Beyond Enter the Foreign (time travel AU - Anakin Sr., Ben, Tahiri, Allana, OCs & more) - author news 6/15

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ViariSkywalker, Jan 30, 2010.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Darth_Cable ? Yep, you?re on the list! :)

    JediFalcon ? Great update and loved the way Ben reflected on how Tatooine was a turning point for his heritage.

    --Thanks! In some ways, it really does seem like everything comes back to Tatooine. [face_thinking]

    Rew ? So I was bored last night, thought the title of this one seemed interesting, clicked and started skimming. The next thing I knew it was well past my bedtime, and I was completely hooked.

    --Yes! Caught another one. :p Welcome to the craziness, and I hope it keeps you hooked. ;) I can?t tell you how many times this exact same thing has happened to me when I was just casually perusing the fanfic boards, lol.

    Might I be added to the PM list please?

    --You are added!

    Anyway, Anakin sure is going through a hard time right now, isn't he? I'm sure he's going to have some choice words for good ol' Palpatine when (if) he returns to his own time. *just got a mental image of a Millennium Falcon/DeLorean time machine hybrid*

    --*pictures the DeLorean Falcon time machine* [face_laugh] Nice!

    I think the part I'm looking forward to most is when Anakin and Allana meet face-to-face. From what I've seen, Allana is already showing signs of being very spunky, outspoken, and even crudely blunt at times. Putting in her in the same room with the man who is (however indirectly) responsible for her father turning into Darth Caedus--well, I suspect there will be fireworks.

    --Ooh, me too! Everything?s been so Anakin-Ben focused up until now, but I?m really looking forward to writing the interaction between Anakin and Allana. As for fireworks? I can guarantee there will be explosions of some kind in the next few chapters. [face_mischief]

    (As one who is an unabashed Jacen Solo fanboy, I'm looking forward to seeing how your Allana turns out.)

    --In some ways I?m still feeling out Allana?s character, and since I haven?t read any of the EU books after Revelation, I really am sorta winging it here. [face_blush] I figure she?s bound to be different from any canon version of Allana because the world she grew up in is so drastically altered, but I do want her to be recognizable as Jacen and Tenel Ka?s daughter and as a member of the Skywalker-Solo clan. So yeah! I hope you enjoy it! :D Let me know how I?m doing. ;)

    It is very depressing how this is a galaxy where Luke and Leia and Mara (and Han, I think?) are already dead.

    --Alas, I have this nasty habit of killing the characters I love. I am an angst monger, there?s no fighting it. [face_mischief] (And yes, Han is dead. :()



    Everyone -

    So I?ve hit a wall as far as DRL is concerned, and I place the blame on work. The ideas are all there, and even most of the scenes; it?s just working up the energy to turn it into a chapter that is lacking. I will try to get that going again so that you all can have a new chapter in early July. Thanks for being patient with me and hanging in there! [:D]
  2. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    I would like to thank everyone who nominated and voted for this story in the Beyond the Saga Fanfic Awards. It ended up tying for Most Underrated. :D

    I haven't forgotten about this; just haven't had much time for writing this summer. (Seems a little counterintuitive, doesn't it?) Rest assured, there will be more!

    Thanks again for the noms and the votes, guys! [:D]
  3. Bri_Windstar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2002
    star 4
    How have you not updated this in THREE MONTHS? That's so wrong. :( [face_frustrated]

    I knew Ben was going on the mission even before the Council started their meeting. Stubbornness seems to come with everyone in that family, even from people who marry into it. It's an attractant. :p

  4. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    I think Inception killed my muse. [face_whistling]

    Okay, not really. Honestly, I'm going to blame the sun. Darn thing drained all my energy this summer. :p I promise to do better! [face_batting]

    Lol, now let's just hope his stubbornness pays off. ;) [face_mischief]
  5. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Soooo... obviously I haven't updated in a while. :p I've had a lot of RL stuff going on, more so than usual. But I've decided to use this year's NaNoWriMo challenge as a way to jump start my creative juices and crank out all the chapters I've been depriving you of. We'll see how that goes. o_O

    Hopefully I'll have new chapters for you in early December, if not sooner. :D
  6. Bri_Windstar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2002
    star 4
  7. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Bri!! [:D]

    Miss you, chica! We need to get together again soonish. [face_batting]
  8. Bri_Windstar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2002
    star 4
    Alwayssssss! [face_batting] Voyage of the Dawn Treader is due out in Dec. You game?
  9. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
  10. DarthCambius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2007
    star 2
    please add me to your PM list - I like this story
  11. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    DarthCambius - You are on the PM list! Glad you're enjoying it so far! I hope to have a new chapter up in December. :)
  12. mavjade It's so Fluffy Fanfic & New Movies Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2005
    star 5
    So I was just randomly clicking around and stumbled on this story and I love it!! [face_love]

    I was so sad when we learned that Luke, Mara, Leia etc. were all dead. :_| But I really enjoyed Ben talking about them and I especially loved the little part when Ben asked R2 to show holos of Luke. It made me want to hug Ben and R2 so badly!

    I hope DRL is treating you better and that you'll be able to do an update soon! Would you mind sending a PM my way when you do?? Thanks so much!!

    =D=
  13. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    mavjade - So I was just randomly clicking around and stumbled on this story and I love it!!

    --Welcome! And thank you! :)

    I was so sad when we learned that Luke, Mara, Leia etc. were all dead. But I really enjoyed Ben talking about them and I especially loved the little part when Ben asked R2 to show holos of Luke. It made me want to hug Ben and R2 so badly!

    --Believe me, it was equally saddening to kill them off, even if it was offscreen. :( And I felt especially sad for Artoo. Is that weird? :p

    I hope DRL is treating you better and that you'll be able to do an update soon! Would you mind sending a PM my way when you do?? Thanks so much!!

    --You are added to the PM list. And I'll actually be updating in a few minutes. :D
  14. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    ~~

    Chapter Ten


    “You’re sure you want to do this?”

    Arden looked back at the now empty common area of the safe house. Ulin had already said his goodbyes and retreated to the kitchen. Sure, staying behind would definitely be the smart thing to do. But the right thing? She wasn’t so sure. Besides, she’d told Elias she would stick with him, even if it meant going on a crazy mission to yet another Sith world.

    “I’m sure,” Arden replied, slipping her hand into Elias’s. “Can’t let you go running all over the galaxy without me.”

    Elias smiled. “No, we can’t have that.”

    Myri interrupted by placing a hand on Arden’s shoulder. “All right, kids, let’s head out. Don’t wanna miss our own party.”

    They followed Myri outside, back into the heavy Nar Shaddaa darkness. Without the haze of rain, Arden could make out a bit more of the moon’s skyline. It wasn’t distinctive or remarkable in any way. She noticed more people roaming the walkways, and she wondered if any of them could be spies for the Sith. She assumed that was part of the reason why Myri had sent Kohr, Ames, and Allana on ahead to the ship.

    If truth be told, Arden didn’t really know much about the intelligence business. She generally just followed orders and collected her credits.

    Myri’s ship was similar in design to the Daybreak, but it appeared to be a newer – and smaller – model. Arden wasn’t an expert on ships either, but she knew enough to recognize that this ship was built for stealth and probably had a few modifications to boot. As she walked behind Elias and Myri into the secluded hangar, she noticed the cockpit lights were already on. Kohr was sitting in the pilot’s chair, flipping switches overhead.

    “All aboard!” Myri said in an almost song-like manner. Arden smiled at the woman’s apparent cheerfulness as she followed Elias up the open ramp.

    “What kind of freighter is this?” Arden asked.

    Elias smiled over his shoulder. “YT-5500 bomber. Kind of like a freighter and warship in one neat little package.”

    Arden looked at the curved interior walls, admiring their sleekness. “How’d she get her hands on one of these?”

    “Myri’s got quite a few connections.”

    She decided not to ask what kinds of connections those were. “It’s nice,” she said.

    “Thanks.”

    Arden twisted around to see Myri closing the hatch behind them. She tilted her cap to the side and patted the walls with a reverence usually reserved for religious ceremonies.

    “She’s a good, fast ship,” Myri continued. “We’ll be a little cramped with six of us, but we’ll make good time.” She eyed the open cockpit door. “Excuse me while I regain control of my ship.”

    A moment later, Arden heard a disgruntled noise that sounded just like Kohr. When she and Elias approached the cockpit, they found Kohr sprawled in the co-pilot’s chair, a very indignant look on his face.

    Myri glanced over at the boy. “Oh, come on, Tredo. Did you really think I was going to let you fly?”

    Kohr crossed his arms over his chest and sank lower in the seat. “Elias let me fly Ulin’s ship.”

    “For maybe five minutes,” Elias interjected.

    Myri swept a stray lock of blonde hair behind her ear and readjusted her cap. “This ship is my baby, Tredo. And there’s only one other person I’d let fly her.”

    “Who?” Kohr asked, waving one hand in the air.

    Myri leaned back in her seat and grinned as the ship’s engines came to life. “My big sister.”

    Kohr groaned.

    Arden leaned toward Elias. “There’s two of them?” she whispered.

    “Oh yeah,” he answered. “You’ll get to meet her pretty soon, too.”

    “That’s right,” Myri said from her chair. “Syal is coming to Vjun with us.”

    As Nar Shaddaa gave way to the darkness of space, Arden shook her head and wondered if she would ever be able to keep up with the Jedi and all their allies.

    ~~


    Anakin stood over Ben’s shoulder, watching the stars rush past. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been standing there. Five minutes, maybe ten. Neither Ben nor Valin spared him so much as a glance. There hadn’t been a whole lot of eye contact since they’d boarded the Daybreak.

    Anakin finally broke the silence. “Can I talk to you for a minute?”

    Ben exchanged a look with Valin. “Sure,” he said. As he pulled himself out of his chair, he placed a hand on Valin’s shoulder. “Take over for me?”

