NJO: The Darkness Shaped - NEW POST 8th September!

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  1. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Title: The Darkness Shaped
    Author: J_K_DART (good ol' Tom Bacon - did you know the Latin for Thomas is Didimus?)
    Rating: PG - features battles, death, love, angst, excitement, adventure - everything the movies did, really.
    Time Period: NJO - Post SbS
    As the story has lengthened, I've come to realise there may be problems for new readers catching up. Summaries can be found on Page 6 Page 9 , page 21 , and Page 35 - as the story grows, I'll post other summary sections.

    TRAILER

    ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE

    They came without warning, a deadly wave that swept across the Galaxy with relentless power and inexhaustible force. Now, though, the Yuuzhan Vong have taken their most sought-after prize; Coruscant. The beautiful city-world is in the hands of alien beings, beings who have their own insidious plans?

    . . .

    ?Doroik vong pratte!? Kyp moved to defensive posture, as did Kenth, as the Yuuzhan Vong warriors raced towards them; there were four, outnumbering the Jedi two-to-one, but fortunately the two Knights were working with a man whose luck was infamous.

    Han Solo hit the deck under the thug bugs that wheeled overhead, then opened fire at the warriors. Wes followed suit, but his shots only hit the chitinous armour; Han?s were better aimed, and one hit a warrior full in the face; he fell back, dead, the bridge of the nose being a weak spot Han had exploited before, on Duro.

    By now, though, the time for blaster-shots was over, and it was time for direct combat. An amphistaff slammed towards Kyp?s head, but he successfully blocked, and the creature got a mouthful of lightsaber, recoiling in intense pain. Another amphistaff swept under Kyp?s defences, teeth of the amphistaff trying to snag into his trousers. In the narrow corridor the Jedi couldn?t leap aside, but rather managed to kick it in the jaw instead; the fangs closed on the leather of his boot. And then Kyp fought back, his lightsaber striking the now-defenceless Yuuzhan Vong warrior in the chest, finding a crease in the awesome armour and slicing deep.

    And the other Vong lashed out with a fist, slamming a powerful blow neatly between his eyes. Kyp staggered back, dazed, and suddenly Wes had a clean shot; that Vong went down.

    Meanwhile, Kenth had found himself taking on one Yuuzhan Vong who was twice his size and weight, and this one was fast. Sith, fast wasn?t a good enough word, he was moving quicker than any Jedi that Kenth had trained against. The amphistaff whipped round Kenth?s leg, dragging him off his feet and slamming him against a wall; but then he struck back, lightsaber spinning round and digging through the joints of the vonduun armour in the arm. A neat strike that made the alien wince in pain; but he was a tenacious one, and launched a punch with his left arm. Kenth neatly blocked the punch, although doing so sent a jar of pain through his bones, and then butted his head forward; the Vong was startled as much as hurt, and lost his grip on the amphistaff that was still writhing around Kenth?s leg. Tugging the saber out Kenth finally managed a death-blow to his opponent.

    ?Awright gang,? Han snapped, ?We gotta get to the kids!?

    . . .

    A GALAXY RECOILING IN FEAR, BLAMING THE VERY BEINGS WHO ARE GIVING THEIR ALL TO SAVE IT?

    For a moment bel Iblis was silent, obviously seething, and then he caught the Chief of State?s eye. ?It is obvious,? he said slowly, ?That I cannot serve under this government. You?re blinkered. I resign my commission.? With that single comment bel Iblis turned to leave.

    And the guards moved in his path, and Pwoe spoke once again; and Wedge began to think he was living in a nightmare. ?To do so would be an a
  2. Lonewolf89 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 5
    You've got to post soon! I hate cliffies!!
  3. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Welcome!
    _______________________________________

    PART ONE: JEDI HUNT

    A Yuuzhan Vong, a warrior; charging forwards down the narrow corridors of the ship, the artificial lights gleaming in strange and nightmarish patterns on living armour the colour of blood. If the warrior had been anyone else, Luke would have been able to sense the hatred and anger coursing through the Vong?s soul just as blood did through his body; but Yuuzhan Vong were strangely invisible in the Force, and Luke knew this wasn?t a moment to make efforts to breach that mysterious barrier.

