily-erected command tent as staffers from the Ralroost's crew set up seats for Colonel Bril'nilim, the Twi'lek ground commander from the ship.

    Except this isn't going to be noble, or pretty. Just a lot of fighting ... Luke worried, shaking his head at the latest holo-reports from the Ralroost's orbital scans. The good news was that wherever the third Yuuzhan Vong ship from Dubrillion was, it wasn't in Dantooine orbit.

    The bad news was, there were enough Yuuzhan Vong, and their servants, on the ground already to make things very dangerous.

    "Combined with the data we received from Apprentice Solo's recce of Belkadan, and our own NRI observers, we've been able to make an educated guess about the soldiers the Yuuzhan Vong are directing here on the surface," Bril'nilim said, his lekku twitching as an image of a bipedal, armored reptoid rotated over the holotank.

    Leia, Mara, Han, Chewie, Gavin, the Solo children, Mother, Elegos, Danni, Betsy, Kyp, Bey, some of the Nagai, various NRDF ground troops, a good segment of Rogue Squadron, volunteer pilots and soldiers from the refugees, and Artoo and Threepio were crowded beneath the tent, mostly to get out of the drizzle. As if the overstressed conditions in the camp weren't bad enough - the evacuation fleet hadn't been prepared for having to land anywhere beside Agamar, so food was in short supply - the weather hadn't been cooperating.

    Nor are the Yuuzhan Vong, Luke thought, a little chilled as he looked at the coral-like protrusions from the forehead of the reptoid, and Jacen and Danni both shivered a little.

    "A necessarily quick rundown of the xenobiodatabase aboard the Ralroost didn't turn up any of these species in our own galaxy. Best we can estimate is that these beings are a slave race of the Vong, being controlled by the coral ... implants," Bril'nilim said, distaste evident in his slightly-accented Basic.

    He nodded at Danni, who stepped forward, not so intimidated as she'd been before. Extragalactic species were among her field of expertise, and despite her occasional concerns about being inadequate, Luke was glad she was on hand.

    "Thanks to Jacen's input, we have to assume that the coral implants the Yuuzhan Vong are using to control their slaves don't allow for an override, or reasoning with them. As for the Yuuzhan Vong themselves ... I'm not holding out hope for negotiations, based on my personal experience at Helska," the xenobiologist warned, a haunted glimmer in her green eyes.

    "They won't even try to parley with us?" one of the Rogues asked, and Mara repressed a snort while Jacen cleared his throat.

    "They're definitely attacking first, asking questions later," Jacen warned. He rubbed at his still-fresh scar on his left cheek, and added, "I could've ended up like those poor people on Belkadan."

    "Slavers, then. On top of murderers and conquerors," Kyp rumbled, contempt and focused loathing obvious in his tone. He took a deep breath before Luke could give him more than a worried look, and smiled cockily as he said, "Well, a straight-up fight isn't a bad thing."

    "That depends on whether you're the one caught in the line of fire. We have to think of the refugees here on the ground," Jaina said, both reasonable and slightly disdainful. Leia and Mara exchanged a curious glance, but Luke didn't think his niece was being petulant - Kyp was a gadfly, after all.

    "I am, Padawan," Kyp replied, using the new/
  10. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    Chapter 23: 25.6 ABY: Jedi Praxeum, Yavin 4, Gordian Reach, Outer Rim Territories:

    Lyska tried not to be too jumpy - but she couldn't help it. She was about to meet her family, her real family - well, almost all of them - for the first time.

    Most of them ... except for Mom. Wherever she is, the girl thought, trying not to feel too much sorrow as she watched the Millennium Falcon, two Lambda-class shuttles, and an XJ-3 X-Wing approach the Praxeum's landing pad. She still wished Callista could be there, but Lyska wasn't going to let her mother's absence spoil meeting her aunt, uncle, and cousins.

    She grinned as she felt her dad's Force presence get closer, and smiled even more as she felt more familiar minds through the Force - she'd been practicing with Master Tionne, and Tahiri and Valin had helped too. Tahiri was waiting with Lyska, too, and the green-eyed girl watched closely as the ships came to a landing. "He's back," Tahiri said.

