Beyond Star Wars: Shadow of the Ancients I: Acts of War (Post NJO AU, Updated 11/09)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by MasterGhandalf, Sep 15, 2012.

Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade
  1. MasterGhandalf Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2009
    star 2
    AN: This fic is the first in a series of four-five that I'm planning to be the sequel to the New Jedi Order that Dark Nest and Legacy of the Force to my mind failed to be. This is an AU that disregards everything that takes place post-Unifying Force (including the Legacy comics, though I am a fan of those). This is the same continuity as my previous story I, Warrior, although it's not a direct sequel- that was a solo Tahiri adventure, while this is intended to be much more comprehensive. I would recommend reading it if you want to see some of what else has been going on in this AU, and its events and characters will become more important down the road.

    This story picks up about three years after TUF, and the galaxy is beginning to pull itself back together following the Vong War. When a mysterious attack against the Chiss provokes them to declare war on the Galactic Alliance, the Jedi must investigate the truth- only to find that the true enemy may be far more dangerous than anything they've faced before. Jacen, Jaina, Tahiri, and Jag will be the most important characters, though the Big Three and other characters from their generation will get stuff to do as well. As always, feedback is appreciated.

    Star Wars
    The Shadow of the Ancients, Volume I
    Acts of War

    Dramatis Personae
    The Jedi
    Kyp Durron: Jedi Master (Male Human)
    Corran Horn: Jedi Master (Male Human)
    Saba Sebatyne: Jedi Master (Female Barabel)
    Luke Skywalker: Jedi Master (Male Human)
    Mara Jade Skywalker: Jedi Master (Female Human)
    Jacen Solo: Jedi Knight (Male Human)
    Jaina Solo: Jedi Knight and Starfighter Pilot (Female Human)
    Tahiri Veila: Jedi Knight (Female Human)

    The Chiss Ascendancy
    Jagged Fel: Pilot (Male Human)
    Soontir Fel: Syndic (Male Human)
    Rei'han'inronkini (Ihani): Explorer (Female Chiss)
    Mitth'res'kirnan (Thresk): Admiral (Male Chiss)
    Hess'irolia'nuruodo (Irolia): Commander (Female Chiss)
    Nal'irna'nuruodo (Lirnan): Aristocra (Male Chiss)

    The Galactic Alliance
    Wedge Antilles: General (Male Human)
    Gavin Darklighter: Commander, Rogue Squadron (Male Human)
    Traest Kre'fey: Admiral (Male Bothan)
    Cal Omas: Chief of State (Male Human)
    Fesyr Brei'lar: Pilot, Rogue Squadron (Female Bothan)
    Sien Sovv: Admiral (Male Sullustan)

    Other
    C-3P0: Protocol droid
    Han Solo: Captain, Millenium Falcon (Male Human)
    Leia Organa Solo: Diplomat (Female Human)
    R2-D2:Astromech Droid
    Tal'kantar: Power broker (Unknown Alien)

    Prologue: Assault
    The people of the Galactic Alliance called it the Unknown Regions, a vast swath of the galaxy that remains largely unexplored and shrouded in mystery. Few dared to venture there, and fewer managed to return. To many of the galaxy's inhabitants, the Unknown Regions were a dangerous enigma, and best ignored. Yet they were also home to civilizations of their own, some of them nearly as ancient and storied as the Old Republic.

    The Chiss Ascendancy was one such civilization. Best known for producing the famous- or infamous- Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn, many in the larger galaxy knew of the Chiss, but few knew much about the nature of their culture or government, for they were a stoic and closemouthed people, and Chiss seen outside their territory were renegades more often than official representatives. When the galaxy was rocked by the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, the Chiss sent small squadrons of pilots, provided scientific aid, but if the Ascendancy as a whole played a part, it was a well-hidden one.

    Yet the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force was formidable, a well-oiled, disciplined machine overseen by the Ruling Family Nuruodo, drawn from the populace of more than twenty colony worlds, and though it never struck first, when attacked it pursued war both ruthlessly and efficiently. None made enemies of the Chiss and did not regret it.

    Above a nameless world on the edge of Ascendancy territory a shipyard hung, its berths filled with capital warships in varying stages of construction, for while the Ascendancy did not seek out war, it made a point to always be prepared for it, and the sheer scope of the devastation wrought by the Yuuzhan Vong disturbed the leaders of the Four Families more than they would ever admit. What else, they thought, might be lurking in the void, threats besides which the Yuuzhan Vong themselves might pale? Another warship hung above the shipyard, this one complete and heavily armed, for the leading Aristocra of House Nuruodo himself had come to inspect the facility- one of several established since the end of the war- and gauge its progress.

    The Ruling Families looked beyond the Rim for their next enemies. They were looking in the wrong place all along.

    The sky rippled near the shipyard, just outside the planet's gravity well, and ships emerged from hyperspace. They were not Yuuzhan Vong coralcraft or something even more strange, but two sleep Star Destroyers and an organic-looking Mon Calamari cruiser, vessels of the Galactic Alliance. They bore down on the Chiss shipyard, and without warning they opened fire.

    One-on-one, in a pitched battle, the completed warship could have taken any of these vessels, but three-against-one, taken by surprise, it did not stand a chance. Though it fought, it soon perished under a barrage of turbolasers, lighting the sky with its fiery death. The invaders turned their attention to the shipyards themselves, which had only a few squadrons of clawcraft and several weapons emplacements for defense- its strength lay in secrecy, not firepower. The attackers made short work of them and then unleashed their weapons on the shipyards. Less than a standard hour later, their work done, they departed from the system and leaped back into hyperspace. The shipyards were destroyed, the Aristocra dead, and only a handful of survivors remained to send a distress call to Csilla.

    There is one cardinal doctrine which governed the Chiss military- the Chiss did not start wars, ever, but they fought mercilessly against aggressors. Now it was time for the Galactic Alliance to learn this lesson. The unprovoked attack would be avenged in blood.
    Last edited by MasterGhandalf, Nov 9, 2012
  2. smash128 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 9, 2008
    star 2
    I remember seeing this when you posted on the temp boards. The plot setup you have going has caught my interest like before, hoping you continue to do so. [face_dancing]
  3. MasterGhandalf Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2009
    star 2
    Chapter 1: Harbingers
    Wedge Antilles stepped into the briefing room at the Galactic Alliance Defense Force's temporary headquarters on Denon to find that he was the last to have arrived. Admiral Sien Sovv sat directly facing the door, his hands folded and his large eyes somber; the Bothan Admiral Kre'fey paced behind him, a predatory scowl seemingly etched across his face. Wedge was somewhat surprised to see him there, but then, the Bothan forces out hunting for where the Yuuzhan Vong had gone to ground probably didn't need their admiral with them in the field, so long as he would come when- if- they finally found their quarry. Next to Sovv was a Fleet Intelligence officer, a human-looking woman Wedge didn't know. The veteran general's eyes, however, were drawn to the window, where Chief of State Cal Omas stood with his hands clasped behind his back, staring out over the cityscape.

    "Looks like I'm late to the party," Wedge said, taking a seat across from Sovv. "What have I missed?"

    "To put it bluntly, General," Omas said, turning around; he looked like he hadn't slept at all last night, "we're apparently at war."

    "Apparently at war?" Wedge asked. "I'm not even sure I understand what that means. At war with who, anyway? It's only a few years since the Vong gave pretty much everyone a pounding- who is in condition to fight?"

    "Lieutenant Barra," Sovv said heavily, "please tell Admiral Kre'fey and General Antilles what you told Chief Omas and I this morning."