    The living weapon ? the amphistaff ? slashed forwards like a whip, teeth snapping towards Luke?s face; but the Jedi Master opened himself to the Force, letting it flow through him, allowing it to sharpen his formidable instincts. His lightsaber blocked perfectly, the two weapons slamming together with a bone-jarring slam.

    Luke had proven himself in combat many times before, and on occasions even without the Force?s assistance. For a Jedi to have a passion for adventure was an odd contrast, but love of action burned bright within Luke, and his entire life had been one of climatic confrontation.

    Even without the Force, Luke was a Jedi Master, more than able to take on one Yuuzhan Vong ? he?d proven that when the invasion had began, as he?d duelled on Belkadan. Luke swept his saber upwards, along the amphistaff?s neck, neatly slashing into the neck. The warrior was obviously caught off-balance; the force of the charge should have thrown Luke back, but using the Force he?d remained stable. Now, as the Vong staggered, Luke ducked low and poked his saber into the Vong?s armpit - the weak spot in the vonduun crab armour. The armour writhed in death, crushing the Vong wearing it in the process.

    Behind Luke, there was the sound of pitched battle, the hum of lightsabers, the whine of lasers. There were death screams and cries of triumph - at least one of which came from Mara. The battle was obviously fierce, and Luke headed back to lend a hand. Through the Force he reached out to his wife, sensing her adrenaline rush, and gave her a sense of message. Our escape route is clear, he informed Mara through the Force, Get as many as you can down this way, we?ll hold them off. Of course, words were hard to project through the Force; but at this small distance, Luke and Mara were linked so tightly it was easy.

    The old Mon Cal vessel trembled, and Luke knew it was slowly being torn apart. He sensed Mara?s agreement ? what other choice was there? - then tugged out the small communications device. ?Threepio, Artoo, is the Jade Shadow ready??

    C-3P0?s voice came back: ?I think so, Master Luke, but as you know I really am not a pilot. Artoo, I?m sure that?s the wrong button - why, how dare you??

    Luke quickly deactivated the comm, wishing the prissy droid wasn?t sometimes so annoying. The Yuuzhan Vong attack had caught the Rebels totally by surprise.

    Then, he was back in the meeting cabin, and back in the battle. There were some twenty Yuuzhan Vong here, all of them locked in combat with various people. Over to Luke?s left a group of Corellians weren?t realising how useless their blasters were, and were in danger of getting slaughtered; but Tahiri was backing them up, moving with Jedi calm and successfully cutting two Vong down before they even saw her coming.

    Luke was incredibly proud of Tahiri, a teenage girl who he had helped train. Although so young, Tahiri had seen tragedy; she bore the scars of it for all to see. Tahiri had been captured by the Yuuzhan Vong, who had planned to ?shape? her into one of them. She?d been rescued by? Anakin? (thinking of him still made Luke wince in pain) and had entered into a relationship with the boy. And then, the youngest of the Solos had tragically died. All Luke felt about that was a huge amount of numbness.

    He shrugged off the thoughts - and the anger rising within him, anger was of the Dark Side - and entered the battle, ducking and weaving with Force-enhanced sp
  4. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    The Yuuzhan Vong Interdictor ship hung in space like a bloated whale. Around it, hordes of coralskippers were locked in combat with a flight of X-wings. The pilots of the X-wings were the Republic?s best - Rogue Squadron. Commanding was Gavin Darklighter.

    ?Rogue Five, watch your back!? ?Rogue Three, requesting backup!? ?Rogue Eight, responding!? ?Vape ?em!? ?Rogue Six, move!? The space lanes were filled with the chatter of combat veterans. In the middle of this was one particular Rogue Squadron pilot, Jaina Solo, who used the Force to accentuate her own piloting skills. She made no bones about fighting out of anger; these were the creatures that had taken her brother, and every Vong she killed was in vengeance for Anakin?s death. The thought of his name flooded Jaina with a dark fury, and she cut loose, sweeping down upon a small group of eight coralskippers and somehow managing to take every one down in spite of their protective dovin basals generating black holes to consume the plasma-blasts of Jaina?s X5 X-J Wing. The Jedi was lethal.

