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Before - Legends Echoes of War (KotOR II)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by SoA, Jun 29, 2013.

  1. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Title: Echoes of War
    Author: SoA
    Timeframe: 3952-3951 BBY (immediately after the Conclave at Katarr)
    Characters: Bryony Thuvell (the Jedi Exile), Kreia, Atton Rand, the crew of the Ebon Hawk, and assorted OCs
    Genre: Adventure
    Summary: Bryony Thuvell returns from ten years in exile to a changed galaxy. The Jedi are all but gone as mysterious enemies wage their war against the few Jedi that remain from the shadows at the edge of space. Still haunted by her part in the horrors of the Mandalorian Wars, Bryony must become the standard bearer for the Jedi to gather them again to drive out their shadowy foes.

    This story is Part 3, in what I hope to one day be a quartet. The first two stories in the Redemption quartet are Under the Shadow of the Builders and The Road to Rediscovery. Also running in parallel to this with a story tangent that will eventually rejoin with this story is The Exile of Bastila Shan. You do not have to have read any of those in order to understand and enjoy Echoes of War.

    This story is my approximation of the events of KotOR II. It will go somewhat AU from the game canon. The Exile and friends will not visit all of the planets from the game, but they will visit several other planets not in the game instead. The general trajectory remains the same, however, as the Exile tries to regroup the Jedi order and defeat the Sith.

    For those that have not read the previous stories, allow me a summary here: After defeating Darth Malak and destroying the Star Forge, Ev Pell, the Jedi who once was Darth Revan, secretly married Carth Onasi. However, Carth was soon assigned to the Telos Restoration project and Ev was kept more or less occupied with the Jedi Order. In the mean while, she took on Dustil Onasi as her padawan. Her memories of her life as Revan began to resurface. Unable to ignore nagging incomplete memories of a dark power lurking at the edge of the galaxy, Ev suddenly left Republic space in order to seek out the threat and a way to find it.

    The Telos Restoration project progressed, but Carth never stopped watching for Ev's return. The Jedi fell under attack from mysterious enemies that drained the living Force out of them. In one last, desperate attempt to discern where the attacks were coming from, they held a conclave on the Miraluka world of Katarr, but their enemies found them there and destroyed all life on the planet. A few Jedi who had not been at the conclave, including Bastila Shan and Dustil Onasi, managed to survive, but they agreed to scatter into hiding until their mysterious enemies showed themselves and a weakness to strike at. As far as the galaxy is concerned, the Jedi are gone.

    After ten years in self-imposed solitary exile on the planet of Tchuucktai, Bryony Thuvell receives an unexpected visitor: a freighter pilot who happened to notice her hut in the middle of the plains as he came to the surface to deliver goods to the Tchuucktai. He offers her a lift off the planet and out of exile. Hesitantly, she agrees and travels with him as far as Thila. Word quickly gets out that the famed Jedi General Bryony Thuvell has returned to known space. Bounty hunters, Admiral Carth Onasi, and one eccentric old woman are suddenly eager to get to her.

    So, without further ado, I present Echoes of War.



    Captain Quenlin paced the bridge of the Harbinger. His fifteen years of service and six years of good standing as captain of this very vessel certainly should have earned him and his crew better than running errands at the whim of a freshly promoted hero-admiral. Personally ferrying a passenger from the seedy surface of Thila in his own shuttle was something he certainly should not have had to have done at this point in his career—war hero or no, but orders were orders. The identity of the passenger was to remain utterly confidential to all but himself. The Jedi, Thuvell, said almost nothing during the shuttle ride, only giving a quiet thanks, then locked herself up in the spare officers' quarters for the journey.

    Demeaning as this all was, a specific mission beyond 'patrolling the outer rim' did give his crew a sense of purpose for the first time in months. They did not know the reason for their stopover at Thila, but they knew it was important, on direct orders from Admiral Onasi.

    “Sir, we have a distress signal from the Esstran Sector, just off our current hyperspace trajectory,” his communications officer reported suddenly, “Hailing from a Dynamic-class freighter of unknown origin.”

    “Patch it through to my terminal,” he ordered as he strode over to the terminal and clipped on his earpiece. The holo-less voice transmission came through almost immediately, “...attacked us out of nowhere! Help! It's like one of those Sith warships out of all those war holos. We don't have anything they could want! If anyone is out there, help!” The transmission repeated on recording again. Quenlin wondered how long it had been playing and whether the freighter was still in one piece. Regardless, there appeared to be a Sith ship in Republic space, and that was not something they could pass by, even with a high-priority passenger aboard.

    He dialed Admiral Onasi, who answered immediately. “Captain Quenlin,” Admiral Onasi greeted him, “Do you have the passenger aboard?”

    “Yes sir,” Quenlin replied curtly, “But we have just received a distress call from the core-ward edge of the Esstran Sector, reporting a Sith warship attacking a small Dynamic-class freighter. The origin of the freighter is unknown, so it could easily be a farce.”

