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Beyond - Legends "The Songs of Yun-Bantha" 8/? (AU - late Vong War; NJO, Psylocke, others; updated 12/10)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Onderon1, Nov 1, 2017.

  1. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    You tell him, Betsy!
     
  2. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Cowgirl: Glad you liked it. :)

    Apologies to my readers; RL's been stupidly hectic these last few weeks, but that's no excuse. :(

    I'll see about updating this some time in the next few days? I haven't had much of a chance to plot things out ... [face_blush]
     
  3. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Uh-oh. TPAM is plotting. What are we gonna do? :p:D[face_laugh]
     
  4. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: A quick update here; apologies it's so short, but this week has been 8-}, and I have to get up Saturday morning. [face_tired]

    ******************************
    Chapter 11: 27.7 ABY:
    Heurkea Floating City,
    Mon Calamari, Outer Rim:
    ******************************

    The good news - other than the boys' 2-month checkups both coming back glowingly positive - was that things were quiet.

    The bad news, as far as Jaina was concerned ... was that things were quiet. The Vong were not just sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

    So what do we do to push back? Holding what little we have isn't going to give us momentum, and we need momentum, she recognized, sipping shuura juice one morning in the Command and Control hub of GADF HQ. (She was still nursing, so caf was not happening for a while longer.)

    Jaina nodded as Kenth Hamner and Keyan Farlander waved to her (although General Farlander's double-take at seeing Jaina with a baby in one arm and a mug of juice in the other was almost enough to make her smile - Roan had been fussy, so she'd brought him to work with her).

    The rest of the CnC staff had gotten used to the twins' presence a while ago; Rian was with Ganner, who was filling in GADF and Jedi scouts on the latest findings around Mon Cal space. Jaina wasn't quite ready to leave the babies with a nanny droid for prolonged periods, and the rest of the command staff generally liked having the twins around - but eventually, Jaina would have to work harder on work-life balance.

    I didn't like it when Mom had to make those decisions ... ah, the Force's being ironic. Cute. Note to self - after the war, find a job that works well for being home when the boys need you, but also gives you time with other grown-ups, and for yourself, Jaina noted, walking to the other Jedi.

    Master Hamner, at least, was well-accustomed to seeing Jaina with one or both of the twins, and he chuckled a bit as Roan yawned, looking at the two tall figures with curiosity. "I should've warned you, General. What with the losses earlier in the war, we've been forced to recruit much younger than usual. All joking aside, though, I'd be very surprised if young Roan here fails to become a superb pilot," he quipped.

    Farlander blinked, clearly still surprised, until Jaina said (patiently - she knew the older soldiers and Jedi were just joking out of support, not cruelty), "We've kept my children's existence very quiet, sir. As you can tell from his hair, Roan is Jagged Fel's son. Roan's twin, Rian, is Ganner Rhysode's son - he's with Ganner at the moment. That's why I was on extended medical leave, and now, on a desk job."

    She tried not to be offended as Keyan did the mental arithmetic, then raised an eyebrow and said, "You've had a ... very difficult few months."

    Jaina just gave him a wry smile, softening her expression as Roan cooed and waved a tiny hand, and she said, "I prefer to think of them as challenging. And - sobering. But for all the chaos, I wouldn't trade the results for anything. What's today's plan?"

    "Other than trying to mitigate the ferocity of the Bothans in their raids on Vong shipping? Keeping our eyes open for politicians. You've heard about the election going on, and the race between Cal Omas and Fyor Rodan," Farlander said while they sat at a table.

    Jaina narrowed her gaze; she'd heard rumblings, but between coordinating Jedi-GADF joint operations and caring for the babies, she hadn't paid very close attention. "I know Lando Calrissian and Talon Karrde are here ... but generally, when they're involved, the less I know, the better. I'd ask my parents for more specifics if you're really looking for details. Best result, we get real leadership soon - and rein in GAI somewhat."

    That drew Farlander's concern, and Jaina mentally cursed as Hamner gave her a firm, but polite warning look. Betsy's discovery of Alpha Red had NOT endeared the intelligence arm of the GADF to the Jedi, but neither had Uncle Luke or the rest of the Masters' Council thought it wise to spread the news of Dif Scaur's horrific plan to try and wipe out the Vong - civilians and military alike.

    "Well, I know the spooks can be morally shifty, but we do need more intel. Whoever's feeding us the steady stream of data from Coruscant is doing an amazing job, given the hostile environment they're undoubtedly in," Farlander said, accepting a cup of caf from a protocol droid.

    Jaina repressed a burst of jealousy - and a yawn, the boys had woken up early - but brightened as Roan laughed a little. "I've read my uncle and aunt's report on the ground situation on Coruscant - and, of course, you've heard about Jacen's escape, by now. As much as I miss flying or fighting, I've got three very important reasons to stay out of a cockpit or off of the Jedi mission roster," she said, "hearing" a Force-call.

    She smiled more as Ganner walked in, holding Rian to his shoulder, and they exchanged a quick greeting through the Force as Jaina accepted Rian from his father. The boys squirmed a bit before settling in, and Jaina could sense some kind of wordless "chatter" between them, too.

    "Masters - good to see you both. We've finished the briefing on the state of Mon Cal space - those new grav-mines the Vong are using are going to make things more difficult. But I'm hoping Danni and Lowbacca'll come up with a workaround," Ganner said, sitting beside Jaina.

    She tried not to smile as Farlander did more mental math - although he needn't have bothered, she and Ganner were wearing their rings.

    "... forgive me, Jaina, but I just never imagined you as Jaina Solo-Rhysode. No offense, of course," Keyan finally said, a bit embarrassed.

    Jaina just enjoyed the moment, happy at the boys and Ganner's presence, and replied, "None taken, sir. I never imagined it, either -"

    They stirred as a flush-faced male GADF midshipman ran in - maybe 15, 16, and Jaina suddenly felt old, despite being months from her 19th birthday - and the youth blurted, "Sirs, ma'am! Urgent message from Lady Celchu - he's back! And he has a PLAN!"

    Ganner looked confused, but as soon as Jaina heard Winter being mentioned, she sat up - and the rest of the message made her beam.

    "Thank you, Midshipman. Spread the word, and let us know when he'll call for us," she said, and he saluted before darting off.

    Hamner and Farlander both broke into big smiles, and the twins cooed happily, while Ganner asked, "Not to be a killjoy, but who's back?"

    Jaina kissed Ganner's nose - she normally wouldn't be so obvious with displays of affection at work, but this news warranted it.

    "If Winter's telling the military he's back, that means only one sentient, Gan," she said, smiling as the babies laughed.

    "Ackbar is back - and if HE has a plan, the tide of this war is about to shift, maybe - at last - in our favor."

    ********************

    to be continued ... [face_party]
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I adore your writing /portrayal of Jaina [face_love] Her candid and determined "I am going to find a family friendly but grownup mingling" job [face_laugh] and her unabashed love and pride in her family :) Yes, definitely if Ackbar is back, the tide is definitely about to turn.

    I always approved of Omas as a leader. Rodan :rolleyes: :p

    (Thanks ever so for squeezing in a post.) @};-
     
  6. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    WarmNyota: Thanks for the reply. :) I've got some time off coming up soon, so I hope to get more writing done ...

    And thanks for the kind words about Jaina. :) I was concerned when I wrote Maelstroms that her character arc would be ... well, let's just say I'm glad not to have bungled it. It's important, when exploring these kinds of ideas, to take them very seriously (while also working in some fun now and again).

    Of course, the rugrats do pose certain limitations upon the Goddess. Specifically, I think it's time to answer a glaring question from Destiny's Way ... ;)

    (Apologies for another short post - today was a long day at work, and the time change isn't helping. [face_hypnotized])

    ******************************
    Chapter 12: 27.7 ABY:
    Heurkea Floating City,
    Mon Calamari, Outer Rim:
    ******************************

    "... forces from New Alderaan, D'Qar, and whatever help we can scrape up from the Hutts now that the Bootana Hutta is reinforced ..."

    Betsy waited patiently, rocking Roan and Rian - she was rather amused at playing "Mary Poppins," although thankfully there were no umbrellas or painfully-badly-accented chimney sweeps (handsome or otherwise) around.

    For once, not having to play a central role in the intel-analysis is rather nice. I'm quite content to leave the grand scheming up to the experts - surreal though this might be, the telepath mused, watching the somewhat-intimidating scene before her.

    The air in Gial Ackbar's retirement quarters was constantly damp, but not mustily so; if anything, it reminded Betsy of being at a waterfall in spring. The sunlight streaming in through the massive windows, with their stunning view of the ocean beyond Heurkea, helped lighten the seriousness of the conversation unfolding.

    Ackbar sat half-immersed in a whirlpool, Winter Celchu seated at his right on a bench above the bubbling jets, and her husband Tycho at her right. Their young son, Garen, was splashing about in a shallow pool of his own nearby, carefully under the watch of Cilghal, who'd taken the meeting as an excuse to see her kinsman Gial (and, as the Jedi's chief medical officer, her input would be minimal for such a tactical discussion).

    The real Jedi input was coming from Luke and Mara - both present physically - as well as Han and Leia, Jacen, Jaina and Ganner, Corran Horn (one of the myriad "floating heads" of the HoloNet attendees), and Kyp Durron (mercifully seated as far from Corran as possible; the two of them still sniped at each other, even after Luke's attempt to keep Kyp in the fold by appointing him to the Masters' Council).

    Kenth Hamner, Keyan Farlander, and the somewhere-on-the-Rim-killing-Vong Kyle Katarn (of course Kyle was out harassing the Vong's fringe - keeping Katarn on Mon Cal while the Galactic Alliance election shook out would've just been silly) were joined by a virtual "who's who" of non-Force-sensitive military and semi-military personages, most notably the Resistance's Triumverate and Imperial Grand Admiral Pellaeon.

    "It's not a question of whether we can summon the help, Admiral. Ragtag though this assemblage might be, everybody here wants a crack at paying back the Vong. The trick is finding a point where we can hammer them hard enough to make a difference," Garm bel Iblis rumbled from his Resistance headquarters on Gus Talon. (Too many Thrackanite Peace Brigadiers were lurking on Corellia proper to make it safe for now.)

    "Quite agreed, General. Thanks to Admiral Pellaeon's sharing hyperspace routes through the Deep Core, I believe we've found the proper anvil to break the Vong's fleet against," Ackbar said, gesturing to Artoo, who zoomed in on the galaxy map he was projecting.

    A specific, rather arid-looking moon in a system blazing with globular clusters and the seemingly ubiqutous background glow of the Deep Core's multitude of stars appeared. Pellaeon nodded and said, "Ebaq 9. A deathtrap, at least from hyperspace navigation standpoints."

    "So. We set out some bait and see if the Vong bite. I'll assume our goal is to decapitate as much of the Vong high command as we can lure into one spot, as
    well as smashing their fleet advantage?" Wedge - still on the move after the morale-boosting draw at Borleais that'd killed the aged Vong tactician Czulkang Lah - asked, squinting at the scene while Jag - present in person - nodded.

    "The trick will be convincing the Vong to commit. Ebaq is in the Deep Core, true, but it is both distant from Coruscant and a fairly well-known gravitationally-dense flight risk. The surviving Vong tacticians cannot be so reckless as to dedicate a sizeable fleet presence without a definitive reason ... which, given the Vong's religious and warrior zeal, means sacrifices and fights worthy of risk," Jag opined.

    That set off some murmurring, and Han looked almost panicked as Jacen raised his hand, saying, "They're still rabidly after me."

    Betsy bit the inside of her cheek - memories of narrowly escaping the Well of the World Brain were still fresh in her mind, but Jacen did have a valid point. She was relieved when Leia gave her elder son a bracing look and replied, "That's a last resort, Jacen. Still ..."

    "We can't risk reigniting the 'twin sacrifice' shavit - sorry, language. Which means keeping the Solo twins out of the line of fire for as long as we can - not to be chauvenist or anti-Jacen, I promise," Kyp interjected, ducking Jaina's glower and Jacen's wry expression.

    For once, Leia actually looked like she could treat Kyp with some respect, while Han looked relieved. "And there's other reasons for you not to go, sweetheart - just saying," he told Jaina, nodding towards where Betsy held the twins out of holo-range, and Jaina smiled, nodding.

    (It wasn't as if the babies were exactly a secret any longer, but there was NO reason to spread around their existence until war's end, either.)

    Some of the gathered officials and other luminaries (the ones who still didn't know about the babies) looked confused, but Jaina just said, "My dad's right. I'll be of more use here, helping with coordination. But we do have to ask some Jedi to serve as ... bait. I hate the term, but it's true, the Vong won't come running for less."

    "So what are we - chopped liver?" Poe Dameron quipped, ducking smirks from the Rogues present.

    Ganner took a long, almost-shuddering breath - and a tense flash of Force-conversation flowed between him and Jaina, who turned pale.

    She squeezed Ganner's hand, and Betsy's gut clenched; mercifully, the Force didn't flash with premonition, so that was something. For their parts, Han and Leia both looked concerned, and Mara put a hand on Jaina's shoulder as Luke swallowed hard; nobody wanted this.

    But it's necessary. And the Ganner will be a ferociously wanted target by now, what with the Jeedai heresy enflamed among the Shamed Ones and lower castes by Anakin and Tahiri's psy-ops campaign on Coruscant, Betsy recognized, still saddened as Ganner stood.

    "I'll go. The Vong HATE me for the part I played in helping Jacen escape, and the 'defilement' of the Well of the World Brain. With a sprinkling of Masters and a few other Knights, we should be able to sweeten the pot enough for the Vong to be unable to ignore us," Ganner said.

    He received back-slaps and a general rumble of agreement, but Jaina slipped away from the gathering to sit with Betsy. The young woman took the twins from the telepath and held them close, a clear struggle going on behind her mental shields as Betsy kept a respectful silence.

    After a moment, Jaina opened tearful eyes, smiling sadly as Rian and Roan cooed, projecting concern and love.

    "This ... you know, I thought I'd stared down my fears after Myrkr. Thinking I'd lost Jacen and Anakin, staring into the shadows - but this? I can't be there to make sure he gets back OK - and I can deal with that in my head, and in my heart, because the boys need me," Jaina whispered.