    “You got it, boss.”

    Anakin led Ben back to the dejarik board where they’d had their first conversation as grandfather and grandson. He sat down on one side and waited for Ben to take the other. Ben was noticeably slow to do so.

    “I take it this is going to be more than a minute.”

    Anakin shrugged. “Probably.”

    Ben propped one arm up on the table. “Okay. What’s on your mind?”

    Once again, Anakin found himself awkwardly silent in the presence of his grandson. He knew what he wanted to say, but as it was in his many debriefings before the Jedi Council, he could already feel the right words slipping away.

    “Do the Jedi in your time… do they have a lot of visions?”

    Ben looked him square in the eyes. “Are you having a lot of visions?”

    Straight to the point, as always.

    “I’ve had them before. This one is new.” His thoughts returned to that day, not so long ago, when he’d sat in the shade of Yoda’s meditation chamber and listened as the old master advised him to let go of Padmé. To let go of the child – the children – growing inside her.

    Ben was not Yoda, and he was not Obi-Wan or Mace Windu or any of the old Jedi. He was Anakin’s flesh and blood. He would understand, wouldn’t he? He would know what to do.

    “What do you see?” Ben asked.

    Anakin closed his eyes. “I dream of a cliff. I can’t see anything around it, but I know I’m standing on the edge. And I can hear water, like there’s an ocean below me. Padmé is there, somewhere in the darkness, calling to me. She’s… she’s dying, and I can’t go to her. And then I fall.”

    Anakin opened his eyes to find Ben staring at him.

    “Is that all?”

    Anakin’s gaze fell to the tabletop. “I think I’m jumping.”

    “Off the cliff?”

    Anakin nodded.

    “And you’re worried it will happen for real.”

    “Yes.”

    Ben let out a long breath. “And the visions you said you had before. Did they all come true?”

    “More or less. With my mother it was almost exactly as I saw it in my dreams. She was tortured by the sandpeople, and she ended up dying in my arms.”

    “Did you…?” Ben stopped and swallowed before continuing. “Did you see anyone else? In your other visions?”

    Anakin rubbed his left thumb against the edge of the table. “Up until a few days ago, I kept dreaming of Padmé’s death.” He looked up at Ben, and he couldn’t help the cynicism that crept into his tone. “And she is dead, isn’t she?”

    Ben’s response was barely above a whisper. “Yes, she is.”

    “So is this my death I’m seeing? Is it my turn now?” Anakin stood up and paced across the room. He wanted to hurl something, rail against the Force for not being clearer, or perhaps for being too clear in its message.

    Ben ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “I don’t know. Do you honestly expect me to know? Like I’m the authority on visions? My dad’s the one who had them all the time, not me.”

    Anakin stopped pacing. He’d done it again, letting his emotions take over. How was he ever going to deal with the dark side if he kept running to other people to solve his problems?

    “I’m sorry,” he said after a moment. “I just thought maybe you’d have some insight that I missed.”

    “You want my insight? Okay.” Ben turned in his chair to face Anakin. “I believe in visions, and I believe in the Force; but I also believe in making choices. If you don’t want to go flying off some cliff, then don’t jump.”

    “It’s not that simple.”

    “It is that simple, Anakin. Maybe the Force has some grand plan for us, but we still have to choose. Don’t try to tell me this is the only way things could have turned out. Because if it is, then I’d say to hell with the Force.”

    Anakin was dumbstruck for a moment as he stared unblinking at his grandson. “I’m glad Obi-Wan isn’t around to hear you say that.”

    Ben scowled. “I don’t mean it literally. That’s my point: we all have our choices to make, and the future is not set in stone. The Force guides us, but it doesn’t control us. We’re supposed to control it.”

    Anakin felt himself deflate, as though all his anger and frustration had lost their power. Instead of feeling less burdened, he felt emptier, less sure of himself. Everything Ben said to him made sense. So why did he feel worse off?

    The sound of footsteps distracted him for a moment. He turned to see Valin entering the room.

    “We’re coming up on the others,” he said, looking at Ben. “You want to do the honors, or should I?”

    Ben stood up and glanced at Anakin. “We’re finished here. I’ll be right there.”

    ~~


    Allana Djo liked to think of herself as a reasonable, patient human being who others saw as wise beyond her years. Sure, she was prone to occasional bouts of adolescent moodiness, but at her core she was a calm, intelligent, introverted girl.

    At least that was what she liked to think.

    It didn’t help that for the last six months she’d been dragged all over the galaxy and handed off from one family friend to the next, all so that her cousin – her supposed master – could go gallivanting across Sith territory. Not to mention the latest injustice: being dropped in a hole for three days with Myri Antilles, who could be so unrelentingly cheerful at times that it made Allana want to gag. If she stopped to think about it, she knew it wasn’t Myri she was upset with, nor the fact that she’d had to spend three days listening to the woman’s wisecracks. It was Ben. It was always Ben.

    Allana stared at the wall opposite her, where Geridan Ames and Tredo Kohr were playing a children’s card game. “Ha!” Kohr shouted, slapping his hand down onto one of the cards before Geridan could even react.

    “Too slow,” Kohr added, sweeping a pile of cards toward him while Geridan shot Allana a sullen look.

    Allana shook her head, trying not to laugh at her friend’s misery. “Aren’t you supposed to be some kind of Jedi Knight? What kind of reflexes are those?”

    Geridan placed one hand over his heart and frowned. While he wasn’t looking, Kohr started to steal cards from his friend’s quickly-dwindling pile.

    “Hey!” Geridan turned and snatched his cards away, sending several flying through the air. “Cheater!”

    Kohr grinned and laid the rest of his cards on the deck. “I quit. This isn’t even a challenge.”

    Allana rolled her eyes as the boys started to argue over the game and Force knew what else. Boys could be so ridiculous sometimes.

    A soft clicking caught her attention, and Allana looked up to see Elias walking down the corridor. “Get your stuff together, kids. We’re coming up on the Daybreak.”

    Allana and the others moved out of the way as Elias stepped in front of the docking ring controls and began to tap in a combination. There was a hiss and clicking sound against the hull. Elias’s hand hovered over a lever just above the keypad. The ship’s comm unit buzzed.

    “Okay, they’re extending their docking tube.” Myri’s voice was calm. “Lock it in on my command.”

    Allana felt the faintest tremor as the docking tube – she assumed – made contact with the ring.

    “Lock.”

    Elias pulled down on the lever, and there was a clunk and an even louder hiss as the tube locked and pressurized. A moment later, someone was knocking on their door.

    Myri and Arden Veiss joined the rest of them at the docking ring as Elias pressed another button. The door slid open, and standing on the other side was Valin Horn, the stranger from the Heibic datatape, and Allana’s master, Ben Skywalker.

    Her cousin quirked one eyebrow and smirked. “Didn’t I tell you I’d be fine?”

    Elias shook his head before reaching out to embrace his friend, while Geridan and Kohr started talking over one another, each one claiming he’d known all along that Ben would make it out okay. Myri and Arden stood back, the former taking it all in with a wistful smile, the latter staring at the reunion a bit vacantly.

    As much as Allana tried to focus her attention on Ben and how he’d abandoned her six months ago to roam the stars, she couldn’t keep herself from glancing every few seconds at the stranger from Heibic, the one who had claimed to be Anakin Skywalker.

    She probably should have been deeply offended by the fact that this man was posing as her long-dead great-grandfather, but she wasn’t really. A little bothered by the fact that Ben had given him a lightsaber and let him tag along for the past few days? Yes. But she wasn’t offended. If anything, she was curious. She hadn’t met many legitimately crazy people in her fifteen years.

    “You all remember our guest,” Ben said, interrupting Allana’s thoughts with a gesture toward the imposter. “This is…” He hesitated before dropping his hand. “You know what? I’m tired of introducing everyone. You can introduce yourselves. Myri? Could I talk to you for a minute?”

    Myri pressed through the tightly packed group and gave Valin a friendly pat on the shoulder as she edged past him. She and Ben retreated to the Daybreak.

    The crazy stranger was forgotten for a moment as Allana stared at the back of Ben’s head. Six months and he hadn’t said a single word to her. He hadn’t tried to reach out mentally – hell, he hadn’t even looked at her. Allana’s fists curled around the fabric of her robe while she struggled to maintain her composure.

    It took a moment before she realized the man from Heibic was staring openly at her. While Elias, Geridan and the others gave Valin a proper greeting and listened to him talk about his children back on Tatooine, Allana took a few steps toward the stranger and held out her hand.

    “Hi,” she said. “I’m Allana.”

    The man looked somewhat more comfortable than he had on the security tape, but not by much. In fact, he looked a little sick. He reached out to take Allana’s hand; he wore a leather glove over his right hand, and his grip was strong.

    “Hello,” he said quietly. Allana liked his voice. He didn’t sound like a crazy person.

    He released her hand, but kept his extended for a microsecond longer than she did. She stared at him expectantly, waiting for the rest of his introduction.

    “Oh,” he said, realizing he’d left something out. “I’m Anakin.”

    Allana raised both eyebrows. “Anakin what?”

    He shrugged. “Just Anakin.”

    So was he telling the truth, or was he crazy and smart enough to try to hide it? Allana sighed. “That was my uncle’s name. And my great-grandfather’s. It’s a good name, I guess.”

    “My mom seemed to think so.”

    She saw the faint smile on his lips and realized he was trying to be funny. Strange, that she was already warming up to him. It usually took longer for that to happen.

    Or maybe I just like crazy people.

    Allana smiled back, and she felt something slip through the mental barriers she’d sensed around Anakin, something bright and happy and – she was a little embarrassed to admit it – kind of beautiful. It reminded her of her mother.

    “Well,” she said, “it’s nice to finally meet you, Anakin.”