    The admiral seemed immediately interested, “What is that ship's transponder codes?”

    “Transmitting them now,” Quenlin punched a few buttons.

    The admiral's reaction was immediate. “That's the Ebon Hawk,” he gaped, “How did it—Go to those coordinates immediately. Investigate this report of a Sith attack, but above all, bring me that freighter and its crew.”

    Or whatever is left of them, Quenlin thought grimly. “Right away, sir,” he nodded.

    “Thank you Captain. Keep me posted,” he replied, “Admiral Onasi out.”

    Quenlin removed his earpiece and immediately ordered, “Set a course for the source of the distress signal. All personnel to battle stations, we could be flying into a firefight!”

    By the time the Harbinger pulled out of hyperspace in the Esstran Sector, all was quiet. A small freighter hung dead in space, rapidly venting oxygen, dwarfed by the huge Sith battle cruiser, which was equally silent. The Sith cruiser seemed just as dead to space as the freighter. It gave no reaction to the Republic Hammerhead's arrival. Quenlin bristled at the whole scene. Silent as it was, it made him uneasy.

    “Engage the tractor beams,” he ordered, “Pull in that freighter. The admiral wants her in one piece.”

    “Sir, I think 'one piece' is a bit much to hope for, given the state of that ship,” his lieutenant quipped.

    Quenlin ignored him. “Everyone on your guard. I don't trust that Sith ship to stay quiet,” he said as he paced, staring out the front viewport at the huge battleship. If it were to wake up again, his crew would not survive a head-on confrontation. “Watch that for any signs of life,” he ordered the bridge, then to his diagnostics techs, “Run the full set of scans on it. See if we can figure out what went wrong to leave it so quiet. Prepare a boarding crew to be ready at my word.” His bridge crew set to work, suddenly on edge and yet eager to actually be doing something. This was the first ‘enemy’ ship they had encountered in months, and even then, the last had only been a crew of overzealous ex-Mandalorian smugglers. This was why they were patrolling the Outer Rim. Quenlin was suddenly glad to have been assigned this passenger mission, even as it had gone awry. Perhaps that up-start hero admiral would use him more judiciously in the future.

    The scan was finished in minutes and the boarding crew was ready aboard a shuttle in the rear hangar not long after. “Sir,” his lieutenant began somewhat hesitantly. Quenlin knew already that the news would not be too his liking. “The scans came back negative. We cannot find any signs of life. The technicians say there could be some electromagnetic interference from a nearby nova cloud, but even with that, our scans could only miss a few life forms. Either that ship really is dead or it is manned by droids.”

    Quenlin nodded thoughtfully, if this was indeed an old Sith cruiser, you never could predict what would come of the Sith aboard. However, this was no time for hesitation. They could not leave a lone Sith ship free at the edge of Republic space, not when so much remained uncertain about the remaining Sith in the galaxy.

    “Sir, the freighter is aboard,” the tractor beam operator reported.

    Turning first to his lieutenant, Quenlin ordered, “Send the boarding team over. Warn them of the potential of droids as well as an oxygen leakage. Proceed with caution but gather whatever information on these mystery Sith as we can. That freighter must have had something up its sleeves to knock out a ship like that, as unlikely as that sounds. None of this adds up. Proceed with any other scans you have. I don’t want that boarding team surprised by anything, understood?”

    “Yes sir,”the lieutenant said stiffly and turned to his command.

    He acknowledged the hyperdrive operator with a nod and then called down to the starboard hangar where the freighter The Ebon Hawk had been taken aboard, “Escort a medical team aboard, search for survivors and assess the damage. See if you can get anything from whatever is left of the on-board computers.”

    “Understood, sir,” the woman at the other end acknowledged.

    Captain Quenlin then stepped back and watched the events unfold from the front viewport of The Harbinger. The silver-gray boarding shuttle zipped across the space between The Harbinger and the Sith cruiser that hung inexplicably dead in space. Although the whole situation reeked of Sith deception, Quenlin trusted his men. They were well trained, and many of them had been with him even since the Jedi Civil War. Soon, the silhouette of the shuttle was lost against the silver-gray of the much larger Sith cruiser.

    A blue light on his console began to flash, signaling an incoming comm call from the hangar bay. Pressing the comm, he asked, “Report?”

    “There are no survivors, sir,” the woman in the hangar bay summarized, “Two Mirialan and an old woman. There are three droids, but only the two astromechs seem to be functional. I am surprised that freighter managed to last this long, sir.”

    “And the on-board computers?” Quenlin asked.

    “The navacomputer has been voice locked and one of the astromechs seems oddly protective of the rest of it as well, unwilling to cooperate with anyone who is not its now deceased master,” she replied, pausing, “We have techs on their way down to deal with the situation.”

    “Good,” Quenlin nodded, though she could not see him, “Report to me as you learn anything else.”

