All right, here's my big challenge to myself, to see if I can finish this entire trilogy before the actual Ep 7 comes out (or rather to finish it period.). --------------------------------------------- STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE NEXT FORCE 1. The shuttle craft, followed by several TIE Fighters, flew from the Star Destroyer and landed in the hanger bay of the large space station. Admiral Paxus Warren, flanked by Stormtroopers, stepped down the landing ramp and through the hanger doors, into a long, brightly-lit hallway. He stopped before a T-shaped hallway with doors on all three sides. The one before him opened, and a dark-skinned man in formal clothing emerged, flanked by two younger men in military uniforms. "Calrissian," Warren said, eyeing the man who echoed his middle age. "Admiral Warren," Lando Calrissian responded. "Shall we get on with this?" Warren asked. "Might as well," Lando said. The two turned and the large door slid open, revealing flashing lights and shouts from onlookers, reporters, and personnel. Lando put on his best smile as he and Warren stepped up to the podium. "I'd like to welcome you to the Tendrando Station," Lando said as he looked over the people. "When my wife and I opened this trading and business complex, we set out to bring together people from all corners of the galaxy. I have to admit though that I never thought that would include The Empire. And yet, here they are, and hopefully not to conquer us this time." His last sentence brought nervous laughter from the crowd, and even Warren smiled slightly as he spoke. "Trust me when I say fighting is the last thing we want. After over 30 years of bloodshed, it's time to end this war. That's why Mr. Calrissian has allowed us here today, to announce that in three months, Chief of State Gallus and I will sign the Tendrando Treaty uniting the Rebellion . . . pardon me . . . the Republic and Empire once and for all into the first Galactic Alliance." A reporter stepped forward and raised her hand. "There are reports that worlds such as Corellia oppose this alliance. How do you plan to deal with these objections?" Lando answered, "From what I understand, Chief Gallus and Admiral Warren plan to visit each of these worlds, hopefully to help them trust each other once again." "We cut open too many wounds over the years," Warren said. "I hope we can mend as many as possible." Another reporter asked, "What of the reports of Ssurg-" "Minister of Defense Ssurg's duty," Warren cut him off, "has always been to develop technology for the Empire and nothing more. His words may seem to carry weight after a his victory in the Vong War, but I assure you he does not speak for the Empire itself." "Mr. Calrissian, the last time you stood this close to Imperials, Bespin fell. Does this meeting bring back any bad memories?" Sitting in a cantina in the station, Skuzzo Drok scoffed as he watched the monitor. "Yeah, he just handz Cloud City over to thoz Imps just like he iz now. You get themz in my face, and I won't be no backin' down. You canz be sure of that!" He took a swig of his drink and leaned back in his chair when someone stepped in front of the monitor, watching it. "Hey!" Skuzzo said. "You mindz? Your string-shape iz blockin' the screen! Move it beforez I-" The person turned, and Skuzzo froze. "You-" The person before him was a blue-skinned boy in his late teens, with short, sandy blond hair and large green eyes. He wore dark gray pants and a light gray, loose-fitting, long-sleeve shirt. The boy looked down at him, and Skuzzo trembled under his stoic gaze. "I swearz, just an accident! I'll returnz it all rightz now! Givez me-" Before he could finish, the boy turned, staring into space for a moment, then walked away. Skuzzo stood, sending his chair flying back, and raced out of the cantina. Following the conference, Lando and Warren retreated to the hallway. "I gotta admit," Lando said, "I'm still not used to being around stormtroopers who aren't trying to shoot me." Warren smiled. "It'll take time, but I hope one day both sides can overcome these fears." He turned to the door to his hanger. "Despite what Ssurg and many others say, most of us do want this alliance, Calrissian. And I swear I'll do my part to make it happen." Lando held out his hand. "Good luck to you Admiral. I hope it all goes well." Warren accepted it. "Thank you. Once this alliance is complete, I'm bringing my wife and daughters here, though knowing them, I won't see them once they discover Level C." He turned and departed through the doors. Lando chuckled, shaking his head and turned to his two guards, Anders Tol, a thin man with gray hair and beard and Scon Brek, an athletically-built young man, with short dark-brown hair and goatee. "Well I think that covers things for today." "Debi Dahls wanted an interview with you before you left, sir," Tol said. Lando smirked. "I've got a family now. I'm not wasting my time and vacation on some pretty face with no brain." "But . . . she insisted sir," Tol said. "And I'm sure business could use the PR." "All right fine," Lando said, throwing his hands up. "Just give me a minute." "We'll be waiting, sir." Tol and Breck turned and departed through a side door. Lando pulled out his comlink and activated it. "Sala . . ." The response came from a young woman on the other hand. "Nice conference, Dad. Though I haven't seen you sweat so much since your wedding video." "Thanks a lot. Listen, they want me to do an interview with Dahls." "You mean that bimbo with no brain and huge-" "Ratings," Lando cut her off. "Yeah, but I'll try and keep it short. Then we'll be on our way." "Okay, Dad. I'll ready the Cobra while you turn on the charm." Lando turned off and pocketed his comlink, then walked through the doors his door his guards