Beyond - Legends Exodus (Post-NJO AU: Jaina, Jacen, Anakin Solo, H/L, L/M, Tahiri, Jag, Kyp, more) New fic 5/30/08!

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  1. Tahi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2002
    star 5
    Late again! Sorry.

    "I can't understand a word you're saying," Threepio went on. "Your systems must be worse off than they even look, which is quite horrible, I might add... Oh no! Your smoldering wires are tarnishing my metacarpal covering!"
    :D Silly old C3PO.

    I couldn't agree with you more, sir. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to be at the service of a human being with such logical priorities.
    :D Classic.

    I enjoyed the scene with Jag and the droids a lot :) Great dialogue.

    "How's he doing?"

    "It's difficult to say."

    "Why? What's he saying?"

    The protocol droid turned to Jag with his typical blank expression and brightly glowing yellow eyes. "At the moment, Artoo is reciting a recipe for air cake, sir."

    Jag opened his mouth to respond but found there was nothing to say. After a moment, C-3PO added, "I'll let you know if he mentions the bay doors."

    Wonderful. Actually - can I have a copy of that recipe? Air cake sounds just the right kind of thing for an airhead. ;)

    "Goodness, I think I miscalculated. You may actually be worse than Captain Solo."
    The greatest compliment ever. [face_love]

    Had Jacen really fallen to the dark side? Had his mind been poisoned against the Order? Had he just gone mad?
    Can we choose option 4 - all of the above?

    "Stop right there!" Jaina shouted.

    There was no doubt her pursuers had seen the flash of her glowrod as she was running through the forest, so her only hope was to try and scare them off. As weary as she was, she didn't know how long she could last in a fight, especially against a cadre of Raithian Commandos.

    "Oh, please don't kill us!" A tremulous voice called back through the woods. "We've been through enough!"

    =D= I love it!

    As if on cue, the astromech came rolling out of the forest, his treads clogged with a tangle of vines and overgrowth before he tipped over and landed face-first into the mud.

    "I'm afraid Artoo may be in need of some maintenance when we return to Halo," C-3PO admitted.

    :D Words escape me - this is SO Star Wars.

    nstead of scoffing at her, the Togorian's blaster cannon lowered slightly. "Solo? Han Solo's cub?"

    "Well... His daughter, yes," Jaina admitted, beginning to feel even more nervous.

    The Togorian seemed amused and she thought Jaina heard a murmur working its way through the trees.

    "Solo," the gray creature repeated with a grin. "Yes, we remember him well."

    Yay - at least I think so. ;) Tell me Han doesn't owe the Togorians anything?!

    Han was still adjusting to the realization that his wife was a killing machine.
    Yeah - he'd better remember to put the toilet seat down from now on, or else.

    With somewhat less grace than his wife, Han stepped over the safety railing and hopped down into the din, his feet hitting stone only a moment before his backside did the same.
    Ha - great stuff. It brought home to me again why I admire Han. Things are so much harder for him and yet he keeps on going anyway.

    Mara led them all down to the next level and started for the GFS hangar when the flashing strobe lights of a security speeder came streaking into view, and banked hard ahead of them. Kyle and Mara leveled their blasters at the vehicle, getting ready to unload on it when it came to a dead stop on the pedwalk. The doors opened and out came the unmistakable sound of Barabel sissing.
    Hee hee - loved that bit. A little of echo of Chewie in RotJ in the AT-AT. :) Just the kind of thing the Barabels would find amusing, too.

    What a relief they found Anakin - but his silence is making me nervous.

    Good on Klorne for being suspicious, especially as it meant she let the Lady Luck get away.

    What a chapter! =D=



  2. YodaKenobi VIP

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 27, 2003
    star 6
    Red: Me, too, Impboy. I'm just a lurker these days, and you know what? I still get in trouble that way.

    I guess you should just post all the time then [face_whistling]

    Exactly! That's what I meant, Yobi. What's the big deal with losing just a hand?

    I'm afraid to ask which body parts you think I should have had him lose 8-}







    Tahi: Late again! Sorry.

    No worries, of course [:D]

    Silly old C3PO.

    He's very sensitive :p

    I enjoyed the scene with Jag and the droids a lot Great dialogue.

    Thanks :D

    Wonderful. Actually - can I have a copy of that recipe? Air cake sounds just the right kind of thing for an airhead.

    So who are you cooking it for then? :p

    The greatest compliment ever.

    It is :cool:

    []Can we choose option 4 - all of the above? [/i]

    Absolutely.

    Words escape me - this is SO Star Wars.

    Aww, thanks [face_blush]

    Yay - at least I think so. Tell me Han doesn't owe the Togorians anything?!

    Who knows? :p He was good buddies with one way back when though. We'll find out whether these were Togorians who remember him fondly or not in the epilogue.

    Yeah - he'd better remember to put the toilet seat down from now on, or else.

    [face_laugh]

    Ha - great stuff. It brought home to me again why I admire Han. Things are so much harder for him and yet he keeps on going anyway.

    Yeah, he was always my favorite as a kid :cool:

    Hee hee - loved that bit. A little of echo of Chewie in RotJ in the AT-AT. Just the kind of thing the Barabels would find amusing, too.

    I hadn't even thought of the Chewie connection but you're totally right :D

    What a relief they found Anakin - but his silence is making me nervous.

    The epilogue might make you more nervous :p

    Good on Klorne for being suspicious, especially as it meant she let the Lady Luck get away.

    She's a potential ally for the Jedi at this point. Hopefully that will continue.

    What a chapter!

    Thanks so much, I'm glad you liked it :D And thanks for reading!







    Okay, here we finally are :D Today is the last post of Exodus. I hope you guys like it, but I'll warn you again that it's going to be a bear to get through. Extremely long.

    Hopefully it will answer some questions though and give you an idea where we'll be heading in the next fic.
  3. Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2002
    star 6
  4. Caedus93 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Burning in my seat. Just waiting for the uppdate.
  5. YodaKenobi VIP

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 27, 2003
    star 6
    Epilogue: Exodus

    She wasn't dead.

    He could feel that much as he marched urgently through the Rapture's tunnels, boots thumping almost noiselessly against the glades of cream-colored carpet lining his path with Commander Nyll and three of his elite commandos keeping pace behind him. The presence was murky, but it was there, as if she was trying to hide from him and failing.

    Still, it felt to Jacen Solo as if everything was slipping away.

    All of the misgivings he'd had about Malig's mission had materialized, turning the entire expedition into a debacle that almost cost Jaina her life. As convincing as the Dark Lord's vision of the Force had been to him, Jacen began to wonder if he really understood anything at all. He didn't even really know who Malig was.

    There was no limp in his step as he rounded the corner despite the fact that his right knee was screaming with blades of pain from whatever had popped inside his leg when his sister had delivered a sweeping kick to it. His right shoulder was on fire, boiling from Wrev's lightsaber strike which had come too close to the old wound Darth Malig had healed, but Jacen did not wince or grimace as the smoldering fabric and wet tendrils of his Raithian combat suit brushed against it with each movement.

    If he'd learned anything from Vergere, it was not just to endure or accept pain— but to embrace it.

    The memory of his Fosh guide only brought the same questions to the surface of his mind that had been lurking for weeks. Was the spirit he kept seeing really her? Had she really met Malig and set him on a path to become the Sith's apprentice? It didn't seem possible, and yet the alternative was that he was simply going mad, which while more comforting in some ways, seemed unlikely.

    He wished that the Force would offer him more guidance, or that he could interpret the tangle of blurred images he glimpsed when he slipped into a trance-like state within the Energy's flow, the erratic visions of the future that he'd been getting since his hermitage on Zonama Sekot, but was too limited to truly decipher. It was a side-effect of having lived in the tampasi for so long, meditating there and becoming a part of the living planet in a way that perhaps no one else had. Jacen could see time the way Zonama Sekot did, but it didn't mean he could understand it.

    Where was his path leading him? If he could see it, if he could see which direction his choices led, he could be certain he was doing the right thing.

    Jacen sighed as he and his guards entered one of the cruise liner's extravagant resorts, trying to forget his failures but still sensing that glimmer of Force power on Togoria that felt like a part of him.

    The corridor's ivory-colored bulkheads glistened with the shafts of artificial sunlight filtering through a series viewscreens arrayed on the left and slivers of prismatic brilliance reflected from the Iridonian crystal chandeliers tethered to the ceiling every five meters. It was as lavish and elegant as any of the lodgings packed within the Rapture's Mon Calamari-crafted hull, but now stood eerily still— cordoned off by the Raithian forces.

    News of their presence and the true nature of the cruise liner's lockdown were spreading quickly throughout the Rapture after Aero Gin's antics and Jacen ordering more than three dozen patrons to vacate their rooms. The suites were now part of an official investigation and they needed them in order to ensure the security of the entire ship.

    They reached the end of the corridor where a set of finely-crafted double doors decorated with a flame-like etchings were guarded by two of the blue-armored Raithian troopers who had come to the cruise liner with Aero. The soldiers saluted Jacen as he approached and allowed him and Nyll to pass as he palmed the door control and the panels slid away into the walls with a pneumatic hiss.

    Beyond the arched doorway was one of two suites that were now being searched, with a handful of guards stationed around the room with their blaster rifles at the ready, and the prisoners shackled and seated on the two giant beds amidst the mounds of tasseled-pillows and bundled shrouds cascading down from the canopies. On one bed was a heap of twitching blue fur that chittered and sneezed, and tried in vain to wash their ears with the stuncuffs around their tiny wrists. On the other, lay a lissome Twi'lek with long, graceful legs, and sinuous lekku that draped flatly over her shoulders.

    She looked up immediately when the doors parted, her green eyes widening with surprise.

    "Jacen?"

    There was a quiver of excitement in Alema's voice, as if she thought his appearance there meant she would be rescued, and Jacen couldn't stand it— he couldn't see that look of complete disappointment in another person's eyes when they realized that he was not who they wanted him to be. The look Jaina had given him... and Uncle Luke.

    He looked away quickly, turning his attention to one of the women standing guard. "Where did you find them?"

    The trooper's apprehension at the sudden shift in the chain of command seeped into the Force. Only days earlier, the Raithians had been hunting Jacen, and he realized it was going to take some time to build trust with the soldiers, just as he was losing all he had built with the people he loved most in the galaxy. Thankfully, the Raithian troopers at least seemed to trust their superiors enough to obey Jacen when they were told he would be their new leader.

    "In a jettison tube around the bow, sir," she answered. "They appeared to be waiting for something."

    "Have they said anything?"

    "Not the Twi'lek— she just came to though." Jacen glanced over at Alema and noted for the first time the bandage over the dimple of blue flesh at the base of her throat where a pestile dart had pierced her. Had it only been a week since he and his siblings had destroyed the toxin refinery on Felucia in order to cut off the Raithians' supply of the weapon? And now what was left of it was aiding him... He didn't know how to feel about that.

    "Jacen!" Alema said in disbelief. "What's going on?"

    He ignored her.