    “The shuttle has docked with the cruiser sir,” another of his bridge officers reported, “They are ready to begin boarding at your word.”

    “Have our scans revealed any other hazardous conditions?” he asked.

    “No ration, fires, armed explosives, or atmosphere leaks as far as our scanners can tell,” a tech reported.

    “Tell them to board, and be cautious,” Quenlin replied. “I do not trust even a dead Sith.”

    “Yes sir.”

    His men were now aboard the enemy ship, doing their job as they were trained to do. The Harbinger had the ship Onasi wanted aboard, and it was only a matter of time before one of his teams was able to get the technical read-out from one of the damaged ships of exactly what happened before they arrived—just how did a Sith cruiser and a Corellian freighter wind up both dead in space, far from any inhabited systems? Now, it was time to wait.

    The first news of any kind Captain Quenlin got from his teams was from the techs aboard the damaged Corellian freighter. After stunning the pesky astromech droid and locking it in a closet, they managed to patch together sensor data of the skirmish that had occurred before the Harbinger had reached the sector. The Ebon Hawk had unexpectedly snapped out of hyperspace between star systems and immediately fell under intense fire by the Sith cruiser. It launched a few feeble attacks against the cruiser, but was soon venting oxygen and lost all but auxiliary power. The feisty astromech appeared to have been attempting repairs even then. However, as soon as the Ebon Hawk had been defeated, the Sith cruiser fell quiet. Only minutes later, the Harbinger arrived.

    Quenlin did not like the timing, nor did he like the inexplicable silence of the cruiser. However, his boarding crew reported the vessel to be as dead and empty as the scanners determined it to be. They did find the gruesomely broken body of a man on the ship’s bridge. The best guess anyone had is that this man, a Sith, had someone been directing the ship on his own and died suddenly during the battle. However, best guesses were not good enough. Quenlin ordered the body to be brought back for autopsy. There was little to be learned from the Sith’s main computers. They too had been inexplicably destroyed or wiped clean, seemingly moments before the Harbinger arrived.

    Captain Quenlin was not pleased at how smoothly the investigation was going. There were too many unanswered questions. Quenlin hated the Sith, and this whole operation stank of them. He knew he aught to contact Admiral Onasi with news of the freighter, but until he had more than three dead passengers and two dead ships, he was loathe to report anything. He needed answers.

    Time passed all too slowly for his liking, but Onasi did not contact him for an update. The boarding crew returned with the body of the Sith man. It was transfered to the morgue with the other three bodies from the freighter, however, his body was so broken, his medical team hardly knew where to begin. “It is almost as if he was living like this, sir, I can’t understand how that is even possible,” the head doctor reported, baffled, “I don’t know what hope we have of ascertaining his cause of death when no part of his body should have been functioning in the first place. However, it is clear, he has just died.”

    “Kriffing Sith, alright,” Quenlin muttered.

    “Sir?” she asked.

    “Continue your investigations,” he replied. He heard a commotion in the med bay beyond the doctor.

    The doctor’s holo twisted to look over her shoulder. “Ah, sir, there appears to be another… situation here,” she began slowly.

    “Yes?” he asked. That was not what he wanted to hear.

    “Sir, the body of the old woman from the freighter,” she started, deeper in disbelief, “It’s gone.”

    “What do you mean, ‘gone’?” he asked, “Bodies don’t just get up and walk away.”

    “The old woman’s body is no longer on the bed where we left it,” she replied slowly.

    Quenlin cursed under his breath. This day got stranger and stranger. “You and your team worry about the Sith body,” he replied, “I’ll get in contact with security to see if they can trace camera feeds to find out who stole your body.”

    “Yes sir,” she replied, and the holocom went blank.

    Quenlin paced up to the front of the bridge and stared out the viewport at the silent Sith cruiser. “What are you?” he murmured. Turning to the nearest comm tech, he ordered, “Get in contact with security. See if they find anything in the camera feeds recently near the med bay of a body being stolen.”

    The tech nodded, but before he could reply, one of the ships newest ensigns whose name he could not remember dashed onto the bridge. “Sir, there has been an unauthorized entry onto the passenger deck,” he panted.

    “And?” Quenlin demanded. He did not need any more bizarre news.

    “The passenger from Thila,” the young man began hesitantly, “She’s missing.”

    “Just what I need,” Quenlin cursed to himself, “A Sith ship with a missing crew, a missing body, and now a missing Republic VIP. Thank you, ensign.” Turning to the tech again, he ordered, “And have security look for our passenger as well.”

    “Sir, I cannot raise security,” the tech replied, “They are not responding to my comm hails.”

    This has just gone from bad to worse. He gazed out at the cruiser silhouetted against a myriad of stars. “What are you?” he whispered again. Even as he lingered at the viewport, he felt the hair on the back of his neck prickle, as if he was being watched. Turning back towards the bridge, there was no one staring in his direction, but he could not shake the feeling of uneasiness. “I want teams sent to the passenger deck, the med bay, and security right now. I need to know what is going on here,” he barked.