    There was a reason for this, of course. Now, with her brothers both gone, one having died before her eyes and the other missing, presumed dead ? now, Jaina Solo had stopped fearing death. What did it matter if she lived or died? Who would mourn? Selfishness, she knew, because her family, what little remained of it, would be broken; but in war, everyone dies. No longer fearing death, Jaina flew with a skill no other Republic pilot could equal ? if her manoeuvres led to her burning up, she didn?t care.

    The main mission was already a failure. After Coruscant, a divided and inept Senate was clueless how to combat the power of the invaders; and so, in an old Mon Cal freighter, a new Rebellion was being organised. Somehow docked with the freighter was a massive Yuuzhan Vong ISD-analogue, easily ten times the size, dwarfing the beautiful Mon Cal craft with its deadly and dangerous mass. In the background, a Yuuzhan Vong interdictor cruiser hovered overhead, preventing escape.

    Protect the delegates. Yeah, right.

    ? Jade Shadow to Rogues, we?re coming out!?

    At that exact moment the docking hatch to the Mon Cal ship opened, and the Jade Shadow blasted out. While originally the ship hadn?t had much in the way of weapons, the Jedi had been working on it - as had Lando Calrissian - and obviously there were enough people on board to man all the guns. But the Jade Shadow had another unique feature; out of its own cargo bay there flew an X-wing, piloted by none other than Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. From Luke Jaina sensed a ragged edge of pain, and she reached out to him through the Force; the words were lost, but their meaning was clear. Uncle Luke, you?re injured!

    I?ll be all right, Jaina.
    In Luke?s response there was a grim resolve. Jaina stretched out her Force-senses and suddenly froze in horror.

    Master, where?s Tahiri?

    I?m sorry, Jaina, she was captured?
    As Luke said that, Jaina?s control snapped, and she took her X-wing into a deadly spin, plasma blasting out in all directions, using the Force to guide the beams to their targets. A good half-dozen Vong ships were blasted apart.

    ?Rogue Leader to Jade Shadow , we?re going to have to leave, Mara!?

    ?Agreed. But we need to take that Interdictor out first!?

    Luke closed his eyes, deep in thought, yet continuing the deadly battle in space. ?Leave that to me,? he finally asserted. Then, he was heading towards the Interdictor, engines powering up. A couple of coralskippers came after him, but Jaina was watching his back, and she got them both. At that precise moment another Yuuzhan Vong warship blasted out of Hyperspace, carrying with it another flotilla of coralskippers.

    ?Rogue Leader to Knight Leader, whatever you?re gonna do, you better make it quick!? Luke didn?t even hear the command, opening himself up to the Force and letting it flow through him. His mind was suddenly concentrated, reaching out with the Force towards the Interdictor
  5. Amidala_Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 4, 2001
    star 5
    Awesome! :D I can grant you, that I'll be a constant reader. I never knew you were planning this, though you suggested it. Maybe if you want to attract more readers, place something in your subject line about Anakin. Just a suggestion :)

    Am [face_love]
  6. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    As you can see, Am, your suggestion's taken - my word, I'm honoured indeed to get these compliments from a writer like YOU!

    Not surprised you weren't expecting this - just dreamt it up yesterday as I was reading Rebirth. Expect the unexpected!

    Btw, here's a good link (I'm actually saving this here so I can always find it easy, this is TOTALLY out of continuity for any new readers!) Fan Fiction Sites Index
  7. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    For Luke Skywalker, it had seemed as though an eternity had passed; blackness and void, without strength or identity. He willingly slipped into the darkness, losing himself in it, escaping ? for once in his life ? the heavy burden of responsibility that always hung so heavily upon his shoulders.

    But this eternity had an end, and the end came as a strange voice echoed in the darkness.

    ?Luke. Luke, you must wake up. If you do not, you shall die.?

    It sounded real, but Luke had no doubts that it was a voice only in his mind, a voice projected through the Force. Only the Force could speak so resoundingly through the darkness of his unconscious mind, and Luke wondered whose the voice was - it was oddly familiar. He concentrated on the voice, claiming its words as truth - and finally, awakening returned.