    "The Squibs won't shut up though," the soldier went on, gesturing with her blaster towards the three creatures on the other bed. "They keep trying to make deals with us, promising us all sorts of information and treasures.

    The little alien's tufted ears perked up when Jacen turned his attention to them and their eyes gleamed with a similar flash of opportunity for escape that Alema's had. "Greetings," said the male Squib in the center. "Name's Sligh. This is Emala," he said, motioning with his snout as to not draw attention to the restraints around his wrists. "That's Grees."

    All three looked up at him with their large brown eyes and fluttered exceptionally long lashes in an attempt to maximize their adorability. Jacen chewed his bottom lip before turning back to the soldier. He still wasn't used to talking to the blank visors of the Raithian helmets, but at least he could feel a person there behind the armor.

    "Was anyone hurt?"

    As bad as things had gone, none of the commandos Jacen had led onto the Rapture had sustained casualties, though he had heard of a dustup in one of the storage rooms with a man who fit the description of Jagged Fel and beat one of Aero's soldiers unconscious.

    "The Twi'lek killed one of my people and put another in the medbay for the foreseeable future until we nailed her with the dart. Be careful, General, she didn't even have a weapon. She's cute, but she's a nasty little space hussy."

    Alema didn't seem bothered by the insult, directing her scorn instead at Jacen. "General? What are you doing?"

    The former Jedi finally turned his attention to the bound Twi'lek, squatting down next to her bed so that they were nearly eye level. "Alema, listen to me— I know about Jaina, Jag, and Wrev. Was there any one else with you?"

    She slowly leaned back, her eyes narrowing with suspicion.

    "This is important. Who else came here with you?" Alema just glared vibroblades at Jacen, and he shook his head, continuing on. "Look, if you just tell me, I can help—"

    He recoiled against a spatter of moisture as Alema spit in his face.

    "I'm not telling you anything!" She snarled. "You would betray us to them? Murderers? Slavers? You're nothing but a lying schutta, Jacen Solo."

    He stood, sighing as he wiped his face with his hand. "See what I mean?" The trooper said. "Very refined."

    "There are ways of making her answer questions, sir," Nyll said from behind. "We have people that specialize in that kind of interrogation."

    As much as Jacen was beginning to genuinely like the Raithian and his commandos, it seemed that every so often, Nyll or his men would say something that gave the new Sith Lord chills and made him question whether he'd made the right decision back on Denon.

    Jacen stared at Nyll's dark face-plate for a moment before shaking his head and turning back to Alema. "It doesn't matter, I guess. If there's another Jedi here from Ossus, I guess we'll bring them in sooner or later."

    "You're disgusting," Alema seethed, as Jacen's comlink began to chirp.

    He snapped the device from his belt and thumbed it on. "Solo."

    "General, where are you? I've been trying to contact you for more than an hour."

    It took him a moment to recognize Captain Sayge's voice through the tangles of static jumbling the transmission from the Forage hanging outside of Togoria's atmosphere to the Rapture.

    "We've been kind of busy down here, Captain," Jacen replied with a trace of irritation. "What's the emergency?"

    "It's that bounty hunter woman, sir. Apparently she took the shuttle from the Rapture and docked with the Drayker."

    The Drayker was the first warship that arrived at Togoria from Ossus, bringing Aero Gin and her forces to the Rapture.

    "She's not here anymore?" Jacen asked in disbelief.

    "It gets worse, I'm afraid, sir. According to the ship's captain, Gin then boarded her Stealth Dagger and left the system."

    Jacen brought the comm away from his mouth trying to make sense of it all. He knew that Aero had been in a very public scuffle with Jag in one of the cruise liner's theatres and by all accounts, she'd been left paralyzed for some time before disappearing. Jaina had always been the bounty hunter's target, but Jacen knew his sister was down on the planet's surface somewhere... So where was Aero going?

    It didn't make any sense, but he decided it was probably better this way. He'd never wanted her on the mission to begin with, and having a loose blaster cannon like Aero far away from Jaina and the others meant there was less chance of one of them being killed.

    "Thank you for the information, Captain. Was there anything else?"

    "Well... Commander Nyll sent word to me that you were unable to capture Jedi Solo," the captain began tentatively. It felt so strange for someone to refer to his sister as "Jedi Solo" in front of him without the fear of confusion, but then, Jacen knew he was no longer a Jedi. "Did I hear correctly that she is on the planet's surface?"

    The man who had been General Rénin's trusted captain aboard the Exodus seemed as though he didn't believe a word of it. "That's correct," Jacen replied into the comlink.

    "Sir... Should we not be trying to interdict the system then? Bring in more warships and pickets to stop all outbound flights? If she can get to a space craft somewhere on Togoria she'll easily escape."

    Again Jacen lowered the comlink as he considered how to respond. He'd bungled his sister's arrest so badly that he feared he was doomed to fail again, especially when Aero Gin's actions seemed to confirm his worst fears about the operation, knowing that no matter how hard he tried, the others involved could put Jaina's life in danger.

    And now she and Jag and maybe Wrev were down on Togoria like cornered animals, and Jacen remembered his days at the Jedi Academy with his collection of exotic pets— or even the many creatures on Zonama Sekot— well enough to know how animals reacted when they were cornered. If he was to make another attempt to capture Jaina on the surface or they snagged her with a tractor beam on her way out of the system and dragged her in as a prisoner on one of the Raithian warships, his twin would fight to her death.

    She would never surrender.

    Jacen saw that clearly when she dove off the Rapture's hull to what should have been certain death.

    Finally, he raised the cylinder of white plastoid back to his lips. "No... negative. We can't start intercepting all ships coming out of Togoria. It would ignite a civil war faster than we already are."

    "So we're... letting her go?"

    "That's correct. Get the Forage prepped to jump back to Denon, Captain. My men and I should be up there in an hour or so. This mission is over."

    There was a long enough pause over the fizzling static to communicate Sayge's lack of confidence in him, before the man's voice came back. "Very well, sir."

    "A wise decision," one of the Squibs said as Jacen switched his comm off.

    "Yes," said another— Grees, if he remembered correctly. "We can tell you're one of the smart Solos."

    "Not like your sister," Emala added. "She tried to swindle us."

    "Double-cross."

    "We're glad to see you do not suffer from her deficiency," Sligh continued. "And you're lucky too."

    "Why's that?" Jacen asked, putting his hands on his hips.

    "That you have us to deal with, of course."

    "We have information to trade you that will prove very valuable to you," Emala explained.

    "It's why we think you're wise to just let your sister go," Grees said in a blatant salesman's attempt to hook Jacen by being cryptic.

    The former Jedi fought to keep from rolling his eyes. "And why's that?"

    "Because we know where she's going," Sligh explained. "We were tricked into selling the Jedi some supplies—"

    "We didn't know they were wanted criminals," Grees was quick to point out.

    "Yeah, we certainly wouldn't associate with that kind of scum if we'd known that."


    "We're not Ugors," Emala chastened.

    "But when we got there we knew things weren't on the up and up, so we hid some tracking devices in with their supplies."

    "We were working undercover for the Galactic Alliance!"

    "Right," Grees said. "But then your sister and her two dim-witted mates kidnapped us and forced us to come here."

    Emala nodded. "We're actually lucky you came along to rescue us from them."

    Sligh picked up with the story, forcing Jacen to keep looking from one to the other of the furred-creatures. "When your sister found out about the tracking devices, she got very upset and destroyed the remote."

    "So unprofessional," Emala added.

    "We were very disappointed in her."

    "But you're in luck, General," Sligh announced with a confident grin forming below his snout. "Because we remember what system our tracking beacons were at before it was destroyed."

    "Where the Jedi are hiding."

    "And where your sister will be heading."

    All three of the Squibs' ears perked up again when their explanation was finished, as if anxiously awaiting Jacen's offer for their information or perhaps even expecting praise for their diligent service to the Galactic Alliance.

    "I already know the location of the Jedi base," Jacen said, crushing the little being's hopes and enjoying the look of astonishment on their furry faces.

    "But... but..." Grees sputtered.

    "You're bluffing!" Sligh blurted. "There's no way you could know that the Jedi are at—"

    Jacen waved his hand and sent the Squib sailing into the wall with a blast of Force energy. The flailing creature bounced off a nightstand and tumbled across the floor jabbering angrily in Squibbian. The last thing he needed was the Squibs revealing to his men the location of Halo and putting his friends and family in more danger. It was one piece of information Darth Malig had not asked for and something Jacen would never tell.

    "Is there anything else you have to offer for your freedom?" The new Sith asked, hoping the change in subject would distract the Squibs from mentioning Hoth.

    The three little beings exchanged looks before Emala turned to him and said, "We can make you a very generous deal on a Chiss charric."

    Jacen just stared at them for a moment before saying, "I'll think about it," and turning back to the female trooper to his left. "Where are the other two?"

    "In the adjoining suite," she explained, voice muffled through her helmet, before she gestured to the room hidden by the curve of the white wall and the archway that separated the two suites. "Grajja! Bring them in."

    A muscled Falleen in a garish orange robe and a slight woman with dazzling geometric blue tattoos appeared in the archway, shuffling forward reluctantly. Unlike Alema and the Squibs, they were not restrained, but the pair of troopers behind them were nudging them forward with the barrels of their blaster rifles.

    "Administrator Qixiz," Jacen greeted, keeping his hands at his hips near the lightsaber clipped to his belt and the blaster pistol stuffed into a thigh holster. "Thank you for coming, I know you're a very busy man."

    The Falleen was put off balance by Jacen's greeting, furrowing his sloped brow further. Qixiz had hardly been given a choice in the matter, as the Raithian General had sent his troopers to retrieve him by force and bring him to these suites.

    "I... It's my pleasure," he managed.

    "I'm sorry, I seem to have forgotten your assistant's name."

    The young woman exchanged a glance with her employer before turning back to Jacen. "Spek," she answered.

    "Right, Spek," he said, before turning and beginning to pace around the chamber. "Well, as you can see, Administrator, we located the Jedi and their allies here."

    "I'm relieved," Qixiz said. It was always more difficult to tell when cold-blooded creatures were lying, especially when they were as naturally convincing as the Falleen. They rarely fumbled or fidgeted— there were never any beads of perspiration forming on their scalps or shivers running up their spinal ridges to give them away. Thankfully, Jacen had the Force and the facts to tell that the Rapture's administrator was anything but happy by seeing Alema and the Squibs there.

    "We also found their ship." Jacen looked up from his aimless route around the room. "The one Aero described to you when she arrived and you said that nothing like that had docked here— You said no one had docked with the Rapture recently."

    Qixiz's mouth tightened and the Raithian's new leader continued. "And of course, if you're standing here, I'm sure you recognize the suites you rented my sister and her friends."

    The feather-haired girl at Qixiz's side was squirming in place while her employer remained stoic, saying nothing as he stared back at Jacen.

    "So why did you lie to us, Administrator?" Jacen asked, closing the distance between them, his jaw clenched as he tried to conceal all emotion.

    "You've got it all wrong, Solo," Spek began, her blue lips trembling.