    His lieutenant jumped from his seat and scrambled to work, “Right away sir!”

    As Quenlin turned back to stare at the cruiser, another ship darted away from the Harbinger. His jaw dropped.

    “Sir, the freighter—” someone began.

    “I know!” he snapped, “Who’s aboard that thing? Find out who cleared it for takeoff? Where is my hangar crew? Activate the tractor beam and get that ship back here!”

    Before his techs could respond, it winked into hyperspace and was gone.

    He swore loudly.

    A few of his bridge crew glanced sharply up at him but said nothing.

    A siren began to whine.

    “What is it now?” he asked.

    “Someone pulled an alarm in the med bay. Something is wrong down there.”

    “Get some people down there now, and I want them armed,” he barked, “What the Force is going on here?”

    “Yes sir!”

    And I didn’t think this day could get any worse. I lost my passenger and my freighter, and there is something funny going on on my ship. I’ll be lucky if I don’t lose my command after this. Onasi is not going to be pleased.


    I'm going to be starting Camp NaNoWriMo on Monday with this story, so I hope to get a jump start on the rest of it. I am really looking forward to explore more with the KotOR II crew!
  2. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    It's been a super long time! I blame grad school and moving to Japan for said grad school. At any rate, here we have the continuation.


    Part 1- Awakened


    Was it a command? A voice? A sensation?

    Something snapped. Or was it merely a shift? A trickle?

    With limbs of lead, she floated, feeling at the same time weightless. There was wetness and warmth all around. Life fought against beckoning sleep.

    She felt someone cry. She felt them scream, and then another snap.

    As she faded back into unconsciousness, Bryony Thuvell knew that something was beginning. She knew it with a vague certainty that she had not felt for a long time.

    “Who the hell is that?” Alexy demanded, gesturing at the burly Duros in an ill-fitted mining uniform. “I don’t remember having any of his kind at our last shift.”

    “This is Verbin Zung,” Kade replied silkily, “He is the sponsor I mentioned earlier.”

    “For the Jedi?” Alexy sputtered, “You brought a kriffing bounty hunter here?”

    “I and mine can get this job done where you cannot, miner,” Verbin replied, his blue-green hand ran lightly over his over-sized hip pouch. Alexy could only assume the pouch contained a compact hold-out blaster. “If this woman you have in your med bay is who you think she is, Kade, she is worth a great deal of credits to me.”

    “And to us,” Kade cut in, “We gave you the tip. It may have been ten years since I saw her last, but I’ll never forget General Thuvell’s face, not after she sent half my squad to die on Duxn.”

    “You didn’t say that was Thuvell,” Alexy marveled, “A war hero?”

    “And a war criminal, if you ask me,” Kade grumbled, “But it doesn’t matter, Alexy, this Jedi is our ticket off this rock. This bounty will set us up for a long time.”

    “As I will be performing the capture and delivery, you understand that your cut will be a share of thirty percent,” the Duros replied coolly.

    “Thirty percent?” Kade exclaimed, “Hey, no. We found her, contacted you, and set everything up so you can sneak in and sneak out again. I’m not splitting thirty percent of the bounty with eight other guys. Fifty-fifty would even be pushing it. For thirty percent, we’ll toss you out an airlock and call another bounty hunter.”

    In a flash, the holdout blaster was in the Duros’ hand. Gesturing idly with it, he said in a thin, soft voice, “I will give you forty-five, I’m feeling generous today, with six billion credits on the line.”

    Alexy coughed, “Generous? No kidding.”

    “Let’s do this thing,” Kade said quickly.

    Another man slipped out a doorway and into the back corridor, breathing hard and short hair matted down with sweat.

    “Tazuro, what’s going on?” Kade demanded, “Aren’t you supposed to be keeping an eye on the infirmary?”

    “Coorta told some of the other guys what we were up to and they tried to storm the infirmary themselves, get around us to get that Jedi’s bounty for themselves. Kriffing sons of gundarks,” he cursed.

    “Do they have the Jedi?” Kade demanded. The Duros played with his blaster.

    “No, the nurse barricaded herself in there, sealed the doors and fried the circuits,” Kade shook his head angrily. “But not before one of the guys got to her with a mining laser. She’s got to be a really good nurse to patch that up herself before bleeding it all out.”

    “So your Jedi has been sealed into the infirmary?” the bounty hunter observed, “Break down the doors.”

    “Those doors are magnetically sealed against the vacuum and fire, just like all the other doors in this Force-forsaken mine. There’s no way we can just break them open like some planet-side door,” Alexy shook his head.

    “And that’s why you need us,” Kade baited, “Make it fifty percent and I’ll have Tazuro here go down to maintenance and reprogram us some droids to mine through doors.”