    The first sounds Luke heard were the shrill beeping and whistling of Artoo, sounds that he quickly interpreted. Unsurprisingly, they were in trouble. The second sound was a strange clang prompting a sickening feeling in his stomach as if he were being spun round. The feeling finally lessened, and Luke dragged his eyes open. He wished he hadn?t, as the X-wing took a desperate twist to avoid a great chunk of rock flying towards them. ?Artoo, what in the stars is going on??

    The Jedi Master listened in silence to Artoo?s panicked explanations - the hyperdrive had been damaged somehow, the X-wing had dropped out of hyperdrive in this asteroid storm, Artoo hadn?t had the time to work out where they were. Luke allowed himself a grim and weary sigh. ?Give me the controls, Artoo.? A glance at the sensors told Luke all he needed to know; the ship was trapped in the very heart of an asteroid belt. But Luke wouldn?t panic; Jedi had navigated asteroid belts before. A slight smile touched on the Jedi Master?s face as he remembered Han?s boasts about his escape from the ice-planet Hoth, and the smile grew as he recalled Jaina?s success in a deadly asteroid game rigged up by Lando Calrissian.

    This wasn?t a game, but the same rules still applied. Luke opened himself up to the Force, letting it flow through him until he was sensing every single asteroid, until he knew them as well as he knew his own body. Then, he was flying, heading out of the asteroids and away; they seemed to surround a planet below, which was alive and bright in the Force, even if most of the inhabitants did scan as droids. Somewhere upwards, Luke sensed a complex network of black holes and guessed those where the hyperspace phenom that had knocked the fighter out of hyperdrive and done the mischief.

    ?There?s a planet down below, Artoo. We?ll check it out.?

    It wasn?t even a challenge for the Jedi Master to fly through the asteroid storms and to the planet below. It wasn?t even strenuous; Luke had done far greater things before.

    Had Luke been able to see the undercarriage of his X-wing, however, the Jedi Master would have been a lot more worried. Attached there was a small fleshy creature - a Yuuzhan Vong life form, serving its purpose - to summon its masters.

    . . .

    Surprise coursed through Mara, and she couldn?t help letting it show. ?Are you sure you want to do this?? she asked, her voice laced with distrust. She glanced around the military-issue hall, finally letting her eyes fix on the speaker. Although she had hoped for fellow searchers, she had not expected to achieve this.

    Kyp Durron, the man in charge of Kyp?s Dozen, smiled a tight smile; his eyes flashed with hurt, but Mara couldn?t really care if she hurt the man anyway. ?If I?ve said it once I?ve said it enough times to get it on every holo-channel in the Republic, Mara. Just because Master Skywalker and I disagree, doesn?t mean I don?t respect him. I care for him a lot, Mara, and I owe him my life. He means a lot to the Jedi as a whole, and if I can be of help to him then it?s an honour.? To her surprise Mara sensed nothing but sincerity, and she wisely chose not to argue.

    ?You?ve got yourself a deal, Kyp.? Once Mara had wished she?d gotten to Kyp a
  8. FTeik Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2000
    star 4
    Excellent story so far. I´m waiting for more.
  9. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Wow! Thanks FTeik - I'm trying to keep updating every day at least once (today I managed twice!)
    More will come!
  10. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5

    Couldn?t the Force just be with me for a change?

    In the heart of a Vong ship, there was no sense of the Force. There was nothing that Tahiri could cling to, nothing that could give her hope; and her only company was despair.

    ?I am Tahiri Veila. I am Tahiri Veila. I am Tahiri Veila.?

    The words were like a mantra, chanted in desperate denial of the situation she would face. They echoed through the corridors of the ship, and the warriors who heard them shivered and wished they had the courage to deny orders. Those who had battled the Jeedai before spat on the floor in disgust, telling anyone who could hear that Jeedai were like a force of nature, they should die in honour, not be dragged back to Coruscant as a Shaper?s toy. Several guards had taken dares to try and get to the girl, and strangely enough she had seemed desperate for their success; but the small alien had denied them, killing all those who came too close and for the wrong reasons.