    The Falleen beside her opened his own mouth to respond but Jacen cut him off. "Before you lie again, let me assure you that I'm well aware of your species' invulnerability to Jedi mind-tricks, so don't bother suggesting that my sister used the Force to deceive you and make you forget of their arrival here."

    "Leave them alone," Alema hissed. "They did nothing."

    "They did enough. You couldn't have come here without him knowing."

    Qixiz scowled. "What do you want from me?"

    "The truth."

    "The truth? I didn't want to aid the Jedi. I couldn't care less about them. But what I do care about is peace and security on this ship, and that mad woman who first brought your people aboard the Rapture made it very clear she was going to make a mess if she found them. What choice did I have? If I handed them over, it would be bad for business. If there's a fight here, that's even worse.

    "I was only doing my job, which is keeping this cruise ship running smoothly and turning a profit for its owners."

    Jacen was struck by the simplicity of it. While he always seem to be caught up in a huge galactic struggle, Qixiz was just trying to protect his little corner of existence, as indifferent to the larger things at play that would ultimately affect him as Aero probably was to the lives of those on the Rapture. The Falleen just didn't want to have his life disturbed.

    But whether his motives had been noble or not, Jacen couldn't escape the conclusion that Qixiz's actions had saved his sister's life— he'd kept her and the others alive and safe from Aero long enough for Jacen to arrive, and he could hardly blame the Administrator for his own failing in being able to convince his sister to surrender willingly. The blame for that rested firmly on Jacen's shoulders, and perhaps on Wrev's as well, for his unreasoning and violent interference.

    "I see," Jacen said. "And you realize what you've done amounts to treason?"

    The broad-shouldered Falleen just sneered. "I would have asked for legal counsel if I thought there was any chance you'd allow it."

    It was a crime punishable by death— one of the few the Alliance had, and Jacen couldn't help but remember it was also one of the charges against his uncle.

    "So what are you going to do to us?" Spek questioned.

    "Nothing," Jacen replied. "You're free to go."

    "Sir... are you sure that's wise?" Commander Nyll moved forward, clearly worried about his superior's sanity. "There's plenty of detention space on the Forage."

    It was a surprise to see Nyll questioning his orders openly and Jacen knew immediately that the Raithian must have been extremely rattled. There was no doubt in Jacen's mind what the Nyll was thinking: That's not what General Rénin would have done. Rénin wouldn't have even bothered detaining them— he would have killed them. He would have punished them for their betrayal and sent a message to everyone else in the galaxy about committing treason against the new Galactic Alliance.

    But that's not what the Raithians would be anymore— not while Jacen was in command of their forces. Kol Rénin had been a cruel butcher, corrupted by his own power and desire for more. Like Palpatine... like Vader. If Darth Malig was right, that wasn't what a Sith Lord was supposed to be and it wasn't how Jacen Solo would ever be.

    "Qixiz and his assistant probably saved my sister's life, and they are free to go," Jacen responded, not turning to face the commando.

    The pair of troopers with their blaster muzzles nestled between the two captives' shoulder blades lowered their weapons. Tentatively, the Falleen stepped forward, giving Jacen a small nod of thanks before reaching back to grab Spek's tattooed-hand. "Come along, Miss Tavin. We have a ship to run."

    Jacen stepped to the side, allowing them both to leave as he felt relief rolling off of them through the Force at having escaped with their lives.

    "And what about the others?" Nyll asked, gesturing at Alema and the Squibs.

    "Yes," the Twi'lek Jedi said in a surly tone. "What will you do with us now?"

    "You're coming with me," he replied. "All of you."

    "There's no need to punish them too."

    "I think the Squibs will be very useful."

    "Squibs are very useful," Emala chimed in.

    "Very resourceful," Sligh added.

    Alema shook her head, her long lekku twitching angrily as her supple lips sneered. "You are not going to imprison me as you have others."

    "In time you may change your mind," Jacen said as the troopers moved to grab Alema by her elbows and hoisted her from the bed.

    "There's someone I want you to meet."



    ***



    The Lady Luck's landing ramp descended in a fog of flushing exhaust and streams of vapor that billowed across the hangar's durasteel deck like an unfurling rug to welcome the returning Jedi. Bystanders looked on as whispers worked their way through the echoing chamber in hushed tones, wanting to know if all that had been sacrificed had been worth it, and if the Jedi's leader and the others captured had returned.

    Mara Jade Skywalker came storming down the ramp amidst the flood of exhaust before it even touched the ground, her brooding presence a web of fire and grief while the sour expression smeared across her features drained all hope from the onlookers that their mission to Denon had been any sort of success. Kyle, the Barabels, and Kirana Ti were a few steps behind as Mara began to stride across the deck, looking for a boy amongst the clusters of Jedi, mechanics, smugglers, and other allies.

    Halo was much the same as the rescue team had left it almost three days earlier, the glowpanels ringing around the bulkheads and beaming down between storage gantries dim and flickering wildly and the hangar deck strewn with parts and tools on top of scuff marks and carbon black scars. It was Lando who broke from the circle of gatherers first, almost jogging forward to intercept Mara on her path from the docked star yacht.

    "What happened?" He asked, face falling as he inspected the woman's face more closely.

    She just shook her head. "Where's my son, Calrissian?"

    "Oh... he's over there" the dapper man stammered, gesturing back to the gathering as Mara stepped around him. He at least waited until he thought she couldn't see him to run up and hug one of the Lady Luck's landing struts.

    Mara pushed her way through the others until she found him, standing next to Kyp and Mirax near an aging shuttle that was being repaired, its gutted control housings stuffed with tangles of stripped wires and dangling cables. Ben was filthy and looked as tired as Mara had ever seen him, his eyes barely open, his clothes rumbled and red hair disheveled— it was immediately obvious that the boy had not spent the time since she'd left on Halo in the care of Tendra Calrissian and Tionne.

    "Mom!" He cried, his azure eyes lighting up for a moment as she rushed forward and he met her halfway.

    Mara crouched down to wrap him in a tight hug while wishing she could reach out in the Force to make sure her son was okay. There was no injury or trauma that she could detect by looking at him, but her son was more exhausted than she thought, and in between the beams of elation she saw within him at her return, was something that was troubling him.

    "Where's Dad?" He asked when she put him at arm's length.

    It was all Mara could do to keep from crying. She'd failed her son, failed her husband, and now she wasn't sure if she would ever see Luke Skywalker again. There was something so final about the way that Raithian shuttle had disappeared through Denon's night sky that made her blood run cold, and Mara found she could not look her son in the eye as she lied to him.

    "I saw him and he's fine, but I couldn't get him yet. I will though, Ben," she said, finally managing to look up. "I promise."

    Tears were already running down the young boy's cheeks and Mara wiped them with her thumbs, hugging Ben again before she stood up and turned her attention to the Jedi Master standing awkwardly to her right.

    "What happened to him?"

    For just a fraction of a second, the way in which Kyp Durron's eyes widened when she addressed him made her think that he'd just as soon run away as answer her question.

    "Look, it's not my fault!" He began— Mara knew it was bad. "Ben snuck on board the Falcon and from there he got on the Errant Venture when we docked. I had no idea until it was too late!"

    "What!"

    "We would have taken him back but we couldn't," Kyp said, holding his hands up. "The battle had already started and we couldn't risk transporting him through it all. He was safer on the Venture."

    "Please don't be mad, Mom," Ben pleaded from below. "I'm sorry, I just wanted to help."

    Mara kept her eyes on Kyp as they narrowed into a glare. "Did you make him help you, Durron?"

    "No, no. I couldn't make him... I mean, I asked him to help since he was going to be there anyway. What's the harm?" If her son had not been there, Mara was fairly certain she would have backhanded the dark-haired man. "He saved a lot of lives, Mara. I don't think any of us would have survived without him. The Alliance just attacked us and—"

    "You put the idea in his head! You encouraged this!"

    "And it's a good thing I did; we'd all be dead right now!"

    "Just stay away from my son," Mara seethed.

    "Where's Jysella?" Mirax asked, looking over Mara's shoulder as the Solos finally made their way down the landing ramp, Anakin appearing as despondent as he had been on the trip from Denon to Hoth. "And Tahiri?"

    Mara's mouth opened to respond but no words could be urged from her tongue. In her anger over Ben sneaking off to Corellia and her own failings, she'd forgotten that Mirax was standing there and the other losses they'd suffered. Valin stepped forward, having been lurking somewhere behind Mirax, a scowl of suspicion forming around eyes far too hard for one so young.

    "Tahiri's gone," Mara managed. "She was killed. And Jysella... we're not sure what happened to her."

    A cry escaped Mirax's mouth before she covered it with one hand and tears formed a glistening layer around her eyes.

    "I lost sight of her," Mara continued, shaking her head sadly. "She and Tahiri were supposed to be behind me, I... I don't know what led them another direction. Anakin found Tahiri's body, but your daughter... we don't know where she is."

    "You left her?" Valin snapped in disbelief.

    "There..." There was no reason to believe she survived, Mara stopped herself from saying. "There was no choice. We had no idea where she went and... We were ambushed. Somehow, the Alliance knew we were coming and they trapped us."

    "What?" Kyp's jaw was clenched and his dark eyes flared with anger.

    "Haven't had time to figure it out yet, Kyp, but we've got a traitor somewhere in the Order's allies."

    "Jysella," Mirax said, grabbing Mara's arm and still fighting off the despair threatening to spill over her trembling eyes. "You didn't... feel anything?"

    The Jedi Master and former Emperor's Hand found she had as much difficulty facing Mirax as she had her own son and looked down, shaking her head. "She was there in the Force one minute and then she just wasn't... I never felt her go."

    Valin put his arm around his mother, holding Mara's gaze a moment before turning to comfort the woman as she broke down completely.

    "She's not dead, Mom. I'd know," the young man whispered.

    Mara had to turn away, grabbing Ben by the hand and leading him away to allow the Horns a chance to grieve yet another loss to their already fractured family.

    "Mom, are you mad at me?" Ben asked as they made their way back through the crowd.

    "No, I'm just sad Ben... We'll talk about your punishment later."

    "Oh..."

    The boy sounded only slightly disappointed, before he turned grim and his face fell further, leaving no doubt he was again thinking of his father. Ben was too young to be enduring so much, to be without Luke, and to be caught in the middle of a war and have people asking him to fight it.

    "We need to get you to bed," Mara started. "You—"

    Her words were lost as the hangar erupted with the screeching wail of the docking alarm buzzing through the chamber and forcing everyone to whirl around towards the bay doors as they pulled open to reveal the shimmering glow of the atmospheric containment field wrapped over the star-dappled darkness outside and the river of tumbling rock and sparkling star dust that formed Hoth's asteroid belt.

    It took only a moment for the small starship to appear, banking around a pock-riddled asteroid as it angled for the open bay, the system's sun casting a sheet of golden light across its vertical ring of forward viewports that reflected in a glare of amber and violet-white beads. Mara recognized the approaching craft as an old Neimoidian Sheathipede-class shuttle that had been retrofitted with a hyperdrive and a small weapons mount along its belly.