    Verbin played with his blaster a bit more, then slowly slid it into its pouch. “Fifty it is then,” his words slid slowly off his tongue.

    “Tazuro?” Kade asked, with a quick glance over his shoulder at him. “And program the rest to mine organics that aren’t us. We’re going to need that if Coorta and his gang are involved. I am sure security isn’t far behind them too.”

    “On it,” Tazuro replied, “Give me half an hour. I’ll get Max in on this and we’ll have it all ready for that door in thirty minutes.”

    “If a couple million credits can motivate you to speed it up, do it,” Kade urged quietly.

    “For a couple million credits, I’ll speed anything up,”Tazuro winced and then grinned, “Have your comm ready.” With that, he slunk back through the side door and dashed off.

    “So now what is your plan, miner?” Verbin asked.

    “We take out security cameras,” Kade replied, “You up for it or don’t want to get your hands dirty?”

    “Show me what to shoot,”Verbin replied flatly. Alexy suspect that, if he had been a human and not an expressionless Duros, Verbin would have been smiling malevolently.

    Bryony could feel a breathing mask covering her nose and mouth strapped across her face as the wet warmth pressed in at her floating body from all sides. Opening her eyes, stared out into a world distorted by water and a curved glass wall closely surrounding her—kolto, she corrected herself inwardly. The room was only dimly lit, but she could easily make out the blurred shapes of four other empty kolto tanks on either side of her. The room was otherwise sterile and nondescript, lacking any identifying features.

    Where am I?

    This could be any med bay anywhere in the galaxy.

    How did I get here?

    Her eyes began to sting from the kolto. Squeezing them shut, she strained her mind to remember what could possibly have led her here.

    Bryony had left Thila under the protection of Captain Quenlin, aboard the hammerhead-class ship the Harbinger. Only that afternoon, a team of Republic marines had found her and, informing her of a bounty on her head, offered her Republic protection. Returning to a Republic warship in the protection of the military she thought she had left behind forever had not been Bryony’s idea of the best way to re-enter the galaxy at large, but she felt as if she had little choice. Once aboard the Harbinger, she locked herself up in her passenger’s suite to avoid the prying eyes of the ship’s crew. The last she could remember was drifting off into a deep sleep, in surreal disbelief of her circumstances.

    And now she was in a med bay somewhere—not on the Harbinger. She knew what a hammerhead-class med bay looked like, and this was not it. She had no idea what or who had brought her here, nor the extent of her injuries. Though she felt groggy and stiff, she did not feel any pain.

    Something tugged at her, telling her that it was best not to remain floating helplessly in her kolto tank, waiting to be removed. There were no medical staff in sight, and something did feel wrong.


    Bryony opened her eyes again. She took in a deep breath of air from the mask and then pulled it off her face. Kicking for propulsion, she grasped the upper rim of the tank and laboriously pulled herself out onto the platform at the top. The air of the med bay was hardly cold, but she felt a chill all the same. Clothed only in her underwear and a bra, her skin puckered into goosebumps wherever the air touched it. Summoning her strength again and willing off stiffness and grogginess, Bryony swung her feet over the edge of the platform and carefully descended the ladder to the infirmary’s laminate floor.

    Bare feet touching down on the linoleum, Bryony gently tested her legs, her balance, and the strength of her muscles before releasing her hold on the metal ladder. Although her whole body ached, it was the ache of too much rest and too little activity, not the ache of injury or overexertion. Good.

    Her long, wet hair felt heavy, tugging back at her neck. Pulling it over her shoulder in a tangled, waist-length mass, she wrung the kolto out of it and cast about her for something to tie it all back. The clothes she used to be wearing were nowhere in sight, and except for the five kolto tanks and a small storage cabinet near the door, the room was empty. Careful not to let her wet feet slip on the laminate floor, Bryony crossed the room to the storage cabined and found it, thankfully, unlocked. Neither her clothes nor any other clothes at all were in the cabinet. It was stocked only with medical supplies. She mechanically plaited her hair and, taking a small roll of gauze from the cabinet, tied off the end. While still heavy and wet, at least her hair was manageable now. Looking down at the shock of white gauze knotted around her glossy, black hair, Bryony made a half-conscious mental note that if she were to injure herself in the next hour, she only had to wrap her still-damp kolto-infused hair around the wound. That thought only lingered a moment before she turned her attention back to the issues at hand: where was she, how did she get there, and how was she going to get out? Bryony could not suppress the nagging feeling that she needed to get out, and needed to do so quickly. Though she did not know how she knew it, she felt absolutely certain that something was wrong.

    Closing up the cabinet again, Bryony approached the kolto bay doors, opened them, and unhesitatingly stepped through. The short hallway she stepped into was as dimly lit as the kolto chamber had been. To her left was a door labeled by the plaque “Medical Office” while the door to her left bore the plaque “Examination Room.” Directly ahead stood a broad blast door, the sort found on star ships that was capable of keeping space and just about everything else out.