    The woman, Barra, stood. "Admirals, General, Chief Omas, some of you are already aware that last night we received a distress call from Migelli III, a lightly populated agri-world on the border of our territory, near the Unknown Regions- completely unremarkable, until today. A few hours later, we had confirmation that the planet had indeed been attacked by- and already fallen to- the Chiss."

    "The Chiss?" Wedge demanded. "That doesn't make sense. The Chiss never strike first, and we haven't given them any provocation, at least that I'm aware of."

    "If anyone provoked the Chiss to attack, my office didn't order it," Omas said. "Based on what I know about the Chiss- which admittedly isn't nearly as much as I'd like to- I can see no reason for such a sudden attack."

    "Are we certain it is the Chiss?" Admiral Kre'fey asked. "They do have a history of closer relations to the Empire than to us, after all. Perhaps some ambitious Imperial Moff or Admiral managed to acquire Chiss war material and decided to use it to sow conflict between the Alliance and the Ascendancy." That seemed to Wedge to be a very Bothan way of looking at the situation; though Kre'fey was quite straightforward compared to many of his people, a heritage of cutthroat intrigue could be a hard thing to ignore. Of course, the Admiral's late cousin Borsk Fey'lya, for example, would probably have come out of the same briefing with an entire conspiracy theory formulated, instead of vague speculation.

    Though admittedly, Imperials loved intrigue almost as much as Bothans did, so the idea had some merit. Something, though, told Wedge it wouldn't be that easy.

    "We know that the assailants were using Chiss ships," Barra said, pressing keys along the edge of the table. A hologram appeared above it, depicting a skirmish raging above a small, blue-green planet, presumably Migelli III. The planetary defenses were minor, consisting of a handful of light cruisers and one or two squadrons of fighters, and it was obvious they had little combat experience. They were being quickly overwhelmed by a fleet of sleek silver warships, each of which was surrounded by large numbers of the unmistakable clawcraft.

    "This was taken by a light cruiser in service to the Migelli III Planetary Defense Force," Barra continued. "As you can see, this is indeed a Chiss fleet. Chief Omas and Admiral Sovv have both already seen this footage; less than a standard hour ago, however, we received another transmission which no one outside of Intelligence has seen yet."

    She keyed a different sequence into the table's controls, and the skirmish vanished to be replaced by the image of a blue-skinned, red-eyed humanoid in a black uniform, seeming to regard them all with cold disdain. Wedge was struck by his resemblance to the late Grand Admiral Thrawn, but there was something different about this one. Thrawn had been confident, yes, but that had been confidence based on a very realistic assessment of his own abilities; this Chiss simply seemed arrogant to the point of being contemptuous.

    "Leaders of the Galactic Alliance," the image began, his Basic slightly accented but easily understandable, "My name is Mitth'res'kirnan, an Admiral of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet. Know that we do not come to you as conquerors; rather, we come seeking justice. The Galactic Alliance has committed a grave crime against the Chiss Ascendancy, and its government must repudiate this crime and hand the perpetrators over to the Chiss for proper justice. Failure to do so will result in the CEDF continuing to seize your planets until we find the criminals we seek. We have given you the opportunity to save face this time by speaking to you directly, but know that if you fail to meet our demands our next transmission will be to the galaxy at large, that all may know what you have done. Until such time as you hand these criminals to the Ascendancy, know that you are considered enemies of the Chiss- and we have no mercy for enemies." The blue-skinned admiral held his rigid posture for several seconds after he stopped speaking, his red eyes cold, and then the hologram vanished. Heavy silence fell across the room.

    "Well," Wedge finally said, "I'll say this for the Chiss- they get to the point. I just wish I had the faintest idea what he was talking about."

    "Clearly this Admiral… Thresk… believes that we are the aggressors here," said Kre'fey, "which certainly explains the Ascendancy's behavior, but not why they would believe this in the first place. We are certain that we have done nothing to provoke this kind of response, yes?"

    "We've barely had any direct contact with the Chiss since the war ended," Omas said. "I've spoken to Chiss representatives over the Holonet a couple of times, but it never really went beyond exchanging pleasantries. I certainly never ordered anyone to commit "grave crimes" against the Ascendancy! I trust that nobody on my staff did so either."

    "I suppose contacting the Chiss and telling them we have no idea what they're talking about is out of the question?" Wedge asked, though something told him that solving this crisis wouldn't be that simple.

    "We've been trying to get in contact with the Ascendancy all morning," Omas said. "So far, we've had no luck. We'll probably get through to them eventually, even if we have to use the Imperials as a go-between. That's no guarantee we'll be able to convince them of our innocence, however- we just don't know enough about their political situation right now to say for sure- but it's our best hope. Until then, however…"

    "Until then, we're at war," Wedge said, a sinking feeling in his gut.

    "You and Admiral Kre'fey are two of our most experienced commanders," Sovv said. He called up a holomap of the systems near Migelli II above the table. "Labeled here are the systems we believe the Chiss are most likely to strike at next. General Antilles, you will be taking the Fifth Fleet; Admiral Kre'fey, the Third. You will patrol and reinforce these systems. This is of utmost importance; based on the point from which the Chiss fleet jumped into the Migelli System, they are likely making a straight line for Denon."

    Of course they are, Wedge thought as his heart sank. Things never seem to go wrong halfway…
    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    The calm of space was torn by war. She flew her x-wing into the maelstrom, her squadron surrounding her, the enemy ahead. She didn't know who they were- she saw a mix of different types of ship among them; Imperial Star Destroyers, sleek Chiss vessels, lumpy, asymmetrical Yuuzhan Vong warships, even a handful of cobbled-together pirate ships. No, it didn't matter who they were. All that mattered was that they were the enemy.

    As the capital ships engaged each other, her squadron shot forward to meet the enemy fighters. Swiftly, almost too easily, she shot them down, one TIE fighter, coralskipper, or ugly after another. She felt exhilarated, invincible- and then one by one, her wingmaters disintegrated behind her. She narrowly dodged a strike from an energy canon, and her scopes picked up a single clawcraft pursuing her. Seizing the controls, she flew with all the skill and intuition that her training, experience, and the Force lent her, but always the clawcraft was right on her tail, until she dodged around a dying Mon Cal cruiser and left it in the smoke behind her. Doubling back, she rose behind the clawcraft and fired her own cannons.

    In that moment she realized who the pilot of the Chiss fighter was, but the shots had already been fired and it was too late to take them back. She wordlessly screamed for him to dodge, but it accomplished nothing. Her shots struck Jag Fel's clawcraft dead on, and it dead in an explosion of orange light.

    She hung there, numb, appalled by what she had done, when she felt the shadow fall across the battlefield. No, not a shadow- this was no mere absence of light. This was a living thing, ancient, dark, and cold, a power that could enter the heart and mind and strangle the will itself. It was an overwhelming presence in the Force that beat down upon her like the rays of a dark sun.

    Slowly, against her will, her fighter began to turn, and she found herself facing an enormous ship, at least the size the Death Star had been supposed to be, or the very largest Yuuzhan Vong worldships. This, however, was clearly something else entirely, for its construction did not resemble either the cold metal lines of the empire or the obscenely organic quality of anything the Vong made. It was glossy and faceted like a giant black diamond, and it had no obvious viewpoints or propulsions, yet she knew that it was indeed a ship and that there were beings inside it, old and cold, who watched and waited as she drifted closer, and an astromech droid was beeping and whistling in her ears…

    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    Jaina Solo woke with a start to find herself still inside her x-wing's cockpit, but the chaos that filled her viewports was that of hyperspace, rather than battle. Stretching as best she could in the tight space, she remembered that Twin Suns Squadron had been recently attached to a task force that had been bringing a gang of ex-Peace Brigade pirates to justice in an out-of-the-way system near Rodia. That mission complete, they were currently inbound for Denon; Jaina hoped she might be able to see her family, if any of them were there as well.