    Lyska didn't need to ask who Tahiri meant - her friend's eyes always lit up whenever Anakin was mentioned, and Lyska tried not to tease the Tatooine girl too much about her crush. Or maybe it's more, Lyska thought. Tahiri was pretty serious whenever Anakin was mentioned ...

    The Falcon and the other ships finished landing, the XJ-3's cockpit opening first. Lyska watched a girl a few years older than her climb out of the cockpit in an orange and white flight suit, removing her helmet to shake out brown hair and look around.

    Jaina Solo. My cousin ... and a real Jedi, Lyska thought, giving a little wave as Jaina saw her and Tahiri. Jaina smiled, a little surprised but kind, too, and she walked over as the Falcon and the Lambdas lowered their ramps.

    "Oh, wow. You really look like Uncle Luke's daughter ... sorry. I'm still just getting used to this - it's really astral to meet you," Jaina said, shaking Lyska's hand, then hugging her quickly before squeezing Tahiri's shoulder. "Hey, Tahiri - you waiting for my baby brother?"

    "Oh, that too. And I've been helping Lyska. I didn't want her to wait alone - the Masters are in some big meeting. Master Kam asked me to ask the Masters Skywalker, your folks, Master Durron, and Lady Braddock to meet with them right away," Tahiri said, trying to sound cool but totally failing when she saw Anakin.

    He walked over, waving when he saw Tahiri, who fussed over the bacta splint on his wrist. Anakin hugged her before looking at Lyska with a smile, and he said, "Hi, Lyska. Artoo showed me a holo of you - glad you're here."

    "Thanks, Anakin - Jaina. Tahiri told me about you guys, and Dad did too, of course," Lyska said, grateful her cousins were being so nice.

    They don't have to be, but they are, and it helps a lot, she thought, trying not to run when her dad left the shuttle. He hugged her, then looked over his shoulder before smiling at Lyska and saying, "I know there's a lot of people for you to meet, but if you want some time ..."

    "No, I want to, please?" Lyska asked, wishing she didn't sound like a little kid. But she was excited to meet her family ...

    Like ... my stepmom ... Lyska thought, watching a red-haired lady wearing a sleeveless black bodysuit - that had a LOT of blasters, vibrodaggers, and a lightsaber on its belt - walk down the ramp and look at her closely.

    Lyska tried not to gulp, and held out her hand. "Hi ... Master Jade-Skywalker? I'm Lyska Chad," she said.

    "So I hear. You can call me Mara - save the 'Master' stuff for when we're training," Mara said, shaking Lyska's hand and smiling. She felt kind, but a little - distant? - through the Force, and tired, too, when Lyska shook her hand.

    "Thanks. I want to talk more, but the other Masters need to meet with you and Dad and Aunt Leia and Uncle Han - oh, wow. Aunt Leia
  11. whateveritis12

    whateveritis12 Jedi Knight star 3

    Nov 29, 2008
    Very subtle there, very subtle.
  12. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008

    whatever: Admittedly, it was about as subtle as a brick. :p

    But how they get to the endpoint is as important as the endpoint itself - and unlike Braddockverse 1.0, I'm planning for the Paladins to be more open, and far less paranoid about the Jedi. That was part of why they didn't work out as well before, I think. [face_thinking]

    But that's down the road. First, a few meetings, some discussions, and overall plot movement forward ... [face_peace]

    Interlude: 25.6 ABY: Jedi Praxeum, Yavin 4, Gordian Reach, Outer Rim Territories:

    Tenel Ka found Jacen finishing with his animals, and he smiled at her as he finished closing one of the cages. "Sorry I didn't come to see you when we arrived. It's been ... hectic," he said, joining her in the hallway outside his quarters and sitting on a bench with her.

    "Fact. Your left eye looks like an overripe plam-fruit," Tenel Ka said, trying to keep worry out of her tone and failing. Jacen just shrugged, wincing a little as he felt the still-tender flesh around his eye.

    "The healing trance I did on the way back from Dantooine helped. You think this was bad, it was worse before," Jacen tried to joke. Tenel's worry cut through his bravado as he looked at her in the Force, and they held hands as she looked intently at him.

    "You are hurt. And not just outwardly," Tenel said, softly, and Jacen took a deep, shuddering breath. Of all of his friends, Tenna was the one who could see through him the most clearly - which was just one of the reasons why he loved her so.