    She looked over, stricken, and Ganner swallowed hard, as Leia and Mara gazed sympathetically, and Jaina breathed:

    "I finally get it, Betsy. The struggle Mom's had to go through - having to sit back and watch others to go war ... I need Ganner to come back."

    Betsy hugged the younger woman, just letting Jaina cry silently on her shoulder, as the meeting rolled on.

    They also serve, who sit and wait ... no less easy, though, the telepath mourned, cursing the Vong and the war.

    ********************

    - to be continued ... [face_nail_biting]
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderfully sympathetic and observant POV. Everyone's in character and *gulp* I ache! for Jaina, I really do. She'll do what's necessary but she'll be on the literal edge until Ganner comes back safe. [face_worried]

    [:D]
     
  8. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: Vacation, it seems, has a way of making me lazy. [face_blush]:p

    Another short update, here - I'm
    hoping to have the big fight scene from the end of Destiny's Way posted some time Monday, but we'll see. (It needs work, which I have time now to actually do, but I keep getting distracted ... :oops:

    Plus, today marks the
    10th anniversary of my joining TF.N! :eek:[face_party]

    So, I figured I'd better post
    something ... :D I just didn't expect it to be these two goons. [face_dunno]

    **************************
    Chapter 13: 27.7 ABY:
    Yuuzhan'tar/Coruscant,
    Core Worlds:
    **************************

    "And why, you pustulent excresence of a misbegotten luur, should I not indulge every instinct Yun-Yammka ever gave me and slay you, regardless of the Dread One's commands?"

    "Because we have gone around and around and around with each other, Warmaster - and gotten little for our sparring," Nom Anor growled, glad of the chance to drop the wordplay for once. (Yes, it was his life's work - he was an intendant - but sometimes the games grew old.)

    Tsavong Lah glared over his desk at the intendant, and Anor shrugged; if he couldn't be honest with his greatest nemesis, then with whom?

    "I will NOT sully my domain by entertaining some kind of - reconciliation - with an intendant whom has continually MOCKED, belittled, and BEFOULED the fortunes of the warrior caste through continued BUNGLING," Tsavong Lah snarled.

    "And yet, Supreme Overlord Shimrra has linked our fates together in this matter of crushing the infidels' remaining forces. Loathe me you might, but I find it questionable whether your drive for victory at all costs extends quite so far as to going down with me," Nom Anor suggested.

    (To be fair, he really wasn't sure just how - fanatic - Tsavong Lah was. Sure, there were the sacrifices of his arm for replacement with a radank claw, and accepting a vua'sa foot to replace the one crushed by Jacen Solo at Duro, but death because of failure seemed too far ... hopefully.)

    The Warmaster finished scribing an order in a qahsa, then growled something into a villip before looking at Anor with tired contempt.

    "Were you one of my warriors, I would have you flayed for questioning me in such a manner. Through the Supreme Overlord, the Yun'o have given us a single directive - CLAIM this galaxy for our own. The Praetorite Vong, at least, did a reasonable job of completing their tasks, to weaken the hinges of the enemy's fort - although not as satisfactorily as I would wish, I at least respect what they did achieve," he rumbled.

    A female subaltern swept in, collected the qahsa, and saluted Tsavong Lah, who absently returned the gesture before dismissing her. He turned back to Nom Anor - who appreciated the subaltern in ways he doubted the Warmaster would let himself do - and cleared his throat.

    "But you - where do I begin to list the ways you have FAILED the Yuuzhan Vong? The inability to slay Skywalker's mate, the betrayals - plural! - of that wretched familiar Vergere, the loss of the voxyn queen, and so very many other disasters - you truly are -" Tsavong Lah rambled.

    "Yes, yes, I'm 'pustulent excresence.' But this excresence has information on where the 'Galactic Alliance' is planning to hide," Nom Anor said.

    "Tell me," Tsavong Lah ordered, and Nom Anor nodded; Lah didn't want to talk, so action was the wiser course.

    He activated a hologram-projecting villip after withdrawing it from his robeskin, and the Warmaster watched as a galaxy map zoomed in on a desolate moon in the Deep Core. "The infidels call it 'Ebaq 9,' a droll name for a minor mining world," Nom Anor said.

    "It makes no tactical sense. I am no navigator, but even I know the gravitational forces in the Deep Core would make escape impossible were we to trap their leadership there," Tsavong Lah rumbled - but more thoughtfully, now.

    Nom Anor nodded, meeting the Warmaster's implacable gaze. "It's almost certainly a trap of some kind. Nevertheless, independent agents of mine have verified that the infidels' leadership seek to flee there. We should be ready for a multitude of eventualities," he warned.

    Tsavong Lah gave one short, quick head-bob - nothing so polite as actual agreement, but then, he'd made clear where they stood.

    "Where their leaders flee to, there will almost certainly be Jeedai. And where there are Jeedai ... the gods will either favor us with glorious victory or glorious death. I almost pity you, Nom Anor, for your likely remaining behind as I gain glory," the Warmaster said in a final tone.

    Nom Anor took the dismissal for what it was - no sense in lingering - and shut down the villip, leaving with a short bow.

    Hate me if you will, Warmaster - for I certainly find you noxious - but the gods also favor the cunning, as well as the strong ...

    **********************

    - to be continued ... [face_thinking]
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  9. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: Striving to make some real headway on this, while I'm on vacation and have time to do so ... [face_blush]

    The fight's big enough, however, that I think it'll need to be split into two chapters ... [face_thinking]

    Plus - a certain Princess takes up a certain title ... :D


    **************************
    Chapter 14: 27.7 ABY:
    Space above Ebaq 9,
    Treskov System,
    Deep Core:
    **************************

    Without risk, there was little to no reward - still, Betsy knew the trap they were setting for the Vong was very high-stakes.

    We should've waited longer, seasoned more of our new recruits with fights tipped to our favor - then, taken those forces to spring the trap, months down the line. But, Ackbar and the Jedi Council are right. If we wait, we lose momentum - or, worse, Dif Scaur and his pro-Vongicide compatriots get a chance to reconstitute Alpha Red. We have to shut down the calls for slaughter, the telepath thought, looking out a viewport.

    She was aboard the Bothan Assault Cruiser Ralroost, the makeshift flagship of the makeshift fleet, where she'd help Jacen and the Anx Jedi Madurrin coordinate the Jedi battle meld. Despite a fair number of non-Jedi in Twin Suns Squadron, Kyp and Jag had forged the X-Wing group into a nigh-legendary hammer for smashing Yuuzhan Vong coralskippers - and managed to keep the casualty rate to a minimum - while the senior Jedi and others who weren't in the squadron would only benefit from the coordination.

    The real question lay in the ability of the allied fleets - Galactic Alliance Defense Force, Smugglers Guild, the Hutts (stronger than the GADF had dared hope, after Betsy, Rotta, and Ahsoka had helped the kadijics cut off the Vong revenge effort months earlier in Hutt Space), and half a dozen other groups - to work together. Everyone wanted to fight the Vong; it was just a matter of whether they could work with each other.

    Betsy tried to shrug off the doubt and fear flowing through the local astral plane and the Force, giving Jacen a faint smile as he took a deep breath and looked out at the mish-mash of ships. "It'd be inspiring ... if the circumstances bringing us together were less desperate," he said.

    "Reminds me of some teams of X-Men I served on back home. I remember fighting the Juggernaut in Scotland years ago - just Sunfire, Longshot, Dazzler, and myself. You couldn't imagine a more diverse group, whether in powers or temperaments - yet, we managed to defeat a foe who'd given multiple previous teams of X-Men as serious a set of challenges as the one we faced. We can do this, Jacen," Betsy encouraged, and the young man nodded, standing a bit taller as Madurrin joined them.

    The tall, reptilian Jedi half-closed her eyes, her blade-like head crest rising and falling while she attuned herself to the local Force. After a moment, Madurrin rumbled, "Knight Braddock is correct, young Solo. We must trust in the Force - and our allies' skills."

    "I don't doubt either, Master. It's just that I've seen the menace we face first-hand, and -" Jacen started, squinting as the Force rippled.

    Betsy sensed it too, and the bridge alarms started to whine as the Bothan sensor tech called, "Skips inbound! We have confirmed Vong!"

    -----------------------------
    Mon Calamari:
    -----------------------------

    Jaina stirred - she'd been catching felinx-naps when possible, between caring for the twins and awaiting news - as she sensed tension.

    Not my own; Jasa ... and Ganner, she realized, wiping sleep-gunk from her eyes as she radiated back support and love.

    Two very different - but equally welcome - replies rang back, and Jaina managed a smile, throwing off her covers as her comlink chimed.

    Mara's voice called, "We've gotten a heads-up from the fleet. The Vong have arrived at Ebaq. Want to join us at Ackbar's?"

    "Just a second - I would, but I don't want to wake the boys if I can help it. They've been fussy ever since Ganner and Jag left to help with the fight; figures they'd be attuned to their respective fathers' absences," Jaina whispered, peeking her head into the twins' nursery.

    Sure enough, the babies had stirred, and Rian was even trying to stand - well, cling to the side of the crib - as their whimpers turned to coos. Jaina scooped them into her arms, making comforting noises while she said into her comlink, "Give us 10 minutes? They're awake."

    Support - and kind laughter - rang back, and Mara said, "I'll be right over. I remember how hard wrangling multiple kidlets can get. Besides, Winter's got plenty of support to help Ackbar for right now, and Garen's at preschool. Plus, I haven't had a chance to play auntie lately."

    "Thanks," Jaina said, letting all her emphasis into her reply as she switched off the comlink - she wouldn't turn down any assistance.

    She looked at the twins, who were smiling now, and Jaina laughed despite herself. "We'll win this, guys," she agreed, buoyed by their joy.

    I can almost forgive myself for not being at Ebaq ... but how could I risk orphaning them? It's not fair to Mom or Dad to yell at them about my childhood - the Empire was a real threat - but I swore I wouldn't chance messing up my kids' lives the same way, even if it wasn't my parents' fault, Jaina thought, losing herself in the morning rituals while she waited for Mara to arrive.

    The routine beat imagining the near-infinite possibilities of what might go wrong thousands of light-years away.

    ------------------------------
    Ebaq 9:
    ------------------------------

    "Twin Leader, this is Twin Twelve, requesting permission to strafe that frigate analogue?" Ganner called, and he heard Kyp's double-click.

    "Strafe and bake, Twin Twelve. If you're not too rusty behind the stick from ground duty," Kyp teased, and Ganner repressed a sniff; they'd been - tolerable - to each other since Jaina had married Ganner, but there were still deep divisions between the former "rebel" Jedi.

    It goes back as far as me quitting Kyp's faction of Jedi 'avengers' after Garqi, but that died down for a while, especially after Myrkr. Then, Hapes - and my night with Jaina - happened ... and Kyp "declined" to attend Jaina's and my wedding, Ganner remembered, repressing his frustration - now was NOT the time to rehash old issues.

    It wasn't that Kyp was ever rude to Jaina, or that his attempts to hold friendly banter with Ganner had fallen back to their sometimes-vicious jabs they'd taken at each other after Garqi. But the "blister" refused to attend social events at the Solo-Rhysode conapt, and otherwise kept his distance when he could - Ganner was certain Kyp hadn't even stopped by to see the babies, although neither had Kyp insulted either child.

    It's not the kids ... oh, you're kriffing JOKING, Durron - ! Ganner thought, shoving down his frustration as he realized what was going on.

    He focused - he was no great pilot, not in Jaina or Kyp or even Jag's league - and fired shadow bombs at the frigate-analogue. The Vong ship started to crack up, and Ganner waggled his wings at Twin Eleven, a Force-blind Arcona named Kral Ytgan; they had more targets.

    And once I get back and make sure Jaina and the kids are OK, I AM going to have another talk with Master Durron ...

    --------------------------------

    Kyp killed his own flicker of annoyance - he was still attuned to Ganner, after all the times they'd worked together over the years, and he didn't want the tension between them bleeding into the wider Force-meld.

    Why, when I'M trying to do the right thing, is Rhysode getting upset? ESPECIALLY in the middle of a firefight? he thought, looking around.

    It wasn't as if there were any shortage of targets. The Vong had brought what looked like every ship they had left to this fight - which, to be fair, was what the GADF and Jedi Council had wanted. Still, even Kyp had to admit, this was a fight that looked to be a bit - well, unbalanced.

    He shifted his focus back to coordinating Twin Suns Squadron, comming, "Twin Two, this is Twin Leader. Starting attack run on that cruiser."

    "Confirmed, Twin Leader. I'll take Orange Group and - wait. Detecting hyperspace emergence, point-oh-five," Jag called, concerned.

    Kyp echoed the worry - true, the plan was to pile on fleets in staggered order and pin the Vong down beneath sheer numbers.

    But nobody said we should expect a Mon Cal cruiser to arrive ... especially one THAT LARGE?! Wait - is THAT - ?! Kyp thought, shocked.

    It was a Mon Cal cruiser, no doubt - but he'd never seen one THAT big. It was at least half again as large as an MC-80.

    The fact that it launched a fierce broadside into the nearest Vong cruiser analogue, and spilled HUNDREDS of snubfighters, didn't hurt.

    --------------------------------

    The decision had been simple, once Leia and the Resistance Triumverate - Garm Bel Iblis, Lieda Mothma, and Leia's cousin Niall Organa - had approached the Mon Calamari Council.

    There was no question that the shipyards at Mon Cala had to be devoted to the Galactic Alliance war effort. But there was one battleship that, frankly, had never been taken seriously in terms of actually being finished; it was just too large, and the treaty with the Empire had been signed before there'd been a need for such a huge ship.

    But the Vong had invaded, and quiet, back-channel work - both by organic volunteers and droid crews - had finished the MC-85 cruiser.

    Coruscant had fallen before the work could be completed, but the vast, almost dreadnought-sized ship was ready now.

    And while she'd hesitated committing to the calls for leadership - not wanting to steal Borsk Fey'lya's thunder - Leia knew times had changed.

    On the great ship's bridge, See-Threepio turned to his Mistress, as she activated a fleet-wide comm and called, an old fire in her voice:

    "Galactic Alliance forces - all allied ships - this is Resistance General Leia Organa-Solo, aboard the Raddus.

    "We stand with you. We are here to help break the Yuuzhan Vong fleet. And may the Force be with us all."