    Clearing her head, she realized that the beeping droid hadn't been part of her nightmare after all; Cappie was plainly trying to get her attention. One glance at her controls showed why; a blinking red light indicated she had a message from someone.

    "All right, Cappie," Jaina said, stifling a yawn. "I'm awake. What's so urgent about this, anyway?"

    The astromech beeped reproachfully, and the Jedi pilot shook her head. "All right, all right," she said, "let's see who this is." She pressed a key on her console, and the message began to play.

    At once, a hand-high hologram appeared on Jaina's console, and her heart caught in her throat. The image was of a handsome man a few years older than she was, his uniform and appearance as neat as ever, but there were dark circles under his eyes and a haunted quality to his expression that she couldn't remember seeing even during the Yuuzhan Vong war. She knew in her gut with the instincts of a Jedi that something was very, very wrong.

    "Jaina," the tiny replica of Jag Fel said, "I can't speak long. Things are spiraling out of control here, and I was only able to get away for a few minutes. Listen… I need your help…"
  4. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Cool riveting stuff! =D= =D= Liking very much the strong presences to be of Wedge ;) and J/J and of course Tahiri. :) I was reading I, Warrior but then the move happened and now the posts are misformatted, etc., so to catch back up, I'll wait until that's fixed - hopefully soon ;) :p

    I always liked Kre'fey -- always seemed like a respectable Bothan - is that a non sequitur? [face_laugh] But he was not slimy like Borsky [face_laugh] [face_not_talking]

    And let me say right here and for the record, thank you for not doing the canon LOTF thing with Jacen and Mara -- for that alone you deserve :chocolate: @};-
  5. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    Jag? Asking for help? Wow, things are really out of control is he's asking for help! Jaina's vision is pretty scary.

    I'm reading this over on ff.n as well, but, for some reaon, I prefer to reply here.

    Oh, I agree with Jade about the chocolate!
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  6. MasterGhandalf Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2009
    star 2
    Chapter 2: The Warning
    "I need your help," the miniature image of Jagged Fel said. "Listen, Jaina, I don't know if you know anything about this yet, but something terrible has happened. A few weeks ago there was a surprise attack on a Chiss shipyard by what looked like Galactic Alliance vessels; the leading Aristocra of the Nuruodo family was there on inspection, and he died in the assault. Now, it might just have been coincidence that he was there when the attack came, but my father doesn't think so, and neither do I. We think this was a deliberate assassination.
    "In any case, the Alliance has been blamed for the attack and the Aristocra's death, and his successor in particular is on the warpath. I don't know why, but he hates the Alliance and the Jedi and almost seems glad to have this excuse to go to war. Who exactly was involved in the Alpha Red project on the Chiss side was kept highly classified, but I think the new Aristocra may have been one of the leaders and has spent the last few years simmering over the project's failure. Now he has his chance to get even; a punitive fleet has been dispatched to Alliance space and may have already begun to attack.
    "I can't speak much longer," Jag said, seeming to look Jaina directly in the eyes. "The Household Phalanxes have been conscripted as part of the next wave that will hit GA space if the Alliance leaders don't turn over the alleged war criminals soon, and that includes my squadron, because of our reputation for skill. Jaina, I just want you to know that I don't believe your government is responsible for this; too many things don't add up. My father has been trying to convince other high-ranking officials, but he's only one voice and the Ruling Families and CEDF high command are dismissing him as being too sympathetic to his own kind. Who really did it? We don't know, but we have theories. I can't say more in case this frequency is being tapped, but if you want to know what we've learned, come to the coordinates that I've sent with this transmission. You might want to bring more Jedi with you, too- you might need them. Someone seems to be manipulating both the Alliance and the Ascendancy, but we can't be sure who or why. You could help us get to the bottom of this.
    "Goodbye, Jaina," Jag said quietly. "I love you." The hologram flickered, and he was gone.

    Jaina sat back in her seat, staring at her controls. War with the Chiss? It seemed unthinkable. From the sound of things, Jag was on the opposite side, albeit under duress. With a shudder she remembered her nightmare; sometimes being a Force-sensitive as powerful as she was carried some very unpleasant side-effects, like having bad dreams about things you didn't even know you should be worrying about yet.

    Still, as shocking as this turn of events was, it wasn't in Jaina's nature to sit back and do nothing. Quickly she punched new coordinates into her navcomputer; the next time her x-wing reverted to realspace, it would do so only long enough to revert to another hyperspace vector.

    Cappie trilled a question and Jaina sighed. "I know what I'm doing," she said. "I'm transmitting my report directly to Starfighter Command on Denon, but I'm not just a GA pilot and I have other commitments. General Antilles flew with Uncle Luke and Corran Horn; he'll understand. Right now, I need to go to Ossus. I have to show this message to the Jedi. Hopefully if a few of us make it to Jag's coordinates, we'll be able to get to the bottom of this and end this war."

    Cappie fell silent, and Jaina stared out the cockpit at the blue-and-white chaos if hyperspace that surrounded her. Jag, she thought, may the Force be with you…
    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    Fesyr Brei'lar spun her fighter through the chaos of battle above Coruscant, avoiding the plasma fire of the massive Yuuzhan Vong warships as she concentrated on the squadron of coralskippers that were even now racing towards the Alliance lines. One of them broke off near the edge and looped around, apparently aiming to attack her squadron from the side. You're mine, skip, the Bothan thought, baring her sharp canine teeth in a snarl that recalled her ancient predatory ancestors.

    She opened fire on the skip, her suttered laser-fire managing to evade the voids the Vong fighter used for shields and score a single scar on the rock-like hull. The Vong pilot was no fool, she'd give him that; he knew his odds of taking her one-to-one weren't good, so he launched a blast of plasma and then turned to run while she dodged; not out of cowardice, but to lure her towards his own lines, where he could turn and engage with the power of a fleet at his back.

    Fesyr shot forward, pushing her engines to full power, keeping the skip directly ahead as it dodged in an attempt to shake her. The Vong pilot was good, but she was better. She was a driven as he was, not by faith in the gods but by dedication to the Bothan idea of ar'krai, total war. The galaxy might dismiss her people as schemers and spies, but they would see to it that this menace was eradicated root and branch, and Borsk Fey'lya, the Bothan Chief of State who gave his life in the fall of Coruscant would be avenged. The Bothans would make sure of it; Fesyr would make sure of it.

    The skip was in range; she fired proton torpedoes. Even through her viewports she could see the living fighter's fiery death, and she smiled at her success- and then her x-wing rocked and there was a burst of brilliant white and orange light that surrounded her…

    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    Fesyr snarled in anger as the simulator opened and she climbed out to find herself face to face with her commanding officer, Gavin Darklighter, colonel of Rogue Squadron. "I died," she muttered, her pride still stinging. "Again." She could feel her fur rippling in agitation and struggled to control it; the young Bothan didn't want her commander to see her in such a state.

    Gavin shook his head. "You're a good pilot, Fesyr," he said, "and you're more dedicated than almost anyone else in the squadron- all those extra hours you put in on sims alone- but you let yourself get too caught up in fighting individual enemies, especially when you're simming against the Vong. You need to pay attention to your surroundings better."

    "I will remember that, sir," Fesyr said, her gaze slipping down to her boots. She knew he was right, and it shamed her.

    "I'm not here to discuss sims, though," Gavin said. "We've got orders. We've been attached to the Fifth Fleet, and we're going to be patrolling some systems on the edge of our territory, near the Unknown Regions, with General Antilles in overall command. You need to get ready to move out."

    "Yes, sir!" Fesyr said, saluting. "If I may ask, what's out there that we'll be looking for."