    “It’s nice to finally meet you, too.” His smile grew until it lit up his whole face. “Allana.”

    ~~


    “What’s this about, Ben?”

    Ben motioned for Myri to join him inside the cockpit of the Daybreak, and once she was inside, he closed the door. Then he mentally counted to five before turning to face her.

    “I told you to leave her with Ulin.”

    Myri looked at him with a mixture of disbelief and annoyance before folding her arms across her chest and widening her stance. “You try telling a Solo what to do. We’re lucky she didn’t chase after you when you left in the first place. She doesn’t need a babysitter, Ben. She needs her master.”

    Ben shook his head and looked out at the stars. “Not you, too.”

    “Good, so I’m not the only one who’s telling you so.”

    “She’s my apprentice. Not yours, not Tahiri’s, and not anyone else’s. I want what’s best for her. Why is that so hard for everyone to understand?”

    Myri’s eyes widened for a second, a look that suggested he was losing it. “What’s got you all fired up?”

    Ben replayed the last part of the conversation in his head, groaned, then fell into the pilot’s seat. He covered his eyes with his hand and started to massage his forehead. “Nothing. I don’t know, I’m just tired.” He peeked at her from between two fingers. It seemed ridiculous that he should be mad at Myri Antilles, of all people. She was one of the most optimistic people he knew, and besides, non-Jedi allies were increasingly hard to come by. Alienating her now would accomplish nothing.

    “I’m sorry, Myri.”

    She gave him the same look she’d been giving him since he was a teenager, the one that told him exactly how juvenile his behavior was. “Apology accepted, kid. But don’t ever talk to me like I’m one of your students. I’m too old to put up with that stuff.”

    Ben laughed. “Why does everyone over thirty think they’re old?”

    She gave him an incredulous look. “What are you talking about? I’m not old.”

    Ben opened his mouth, thought better of it, and snapped it shut again. The Daybreak’s comm unit beeped with an incoming message, and Ben swiveled in his chair to check it out. “Looks like Syal is almost here. Tell her to open herself up to our frequency. She can stay on her ship while we go over the plan.”

    Myri winked and offered him a mock salute. “Aye aye, Captain.”

    Ben opened the cockpit door and headed back to Myri’s ship to gather the others. He found them where he’d left them, huddled around the mouth of the docking tube. The first thing he noticed was that Anakin had separated himself ever so slightly from the rest of the group; the second thing he noticed was that Allana was hovering close by, watching him.

    Or perhaps more accurately, watching over him. Ben sensed something strangely protective in her body language. Before he could reflect on it further, Elias turned to him and nodded.

    “Ready?” he asked.

    Ben looked around at the others. “Yeah. Let’s use the Daybreak’s main hold. This ship’s getting a bit cramped.”

    He avoided Allana’s gaze as he spun on one heel and went back through the tunnel. He knew she was mad at him, and she had every right to be. But that didn’t change what he had to do.

    One by one, the Jedi and their allies filtered into the common area and found seats where they could. Ben pulled the holodisc of Château Malreaux from his pocket and inserted it in the room’s holoprojector. An image of the estate materialized at the center of the room.

    “By now I think you all know the situation and what’s at stake. At this moment, there are nearly two dozen children being held on Vjun in this building.” Ben nodded toward the hologram. “Château Malreaux. About half of these children were kidnapped from the Denon enclave; the others were most likely picked up for their higher than average Force sensitivity. They are all part of some experiment being conducted by Doctor Gabriel Mezzon.”

    Elias made a very unhappy sound. “Mezzon’s alive?”

    Ben hesitated. Apparently Myri hadn’t told them everything about the Vjun project. Ben tried not to react to the pain he sensed in his friend. Instead, he focused his eyes on the hologram. “Yes, he’s alive.”

    Elias shook his head, more upset than Ben had seen him in years. “But we blew that whole place sky high! There’s no way he survived!”

    Ben was about to respond when Myri stepped forward. “I know it’s hard to accept, Elias, but the data from Ossus confirms it. Official reports, video logs… make no mistake, he is alive.” She glanced over at Ben. “However, there’s no evidence to suggest that any of his research survived the explosion on Yalena. You boys may not have killed him, but you definitely destroyed his work.”

    Elias rubbed a hand over his face and stared at the floor, defeated. It wasn’t exactly the mood Ben had been hoping to set before they even got to the actual rescue plan. He wished he could say he had been as affected by the news of the doctor’s survival, but it didn’t really surprise him. The Sith had a talent for surviving against impossible odds. It wasn’t the first time.

    “We can handle Mezzon,” Ben said firmly. “I’m not worried about that. What I am worried about is getting into this place and finding the kids. Now…” He rotated the hologram and enlarged an area at the base of the estate, where its rocky foundation met a body of water. “Château Malreaux butts up against this harbor. The coast is riddled with caves and tunnels. Most of them have collapsed, but Myri says there are a few that probably still lead directly into the cellars of the château. This place was once a very heavily fortified mansion, and I’m sure the Sith have made use of at least some of the old security systems. Those tunnels are our best hope of getting in without casualties.

    “Myri and Syal will provide cover from the air during our escape. Arden, you’re with Myri in her ship. Syal?”

    The ship’s comm crackled for a few seconds before a new voice filtered through. “I’m here, Ben.”

    “I want you to fly the Daybreak. We can leave your ship here and come back for it later.”

    “Oh, no worries; it’s just a rental.” Ben didn’t miss the sarcasm in her voice.

    “Right. So that leaves the rest of you to come with me. Once we’re inside, Elias and Valin will find the kids while we cover for them.” He raised his hands in the air and glanced around the room. “Any questions so far?”

    Kohr and Ames exchanged a somewhat bewildered look while the others shook their heads slowly. In the farthest corner of the room, Anakin’s face was unreadable as he continued to stare at the hologram.

    “Perfect,” Ben said. “Now, let’s go over specifics.”

    ~~


    Didn’t think I’d be going back there anytime soon.

    Anakin studied the hologram, looking for anything else that might have changed in the seventy years since Count Dooku made Château Malreaux his personal fortress. It was hard to tell from here; the image wasn’t as detailed as it could have been. Anakin had the feeling there would be an awful lot of improvisation once they hit the ground. He also had the feeling that Ben was perfectly aware of that fact.

    His grandson was going over the layout of the building with the others, but Anakin could still see so much of it in his mind’s eye. It had only been what, six months since he’d been there? Give or take. As for the collapsed tunnels, well… he wondered if Ben knew who to thank for that little inconvenience.

    His memory of Vjun was not an unpleasant one. He could still recall the powerful surge he’d experienced upon entering its atmosphere, the sound of the Force singing to him rather than whispering. Everything had been clearer, fresher, more potent. He remembered feeling invincible.

    The thought of it made him sick to his stomach. He wasn’t sure if it was guilt over experiencing the dark side so freely, or anticipation at the thought of returning to such a Force-rich world.

    Maybe it would be better for everyone if he sat this one out.

    No. They needed him, whether they realized it or not.

    He half-listened as Ben and Myri finished going over the plan with the others. The deep sense of foreboding he’d experienced on Tatooine – though it hadn’t really gone away – was growing stronger. Anakin closed his eyes and tried to trace the feelings to something tangible, some element of the future that might be causing it. But of course, the Force was reluctant to reveal anything other than the cliff and the water and Padmé’s desperate screams.

    I won’t jump, I won’t kill myself, just tell me what I’m supposed to do…

    When he opened his eyes, the room had started to clear. Ben had turned the holoproj off and was steering Allana in the direction of his private quarters. Curious, Anakin waited until they had moved out of sight to follow them. He ducked into the corridor and stilled his breathing, straining to hear the conversation between his two grandchildren.

    What?

    “Allana, keep your voice down. Just listen to me for a second—”

    “You think you can dump me on your friends for six months and then expect me to stay out of this?”

    “You’ve gone six months; I don’t think a few more hours will kill you.”

    “But it’s not just a few more hours! You never take me on missions! What’s the point of naming me your apprentice when you don’t even want me around?”

    “I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing it for you. I can’t keep you safe down there. You’re better off with Syal.”

    “Being useless!”

    “I told you, I need you to man the guns. There’s going to be a lot of enemy fire, and Syal will need help.”

    “Isn’t she an ace starfighter pilot?”

    “Aren’t you a Solo and a Djo and a Skywalker?”

    There was silence for a moment as Allana seemed to lose her momentum.

    “I’ve made my decision, Allana. You’re staying on the Daybreak, and that’s final.”

    Anakin straightened up as Allana stormed out of Ben’s room, not even giving him so much as a glance. A very tired-looking Ben followed a few seconds after, but he stopped upon seeing Anakin in the corridor.

    “You heard all that, I suppose?”

    Anakin nodded. “Sorry.”

    “Don’t worry about it. She’ll be fine in a day or two.” Ben leaned against the wall opposite Anakin and gave him a weak grin. “Teenagers are hell.”

    Anakin shook his head. “I know I was.”

    “I believe it.”

    Ben’s grin faltered for a moment as he looked down the corridor. “I don’t know how we got to this point,” he said with a sigh.

    “What do you mean?”

    “You know. She acts like I’m the enemy. Like I’m trying to be her father, and that’s not what I’m doing.”

    Anakin thought of Obi-Wan, of all the times they had bickered about training and missions and whether Anakin was ready to tackle a new challenge on his own. He thought of Obi-Wan alone in his hut on Tatooine and of black body armor and fire. His throat constricted as he tried to push the images away.

    “She loves you,” he said. “Don’t let her forget that you love her.”

    Ben stared at him, a wry expression spreading slowly across his face. “Part of me wants to ignore you. Maybe that’s my own rebellious streak showing through, huh?” He shook his head. “But you’re right. And it’s what I’ve been trying to do, but…”

    “There’s always that feeling,” Anakin murmured, “that you’re not doing enough.”