    "The fighting was ... it wasn't Jedi. It wasn't noble - we just slaughtered these enslaved reptoids the Vong were using as cannon fodder. We managed to protect most of the refugees who were stuck on Dantooine; I guess we made a difference for them. But - it was just ... so pointless, all the killing," Jacen tried to explain.

    He wiped at his eyes - carefully, in the case of his left one - and mumbled, "And then I went and got captured on Belkadan. The Vong tried to implant me with a slave seed ... like the people they'd enslaved there. They felt sick, muted, through the Force ... so off. And in the end, I couldn't do anything to help them, either."

    Tenel's warmth through the Force helped Jacen feel a little better, and she turned his face to hers. "Listen to me, Jacen. You cannot save everyone. From everything Master Skywalker, and my parents, have taught me about being a Jedi - about anyone who stands up to assist those who cannot help themselves - even the smallest effort matters. Failure in the course of an attempt is, at least, not a failure because of a lack of effort," she said.

    "Tenel ... thank you. For believing in me," Jacen said, smiling a little. His lips twisted as he added, "I don't know if I can believe in myself right now. I followed my vision, and all it got me was defeated, tortured, and beaten up."

    "The Force is just one aspect of who we are, Jacen. If we cannot find the answers we need within it, then we must look elsewhere - to each other, for example," Tenel said in a gentler voice than she usually employed.

    Jacen looked at her - really looked at her - and whispered, "You've always been the one who steadied me. You keep me standing when I can't find solid ground, and right now ... I don't know if I can trust myself. I can't even trust the Force, and that ... that scares me."

    He shuddered at the admission; at how the idea that the one constant in his life, the energy field that was as much a sense to him as his sight or hearing, could be wrong, or incomplete.

    Tenel Ka put her arm around Jacen's shoulder, and just let him lean on her.

    For the moment, the nearness of the girl he loved was enough to keep the memories and the fear at bay.

  13. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008

    Chapter 24: 25.6 ABY: Galactic City, Coruscant:

    Jorm Alvic had come up through the post-Imperial media scene with a lot of hard work, a bit of luck, and trusting his gut instinct - all that, and befriending a Chevin who had the strongest moral sense of any reporter in the modern era.

    Whether Perre Needmo came from a family of slavers whose deeds he felt he had to atone for, or he was just legitimately disgusted with the injustices in the galaxy, the Chevin really cared about making a difference in the galaxy. The fact that he was willing to work within the system to do just that sometimes hampered his efforts, but nobody could point digits and say that Perre was a hypocrite.

    So, when Perre approached his human Coruscant U. media classmate about approaching HNE with the idea for an investigative series, Jorm had jumped on the chance. It'd taken a lot of hard work, sometimes risky - the galaxy had only been at peace for six years, and there were still brush wars in a hundred different corners, not to mention the return of the Mandalorians. But during the last decade, the Perre Needmo Newshour had earned a remarkable array of awards, and more importantly, a reputation for fairness and truth.

    With all of that in mind, Jorm - now the assistant producer on the Newshour, and more importantly, the sentient whom Perre trusted to gauge the sincerity and legitimacy of interview offers - had been wary about the cryptic com message he'd found on his answering machine. The timing was suspicious enough, what with the newsfeed reporters running like scared nuna to follow up on the fallout of what was being called "the emergent invasion by mysterious extragalactic invaders."

    Uine wants us to do interviews with refugees from Dubrillion and Dantooine, get a feel for the average sentient's angle on things. Which we want to do ... but if this other offer is right, we could have a key lead story ... if it's right, Jorm thought, waiting outside the cantina where his contact had asked him to meet.

    His instincts were screaming that this was a set-up. The contact was too highly-ranked in the NRDF to be unaware of the risks in talking with the media, and his fairly unique situation put the contact in a politically precarious situation in light of the current conflict between the NRDF and the Chief of State's office.

    But Jorm couldn't risk blowing this off ... especially if it led to scooping the sludgefeeds with what his contact had described as "potentially a history-making story."

    Jorm's wrist-chrono ticked over; it was 17:00 hours. He walked in, letting his vision adjust to the dimmer light and his nose deal with the stench of t'bac and "legal" spice; Janson's Folly wasn't much different from other cantinas, in those regards.