    The insect-like transport broke the magnetic seal over Halo's hangar bay and cruised slowly in before its repulsors engaged and it twisted around to land softly on its four landing struts. A group of mechanics along with Han and Leia were rushing towards the new arrival before Mara had a chance to even consider who it might be or why the spacestation's control would allow them in. She found herself edging through the group to see who it was.

    Streams of exhaust vented around the craft's legs before its landing ramp was lowered to the hangar deck and two figures appeared, one supporting the other as it limped down the plank of metal. They stepped beyond the shadow of the transport's tail fin and the faces of Jag Fel and Jaina Solo came into view, bruised and beaten. Jaina's leg was in a crude splint and her left arm wrapped in a sling— Mara had never seen the young woman so battered, even during the carnage of the Yuuzhan Vong War.

    "Jaina!" Leia exclaimed, pushing through the crowd to get to her daughter first with Han hot on her heels. "What happened?"

    "Get Halo ready to transport," she said, wincing when it was obvious talking made the cut and bruise on one cheek throb. "We're not safe here any more."



    ***



    "Can you explain to me, Director... what exactly I'm looking at?"

    The small courtyard between the Galactic Alliance's Senate Offices and the Chief of State's private hangar bay was nearly unrecognizable. Smoldering craters in the ground still bled wisps of smoke from grenade detonations and dust rolled from the cascades of strewn rubble, adding to the haze of battle hanging over the city in the wake of the Jedi terrorists' rampage across the district. The once pristine gray cobblestones were raked with blast marks and covered in heaps of bodies and scattered metallic-blue armor still bearing crooked furrows and blacked pits burned through the plasmasteel to detail each stroke of the murderer's lightsaber.

    Ayddar Nylykerka removed the hat that had been covering his large Tammarian head as he studied the carnage. "This would be one of the crime scenes," he said, almost as if he didn't believe it himself. "We have nothing duracrete at this point, but the reports during the battle coming back to Federation Security were that the perpetrator was none other than Anakin Solo."

    Fyor Rodan's eyes widened as he turned away from the corpses to check if the Intelligence Director was joking. "You're telling me that one person did this?"

    "As far as we know. There were no survivors, sir."

    The Chief of State shook his head, turning his attention back to the remnants of the massacre that had concluded less than ten hours earlier. GFS teams were making holorecordings of the scene and carefully collecting evidence under Than Ulgran's orders as Denon's sun was just cresting over the top of the glistening towers in the planet's cityscape, shinning brilliantly down with far more promise than Rodan felt at the moment. It was the time of morning where it felt painfully bright and the muscles around his eyes ached from having to squint out so much of the radiance and see the trail of bodies.

    "But a Jedi?" He asked.

    "Is it really that surprising? This has become their method as far as I can tell. More brutal this time for sure, but the murder was the same as that of Commander Darklighter and Sien Sovv."

    "Oh, yes, of course," Rodan replied, silently chiding himself. Nylykerka, like the rest of the galaxy, was unaware that Darklighter and Sovv had actually been murdered by General Rénin and the crime scenes manipulated to look as thought they'd been the victims of a Jedi assassin.

    "There he is," Nylykerka went on, stepping forward and gesturing to a body that stood out in the sea of ruptured armor.

    It was large and wrapped in garish orange robes of shimmersilk that only a Kuati royal would consider fashionable— Rodan knew instantly that he was staring down at the body of his Minister of State, Mulla Habbas. There was a burn hole through his hand where several fingers were missing, and his bulk ended at the shoulders where he'd been decapitated.

    Rodan was reminded of Sien Sovv suffering a similar fate in his office only days earlier on Rénin's blade. He couldn't help but look down at Habbas and wonder if he was glimpsing his own fate. Should be betray Darth Malig, he was certain to know what such a death felt like, but now it seemed the honorable Jedi were actually as ruthless as the Raithians were making them out to be, and actively hunting their enemies. If Solo had tracked down and murdered Habbas, who was little more than an intermediary in the Jedi's exile, he and his cohorts were certainly going to come after Rodan— and he expected he would receive even less mercy.

    No matter which direction Rodan turned, his fate would be the same. He was absolutely alone in this now, and as he looked at Habbas, he wondered if the Jedi were sending him just that message.

    "It's a shame," Nylykerka said, his air sacks inflating with a sad sigh.

    "Yes," Rodan agreed absently.

    "I know he was a friend of yours. You have my deepest condolences."

    "Yes, yes. Thank you very much, Director."

    "His head is over there if you’d like to identify him officially, sir."

    Rodan suddenly felt queasy. "I think I'll pass."

    A voice cut through the cacophony of city life and the crowds of bystanders perched on still-intact pedwalks that overlooked the courtyard to get a peek at the massacre, drawing his attention, and the Chief of State looked up to see a shimmering projection of a HoloNet broadcast on the side of a building. Next to the attractive Zeltron anchor were file images of Habbas and General Rénin along the side while streams of Aurebesh flowed beneath it all.

    Rodan couldn't quite make out what was being said over the crowd noise and fumbled for his portable 'Net receiver and switched to the right channel before slipping the earpiece in as the anchor's crisp voice sounded in his head.

    ...Unconfirmed reports that both Minister of State Habbas and the Raithian Supreme Commander were killed in the Jedi attack early last evening. It remains unclear whether the assassinations were the goal of the orchestrated assault or if Habbas and Rénin were victims of circumstance, but it does make sense of the announcement from the Chief of State's media office this morning, declaring that none other than Jacen Solo would become the new leader of the Raithian military. "

    A picture of the Solo's oldest child replaced that of the deceased on the left-hand side of the projection.

    "According to the release, Solo has abandoned the criminal Jedi to aid the Alliance in its fight against them. No word yet on how he's come to lead the Raithian forces rather than one of the GA's own branches or even replace Sien Sovv as the Supreme Commander. Similarly absent was any mention of Solo's connection to Hapes, as their recently anointed first King of the sixty-three worlds that make up the Consortium.

    There still is no word from Chief Rodan's office about the attacks themselves.

    Again, we have received unconfirmed reports that Mulla Habbas and General Kol Rénin were two of the victims in last nights attack. Rénin is the Raithian leader who came to fame nearly two months ago when he rushed to the aid of the Alliance at Kuat and—"


    The voice vanished into the distant sound over the crowd murmur as Rodan plucked his earpiece free and grumbled under his breath. "Well, I guess word's out now."

    "Yes," Nylykerka said. "You know how I felt about Rénin. He was torturing prisoners. I'm sorry he's been killed, but this could be a great opportunity."

    "Yes, I see your point."

    Rodan was barely listening to the Intelligence Director. All he could think about was how easy it was for Darth Malig to replace those who were doing his bidding, even his own trusted servant. And now the Jedi had become desperate, staging a feint to use Centerpoint at Corellia and rampaging through Denon with total disregard for innocent life.

    He remembered how Malig had forced him to kill Cal Omas only a month earlier.

    A lesson in how to maintain power, the Dark Lord had called it.

    The old man's eyes swept back to Habbas' still form and a chill like he'd never felt before began to set into his bones.



    ***



    Jaina watched as the figure hung suspended in the viscous fluid, his body distorted and stretched by the curve of the tank's glass and features obscured by the breath mask and the jets of oxygen bubbles streaming from it to the top of the pool. He would be submerged for days, perhaps more than a week as the synthetic chemical regenerated tissues and tried to mend more than a dozen fractures in the Jedi Knight's body. But there was nothing the bacta could do to replace Wrev's right hand— he'd have to be fitted with a cybernetic implant to repair that.

    Sighing, Jaina toweled off her own sodden hair and tried to get the cloying scent of bacta out of her nostrils as she continued to watch through the observation screen where the med droids and Tekli monitored Wrev in the med lab. Things would have been so much easier if Halo wasn't one giant ysalamir-bubble where they were unable to use the Force for anything, let alone heal themselves. She'd been submerged herself for more than six hours and would need at least three more treatments to repair the nasty break in her left leg, but she didn't care. The session had repaired the damaged tissues in her arm and fused the torn ligaments along with a host of other cuts, bruises, and a mild concussion she'd suffered in her fall from the Rapture, and all she could think of now was what she would soon have to face.

    It had been haunting her since she saw Jacen there on the cruise liner, seeping into her nightmares while she hung within her bacta tank, and consumed her on the voyage from Togoria to Hoth. They'd been lucky that the Togorians that found them there knew and remembered her father fondly— it was often the opposite when some stranger told her they remembered Han Solo. She didn't ask how or why, but they gave her and Jag a shuttle with the promise of a future cred payment via a bank transfer in order to get them off the planet and she knew she would be forever indebted to them for their kindness.

    But things had only gotten worse since they'd arrived on Halo and Jaina learned what had happened to the other Jedi and her family since their escape from Ossus. Tahiri Veila was dead, a young woman who was more of a sister to Jaina than a friend, and Jysella Horn was presumed dead as well— both after having been ambushed on Denon. The Jedi were all mystified by how the Raithians had anticipated their rescue attempt on the galactic capital, knowing someone must have betrayed them and completely baffled by who it could be— but Jaina knew.

    To make matters worse, Winter Celchu had contacted Halo through a secure channel to inform them that Admiral Ackbar had been killed when Raithian forces had stormed his home on Mon Cal to arrest him for treason. Someone had obviously informed them that the retired hero had been aiding the renegade Jedi and the GA had sent their new favorite attack massiffs to take care of the problem.

    Jacen, how could you? Jaina thought as tears began to run down her cheeks. What he'd done on Togoria was bad enough, joining a Sith Lord and attempting to take her as his prisoner, but now people they loved were dead because of him.

    The soft whir of shifting servomotors glided in behind her and Jaina looked up to see the faint reflection of C-3PO's bronzium plating in the transparent barrier between them and the med lab. She wiped her eyes, hoping the protocol droid would not notice she'd been weeping as he waddled in beside her and gazed through the observation screen at Wrev and then turned his bright photoreceptors onto her.

    "Why, Mistress Jaina, you appear to be fully functional again," he praised. "I'm so relieved."

    "Thanks, Threepio," she said, smiling weakly.

    "I'm afraid I cannot say the same for poor Artoo. He's badly damaged and everyone here is occupied with preparing the station to be towed to another system to repair him."

    "I'm sure he'll be okay. I'll take a look as soon as I can, okay?"

    Jaina turned back to the observation window as C-3PO went on.

    "I don't think anything can be done; I've never seen him like this. He's always been such a reckless little droid. I knew eventually he would end up like this but he would never listen to me. Now things will never be the same... Why, Mistress Jaina, what's wrong?"

    The young woman didn't bother wiping her tears away this time as her barriers finally broke.

    "My brother's betrayed us," she cried.

    For perhaps the first time in his existence, the protocol droid didn't seem to know what to say, instead gently laying a hand on Jaina's shoulder as she slumped forward and shook, hot tears pouring through her clenched eyes. None of it seemed real. As fractured as the galaxy had been in her life time and as harrowing as the Jedi's exile from the Alliance had been, there had always been a hope of recovery, the reminder that they'd made it through the battles against the Yuuzhan Vong and could face anything.


    But not now.