    "I'm not sure," Gavin admitted, "but General Antilles is on edge, and that's never a good sign. Whatever we're going to be flying into, be ready."

    As the colonel turned to depart, Fesyr watched him leave with a feeling of mixed apprehension and anticipation. This sounded like it would be her first true battle since joining Rogue Squadron- the small-scale actions they'd taken against pirates and smugglers didn't count. She was determined to show herself as a worthy member of such an elite unit, a pilot fit to be a part of Rogue Squadron.

    Someday, she vowed, she'd have her own squadron. Then she'd track down the last of the Vong wherever they were hiding in the far reaches of the galaxy, and she would show them that the Bothan people were not an enemy to be trifled with.

    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    Soontir Fel, once Baron of the Empire and now a Syndic of the Chiss Ascendacy and one of the leaders of the Household Phalanx of Mitth'raw'nuruodo, paced on the bridge of his personal warship as it passed through hyperspace towards a system on the edge of Chiss territory- the same system, in fact, that had recently been the subject of an apparent attack by Galactic Alliance forces. Though a former adversary of those who now held power in the Alliance, Fel had never for a heartbeat believed himself that they had ordered such a strike. Neither the Alliance's political or military leadership were fools, and they certainly wouldn't try to start a war with one of the galaxy's other major powers when they were still recovering from the last invasion. Further digging had turned up even more discrepancies with the official story. No, something else was going on here.

    "Sir?" a voice said from behind him, and he turned to see a tall Chiss woman approach. Shawn'kyr'nuruodo, who unusually preferred to be known as Shawnkyr rather than be her core name, was one of Fel's best officers and a close friend of his son's, and she was one of the few even on this ship that he trusted absolutely. "We should be arriving at the site of the attack in a few hours. Everything seems to be running smoothly, and I had intended to get some rest." You should do the same, she added silently but didn't say out loud; Fel hadn't gotten much sleep since the Ascendancy had declared war.
    Shawnkyr was silent for a moment longer, then spoke again. "Sir," she said, "if I may- are you certain that we're doing the right thing? If the Ruling Families find out that you intend to meet with those who are, now, our enemies, it could mean exile for you, or worse."

    "This war is based on deception, Shawnkyr," Fel told her, turning to face her. "I don't know whose deception yet, but we are being used, and I intend to find out why. If the Ruling Families don't like- well, I'm only following in the footsteps of Thrawn, who defied Chiss tradition to do what he believed necessary for the good of the galaxy." He sighed. "I do think you're right about getting rest, though. Walk with me."
    The two officers, one Chiss, one human, departed from the bridge and made their way down towards the warship's living quarters. Leaving Shawnkyr at the door to her cabin, Fel headed towards his own. To his surprise a young Chiss officer in a black CEDF uniform stood there, posture rigid.

    "Syndic Fel?" he asked.

    "Yes," Fel replied warily. "What do you need?"

    "Aristocra Lirnan sends his regards," the Chiss said, drawing his charric swiftly and aiming it directly at Fel's chest. The human officer's eyes widened, but his old combat reflexes returned to him and he dodged aside as the would-be-assassin fired, the charric bolt scoring a long line in the corridor's floor. Pivoting, Fel kicked the weapon from the assassin's hand before he could fire again and then elbowed him in the chest. The Chiss stumbled back, but then ducked under Fel's arm and wrapped his own around the human's throat.

    Another charric-bolt sounded, and Fel felt the assassin stiffen behind him, and then his grip loosened as he slipped to the deck. The Syndic turned to see Shawnky lowering her sidearm before she rushed to his side. "Sir, are you injured? I heard charric-fire."

    "I'm a bit bruised, but I'm fine otherwise," Fel told her. "This assassin seemed more interested in making sure I knew who hired him than in getting the job done quietly. The next one will no doubt learn from his mistake- put the vessel on high alert, in case there's more of them here already."

    "So he did tell you who hired him?" Shawnkyr asked.

    "He did. It seems Aristocra Lirnan wants me dead."

    Shawnkyr shook her head. "Lirnan wants all non-Chiss in Ascendancy space dead. Isn't that one of his slogans? The Chiss Ascendancy for the Chiss people?" Her expression was cold; though Lirnan and she were both of Nuruodo, she didn't agree with many of his policies and thought little of the man himself.

    "No," Fel said thoughtfully, "this is something different. If the Aristocra is sending assassins after me in wartime, then there must be a more concrete reason for it. That means we're onto something he doesn't want us to find, and that makes meeting with the Jedi and telling them what we know all the more important."
  7. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    [face_worried] for Soontir; apparently there are factions in the Chiss that are scheming and conspiring against the other side [face_thinking] i.e., within their own government and stirring up suspicions for their own ends

    Loved Jag's message and glad she has a warning to pass along. :)
  8. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    Hmm...it would seem that the Chiss political scene is even more convoluted than that of Hapes! I'm kinda surprised that Jaina just didn't forward Jag's message to Ossus and head to the coordinates by herself.
  9. MasterGhandalf Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2009
    star 2
    Chapter 3: Prophecy
    The temple rose far above the tops of the forest trees, its spires seeming so tall that they almost pierced the clouds themselves. The building itself was fairly straightforward- a low central structure topped by three great domes, one massive one flanked by two smaller versions, each one surmounted by a single slender spike that soared into the heavens. The building was constructed entirely of grey stone, though it was likely that it had originally been painted some other color that the ages had washed away. It didn't look like a Sith temple to Jacen Solo's eyes, and yet he could feel himself growing ever more uneasy the closer he drew towards it, as if some presence that waited within was disturbed by his coming. Rather than causing him to turn away, however, this feeling only made Jacen more determined to discover the truth about this place.

    Three years ago, following the final, terrible battle of the Yuuzhan Vong War, Jacen had departed from the Jedi Order to travel the galaxy and seek and study other Force traditions. His experiences during the war had convinced him that there was more to the Force than any one tradition's understanding of it, and he hoped that by studying many he could gain a clearer picture of its nature. Now that search had led him here, to the very edge of the Unknown Regions and a forgotten planet to which he had found himself drawn for reasons he couldn't explain.

    The natives of this place were humans, and though they had very limited contact with the rest of the galaxy never seemed to have much of an interest in developing space travel themselves. Jacen had put down his x-wing near a medium-sized town and had caused quite a stir, though it had calmed down somewhat once he explained who and what he was- it seemed that even here, the people had heard of the Jedi. He'd explained to the town elders why he'd come, and asked if they had any idea why the Force would have called him to this planet. He'd asked if the people practiced any use of the Force themselves, but the reaction had surprised him- the elders had grown afraid, and insisted that they had no Force-sensitives among their people. If Jacen was looking for signs of its power on this planet, however, they had pointed him towards an ancient temple that stood far from any town or village, deep in the forest. It was rumored to be haunted, but the elders didn't know of anyone who'd dared go there and see if the legend was true. It had been taboo since the beginning of memory but since Jacen was an outsider and a Jedi, he was welcome to explore it- so long as he did so alone.

    He'd set out for the temple the next morning.

    The young Jedi emerged from the forest and found himself at the base of a rocky rise on which the temple perched. Looking up at it, he found himself amazed by its size- he felt certain that it was as tall as many skyscrapers he'd seen on technologically advanced worlds. This was not built by the humans who now called this planet home, he decided. Someone else was here once. Stretching out his senses, however, he found no life inside the temple. This realization did nothing to ease the sense that the building radiated that he was unwelcome, and Jacen drew his lightsaber, though he didn't light it, while he began to circle the temple to find an entrance.

    Finally, he found it- an open door that stood on one side, just tall enough for a tall human to enter, and it was open. Jacen lit his blade and descended into the dark opening.