    ***************************

    DEFINITELY to be continued ... :eek:
     
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful updates. =D= Enjoyed Jaina's and Leia's POVs. Ganner and Kyp surely have undertones of tension between them don't they? :p

    The contest of wills between Anor and Lah was excellently done as well. You can tell Anor is only being kept around just until his next debacle :oops:
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
  11. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
  12. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    WarmNyota: Thanks. :) I liked the idea of establishing Leia as a high-ranking Resistance figure now, before the FO become a big(ger) threat; the idea that the Resistance evolved organically out of people fighting the Vong made a great deal of sense when blending the NEU and Legends.

    Jaina won't be sidelined forever; but 2 months seemed a bit too early for her to be leaving the twins with a nanny droid. She will be at the Second Battle of Coruscant, however ... when this eventually reaches the end of the Vong War. [face_blush]

    And Kyp and Ganner - yeah, there's a lot going on there. :p There's a definite "missing scene" to be written, sooner than later ... [face_thinking]

    Plus - Nom? He's in more trouble than he can possibly imagine. Of course, Nom being Nom, he'll weasel out of it ... for now ...

    Cowgirl: Thanks again. :) I really wanted to find a way to introduce the Raddus (which is different here than in the NEU - there, it's a particularly large battleship; here, I'd compare it to a Super Star Destroyer? It's sort of a weird dreadnought/fighter carrier blend ... [face_thinking])

    Time, I think, to wrap up this particular battle - mild warning for violence (nothing overly graphic, but we are talking about the Vong, and Tsavong Lah is particularly nasty [face_worried].)

    Unfortunately for Tsavvy ... the good guys are about to get a very welcome surprise (well, a surprise for some characters, anyway ;)

    Plus - a hint as to my take on Vergere's past in this timeline, and some explanation (Betsy infodump FTW! [face_laugh])

    Ganner's trip down memory lane is actually from my take on his backstory - see this story for more details: http://boards.theforce.net/threads/...ernate-ganner-origin-completed-9-22.50046461/

    **************************
    Chapter 15: 27.7 ABY:
    Space above Ebaq 9,
    Treskov System,
    Deep Core:
    **************************

    The few surviving voxyn sang out, their howls an eerie, but welcome guide to Tsavong Lah's main question, and he grinned with anticipation.

    "Jeedai ... they ARE here. All flights! Glory and blood await us - seek out the Jeedai and SLAY -!" the Warmaster ordered.

    He was cut off as an immense infidel warcruiser, a beast created by the species called Mon Calamari by its design, burst into the thick of one of the firefights and smashed a Yuuzhan Vong cruiser, splintering the Battle Group of Yun-Txiin.

    Tsavong Lah repressed a snarl - surprises were to be expected in the heat of battle, and he ordered, "The Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah will -"

    "Warmaster! Forgive this unworthy one, but we have multiple additional ship reversions!" a particularly daring (or foolish) subaltern called.

    Tsavong Lah felt the claws of his implanted vua'sa foot scrabble on the deck as he bared his teeth and demanded, "How many?"

    "Hundreds, Warmaster - a motley mix of snubfighters, frigates, and what look like freighters ... but one Star Destroyer, as well," the subaltern said, bowing his head and exposing his neck should the Warmaster decide to claim the subordinate's life to satisfy honor.

    "Rise, loyal one. There is no dishonor in reporting infidel treachery ... do we know which 'Star Destroyer' the enemy have sent?" Tsavong Lah replied - warriors were few and far between, this late in the war with so many having given their lives seizing so much of the galaxy.

    A sudden, blinding flash came from the Battle Group of Yun-Yammka, and a warrior at the scanning biot shouted, "Warmaster! MASSIVE energy discharge - the Battle Group of Yun-Harla has sustained heavy losses! The blast came from the new Star Destroyer!"

    Tsavong Lah squinted at a living-light projection of the accursed infidel cruiser, and rumbled at its' blood-red color - the Errant Venture.

    Allies of the
    Jeedai, and the abomination made-thing destroyer wields a heavy turbolaser ... he recalled, starting to - no, not doubt, adjust.

    "The Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah will reinforce the - survivors of the Battle Group of Yun-Harla. The Battle Group of Yun-Harla will withdraw to darkspace and regroup at Yuuzhan'tar for repairs and replenishment. The Battle Group of Yun-Yammka will reinforce the Battle Group of Yun-Txiin," he ordered - then, the voxyn cried out again, which was both welcome and unsettling.

    The scanning warrior turned a grating shade of pale grey and called, "Warmaster - another arriving battle group of infidels."

    "But more Jeedai - they come to reinforce their wretched superiors hiding on the moon ... unless ..." Tsavong Lah reflected quickly.

    Were I to try and draw out the remaining strength of an enemy force, I would set a cooking yanskac and hide the jaws of a vonduun crab around the meat. The infidels are risking MANY Jeedai in one battle ... but we still hold the upper hand, he thought, repressing a smile.

    "The Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan will prepare to engage the new arrivals - WHAT!?" Tsavong Lah roared as the villip tender cried out.

    "Great One, I beg forgiveness - but the yammosk! It reports - the Battle Group of Yun-Harla has been interdicted - by MINES!" the subordinate called back, flinching as Tsavong Lah leapt from the command throne and stared at the living light readouts.

    The hyperlane. Those thrice-blaspheming godsless ANIMALS MINED the only hyperlane in or out of the system ... the Warmaster realized.

    The Battle Group of Yun-Harla, already savaged by the infidel turbolaser blast, had been shredded. And the rest of the fleet was trapped.

    "This is the Warmaster. All Battle Groups - attack at will. If the uh'maans and their subordinate species believe themselves victorious, disabuse them of their blasphemous notion. We will make them CHOKE on their treachery, and those Yuuzhan Vong who follow WILL secure the gods' claim on this heathen galaxy," Tsavong Lah ordered, strangely calm - so, after all the battles, it came to this.

    The rest of the bridge crew looked ill, but held to their stations, as Tsavong Lah nodded; the gods would honor their sacrifice -

    Sacrifice ...

    He stared at the main viewscreen, remembering just why they'd been ordered to crush this wretched moon - even if it was revealed as a trap.

    "Jeedai ... if any lurk on Ebaq 9 ... prepare the troopships and bring the voxyn! And activate the oggzil! If the Jeedai seek to slay us, let them try - on the moon! We will hold a Jeedai hunt, and see just WHO SACRIFICES WHOM!" Tsavong Lah boomed, regaining his good humor.

    He grabbed the oggzil - an unclean, but necessary hybridization of a villip and made-thing communications technology from the infidels - and called, "This is Warmaster Tsavong Lah, to any Jeedai! You think yourselves so cunning? Come to Ebaq 9, and face ME!"

    ----------------------------

    Damnit!

    Ganner spun, picking another skip off of Tesar Sebatyne's already shot-up X-J7 - the Vong had thrown away any restraint.

    There were few enemies deadlier than ones with nothing left to lose, and the deranged Warmaster's taunting call to try and draw out Jedi had only freed the Vong ranks to throw themselves completely into the already-insane battle.

    Even if Master Skywalker's battle group had sealed the plan to outnumber the Vong - and the Smugglers' Alliance, Hutts, and that immense new Resistance dreadnaught carrying Princess Leia were shattering the Vong fleet - the warriors were looking for a fight.

    Reminds me of the last battle I fought in Ascalon, before I joined the Jedi as a teenager. The charr were just as vicious, but at least they knew when to quit ... of course, that took me accidentally killing the charr tribune, Laius Shardclaw, in single combat to get them to surrender, Ganner remembered.

    He repressed the wish to be back on Teyr - Tyria, as it was called in his native Krytan language - and checked on his knot of fighters. Tesar's X-J was badly shot up, leaking fuel, while Lowbacca was covering them, and the other half of Twin Suns Squadron was out of range to help.

    "Twin Leader, this is Twin Twelve. Twin Eight and Twin Six are with me - Tails is nearly down to his airframe, and Streak's out of shadow bombs. Request permission to head for Ralroost or Raddus," Ganner called - the fight was won, and he wouldn't risk losing friends.

    "Twin Twelve, this is General Farlander," Keyan called, cutting off any response from Kyp. "Furballs are snarling inbound traffic."

    "General, I get that, but the only other option is - Grenth's teeth, what NOW!?" Ganner cursed, as one of the Vong cruisers dropped a HUGE number of what looked like landing craft and coralskippers - must've been the Warmaster, going to seek Jedi.

    A dangerous - stupid, really - thought crossed Ganner's mind, but he shoved it aside. He had Jaina and the boys to go home to.

    "General, this isz Twin Eight. Losing rear stabilizersz," Tesar called, and Lowie roared with worry - the Barabel's fighter started to shake.

    "General, this is Twin Twelve! We're out of options. Switching to initial plan - send someone to get us when you can," Ganner growled.

    "We'll shelter in the Ebaq mines. Let's hope the Vong aren't bringing grutchins to get around the blast doors ..."

    ---------------------------------
    Ralroost Bridge:
    ---------------------------------

    Betsy turned deathly pale, the Force flickering with unwelcome precognitive visions of how badly things could go with Ganner's situation.

    She turned to Jacen, who nodded with worry, while Madurrin said, "Three Jedi against untold numbers of ground troops ..."

    "Ganner's my brother-in-law - and Lowie's one of my oldest friends, and Tesar's a friend, too. We've won; I'm useless here, now," Jacen insisted, turning to go while Traest Kre'fey looked at him with surprised shock.

    "But - the battle meld - !" the Bothan called, his white fur rippling.

    Betsy gave Kre'fey a calming look and replied, "Madurrin has it in well in hand, sir. And the Vong are splintering. Our fellow Jedi need us."

    The Bothan reluctantly nodded, and the telepath raced after Jacen; he was already halfway to the flight deck, talking on his comlink.

    " - no, someone has to slow that landing party! Ganner, Tesar, and Lowie are about to be trapped on Ebaq with Force knows how many Vong!" the young man exclaimed, and Betsy could hear Han's surprised voice on the other end, if not the specific details.

    They came screeching to a halt in a side corridor, as Vergere stood there, radiating frustrated worry through the Force.

    "You are TOO important to the future to risk for a handful of Jedi, Jacen. I am not unsympathetic, but -" the Fosh began, as Jacen scowled.

    "You're an Old Republic Jedi, Vergere. Family is hardly something I'd expect you to be 'sympathetic' toward," he retorted, unusually bitter.

    Vergere's beak clacked with frustration, and she shot back, "Sharra and K'ythri, boy! You know NOTHING of what family I have lost -"

    Both Vergere and Jacen were shocked when Betsy grabbed the Fosh by the neck and stared at her - THAT curse, Betsy KNEW.

    She demanded, "Vergere. Sharra and K'ythri are gods of the extragalactic Shi'ar - sometimes enemies, sometimes allies of my fellow X-Men. How do you know that curse?"

    Vergere's feathers turned grey, and Betsy released her, ashamed of her reaction - but this could be a hint on how to get home.

    "... Elizabeth, there is a much larger, MUCH deadlier war which you have barely even begun to become aware of. And I ... I have said too much. Suffice it to say, your suspicions of why I helped save Mara Jade Skywalker are founded - but I swear to you, I mean neither her nor her relatives - those here or elsewhere - any harm. Now, however, is not the time for explanations," Vergere pleaded, regaining her color.

    Jacen nodded, starting past the Fosh - if Vergere was a "Fosh," or if the Fosh were actually connected to the Shi'ar, themselves descended from avians, Betsy recalled. "We agree on something, at least," he grumbled, seeping betrayal while Vergere looked - hurt?

    "Jacen, please. I am not trying to condemn your brother-in-law and friends to death - but you ARE too critical to the future. Remember your connection to the World Brain? If you die now, it will either go out of control or fall under Shimrra's control - and either circumstance will condemn any hope of taking back Coruscant from the Yuuzhan Vong, in any shape for future generations to inhabit," Vergere asked.

    Jacen blew out a shuddering breath, relaxing only when Betsy put a hand on his shoulder and said, "I'll go. My telepathy will aid me in -"

    Then, the Force rippled, and Betsy gasped - she knew those Force-signatures, but for them to be here, NOW, meant - !

    Jacen's eyes widened, while Vergere sighed and said, "And thus, all our plans are thrown to foolish - one might say dumb - whims. Again."

    -----------------------------------
    Yuuzhan'tar/Coruscant:
    -----------------------------------

    "You BETRAYED us!"

    Nom Anor rolled his one good eye, throwing blorash jelly to immobilize his superior Yoog Skell's legs, then cracked the higher-ranked Yuuzhan Vong on the skull. Yoog Skell collapsed, as Anor made his escape, hoping Yoog Skell wasn't too badly hurt.

    A pleasant enough superior, but he erroneously believes me to be a traitor, when I am as much a victim of bad data as the fleet is, Nom Anor fumed, making his way to don an ooglith cloaker and disguise himself as a member of the worker caste. Shimmra would be looking for someone to gut for this catastrophe, and the intendant knew nobody would listen to his claims of being deceived - not after his other failures.

    He slipped out through a side passage, sensing near-panic among the low-castes and infuriated tension from the priests and warriors. The situation was dire, but strangely upset, as if the Galactic Alliance were attacking Yuuzhan'tar - but that was absurd!

    ISN'T it? What if our estimates of the
    Jeedai losses, and those of their infidel followers, are too low ... and they decided to attack while the majority of our fleet is occupied at Ebaq 9? Nom Anor worried - no, that was absurd. He was sure they'd damaged the uh'maans' ability to fight, and even with the unlikely aid of the Hutts and other species, the Jeedai weren't so foolish as to risk a double-headed offensive.

    Nevertheless, the disguised intendant stopped a Shamed One and demanded, "You! What's the cause of this disturbance?"

    "Heretics, Lord! There was an attack - Jeedai worshippers, destroying a frigate analogue! The warriors are ENRAGED!" the Shamed one bleated, running off while Nom Anor considered the situation.

    He'd heard the rumors of Jeedai heresy floating around since Yavin, and Myrkr; that pestilent brat Anakin Solo had been obnoxiously inspirational to the low-castes, and High Priest Harrar and the rest of the clergy had been kept busy snuffing out cells of cultists.