    Ben leaned his head back against the wall. “That you’ll never do enough.” He looked at Anakin through half-closed lids. “You’ve turned me into a moping, pathetic fool, Gramps.”

    Anakin was acutely aware that this might be the last moment of normalcy before everything went to hell. He tried to smile. “You’re welcome.”

    ~~


    The team of Jedi touched down a little more than a kilometer from Château Malreaux, landing in a deep depression that appeared to have been formed by whatever had caused the collapse of the surrounding caves. Myri and Ulin hadn’t had ample time to gather all the details of the Vjun countryside, so finding the right tunnel into the mansion was going to take a lot of guesswork.

    Ben waited for the others to disembark before he finally stepped off of the Daybreak. The air was cold, and there was a light drizzle that stung his skin like a thousand tiny needles. Acid rain. Perfect.

    If he was completely honest with himself – and he was trying to be – it wasn’t the rain or the cold or the gloominess of the planet that was putting him on edge. The whole planet was saturated in the dark side; every so often he caught a hint of something in the air, something that felt like madness, like everything he associated with the Sith. Myri said the people of this planet had attempted to enhance their Force-strong population with genetic experimentation, ultimately resulting in a near-global insanity. Sounded like the perfect place for Doctor Mezzon’s research.

    They had gone a few meters when Ben turned back to face the Daybreak. He pulled out his comlink. “If they spot you, find somewhere else to lay low. We’ll call when we’re ready.”

    Through the cockpit window, he saw Syal give him a nod and a wave. “Will do. May the Force be with you.”

    Ben tucked his comlink away and looked out at the ridge in the distance. “There used to be an entrance up there.”

    Anakin appeared at his side. His face was pale. “That whole network collapsed the last time I was here. We’ll have to look for one of the smaller side tunnels. I know there’s still a way in.”

    Ben frowned and lowered his voice. “What makes you so sure?”

    “Because I can feel it up there, on the southern slope.”

    Startled, Ben examined the hillside, probing it with the Force, and sure enough, there was a void on the southern side that ran deep underground.

    “You’re right.” He couldn’t hide the surprise in his voice.

    A smirk, and a laugh that was a bit too confident. “Of course I am.”

    Ben studied his grandfather for half a second, wondering how deeply the Vjun atmosphere was affecting him. Anakin had mentioned coming here not too long ago on a mission. His description of the Force’s potency here… well, Ben hadn’t been able to figure out whether Anakin was afraid of the planet or a little in love with it. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, bringing him along.

    Then again, he had found the tunnel. Ben took a deep breath.

    Time to see where it led.

    ~~


    Lord Dominius watched the vidscreen carefully, waiting for something worthwhile to happen.

    “I have never understood your fascination with the doctor’s work,” he said slowly, eyes never leaving the human child on the screen.

    Darth Festus’s voice came from behind him. “The man is an artist. I admire his creativity.”

    “Don’t you mean butchery?” The second voice belonged to Darth Ferrus, and Dominius sensed that this was an ongoing argument between the brothers.

    He liked it when they weren’t getting along.

    Festus responded to his brother’s taunt with an even tone. “I mean creativity, my dear brother.” The smaller twin sidled up next to Dominius. “You must appreciate what we’re doing here, Lord Dominius. Mezzon’s methods may be unorthodox, but if he can find new ways to enhance our connection to the Force, isn’t it worth it?”

    Dominius frowned. As distasteful as he found the Vjun project, it had been condoned by Lord Krayt; and when one looked past the use of children in the experiments, Festus’s argument actually made some degree of sense.

    The human child – a female – was sitting upright on the operating table, watching something offscreen. Her face was unusually thin for one of her age and species.

    Dominius turned his head just enough to catch Festus’s eye. “Are you trying to tell me you don’t get any personal satisfaction out of watching the doctor work?”

    Festus smirked and looked away. Behind them, Ferrus cleared his throat.

    “He’d be content to stay here forever if it meant watching this sort of thing all day.”

    “Don’t be ridiculous,” Festus replied, but there was a hint of amusement in his voice.

    Such a strange boy.

    The door to the chamber slid open, and Darth Misra stepped inside.

    “My lord,” she said. “The Master wishes to speak with you.”

    Dominius turned away from the vidscreen as Doctor Mezzon came into view, blocking the child on the table. He gave Festus and Ferrus a stiff nod before exiting the room.

    Once he was outside, Misra led him back to the private conference room he’d requested upon his arrival. Darth Raze was off in one corner of the room, going through a series of martial arts techniques unique to Iridonia. As soon as he saw Dominius, he bowed and left the room. Misra shut the door behind her, leaving Dominius completely alone.

    The Sith Lord crossed the room and activated the holoprojector at the far end. A slightly less than life-size image of his master materialized above him. Dominius kneeled before Darth Krayt.

    “Everything is in place, just as you ordered.”

    The Sith Master stared down at him from behind his vonduun crab mask. “You have done well, Lord Dominius. If things proceed as planned, your reward will be great.”

    Dominius bowed his head. “I won’t fail you, my master.”

    “I have great faith in you, my apprentice. When the Jedi arrive, make sure you give them a proper welcome.”

    ~~


    It was after they reached their fifth dead end that Ben realized someone was following them. Up until now, their tail had taken care to be silent, but a single loose stone tumbling into the underground lake had let him know they were not alone.

    The Jedi were walking sideways along a narrow bank, moving slowly to avoid slipping several meters down into the still, dark waters. With little more than a few glowworms to light their way, they had to rely on handheld lights and their enhanced Force sensitivity to map a path through the tunnels. They had just turned away from the dead end when Ben felt the tremor of a pebble rolling into the water.

    A second later, Anakin’s lightsaber sprang to life, illuminating the darkness. Standing millimeters from the blade was Allana.

    “It’s just me,” she whispered, hands raised defensively.

    Ben released an angry breath. “Emperor’s bones, Allana! What are you doing here?”

    Anakin lowered his lightsaber, and Ben saw him take a step toward Allana. His cousin stared up at him with big, concerned eyes.

    “I couldn’t let you go without me.”

    Ben thought about telling her he was safer without her here, but he held his tongue. He also thought about demanding an explanation as to how she’d given Syal the slip; he decided that could wait, too.

    “Stay in the middle,” he warned. “And when the fighting starts, don’t take on anyone by yourself.”

    Allana glanced at the others before giving Ben a hurt look. “Okay. But I just wanted to tell you, I think I found the way in.”

    Ben exchanged a look with Valin, then Elias. “What?”

    “Back here,” Allana said, gesturing toward a crack in the rock that they’d already passed. She hugged the wall, moving back in the direction of the crack. “Take a look.”

    Anakin, who was closest to Allana, followed her and held his saber up as he peered through the crack. “She’s right. There’s a short tunnel and a door on the other side of this wall.” Without waiting for the go ahead, he started to cut away at the rock with his blade.

    “Careful!” Valin said, looking instinctively toward the ceiling. “This whole cavern could collapse.”

    “It survived a concussion grenade,” Anakin quipped, intent on his work.

    “How would you—”

    “Valin,” Ben said, cutting off the older man’s protest. “It’s fine.”

    Anakin stepped aside as debris fell from his cuts. He used the Force to shove the rest of the loose rock into the tunnel he’d revealed. The hole was just big enough for a grown man to squeeze through. He crawled into the hole. Allana followed, and then the others. Ben was the last to go through.

    Allana was right; it was a door on the other side. On the rock next to it was a control pad with numbered keys. Ben went to the head of the group and inspected the keypad, waving Kohr over as he did so. “Do your thing, genius.”

    Kohr plugged a cable into the side of the keypad and attached the other end to his datapad. He gently removed the cover and whistled at what he saw. “This model is ancient. They don’t even use this type of wiring anymore. It could take me a while.”

    Anakin grunted something unintelligible. Ben glanced at him over his shoulder. “Keep at it, Kohr.”

    He patted the boy on the shoulder before moving to the back of the group where Anakin was standing silently. He stopped at his grandfather’s side. “Something you’d like to share with the group?”

    Anakin turned away from the others and bent his head toward Ben’s. “Does he realize that door is on hinges?”

    “What?” Ben frowned up at him. “You mean…?”

    “The keypad’s not connected. It’s a dummy.”

    “You’re sure? It looks like a regular sliding door and security system to me.”

    Anakin smirked. “I’m positive. The hinges are on the inside. Don’t worry, it probably fooled the Sith, too. I’m sure they thought their cellar was secure.” He shook his head and laughed. “It’s amazing what a few decades will do to your perspective.”

    Ben tilted his head and studied his grandfather. “Right, I keep forgetting – you’re ancient, too.” He ignored the look of mock hurt on Anakin’s face and returned to the door. “Hold on a second, Kohr.” Ben leaned his body against the door and pushed. The door creaked open, though not too loudly, and a layer of dust rained down from the frame.

    On the other side of the door was a room that might once have been beautiful, but was now only a filthy, broken mess. Furniture was overturned, some of it in pieces. The carvings in the wall had been burned by blaster fire and… were those lightsaber burns? Ben crossed the room to another open archway and looked around the corner.

    Two Sith soldiers were standing guard, chatting idly. Ben ducked back into the room and motioned for the others to join him. He felt the Sith students start to move; perhaps they had sensed something was wrong.

    Here we go.

    The soldiers turned the corner, and Ben saw their eyes go wide a split second before Kohr and Ames knocked them upside the head with the hilts of their sabers. The two men crumpled to the floor.

    “Nice work,” Ben said, stepping over the soldiers. Kohr and Ames bumped elbows together before bending over to retrieve their enemies’ weapons. Anakin and Allana followed after, with Elias and Valin bringing up the rear.

    “I thought there’d be more down here,” Elias whispered, looking around.

    Valin shrugged. “Maybe we should count ourselves—”

    “Jedi! The Jedi are here!”