    Inside the cell, her arms and legs pinned to the floor with blorash jelly, only Tahiri?s mind could move. Once before she had been in this situation ? Kwaad peering over her ? and she had barely survived, her memory of those times the stuff of nightmares. Now, the nightmare was about to begin again.

    Tahiri screamed until her mind stopped torturing herself, which was a long, long time. Before, there had been escape; the nightmare had ended, gloriously, like a sunbeam hastening the first light of day. Anakin Solo had been on the planet, he had rescued her, had saved her from the Yuuzhan Vong. But there was no Anakin now. Master Ikrit had said ?Together? - she and Anakin had been soul mates, joined at the mind, two halves of a whole. One half was gone, and alone Tahiri knew she could never survive the Vong.

    Anakin had been no sunbeam; he had only delayed the inevitable. Without Anakin, all hope had fled. In desperation, Tahiri had tried to kill herself, tried to end the pain; but the strange alien ? Vergere was her name ? had stopped her, looked at her with real sympathy and pity?

    But Vergere had done nothing to save her from the Vong. There was no hope from those quarters. Tahiri gave up trying, and carried on crying, wishing with all her heart that Anakin could save her - but knowing not even Anakin could conquer the grave.

    . . .

    On the launch bays of Coruscant, a Yuuzhan Vong warship was preparing for launch. Strapped to its body were thousands of coralskippers. One of those pilots was about to get a nasty surprise.

    The Yuuzhan Vong raised his hand towards the surface of the craft; a small jut of rock extended outwards, piercing his skin and drawing blood. Satisfied with the Yuuzhan Vong?s genetic fingerprint, the ship opened up.

    Which was when the Yuuzhan Vong died, a lightsaber slashing into him from behind. Barely a second went by before Anakin Solo leapt into the coralskipper, even as the entrance closed. Once inside, he settled into the control chair, and spotted a small mask hanging from the ceiling. This was the Vong?s method of communicating with their living craft, and while Anakin couldn?t understand the thing he would have plenty of time to grow attuned to it.

    Somewhere out there, he sensed anguish and pain, and he knew it was Tahiri. Desperately he tried to tell her, I love you, Tahiri. I?ll come for you. But he knew she had not heard.

    . . .

    They say any landing you can walk away from is a good one, but Luke still considered this one to be appalling. Halfway through the landing, he had discovered the necessary equipment had been damaged - Artoo believed through micrometeor hits - and hence the X-wing had been practically torn apart by the jagged rocks of this planet?s surface.

    Luke rested his hand on his droid?s dome. ?I know, Artoo, it?s not your fault.? Somewhere out there he sensed desperation; fear; hatred; loneliness. And he knew it was Tahiri, but there was nothing he could do.

    For he too was alone, stranded in a wilderness. Luke gazed around him at the barren, mountainous terrain
  11. Qwi_Xux Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 2001
    star 4
    Hehe, Am was right--putting the 'Anakin and Tahiri' part in the title certainly drew me. They're my sweeties. :D I haven't caught up on this story yet, but it looks great! And don't worry about parts of the story being dark--you should have seen what I did to Tahiri in the first part of my Anakin/Tahiri trilogy. [face_devil] Sometimes the dark parts add something to the story. ;)
  12. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Hello, Qwi - hope you've been able to catch up, glad you're enjoying the show! I agree about darkness adding something to the story, but the thing is getting it in balance. That was a VERY dark section, and I had to debate about putting it in at all in some parts, but it's essential to understanding the plotline.
  13. Amidala_Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 4, 2001
    star 5
    Hi Qwi! The Force seems to be keeping much to itself. Wonderful, so far! I'm truly excited and looking forward to when Anakin and Tahiri meet. I cannot even begun to suggest how they will react. Keeping writing!

    Am [face_love]
  14. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Another issue - who will Anakin & Tahiri BE when they meet?
    Thanx 4 the feedback, Am!
  15. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Here we go! Again, shorted - but, hopefully, good!

    . . .

    ?Are we there yet?? A small grin touched Han?s face as he heard Leia?s voice.