    But Anakin Solo DIED at Myrkr ... well, all right, the Jeedai-who-was-Shaped and her abomination of a warbeast leapt among the warriors, and we only ever recovered the brat's light-cleaver ... but we never found proof they survived, either! Nom Anor insisted, starting to sweat.

    It was a cold sweat, which should've been impossible with the cloaker absorbing his perspiration ... but the day was seeming cursed.

    Nom Anor risked easing closer to the scene of the sabotaged frigate, noticing a strangely-calm group of Shamed Ones watching the shapers and low-castes picking through the ruined ship - not a cleaning crew, either. They noticed him, then, and broke into 2s and 3s, drifting away.

    No, that's not strange at all, you treacherous ngdins, the intendant thought, trailing a pair - a male and female - down a back alley.

    He started to call - but the male squinted at him over his shoulder and barked in badly-stilted Yuuzhan Vong, "Hold back! We -"

    "What my beloved means, Lord, is how may we aid you? We are due back to our cleaning duties, praise Yun-Shuno," the female replied, far more clearly-spoken but with an odd lilt to her accent which raised the remaining hackles on the back of Nom Anor's neck.

    "The Pardoner, and your superiors, will forgive you for explaining to me why two Shamed Ones should be so fascinated with infidel sabotage of a warrior craft. I saw you gazing at the wreckage. Have you nothing better to do than gawk, while Yuuzhan'tar awaits completion?" Nom Anor accused, fingering a specific object in his hand - a case containing something he hadn't expected to need, but was glad he'd grabbed.

    The male tensed, while the female tilted her head and said, "We were merely passing by, Lord. We meant no disrespect or laziness -"

    "Excuses - and I'll have answers!" Nom Anor barked, opening the case he carried and releasing the rodent-like, hideous unmasker it held.

    The grotesque, carnivorous creature was tiny, but it had a disproportionate effect on ooglith cloakers and masquers. The living garments were terrified of the vicious unmasker, which in the wild, feasted upon oogliths - and the fear it inspired made it useful for revealing spies.

    The spiny, snarling unmasker lunged at the male Shamed One, and Nom allowed himself a grin as the fool's masquer slipped free.

    The intendant's grin shattered as he recognized the very uh'maan - and very ALIVE - Jeedai who scowled back at him.

    The female cursed in Yuuzhan Vong, her thrown coufee pinning the squealing unmasker as her masquer fled - revealing sand-colored hair.

    Nom Anor howled - this day had just gotten both worse and better - snarling, "Jeedai-who-was-Shaped! And - and - ANAKIN SOLO!?"

    He reached for a villip - Shimrra would have to forgive him for warning of the wretched Jeedai's survival - but a sudden noise rang out:

    BAMF-A!

    Taher'ai Veila gave Nom Anor a hateful stare and spat, "Whoever you are, this isn't over. We'll be back - and in greater numbers."

    With that, the accursed Jeedai and their dread ban'tha vanished in a cloud of foul-smelling smoke, as that noise rang out again - BAMF-A!

    "NOOOOO!!! I'll GET you, you brats - AND YOUR MAGIC TRANSPORT BEAST, TOO!!!" Nom Anor RAGED.

    He hung his head, slipping away before the noise could draw inconvenient warriors - the Yuuzhan Vong's most persistent foes LIVED.

    But THINK, you spawn of a
    brenzlit! WHAT were Solo and Veila doing here? Sabotage? Their efforts would be miniscule ... he pondered.

    Sudden, horrified realization swept over the intendant, and he seethed ... before slowly smiling.

    The Jeedai heresy. Of COURSE they were enflaming it. And, if I can backtrack their main cell ... Nom Anor planned, slipping into the dark.

    This was an opportunity, as much as a disaster. And opportunity was something Nom Anor could capitalize on.

    ---------------------------
    Ebaq 9:
    ---------------------------

    The Force-voids were almost overwhelming - but the odd, sickly-familiar blended-presences, the feral ones, chilled Ganner more.

    He, with Tesar and Lowie, had fled into a side-tunnel of the old mines, barely beating the Vong landing party ... and there were a LOT of them.

    <If they did bring grutchins, they'll just dig around the doors,> the Wookiee rumbled, while Ganner finished donning a combat jumpsuit over his pilot's flight-suit. There was no reason to fail to be prepared ... especially when it seemed to be inevitable, now.

    Jaina. I'm sorry, Ganner radiated, unsure whether his wife - his wife, he thought, saddened but awed at being blessed with a family after believing he'd never be so lucky - could hear him through the Force at this distance.

    He hoped Jaina, Rian, and Roan wouldn't sense - the end - when it came. The thought of never Jaina and the kids again almost made Ganner -

    "Ganner!? Keep your heads down, we're going to try something - dangerous," Jacen's voice rang out over their comlinks.

    "Jacen!? Trust me, whatever you've got planned, it can't be worse than however many Vong are headed our way," Ganner replied.

    ~That depends on your definition of 'worse,' Ganner, dear. Let me take a mental 'peek' at your location, please,~ Betsy psi-called.

    Ganner shrugged, sensing the telepath "look" through his eyes, noting the fairly-sizeable amount of space in the shaft behind him, Tesar, and Lowie. "If you're gonna try something, Betsy, I'm up for it. The Well wasn't exactly fun, as you might recall," he tried to quip.

    An amused ripple in the Force rang back, and Betsy sent, ~We have a rather large, shaggy skifter to play, my friend. Seal your vac-suits; you'll need them VERY quickly. Hang on tight, and be ready to move - you'll know when.~

    Her mental voice faded, and the Force rippled again - with familiar presences, as Ganner blinked; he knew those signatures - !

    "Guys? Grab on to something. This is gonna get crazy, I think," Ganner warned, glancing at the blast doors.

    Then, the doors started to melt - just before the whole moon seemed to shake.

    -----------------------------
    Millennium Falcon:
    -----------------------------

    "You're INSANE! It's like something I'D try, and I'M not crazy enough to try it!" Han bellowed over the comm - but he still got into position.

    "We need to buy Ganner and the others some time, Han. Flying a snubfighter down the mineshaft could work, but it'd inevitably be fatal for whatever pilot tried to vape that many Yuuzhan Vong. And a proton torpedo would risk too much backscatter radiation," Betsy called.

    Han blew out a deep breath, weaving the Falcon between plasma streams - the Vong weren't letting up, even if their fleets were shattered, and the steady stream of landing ships headed for Ebaq refused to yield to the Jedi and GADF attacks. "I know, but ..." he trailed off.

    The fact was, Han had grown to like Ganner Rhysode over the past few months. The overgrown backwater lunkhead had gotten Jaina pregnant, true, but Ganner had ditched his old, snotty arrogance and really been there for Han's little girl and the kidlets.

    (Unspoken, of course, was Han's quiet satisfaction that Jaina hadn't settled for Jag Fel.)

    Rhysode might be from a crazy planet full of Force adepts and monsters from old legends, but he'd manned up, and he made Jaina happy.

    <Han. My nephew's down there, too. If there's any chance to get them out of there alive, we have to MOVE,> Chewie asked.

    Han nodded, comming back to Betsy, "We're ready, Betts. How'll you extract the Jedi, though?"

    A very unexpected - and WELCOME - voice called back, half-nervous, half-happy, "Ah ... we'll handle that, Dad. Hi, too."

    Any doubts Han had vanished, and he whooped as Ralroost fired a narrow, quick burst of turbolaser fire at Ebaq.

    "GO, kid! And welcome back!" he cheered, pressing the attack against the Vong landing fleet.

    ----------------------------
    Ebaq 9:
    ----------------------------

    Something very bright, loud, and hot shredded its way past the splintering blast doors, and Ganner prayed to the Six human gods of Teyr that the Jedi wouldn't be killed in the effort to save them.

    Mercifully, as the remaining air in the mineshaft rushed past, the sense of voids in the Force quickly diminishing - and the voxyn with them.

    After a few moments, the whistling died away, and Tesar risked peeking out into the hall - then looked back and hissed, "Dead. All of them."

    <YES! That'll teach that arrogant fool Lah to underestimate Jedi resolve! But how do we get out of here if the shaft is still radioactive?> Lowbacca asked, letting go of the reinforced pillar to approach the blast doors.

    Ganner started to speak - then gasped as his Wookiee friend was speared through the shoulder from the gap in the blast doors.

    No no NO - ! he raged, igniting his lightsaber as a scarred, pitted pair of vonduun-crab-armored hands pushed the doors wider.

    The TALLEST Yuuzhan Vong Ganner had seen in quite some time stood there, a gnullith over his lower face, HATRED in his stare. Something like a nightmare version of an amphistaff - which was saying something - was extended in spear form in the warrior's left hand, dripping blood.

    Worst of all, the attacker's right hand held a lightsaber hilt - and it ignited purple as the Vong growled, "Jeedai. My troops will be AVENGED."

    "Tsavong Lah!? Thisz one wishes the Force would be more helpful!" Tesar lamented, bouncing in the low gravity to help Lowie.

    Ganner took a shuddering breath - the Warmaster was the last Vong he'd wanted to fight, but ...

    "The Force and Balthazar be with me," he prayed, calling on the support of the Teyrian god of war - any help was going to be needed.

    Lah seemed to smirk, then flung some sort of goop at Ganner, too fast to avoid - blorash jelly? Seriously!? Ganner snarked.

    He tried to slash the gunk off of his left foot, barely keeping his footing as the Warmaster rushed him.

    "The Ganner. The Shamed Ones speak of your bravery - your legend is a central part of the Jeedai heresy. I honor your Stand at the Well - but I cannot countenance your sacrilege in helping the traitor Jacen Solo escape. For THAT, you must die," Tsavong Lah rumbled in Basic.

    "If you were really honorable, you wouldn't be using blorash jelly! And wielding Anakin's lightsaber is just a cheap shot!" Ganner replied back.

    BAMF-A!

    "Yeah - my brother-in-law's got a point, Warmaster. Give me my lightsaber back."

    The Yuuzhan Vong barely had time to grunt as a blue-bladed lightsaber cleft his neck, sending his head bouncing in the low gravity.

    Anakin Solo waved with mild embarrassment, grabbing his original lightsaber as it floated, while Tahiri Veila shattered the blorash jelly.

    "Man, am I glad to see you guys - where'd you get a bantha-sized vac-suit!?" Ganner marveled, nodding at the space-suited Bangor while the teleporting bantha tried to sit in the side shaft. Even with the sizeable space, the bull bantha was a bit cramped.

    "Long story, Ganner - glad you're OK - Tesar? Lowie!? You're hurt!" Tahiri asked, rushing to help the Barabel and Wookiee.

    Ganner held onto Bangor, while Tesar and Lowie - both wide-eyed - bounded over to their rescuers, clearly surprised - then, they grinned.

    <YOU'RE ALIVE!!!> the big Wookiee cheered, hugging Tahiri and practically squeezing the breath from Anakin, while Tesar hissed with joy.

    "Yeah - kaff - sorry for not telling you sooner, but we were in deep cover on Coruscant - we better get you to the medlab, Lowie. Everyone hold on to Bangor - home, big fella," Anakin asked, and space turned inside-out for a moment -

    BAMF-A!

    - before they reappeared on a flight deck, and medical personnel rushed to help Lowie, as the others removed their helmets.

    Ganner couldn't help but grin as the Ralroost's crew suddenly realized that Anakin Solo was both alive and among them, and whispers and cheers started to break out, while the embarrassed young man waved - then, Jacen and Betsy were there, and hugs and laughter erupted.

    "You DID it! I mean - if anyone could pull it off - but you rescued them. That's what matters," Jacen cheered, clapping Anakin on the back.

    "Thanks, Jasa. But ... 'Ri and I were exposed as infiltrators on Coruscant. That's why we had to flee to the Raddus. And we only managed to kill Tsavong Lah through surprising him," Anakin explained.

    "WHAT!? The Yuuzhan Vong Warmaster is DEAD!? That's incredible news!" Betsy exclaimed, and a new round of cheers rang out.

    Tahiri nodded, slipping her arm through Anakin's as she added, "We're pretty confident Niirit, Kunra, and the other Shamed Ones whom we were working with can keep the Jeedai heresy rolling - but once the Vong hierarchy hear we're still alive, reinserting ourselves will be hard."

    Betsy smiled, though, and said, "Still, we've secured a large win, here - Tsavong Lah dead, the Vong fleet savaged."

    "Now, let's honor our losses, bind our wounds, and then celebrate. This is just the start of a long road - but we're nearer to the finish."

    ******************

    to be continued ... :D
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  13. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Awesome chapter.
     
  14. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: Blergh. Apologies I haven't updated this more frequently; I'm wrapping up vacation, and I'd wanted to get further on this 'fic. [face_blush]

    That said, I
    can post something tonight, and I'll try to post something more Saturday ... :D

    Warning: The chat here between Kyp and Ganner gets -
    acerbic, and deals with serious topics. Mods, if this goes overboard, please let me know and I'll edit it.

    **************************
    Chapter 16: 27.7 ABY:
    Heurkea Floating City,
    Mon Cala, Outer Rim:
    **************************

    There were a thousand things that needed doing ... but right now, Leia was just content to look around at her gathered family.

    We need to celebrate these victories by coming together, and being grateful we're alive, she thought, smiling as she leaned on Han.

    Anakin and Tahiri were chatting with Jaina, Ganner, Jacen, and Tenel Ka - the latter had become a welcome, frequent visitor to the Solos' conapt, and Leia was more than eager for Jacen to continue reconnecting with the young Dathomiri woman - while they also played with the babies, and Luke, Mara, Chewie, and the droids mingled.

    Every so often, an aide might stick their head in, but Han had made it clear the family needed time together after the latest giant battle.

    "... not thrilled about ambushing Tsavong Lah, but we know how dangerous he is - was. Wow. I'm gonna have to get used to the past tense when talking about Tsavong Lah. Maybe this'll slow down the Vong -" Anakin said, looking a little abashed.

    "Yuuzhan Vong," Tahiri gently but firmly corrected, and Anakin grinned at her with a worshipful smile as Tahiri nibbled on a sandwich.

    Jaina looked thoughtful - when she wasn't cooing at Roan, while Ganner held Rian and laughed at his son's attempt to levitate a cracker he couldn't even chew yet. "Well, while I'm all for honorable combat in general, Lah didn't play fair. And you saved my life - thanks," Ganner said.