    Ben pulled out his blaster – set for stun – and shot the Sith soldier who had been yelling into his comlink. The man tumbled down a flight of stone stairs at the end of the hallway and landed awkwardly at the bottom.

    “—lucky,” Valin finished. He sighed, drawing his lightsaber as he did so. “Oh, never mind.”

    Somewhere above, a siren started to go off, its high-pitched wail piercing straight to Ben’s core. He winced and covered his ears for a moment before looking back at the others.

    “Let’s go!” he shouted over the alarm. Several lightsabers ignited, filling the gloomy darkness with turquoise, emerald, and silver light. He took one last moment to meet first Allana’s eyes, then Anakin’s; finally, Ben faced the stone staircase and plunged forward.

    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 18, 2014
  15. mavjade It's so Fluffy Fanfic & New Movies Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2005
    star 5
    Great update!! =D=

    I really like the idea of Ben being Allana's Master and I love how over protective Ben is of her. It's very sweet but I'm sure he would be acting the same way as her if the rolls were reversed. :)

    Ben leaned his head back against the wall. ?That you?ll never do enough.? He looked at Anakin through half-closed lids. ?You?ve turned me into a moping, pathetic fool, Gramps.?
    Anakin was acutely aware that this might be the last moment of normalcy before everything went to hell. He tried to smile. ?You?re welcome.?


    [face_laugh] That was great! Loved it!


    I can't wait to see what happens next!

    Thanks for the PM!


  16. DarthCambius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 2007
    star 2
    Great update! Keep it coming!
  17. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    mavjade - I really like the idea of Ben being Allana's Master and I love how over protective Ben is of her. It's very sweet but I'm sure he would be acting the same way as her if the rolls were reversed.

    --It's funny how that works, isn't it? :p

    That was great! Loved it!

    --Lol, thanks! I enjoy their conversations. ;)

    I can't wait to see what happens next!

    Thanks for the PM!


    --No problem! Hopefully the next update doesn't take seven more months. :p

    DarthCambius - Great update! Keep it coming!

    --Thank you! Hoping to have a new chapter soon. :)

  18. Master_Jaina1011 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2002
    star 4
    You know what's really scary is I found this on ff.net and read the entire thing last night and absolutely fell in love with it!

    I love the rag tag group of Jedi, Tahiri, Ben, Valin...and then throwing Anakin Sr into the fray just made me want more. Like I absolutely love the premise.


    And I loved the last update and how you included Anakin's memories of the fortress from his time. I really can't wait for more.
  19. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Master_Jaina1011 - You know what's really scary is I found this on ff.net and read the entire thing last night and absolutely fell in love with it!

    --Wow, thank you! I love it when I find a story that I like enough to read straight through. I've lost many hours of sleep that way. :p

    I love the rag tag group of Jedi, Tahiri, Ben, Valin...and then throwing Anakin Sr into the fray just made me want more. Like I absolutely love the premise.

    --I'm enjoying it, too! Glad you like the idea. It just clobbered me over the head a few years ago, and I just had to write it. :D

    And I loved the last update and how you included Anakin's memories of the fortress from his time. I really can't wait for more.

    --Thanks! I enjoyed the descriptions of Vjun and the Malreaux mansion from Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, so it was fun to be able to incorporate those elements into this story.
  20. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Just posting a little author update! I wanted to stop by and let you all know what's up and why I've been so scarce. Last week I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful little boy. :D I haven't done much with fanfic over the last nine months, and I'm sure that's not going to change very soon, but I'm still working on this story. Hopefully once I figure out the whole mom thing, I'll be able to start doing some real work on it again. :) See you then!

  21. Darth_Kiryan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 13, 2009
    star 4
    CONGRATULATIONS!!!!=D=[face_dancing][:D]

    Hope Everything Goes Well.!!
    Edit: curiously, what is his name, if you don't mind me asking?
  22. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Thank you! :) His name is Noah, and everything is going great! :D


    Still slowly chipping away at this story, btw. ;)
  23. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    Has it really been six months since I last checked in? [face_whistling]

    I resumed writing a couple months ago; it's slow work, but I'm making progress. :) My eight-month-old is crawling like crazy and keeping me busy, but I promise not to forget about this little ol' story. ;)

    Hope to see you all soon with an update!

    EDIT: Just sent the next chapter off to the beta! [face_dancing]
  24. ViariSkywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2002
    star 4
    ~~

    Chapter Eleven


    It didn’t take long for Ben to decide that this might have been a bad idea after all.

    As the team of Jedi ran up the stone staircase, they found themselves entering a low-ceilinged corridor. Sith soldiers spilled into the hallway from a door at the far end; at their head was a pair of Lessers, red lightsabers ignited. They hardly seemed surprised to find a group of Jedi in their midst. The pair at the front – a Twi’lek and a Chagrian – sneered; the Twi’lek pulled out a comlink a spoke into it.

    “The Jedi are in the basement, my lord. Engaging now.”

    Ben looked back at the others as he deflected blaster bolts. “We’ve got to get to a computer terminal and find where they’re keeping the kids.”

    The two Lessers ran forward to meet them; Ben ducked, and as he did so, Elias sent a wave of Force energy crashing into them. They weren’t strong enough or smart enough to block it, and went tumbling backward into the path of the soldiers. While the Lessers struggled frantically to disentangle themselves from the soldiers, Ben and Elias ripped their lightsabers from their hands. Kohr and Ames followed suit, going after the soldiers’ blasters. A few of them were able to hold onto their weapons, but by the time they got over the initial assault, Ben had already sliced through the barrels, rendering the blasters useless.

    The Lessers tried to get out of the way, but it was too late; Kohr and Ames skewered them with matching green blades. The soldiers in the back reached for their vibroblades; a second later they were on the ground, holes smoking in their chests. Ben and Elias deactivated their sabers and looked back at the others.

    Ben frowned. “Where’s Allana? And Anakin?”

    Valin was busy destroying the blasters that Kohr and Ames had taken from the soldiers. He looked up at Ben. “Through that door, looking for a computer.” He gestured toward an open door halfway between them.

    Anakin and Allana emerged from the room a moment later. “Nothing,” Anakin said, eyes narrowed. “I sensed a strong presence above us, one floor up by the feel of him.”

    Ben exhaled. “It’s only going to get worse the farther up we go.”

    Kohr and Ames kicked the bodies of the Lessers; Ben felt something cold hit his stomach as he noticed the hunger in their eyes.

    “That’s enough,” Ben said roughly, pushing the boys forward down the corridor.

    “Ben?” It was Elias’s voice, coming from a room near the end of the passage. “I found something.”

    He knew from the tone of Elias’s voice that the children weren’t in the room, but that didn’t stop Ben from imagining the worst. He’d seen enough of Mezzon’s atrocities to fill his nightmares for the rest of his life, and try as he might, nothing – not even the Force – could push out the images that flashed before his mind’s eye. He stepped over the bodies of the soldiers and entered the room.

    It was empty, save for a dozen or so sets of shackles bolted into the walls and floors.

    Ben took a deep breath. “Come on,” he said softly. “Let’s get out of here.”

    Elias and the others followed him as he left the room and jogged toward the door from which the Sith had come. On the other side was another staircase, this one leading up to the main level of the mansion. The walls were made of a smoother stone than the ones in the cellar, and they seemed to be in better condition. He could hear someone giving orders; the words were unintelligible, but they echoed down the stairwell. Ben activated his lightsaber.

    Should have stayed on Tatooine, he thought wearily, trying to fight the heaviness in the air. The Force was so thick here. It was like coming down off a mountain peak and being overwhelmed by the richness of the oxygen, only instead of relishing it, Ben felt as though he were being slowly suffocated.

    He paused for a moment before mounting the bottom step.

    “Just one step at a time, kid.”

    Ben bowed his head to hide the smile that had crept onto his lips. Uncle Han had always had a way of telling Ben just what he needed to hear – even if the advice was coming from a decade in the past.

    Ben inhaled for several seconds and brought his lightsaber up in front of him. Then he began to sprint up the steps, aware that the others were close on his heels. As he emerged from the stairwell at full speed, he realized they were just outside the mansion’s great entry hall. An enormous stone arch – painted in the crimson and cream of the House of Malreaux and marred by fire – formed the doorway into the hall, and on the other side a half dozen soldiers stood in close formation, blasters raised.

    The Jedi burst into the entry hall, and every lightsaber came up to deflect blaster bolts. Three of the soldiers went down immediately, and the other three started to back away, looking for cover. Ben spun his weapon in front of him and glanced behind him, searching the chamber for another way out.

    Anakin beat him to it.

    “Over here!” His grandfather’s voice rose above the hum of the sabers. He was pointing toward a narrow corridor, one that looked as though it led further into the interior of the mansion. Ben and Elias covered the others as they fell back into the side corridor. Two more soldiers fell lifeless to the floor, and the last one disappeared through an archway across the room, calling for backup. Safe for the moment, Ben followed his team into the corridor.

    He had just left the main hall when a laser bolt went sizzling past Ben’s ear. He looked over his shoulder to see a pair of soldiers defending a door several meters behind him. Kohr and Ames reached the soldiers first, dispatching them with minimal effort. Ben expected the door to be locked, but Kohr opened it without any trouble. Ben and his team entered the room quickly and shut the door.

    The room was filled with computer terminals, vidscreens, holoprojectors, and every other device necessary to monitor and control the various security systems in the mansion. There was only one thing it was missing: someone to do the monitoring and controlling.

    “Looks like this was their control room,” Kohr said. He stepped toward the center of the room and ran his fingers over the surface of a long table made from what looked like obsidian. Ben noticed a computer terminal at the far end.

    Valin’s eyes roamed the room for a minute as he lowered his lightsaber. “Then why aren’t they in here?”