had used. Tol and Breck stood waiting. "They're ready for, sir," Tol said. "Let's get this over with," Lando responded and followed his guards through the hallway. Halfway through the hallway, they turned and entered one of the station's storage rooms. "What are we doing here?" Lando asked. Just then, several humans in black and red armor stepped out, pointing blaster rifles at Lando. "Neks?" Lando turned to see Tol and Breck also pointing blaster as him. "Sorry sir," Tol said. "We . . . I had no choice." Lando smirked. "I guess I deserved that." "This alliance won't happen," Breck said. "Your death will assure that." "But I'm not part of either government," Lando said, raising his hands. "What do you hope to accomplish with shooting me?" "A lot of people like you," Breck answered. "They won't like finding you reduced to a smoking corpse." He looked at his rifle. "And the Republic won't like when they learn the people who shot you were supplied with Imperial weapons." "I'm so sorry," Tol said again. "I'm just afraid the Imperials-" "Enough of this!" Breck yelled and pointed his rifle directly at Lando's head. Suddenly, the air vent above them blew open and the blue-skinned boy leaped out. Performing a flip, he landed between Lando and Breck, and the white blade of his lightsaber deflected Breck's blaster shot into the wall. The boy spin-kicked Tol, sending him crashing into one of the other Neks, grabbed Lando by the arm, and pulled him back into the hallway. The door shut behind them, and the boy turned, closing his free hand into a fist. The circuitry next to the door smoked and fizzled, and the boy led Lando back down the hallway. Back in the room, Breck cursed and shot the door, then turned to one of the Nek troops. "Tell the others, Calrissian's heading toward hangers!" Lando and the boy ran through the hallway and got to the door of the hanger, when the boy froze, and pulled Lando from the door. "What're you doing?" Lando asked. "My ship is this way!" He started to open the door, but the boy pulled him back as a blaster shot just missed his head. Lando backed away. "Never mind." He then turned to a maintenance door. "This way." The boy followed him, sealing the door behind them. Running through the maintenance shaft, Lando pulled out his comlink. "Sala, get ready for take-off!" "What's going on?" Sala asked. "Someone's trying to kill me. Just don't drop the landing ramp till I tell you." In a nook of the shaft, Skuzzo searched through a large crate when he saw Lando run toward him. "Heyz, whatz the idea-" His eyes went wide when he saw the boy "I swearz, I must've dropped somethingz!" Another door opened, and blaster fire shot around them. Skuzzo screamed like a toddler and leaped into the crate. The boy slammed the crate's lid shut and continued running. They exited a door into a hanger that held several yachts. As they ran past one ship, the boy leaped into the air, kicked someone, and deflected another blast before landing next to Lando again. Two Neks fell behind them. Lando turned toward them, but the boy grabbed his arm. "If I'm getting shot at, I want my own gun!" Lando said. One of the Neck's rifles then flew through the air and landed in Lando's hands. "Thanks, let's go!" As they got to the door, the boy stopped and looked back. They both ducked as blaster fire missed them again. "What are you waiting for?" Lando asked. The boy stared at the craft closest to them for a moment, then lunged forward and sliced through its landing gear with his lightsaber. He made a sweeping gesture with his free hand, and the broken landing gear hurled towards the blasts. Without its gear, the craft creaked and toppled away from them, crashing into the other craft. Flames shot out from one of the craft causing the station's fire-dispersing systems to drop foam over the hanger and alarm klaxons to sound. Lando looked at everything the boy had caused in a matter of seconds. "Well that kills their chance of subtlety. That's for sure." The boy then ran past him, grabbing his arm. They entered huge hanger filled with several ships, and Lando's modified Lambda-class shuttle, the Cobra, in the center. "Sala, drop the ramp, now!" The landing ramp lowered, and both Lando and the boy boarded the craft. Inside, Sala, a dark-skinned woman in her late teens wearing a blue and green jumpsuit, stood at the top of the ramp. "Dad, what's going on?" "I don't know," Lando answered as the punched the button to raise the ramp, "but we're getting out of here." The boy had already leaped into the pilot's seat and lifted the craft off the ground before Lando and Sala had even reached the cockpit. Spinning the ship around, he flew it toward the hanger doors. The doors opened to reveal several craft racing toward them. Seeing this, the boy turned the ship and flew back into the hanger. The ships entered the hanger and chased the Cobra, firing shots that the boy managed to dodge. "The doors are closing!" Sala said, pointing. The boy activated several switches and turned the craft toward the closing doors. Lando looked at the controls. "You can't go to lightspeed inside a hanger!" But the boy ignored him, closing his eyes to slits, he slowly activated the hyperdrive. Lando and Sala grabbed each other and turned away from the window. The craft shook, and they heard the engines jolt, the sheering of metal, then nothing. They both looked up to see the ship had enter hyperspace. "No major damage," Sala said as she looked over the controls. "We made it." Opening his eyes, the boy lifted a comlink from his belt. "Master," he said in a calm, almost melodic tone, "Calrissian and his daughter are safe." "Thank you, Jiias," came the reply. "We'll see you soon." Lando looked from the boy to the comlink. He recognized the voice all too well; Luke Skywalker.