    Except that it was a pilot's bar. Sometimes frequented by some very big names, galactically speaking.

    Such as, say, Keyan Farlander, commanding officer of the NRDF cruiser Mon Adapyne, and part-time Jedi Knight ...

    Jorm found Farlander - now with greying brown hair, wearing a simple jacket over what looked like the shirt and pants of an NRDF officer's uniform - sitting in a booth near the back of the room. The emitter dish of a lightsaber was visible just beneath the edge of Farlander's jacket, and he nodded as Jorm sat across the booth from him.

    "General. An honor - and something of a surprise. I'd have thought that the NRDF would be ... ah, discouraged from speaking with the media, even to share a message, given the current situation," Jorm asked, choosing his words carefully.

    Farlander just smiled for a moment. It was a friendly enough smile, but with a hint of a dangerous edge that Jorm suspected had heralded the death of more than one TIE pilot.

    After a sip of his beverage, he said, his Rimborn Agama
  14. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: Double-post ... [face_blush]:p
  15. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008

    Chapter 25: 25.6 ABY: Jedi Praxeum, Yavin 4, Gordian Reach, Outer Rim Territories:

    If anyone had asked Zekk of Ennth what he really thought about Yavin 4, he would've made sure to speak his mind well out of earshot of his Jedi teachers.

    The fact was, he'd become a city boy a long time ago. Having escaped his volatile homeworld at a young age - and losing his parents - had taught Zekk to become adept at survival as he'd moved across the galaxy before finally settling on Coruscant for most of his formative years.

    All that travel had made the young Force-user decide that he rather liked the relative predictability of the climate of Core World ecumenopoli. Sure, Coruscant was more dangerous the lower you went, but so was Nar Shaddaa. One usually knew what the weather was going to be on such worlds - Coruscant's winters rarely became more than chilly, except at the polar regions, while the summers were warm but not horrendously hot.

    Yavin 4, on the other hand, was perennially moist. Almost worse than the highsummer stickiness of humidity clinging to ones' Jedi robes (and Zekk was eternally grateful to Master Skywalker for not mandating such garb except during high ceremonies), was the cold wetness of what passed for winter on the jungle moon. Granted, Yavin shone with life in the Force, but unlike duracrete and plasteel, life was messy and wet and complicated.

    Probably why I've never understood Jacen's menagerie, Zekk thought, bringing his XJ-3 in from his latest mission. As one of the most senior apprentices, and one used to working alone in covert ops, he'd been asked by the Masters Solusar to double-check little-known hyperspace routes into and out of the Gordian Reach in case Yavin had to be evacuated in a hurry.

    The very fact that Kam and Tionne Solusar, of all beings, were making emergency evacuation preparations had driven home the urgency of the new threat sweeping across the Outer Rim and toward the Core. The Yuuzhan Vong sounded like a threat specifically created by a vindictive universe to target the Jedi - Force-resistant pain addicts with a violent streak who thought nothing of enslaving innocents.

    He flinched involuntarily at the memory of how much like a flitgnat Vilas had seemed to him, during their final duel aboard the Shadow Academy ...

    No, even without the Force, I think I have too much of an idea of the Yuuzhan Vong to be comfortable, Zekk admitted, letting the maintenance crew work on his ship while he went to get cleaned up and changed into fresh clothes. By the time he felt presentable again - using Force-trances to get by on extended hyperspace mapping duties worked for extending field viability, but an X-Wing wasn't known for its refreshers - he'd checked the ultra-high-priority message he'd received from Master Skywalker.


    I'm sorry to ask you to take on another assignment so soon after your work triple-checking the hyperspace routes through the Reach. I, and the other Masters, are very grateful for all your hard work, especially on an assignment that while producing useful data, may ultimately be unnecessary,
    the Master had opened his request with.

    Zekk hoped Master Skywalker was right; if Yavin was hit by the Yuuzhan Vong, it could be disastrous, and having a variety of hyperspace routes for a quick escape was just part of what the Order would need to survive being hunted. They needed boltholes, reliable supply sources, trustworthy contacts ...

    OK, now I'm thinking too much like the street kid I was. But make some notes just in case, Zekk reminded himself, turning back to his datapad as he walked to Master Skywalker's office.