    Anakin nodded, smiling as he looked at Jaina's left hand, then Ganner's, and said, "I'm someone's brother-in-law. Uh - welcome?"

    "And here I'd've thought you'd have a bigger issue becoming an uncle," Jaina teased, letting Tahiri hold Roan. The blonde girl - young woman, after everything she's survived, Leia acknowledged - made silly faces at the baby, and Roan gave a happy squeal as the others laughed.

    It was so normal, Leia wished they could all be on New Alderaan - with Kylo, Rey, and little Ben - safe, without any Vong. She glanced at Mara, who was trying and failing to hide a wistful expression (rare, true, but where Mara's kids were concerned, she was softer than usual).

    The redhead gave her sister-in-law a wry smile and slipped onto the balcony, while Leia stood, worried, until Luke stood beside her.

    "She's OK - really. She just needs a moment. The latest holos from Kam and Tionne ... Ben's almost toddling, now. And Rey's lightsaber work and basic Force control are really coming along. It's just hard for us to have the kids at such a distance, but we are happy for Jaina and Ganner - and you, of course," Luke said, holding Leia's hand as she echoed his sad smile.

    "Still ... I haven't spent as much time with either of you as I should. I know part of that is the necessities of war, but ... we can't let life pull us apart. Especially when things are so - so on the edge of a vibroblade. This victory's just the start of the turn of the tide," Leia said, feeling tired.

    She looked out through the window at the waves and sighed, adding, "The Resistance wants me to become more involved. Garm's focusing his attentions on holding Corellia against Vong probes of their defenses, while Lieda's working with the reconstituted Senate, and Niall's coordinating the fleet - and that's a whole other issue, placating GADF over why we have a seperate fleet from theirs ..."

    "I understand the need for a centralized command, especially now that we've got a victory we can show the rest of the galaxy. Certainly, Admiral Sovv can work with Wes and Callista?" Luke asked, understandably confused.

    Leia shrugged; in some ways the current situation was still a holdover of the military's mistrust of the now-late Borsk Fey'lya's administration.

    "Sovv's slow response to the early invasion hasn't earned him much goodwill, even with Ackbar asking everyone to pitch in. And you know Wes - he's always been something of an iconoclast, never undermining things, but always putting his own unique spin on what he does. Wedge and the rest of the original Rogues are more aggravated with Sovv, but at least they're willing to help with the training push for all the new recruits from among the refugees and the far galactic south," Leia explained.

    Luke nodded, realization crossing his face before he raised an eyebrow. "I know who you should ask to handle the Resistance's request for help. Hasn't Amilyn Holdo been wanting to try and pitch in more? She's been invaluable in aiding the Great River, but I know she's asked whatever else she can do to pitch in," he suggested.

    Leia brightened, and hugged her twin, radiating gratitude as she went to find her comlink. "I knew having a Jedi Master as a brother would come in handy at some point," she gently teased, glad as Luke laughed - he hadn't laughed enough in a very long time.

    But we're doing better. We'll get there - all of us, Leia knew, inputting Amilyn's comm-code ... and noticing Ganner had slipped out by himself.

    -------------------------------

    If nothing else, at least Jedi weren't being spit upon or glared at in the Heurkea cantinas for the moment.

    Small comfort, Kyp Durron thought, sipping a fairly low-alcohol drink in a corner booth. He'd needed the time to himself, to think - like it or not.

    The fight at Ebaq had reopened some old, ugly issues he'd hoped had been settled - both problems with others, and with himself.

    Worse yet, he could sense one of those people approaching right now, and Kyp repressed a curse as Ganner sat across from him.

    "Just keep drinking. I'm not here to pick a fight," Ganner - alone, at least, Kyp noted - said, sipping what looked suspiciously like water.

    Kyp raised an eyebrow, glancing at the annoyed-looking Pantoran bartender before turning back to Ganner. "Maybe not with me," he noted.

    Ganner snorted without humor, then gave Kyp a half-shaded glance and said, "It's not going to anger me if you talk to Jaina. She's my wife - she's not - property. She's a person, who can speak to whomever she wants. And it's hurting her that you haven't talked to her in -"

    Kyp set his glass down - not so hard that it'd break, but enough to get Ganner's attention (and Kyp didn't want to get any more drunk).

    He held Ganner's gaze with his own, then said, low and cold, "You talk as well as you ever did. But there's love, and there's cleaning up."

    THAT shut Ganner up - for a second - and the Teyrian sputtered as Kyp awaited his response; it had been a cheap shot, true.

    But maybe I'm feeling cheap right now, Kyp admitted, crossing his arms as Ganner took a deep breath and shook his head.

    "How dare you. I'm the one who moved in to help raise the boys, who's been up at 03:00, who's held Jaina's hand when she's been tired, confused, and scared whether Rian's rash is just a rash, or whether Roan's eating enough. You're talking about my family," Ganner shot back.

    That - not the first sentence, but the second - made Kyp start to wonder if he'd been off-base - but Ganner's stare made him go cold.

    It wasn't the stare of a boy guilty of getting a lady pregnant, then staying with her out of guilt - this was a man who was staring Kyp down.

    "This is about the swaggering, puffed-up pretty boy I was before Garqi. You think I - I saw Jaina as - a conquest," Ganner accused.

    "KRIFF, YES," Kyp - snarled back, surprising even himself with the ferocity of the anger he'd been keeping bottled up.

    He slugged another sip of his drink to fortify himself, then jabbed a finger toward Ganner and rattled off, "I found you when you were just a snot-nosed squire to that plant-guy -"

    "His name is Althair, and he's a sylvari - he's a knight of the Grove on Tyria - Teyr. SHOW RESPECT," Ganner rumbled.

    Kyp nodded, not really apologizing - Teyr was way more bizarre than he generally had time to remember - and continued, "You'd just flattened that psycho felinoid you and your guild members had been fighting, and you grabbed the first chance you had to get offworld and away from that backwater. Your telekinesis made you a star of the Order, and when you hit maturity, you rode that for ALL it was worth."

    He leaned across the table, knowing he shouldn't be driving the knife home, but not really caring - he was angry, and he was sick of hiding it.

    "How many were there, Ganner? How many ports, how many girls? How many times did you fake caring about someone, trying to dull the pain of that first combat kill and running from whatever mess you left back on Teyr for your guild and your family to clean up?" Kyp accused.

    Ganner looked into a corner of the booth and muttered - so wounded that Kyp almost felt ashamed - ".. too many. But you know that."

    "Damn straight. Not that I'm excepting myself from the 'weird, kriffed-up past' club. I'll spare you another rendition of 'the Butcher of Carida,' and just admit that I'm not a saint in the relationship department ... never date Mandalorians," he admitted, sounding a bit - slurred?

    Damnit, I can't throw shade from the moral high ground when I'm drunk, Kyp chastized himself, trying to clear his head with the Force.

    Ganner came a bit more into focus, as Kyp looked at the seemingly-diminished Knight and asked, "That night. Why'd you go see Jaina?"

    "You're asking, now, instead of talking shavit?" Ganner shot back with more heat, and Kyp shrugged - the Teyrian had a good point.

    "Humor me. Prove to me that I am talking shavit. Because - Corellian hells, maybe because I want to be wrong, that Jaina's got someone in her life who is able to treat her like she deserves," Kyp rambled, suddenly wondering whether this was turning back on him.

    He felt that chill again as Ganner's intense blue eyes bored into his, and the Teyrian said, "I went to try and convince Jaina to support me in exploring the rumors that Jacen was still alive. Then - then, we started to argue, and I called her out on how she was threatening me, how dark she was behaving, and she pitched the fiercest tantrum I'd ever seen -"

    "That was when I felt that sudden rush of dark-side energy off of her. But I was flying patrols and couldn't get back," Kyp interjected.

    He sat back in his seat at the flare of frustration that came off of Ganner - which quickly faded to tired recollection.

    "Then I held her close, and ... and we chatted a little bit about feelings. I ASKED her, Kyp - I asked if - that - was what she wanted. If she'd said no, I would've walked away. You think I didn't question MY OWN motives afterward?" Ganner insisted, calm and grave.

    Kyp looked at the table, knowing what he wanted to say, but really shouldn't.

    He settled for, "And then you went and found Jacen, alive, and brought him back in time for you to stand with Jaina. To really be there for her."

    Kyp made himself look at Ganner, who was practically radiating aggravation - and, annoyingly, pity - into the local Force.

    "Even if Jaina hated me for what happened, I'd've done right by her and Rian - and Roan. But, miraculously, somehow, Jaina loves me. She taught me about commitment, and what real love is, and finding more than just a CAUSE - to find people to LIVE for. I'm the lucky one, Durron. Garqi taught me to grow up, but Jaina gave me a future," Ganner said, calming as he stood and threw a credit or two on the table.

    "I'm sorry you can't let yourself move forward - but if you keep hurting her in the process, you'll answer to me."

    Kyp closed his eyes, letting Ganner leave; he'd gotten the answers he'd sought.

    And, as usual, I've dragged myself across Mustafarian beaches getting them ...

    -----------------------------------

    Jaina tried not to scowl - she didn't want to upset the boys, but Ganner was a tempest in the Force, and she was pretty sure she knew why.

    If Kyp's messed with Gan, I'll curb-stomp his shebs myself, she fumed, taking a breath in the spare bedroom of her parents' conapt. The twins were dozing on her parents' bed, and Jaina sat in a chair beside them, glad of the break - the party was nice, but crowded.

    She felt a gentle mental "knock" against her mental shields, and projected welcome as she heard a Core-accented voice call, ~Jaina?~

    Betsy. We've been missing you at the party - you
    are welcome, you know. You're family in all the ways that matter, Jaina replied, smiling.

    The emotional equivalent of a warm hug enfolded her, turning to happiness as Jaina let Betsy "see" the babies through her eyes. Rian and Roan had curled up together, and Betsy sent, ~The sleep of the innocent ... would that I could doze like that. I've a few days shore leave.~

    You're a
    Jedi, and a special agent. Who had the audacity to "tell" you you could take shore leave? You deserve to go whenever you want, Jaina sympathized, smiling as she "heard" Betsy laugh.

    ~Oh, I like to give Sien Sovv some sense of being in charge of some Jedi. It smooths out frustration from the military, I suspect. We can be quite headstrong, we Jedi,~ Betsy quipped, and Jaina couldn't help but smirk in agreement.

    You've got a point there. Any idea where Durron got to? I think my taller half went to give Kyp a piece of his mind, Jaina asked.

    Betsy radiated concern, replying, ~Oh, for heaven's sake. I knew Kyp was having one of his moods, but to verbally spar with Ganner?~

    They've got a complicated history -
    almost as complicated as Kyp's and mine. And Kyp won't come to visit me and the boys. I try not to take it personally - I don't think Kyp has an issue with the babies - but ... I still think of him as a friend, Betsy, Jaina thought, letting her hurt show.

    Betsy brushed her thoughts with a sympathetic "hand," then radiated amused frustration. ~Well, I can assure you, from witnessing Kyp seeing holos of your boys, he thinks as highly of them as the rest of the Order does. Which just leaves Kyp having a pathetically adolescent reaction to the reality that you and Ganner are happily married. The only thing that keeps me from giving Kyp a swift kick somewhere sensitive is that he's likely keeping his distance to avoid upsetting you if he says the wrong thing. At least, that's my guess,~ she sent, growing "quiet."

    Jaina rolled her eyes - that sounded like Kyp, all right. I'm not going to fly off the handle if he verbally stumbles. Sure, we have an odd dynamic, but I'd like to think we're both mature enough to talk about this, she lamented, rubbing Roan's back as he flailed a bit in his sleep.

    Betsy's gentle laugh rolled over the psi-link as the telepath sent, fading off as she left Jaina's thoughts, ~Well, one of you is mature enough.~

    ~For right now, let's enjoy the days off we have ... because based on what your uncle's been planning, it's
    about to get VERY hectic ...~

    ************************

    to be continued ... [face_thinking]
     
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  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb chapters @Onderon1!

    Great action in #15 & sweet family moment in the first scene in #16. :)

    Wow, Ganner and Kyp really had a TALK didn't they? I adore Ganner's sense of self-honesty and gratitude for his family. He's not gonna throw his life away even for a noble reason because he wants to be there for them.

    Chuffed that Amilyn will be joining the action soon. :cool:

    LOL Still am tickled at Wes/Callista. That is one intriguing 'ship. [face_mischief]

    @};-
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
  16. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Sounds like the boys came to some sort of an understanding.

    And incoming Holdo! Now we will have two lovely purple haired ladies to watch.
     
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  17. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: Apologies this is shorter than I'd planned; I'm still working on the next full chapter - lots going on IRL, but it's all heading in a positive direction, so far ... :p

    Anyhow: the arrival of Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo in this AU! :)


    **************************
    27.7 ABY: Heurkea
    Floating City, Mon Cala:
    **************************

    "... and I've heard that Krytan humans actually can manifest special Force abilities later in life, based on which of their Six human deities they were dedicated to at birth! Is it true that worshippers of Balthazar can summon fiery hounds ...?"

    Tahiri glanced at Anakin, both amused and a little - concerned - at the 40ish woman with pinkish-purple hair who was rambling as she paced slowly, holding Rian and Roan while she chatted with Princess Leia, Jaina, and Ganner.

    'Kin just smiled his gorntish "dummy" smile and projected over their bond, Commander - Vice-Admiral - Holdo is ... unique.

    I suppose. I'm as much Yuuzhan Vong warrior as I am a Tusken-raised Jedi, and I like pain. If your mom's OK with her, this lady must have something going right for her, Tahiri figured - still, she kept a careful eye on Amilyn Holdo.

    For his part, Ganner was positively gushing, talking with Holdo about the religion of his native country, Kryta, back on Teyr/Tyria. He really hadn't had much of a chance to talk about his home, and Tahiri felt a little bad for him.

    She looked out the window and across the waves, sighing; she knew how Ganner felt. It just wasn't dry enough for her.

    "Miss Veila? You look a little lost," Tahiri heard, and she glanced over at the Resistance vice-admiral as she waved (Jaina had taken the babies back, and was telling Ganner "sure, Balthazar's your patron, but who'll fireproof the nursery?").