    He found himself walking down a long, straight hallway with smooth walls and floor. The stone in here was different from that outside, seeming almost to shimmer in the saber's green glow; Jacen had never seen anything quite like it before. Still he could feel the uneasy sensation growing, but he was becoming increasingly convinced that this was not a Sith temple; it felt older than that, far older. Whoever built this place had likely been dust long before the ancient Jedi had come to blows and their order split forever. He didn't know why, but Jacen didn't think they'd been human.

    The long corridor ended and Jacen emerged into an enormous chamber that he realized must be the interior of the vast central dome. Lifting his lightsaber up, he could see that in the center of the chamber was a platform on which stood an immense, empty throne facing semicircular rows of smaller seats. He found that there was a sense that pervaded this room as if violence had been done here- long ago, but intense enough that its echoes could be felt even now, millennia later. Shuddering, Jacen turned away from the throne and looked at the wall- and stepped back in astonishment.

    The walls of the corridor had been bare, but here in the dome, they were covered in elaborate carvings. Raising his lightsaber, he stepped forward to get a closer look. The carvings were arranged in panels, and the first depicted a multitude of wedge-headed humanoids looking up to the sky worshipfully as beings of light descended towards them. The next panel depicted a great sphere that seemed to be dragging five planets into position around a sun. "Centerpoint Station," Jacen breathed, "and the creation of the Corellian System. This is a history!"

    Quickly, he began to make his way along the wall. The panel that followed the Corellian one showed the wedge-headed humanoids again, but now they were clad in armor and stood above a crowd of many species, herding them with cruel weapons. The panel after that showed the same humanoids, now apparently ill and dying. The next had two robed figures, one haloed by light, the other wreathed in shadow, standing with their backs to one another. Here, Jacen had no doubt, was the Great Schism that had given rise to the Jedi and Sith orders as the galaxy knew them.

    There followed several scenes that Jacen didn't recognize, followed by one he thought he did- a multitude of beings of countless species coming together to sign an elaborate document; the inception of the Old Republic. Quickly he made his way around the dome, until he came to more and more scenes that were familiar to him; here figures with lightsabers were shot in the back by squads of armored soldiers, and there an adoring crowd stood beneath a faceless, cowled figure that stretched out its hands above them, accepting their worship. Next the same figure was being hurled into an abyss by a towering man in a familiar mask and suit of armor. Here, impossibly depicted in this millennia-old temple, were image of the fall of the old Jedi Order, the ascension of Palpatine, and finally, the great tyrant's death.

    The next image showed many figures being trampled beneath the feet or impaled on the weapons of bulky humanoids in spiky, chitinous armor- the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. Breathlessly, Jacen moved on to the next panel- and stopped, staring. It was empty, as were all the panels that followed it until they came back to the door through which Jacen had entered, at which point the cycle started over again.

    Jacen's first thought was that someone had been here recently and updated the carvings, and the reason that stopped with the Yuuzhan Vong was because that had been the last major conflict- but no. He ran his hands along the last few carvings, studying them with his physical senses and with the Force, but finally pulled back, hanging his head. These carvings gave every indication of being just as ancient as the ones depicting the earliest history. They were not merely history- they were prophecy. Whoever had built this temple, Jacen was certain, had carved into its walls the entire history of the galaxy, most of it in advance.

    And that history ended with the Yuuzhan Vong War. Jacen found himself overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of horror. He could only imagine a handful of possibilities for why this would be, and all of them terrified him. Taking one last look at the carvings, Jacen turned and hurried as fast as he could from the chamber.

    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    Jacen was climbing back into the cockpit of his x-wing when he felt two presences approaching him from behind. He turned to see two of the town elders, an old man and woman he thought were husband and wife, both with grim expressions on their faces.

    "You went to the temple," the old man said. It wasn't a question.

    "I did," Jacen said simply.

    "And what did you see?" the old woman asked.

    Jacen considered for a moment before replying. "The end of history."

    To his surprise, both elders nodded, as if they'd been expecting this. "We have our own legends," the old woman explained. "They tell us that the temple was built by the ancients in the beginning of time, and that inside its walls it foretells the end of time. That is why it is forbidden to go there. To visit the temple is to invite the end."

    "You didn't stop me," Jacen pointed out.

    The old man snorted. "You're a Jedi," he said. "Even here, we've heard about the Jedi. If anyone was capable of surviving whatever the temple revealed, it would be you." The way he said it, it didn't entirely sound like a compliment.

    "These ancients," Jacen said. "Who were they? They were obviously Force-users, but I don't think they were Sith or Jedi. Do you know anything about them?"

    "We don't know," the woman admitted. "They were here long before us- legend says the brought our ancestors here. They built the temple here, and other ones, smaller ones, across the planet, and then they vanished. Some stories say they're gone forever. Others say that they're only sleeping- and someday, they'll sleep no more."

    Once again, Jacen felt a chill that had nothing to do with the temperature in the air. "Thank you," he finally said. "I'm sorry I have to leave so quickly, but I can't stay here now. I have things to take care of." Choose, and act, a voice- Vergere- seemed to say out of the past. Like the Yuuzhan Vong way, now was a time to choose, of that Jacen was certain.

    "Good luck, Jedi," the man said. "Don't come back." With that, both of them turned and returned to their village.

    Less than an hour later, an x-wing starfighter emerged from the planet's gravity well and shot into hyperspace, its pilot laying in a route to return to the Galactic Alliance and the Jedi Order.

    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    That night, asleep in his cockpit, Jacen dreamed of an immense battle and a Death Star-sized ship like an immense black diamond. It troubled him long after he awoke.

    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    The Chiss vessels that hung in low orbit above Migelli III bore a passing resemblance to the Star Destroyers that had formed the backbone of Imperial might and remained a mainstay of the Galactic Alliance military, but they were leaner, sleeker vessels with an almost needle-like appearance. Though smaller than their Alliance or Imperial counterparts, they were still heavily armed for their size and were among the most efficient war vessels in the galaxy, at least in the opinion of those that crewed them. There were three of them visible above the once-obscure planet, surrounded by numerous smaller assault vessels and numerous squadrons of patrolling clawcraft, though the bulk of the fleet waited near the edge of the system for the command to move out. Only a token garrison would be left here- the Chiss had no intention of subjugating the populace, or even of holding this territory once their mission was accomplished. They were here to teach the Alliance a lesson, nothing more.

    Jag Fel sat in his clawcraft, glancing at the bridge of the flagship Csaplar, named for the premier Ruling Family, as he passed it by. Though he was too much a soldier to let it show, worry gnawed at his insides. He had no idea if Jaina had gotten his message, and he didn't dare send another, lest it be intercepted. Jag had little fear of death, but he had no intention of jeopardizing his position here. He and his squadron were, after all, the eyes and ears of the Household Phalanx of Mitth'raw'nuruodo in the punitive fleet, and therefore of the Empire of the Hand as well. The leaders of the semi-secret force that was Thrawn's legacy- including Jag's own father- needed to be kept informed of what would happen here. Jag also intended to try and blunt the punitive fleet's brutality, so much as he had the opportunity to do so.

    He feared he would have the need. Admiral Thresk was a Chiss known to get results, but he was also one who didn't care who he hurt in the process of doing so. A scion of the once-influential family of Mitth, Thresk was rumored to be determined to restore his house to its position among the Ruling Families by winning power and influence in the CEDF, and his track record had made him a favorite of certain leaders in the Ascendancy government- including newly-instated Aristocra Lirnan. Between Thresk's reputation for brutality and Lirnan's disdain for all non-Chiss, Jag feared that the punitive fleet would inflict excessive damage beyond what its mission warranted- and he wasn't the only one, though few said anything out loud.