    The one-time smuggler and one-time general turned to give his ladylove a scoundrel?s smile. ?How many times did we hear that from the kids?? The two shared quiet laughter, the sparkle in Han?s eyes practically doubling. It wasn?t really that long since the marriage had gone through its hardest time; the Yuuzhan Vong invasion had begun with the death of Han?s close friend and co-pilot, the Wookie Chewbacca, and as a result relations had been somewhat strained for quite a while - almost a year in fact. But, while Leia wasn?t quite as furry as his old friend, Han liked his new co-pilot just fine.

    The laughter faded, and Han checked the chronometer. ?Another few hours and we?ll be at Kessel. Though why in the stars Lando wanted us to meet him there, I have no idea.? It wasn?t as if they didn?t have anything better to do than visit Lando?s private mine; but the money the mines on Kessel raised were currently being channelled into the Rebellion against the Yuuzhan Vong, so neither could really say no. Besides, beneath the hurried communiqué from Lando Leia had sensed dark undertones - something was deadly wrong here. And, as always, Han and Leia raced straight into the heart of the troubles.

    The two spent the time in a comfortable silence, simply enjoying one another?s company; Leia, for her part, did a little Jedi-mind-preparation. She had a feeling the two were going to need it. And yet, when the Millennium Falcon burst out of Hyperspace a while later, there seemed nothing unusual in the Kessel cluster - well, nothing unusual beyond the norm. Hanging over the entire misaligned system was the Maw, a complex cluster of black holes; the death-place of the Sun-Crusher and the third Death Star, inside of which was a secret Jedi stronghold - or at least, had been once. In general, the Jedi, and the Rebels, seemed to have taken their bases far more Coreward in recent times, and the place only had a token crew.

    And there was Kessel itself. Han couldn?t help a slight scowl; he and the planet had a bad history. The Maker-forsaken planet was the Galaxy?s sole source of Spice, and the one-time drugs dealer Moruth Doole had run it. Doole had set the Empire on Han, getting him into a mess with Jabba the Hutt. Another time, Doole had put Han and Chewie in the Kessel mines, where they?d encountered the monstrous spice-spiders whose webs Doole was mining.

    But that was the past. The trade was legitimate now, although only for medical practices, and Kessel was the pet project of Lando Calrissian - the only project the Yuuzhan Vong hadn?t yet damaged in some way. It was a major source of Rebel income. The Falcon moved towards Kessel, skirting the asteroid fields that had once been a moon - blasted apart by a Death Star - and moving in. ? Millennium Falcon to Kessel, am I cleared for landing??

    Which was exactly when Han and Leia got a nasty surprise, as an Imperial Star Destroyer swept out from behind Kessel, where it had been hidden. Although Han tried some desperate flying, the Star Destroyer was too close, too quick, and a wave of TIE-fighters was hovering along with it - almost a solid wave. ? Millennium Falcon ,? the ISD?s captain snapped, ?This is the Peace Brigade. Go down to the planet?s surface now, and you may be allowed to live.?

    . . .

    On the surface of Kessel, Luke Skywalker continued in his never-ending trudge; then, a slight smile flickered over his face. He could sense a familiar mind. Tentatively, Luke reached out with the Force.

    Leia?

    Luke?

    I crash-landed here after a battle with some Vong. What planet is this? What?re you doing here?

    This is Kessel. We got a message from Lando - and now the Peace Brigade has cornered us. We haven?t a chance of escaping. They want us to land on the planet.

    Do it. But first, send out a message on frequency 984-542-542.


    . . .

    Mara Jade allowed herself a snar
  16. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
  17. Amidala_Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 4, 2001
    star 5
    I have to be honest, I knew nothing about Kessel, only the general information concerning the space mines. It's nice to learn some more extra SW 'homework'. So, all our heroes are being shoved into one place - a little corner. I liked seeing the little joke Han and Leia shared. I'm always up for humor in the serious fics, especially at tense moments. Great work! :)

    Am [face_love]
  18. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Glad you're still enjoying it, yup, I couldn't resist putting all our heroes in 'one corner' - and I've always liked Kessel, it turned up in the Jedi Academy trilogy.

    Wonder what the Vong'll make of the Spice-spiders?