    "Ah - sorry, ma'am. Just ... I miss Tatooine. Mon Cala's beautiful, but I really need some ground under my toes," Tahiri admitted, feeling something like a bug under a microscope as Holdo looked at her with a neutral expression.

    The Galatentan woman didn't feel hostile through the Force, though - if anything, she seemed kind, but distracted.

    For her part, Holdo smiled and took Tahiri's hand, looking at her more intensely, but still without hostility.

    "And yet - you seem like the most grounded one here. That's very admirable, given everything you've been through," Holdo said, sitting on the back of the couch and releasing Tahiri's hand. "I hope I'm not crossing any boundaries."

    Tahiri parsed the statement for a moment; once, she might've poured forth a reply - angry, agreeing, anything.

    "... not exactly. I mean - I'm sorry, I know you're not being rude. It's just ... ever since Anakin helped me deal with everything that happened on Yavin, I've sort of just been - living. Well, there was Myrkr, and rescuing Anakin -" Tahiri began, smiling sadly as Anakin reflexively flinched and Jaina, Ganner, and the Princess looked over at him with concern.

    Holdo half-tilted her head, glancing at Anakin, and nodded as she said to Tahiri. "You are the Lovers - twin spirits."

    Anakin started to stammer, but Tahiri rolled her eyes and said, "She means Yun-Txiin and Yun-Q'aah."

    Holdo beamed, and if she hadn't had a Force presence, Tahiri would've thought her a masquered Yuuzhan Vong priestess.

    "Faith is such an important part of life, you know. As - no offense - horrid as parts of Yuuzhan Vong religion can be, their basic worldview is something we need to understand if we're going to effectively fight - or engage with - them," she said.

    She gave Tahiri and Anakin a more respectful look, then, and continued, "You're still quite human, of course - Tahiri, may I call you Tahiri? - but you're clearly able to move within the Yuuzhan Vong sphere of belief. Yet, you didn't - don't - adhere to the reprehensible parts of their religion - the sacrifices. You bear your pain, thrive in it, and also find support in Anakin."

    Tahiri squeezed Anakin's hand, smiling with him, while the Princess said, "And we're very glad for it. Tahiri is family."

    The young Jedi grinned happily, grateful for Anakin's mother's acceptance (she'd said Tahiri could call her Leia, but that still seemed a little - presumptive, even if the Princess had accepted Tahiri as part of the larger Skywalker-Solo family).

    Holdo put her hands together and said, "Exactly! And we can - we must - find a way to make the Yuuzhan Vong family."

    "Which, now that you and Anakin are back from your spec-ops work on Coruscant, is why I'd like to ask your help ..."

    ******************

    - to be continued ... [face_thinking]
     
  18. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Fantastic! You have Amilyn's breezy but compassionate and competent leader mix very nicely balanced. I enjoyed Tahiri's POV. :) She is unique, also. [face_love]
     
  19. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    WarmNyota: Thanks. :) I was hoping to catch her voice just right - glad I managed it. :)

    I may have jumped the gun on posting this particular chapter, however - I'll have a longer version on Friday. Apologies ... [face_blush]
     
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  20. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: OK - Finally got this chapter actually finished ... [face_blush]:p

    It might be best to treat the Holdo scene above as a "trailer" for this one - not that this particular chapter is any more epic than another, but there were a lot of characters to address. :)

    And, the action quotient is
    about to increase ... slowly. Apologies, but there's still 5 months IU before the BIG finale - not that I intend for this to take 5 months IRL! [face_worried] - but there is an endpoint in sight.

    It's just a matter of getting everyone to the right place ... :D


    *************************
    27.7 ABY: Heurkea
    Floating City, Mon Cala:
    *************************

    "... and I've heard that Krytan humans actually can manifest special Force abilities later in life, based on which of their Six human deities they were dedicated to at birth! Is it true that worshippers of Balthazar can summon fiery hounds ...?"

    Tahiri glanced at Anakin, both amused and a little - concerned - at the 40ish woman with pinkish-purple hair who was rambling as she paced slowly, holding Rian and Roan while she chatted with Princess Leia, Jaina, and Ganner.

    'Kin just smiled his gorntish "dummy" smile and projected over their bond, Commander - Vice-Admiral - Holdo is ... unique.

    I suppose. I'm as much Yuuzhan Vong warrior as I am a Tusken-raised Jedi, and I like pain. If your mom's OK with her, this lady must have something going right for her, Tahiri figured - still, she kept a careful eye on Amilyn Holdo.

    For his part, Ganner was positively gushing, talking with Holdo about the religion of his native country, Kryta, back on Teyr/Tyria. He really hadn't had much of a chance to talk about his home, and Tahiri felt a little bad for him.

    She looked out the window and across the waves, sighing; she knew how Ganner felt. It just wasn't dry enough for her.

    "Miss Veila? You look a little lost," Tahiri heard, and she glanced over at the Resistance vice-admiral as she waved (Jaina had taken the babies back, and was telling Ganner "sure, Balthazar's your patron, but who'll fireproof the nursery?").

    "Ah - sorry, ma'am. Just ... I miss Tatooine. Mon Cala's beautiful, but I really need some ground under my toes," Tahiri admitted, feeling something like a bug under a microscope as Holdo looked at her with a neutral expression.

    The Galatentan woman didn't feel hostile through the Force, though - if anything, she seemed kind, but distracted.

    For her part, Holdo smiled and took Tahiri's hand, looking at her more intensely, but still without hostility.

    "And yet - you seem like the most grounded one here. That's very admirable, given everything you've been through," Holdo said, sitting on the back of the couch and releasing Tahiri's hand. "I hope I'm not crossing any boundaries."

    Tahiri parsed the statement for a moment; once, she might've poured forth a reply - angry, agreeing, anything.

    "... not exactly. I mean - I'm sorry, I know you're not being rude. It's just ... ever since Anakin helped me deal with everything that happened on Yavin, I've sort of just been - living. Well, there was Myrkr, and rescuing Anakin -" Tahiri began, smiling sadly as Anakin reflexively flinched and Jaina, Ganner, and the Princess looked over at him with concern.

    Holdo half-tilted her head, glancing at Anakin, and nodded as she said to Tahiri. "You are the Lovers - twin spirits."

    Anakin started to stammer, but Tahiri rolled her eyes and said, "She means Yun-Txiin and Yun-Q'aah."

    Holdo beamed, and if she hadn't had a Force presence, Tahiri would've thought her a masquered Yuuzhan Vong priestess.

    "Faith is such an important part of life, you know. As - no offense - horrid as parts of Yuuzhan Vong religion can be, their basic worldview is something we need to understand if we're going to effectively fight - or engage with - them," she said.

    She gave Tahiri and Anakin a more respectful look, then, and continued, "You're still quite human, of course - Tahiri, may I call you Tahiri? - but you're clearly able to move within the Yuuzhan Vong sphere of belief. Yet, you didn't - don't - adhere to the reprehensible parts of their religion - the sacrifices. You bear your pain, thrive in it, and also find support in Anakin."

    Tahiri squeezed Anakin's hand, smiling with him, while the Princess said, "And we're very glad for it. Tahiri is family."

    The young Jedi grinned happily, grateful for Anakin's mother's acceptance (she'd said Tahiri could call her Leia, but that still seemed a little - presumptive, even if the Princess had accepted Tahiri as part of the larger Skywalker-Solo family).

    Holdo put her hands together and said, "Exactly! And we can - we must - find a way to make the Yuuzhan Vong family."

    "Which, now that you and Anakin are back from your spec-ops work on Coruscant, is why I'd like to ask your help ..."

    ----------------------------

    Betsy sipped her caf, looking at the flowchart Artoo was holographically projecting while Luke and the rest of the Masters' Council - well, the Jedi members thereof, anyhow - discussed assignments. It felt good to be acting again.

    Not that Ebaq was sitting around twiddling our thumbs - but, let's be honest: that was reacting to the Vong's gains. We risked a great deal - for great reward, true - but removing Tsavong Lah and much of his inner circle merely temporarily restrained the Vong from consolidating what they've gained, Betsy thought, sitting at a a nearby table as she watched.

    Likewise, there were pressures inside the nascent Galactic Alliance - ones she'd help relieve, but only for the short term.

    The room quieted a bit as Luke grew grim, nodding at a red starbird symbol with GAI beside it in Aurabesh.

    "I've managed to convince Chief of State Omas to hold off on reinstating Alpha Red redevelopment - but only for 4 months. That's the timeframe Wedge and the other GADF officers have given for training new troops and finishing new ships to prepare for a widening of our offensive efforts. We have received backchannel confirmation that whomever from the Chiss Ascendancy was working with Dif Scaur on developing Alpha Red, wasn't connected to the Fel family," Luke said, nodding to Jag - who, understandably, looked repulsed at the mention of the weapon concocted by Scaur's faction.

    "A war of extermination is NOT moral - it's genocide. The days of humanocentrist slaughter of other species' innocents cannot be allowed to return," the young Fel insisted, and the Jedi murmurred in agreement.

    Betsy felt a mild bit of relief - she'd never really thought the Fels would be party to such horrors - and concentrated as Luke asked Artoo to zoom in on a rather odd-looking artist's rendition of a tropical-looking world.

    "This is a sketch of what - at first - might sound like a myth: Zonama Sekot, a reportedly-sentient world with biotechnological starfighters, similar to what the Yuuzhan Vong grow. The difference is that Zonama Sekot is supposed to be in the Force - at least as we can perceive it - and Vergere has been there," Luke said, nodding to the Fosh in the corner.

    The avian merely smiled a bit and gave Luke a nod back. Mara merely gave a half-shrug as Betsy glanced to her in the corner across from Vergere - the redhead's gratitude to Vergere for helping save her was balanced by her natural wariness.

    And what Vergere did to Jacen ... who's seemed to recover, in spite of her ministrations, Betsy observed.

    She hid a happy smile as she noticed Jacen and Tenel Ka whispering to each other, side-by-side - they'd been practically inseperable since Betsy and Jacen had returned from their scouting mission to rally Resistance cells and allies.

    The telepath turned her attention back to the Masters' Council, as the Chev Knight Tresina Lobi raised a hand. "Master Skywalker, I appreciate the tactical possibilities of visiting this world - but can we spare the Knights to find it?" she asked.

    Luke nodded, glancing to Mara, who smirked, and Luke replied, "We're not sure we can afford not to seek out Zonama Sekot, Tresina. Not only might their fighters be an edge we can use against the Yuuzhan Vong, the psychological advantage may be even greater. Vergere, might you address this part of the discussion?"

    "Gladly, young Master," the Fosh said, standing and bowing to the Masters. "In my time among the Yuuzhan Vong, I have had the opportunity to hear many - non-standard, shall we say - pieces of history and lore. Among them is a fear among the priesthood about Zonama Sekot - that it might represent the Yuuzhan Vong's past, in some fashion."

    Kyp raised a hand, a doubtful expression crossing his face. "What - the Vong used to be IN the Force?" he asked.

    "As we perceive the Force, Master Durron," Vergere said, nodding at Jacen. "As Jacen can attest, the Force is bigger than we are. What Jacen - and to a lesser degree, his brother, Anakin - describe as 'Vongsense' is merely a different - frequency, I hypothesize, of the Force. I never had a specific proof of this hypothesis -"

    "Until you tortured Jacen and altered his nervous system, linking him to a world-shaping YAMMOSK," Cilghal - accused, with surprising ferocity from the usually-gentle Mon Calamari healer. The others looked at her, taken aback, then at Jacen.

    The young Knight - at least, Luke hadn't said the Myrkr survivors weren't Knights, even minus an official ceremony - shrugged with mild embarrassment. "It's sort of a binary system - I can't use the Force and Vongsense together. As to what I'm sensing from the World Brain ... it's hard to interpret. If I was on Coruscant, it might be clearer," he explained.

    "And you might be at risk of being killed. Cilghal's emphatic description is noted, but we should consider the tactical applications of Jacen's link ... unless you want him to join this search," Kenth Hamner asked Luke.

    Luke nodded, asking Artoo to call up a list of names. "Betsy and Jacen's recent mission put us back in contact with a number of distant allies - the Zeltrons, hoojibs, Naboo, Rotta the Hutt's coalition, and others. But we haven't heard from the Imperial Remnant for some time - and since it's on the border with the Unknown Regions, combining two missions in one makes good sense. Also, Jacen's already asked the World Brain to frustrate further shaping efforts on Coruscant by the Yuuzhan Vong," he explained.

    Kenth looked at the list, frowning a bit before asking, "Luke - Master Skywalker - are you sure it's ... wise to have both yourself and Mara on this mission? Especially heading into the Remnant? Not to be blunt, but neither of you are exactly ... popular with certain elements of the Empire, Grand Moff Pellaeon's cooperation notwithstanding."

    Isn't THAT putting it diplomatically, Betsy thought, giving Mara another glance - the redhead just smiled with confidence.

    "You mean the rumblings from the so-called 'Raxian' coalition? They know better than to put that idiot on a pedestal. The surviving Moffs might range anywhere from true Imperial believers to opportunists to actually semi-decent sentients, but the majority of them firmly blame Gallius Rax for the catastrophic breaking of the Imperial fleet at Jakku," Mara noted.

    "Not that that prevented Lumiya from allying with the Tofs, or any of the other chain of 'warlords of the week' back in the day," Kyp muttered, his mood foul. Betsy didn't entirely blame him, but they needed to keep the discussion going.

    She raised her hand and asked, "Luke, I don't see my name on that list - Saba and Jacen are good picks, of course. Where can I help?"

    Luke smiled a bit, and Betsy sensed he'd been waiting for her to interject. "We won't ask you to stay here helping to care for Jaina's twins, Betsy - although it's always appreciated. Nor are you perhaps the best choice for public actions - we've asked the Resistance, with Anakin and Tahiri coordinating, to take on a multi-purpose role," he said.

    He gestured for Artoo to change the hologram, and Betsy raised an eyebrow as a blue-green world appeared, followed by a series of different species - humans, then horned felinoids, a plant-like species, small rodent-like sentients, and towering human-like figures. "I've seen these species before - and that world, at least in records," she replied, intrigued.