    If the circumstances of the war did prove to be manufactured, as Jag and his father both believed, then Thresk's tactics, if left unchecked, might make the Alliance an enemy of the Ascendancy in truth.
    A signal light on Jag's control panel began to flash, and he opened the channel to his pilots. "We're being recalled to the Csaplar," he said, a sinking feeling in his chest. "It looks like the fleet is ready to move out."

    Come on, Jaina, he thought as his squadron began to make their way towards the warship's hangar. Help us get to the bottom of this soon, before this war turns from a fraud into something very real indeed.
  10. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    =D= =D= Enjoyed the Jacen and Jag scenes
  11. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    The scenes in the temple are CREEPY. And foreboding. Yep, definitely worried now.
  12. Sticks Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2001
    star 4
    How was I not already reading this gem of a story? I love it so far! Please put me on your PM list or tag me when new updates happen! :D
  13. MasterGhandalf Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2009
    star 2
    AN: This chapter contains spoilers for the end of I, Warrior and the fates of certain characters from that story. Just a heads up!

    Chapter 4: The Jedi Temple
    Jaina brought her X-wing low as she circled above the Jedi Temple complex on Ossus. It was incredible, she thought, how much work had been done here in the mere three years or so the new Jedi Order had occupied this planet- the temple consisted of a large, roughly pyramidal central structure with a number of thin spires rising from its edges, with smaller outlying buildings and a large central garden, the only splash of bright green for kilometers, for meditation. The complex wasn't complete- Jaina could see scaffolding around at least one of the spires and what looked like construction droids moving around it- but it was still impressive considering there'd been nothing but barren plains here less than half a decade ago. Off to one side of the Temple was a landing field, and it was to there that the Jedi pilot turned her attention.

    Many craft were already there- in addition to numerous models of starfighter, Jaina recognized her Aunt Mara's Jade Shadow and Tahiri Veila's sleekly organic Sekotan vessel, among others. She brought herself to a landing a distance from the others, powered off her fighter's systems, and then climbed from the cockpit, stretching and taking in the pleasure of being free of the confining space for the first time in days. Jaina didn't have long to appreciate this freedom, however- she was here for a reason.

    She didn't have far to go. Standing at the edge of the landing field was a human man in early middle-age, fairly nondescript in appearance unless one could sense the power that he held. Or, Jaina thought, one had been paying attention at all to galactic events for the past thirty years. "Uncle Luke!" she called as hurried towards him.

    "Jaina!" her uncle, Luke Skywalker, greatest Jedi Master of his generation, replied, putting a hand on his niece's shoulder as she approached. "It's good to see you. I sensed you were coming and thought I'd meet you. Somehow, though, I don't think you're just here on a social call."

    Jaina shook her head. "Afraid not," she said. "Listen, Uncle Luke, there's something I really need to tell you about." The two Jedi began to walk towards the main temple building while Jaina filled her uncle in about Jag Fel's message. The Jedi Master's face as he took this information in was grave.

    "Well," he said when she finished, "Jag was certainly right about one thing- war with the Chiss has already started. I received a private Holonet message from Chief of State Omas yesterday about it- apparently, the Chiss hit a small agriworld near the border between our territory and theirs and sent the government a demand to turn over "the criminals" or they would keep attacking. They didn't specify who those criminals might be, but if they were attacked- and I don't see why Jag would lie- that is probably it. They're going to war because they think we already started it."

    Jaina felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. What Jag had been afraid of had already started, and it was only going to get worse, unless someone did something. "Jag thought he and his dad's people had already learned something that might be a clue to whoever's really behind this," she said. "I think we should look into it. That's the main reason I came here- to get backup before flying off to Jag's coordinates."

    Luke raised an eyebrow. "I'll admit, I'm a little surprised you didn't head out there yourself."

    "Don't think I didn't consider it," Jaina admitted, "and I still plan on it, but I know Jag Fel, and he doesn't spook easily- but he was spooked. Something bad's happening out there in the Unknown Regions, Uncle Luke, and I mean to find out who they are and what they want, and maybe try to stop a war in the process. I don't know what I'm flying into out there, and having someone to watch my back would be a good idea. Besides, I've got a couple of people in mind."

    "Who?" Luke asked.

    "Well, Tahiri for one- I saw that she was here, or at least her ship is." Jaina shrugged. "She's a friend, she's good in a fight, and she might be only a fair pilot, but that Sekotan ship of hers is fast, if it's anything like the others. That could come in very handy. Wouldn't say no to Tenel Ka, but she's probably too busy being Queen of Hapes to run off into the Unknown Regions on what might turn out to be a wild bantha chase." She considered for a moment. "I don't suppose Zekk's around?"

    Luke shook his head. "Zekk's offworld- I think he's looking into a lead on a slaving ring- and we haven't heard from him in a while. I think I'll ask one of the Masters to see if they'd be available to go with you. You said yourself that you don't know what you might be flying into, and some experience and power on your side could mean the difference between life and death."

    "Thanks, Uncle Luke," Jaina said. "I'm glad you're giving the go-ahead on this one. I don't mean to sound like I'm boasting, but I can't shake the feeling that this is important."

    "Neither can I," Luke told her. "Which is why I think you should do this. For the last few months I feel like a threat has been growing on my mind, something out in the Unknown Regions. I think that this may only be the tip of it. I don't know if you can get all the way to the bottom of this, but any information is more than we have."

    "I'll do it," Jaina said. "Now, then, I've got a favor to ask from Tahiri.."

    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    On a low bench in the middle of the temple's meditation garden sat a tall, lean young woman in plain robes, her legs crossed beneath her and her eyes closed. To all appearances she was human, about eighteen or nineteen years old, with glossy black hair bound back in a tail, and there was nothing to suggest that she was at all out of place here, just another Jedi student working to strengthen her connection to the Force.

    Appearances, Tahiri Veila thought as she studied the woman while leaning against a nearby tree, could be very deceiving. For one thing, while she was technically a Jedi student, she was also, at least as far as the Galactic Alliance government was concerned, a prisoner of the Order. For another, despite all appearances to the contrary, she wasn't human, nor was there anything close to human anywhere in her genetic ancestry.

    The young woman opened one eye a crack and regarded Tahiri with an annoyed expression. "Tell me, Jeedai*," she said in a lightly accented voice, "why is it that you feel the need to stare at me while I am attempting to meditate. Surely you have better things to do with your time?"

    "Sorry for bothering you, Keenah," Tahiri said in a tone that wasn't entirely sincere. "Maybe while I was here I just wanted to check in on you and see how your training was going?"

    The masqued Yuuzhan Vong priestess let out a soft snort. "Or maybe," she said, "you take a perverse pleasure in annoying me, Tahiri Veila." Keenah stretched a stood- in this position, she topped Tahiri by more than a head. While of only average height by Yuuzhan Vong standards, while masqued as a human that still translated into being rather on the tall side. "Why is it that you seek out my company, anyway? It is not as if we were friends, after all."

    Tahiri didn't answer, because she didn't know herself. Keenah was unique among the Yuuzhan Vong in that she possessed the power to touch the Force, and less than two years ago she'd been well on her way to becoming a Sith Acolyte under the tutelage of a being that had ultimately been revealed to be a twisted clone of Anakin Solo. Tahiri had killed the clone, and in so doing had managed to convince Keenah that the Jedi's understanding of the Force was superior to that of the Sith. The priestess had surrendered herself to the Jedi Order on the condition that she be trained in the Jedi arts.