    However, as the coding on this message indicates, we need you for a very critical - and, to be honest, personal - duty. My family's recent trip to Polis Massa uncovered the truth a
  16. Lady_Jedi93

    Lady_Jedi93 Jedi Knight star 4

    May 11, 2010
    Still reading and enjoying :)
  17. whateveritis12

    whateveritis12 Jedi Knight star 3

    Nov 29, 2008
    Can we call Jaina a self-centered b with an itch? Oh I know where she's coming from. She's found something that feels like a calling and she thinks that Leia and Mara want to rain on her parade. But she was also real quick to jump down their throats when all they wanted for her was to think past the war and to her future. Both of them had to work through their own focus on a single goal and block everything out phases in their lives (Leia in the rebellion after Alderaan and Mara working for the Emperor and partially during TTT). They know just how quick someone can get burnt out like that and they don't want her to go through the same thing.

    Oh there is definitely something in her argument when she says that she wants to control her own future, but she's still only 16 and Leia and Mara both have only the best intentions in mind.
  18. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    whatever: Jaina's presentation of her argument definitely needs refinement, to be sure. :p

    Part of the problem is that she hasn't yet learned that the grass isn't always greener; she's done very well with the Rogues, succeeding remarkably (taking out an entire Yuuzhan Vong cruiser analogue at Dubrillion by herself). Unlike Jacen and Anakin at Dantooine, however, Jaina's yet to see the real cost of war ... but she will eventually. [face_worried]

    Another issue is that she's got that tunnel vision going, and she hasn't been sufficiently distracted to face the fact that she can have a casual life, even during wartime. That'll change ... ;)

    - Later, [face_peace]
  19. whateveritis12

    whateveritis12 Jedi Knight star 3

    Nov 29, 2008
    Yeah I figured that. She's too into herself, her own success, and her past knowledge of how things went down in her previous escapades when she was younger that she doesn't know just how horrific the Vong actually are. Cause let's face it, she has lead a very privileged life and all those little adventures she went on growing up, while hard, isn't campared to what the Vong are and definitely didn't prepare her to deal with adversity along with a real life.

    I'm going to have to predict a breakdown by her that will rival her breakdown in the main books. Well maybe not that bad but she will make everyone around her nervous.
  20. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008

    Chapter 26: 25.6 ABY: Offices of Perre Needmo Newshour, HNE Corporate Headquarters, Coruscant:

    "Wait - wait, you want us to do a location broadcast?" Horst Uine - a rather small, rodent-faced bureaucrat of a human, and the chief producer of the Newshour - wheezed at the weekly planning meeting.

    Perre's snout twitched in good humor, and the middle-aged Chevin anchorman chuckled as he replied, "Come now, Horst. You know our best work is done in the field. And the planet in question is a beautiful world out in the Mid Rim. If you're worried about danger - to us or the equipment - it's in the complete other direction than the invasion corridor."

    "It's not the expenditure, Perre. You're worth every centicred, you know that - but I'm talking about the topic. I mean, seriously, Alvic, so what if some Senator from the Clone Wars turns up alive? We know Amidala's death was suspicious, sure, but she was known to use decoys. She's a Cresh-list mention at best," Uine said, turning to his assistant producer with a disapproving frown.

    Jorm Alvic took a deep breath; he'd practiced his pitch several times, and run it past Perre before the meeting. "First, Princess Leia Organa-Solo contacted us about interviewing ex-Senator Amidala, Horst. Second, there's a ton of scuttlebutt going around Naboo about giving Amidala a huge welcome back party - I mean, planetary holiday size, shutting down the starports, Queen Kylama presenting Amidala with the key to Theed, BIG stuff. Third, look at this holo my source passed along from Yavin," he said, giving Uine a datapad.

    Uine examined the holo, raising an eyebrow, and finally nodded. "OK, so she looks a lot like Skywalker and the Princess ... wait a minute ..." he said, looking up at Alvic with growing surprise.

    Alvic nodded, smiling a little. "You see it too. The resemblance - between Amidala and the Princess, especially - is unmistakable. And fourth, the person who passed that on to me is a member of the Jedi Order. You know how infrequently they talk to the public ... or go behind the New Republic press apparatus," he said.