    :D
  19. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    As the Millennium Falcon came in to land, Han stared out with an expression of anger; Leia could understand it. ?Kessel was always bad luck for me,? Han murmured, ?Now that goes double. Not only do we get captured by the Peace Brigade, we find out they got themselves an Imperial Star Destroyer!?

    ?That?s one thing I?d like to understand, too,? Leia murmured, as much to herself as to Han. ?Where in the stars did the Peace Brigade get an ISD??

    As she looked at the surface of Kessel, Leia had to pity her brother, trudging through this desolate wilderness. Then she focused on the looming metal building - once a jailhouse, now a centre of operations - and suddenly Leia pitied her own situation too. The Kessel spaceport had once been on the moon, but after the moon?s destruction it had been reconstructed directly outside the main facility, a joint venture between Lando Calrissian and Talon Karrde. ?I still can?t believe Lando?s betrayed us,? Leia murmured darkly. ?I thought he?d be past that.?

    ?Yeah. Looks like it?s true what they say - a leopard can?t change its spots.? The anger in Leia?s voice was nothing compared to the bitterness in her husband?s. As the Falcon landed, Han scowled out at the welcoming committee, a small army, all heavily armed.

    Once the landing sequence was completed, a voice boomed out through a megaphone; ?Leave your weapons behind - including your lightsaber - and come out with your hands in the air!?

    ?Original, ain?t he?? Han asked with a scoundrel?s grin, obviously deciding to ignore the tension, and dropping his blaster by the command chair. Leia unhooked her lightsaber from her belt - she?d only recently taken to wearing it again, and now when she needed it must she had to leave it behind. Ironic, in a twisted sort of way.

    Many times in the past Leia had been the focus of attention. As one-time Chief of State, she?d been stood in front of vast crowds, leading them by the hand towards prosperity; she?d continued after leaving that post, despite declaring herself retired. The Yuuzhan Vong invasion had rekindled Leia?s public speaking, with everything from Senate debates to formal speeches on Hapes. But she?d never quite been the focus of attention in this way before, with what seemed like a thousand-and-one guns pointed straight at her.

    Han, on the other hand, knew this feeling all too well. He treated the Yuuzhan Vong collaborators with his best lopsided grin. ?Hi guys, thanks for the invitation, but you didn?t hafta go to so much trouble on our account.? His wit was greeted with a stony silence, and Han shrugged, remembering one occasion on the smuggler?s moon orbiting the planet Palaxyr. At least those smugglers had wit. These guys looked like they had all the humour of a Givin computer.

    ?Move into the prison facilities,? one commanded finally, when the Peace Brigadiers had judged them far enough from the Falcon. A small group of the scum raced aboard the ship, while Han and Leia were searched. The guy who searched Leia enjoyed it a bit too much, and Han swore to himself that he?d pay for that. And so, surrounded by the Peace Brigade, Leia and Han moved on into the Kessel facility.

    Han sighed. ?Not again??

    . . .

    In one of the towers of Coruscant, two dark forces were meeting; on the Shaper, Nen Yim, but the other a man even she feared. Executor Nom Anor wore his rank proudly, letting her gaze for a moment upon the perfection of his scarring and injuries; he wasn?t doing it because he was a fanatic, Nen Yim felt sure. He was doing it to intimidate her, and he had succeeded spectacularly.

    To relieve herself of the discomfort, Nen Yim glanced around herself; Nom Anor had chosen this room personally, and was surprisingly reluctant to remove the taint of the mechanical. Perhaps, the Shaper mused, the Executor had been among the infidels too long.

    ?You performed your task well, Shaper,? Nom Anor finally declared, ?The Solo believes he has escaped us??

    Nen Yim nodded. ?He took a tizowyrm and his lightsaber, as we a
  20. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
  21. Protege-of-Thrawn Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 14, 2001
    star 6
    Newbie to these forums and your thread, and needless to say I am impressed by both.

    You seem to have the paitience neccessary to draw together the differing plot threads effectively.

    I am enjoying it thus far, a nice little joining of many plot threads.

    I read on with interest.
  22. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Many, many thanks! (Compared to many of the people on TFN I'm a newbie too - still feel like one very often...)