    Or in—everything except for a lightsaber, that is.

    Through the small window beside the door, Bryony could see that the medical office was dark except for a single desk lamp on the far side. She approached the door and pulled at the handle, but it was locked. Pressing her face against the window and shading her eyes with her hands, Bryony peered inside. The office was a mess, with gauze and kolto patches littering the floor. An overturned supply trolley lay on its side, its contents strewn out across the floor. The figure of a uniformed woman sat slumped against the desk on the far wall. The nurse, she realized. The nurse was not sleeping, however, Bryony quickly surmised. There was no rise and fall of her back to indicate breathing and a peaceful, deep sleep. The dark stain the torso and legs of her uniform and pool of dark liquid at her feet confirmed Bryony’s suspicions. The nurse was dead.

    Bryony shivered. Wherever the feeling of foreboding she felt was coming from, the silent body of the nurse affirmed it. She needed to get out of the med bay. Something was wrong here.

    She had only taken one step in the direction of the blast door when she realized that that would not be a way out either. The door controls were destroyed, smashed in by some blunt object. The nurse had purposefully sealed herself inside the med bay, Bryony realized. There was something hostile out there that wanted to kill a nurse. That hardly seemed like a calculated act of war. The hostile party either was killing indiscriminately, had a grudge against the nurse, or was after something—or someone—in the med bay. Somehow, the second did not seem to fit, but the first and third ideas left a poor taste in Bryony’s mouth. If she was to believe Captain Quenlin, there was a bounty on her head. That attack on the nurse could have been meant for her. Turning back towards the locked office, Bryony bowed her head in thanks for the nurse, hoping that the Force would not abandon her spirit in death.

    With the office and the blast door locked, that left only the examination room. She hoped against hope that there was another way out of the examination room, or even a air vent large enough to crawl through. Taking the few steps across the hall, Bryony grasped the door handle to the morgue and turned. It clicked easily open.

    Inside, the examination room was no bigger than the office across the hallway. Six pallets were set up in two rows along the walls with an aisle in the middle. The sight of two more bodies laying still on the pallets gave her a momentary shock as the door opened. Although there was no blood, neither were breathing. This room too held the feeling of death.

    Unfortunately, the examination room had only one door, and the air vents near the ceiling were hardly big enough for a mouse droid to pass through. Bryony may have been petite, but there was no chance of an exit through the vents for her.

    She scanned about the room for anything else that could aid in her escape. On the far pallet to her right was the body of an old woman with shocking white hair, swathed in a brown robe. Across the aisle on the left lay the body of a burly man in some sort of uniform. Something hanging from the dead man’s belt caught her eye. She strode over to his pallet and found that the item she had seen was not a blaster as she had hoped, but, according to the markings on the handle, a mining laser. From what was left of his charred uniform, he appeared to be wearing flame retardant coveralls. The blackened patch on his shoulder read “Peragus Mining Operations.” Perhaps that was an explanation for her location. What and where was Peragus, though? She would have time to determine that later.

    The mining laster, however, with enough patience, should be able to bore through the blast door. She gingerly reached over the man’s corpse and unfastened his belt. Then pulling it around and out from under him, fastened it tightly around her own waist, mining laser in its holster.

    “Looking for answers among the dead?” a raspy woman’s voice asked dryly. The voice sounded inexplicably familiar.

    Bryony nearly jumped out of her skin, whirling around to search for its source. The old woman on the opposite pallet was stiffly sitting up, gazing at her intensely from white, iris-less eyes.

    “You were dead,” Bryony said cautiously. She was certain that the old woman had not been breathing only moments earlier.

    “Was I?” the old woman asked, a thin smile playing across her lips. Stiffly, she pulled the hood of her robe up over her head and let it fall down over her eyes. Bryony was almost relieved not to fall under the scrutiny of the woman’s eerily white pupils any longer.

    “Who are you?” Bryony asked warily. I swear she was dead a moment ago.

    “My name is Kreia,” she replied without ceremony, “I am your rescuer as you are mine.”

    “What do you mean?” Bryony asked, “You know how I got here, then?”

    Kreia smiled thinly again, “Your ship was attacked, and you were the sole survivor. My ship docked with yours and we escaped together before it was too late.”

    Bryony pressed her palm to her forehead, straining to remember, but her last memories were falling asleep on her bed aboard the Harbinger. How she had gotten from the passenger cabin to the old woman’s ship, and then to this med bay was lost in a void of unconsciousness.

    “I don’t remember any of it,” Bryony replied.

    “You were badly injured, as was I, in our flight,” Kreia explained, “Although our hosts seemed to care for you better than I, thinking me as dead as you did just now.” She paused, then observed, “You have the smell of kolto about you. How do you feel?”

    Bryony shook out her limbs again. “Groggy,” Bryony assessed, “But alive.”

    “We need to get out of here,” Kriea said abruptly.