    Tahiri didn't know how Keenah had come to possess the Force- she was certain the priestess hadn't been born with that ability, but the one time she'd asked, Keenah had gone cold and silent and refused to speak at all until the subject had been changed. Maybe she'd told Master Skywalker; they'd spoken in private for a while before he'd agreed to take her on as a student. Other than Tahiri, Jaina, and Corran, who'd been the ones to bring Keenah in, only the Masters knew exactly who and what she was; equipped with an ooglith masquer and a tizowyrm, she was easily capable of passing as human. Tahiri wasn't sure if it had been Master Skywalker or Keenah herself who'd insisted on the disguise.

    The priestess kept herself aloof from the other students and kept away from the Masters as much as possible when not training with them; so far as Tahiri knew, she was the only one the Yuuzhan Vong socialized with at all. She wasn't certain if she liked Keenah or not- on the one hand, she was the only person she could comfortably discuss Yuuzhan Vong things with, and since she'd come within a hairsbreadth of being shaped into a Yuuzhan Vong herself, it sometimes felt like she and Keenah had arrived at the same place- part of the Jedi, part of the Yuuzhan Vong- from opposite directions. On the other hand, Keenah certainly exhibited a degree of pride and ruthlessness that were only to be expected from one raised in the priest caste, but were certainly unbecoming in a Jedi trainee. Still, Tahiri wasn't the renegade priestess's friend, but she was probably the closest thing she had to one.

    "Have you fallen asleep while standing, Tahiri Veila?" Keenah demanded, snapping Tahiri back to reality. The Yuuzhan Vong's expression managed to be both disdainful and rather amused.

    "Sorry," Tahiri said, shaking her head. "Lost in the past. You were saying?"

    "It would appear that someone wants to speak with you." Keenah pointed over Tahiri's shoulder, and the Jedi spun to see a young woman a few years older than herself approaching.

    "Jaina!" Tahiri called, hurrying forward to wrap her friend in an embrace. "I didn't know you were here!"

    "Just got here," Jaina said. "How long have you been at the Temple?"

    Tahiri rolled her eyes. "Too long," she said. "A few weeks ago, I got back here after a nasty little run-in with a bounty hunter who thought some Hutt or wannabe Black Sun vigo would probably pay big credits for a Jedi, and that I'd be easy pickings. His mistake. Anyway, I showed up here to tell the Council who the guy was, see if they could figure out who he was working for, and since then I've been stuck around here doing a whole lot of nothing. Well, I did get in a little training with Corran, but then he got called off on a mission so I haven't even been able to do that the last couple of days."

    "Well, then I think you're going to be very interested in what I've got to say," Jaina said. She glanced over Tahiri's shoulder to where the disguised Yuuzhan Vong stood silently. "Keenah," she said, not bothering to keep the coolness from her voice.

    "Jaina Solo," Keenah replied, nodding her head with the barest minimum of respect. The two had little fondness for each other; Tahiri suspected that Keenah had never entirely forgiven Jaina for taking on the identity of the goddess Yun-Harla during the war. The priestess regarded the two of them for a moment more, then turned and strolled away into a different corner of the garden.**

    "Well," Tahiri said, "now that there's nobody else around, what did you want to talk about?"

    As quickly as she could, Jaina filled Tahiri in on the details of what had been happening over the last few days, and what she indented to do. "So what you're saying," Tahiri finally said when she was through, "is that we're at war with the Chiss, and you want me to fly with you into Chiss space, to coordinates where we have no idea what's waiting for us, to maybe try and find people powerful enough to make two of the galaxy's biggest governments into their tools."

    "That's right," Jaina told her, nodding.

    Tahiri grinned. "Excellent," she said. "Sounds exactly like what I need. When do we leave?"

    * Equipped with a tizowyrm, Keenah can speak Basic well enough to pass as a native speaker. Around Tahiri, however, who both knows what she really is and speaks Yuuzhan Vong, she lets her natural accent show through a bit.

    ** This is probably the last we'll see of Keenah in this fic- but not in this series. She's set to have a bigger role starting in fic 2. Mostly, I just wanted to make sure everyone remembered who she was and found out a bit what she's been up to since I, Warrior.
  14. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    :D Enjoyed the recap on Keenah and Jaina's and Tahiri's reunion :) Tahiri still has a taste for adventure I see, LOL blends right in with the Solos that way.
  15. MasterGhandalf Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2009
    star 2
    Chapter 5: Laying Plans
    In person, Admiral Thresk was an imposing Chiss, tall and well-built with a coldly rigid air that brooked no defiance. The Admiral stood with his hands behind his back as the fleet's officers filed into Csaplar's briefing room, regarding them unblinkingly with his red-eyed stare; a few paces behind him, his second-in-command Hess'irolia'nuruodo, a female officer about Jag's own age, adopted a similar posture. Jag didn't know Irolia well, though he'd heard from Jaina that she'd been the primary liaison between her uncle and his party and the Ascendancy government while they'd searched through the CEDF archives for references to Zonoma Sekot. He did know that CEDF high command considered her an exemplary young officer and had assigned her to Thresk as part of the process of grooming her for higher command. Personally, he found Irolia to be loyal, competent, and good-hearted, if rather reserved and stiff- and smiled inwardly at the thought of how Jaina would have reacted to hear him describe anyone else as "stiff".

    Jag sat near the back of the briefing room with the commanders of the fleet's other starfighter squadrons. Looking around, he could see that he was one of the only humans in the room- there were only two others, a man and a woman, and he didn't know either of their names. Otherwise, the room was a sea of jet-black hair, blue skin, and faintly glowing red eyes. As a human raised in the Ascendancy, Jag was used to being one of the only ones of his species present at most occasions, but considering the purpose for which this fleet had set out, that fact felt oppressive now in a way it never had before.

    When the last officer entered the room, Thresk stepped forward while Irolia activated a large holomap of the local sector of space. "I do not think I need to remind any of you why we are here," he began. "All of you know the terrible crime which has been committed against our people, and all of you know that the Galactic Alliance is responsible for it. We are the sword-arm of the Chiss people, here not to conquer but to seek justice. Thanks to my message to them, the Galactic Alliance government knows this as well."

    The sword-arm of the Chiss people? Jag thought. Or of Admiral Thresk's ambitions, and those of his political patron Aristocra Lirnan? A victory over the Galactic Alliance by Thresk could well be leveraged to gain his House, the Mitth, a seat once again among the Ruling Families. To Jag's mind, all of the Admiral's rhetoric about justice rang hollow as a result. Pride and ambition- the Chiss claimed that they were above such things that plagued lesser species, but perhaps they were just better and disguising them or explaining them away.

    "I gave the Alliance the opportunity to restore their honor by surrendering those responsible for the treacherous attack against us," Thresk continued, "but they have not done so. Instead, our scouts have reported that two fleets have left their temporary capital at Denon and are positioned to intercept us should we attempt to make for it." His eyes narrowed and seemed to burn even brighter. "These are not the actions of a people who intend to atone for their crimes. Rather, they are the actions of a people who feel a need to hide something from us."

    Thresk motioned at the holomap and it rotated so that it focused on two systems, each a short hyperspace jump from Migelli III. "It is in these systems that they have positioned their fleets," he said. "This is where they expect us to strike. Though there is little of value directly in either system, both represent important jump-points on the way to Denon. However, this is not where we are going." The map rotated again, this time focusing on a system that most of the audience had heard of, based on the soft murmurs that rose around the room. "This is Bilbringi, site of a shipyard retaken from the Yuuzhan Vong by the Galactic Alliance at the conclusion of the Yuuzhan Vong War, and now restored to functionality. It is also the site of the final battle of Mitth'raw'nuruodo. The Alliance began this war by assaulting one of our shipyards- I intend for us to return the favor. And while Thrawn was a renegade, he was still a Chiss. Perhaps by taking Bilbringi, we can consider him avenged." Thrawn also, Jag thought, had been an adopted member of House Mitth, which no doubt made it even more personal for the proud admiral.