    Uine finally nodded. "OK, so Amidala's big news. Organa-Solo's no small-time politico, though, even if she's out of the COS office ... what's in this for her?" he probed.

    Jorm and Perre exchanged a subtle glance, and Jorm said, "Scroll through that datapad some more."

    Uine looked doubtful, but did as Jorm advised. The producer read through the note from Leia Organa-Solo, his eyes growing wider, and he looked over the device at Perre. "Backstory behind the fall of the old Jedi Order ...?" he said, sounding stunned.

    "The very fact that Vader's daughter was willing to set up this meeting, especially about a topic that she's publicly said time and again pains her - and understandably so - speaks volumes as to its authenticity and importance, Horst. I'm telling you, if we let this drop, we're going to both do a disservice to journalism, and insult some very powerful people, who lose nothing by going to another news outlet," Perre said, sincerity in each of his words.

    Uine pulled a handkerchief from his shirt pocket and dabbed his forehead. "OK, so we're agreed this is legit and worth our time. But you still think Naboo's a good place for the interview?" he asked, as the meeting broke.

    "One of the first lessons of real journalism, Horst - go where the story is," Perre chuckled amicably.

    "Besides, who wants to miss a party this big?"

    Theed, Naboo, Mid Rim:

    I didn't think it'd be this hard ...

    Padme' tried to keep tears from her eyes as the Lambda-class shutt
  21. FredH

    FredH Jedi Youngling

    Aug 6, 2003
    I've just discovered (and been enjoying) Amethyst of Sernpidal and The Droid Hegemony. Have you posted anywhere a list of your Braddockverse stories (since I see there are others), or of the rough order in which they should be read?
  22. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    FredH: Thanks for reading. :D

    Unfortunately, I don't have an easily-accessible list of my stories. :( But I can give a rough idea of what order they should be read in.

    The major plot beats are in Amethyst, followed by The Suppression Crusades (which I need to update soon [face_blush]). Crusades can be found here:

    After that, it's mostly a lot of one-shots, but I'm in the process of rewriting most of those (many of them will be incorporated into Amethyst as it proceeds, since they were vignettes set during the Vong War). Also, there are several longer pieces set around the Legacy of the Force timeframe, but those also will be rewritten.

    - Thanks for reading, [face_peace]

  23. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    Chapter 27: 25.6 ABY: Varykino, Lake Country, Naboo, Chommel Sector, Mid Rim Territories:

    It wasn't, perhaps, the most magnificent lakeside villa Luke had seen - there were some rather pretentiously overdone ones on several Core worlds that outsized and outshone the place he and his kin would be staying at while they met with the cast and crew of the Perre Needmo Newshour.

    But there's a sense of connection to this place ... he thought, thanking the gondolier as he finished rowing the boat containing Luke, Mara, Lyska, Mother, Zekk, and Artoo across the lake from the landing pad where the Falcon and Mother's shuttle, the Vine Tiger, had been parked. Two other gondolas contained Han, Leia, Jacen, Anakin, Tahiri (who'd asked to stay with the Skywalkers and Solos while Tionne finished referencing Naboo historical information), Threepio, Chewie, and the Noghri.

    "It feels like ... like I'm coming back to somewhere I knew, once, when I was little. But I'd never been off of Nam Chorios before Dad found me," Lyska said, blushing a little until the adults gave her reassuring looks.

    "The Force does that, sometimes - draws connections to places that may not be so important to us in this life, but that are important to us in ways we don't understand. Varykino was where your grandparents first really connected. Right, Mom?" Luke asked his mother as he helped the others disembark.

    "And where we were married. It was very kind of the Naboo government to cede ownership of the villa to our family. I think - I hope - you'll all find it as welcoming as I did," Mom said, smiling in greeting as the chief of staff greeted them at the main doorway. He was a human man, his skin tanned and weathered with the evidence of years of working outdoors, his thinning black hair trimmed above the ear, and he wore a simple work coverall, yet he carried himself with dignity befitting a royal butler.

    "M'Lady - Masters Jedi, Your Highnesses, Captain Solo, and other gentles. I am Aulrik Vaeth, chief caretaker of Varykino. We have prepared the villa for your stay, and will be on hand if you need us - otherwise, we will stay out of your way. Lady Amidala, we have received a transmission about impending visitors ...?" Vaeth said, nodding for two human youths who looked like his sons to help the new arrivals with their luggage.