    Great to have you along, Protege!
  23. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    They?re coming for you.

    Luke flinched as he sensed Leia?s emotions through the Force; intense fear for his safety. The meaning was plain to see. At present, the Jedi Master had come to a mountainous region of the planet, and he and Artoo were fighting their way up knife-edged ridges and struggling not to fall into deep caverns. The blue star that was Kessel?s sun was high in the sky, but the planet was still cold, especially for a guy brought up on a desert world.

    He wondered how they?d found out he was here. Leia would never have betrayed him, of that the Jedi Master was certain. He doubted she?d even told Han.

    But the questions could wait till later. For now, he had to think.

    The droid at Luke?s side beeped shrilly, wondering why its? master had stopped; Luke gave his companion a sad smile. ?They know we?re here, Artoo. Leia?s just warned me.? Understandably, Artoo?s reaction was a bwooeep of failure, but Luke didn?t particularly notice; he was deep in thought. ?Artoo, they?re going to have heat sensors. On a cold planet like Kessel, it?s body-heat that?ll give people away. Your circuits will be showing up like a spotlight. I?m going to have to deactivate you.? It was hard for Luke to do that, but he steeled himself; when Artoo fell into slumber, he felt like he?d put a part of himself to sleep too. That done, Luke deposited the droid in a shallow cave.

    The caves were the perfect places to hide, but Kessel was infamous for its animal life. Dangerous arachnids lurked beneath the surface, weaving deadly webs. But perhaps that was where Luke?s chances lay. Slowly a plan formed in the Jedi Master?s mind, and he reached out with the Force. The spiders were near, gigantic creatures that had nearly killed Han and Chewie once. But Luke quickly judged one cave-complex to be relatively safe.

    And so Luke plunged into one of the caverns, facing the dangers there rather than staying out in the open.

    . . .

    ?This is search party 22, the droid?s heat signature is gone, but the Jedi is still here. We?re extrapolating his position now.?

    The speeder roared through the grey-white cloud of dust; a cloud it was kicking up as a result of its? sheer speed. Inside were eight Rodians, armed to the teeth, all willing to turn this Jedi over to the Vong. Finally their computer came up with an extrapolation - the Jedi was in the subterranean caves. Leaving the speeder on autopilot, all eight quickly donned cover-all suits; thermal goggles covering their mouths and respirator units attached to their mouths. When one of them finally looked, though, he had a surprise - the heat signature had vanished.

    ?You reckon the spiders got him??

    One of the others laughed at the thought. ?Luke Skywalker dies on Kessel, victim of a spice-spider? Get real! We?ve got to assume this is a trap.? All eight checked their weapons. Finally the speeder pulled up alongside a knife-edged ridge, and the hunters stared down at the labyrinthine caverns facing them. Unfortunately they had little choice. Finally, all eight advanced, thermal goggles the only source of light.

    Inside the cavern, all was darkness; but it was easy to spot the veins of glitterstim spice lining the walls, occasional flares of light spinning across its surface as small moth-like creatures impacted and became trapped. The Rodian Peace Brigadiers paused for a moment, captured by the potential profit - this was one of the biggest veins of glitterstim they?d ever seen. Eventually, though, they moved on.

    Ahead of them there was a snap-hissing sound a lightsaber shimmered into action. There was no heat-signature. ?He?s lowered his body temperature! Jedi scum!? With that, the Rodians opened fire, their energy beams brightly spattering across the caverns, but never hitting anything. Instead, the blasts almost seemed to be absorbed by something, and the lightsaber remained unmoving. Finally the Rodians stopped firing, and moved forward, one on point. He was surprised to find that the lightsaber had been placed on top of a vein of glitterstim
  24. Amidala_Skywalker Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 4, 2001
    star 5
    I'm still surprised by the tricks and detail you include. I would have never guessed that evasion idea Luke came up with. Maybe Han and Leia could do with one of those? Great!

    Am [face_love]
  25. J_K_DART Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2001
    star 5
    Glad I still have the knack of surprising you, Am! Have to say that almost all of the 'background' that I 'natter' is, somewhere or other, relevant to the story - now you've just got to work out how!
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