    “A mansion this size?” Ben cut in. “This isn’t the only control room. They’d have a backup somewhere, probably on a higher floor. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find something useful here.” He rounded the far corner of the table and waved Kohr over. “Check it.”

    As Kohr made his way over to the computer terminal, Ben hurried back to the door, opening it halfway and motioning for Anakin to join him. Together, they watched the hallway while the others huddled around Kohr. Every few seconds, Ben would glance over at Kohr, waiting for news.

    It only took a moment for the boy to get past the computer’s security, and once he had, a green circle appeared on the transparent vertical display in front of him. He tapped his finger on the upper right quadrant, and it expanded to show countless streams of data. Kohr quickly scanned the image on the screen. “According to this, there are thirteen younglings left. Nine humans, two Quarren, a Togruta, and an Iktotchi.”

    “Only thirteen?” Ben’s insides felt as though they’d twisted in a knot. “Where are they?”

    Kohr looked up at him, worry creeping into his eyes. “Fifth level, east wing.”

    Valin put a hand on Elias’s shoulder before meeting Ben’s gaze. “We’re on it.”

    Ben felt a tremor – no, more than that – in the Force. Another squad of soldiers had just entered the main hall. “Hurry,” he said, activating his saber as he listened for the sound of footsteps. Next to him, Anakin did the same. “We’ll hold them off as long as we can.”

    “Wait!” Kohr held up a stopping hand. “There’s a hidden passage here in the schematics. Right after the second door down.”

    “Which way?”

    “To the right.”

    Ben opened the door all the way and leaned out to look. “There’s no door. Just a tapestry.” His eyes narrowed. “You think… behind the tapestry?”

    Kohr nodded. “It should take them right up to the fourth floor, just one below the kids.”

    Elias moved out into the corridor, brushing past Ben. He motioned for Valin to follow. “Wish us luck,” he said to Ben.

    Ben gave him a wry grin. “No such thing,” he answered, clapping Elias on the back. Valin and Elias hurried down the hall, pulled back the tapestry, and disappeared from sight.

    “Right,” Ben said, turning to look at the rest of his team. “Time to do some distracting.”

    ~~


    Arden watched the steady fall of rain from inside Myri Antilles’s ship, waiting for the signal. It was the most maddening thing she’d ever done, just waiting in the cramped cockpit, listening to Myri hum the same tune over and over again. It wasn’t the older woman’s fault; Arden had been known to sing a song or two while waiting for the captain and his team to return from a job. But that was back when the captain was a captain, not Ben-wanted-in-almost-every-known-sector-Skywalker. Back when their jobs involved things like theft and smuggling, not the heroic rescue of Jedi children from the heart of Sith space.

    Arden chewed the edge of a thumbnail as she began to pace back and forth behind Myri’s chair. There wasn’t much room for pacing, but she managed to do it, her gaze still locked on the rain and on the outline of the Daybreak just a few kilometers away.

    Myri stopped humming and perked up, tilting her cap back on her head. She swiveled toward the radar and let out a breath that sounded more like a hiss. “That’s not good,” she murmured, flipping a few switches near the radar.

    “What is it?” Arden asked, leaning over Myri’s shoulder. A large mass of light was moving toward the spot where the Daybreak was hidden.

    “Wanna know how this ship got the name Last Call?” Myri dimmed the cabin lights and pressed a few more buttons. Beneath them, the engines started to hum.

    Arden backed up from the chair and wondered if she should mention that she hadn’t known what the ship was called until this very moment. “I’m guessing I’m about to find out,” she muttered.

    Myri tossed a wink and a grin over her shoulder so casually, she might have been reporting the weather. “Get on those guns, girly. Things are about to get crazy.”

    ~~


    The great entryway looked almost exactly as it had the last time Anakin saw it, minus the shattered and scorched remains of dozens of combat and assassin droids. He thought of Obi-Wan, of how they had charged into the mansion without backup and taken down its security forces without suffering a single injury. He remembered how easy it had been, how powerful he felt as he sliced through the droids. Like nothing could stop him.

    Anakin jerked his arms to the side and spun, taking down a soldier who had dared to come too close. He and the other Jedi had returned to the main hall and assumed a defensive position outside the side corridor, but as more soldiers filled the hall, they found themselves being pulled away from each other. Allana, Kohr, and Ames were closest to the corridor, trying to keep the soldiers from following after Elias and Valin. Anakin and Ben had moved toward the center of the room, picking off soldiers who strayed too far from the squad.

    As another Sith trooper crumpled at his feet, Anakin felt overwhelming relief. Gone was the foreboding that had plagued him since his arrival in this time. Gone was the fear and the hesitance. He felt strong again, like his old self, only better. Every movement of the enemy was so clear, so precisely mapped out in the Force. It didn’t matter if they had to fight a hundred soldiers. Force-sensitive or not, they were no match for him. A whisper of thought swirled around his brain, reminding him that this was what he was born to do. Even though he knew that the Chosen One was meant to bring balance – not war – he couldn’t help feeling at home right here, a surging vehicle of destruction.

    Anakin and Ben were back-to-back now, turning in a slow circle as they continued to carve a deadly path through the soldiers.

    “Getting tired?” Ben called over his shoulder.

    Anakin flung out his free hand and sent two soldiers flying through the air. “I’m just warming up. You?”

    Ben muttered something under his breath and deflected a blaster bolt straight into a soldier’s chest. The man’s armor absorbed it, but he was knocked off his feet. Ben let out a frustrated grunt and nodded at Anakin. The two men switched positions without missing a beat.

    “You know,” Ben said casually as he cleaved through the end of a blaster and elbowed the owner hard in the temple. “I really wish these guys would take turns.”

    Anakin smirked. “Guess we oughtta teach them some manners.” He whipped around to block several laser blasts that were aimed at Ben.

    His grandson eyed the would-be assassins, now lying dead on the floor. “Thanks.”

    “You’re welcome.” A warning spiked across Anakin’s senses, and he jerked his head around, looking for the source. Ben followed suit, and they both turned in time to see a giant stone come crashing down from the ceiling. Allana, Kohr, and Ames threw themselves out of its way, and then they were obscured by a massive cloud of dust and debris.

    A new sound echoed across the suddenly quiet chamber: the deep, ominous hum of multiple lightsabers activating. At first Anakin could only see a few red blades, but as the dust settled, he saw six Sith standing across the room, flanked by another dozen soldiers in black armor. By the feel of her, the blonde woman at the center of the group was the most powerful, although the muscular, dark-haired boy next to her wasn’t too far off. Anakin felt Ben tense up for a moment.

    “Kill them all!” the blonde woman shouted. She surged forward, the others fanning out behind her. Anakin glanced over his shoulder, still unable to see where Allana and her companions had gone. Half of the newly arrived troopers were sprinting toward the rubble from the stone; the blonde Sith and two lightsaber-wielding Twi’leks were with them.

    Anakin tore his gaze away from the leader of the Sith and turned to meet the dark-haired boy, who had already outrun his backup. Anakin and Ben stepped in unison, raising their sabers to deflect the boy-Sith’s attack. He was as powerful as Anakin had guessed, but that hardly meant he was a match for two Skywalkers. Ben battered the boy’s blade with his own while Anakin slipped past his defenses and cut him across the abdomen. The only thing that prevented Anakin from finishing the job was the arrival of two other Sith.

    These two, a dark-skinned human male and a humanoid of a species Anakin didn’t recognize, were substantially weaker than the boy, but they were quick. Their clumsy lightsaber work, in combination with the Sith soldiers who were firing from a few meters away, was just enough to keep both Anakin and Ben busy.

    There was another rumble, and the entire chamber quaked as a second stone dislodged from the ceiling. Across the room, Anakin saw the blonde Sith draw her hand in a broad, sweeping motion. Ames shoved Allana out of the way, and several of the soldiers went down, too, as the stone crashed to the floor. The blonde Sith leapt over the debris and went after Allana and Ames. Kohr was nowhere to be seen.

    A blaster bolt singed Anakin’s tunic; he pivoted just enough to deflect a second bolt, which went through his attacker’s forehead.

    “Allana!” Ames shouted over the noise. “Get out of here!”

    Anakin spun around in time to see Allana duck into one of the other corridors, one that led back into the interior of the mansion. He moved to go after her, heedless of his own safety as he turned into the line of fire of seven blasters. He batted their shots aside as though they were mere nuisances; nothing mattered if he couldn’t get to his granddaughter. He carved a path through the soldiers, unaware of whether they lived or died as they fell under his blade.

    He was halfway to the corridor when another dozen soldiers came pouring out of it. Anakin leapt out of the way of a dozen streams of blaster fire, rolling to the side. He took in the situation, scanning the room quickly as he ducked and weaved through enemy fire. Ben was still fending off one of the Sith and several troopers on the opposite side of the room, and Ames was locked in battle with the blonde Sith, struggling to hold her off.

    Anakin muttered a few Huttese obscenities and glanced one last time at the hallway Allana had disappeared into before vaulting across the room to help Ames.

    ~~


    Allana ran into the side hallway and took the second door on the left, a plain but solid wood door that – like so many others in the great house – swung open on hinges. She sensed at least a dozen people running down the hall in her direction, so she stepped across the threshold and closed the door behind her.

    Instead of a room, she found herself facing the bottom of a narrow, spiraling staircase. It was dimly lit; she wondered if the power source was faulty or if the place had just taken too much abuse over the centuries. Allana took a few steps up the staircase, pausing for a moment to listen for the soldiers on the other side of the door. She didn’t sense anyone above her, so she kept climbing until she came to another wooden door.

    As she pushed open the door, she noticed that it was much more ornate, with roses carved into it. In some places she could see remnants of the same crimson and cream paint that decorated the entry hall. The room before her was large and empty, with an elaborate crystal chandelier dominating the ceiling. From its relative lack of grandeur, Allana determined that the stairwell she’d ascended was most likely a servant’s passage and that this imposing room might have been a dining hall or a ballroom at one time.