    Jacen had sent her universe spinning into oblivion and Jaina could no longer see even the faintest of lights awaiting them at the end of the darkened path they'd been herded onto. Threepio was right— things would never be the same.

    A familiar presence approached from behind and Jaina heard the measure footsteps grow louder in the observation chamber.

    "I should return to Artoo and see if there's something I can do for him," C-3PO said tentatively, peeling his hand from her shoulder. "I'm sure everything will work out... eventually."

    Meekly, the droid turned and padded stiffly out of the room. Jaina finally swiveled around on the stool she was seated to see Jag standing in the entrance. There was a bandage on his forehead and he looked as though he'd just gotten out of the sanisteam, but his face remained scruffy and he was still donning the clothes he'd worn on the Rapture.

    "How is he?" Jag asked, gesturing to his chin to the bacta tank beyond the partition.

    "He'll live."

    "I suppose that's good news," he replied dryly. "... And you?"

    "I'll live too."

    The pilot smiled. "That, I know is good news."

    "I'm glad someone does," Jaina replied, absently fidgeting with her flight suit. She'd put it on too soon after emerging from the bacta tank and was annoyed by the fact the fabric kept sticking to her skin. "How are the preparations coming?"

    "We should be ready to go in four hours," he said, taking a few steps forward.

    They stayed that way for several minutes until the silence became almost deafening to the Jedi Knight.

    "I have to tell them, don't I?"

    Jag nodded. "Yes."

    She'd told Jag everything while he flew them away from Togoria— about Jacen, about Wrev's injuries, about what her brother had said on board the Rapture about the Sith. It had all come pouring out of her in the cockpit of the Neimoidian shuttle through a stream of tears as Jag tried to comfort her.

    "They're going to find out sooner or later," he went on. "Best they hear it from you sooner."

    "What are they saying?"

    "They've put together that we're moving Halo because of a traitor, obviously, based on the fact they were ambushed at Denon. But no one has any idea who it is yet."

    Jaina wished she could reach out in the Force and find Jacen, to touch that presence she knew so well and see that there was no taint to it, that she had misunderstood everything that had happened aboard the Rapture or perhaps even dreamed it all. She couldn't just let her brother go...

    "I don't want to do this," she said, shaking her head.

    "I know. But you have to," Jag replied, before offering her his hand. "And I'll come with you."





    It happened in a small cargo hold.

    It was dark with only a few working glowpanels ringed around the floor and a column suspended above, and nearly empty, with crates and plastine cylinders scattered across the deck that served as seats for the gathering. Much of the metal that had been used to make Halo had been harvested from old ships and structures by Tendrando Arms, and used in the less public areas of the space station— the cargo hold was no exception. Its bulkheads were dull gray durasteel, tarnished and worn from years of use, and scarred by carbon burns and chemical spills.

    Jaina stood before them, explaining what had happened since she left Ossus under assault, detailing Lowbacca's heroic sacrifice and the circumstances that led them to the cruise liner at Togoria known as the Rapture.

    "I should have never trusted those Squibs," Han grumbled.

    He was sitting on a long ridged footlocker beside Leia, who punched his thigh to quiet him, keeping her eyes focused on her daughter who had called them all there for something she would only describe as "important." Anakin seemed as though he was barely listening at times, seated on a metal crate a half meter away and often staring straight ahead in a trance, while Mara remained standing in the back, her arms folded and wearing a scowl that Leia had come to know was not anger but her sister-in-law's way of listening intently to something disturbing.

    Perched on a carboplas barrel across what made up an aisle between them, was Tenel Ka, who seemed more confused than anything, but Leia could hardly blame her. The Queen Mother had told them of her mission home to Hapes and her father's death at the hands of his own mother. For his part, Jag remained silent, standing dutifully at Jaina's side and a pace back as if to lend support.

    It was in this setting that their lives would change forever, and Leia hadn't an inkling it was coming. She would later muse whether she might have sensed something in the Force if there hadn't been so many ysalamiri on board the space station hiding them from Faybol— if the energy would have given her some hint, some warning, some clue at the revelation that would tear her family and the galaxy asunder.

    "But it wasn't Rénin who was pursuing us," Jaina said, almost as if it were physically exhausting to continue on. She swallowed hard, her eyes filled with sadness.

    "It was Jacen."

    For Leia, time seemed to stop. At first, she thought she might have misheard, or hadn't been paying attention to her daughter's story as closely as she thought, but the grim expression on the young woman's face as she awaited their reaction quickly cast such theories in doubt.

    There had to be some other explanation. Jacen would never...

    When the Alderaanian Princess opened her mouth to respond however, she found she didn't know where to even begin.

    "What?" Han said in disbelief.

    "Jacen, Dad. He told me he killed Rénin. I think he's become this Sith Lord's new apprentice and the leader of the Raithian Army. He wanted to take me back to his master."

    "Darth Malig," Mara said.

    "Right."

    "Jacen?" Han repeated. "Our Jacen? The kid with all the pets is a Sith Lord?"

    Jaina only fixed her father with an I'm-not-kidding stare.

    "Jacen would never do such a thing," Tenel Ka said, shaking her head.

    "You can ask Wrev about it when he comes to. Jacen's the one who did that to him."

    "No, there has to be some kind of mistake," Leia gasped.

    "I wish it was, Mom. But I know what I saw. I know what I heard and what I felt too. Jacen has joined them and that explains why you guys got ambushed on Denon. He betrayed you."

    "No, no," Han said more forcefully, pushing himself to his feet and pointing his finger at Jaina. "I know you're wrong there. Jacen didn't even know about the mission to Denon. He was already a captive by then. He couldn't be the traitor."

    "Yes, he is," Mara said from behind, drawing everyone's attention, the look in her eyes telling Leia she was deep in thought, putting the final pieces of the puzzle in place. "Jacen manipulated us, Han. He sent us that message, told us not to come after him knowing full well we would, and sent us those security maps for the two buildings. They knew where we'd be because the holes in the security were put there to lead us to exactly those locations. Jacen suggested which way we should go by letting us do the work on our own and knowing what we'd find."

    Han ran his hand through his hair as if he hadn't considered that possibility and was caught off balance. It made so much sense that Leia felt her own pulse racing and she began to panic. Everyone in the storage hold had found their way to their feet, unable to stay seated for such a crushing revelation. "That doesn't sound like my boy... Maybe they just intercepted his message and figured things out on their own."

    "Jacen wouldn't do this," Leia added. "Not Jacen... no."

    Their oldest son had come to represent everything that was good and honest in the galaxy. He was the kindest person Leia had ever known, able to empathize with every living thing he came across, and had become the Order's moral guide. It was Jacen who had been adamant that they not attack the Yuuzhan Vong, fearing it would corrupt the Jedi forever, and who had found a solution for a real peace with the invaders. Han and Leia couldn't have been more proud.

    Jacen would never take the quick and easy path— it just wasn't his way. He was always questioning, always evaluating his thoughts and actions to be certain he was doing the right thing.

    Leia was so consumed in confusion and despair that she barely noticed Anakin taking a step towards his sister, the look on his face showing he was puzzled as they were.

    "Jacen did this?" He asked.

    Jaina nodded. "Yes."

    Slowly, Anakin blinked before returning to his seat on the crate and leaning forward in contemplation.

    "It just... It can't be," Leia said, turning back to her daughter.

    "I know my own twin brother, Mom. I don't know why Jacen's doing it, but he is. And he's the reason we have to get out of here— he knows where Halo is, and if he knows, it will only be a matter of time before he tells his new master. No one is safe here any more."

    "He was mad at Luke." Mara was pacing around the hold. "Jacen came to our apartment one night, distraught and yelling. He felt like Luke had destroyed the Order by allowing Lando and Karrde to blackmail the Senate into electing Cal Omas so we'd have a pro-Jedi leader."

    "That's true. Jacen, Anakin, and I had several arguments about it."

    "So Jacen is just acting out because he's mad at Luke?" Han questioned. "I don't buy it."

    No, Leia knew that wasn't true. If Jacen had really joined the Sith, it wouldn't have been out of pettiness— it would have been because he honestly believed it was the right way. And that scared Leia more than anything.

    She saw Tenel Ka falling back into her seat, her hand clutching curiously at her stomach. In all the years they'd known the Dathomiri and Hapan beauty, Leia didn't think she'd ever seen her really cry, her regal exterior and sometimes emotionless demeanor preventing such displays, but she could see clearly the tears welling in Tenel Ka's gray eyes at the news.

    "Tenel Ka? Do you know anything about this? Any reason why Jacen might...?"

    Jacen had been in seclusion on Zonama Sekot for three years until little more than a month ago, when he'd returned to marry the Hapan Queen in order to bring the Consortium into the Alliance. Their union had been arranged and Leia knew the couple hadn't had a lot of time to reconnect to their once strong friendship as teenagers at the Jedi Academy, but in the weeks since the Jedi had gone into hiding, they'd become increasingly closer, and she'd observed more than once an intimacy between them that told her they really did love each other.

    If her son was going to confess something, it probably would have been to Tenel Ka.

    "No... No, of course not," she said, her hand moving up to cradle her forehead.

    Han was shaking his head. "He must be insane!"

    The Queen Mother looked up, pushing some of the red braids from her face. "I fear Jacen is just lost... he's not mad..."

    "It can't be!"

    It took a moment for Leia to realize the shriek had actually come from her and another to understand that she'd buried her face into Han's shoulder, weeping and clinging to her husband to keep from collapsing.

    "It will be okay, Princess," he soothed, gently stroking her brunette tresses. "We'll get this all figured out."

    "I'm sorry Mom," Jaina managed, barely audible over Leia's sobs.

    It seemed impossible to accept but undeniable. Jaina had no reason to lie and wouldn't, and Leia knew her daughter's senses were even sharper than her own. She hadn't been tricked or manipulated— things had happened as Jaina said they did.

    But Leia didn't understand why, and she had to. She wasn't going to give up on her son.

    Not ever.

    "So what do we do now?" She asked, untangling herself from Han and wiping puffy eyes.

    Anakin looked up from the spot on the deck he'd been staring at. "What choice is there?" He asked. "We have to mobilize Halo and get to the Unknown Regions, find the Chiss and ask Thrawn for help. Jacen knows where Halo is, so we have to get everyone to safety."

    Jaina folded her arms. "And then what?"

    Anakin's blue eyes turn back to staring ahead into nothingness, leaning forward on the crate.

    "And then, I'm going to find Jacen," he said. "And I'm gonna kill him."





    In the corona of floating rocks and sparkling star dust that make up Hoth's asteroid belt, the small space station known as Halo uses its limited drives to push itself free. It is tethered to a giant red star destroyer that will soon tow it through hyperspace and leave the galaxy it knows forever.

    The Jedi Knights, the once revered guardians of peace and justice in what was known as Republic Space are now being hunted and forced to abandon what they swore to protect. They have no choice but to hide, because they know their enemies will never relent. They will never stop until they are all captured or destroyed.