    "Thank you, Mr. Vaeth. When Mr. Needmo and his news crew arrive, please make them welcome, and let us know when they arrive, regardless of the hour," Mom said, and Vaeth nodded as the guests found their way through the villa.

    That was when it hit Luke - a strange sort of stretched feeling, like his senses were being pulled in several directions, and he walked through one of the bedrooms to a porch with a stunning overlook of the lake.

    The wind blew his braid over his right ear - not his braid, truthfully, but Luke knew instinctively whose shoes he was standing in ... or rather, whose shoes he stood near.

    A sandy-blond-haired young man, barely more than a boy, with blue eyes both haunted and hopeful, stood to Luke's right, wearing a simple shirt, pants, and boots ... his hands clasped behind him in a gesture that Luke felt a grim chill at.

    The younger man smiled sadly, looking over at his son, then seemed to look through Mara as she unpacked her and Luke's suitcases on the bed - and Anakin Skywalker turned back to Luke with a now-bemused expression. "You really went and married her, after all?" the former Darth Vader joked.

    "Do you really think it's appropriate to be making jibes? If Mother knew you were here -" Luke started to chide. He caught himself, taking a deep breath, and flinched when a lifetime's worth of sadness flickered in his father's semi-translucent eyes.

    The Padawan-avatar of Anakin flickered, growing a mere few years older - now clad in leather as much as Jedi rob
  24. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008
    Chapter 28: 25.6 ABY: Varykino, Naboo, Chommel Sector, Mid-Rim:

    Tahiri took a deep breath, sampling the various and different scents carried off the lake she and Anakin were walking beside. The beach was pretty, and there was a greater sense of calm here than on Yavin - Naboo wasn't as dangerous, but then, the lake country wasn't jungle, either, she reminded herself.

    Dummy's as tense as if we were walking near pirahna beetles, though, the Tatooine-born girl worried, squeezing Anakin's hand and radiating reassurance and comfort. He just smiled back at her, grateful and happy ... but still quiet.

    They found a patch of grass to sit on, and Anakin finally spoke. "I'm really glad you came here with Tionne. I know we didn't get a lot of chances to talk ... y'know, after Dantooine," he said, looking at Tahiri with embarrassment.

    Tahiri nodded; Anakin had been busy with debriefings about the fight on Dantooine. But that'd been about a week ago, and he'd always been tense when they'd been able to talk. She'd been frustrated and worried when Anakin wouldn't just say what was going on with him, but that wasn't all that weird - Anakin was hard to get words out of on the best day.

    So, Tahiri decided yelling at Anakin wouldn't help, not this time. She gave his hand another squeeze and said, "I'm here to talk about ... anything. I mean, I know I wasn't at Dantooine, but if you need someone to just listen -"

    "'Ri," Anakin said - and there was a tone, underneath his laughing teasing, that made Tahiri stop.

    He sounded ... and felt ... wounded, and Tahiri shivered with worry as Anakin looked in her eyes.

    His expression wasn't fear, not exactly - not of her, but for her, Tahiri could tell that much.

    And there was more, but she wasn't entirely sure what all that meant. She wasn't sure even Anakin knew yet.

    So she just put her arms around him, and he leaned his head on her shoulder and started to talk in a soft whisper.

    "Thank you. Just ... thank you. For being here. I ... Naboo's pretty, but it's ... I can feel his presence, like some really old perfume of my mom's making me remember when I was at the Imperial Palace, but not in a good way," Anakin began.

    Tahiri tried not to tense up at the mention of him, since she knew exactly whom 'Kin was talking about.

    She'd only seen the face in Anakin's mind how many times - mostly the black helmet, but sometimes yellow and red eyes beneath a hood, in a molten-lava backdrop.

    "I shouldn't be so judgmental - he came back to the light. I know he's not ... it's just, fighting those reptoids reminded me of when I saw Artoo's footage of the 501st's attack on the old Temple, and ..." Anakin continued, his voice getting kind of tight and low and scared.

    "Hey. Hey. You were fighting to save refugees, remember? You were saving lives," Tahiri said, making Anakin look her in the eye.