    Thresk paced in front of the holomap and then turned to regard the officers. "You know our target. I will be sending each of you your specific orders shortly. You are dismissed."

    The officers stood and began to exit the room, Thresk nodding to each as they passed. Jag was one of the last, but before he could leave the admiral waved him over. "Yes, sir?" the human pilot asked.

    "Colonel Fel," Thresk said coolly as he studied Jag's face intently. "At Migelli III we faced only a small, inexperienced force- at Bilbringi, we will be facing much more formidable defenses. You fought alongside the Galactic Alliance with great distinction during the Yuuzhan Vong war, as I recall. What can you tell me about their strengths and weaknesses?"

    "Surely the Admiral has already been briefed about the capabilities of the Alliance?" Jag asked, expression neutral. Evading a superior officer's question wasn't in his character under normal circumstances, but in this situation he found that he didn't want to give Thresk anything more than he already had.

    The admiral's eyes narrowed. "I have been briefed, as you are well aware, Colonel. I am asking for your personal opinion as a soldier and pilot. Give it to me."

    "The Alliance is diverse, which is its greatest strength and weakness," Jag said carefully. "The Alliance as a whole is flexible and creative, but lacks the same level of discipline and efficiency that the Chiss, or even the Empire, have. However, do not underestimate them. They are, after all, the group that defeated the Yuuzhan Vong, and are the successor to the group that overthrew the Empire."

    Thresk considered this in silence for a moment. "And are you certain, Colonel," he said slowly, "that you do not feel any… emotional entanglement… with this government that rules, after all, over a substantial number of your own species?"

    There, Jag realized, was what the Admiral had really been getting it- where did Jag's loyalties lie? He didn't know if it was because he was human, because of who his father was, or because of his role during the Vong War (how much did they know about Jaina?) but in any case, the question struck him like a slap. "My father was a Baron of the Empire, sir," Jag said, standing stiffly. "I am not beholden to the Galactic Alliance." Well, that was technically true.

    The admiral was silent for several moments longer, then nodded. "You are dismissed, Colonel Fel," he said curtly. "Tell your squadron to prepare, and get some rest. Soon, this war begins in earnest."

    Jag saluted and left the briefing room, unable to shake the feeling of Thresk's red eyes burning into his back as he did so.

    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    Fesyr raised her eyes slowly from her hand of sabacc cards and regarded the other pilots who sat around the table in one of the Galactic Alliance Star Destroyer Freedom's Dawn's lounges. Directly across from her sat Kayn Mantrell, a dark-haired human male with a short growth of beard who was also the leader of her flight; next to him was a driven little Sullustan from another squadron named Siril Hamb; rounding out the table was a female Falleen named Aisla who somehow managed to look elegant even in a flight suit- she was Fesyr's wingmate, and her closest friend on the squadron. Aisla was a very good pilot and engaging conversationalist, and beyond that, Bothans and Falleen shared a deeply-rooted cultural love of intrigue.

    It was probably that very love of intrigue that drew Fesyr to games like sabacc. A game of chance and deception, pitting one's wits and luck against not only other sentient beings but fate itself- it was a heady feeling even if you weren't a skilled player, which Fesyr was. She'd met better players, but not many; unfortunately, both Mantrell and Aisla were also either very good or very lucky, and Siril was a largely unknown quality. Luckily, Fesyr was on the top of her game tonight; she felt that fate- or the Force, as the Jedi would say- was on her side.

    "So," the Sullustan in question said, laying down his cards. Eighteen, Fesyr thought, noting their value. Not bad, but hardly unbeatable, either. Glancing down at her own hand, the Bothan smiled tightly to herself. "Who do you think it is that we're going to be sent out here to fight, anyway?" Official word was that this was a routine patrol, but everyone on the Dawn knew better- something was up, something the officers were keeping close to their chests.

    "I heard pirates," Mantrell said lightly, putting down his cards as well- twenty. "Pirate activity's been big since the Vong War, what with the galaxy having to put itself back together and all- lots of easy pickings. Still, I'd hate to meet the pirates we'd need a whole fleet to take down."

    "Two whole fleets," Aisla remarked. "I think that this is some sort of threat from the Unknown Regions, considering how close we are. You know they say that the Sith have been hiding out there for millennia, just waiting for the right moment to strike!" The Falleen bared her sharp teeth in a mock-ferocious snarl at that, then laughed at the sheer absurdity of ancient Sith emerging from the Unknown Regions to strike at the galaxy- a legend that had been around for almost as long as there had been Sith, and that had never materialized. She lay her cards down, and Fesyr noted their value- negative twelve. Not a good hand; luck wasn't with Aisla tonight, it seemed.

    The Falleen turned to regard Fesyr, the fine scales on her otherwise-humanlike face gleaming faintly in the lounge's light. "Of course, Sneak probably hopes it's Vong," she said lightly, a smile playing around the edge of her mouth.

    Fesyr's fur stiffened at the nickname, which she felt reflected other species' common stereotypes about Bothans, but it was one she supposed she'd earned when she'd been discovered going through her wingmates' possessions while they were supposed to be asleep to make certain none of them had ties to the Peace Brigade or any other illicit groups. Despite her protests that she wasn't paranoid, she was cautious, the name had stuck. "If it is the Vong," the Bothan said softly, "then I have every intention of making sure they regret crawling out of whatever hole they've been hiding in. Oh, and by the way…" She put her cards down. Twenty-two. Not Pure Sabacc, but the next best thing, and a far better hand than anyone else had. "I believe I win."

    The Bothan reached out and quickly drew the pile of sabacc chips in the center of the table over to her side. "Come now, friends," Fesyr said, glancing at each of the others in turn and flashing her canines in a smile. "Don't look so down. The night is young. Shall we play again?"

    # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    "So how much do you know about the Chiss, Antilles?" Traest Kre'fey's hologram asked Wedge as he stood on the bridge of Freedom's Dream, looking out over the stars.

    The Corellian general shrugged. "Not a whole lot," he said. "My sister's married to Soontir Fel, who's supposed to be one of the highest-ranking non-Chiss in the entire Ascendancy, but I haven't exactly had the chance to sit down with her and talk about Chiss politics. I was at Bilbringi when we fought Thrawn, but I don't think that qualifies me to talk about the entire species."

    "Thrawn, yes," Kre'fey mused. "I've been thinking about him quite a lot, these last few days. I wonder how representative he really was of his people? If he was a representation of the norm among them, then imagine…" he let that thought hang in the air, leaving Wedge to mull over the implications.

    "If Thrawn was typical, the whole galaxy would probably be speaking Cheunh right now," he finally said. "He was smart, and he was efficient, and from what I've heard most Chiss are probably one or both, but that flair he had, that inventiveness- I think that's the kind of thing that only comes along a time or two in an entire generation. From what I have heard about the Chiss government, they're a lot more inflexible and traditional than Thrawn was. If their military's the same way, then we can work that to our advantage."

    "I was thinking much the same thing," said Kre'fey, "but when the most famous member of a species was also perhaps the greatest military mind of his time, it does make one wonder."
    "Right now I'm wondering what the Chiss fleet is up to," Wedge said.

    "So am I. That's why I sent a number of drone scouts into the Migelli system to report back to us on the Chiss' movements." The Bothan admiral looked directly at Wedge. "Right now, their fleet seems to be massing together and they look like they're getting ready to move out. I'll have you patched in to receive their transmissions as well. When the Chiss do move, we'll know."
    "And we'll be ready for them," Wedge said. He only wished that he felt the certainty he'd put into his voice.
Moderators: Briannakin, mavjade