    With their departure comes the undeniable truth that the Sith have won. They've taken control completely, destroying all who stand in their way and permacreting their foothold in Alliance Space through fear and trickery. In the shroud of darkness that they have cast across space, they've made villains out of heroes. And packed within Halo's durasteel frame is all the hope the galaxy has left, leaving.

    The Errant Venture's hulking drives flare to blinding white, and both star destroyer and space station flash out of existence around Hoth, disappearing into the twinkling clusters of stars and webbed nebula.

    The Jedi Exodus into the Unknown has begun.



    ***



    The turbolift reached the top of its track with the slight whir of its motor before the doors parted and opened up into Darth Malig's hideaway. As usual, only the half-ring of metal floor in front of the lift capped by consoles and control screens was well lit, while the landing in front of the wide convex windows ahead was cast almost completely in shadow, it's path lined only by the dim amber lights glowing within the wide staircase.

    Jacen Solo stepped inside, his eyes immediately flicking to the spot where he had killed Rénin only days earlier, and wondering once again if he'd made the right choices. He glanced over his shoulder at the grotesque shapes and bent beings that seemed to be sealed within the copper and burgundy plaster around the turbolift, and the spiral staircases at each end that led up into Malig's secret caverns. It remained as unsettling as it was when he'd first entered, made all the more surreal by the residual darkness he felt still crackling invisibly through the chamber of his own actions, an echo of the murder that had taken place.

    His gait did not falter as he marched forward, stepping into the shadow and climbing the gentle bank of steps that narrowed ever so slightly and ended on a plateau of metal where his master's throne was mounted, facing the array of transparisteel and Denon's sculpted towers, glistening in the storm that the coal-black clouds and pale moonlight had coiled over the city.

    "I am glad you have returned," said a hauntingly warped voice from the throne.

    "You may not be when you hear what I have to report," Jacen said, stepping around so he could see his master.

    Darth Malig was again draped in loose black cloak with the cowl pulled up over his head, revealing only hints of the black and crimson mask that covered his face and the gleam of its narrow visor.

    "Your sister," Malig began, "where is she?"

    The former Jedi did his best not to look at the floor, staring at the mask of the Dark Lord. In his heart, Jacen was confident he'd made the right decision on Togoria, no matter what punishment might await him.

    "I wasn't able to bring her to you, My Lord," he replied, the words feeling foreign in his mouth.

    "Are you hurt?"

    Jacen glanced down at the scorched tear in the shoulder of his combat suit and the blackened flesh beneath. "No, it's not bad."

    "You can feed off pain, can't you? A lesson from the Yuuzhan Vong?" Jacen nodded and the Sith continued. "It was but a necessary step in your creation, Lord Hâvok. But there are many types of pain, and I fear the worst of which you have yet to endure."

    The shadowy figure rose slowly and took a few strides towards the transparisteel, almost appearing to glide beneath the flood of his dark cloak. "I warned you before you left, tried to impress upon you the choice you would certainly face when you found your twin. That if she couldn't be convinced to join you, you would either have to kill her or let her escape."

    "And I told you I wouldn't kill my own sister."

    "Yes. Instead, you've allowed a very great threat loose into the galaxy that can do you harm, that can destroy you and our mission, not to mention losing any surprise your conversion might still have retained for us to exploit. It is great weakness you've shown in allowing an enemy to live. It is not the Sith Way."

    "So you think I should have killed her?" Jacen asked, slowly circling his master as he studied his reflection in the rain-beaded window. He was certain he'd made a huge mistake in trusting the mysterious being.

    "Quite the opposite really," Malig replied. "I'm more convinced than ever that your sister and brother have an important part to play in all of this."

    "What?"

    "Your sister lives because it is her destiny, as it was yours to spare her."

    Jacen brow furrowed before he adopted a faint trace of his father's lopsided grin. "When you put it that way, I guess I can't make a wrong choice."

    "Not exactly. It's that you won't," the Dark Lord explained, turning to face him. "You and I share a common vision, Jacen. You've seen it, as I have— that is the end. Every choice you make, every choice you've ever made or will ever make is a necessary step in arriving at that point. Had you killed your sister yesterday, I'm certain the results would have been catastrophic."

    "But the future is always in motion. You can't—"

    "That is Jedi philosophy, Lord Hâvok. In time, I'm confident you'll see the difference."

    Jacen frowned. If there was nothing either of them could do to change what they saw...

    "Do not worry about your sister. She has been put in motion now— she will do what she has to."

    The young man shook his head slightly, unsure how Malig was able to marry such fatalism to Sith principles, where one was in control of the Force and not its servant, but decided it was a discussion for another time.

    "What happened while I was gone? I saw a report on the way here of the attack."

    Malig began to pace around the platform. "Your friends and family came for you, as I knew they would."

    "And? Did you kill any of them?"

    "Of course not," Malig's head turned slightly to look at his apprentice. "I promised you when you made the transmission to your father that I would not harm them. Don't you trust me?"

    "No, not entirely."

    "It's for the best." The Sith resumed his meandering. "I have no interest in killing anyone, least of all those we need to fulfill our destiny. But your friends proved cleverer than I anticipated and most of them escaped. They actually ran a feint at Centerpoint Station, convincing the fleets here that your brother intended to use it as a weapon."

    It was a surprise Jacen hadn't expected either. Had the Jedi become so desperate that they would employ such a tactic?

    "Needless to say, the Corellians aided them and we may have to deal with some of them soon."

    "Who did you capture?" Jacen asked, wondering if Malig had his parents or brother.

    "Young Jysella Horn and Tahiri Veila," Malig said. "But your family will be convinced that they are dead."

    "What?"

    Slowly, the Dark Lord revealed how Faybol had used Jysella to lure Tahiri into a trap and faked her murder, leaving what appeared to be a dead body for Anakin to find.

    "But... Why would you do that?" Jacen said in disbelief, his voice rising. "That doesn't make any sense."

    "Of course it does. I told you I want your siblings with us, did I not?"

    "Yes, but Anakin will never join you now. He thinks you killed Tahiri."

    "Actually, I suspect most of his ire will be focused on Faybol, and perhaps you as well, when he figures out that transmission is what lured them all into an ambush," Malig said off-handedly. "But I'm disappointed in you, Jacen. You're not seeing the larger picture."

    "Well, I guess you'd better explain it to me," Jacen replied tersely, folding his arms.

    "Your brother is enraged, Lord Hâvok. His attachment to Tahiri is his weakness. I have exploited that. We no longer need worry about finding and capturing him. Your brother will come to me."

    "Yes, to destroy you."

    "Precisely. He will have already opened himself up to the true nature of the Force— he will be ready."

    It didn't make any sense to Jacen. If all Malig wanted to do was to turn Anakin to what they'd been taught was the "Dark Side of the Force," he could see how that would work, but how the Sith made the leap from Anakin wanting to kill him to actually joining their side was beyond his understanding.

    Why would Malig go to so much work to make Anakin think Tahiri was dead?

    "I still don't understand. Anakin isn't going to want to join you, he's still going to try and kill you."

    "No, he won't," Malig stopped and looked over his shoulder. "Because I'm the only one in the galaxy who can give him back what he's lost. When he realizes that, he will be my servant."

    Jacen just stared, aghast as the pieces fell into place. Anakin was crushed and when he came to Malig ready to destroy him, Malig would offer him Tahiri— he would use Tahiri to manipulate Anakin into serving him. The sheer scope of the trick made Jacen turn pale and he realized for not the first time that he was in well over his head.

    How much of what he thought were his own choices had been Malig's manipulations? The path that had led him to the Dark Lord might have been one giant trap...

    That thought chilled him to the bone and his master must have seen him shiver as he returned to his throne.

    "Is there something you wish to ask me?"

    Jacen shook his head. "No," he replied. He realized then that he could never let himself believe that there was something beyond Malig's capabilities, some length he would not go to in order to achieve his destiny. Jacen would have to watch the Sith Lord closely.

    Poor Anakin...

    "But where is my uncle?"

    "Gone, with the other Masters and Faybol."

    "What?" Jacen said, moving to face him. "Where did you take them?"

    "I took them home, Jacen," Malig said, seeming to delight in using his name. "To our homeworld."

    The new Raithian General was growing tired of not understanding his master's schemes. "Your homeworld? Why would you do that?"

    "It is another necessary step, can't you see? I do not wish to kill your uncle or his cohorts but I can't allow them to remain here where your family will continue their rescue attempts, so I am taking him to a place they cannot reach. In time, I will join him there."

    "Why would you go?"

    "Because I always have," Malig said cryptically. "Someday I will take you there as well."

    Jacen felt more confused than ever, but the cloaked-figure continued to speak in his mesmerizing double voice.

    "What do you know of your cousin, Lord Hâvok?"

    "Ben? He's five... What's to know?"

    "Like the rest of your bloodline, he is very special."

    He shook his head. "I'm afraid I don't know much. I've been gone most of Ben's life, first as a prisoner, then as a student... Where is Callista?"

    "In recovery," Malig replied, gesturing to the opening to the caverns across the chamber from the platform. "With your friends Lowbacca and Raynar Thul. Your aunt nearly killed her from the looks of it."

    Jacen chewed his lip, gathering his courage. He couldn't hold back any longer.

    "Did you use her to bring me here? Has Callista always been serving you knowingly? The call she intercepted on Faybol's stealth fighter that led me to the Exodus and where I was captured... That wasn't coincidence, was it? And it was no coincidence that my uncle escaped from his cell either. You knew I would volunteer to stop him. You wanted me to face him. You have been manipulating me before I even knew you existed."

    The Dark Lord just stared at him for a long moment. "Do you believe what I told you about the Force, Jacen? About our destiny?"

    He thought back to the lessons in Malig's study and the lab, to him using the Force to pull both him and Callista back from death, to him saving Lowbacca as well, and bringing the spider back to life after having killed it.

    "Yes," Jacen admitted. "I do."

    Malig nodded. "Then why does it matter?"

    "I..." There was no answer. Even if everything Jacen feared was true, did it change what had to be done? That the Jedi were wrong and the Force was larger than his Uncle and his Order were willing to believe? He knew that it did not, that he would continue to help Malig even if it had all been another Sith deception, because it was the right thing to do.

    But Jacen wanted answers.

    "Take off your mask."

    The Dark Lord paused for a moment, as if he were smiling behind the angles of black and crimson. Then, without a word, he drew back his cowl and with one gloved-hand, he gripped the mask concealing his identity, and pulled it away.

    Jacen couldn't help but smile.

    Suddenly, everything made sense.





    —End
    Last edited by YodaKenobi, Aug 22, 2016 at 5:24 AM
  6. Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager

    Member Since:
    Feb 4, 2002
    star 6
    First! I hereby crown myself Undisputed First! champion of the world, and retire undefeated :p

    YK, It's been a pleasure to read this 'fic. Can't wait for the next one :D

    Right, the update :p

    "The Squibs won't shut up though," the soldier went on, gesturing with her blaster towards the three creatures on the other bed. "They keep trying to make deals with us, promising us all sorts of information and treasures.

    [face_laugh] Typical Squibs.

    "There are ways of making her answer questions, sir," Nyll said from behind. "We have people that specialize in that kind of interrogation."