    “Where is here?” Bryony asked.

    “Because of my injuries, I slept through our arrival, and yet somehow we arrived here and were cared for without either of our knowing,” Kreia shook her head, “Perhaps an examination of our surroundings will tell you what you need to know.”

    Thinking of the dead miner, Bryony nodded wordlessly.

    “But wherever we are, we cannot linger,” Kreia urged, “Our attackers were unable to finish us off, so it is only a matter of time until they attempt to find us here. Without weapons, knowledge of our location, or a ship, we are vulnerable here. The ship we came here aboard cannot be far away.”

    “Are you well enough to travel?” Bryony asked, assessing Kreia where she still sat on the pallet.

    “I am not so young as you, to spring back so easily from near death,”Kreia sighed. Bryony could almost hear her joints creaking as she shifted her weight on the bed.

    “You rest up here, and I will go in search of weapons and a ship,” Bryony offered, hardly thinking about what that would take.

    “And I will remain here and center myself,” Kreia nodded approvingly, “Although you may wish to add clothing to your search, if only to make a proper first impression.”

    Bryony turned to go. Her heart raced. Something inside of her eagerly faced the uncertainty and the danger. The eerie silence of this place, the old woman who had appeared dead, the nurse across the hall who certainly was dead—none of it frightened her. Her heart had long ago grown cold to fear of death, the dying, or the dead. Here, in this quiet place that nearly screamed of danger through the silence, she felt more alive than she had all those years alone on the plans of Tchuukthai. Perhaps she had missed war. That thought skimmed over the surface of her mind, but she pushed it off. It was not befitting, given how her last career in the war had ended.

    Glancing down, she saw the mining laser in the holster at her hip and hesitated. What was she doing? She did not know anything about where she was or who she was up against. She had neither a proper weapon nor proper clothing.

    “Why worry about what you cannot know?” Kreia asked, as if reading her mind, “You are trained for such things. You are a Jedi, are you not?”

    Bryony nearly lost her grip on the mining laser, looking up sharply at the old woman.

    “I left the Jedi Order years ago,” Bryony replied with some difficulty, “How did you know?”

    “Your stance, your confidence in the face of uncertainty, the heavy burden you carry,” Kreia answered distantly, “The way your unconscious mind reached out to mine as if seeking another life form to connect to.”

    “Impossible,” Bryony breathed. “The Force abandoned me.”

    “Is it?” Kreia asked softly. “No matter, we cannot linger here. What is your name, Jedi?”

    Bryony flinched at the title. It was one she no longer deserved. “Bryony,” she replied curtly. She dared not give her last name, famous as it was. Even ten years later, the Galaxy could not yet have forgotten who she had been or what she had done.

    “Well, Bryony, I will wait here for your return and rest off my weariness,” Kreia began again.

    “I will be back for you when I have found a ship,” Bryony promised, and this time, without hesitation, she tightened her grip on the mining laser and strode out of the examination room. Still, her skin prickled at the strangeness of this place—and the strangeness of the old woman.

    Out in the hall, she stepped up to the blast door again and pulled the mining laser from its holster on on the over-sized leather belt she wore slung around her hips. Examining the settings, she turned the dial on the side to the most intense setting and pressed the muzzle of the laser to the door and pressed down the trigger to ignite it. The handle began to grow warm as the metal blast door started to glow a faint orange. Bryony took a deep breath and leaned into it, wishing for a lightsaber. A lightsaber would have made this process much quicker—and would not run the risk of the power pack running out mid-way through the door. Bryony hoped and prayed that the laser would last long enough.

    This is going to be a while… Falling into a patient, almost meditative, consciousness, Bryony breathed deeply and cut a jagged, glowing scar in a circle through the door.

    The cut-out in the door shifted, grating metal against metal, and startled Bryony out of her meditations. Without a chrono on her or anywhere nearby, she had no concept of how much time had passed. Suddenly realizing how hot the mining laser had become in her hand, Bryony almost dropped it. She carefully inserted it back into its holster on her right hip. It radiated heat onto her thigh from where it hung, but did not burn. Bryony stretched out her hot, cramped hands, then gave the cut-out in the door and experimental push. It shifted back, screeching its complaints, metal against metal.

    She took a step back and, after studying the shape of the round hole carefully, delivered a sharp kick to the cut-out. Her bare foot throbbed with the impact, but it was enough. The piece of the thick door fell back and clattered loudly to the floor of the dark hallway beyond. Bryony winced at the noise, but no one seemed to be near by to hear it or care. She let out a breath that she did not realized she had been holding. The hole, only about half her height and chest-high, was just big enough for her to duck through. A taller, bulkier man may have trouble getting through, which made Bryony feel better about leaving the old woman on her own—although Kreia, however frail looking, somehow seemed perfectly able to defend herself.