    Luke nodded, growing serious. "Teyr - or Tyria, as the natives term it - is an untapped source of Force-adepts. While we might consider them - unorthodox - in their practices, we've recently had a more positive experience with members of the main human government in the nation of Kryta. There's a chance we could convince Tyria's Pact - or global alliance of the five major sentient races - to allow more Force-adepts and other Tyrians to fight against the Yuuzhan Vong," he explained.

    Kyp radiated amusement, while Betsy raised her eyebrows - she'd been AT the "experience" Luke was describing.

    Who'd've thought Jaina and Ganner's wedding would produce such an opportunity? she reflected, nodding slowly.

    "And you want me to negotiate with this 'Pact' to see if I can get more troops? I'm certainly game," Betsy agreed.

    Luke seemed a bit relieved, and Betsy made a note to check if he'd been having difficulty with others in the assignments he was giving. She glanced again at Mara as she sent telepathically, ~Not so much bratty Jedi as grief from certain Senators.~

    ~Oh, for pity's SAKE - don't tell me Rodan is holding some rear-guard action,~ Betsy fumed. She didn't entirely disagree with the stated concerns of Fyor Rodan of Commenor - Jedi, like anyone with parahuman abilities, needed a higher degree of accountability, but Rodan's protests smacked of self-interest due to Kyp having killed his brother Tormak, a pirate.

    Mara flickered with amusement, replying, ~More like he turned down Omas' offers of a position in the new government. That, and - privately - Farmboy didn't take well to Rodan describing the Jedi as 'witch doctors.' That's a little ironic, since the more traditionalist Jedi would see Tyria's Force-users as ... well, a little backward. No less effective, though.~

    ~Isn't that the truth! The few whom I met at Jaina and Ganner's wedding certainly seemed competent. How soon should I depart? It might take some time to get all the way to Teyr, with the hyperlanes mined,~ Betsy asked.

    Mara's smile deepened, and her sense of approval was clear through the Force and their psi-link. ~Whenever you're ready,~ she sent.

    ~And don't worry about Leia and Han getting out of long-distance work, either. They've got a fairly thorny mission ...~

    -----------------------------------

    "Y'know, your brother doesn't ask for much. But when he does ... it's pretty kriffing intense," Han said, shaking his head.

    Leia squeezed his upper shoulder as they finished preparing the Falcon - their mission to check on Galantos and other worlds in the "Negs," or the galactic coordinates just galactically west of Coruscant, would take them close to old foes.

    "Han, we may not even have to approach N'Zoth," she began, growing quiet as Jaina appeared at the ramp with the twins.

    Chewie growled a welcome, and Jaina gave the Wookiee a happy smile - but it faltered, while the babies cooed, and Jaina leaned on Mom for a moment. "I feel - torn. I want to stay here with the boys, but you're going with just a cruiser and fighter escort ..." she said, sounding - ashamed.

    Leia gently took her daughter by the shoulders and said, "You've done MORE than enough fighting - NO ONE can, should, doubt your contributions, Jaina. You've got nothing to prove. Stay here, take care of your boys, and get back into shape."

    Jaina managed a faint smile, and let Leia hold Roan as she rocked Rian. "Cilghal's cleared me to start training again with a lightsaber, and I've been keeping up with flight simulators. When you need me, I'll be ready," she said, as Han approached.

    He kissed Jaina's forehead and made silly faces at the babies, then smirked as a familiar voice called, "They're not alone."

    Jaina smiled, surprised but happy, as Jag strode into the main hold in full flight gear. Leia let Jag hold Roan, and watched as the Ascendancy pilot whispered something in Olys Corelissi to the tiny boy. Roan squealed happily, and Jag held him for a moment longer before handing him back to Leia, giving her thanks and smiling faintly at Jaina.

    "You have my promise, Jaina - as much as I possibly can, I will ensure your parents return safely," he vowed.

    Jaina gave him an awkward, but gentle one-armed hug as Rian laughed, and she said, "Thanks, Jag. You be careful, too."

    She gave Han a knowing look and hugged him, then Chewie, before taking Roan from Leia and adding, "You, too. Your grandkids - and kids - need you, after all. I'll be here, coordinating things with Ganner - love you."

    "You too, sweetheart," Han said, waving as Jaina left. Jag gave the Solos and Chewie a grave nod, then left as well.

    Chewie rumbled something, gesturing for Threepio to follow him, and that left Han and Leia together.

    They held onto each other, and Han whispered, "Well. If we needed a reminder who we're fighting for - we got it, huh?"

    "C'mon, flyboy. Let's go see what's going on out there," Leia encouraged, leading Han by the hand to the cockpit.

    ***************

    to be continued ... :falcon:
     
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    :) Loved the strategic meeting -- the ideas and the tone. There's no wrangling or ginormous egos; probably because the politicians aren't involved [face_laugh] :p

    The family scene at the end -- sweet. @};-
     
  22. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    WarmNyota: Thanks. :) I knew where I wanted to go with this, but the transition wasn't coming together until the last few days ... [face_thinking]

    AFA what to expect, there'll be a somewhat different take on the events of Force Heretic - certainly, things will go better for Tahiri, especially, since Anakin, here, is both alive and with her. :D

    At some point, there may have to be a time jump - whatever happens, though I want to try (emphasis on try! [face_blush]) to finish this within the month of April. We shall see, I suppose ... [face_thinking]
     
  23. SkywalkerShine

    SkywalkerShine Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 16, 2007
    @Onderon1

    This is a really good story! I love how you capture each character and the events going on. Keep up the great work!
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha likes this.
  24. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    SkywalkerShine: Thank you. :D Sorry I haven't replied sooner - it's been a busy few weeks ... [face_blush]

    Unfortunately, that's not left me much time to actually plot out the next few chapters. [face_blush]

    While I work on those ... I've realized I skipped Jaina and Ganner's wedding. :eek:

    So. To correct that oversight - these next few chapters will actually be a flashback, to just before Luke and Mara helped Anakin and Tahiri deal with Nyax (or, about late 27.6 ABY). There'll be quite a few references to Guild Wars 2's lore, since I've established that in this continuity, Teyr = Tyria of the GW 2 'verse.

    So - while I work on the future, here's the start of a 5-chapter look at the past ...

    *****************************
    27.6 ABY: Heurkea,
    Mon Calamari, Outer Rim:
    *****************************

    The problem with interstellar communications, Ganner had long-ago realized, was the time difference between planets.

    "Hrmr ... I'll get it," he mumbled as the hypercomm went off and he rolled out of bed from where he and Jaina had snoozed. Ever since she'd said yes to marrying him - eventually, as soon as they could get sufficient relatives in one place - they'd do so.

    Well, that and finding time between raising the boys. At least they're sleeping better again, Ganner thought, smiling as he peeked in on Rian and Roan. The babies were 7 weeks old, now, and - mercifully - entering a stable rhythm of slumber.

    That wouldn't last, though, if Ganner failed to answer the hypercomm. They'd set the incoming call chime as low as possible for Jaina and Ganner to hear it, but hopefully below the babies' range of hearing (not a certainty, though).

    Ganner threw on a robe he'd slung over the back of the couch - he wore shorts to bed, but rejecting his pre-Garqi vanity about his body also precluded giving callers a view of his chest - and tried to smooth his sleep-mussed hair as he hit Receive.

    He blinked in the pre-dawn gloom of the living room, as the holofield resolved into an image of a 30-something human woman with auburn hair, garbed in a fancy blue outfit which left her right shoulder bare, whom exuded regal presence.

    Ganner tried not to let his jaw drop as he realized just whom was calling. "Countess Anise ..." he whispered, bowing,

    The woman smiled, neither unkindly nor overly-warm, and replied, "Viscount Rhysode. Good to see you alive. Word of your courage at the Well of the World Brain has lifted up morale back here in Divinity's Reach. The galaxy is lucky to have you."

    Ganner parsed that - the very fact that Krytan royalty were paying attention to his adventures spoke volumes to what he might find if he ever went home. He'd accepted that he'd likely never receive a warm welcome again from his own relatives - he'd left his father in something of a difficult spot by departing from the Razor Thorns guild to join the Jedi.

    But the fact that no less a personage as Princess Jennah's bodyguard - AND Master Examplar of the Shining Blade, the royal guard of the Krytan throne - was calling meant that clearly somebody back home still thought of him.

    "I - thank you, M'Lady. I've ... learned quite a bit, serving as a Knight of the Jedi Order. I do miss Kryta - all of Tyria - but the threat from the Yuuzhan Vong must be fought. And, I've ... I've started a family, here," Ganner admitted, standing taller.

    Anise's smile grew - mercifully, there was a hint of real warmth there. "Ah, yes - we've heard how you wooed and won a goddess, so to speak. Congratulations are in order. You're a default member of three high bloodlines now - Skywalker, Solo, and Organa ... and to think, you were never much of a social climber. But forgive the banter - to business," she said.

    Ganner's blood chilled; when the woman who was arguably the spymistress of Tyria discussed business, it was grave.

    Anise's smile vanished as she continued, "The good news is, the Yuuzhan Vong haven't yet made it as far as our star system. I don't need to tell you that our reliance on magic, or what your mentors call 'the Force' - even the asura's techno-magickal constructs - would put us at a dire disadvantage against Vong biotech. The Empire kept hands off of Tyria because of the menace of the stirring Elder Dragons and our sheer number of what they called 'Force-adepts' across our various cultures. Between you and I ... we'd make the Vong pay for attacking, but it would be costly for us as well."

    Ganner felt a measure of relief, and felt confident enough to ask, "Forgive me, M'Lady, but how can I help?"

    A bemused smile returned to Anise's face, and Ganner felt more worried - Anise and amused rarely combined well.

    "Why, haven't you guessed, Ganner? You're marrying a princess - well, all right, technically a duchess, if one wants to get technical about the inheritance rules of a less-than-active royal bloodline. Personally, I find Princess Leia's de facto handing over of House Organa duties to that cad of a cousin of hers, Niall Organa, to be ... declasse' ... but I digress. The point is, when you marry Jaina Solo, you are entering a state marriage - and while House Rhysode isn't as high on the Krytan rolls as, say, Her Highness Jennah, we take these things seriously, especially when it gives the commoners hope," she explained.

    Ganner's stomach hit the floor - Jaina had not wanted a fancy ceremony, because of all the sticky details about royalty.

    He must've failed to disguise his displeasure - or, more likely, Anise's legendary skill at reading others' faces was as honed as the whispers of lesser Krytan nobles suggested - because the auburn mesmer arched an eyebrow and waved a hand.

    "Oh, relax, 'The Ganner' - yes, whispers of the awe you've inspired in the lower-caste Yuuzhan Vong have reached even us. I didn't get to be Master Exemplar of the Blade by ignoring news from off-world, any more than I'd ignore intelligence here. This isn't a summons home. We're not blind to the dangers of travel with those Vong savages pillaging the hyperlanes. All His Majesty, King Jorran, wants is to ensure an event of this magnitude has proper Krytan representation," she replied.

    Ganner still didn't breathe a sigh of relief - the other shoe was about to drop. "Representation, meaning ... ?" he asked.

    Anise smiled again, far too amicably, and said, "I've sent a Shining Blade representative with a priestess of Balthazar - House Rhysode's patron member of the Six - and your old tutor, the asura Krann. Oh, and there's ambassadors from each of the other major Tyrian races, so do be on your best behavior, please? We finally managed to reach a peace treaty with the Black Citadel, while Hoelbrak sent Eir Stegalkin from Destiny's Edge, and ... you'll know the sylvari ambassador."

    Wait - KRYTA AND THE CHARR MADE PEACE WITH EACH OTHER!? Ganner parsed, utterly awake now.

    "Ah - there's a charr coming ... ? Forgive me, but just how did Divinity's Reach manage to convince the charr Legions to make peace - and in the face of what threat? Is it the Elder Dragons?" he asked, hoping Anise wouldn't hang up.

    The Master Exemplar nodded, thankfully not mocking Ganner as she explained, "The Dragons aren't horribly active, other than Kralkatorrik over in the Brand. But his minions have caused the charr enough grief that they saw the wisdom in reaching an accord with Kryta. Oh, and a mixed-race guild recovered the charr relic called the Claw of the Khan-Ur. Legitimizing the leadership of the charr named Smodurr the Unflinching certainly helped the negotiations. Ta."

    Ganner's head swam as Anise's holo-image vanished, and he tried to figure out how to explain this to Jaina.

    Plus, Balthazar's not exactly a deity whose chosen areas of influence would endear him to Jedi ... Six help me.

    -------------------------
    "You're kidding, right?" Jaina asked Ganner, raising an eyebrow as she examined dresses - all of this was just so tiresome.

    Mom gave her a knowing look, while Jaina asked, "Your aunts put you through this sort of thing, didn't they?"

    "It's really not that awful, Jaina. I know you're not that much into fashion, but this is your wedding day we're talking about," Mom pointed out patiently as she, Winter, and Mara helped Jaina sort through dresses in her bedroom.

    Rian and Roan were happily cooing on the bed, while Ganner - who'd dropped the day's latest piece of delightful news on her, about a whole delegation of Teyrian highborn delegates coming to the wedding - smiled rather tiredly as he watched the boys. "Believe me, Jay, if it were up to me, I'd ask Admiral Ackbar and we'd be wed already," he said.

    He flinched just a bit as Winter looked at him with the force of a thousand BLAZING molitors and said, in NO uncertain terms, "Elopements are fine for maudlin romance novels and lucksprite tales, but NOT actual nobility - VISCOUNT."

    Ganner sighed, turning bright red as he mumbled, "I'm never going to live that down now that it's come out."

    Jaina kissed the top of his head, projecting sympathy as she tickled the babies and they laughed; she understood where Ganner's desire to keep his past quiet, what with how he'd left Teyr - she wanted as regular a life as they could have, too.

    "Hey, look at it this way. You're definitely going to shut down any of the handful of remaining Alderaanian monarchists who'd throw a tantrum if I was marrying a commoner - not that I'd let that get in the way," she reassured Ganner.

    He beamed at her, and Jaina savored his devotion, until Mara held up a really rather nice pair of shoes and asked, "These?"

    "Those could work," Jaina agreed - blessedly, while they were heels, they weren't absurd, and they were a nice shade of red-wine that she'd always liked. She sorted through a few of the redder dresses, then held a sleeveless one up against her and looked in the mirror, slowly nodding as she said, "With my hair piled up ... yeah, this could work."