    Allana took another step into the room, and as she did so, she noticed that the chandelier was the only part of the room that was intact. All along the walls, paintings had been pockmarked by blaster fire, and the delicate wooden roses in the molding had received similar treatment. There were even bloodstains in the thick carpet.

    Why hadn’t she listened to Ben? Why hadn’t she stayed on the ship with Syal? Now Kohr was bleeding out on the floor and Geridan was fighting that big Sith woman on his own. Allana reached up with both hands and grasped the end of her braid, running her fingers over its dusty length. She should go back. She couldn’t leave her friends to die.

    A soft thumping sound caught her attention, and Allana realized she was not alone. She stared across the room at a pair of grand doors that had opened, revealing a solitary figure.

    He was a pale, dark-haired human, and he tapped the hilt of his lightsaber against his thigh as he approached her. Like the steady tick of a chrono, he continued tapping, continued walking toward her. Behind her, the door to the servants’ passage slammed shut. Allana grabbed her lightsaber off her belt and activated it. As the newcomer stepped into the light, recognition hit her.

    She remembered Ben telling her about this one and his brother, twin Jedi younglings kidnapped years ago and corrupted by the Sith. She’d been forced to memorize the holos. Her opponent had to be Darth Festus, the shorter of the two. He was small but wiry, with a manic look about him that chilled her to her core. His eyes seemed to glow in the dim light, irises edged in flame. As she raised her lightsaber in front of her, he drew up short, staring at her sideways, almost lazily.

    “If it isn’t the little princess,” Darth Festus said, tilting his head to examine her. He might have been handsome but for the sick smile creeping onto his face. “Hello, Allana. It’s been a long time.”

    Allana swallowed hard and readjusted her grip on her lightsaber. How did he know her? Had they met when she was younger? She had the bizarre mental image of the Sith Lord bouncing a redheaded child on his knee. She banished it quickly.

    “Stay back,” she warned, trying not to wince at how young and feeble she sounded. The Sith Lord’s smile grew wider and, if possible, more disturbed.

    “Now, Princess, is that any way to treat an old friend of the family?”

    Allana shook her head, holding her lightsaber up a little higher. “Not my friend.”

    He stopped a few meters away from her and hung his head as though hurt. And then he chuckled. He actually chuckled. She was still trying to wrap her head around the idea of a Sith Lord chuckling when he charged forward, igniting his lightsaber and diving at her in one smooth, lightning-fast motion. Allana dropped her guard and jumped out of the way. Before she could fully recover, he was upon her, beating her backward with his blood red saber.

    “Would you like to hear a story?” Festus swung hard, and Allana parried. “It’s about a little Jedi boy and a little Jedi princess.” His voice took on an eerie sing-song quality as he flew at her with a series of frenzied strikes, each one coming closer and closer to her neck. “They had all kinds of fun together.”

    Allana stumbled a little as she tried to put distance between herself and the Sith. He was there in an instant, catching her lightsaber blade with his in a quick motion that knocked her weapon from her hands. He wrapped his right arm around her, saber still in hand, and held her close.

    “But one day,” Festus continued, “the Jedi left the boy to die, and the princess went on living a happy little life with her master, the worst traitor of them all.”

    Allana tried to shake her head. “You’re crazy,” she said, out of breath but still fighting his grip on her.

    There was a vicious gleam in his eyes as he smiled and said, “Didn’t your cousin ever tell you it’s the crazy ones you have to look out for?”

    Festus smashed his fist across the side of her head, sending her to the ground. The world slanted around her as she crawled away from her attacker, grappling for her lightsaber. A strong hand grabbed her by the collar and lifted her into the air. The next she knew, she’d been pinned up against a wall, legs dangling. Festus pressed his body against hers and raised his saber so she could see the hazy glow of its red blade.

    “You shouldn’t fight me so much,” he hissed. Her skin crawled as she felt his lips graze her neck. For a moment she thought he might sink his teeth into her flesh. Allana closed her eyes tight and silently recited one of the lullabies her mother used to sing to her, an old spell of the Singing Mountain Clan. The Force pulsed through her like blood.

    Festus tightened his hand around her throat. Allana’s eyelids fluttered open, and her vision began to return. She slammed her knee into the Sith’s groin, and he dropped her with a furious growl. Allana tumbled to the floor and gasped for breath as she tried to get up and run. She had lost her lightsaber somewhere… Ben would kill her if she didn’t find it…

    She had just gotten to her feet when she felt something smash into her, bringing her down by the knees. She crashed to the floor again, stretching her hands out to protect her face. Dazed, she looked over her shoulder to see Festus, his arms wrapped around her legs. He was crawling on top of her, his eyes like fire.

    “Ben!” she screamed, trying in a panic to kick the Sith Lord off of her. “Ben! Geridan!”

    Festus was on her back, pinning her arms down. He grabbed her by the hair and wrenched her head off the floor. “Shut up!” he shrieked in her ear. “Shut up! Shh… no one’s coming, Allana, now hold still.”

    Festus activated his lightsaber again, holding it a hair’s breadth from her neck. He shoved her face into the grimy rug and dug his knee into her back. All she could see out of the corner of her eye was the red-white core of his saber.

    Help me, please…

    Allana held as still as she could and squeezed her eyes shut. She hoped the Sith would be quick.

    The weight on her back lifted suddenly, and Allana heard a crash across the room. She looked up and saw a tall figure standing over her, right arm extended. The Force was ferocious and alive around him, sparking like electricity, like a lightning storm in her mind’s eye. It burned so intensely, she thought it might consume her. She stared hard at the person in the center of this maelstrom, waiting for her vision to come back into focus.

    And then, hazy recognition.

    “Anakin?”

    Her rescuer didn’t look at her, though, and she followed his gaze to the opposite side of the room where Festus was suspended midair, clawing desperately at his throat. Anakin’s thumb and forefinger pinched the air, the distance between them closing. As Festus’s strangled cries grew softer, Allana realized what was happening.

    “Don’t!” She pulled herself onto her hands and knees and sucked in several short breaths. “Not like this!”

    Anakin didn’t seem to hear her, however, and for the first time Allana really felt the oozing weight of Vjun, the dark heaviness that choked the atmosphere. She wondered why it had come on her so suddenly, and looking up at Anakin, she knew she already had her answer.

    “Please, stop!” Tears slid down her cheeks as she reached out to Anakin. Why was she crying? Shouldn’t she be glad that he was killing the Sith, that he was forcing the life out of him? “Anakin, please!”

    He jerked his head back as if breaking out of a trance. Festus was dumped unceremoniously to the ground where he lay for the moment, a moaning, pathetic heap. Anakin lowered his hand and looked down at Allana. She breathed a sigh of relief as he scooped her up in his arms and retrieved her lightsaber.

    “Thank you,” she murmured, her head resting against his chest.

    “No, don’t fall asleep,” Anakin said, nudging her head with his shoulder. “You have to stay awake. Come on, we’ll find Ben.”

    She struggled to keep her eyes open as he carried her from hallway to hallway, searching for the others. He was so strong; she knew she could just go to sleep in his arms and be safe. She remembered feeling like this a long time ago, with her father.

    Anakin made a disgruntled noise. “You should have let me do it.”

    Allana closed her eyes and smiled faintly. “No, I shouldn’t have.” She squeezed her arms around his neck. “You’ll thank me later.”

    She lost track of how long they wandered the hallways of the great house, looking for another way back to the others. Part of her didn’t want to find them. Part of her wanted to stay.

    “Here,” Anakin said, lowering her until her feet touched the ground. “You need to walk now, okay?”

    The room seemed to spin for a moment as Allana moaned and pressed a hand to her forehead. It was pounding like crazy. “Where’s my lightsaber?”

    He slapped it against her palm. “Can you walk?”

    “Sure,” she answered, blinking her eyes several times to regain focus.

    “Good, because things are about to get nasty.”

    Allana snapped her head up to look at him, ignoring the pain. “What?”

    Anakin ignited his saber. “The others are just up ahead, and I think they need help.”

    She frowned at him. “You know, when you rescue someone, you’re supposed to lead them away from danger.”

    Anakin grinned and put a hand on her shoulder, drawing her close. “Stay right behind me, okay?”

    Allana felt something tighten in her chest. “Okay.” She reached out and grabbed his arm. “Anakin?”

    “Yes?”

    She looked up into his eyes; in them she saw fear and sorrow, but also hope and love, and for some strange reason, that gave her strength.

    “I truly am glad to have met you.”

    He smiled, then leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “Me, too, Allana. Truly.”

    ~~


    Ben wiped the sweat from his brow as he watched the surviving Sith soldiers flee from the great entry hall. There was no use going after them. As soon as Elias and Valin rescued the children, they had to be able to make a quick exit. And now that archway that led back to the caves had collapsed, the quickest exit was right through the giant front doors of Château Malreaux.

    Ben crossed the room to get to Ames, stepping over bodies as he did so. The boy was kneeling next to a lifeless-looking Kohr. Ames had torn a strip of cloth from his shirt and wrapped it around his friend’s head. The cloth was already soaked with blood.

    Ben knelt beside Ames and tore off some cloth from the bottom of his own shirt. From here he could see that Kohr was still breathing. “Here,” he said gently, moving Ames’s hands so he could dress the wound. As he tied off the makeshift bandage, he glanced sidelong at Ames. “How are you holding up?”

    Ames’s eyes wandered over to the headless body of the blonde Sith, Darth Misra. “I’m okay,” he muttered.

    Ben raised one eyebrow at him. “You sure?”

    Ames shook his head. “She was going to kill me. I was as good as dead.”

    “You fought a Sith Lord, Ames.” Ben gripped his shoulder and gave him a reassuring shake. “Not many Jedi have done that and lived to tell about it.”