    She took a deep breath, took his face in her hands, and held his eyes with hers. "You are Anakin Solo, OK? A good guy, my best friend, and a Jedi. You do what Jedi should do. Don't ever forget that," Tahiri insisted, hugging Anakin fiercely.

    "I - I won't, 'Ri. Thanks," 'Kin kind of laughed, kind of hiccuped, and he hugged her back. Something kind of unknotted inside him, and Tahiri felt happier; Anakin started to heal, a little more.

    Their bond got a little deeper and wider, as they sat back and looked at each other again.

    It was like she was seeing him for the first time again - he'd grown taller, gotten more muscle ... changed, as physically as he had mentally. And Tahiri could tell Anakin saw something different in her.

    There was something else in Anakin's eyes, something that almost made Tahiri blush - and Anakin did blush when he sensed what she was thinking - but they just laughed and leaned against each other.

    For right now, that was
  25. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 18, 2008

    Chapter 29: 25.6 ABY: Outskirts of Naboo System, Chommel Sector, Mid-Rim:

    Betsy's Lambda-class shuttle, renamed the Angel's Wing after it had been officially ceded to her by the Order (and repainted with a feather on the tail) reverted to realspace as its pilot concentrated in the Force.

    "Blast. She's beat us here," Betsy muttered, frowning as she oriented the ship toward Naboo. "Neal, please recalculate a microjump. I'm going to have to have you, Artoo, and Anakin look at the hyperdrive after we deal with Sing - we should've come out of hyperspace closer to Naboo."

    "Freweep dwooo," Neal trilled sadly, plugging back into the navicomputer. Betsy glanced over at her passenger, daring Kyp to say something, but he just shrugged.

    "Hey, you had him calculate the jump from Oovo on the fly. You're within the right system - given that we just jumped close to half the galaxy's length, you did well," Kyp said, sincerity filling his Force presence as he smiled.

    Betsy nodded gratefully, giving Kyp a more polite look. "Thank you. I should study Force piloting some time. Although I don't trust myself to navigate instinctively like you do," she said, focusing on a distant blue dot before the stars lengthened again.

    Kyp chuckled, leaning back in his chair as he nodded. "It's something of a knack, I've found. I think my powers developed that way more because of the circumstances in which I realized I had the Force. The Maw was not a fun place to get out of," he said, becoming grim for a moment.

    Betsy almost wanted to reach out and pat Kyp's shoulder, so severe was his emotional shift. But his usual confident smile returned quickly. "So, since you did such a good job getting us here in quick time, how about letting me have first crack at the dark-sider?" Kyp quipped.

    "You're assuming that the Skywalkers, Solos, and Zekk don't stop her first. I made sure to call through the Force and warn them when we stopped to check our position. But by all means, if Aurra Sing is still a threat, go ahead and fight her," Betsy replied, smirking to hide her frustration at Kyp's evasiveness.

    There's no denying that he's attractive, but he keeps trying to hide his feelings ... there are games, and then there's petulance. I know which I won't put up with, Betsy thought, turning back to the control panel.

    Still, it was impossible to deny that Kyp was handsome, and brave ... and incredibly bloody arrogant.

    I hope there's none of these inane games going on on Naboo ... it'll be dangerous enough with Sing ...

    Lake Country, Naboo:

    Aurra had waited until later in the evening - after her potential threats had had dinner, and most of them had gone to bed. She was inching her way forward beneath a sensor net on the hill behind Varykino, its invisible beams clear to her goggles.

    I'll have to hit fast and get out; too many strong Force-sensitives, even if they're still just Jedi ... she thought, assessing the data her biocomputer was accumulating for her. Aurra was under no illusions about how dangerous this was; stupid though he might be, Skywalker was still the most powerful and skilled Jedi of the modern era.

    And his wife was one of the few beings dangerous enough to earn Aurra's respect, while the rest of the family were almost as formidable. Even Zekk of Ennth, apprentice though he might be, wasn't to be underestimated - he HAD been the Darkest Knight of the Shadow Academy, Aurra's updated files had noted.

    Maybe not the girl - Skywalker's Padawan? Jade's? Cuf's data didn't include anything on her. But they'll probably keep her out of the way, which is just as well ... Aurra thought, reaching a window to one of the unoccupied bedrooms. She ac