    Winter looked mildly scandalized, but Jaina gently squeezed her former nanny's hand and said, "White and I just never mix well, Winter - unless it's an X-Wing, or an astromech. Besides, I'm thinking this might calm protests from -"

    "Oh! Your Highness, Mistress Jaina, everyone! We have the most audacious visitors!" Threepio cried out from the front hall, and everyone tensed as Jaina extended her Force-sense - the Noghri had stopped powerful Force-sensitives.

    Still, there wasn't a feeling of danger, and Jaina glanced at Mara, who shook her head, so Jaina relaxed. She trusted her aunt's danger sense, and Jaina suspected she knew who'd arrived.

    Ganner squinted, then went a little pale as Threepio called, "The visitors claim to be from the nation of Kryta on Teyr!"

    "Tyria, you over-fancified cheap imitation of a golem," a rather grating, masculine-but-high-pitched voice replied, and Ganner suddenly brightened - he leapt up, squeezing Jaina's hand, and led the way to greet the new arrivals.

    Jaina checked the boys, asking Winter to stay with them until she could return, and walked with Ganner, Mom, and Mara to greet the new arrivals - who were quite the diverse bunch - as they waited with the Noghri in the living room.

    "Krann! Balthazar's flaming beard, it's good to see you!" Ganner greeted, dropping to one knee to shake the hand of a roughly meter-sized rodent-like sentient with large ears, blue robes etched with gold, and fairly high-tech-looking gauntlets and a belt.

    Ganner smiled back over his shoulder as he stood and said, "Jaina, this Krann, my first teacher when I was a kid back in Divinity's Reach. He's an asura."

    "And honored to meet you, Your Highness - er, Highnesses," the asura said, bowing to Jaina, then Mom. "Please, let me introduce the rest of the party -"

    "We're a delegation, 'Researcher,'" rumbled a towering felinoid in heavy black armor - whose sword was on fire.

    If Krann was a welcome sight to Ganner, the felinoid made Jaina's betrothed turn a shade of pale - but less from fear than stunned awe, she sensed. Ganner nodded with real respect, giving the sword an almost-reverent look before he spoke.

    "Rytlock Brimstone, TRIBUNE of the Blood Legion of the charr - I am Viscount Ganner Rhysode of Kryta. It's - an honor," Ganner said, extending his hand.

    The charr rumbled, but Jaina was relieved to sense his amusement (well, somewhat - she could tell the new arrival was as amused at Ganner's caution as with Ganner's respect for his weapon). "Impressed you recognized me, Rhysode. For what it's worth? That idiot Shardclaw got what was coming to him. You've nothing to worry about from me, especially after what you did at the Well of the World Brain," Rytlock said, shaking Ganner's hand.

    Then, the charr stood tall and put his right hand to his left chest to salute Jaina, and added, "Lieutenant. Your bravery in battle - and in leaping into married life in the middle of a war - is to be honored. It's good to meet you."

    "And you - Tribune. Thank you for coming," Jaina said, snapping off a Galactic Alliance salute. She was honored by Rytlock's respect, and she knew why Ganner was so honored the charr had come at all - the VERY recent armistice on Teyr.

    The charr and the humans were at war for centuries, but the threat of the 'Elder Dragons' - Star Dragon-class beasts - prompted them to set aside old differences. And the last mission Ganner went on before Kyp recruited him for the Jedi was a fight against some of the charr, Jaina recalled, relaxing a little as a tall red-haired female humanoid stepped forward.

    Ganner relaxed a little, bowing as the woman - who looked basically human, just larger, and rather reminiscent of a Dathomiri with her furs and leather armor - said, "Viscount Rhysode, Lieutenant Solo. I'm Eir Stegalkin of Hoelbrak."

    "Lady Eir! We're honored to have a representative of the norn people here. Thanks for coming," Ganner said, and he and Jaina shook Eir's hands - then, Jaina sensed a feral, but friendly mind behind Eir, and a black-furred wolf padded forward.

    Eir smiled, scratching the wolf behind its' ears, and said, "Garm. My boon companion. I hope it's all right he's here?"

    "Better a wolf than Jacen's crystal snake," Mara quipped, nodding with respect as she asked, "Is that bow made of -?"

    Eir positively beamed, and the two women started chatting about weapons, while Jaina and Mom hid smiles. Typical Mara, Jaina thought, turning to the last three Teyrian visitors - one of whom made Ganner grin, just for a moment.

    The tall, green-skinned man whom Ganner greeted had leaves for hair, tapering ears, and a suit of heavy armor that was a mix of bark-like brown, ash-white, and blue highlights. This must be one of the sylvari, then, Jaina recalled from Ganner's stories - the plant-based sentients emerged full-grown from pods on some giant tree to the west of Kryta.

    "Jaina, this is Althair, a member of the sylvari Firstborn - and my mentor in the arts of war. I was his squire in the Razor Thorns adventuring guild back on Tyria ... until ... well, I met Kyp," Ganner said, nervous until Althair smiled a bit.

    "You had to walk your own path, Ganner. And I couldn't be prouder of what you've made of it - and whom you've chosen to walk with," the sylvari said, bowing gracefully to Jaina. "Lieutenant Solo - Lady Jaina - an honor to meet you."

    "And you, Knight Althair. Thanks for coming," Jaina greeted, turning to a rather oddly-matched pair of human women.

    One, wearing silver and golden armor with a blue kilt, her red hair hanging over one of her eyes, looked positively amused. The other, a fierce-looking woman with black and red leather armor, had her red hair buzzed short, save for a stripe down the middle of her head, while a staff was slung over her back and she looked askance at Ganner.

    Ganner took a deep breath, stepping forward to extend his hand, but the first woman merely said, "Relax, Rhysode. Anise told me the particulars. I'm just here to make sure the vows get said and you don't make a fool of yourself or Kryta at the altar. You can call me Exemplar Kerida. And this -"

    "I am Priestess Valia of the Order of Balthazar, Lord of War and Fire," the younger woman huffed, at least giving Jaina a nod before staring intently at Ganner - then, she walked around him, assessing Ganner like he was a prize gornt or something.

    Uhm ... OKAAAY, Jaina thought, trying to repress her sense of - jealousy didn't quite fit, since the priestess didn't seem to be ogling Ganner as much as ... measuring him?

    He did seem a little intimidated, especially when Valia made tiny muttering noises every so often, and the priestess finally stepped back before giving a satisfied nod. "Sorry about that, Viscount. Just needed to square the stories with the reality," she said, smiling just a bit before turning to Jaina with a warmer smile and adding, "And you're marrying another warrior."

    Ganner seemed almost relieved, while Jaina decided she liked this odd newcomer. "It's been a while since I've been actually waging war, but thanks," she said, shaking Valia's hand before sensing the boys calling through the Force. "Ah -"

    The Teyrians all brightened (well, except for Rytlock, but Ganner had told Jaina the charr default setting was "grim amusement") when Winter walked in, carrying the babies. Jaina thanked her as she took the boys, and let the visitors see them as she said, "This is Rian, Ganner's son, and his brother is Roan. Roan's father is Jagged Fel of the Chiss Ascendancy."

    "They're adorable! Tiny, but then, all humans are tiny compared to we norn," Eir praised, while Ganner smiled with pride.

    Krann stared up at the boys, then blinked, and asked Ganner, "You do recall the story I told you of the day of your birth?"

    "How Force-strong you sensed I was, yeah," Ganner chuckled, taking Rian from Jaina and rocking him - then, he saw Valia looking intently at the boys, and Jaina felt a sharp flicker of protectiveness until the priestess gasped a bit.

    "They will be great warriors - especially your son, Viscount. Balthazar's not known as much for granting visions as, say, Dwayna or Lyssa, but our Lord's mark is upon young Rian," Valia breathed, bowing while Rian cooed and Ganner blinked.

    He stammered something generally positive, while Jaina tried to quash her aggravation - she didn't WANT her sons to have to fight, anyone, EVER.

    But I suppose that's just a pipe dream of a wish, isn't it? she thought, saddened until Roan laughed and she smiled at him.

    "Well, now that we've got the introductions out of the way, will there be bachelor and bachelorette events?" Kerida asked, almost wickedly, but Mom gave her a positively withering look, while Winter harrumphed and Ganner blushed.

    "Heh. Nice try, Sister Salma, but I don't think this crowd is looking for a big production number," Rytlock chuckled.

    Something about the charr's quip made Kerida turn positively LIVID, but Ganner quickly handed Rian to Jaina and asked, "Tribune - Exemplar - please. We've only recently achieved a calm in the fighting back home - and my children are here. I'll have to ask you to leave old grudges behind, at least until after the wedding ceremony."

    Rytlock actually looked offended, while Kerida calmed and smirked. "Better-spoken than I'd heard, Rhysode. Maybe marrying an Alderaanian has tempered you - or maybe that Jedi reserve's finally taking effect," she backhandedly praised.

    "What she said. Besides, Rhysode, I'm not the one looking for a fight over matters that should've been settled," the charr rumbled, following Krann, Eir, Garm, and the Krytans out of the suite. Althair gently clapped Ganner on the shoulder and whispered something supportive-sounding, and Ganner smiled in relief as the sylvari left with the other delegates.

    "That ... went better than I'd hoped. I can't believe the Black Citadel actually sent Rytlock, though - he's the biggest war hero the charr have! And he brought SOHOTHIN ITSELF! OFFWORLD!! That's - that's like if someone salvaged a Je'daii katana from Tython!" Ganner rambled, laughing as he hugged Jaina and the boys, and Mom and Jaina traded happy smiles.

    The name of the flaming sword reminded Jaina of a story Ganner had told her, and she asked, "Wasn't that the paired sword wielded by the royal family of - you called it Ascalon? Didn't their king cause some catastrophe that turned the whole country into a bunch of ghosts that the charr still fight?"

    Ganner nodded, accepting Rian from Jaina as he explained to Mom, "To the east of Kryta is the ruins of the human kingdom of Ascalon. Settlers from the island of Orr colonized Ascalon more than a millennium ago, driving out the then-native charr. The charr pushed back in a horrible war, and the last king of Ascalon - Adelbern - plunged Magdaer, a fiery sword from Orr, into the ground of Ascalon City. The resulting blast wiped out the charr armies, but turned all of the Ascalonian soldiers into ghosts who haunt - and defend - the lands the charr tried to claim. Sohothin, which belonged to Adelbern's estranged son, Prince Rurik, is the twin of Magdaer."

    Jaina could immediately see a hole in the story, and Ganner nodded to her as he added, "Nobody really knows how Rytlock, a charr hero, got ahold of Sohothin. You can bet the surviving Ascalonian descendants - including the Seperatists who fight the charr in old Ascalon - aren't happy. Still - to even be able to see a blade from Orr - it's amazing."

    Jaina was genuinely happy for Ganner - she could tell he'd missed his home, and he probably hadn't had a lot of chances to talk about it before now. "You should talk more about Teyr - Tyria. I'd like to visit there someday, show Rian where his dad came from," she suggested, and Ganner smiled for a moment.

    He looked at Rian with a mix of emotions, smiling as the boy cooed, before replying, "I spent so long running from what happened - the fight against the charr hero Laius Shardclaw, leaving my family to pick up the pieces after I ditched the Razor Thorns ... that's why I put on the playboy mask, you know. If I played the hero, I could avoid facing my bad behavior."

    Jaina kissed Ganner's nose and said, "You ARE a hero, Ganner Rhysode - to me, to our son, and to the galaxy. Remember."

    Ganner gave her a look of such gratitude that Jaina almost melted - until Roan sneezed, Rian giggled, and Mom blushed.

    "And on that note, I'm invoking my right to be the doting grandmother. Let me take the boys for the night - just because we're not having some potentially-ridiculous 'bachelor parties' doesn't mean you two should be cooped up in here," Mom said, and she carefully took the boys as Jaina glanced at Mara - and Winter gave them both a suspicious look.

    "Look, 'Targeter,' I'm all for dignified comporting at the ceremony. But this is Jaina's last night as a single woman, and I have a right to take my niece - and former apprentice - out for a nice, calm, celebratory meal," Mara insisted.

    Winter still looked suspicious, but finally sighed. "You're correct, Mara. I just want this to go off without a hitch. Force knows, though, I haven't seen Tycho or Garen yet today," she admitted, and Jaina felt horribly guilty.

    She hugged Winter and said, "Go! We'll be here in the morning. I'm sure Garen misses his mom, and I don't want to keep you and Tycho from spending time together. You've done so much for us - again - go have a night at home, please."

    Winter smiled, then carefully hugged Mom and fussed over the twins before heading for the door - then, Dad walked in.

    He had his usual Han Solo smirk on, but it faded as Winter crossed her arms and looked at him, while Chewie followed Dad in and gave a Wookiee wurffle of amusement. "Yeah - look, Winter, a guy only gives his daughter away once," Dad insisted.

    "I'm well aware of that, Han. Just as I'm aware of Corellian wedding traditions ... or, perhaps more on-target, spacer wedding traditions? Involving potential humiliation of one's future son-in-law?" Winter asked, colder than Hoth.

    Chewie rumbled a little defensively, while Jaina gave her dad a warning look and Ganner turned pale - and not from awe, this time. Dad just gave Mom a reassuring smile, and she shook her head with her usual little smile, as Jaina sighed.

    She kissed Ganner and whispered, "Just be at the altar tomorrow, OK? I trust Chewie to keep you out of too much trouble."

    Ganner only looked a little calmed, but Jaina did feel a little better as Jacen ducked in, greeted everyone, then whispered something to Dad that made Dad shrug and Winter seem to relax more.

    Well, Jacen can't possibly get Ganner in too much trouble, either, Jaina hoped, motioning for Mara to follow her.

    --------------------

    to be continued ... :p
     
  25. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I ADORE flashbacks and particularly this one. :D Fantastically intricate and intriguing backstory Ganner has here. =D= I love Winter's input here. :D You can really tell she's part of the family.

    Jaina and Ganner being willing to just elope [face_laugh] [face_mischief]

    Another yummy piece was Mara's warm relationship with Jaina @};-

    Yeah...I don't want Jaina's younglings to have to fight either, if they can help it. [face_thinking]