    How Gestapo of him. I almost expect a Raithian interrogator to say, "Ve have vays of making you talk!" :p

    And now she and Jag and maybe Wrev were down on Togoria like cornered animals, and Jacen remembered his days at the Jedi Academy with his collection of exotic pets? or even the many creatures on Zonama Sekot? well enough to know how animals reacted when they were cornered. If he was to make another attempt to capture Jaina on the surface or they snagged her with a tractor beam on her way out of the system and dragged her in as a prisoner on one of the Raithian warships, his twin would fight to her death.

    She would never surrender.


    Don't forget the Togorians. Those guys are nasty in a fight.

    But that's not what the Raithians would be anymore? not while Jacen was in command of their forces. Kol Rénin had been a cruel butcher, corrupted by his own power and desire for more. Like Palpatine... like Vader. If Darth Malig was right, that wasn't what a Sith Lord was supposed to be and it wasn't how Jacen Solo would ever be.

    Pretty sure Jacen told himself the same thing in LOTF, and look what happened there :p

    Anakin looked up from the spot on the deck he'd been staring at. "What choice is there?" He asked. "We have to mobilize Halo and get to the Unknown Regions, find the Chiss and ask Thrawn for help. Jacen knows where Halo is, so we have to get everyone to safety."

    Finally, someone talks sense. I've been telling the Jedi to do that for months but they never listened :p

    "And then, I'm going to find Jacen," he said. "And I'm gonna kill him."

    Oooh. Ominous.

    The Jedi Exodus into the Unknown has begun.

    Ah, so that's where 'Exodus' comes in ;)

    "Your brother is enraged, Lord Hâvok. His attachment to Tahiri is his weakness. I have exploited that. We no longer need worry about finding and capturing him. Your brother will come to me."

    "Yes, to destroy you."

    "Precisely. He will have already opened himself up to the true nature of the Force? he will be ready."

    It didn't make any sense to Jacen. If all Malig wanted to do was to turn Anakin to what they'd been taught was the "Dark Side of the Force," he could see how that would work, but how the Sith made the leap from Anakin wanting to kill him to actually joining their side was beyond his understanding.

    Why would Malig go to so much work to make Anakin think Tahiri was dead?


    Engage your brain, Solo. Malig isn't interested in you. He wants Anakin. Maybe he should've named you Darth Tyranus the Second to hammer the point in more obviously :rolleyes:

    "Take off your mask."

    The Dark Lord paused for a moment, as if he were smiling behind the angles of black and crimson. Then, without a word, he drew back his cowl and with one gloved-hand, he gripped the mask concealing his identity, and pulled it away.

    Jacen couldn't help but smile.

    Suddenly, everything made sense.



    Awwww sonofa...You can't leave us hanging here!!! :(

    Theories of the younger generation of Skywalker/Solos flow-walking into the past to become Darth Malig are forming in my mind ;)

    Brilliant ending, YK. Roll on the Lands of the Dead.
  7. Caedus93 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Second. masterfully done now I´m waiting for the next fic. And wondering who Darth Malig is.
  8. YodaKenobi VIP

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 27, 2003
    star 6
    Well, if you made it through that monster post and are confused by the ending, it's a reference to what Malig told Luke back in chapter 9:

    "Do you want to know what's behind this mask?" Malig asked. "Truth, Master Skywalker. If I were to remove it now, everything would make sense to you. The puzzle pieces would all fall into place, and you would finally see what is truly going on."


    So now we know that Malig was telling the truth [face_mischief]


    Anyway, here we are fourteen months, sixty posts, and 307,658 words since Exodus began, and it's been a fun ride for me. This took me more time to write than any fic I've ever written before, which is weird because I've never had a story so thoroughly planned out before I started. There was zero chance for writer's block :p

    I'm glad it's over and I hope those of you who have read the story enjoyed it. I know that this series is very demanding on a reader's time and attention in order to follow it and I sincerely appreciate your having devoted that time and effort to this.

    I need to say a special thank you to jagsredlady who managed to beta these massive posts every week and make it look like I'm actually proficient in English. I've been sending her a lot of chapters lately at the last minute and she still manages to fix them up for me. I really can't thank her enough, she's amazing [:D]

    Also, thank you to my second-string beta Clone_Cmdr_Wedge who filled in for five weeks last year while Red was off traveling around the world. He did a great job =D=

    I want to thank Spike2002, Clone_Cmdr_Wedge, jagsredlady, Tahi, TahiriSoloFan, oldjedinurse, Chimpo, Diamond_Revelation, Goddess_Jaya, FORCEBlLADE, iamobiwan1970, SilSolo, RebelMom, Magnuskn, LosDosMos, Krayt-Eagle, TelannaTani, Jedi-Ant, Master_Palpy, rebel_cheese, Whitey, Talon_Kenobi, flowerbee, corran2, Maggy, poku_29, THE_PIED_PIPER, sdhfs, Darth_Marrs, TKeira_Lea, canadianjedimama, Ultima_1, Morgoth_The_Enemy, Pelranius, Tahiri-Solo, Jedi_RIches, smash128, thesporkbewithyou, Dooku-Darklighter, excellion_razor, megacrafter2, Caedus93, zonzo, jasa, Player, FallenHeart, EGKenobi, star_writer24, EvieSolo, Yodas-evil-twin, Dark_Lord_Jax, Jedi-Roxy, Lightsaber123, Wraith20878, reagan64, TheCrazyRodian, FVZA-Colonel, darkjedileia, ImperialSolo, mandyq, ImerialRemnant, GeithJiseo2, DARTH_MU, Korgan26, mrjop2, angry_bendu1, and CassaSoloDaughterOfA for reading this story. Anyone I may have forgotten or any lurkers out there, I thank as well.

    Lastly, thanks to Maggy for creating such a cool cover! :D I still love it a year later. It's perfect.

    I am extremely excited about the next fic, "The Lands of the Dead". You can probably get an idea the direction it will be headed based on the end of Exodus, but I think there will be some great surprises. When I was coming up with the ideas for this series, it's the one I was looking forward to writing the most, if that means anything :p

    Look for it some time in the next 5-8 weeks depending on how well the writing goes. In the meantime I will be posting teasers and another trailer during the hiatus. Look for what I promise will be a shocking dramatis personae two weeks from today.

    For those of you who have asked to receive PM updates for this fic, you'll have to let me know if you wish to continue to receive them for "The Lands of the Dead." If I don't hear from you, I will assume that you do not.

    It's been a blast writing and posting this over the last year, and I've had so much fun reading your comments and goofing off with all of you :D We're halfway through the Legacy of the Sith series? hopefully the second half will be even more fun.

    I love you all [face_love]

    And now to celebrate:

    [image=http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y165/YodaKenobi/4t6um2s.gif]

    [image=http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y165/YodaKenobi/4q6
  9. Maggy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 2, 2004
    star 4
    congrats on finishing =D=[:D]

    now I just need to read all [face_blush]


    EDIT:
    Lastly, thanks to Maggy for creating such a cool cover! :D I still love it a year later. It's perfect.

    [face_blush] you are very welcome, it was fun working with you :D
    and looking forward to the next cover *hints hints nudge nudge* :D [:D]
  10. THE_PIED_PIPER Chapter Rep Knoxville, TN

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2006
    star 4
    Yobi, your writing was one of the fundamental reasons I joined tf.net. It has always been my pleasure to read and reply even if I sometimes get behind and have to catch up. Once again thank you for what you do, I can't imagine the time this takes out of your life. :) I eagarly await The Lands of the Dead.


    And we love you. [:D]


    Kick :)


    Yoda Kenobi




    I know. But you have to," Jag replied, before offering her his hand. "And I'll come with you."

    [face_love] [face_love] I have no words for that.



    Anakin's blue eyes turn back to staring ahead into nothingness, leaning forward on the crate.

    "And then, I'm going to find Jacen," he said. "And I'm gonna kill him."


    Oooohhhhh, I'll be front and center that day. :cool:



  11. zonzo Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 3, 2007
    star 3
    Great job, seriously. I can't wait for The Lands of the Dead.
  12. Talon_Kenobi Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2003
    star 4
    Great ending. I hope you know what your doing with the revealing of Darth Malig face and that it makes everything make sense. I don't want to be let down.

    Oh and I would gladly like to be added to the new PM list if that is possible
  13. Tahi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 8, 2002
    star 5
    Not so late this time. :)

    It was a side-effect of having lived in the tampasi for so long, meditating there and becoming a part of the living planet in a way that perhaps no one else had. Jacen could see time the way Zonama Sekot did, but it didn't mean he could understand it.

    Where was his path leading him? If he could see it, if he could see which direction his choices led, he could be certain he was doing the right thing.

    If only Jacen would forget about all this desire for knowledge and start living in the present - he'd be a lot better off.

    Only days earlier, the Raithians had been hunting Jacen, and he realized it was going to take some time to build trust with the soldiers, just as he was losing all he had built with the people he loved most in the galaxy.
    You know something? I've come to the conclusion that Jacen feeds on this kind of emotional pain. It actually makes him feel strong to think about his own suffering.

    Having said that - I liked the way he dealt with those annoying Squibs. LOL

    "In time you may change your mind," Jacen said as the troopers moved to grab Alema by her elbows and hoisted her from the bed.

    "There's someone I want you to meet."

    Uh-oh. I don't often feel sorry for Alema - but I do now!

    There was something so final about the way that Raithian shuttle had disappeared through Denon's night sky that made her blood run cold, and Mara found she could not look her son in the eye as she lied to him.

    "I saw him and he's fine, but I couldn't get him yet. I will though, Ben," she said, finally managing to look up. "I promise."

    Poor Mara.

    "You left her?" Valin snapped in disbelief.

    "There..." There was no reason to believe she survived, Mara stopped herself from saying.

    Ouch - poor Mara again. It gets so complicated doesn't it?

    Streams of exhaust vented around the craft's legs before its landing ramp was lowered to the hangar deck and two figures appeared, one supporting the other as it limped down the plank of metal. They stepped beyond the shadow of the transport's tail fin and the faces of Jag Fel and Jaina Solo came into view, bruised and beaten.
    Very cool visual image of the two emerging form the cloud of exhaust.

    I found Rodan's misgivings about the honour of the Jedi very amusing coming from him. Nice little glimpse of his warped mind.

    I feel so sorry for poor Jaina - such pain. The funny thing is that Jacen reckons his capacity to embrace pain is a strength - but Jaina proves that living with it, while still keeping it distanced, is proof of greater strength.

    Anakin seemed as though he was barely listening at times, seated on a metal crate a half meter away and often staring straight ahead in a trance,
    Gah - not good!!

    It was in this setting that their lives would change forever, and Leia hadn't an inkling it was coming. She would later muse whether she might have sensed something in the Force if there hadn't been so many ysalamiri on board the space station hiding them from Faybol? if the energy would have given her some hint, some warning, some clue at the revelation that would tear her family and the galaxy asunder.

    "But it wasn't Rénin who was pursuing us," Jaina said, almost as if it were physically exhausting to continue on. She swallowed hard, her eyes filled with sadness.