    This time Ames nodded, but Ben could see he was still a bit shell-shocked. Watching one person decapitate another could have that effect.

    Speaking of Anakin, where was he anyway? Ben had lost track of him during the battle, not long after Allana disappeared.

    Allana.

    Ben tightened his grip on Ames’s shoulder. “What happened to Allana?”

    Ames seemed to snap out of his stupor a little. “They were closing in on us… I told her to run.” He looked toward one of the interior corridors, but said nothing else.

    Ben was about to respond when he felt a familiar presence approaching. He touched Kohr lightly on the forehead, then stood and unclipped his lightsaber from his belt.

    “Ames…”

    “I feel it, too.” The boy looked down at Kohr, uncertain. “Should we move him?”

    Ben eyed the front entrance and wondered how much longer Elias and Valin would be. “Move him closer to the front doors. We’ll have to cover him until the others get here.”

    Ames carried Kohr across the room while Ben activated his saber and watched for signs of the Sith. He should have known Darth Dominius would be here. Darth Misra was, after all, one of his lieutenants and a devoted servant. Wherever she was, her master was never far. He wondered if Dominius would be upset about her death. Falleen were so slow to anger, and despite being a Sith Lord, he was unusually level-headed.

    The soldiers appeared first, row after row of them, at least as many as before, if not more. They filed into the room, weapons raised, forming a half-circle around the Jedi. Ben was acutely aware of the danger he was in. Kohr was close to death, and Ames was too worried about Kohr and Allana and nearly being killed by Misra to focus on the moment. Ben was alone.

    What was it his dad used to say? “Not alone, Ben. Never alone.”

    That’s right, Dad. A Jedi who has the Force is never alone.

    But some more back-up would sure be nice.


    The rows of soldiers parted to reveal a trio of Sith Lords. On the left was Darth Ferrus, who Anakin had cut across the abdomen in the earlier battle. Someone had patched the boy up, but he was hunched over a little and breathing funny. For a brief moment, Ben pitied him.

    The Sith on the right he recognized as Darth Raze, one of the more hot-headed members of Krayt’s order. He looked mad as hell and eager to murder someone.

    “Where is he?” Raze shouted.

    “Patience, Lord Raze.” Darth Dominius stood in the middle, and even though he was addressing Raze, his eyes were on Ben. The Falleen’s skin was its usual cool green color, and a devious smile was perched on his lips.

    “I am tired of waiting!” Raze passed his lightsaber from one hand to the other. “I want the man who gave me this.” He held up his right hand, which was made of a shiny metal, and pointed it at Ben. “I know he is here, Jedi! Where is he?”

    Ben looked away from Dominius and shook his head. “It’s your mansion. You tell me where he is.”

    “I’m right here.”

    Even though he hadn’t shouted, Anakin’s voice filled the hall. Ben turned toward the sound of it and saw Anakin standing behind him, Allana at his side.

    Ben expected Raze to utter some more threats; instead, the Sith Lord sprang forward, disregarding Dominius’s command to stand his ground. The soldiers looked around as if unsure whether they should engage. Dominius held up a hand to stay the troops. He seemed almost amused by Raze’s lack of restraint.

    Anakin pushed Allana behind him as Raze vaulted across the room, snarling and grunting unintelligibly. Ben made a move in their direction, but a barrage of blasterfire made him reconsider. While Ben was repelling fire, Darth Ferrus appeared at his elbow, moving much faster than his wound should have allowed. Ben ducked as the boy sliced his lightsaber horizontally through the space where his head had been. He brought his weapon up to block and caught sight of Dominius standing back with about fifteen soldiers. The Sith Lord was smiling and shaking his head slowly. As though this were all just a game to him.

    Across the room, Anakin and Raze were locked in battle. Ben caught a brief glimpse of it every few seconds, but from what he could see, Allana was blocking the soldiers while Anakin had Raze backed up against a wall. There was no doubt that his grandfather was winning.

    “Ben!”

    Ben sidestepped another thrust from Ferrus, and Ames appeared out of nowhere, grabbing Ferrus by the arm and knocking his saber from his grasp. Ben could feel the anger coming off of Ames in waves. They had known each other as younglings, Ames and Ferrus. This was personal.

    “Nice work, kid!” Ben deflected several blaster bolts back at their owners. A few of them went down, but too many remained standing. Ben grunted his displeasure and was about to say something to Ames when he noticed the kid wasn’t even listening. He was too busy punching Ferrus repeatedly in the head. The Sith fell down hard, unconscious. Ames raised his lightsaber and aimed the blade at his enemy’s heart.

    “Ames!”

    Ben threw out his hands and used the Force to shove Ferrus out of the way; Ames’s lightsaber went through the stone floor. Before Ames could protest, a blaster bolt ripped through his shoulder. Ben lunged forward to catch the boy; lasers singed his shirt as the two of them went down.

    “I’ve got you, kid,” he whispered, blindly raising his lightsaber in front of him.

    “And I’ve got you,” another voice replied. Ben looked up, past the blade of his own saber, into the eyes of Darth Dominius, who was standing just meters away, weapon ignited. His soldiers had formed a circle around them. The Falleen Sith gestured with his lightsaber for Ben to stand. Ben laid Ames down on the stone floor and slowly rose to his feet. He could still hear the sound of blasters as Anakin and Allana continued to fight their way through the soldiers. He hoped they wouldn’t try anything idiotic, like trying to save his life. It would really tick him off if they wasted the precious time he was buying for them here.

    Ben took a deep breath and met the Sith’s eerie yellow stare. “Dominius.”

    The Falleen nodded curtly. “Skywalker. By now you realize you’re pitiful attempt at a rescue has failed.”

    Ben tried to reach out for Elias and Valin, but it was too chaotic. The Force fed him nothing but destruction. He glanced around the circle, gauging the strength of the soldiers. “You haven’t killed me yet.”

    “I soon shall. Have you finally decided to stop running from me?”

    Ben gestured wide with his free hand. “I’m here, aren’t I?”

    Dominius licked his lips and brandished his lightsaber. “Indeed. I’ve been looking forward to this day.”

    Ben cocked his head to one side and grinned. “You want me? You got me.” He raised his saber. “Let’s make this quick.”

    ~~
    Last edited by ViariSkywalker, Jun 18, 2014
  25. Rew Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2008
    star 4
    Hi Vi! :)

    It's great that you've updated--it's only been slightly over a year. ;)

    I jest, but I hope everything's going well with the little addition to your family.

    And great update! I went back and reread your whole story to refresh my memory (there were some parts I just skimmed in 2010 :p), plus the new update. Everything's coming together nicely!

    I'm trying to put together a timeline in my head of everything that's going on here. Everything in the EU, you say, is canonical up to about Bloodlines or Tempest. (Personally, I would've made it up to Betrayal since that one was awesome, but Bloodlines was rubbish IMO.) From then on, a conflict ensues from Jacen Solo's transformation into Darth Caedus. He kills the legendary Luke Skywalker (which I would LOVE to see, given that Luke is one of the most powerful Force-users of all time--perhaps he tries to talk things out with Jacen instead of fight, which is why he dies? How exactly does Caedus beat the unbeatable?), buying time for his son Ben and others to evacuate. Caedus continues to wreak more havoc until he and his twin sister Jaina kill each other in battle, ending his menace.

    I'm guessing it's sometime after this that Krayt's One Sith come onto the scene. Is there a connection between Caedus and Krayt? Was Krayt just letting Caedus do his dirty work for him, then once he was gone, found the Jedi Order sufficiently weakened to begin his conquest of the galaxy? How did they establish the Sith Empire so quickly? Sometime after the death of the Solo twins I'm guessing is when Leia dies taking out those four Sith Lords. (Is she the one who succeeded Luke as Grand Master? When did the Order transition from a Grand Master form of autocracy to the more egalitarian "Round Table" Jedi Council we see in this fic?) When/How does Han die? Mara? Jag?

    Other background questions: How do Tahiri and Ben get so close? We know in Invincible they form a bond when Ben talks her away from the dark side. But I'm guessing your Tahiri never goes dark or joins Caedus? Also, what of Ben and Jacen's relationship? They're master and apprentice in Betrayal and Bloodlines, and Ben looks up to Jacen immensely. Sometime after that, Jacen's become such a danger to Ben that Luke must sacrifice his life to save his son. I wonder how that relationship deteriorated so? (We know how it does in canon, of course.)

    Lots of questions, but don't feel like you have to answer them all--I'm mostly just thinking out loud here. I know you'll provide some answers as the story goes on. And I also know that Ben hasn't told Anakin everything about what's happened since his time.

    Anyway, Jacen Solo fan that I am, I'm most keenly interested in what you do with Allana. I have to say, I like her a lot so far! She's snarky, insubordinate but compassionate, cares about Ben but gives him a hard time, has just the right amount of teenage confidence when there's no danger, but sufficient fear during the heat of battle when death becomes a real possibility. I have to admit, her interaction with Anakin so far has been a surprise. I thought she'd be a lot more leery of him, distrustful, but she's taking right to him. I think I like it. He's become very paternal toward her (which we the reader know exactly why that is, but Allana and most of the others don't), and having never had a *real* father figure before, she's gravitating toward him completely. It helps that he's just saved her life too.

    I loved that Allana pleaded for that Sith twin's life when Anakin was going dark and Force choking him. That sort of compassion is very much in keeping with the canonical Allana too! It was also interesting that Allana's only rumination on her father in this fic is surprisingly positive. Given the reign of terror he unleashed on the galaxy, I would expect it to be otherwise. I'm eager to find out more about what she thinks of her father and how their relationship went the further into the dark he fell.

    I'm also curious about these Sith twins. Are they OCs or people we've met in canon before they took on Darth titles? I'm also curio
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