    "It was Jacen."

    Dun, dun, dun, dunhhhhhh!!!!

    No, Leia knew that wasn't true. If Jacen had really joined the Sith, it wouldn't have been out of pettiness? it would have been because he honestly believed it was the right way. And that scared Leia more than anything.
    Hear, hear! That is exactly what makes it scary.

    Anakin looked up from the spot on the deck he'd been staring at. "What choice is there?" He asked. "We have to mobilize Halo and get to the Unknown Regions, find the Chiss and ask Thrawn for help. Jacen knows where Halo is, so we have to get everyone to safety."

    Jaina folded her arms. "And then what?"

    Anakin's blue eyes turn back to staring ahead into
  14. Wraith20878 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 8, 2006
    star 1
    Wow! Great Ending! Cant wait to find out what hapens next
  15. canadianjedimama Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2008
    star 4
    Yoda! It's over! [:D]

    :_| Now what will I do with myself for the next 2 months worth of Friday nights?

    :p

    Seriously though, you are a truly gifted writer. The ability you have to make a scene leap out from the screen is absolutely magical.

    Exodus has been the best 15 minutes of my Friday nights for months now. [face_shhh] Don't tell my husband. :p

    You've also inspired me on my own fanfic journey...thank you.

    But as to the post...it was truly epic. Not just length but content too. I don't even know where to start.

    You captured Jaina's torment perfectly.

    Jag's steadfast devotion.

    Mara and Ben's heartbreak.

    Han and Leia's disbelief.

    Anakin's cold fury.

    Just...perfect.=D=

    Can't wait for more! See you soon!

    Cyn (aka canadianjedimama)

    PS...I have a think about who was behind the mask? Are you going to run a sweepstakes on that?
  16. smash128 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2008
    star 2
    YodaKenobi that was the greatest thing I ever read, can't wait for your next fic.
  17. darkjedileia Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2007
    star 1
    That was one evil cliff hanger! I must know who this guy is [face_frustrated]
  18. RebelMom Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 20, 2000
    star 6
    Congrats on finishing. I don't know how you can continue to write epic after epic.

    Jacen is really in over his head. Now who the heck is behind the mask? Yeah, I know I wont find out until the next epic. [face_not_talking]

    Thank goodness Luke is still alive.
  19. Clone_Cmdr_Wedge Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 18, 2006
    star 3
    Sorry, would've replied sooner but I've had to deal with a lot on news on Friday. Still trying to process and get my head around some of it. [face_tired]

    Don't worry, it's all good news, just surprised me, that's all. [face_peace]

    YK:If he'd learned anything from Vergere, it was not just to endure or accept pain? but to embrace it.

    I now give the "Emo Award of the Year" to...


    "The Squibs won't shut up though," the soldier went on, gesturing with her blaster towards the three creatures on the other bed. "They keep trying to make deals with us, promising us all sorts of information and treasures.

    Why doesn't that surprise me? o_O


    Alema didn't seem bothered by the insult, directing her scorn instead at Jacen. "General? What are you doing?"

    You don't want to know, Alema. [face_plain]


    "This is important. Who else came here with you?" Alema just glared vibroblades at Jacen, and he shook his head, continuing on. "Look, if you just tell me, I can help?"

    Oh yes, you did a wonderful job with your sister earlier. :rolleyes:


    "I'm not telling you anything!" She snarled. "You would betray us to them? Murderers? Slavers? You're nothing but a lying schutta, Jacen Solo."

    I would've called him worse. Maybe the toxin is still affecting her?


    Finally, he raised the cylinder of white plastoid back to his lips. "No... negative. We can't start intercepting all ships coming out of Togoria. It would ignite a civil war faster than we already are."

    ...

    What the... Havok has an IQ of at least 5! That blows Caedus out of the water! :eek:


    "So what are you going to do to us?" Spek questioned.

    "Nothing," Jacen replied. "You're free to go."



    Holy Frak, Havok is doing everything Caedus wouldn't do. I think I'm starting to..to...re..respect Havok. *blinks*


    "In time you may change your mind," Jacen said as the troopers moved to grab Alema by her elbows and hoisted her from the bed.

    "There's someone I want you to meet."


    Let me guess: It's a 'charming fellow' by the name of Darth Malig?


    "What happened?" He asked, face falling as he inspected the woman's face more closely.

    She just shook her head. "Where's my son, Calrissian?"


    *Starts running*


    "Look, it's not my fault!" He began? Mara knew it was bad. "Ben snuck on board the Falcon and from there he got on the Errant Venture when we docked. I had no idea until it was too late!"

    *Hides in underground bunker*


    "You put the idea in his head! You encouraged this!"

    "And it's a good thing I did; we'd all be dead right now!"

    "Just stay away from my son," Mara seethed.


    *Pokes head out* What the... and I thought for sure someone was going to be skewered.


    "Tahiri's gone," Mara managed. "She was killed. And Jysella... we're not sure what happened to her."

    A cry escaped Mirax's mouth before she covered it with one hand and tears formed a glistening layer around her eyes.

    "I lost sight of her," Mara continued, shaking her head sadly. "She and Tahiri were supposed to be behind me, I... I don't know what led them another direction. Anakin found Tahiri's body, but your daughter... we don't know where she is."

    "You left her?" Valin snapped in disbelief.

    "There..." There was no reason to believe she survived, Mara stopped herself from saying. "There was no choice. We had no idea where she went and... We were ambushed.


    You know, this whole part here gave me Mass Effect vibes. Considering that you haven't played the game yet (I think), that means something. Sort of reminded me of the aftermath of this one planet you go to in that game. You'll probably figure it out if you ever get around to playing it.


    Mara recognized the approaching craft as an old Neimoidian Sheathipede-class shuttle that had been retrofitted with a hyperdrive and a small weapons mount along its belly.

    General Grievous? :p


    "Jaina!" Leia exclaimed, pu
  20. Diamond_Revelation Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2003
    star 3
    Wow great ending - talk about a cliff hanger!!

    I definitely want to go on the PM list for the next!!! [face_praying]
  21. TahiriSoloFan Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 20, 2003
    star 4
    The entire chapter was great. You did a good job a leaving me feeling like you've resolved stuff, but I'm still dying for more. :p

    But Jacen wanted answers.

    "Take off your mask."

    The Dark Lord paused for a moment, as if he were smiling behind the angles of black and crimson. Then, without a word, he drew back his cowl and with one gloved-hand, he gripped the mask concealing his identity, and pulled it away.

    Jacen couldn't help but smile.

    Suddenly, everything made sense.


    As if I didn't want to read the next part anyway! Now I'm really dying for the next part. I'm racking my brain to come up with who it might be.
  22. Ultima_1 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 16, 2001
    star 5
    Well, at least it's not that bad of a hiatus (or YK would have a riot on his hands)

    Great wrap up. Your imagery was great as always, especially the section about the Errant Venture pulling Halo out of the asteroid belt.

    Add me to the list of people who wonder who was under the mask. It'd need to be someone with Master level talent, but I can't think of too many of those from the post RotJ era that aren't accounted for.
  23. TelannaTani Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2005
    star 3
    Exellent last posting. Good thing there's only a few weeks until the next fic! The last line was particularly brutal. I can't wait for more of the mystery to unfold!

    Happy break - don't let it last too long. :D

    Voz
  24. FORCEBlLADE Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 2, 2003
    star 3
    Ahh, why leave us hanging on malig's identity; do you just like tortuing us? Can't wwait for "The Lands of the Dead". You're n awesome writor, dude.
  25. YodaKenobi VIP

    VIP
    Member Since:
    May 27, 2003
    star 6
    Spike: First! I hereby crown myself Undisputed First! champion of the world, and retire undefeated

    Yeah, no argument there =D= You had a very impressive string of Firsts there for a long while.

    YK, It's been a pleasure to read this 'fic. Can't wait for the next one

    Aww, thanks :D That means a lot, I hope you'll enjoy the next one. I think it will be fun

    Typical Squibs.

    I love them :p

    How Gestapo of him. I almost expect a Raithian interrogator to say, "Ve have vays of making you talk!"

    [face_laugh]

    Yeah, pretty much. We'll be finding out more about the Raithians in the next fic... a lot more.

    Don't forget the Togorians. Those guys are nasty in a fight.

    Yeah, I would not want to invade Togoria, especially on the ground [face_worried]

    Pretty sure Jacen told himself the same thing in LOTF, and look what happened there

    Yeah, very similar to the line Lumiya gave him about Vectivus and what a real Sith is supposed to be.

    Finally, someone talks sense. I've been telling the Jedi to do that for months but they never listened

    They've been waiting to hear back from the Chiss. They sent Shawnk'yr'nurodo ahead on their behalf to negotiate.

    Now I guess they're just going to show up on Thrawn's doorstep 8-}

    Originally Jaina was going to meet with the Four Families back in AoH but she got ambushed by Aero on Csilla and the meeting never took place.

    Ah, so that's where 'Exodus' comes in

    Yeah, I couldn't really tell you guys why I thought that title was appropriate when everyone was making suggestions last year 8-}

    Engage your brain, Solo. Malig isn't interested in you. He wants Anakin. Maybe he should've named you Darth Tyranus the Second to hammer the point in more obviously

    I wish I could tell you whether you were right or wrong, but it's probably best if I don't.

    By the end of the third fic though, we'll know exactly which Solo Malig needs. It should fit together nicely.

    Awwww sonofa...You can't leave us hanging here!!!

    Sorry :(

    Theories of the younger generation of Skywalker/Solos flow-walking into the past to become Darth Malig are forming in my mind

    As opposed to time-travel as I normally am, I have to say, I really like those theories [face_mischief] Perhaps just for the pure shock value of Malig taking off his mask and us seeing Luke, or Jacen, or Ben.

    Brilliant ending, YK. Roll on the Lands of the Dead.

    Thanks so much :D I'm hoping the wait won't be too long.







    Caedus: Second.

    =D=

    masterfully done

    Thank you [face_blush]

    now I´m waiting for the next fic. And wondering who Darth Malig is.

    Unfortunately, I can tell you that's an answer we're not going to get until the climax of the 4th fic, so it's a ways away. I'm hoping no one will be disappointed.

    Thanks for reading and your reply :D








    YodaKenobi: Stop spamming!






    Maggy: congrats on finishing

    Thank you! :D

    now I just need to read all

    Hope you like it :)

    you are very welcome, it was fun working with you
    and looking forward to the next cover *hints hints nudge nudge*


    I'll let you know as soon as I have some ideas. We might be doing something a little different this time, but we'll see how much time I have ;)







    PIPER: Yobi, your writing was one of the fundamental reasons I joined tf.net. It has always been my pleasure to read and reply even if I sometimes get behind and have to catch up.

    Wow, thank you very much [face_blush] That's nice of you to say.

    Once again thank you for what you do, I can't imagine the time this takes out of your life.

    It depends on how it's going :p

    And thanks again.

    I eagarly await The Lands of the Dead.

    Glad you're excited ? I am too :D

    And we love you.

    Aww [:D]

    I have no words for that.
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