    As Bryony ducked and stepped through the hole the jagged metal scraped her back and legs. She hissed involuntarily as she straightened up in the hallway on the other side. Finding her long, braided hair to still be damp with kolto, she pressed it against the scrapes while she took in her surroundings.

    This corridor, mercifully uninhabited, was much longer with several doors along the left side and one on the far end. Without a map or any concept of where she actually was, Bryony could only guess at the direction she had to go. However, worrying about it got her nowhere, so she cautiously started down the hallway.

    As in the medical wing, all of the doors were labeled with neat plaques beside them. Along this hallway were locked storage rooms—she did not feel she had the time to force her way in with the mining laser just in case there were weapons to be found inside— and a door marked “to mines.” She suspected the later would get her nowhere nearer to a ship or weapons. The door at the end of the hallway was without a labeling plaque. She surmised it must lead to another administrative hallway.

    As she pressed her hand down on the door release button, something told Bryony to be wary. She grasped the mining laser in her other hand as the door slid open.

    Two men in mining uniforms stumbled groggily to their feet, staring at her, startled.

    “Well hello there,” one of them crooned, looking her over from head to toe.

    “Isn’t that the Jedi?” the other realized.

    “Force! You’re right,” the first exclaimed, leaping towards her from the security console where he had been sitting, “Get her!” The two men, both easily twice her size in mass, rushed at her with a bulky mining droid following at their heels.

    Bryony did not think. She just reacted. With two hands, she leveled the mining laser at the first man and pulled the trigger. Barely two arm’s lengths away, it tore a hole in his chest. With a wide-eyed gurgle, he fell to his knees rasping. The second man hesitated for just a moment as his friend fell, but the droid did not. It spewed thin laser bolts from its mining arms at her. Although its aim was poor, one caught her on the left arm. Wincing, she ignored the pain and fired off several shots with her higher-powered laser at the droid where she suspected its central computers to be. While the first two shoots did little to slow it, the third, catching its underbelly, did the trick. It crumbled and sagged to the duracrete floor, even still skidding forward on its previous momentum.

    By then, the second man had reached her. He knocked her back, pinning her against the wall behind her and wrenching the mining laser from her hands. It clattered, sparking to the floor, now broken and useless.

    The miner pressed against her, both hands trapping her wrists against the wall. “Got you, beautiful Jedi,” he rasped into her ear, “Too bad you’re worth more to me alive than dead. You need to pay for what you did to Ned.” Pressing himself more firmly against her he threatened, “Though I know what I’d like to do to you before I turn you in for that bounty.”

    Rather than fear, Bryony felt a wave of revulsion wash over her. Without thinking, she Pulled the mining laser of the dead miner to her. It arched through the air and contacted with the back of her captor’s skull, directly in its path to her hand.

    With a cry of pain, he reflexively reached for the back of head. Hands free, Bryony roughly kneed him away from her and fired the laser directly into his chest. He fell backwards with a gasp and tumbled lifelessly on top of the crumpled droid.

    Bryony leaned back against the wall for support, shaking and breathing hard. She stared down at her trembling hands and the mining laser she held between them. She absently fumbled it into the holster on her right hip then raised her shaking hands to her face.

    I’ve just killed a man—no, two men. I promised myself I’d never kill another sentient again, but look at me now. I didn’t even think about it, and two men are dead. I really am still a monster… ten years hasn’t changed me one bit. She felt like weeping in utter despair, but tears would not come to her dry eyes. The warm mining laser hanging from her belt reminded her of something else. She replayed the skirmish in her mind again and thought to the laser that saved her flying through the air, called by the Force, into her hand. Impossible… She shakily lowered her hands from her face and rested her right hand over the laser in disbelief.

    “Impossible,” she said out loud.

    “What has been done is not impossible, it is fact,” the raspy voice of an old woman resounded in her head, just as it had called her to awaken as she had floated in the kolto tank, she realized.

    “Kreia?” Bryony asked, startled and shaking.

    “So you do feel the Force again, and it answers to your calls,” Kreia observed enigmatically.

    “How?” Bryony stammered.

    “The Force does as it wills,” Kreia responds, “Perhaps it thinks you have served your penance in silence for long enough. Or, perhaps, it finds you useful to its purposes once again.” Kreia seemed to know far more than a stranger she had met only an hour previous should know.

    But, that the Force had returned to her, it could not be true. When did it start? She had not felt the sudden rush of its return. She closed her eyes and reached out with her feelings. It was there, though faint and distant, like an echo calling out from the other end of the galaxy. Bryony realized that she was dimly aware of the life around her again; Kreia and other sentients in the mining complex, she realized. Bryony opened her eyes, shaking in disbelief. She had wished for this moment for years, but now as she stood with two dead men at her feet, she felt as if she did not deserve it.

    “It is no use mourning the death of those meaningless creatures,” Kreia scolded in her mind, “You know what they would have done to you.”

    “Kreia, how are you doing this?” Bryony asked, “Reading my mind and speaking into it?”

    “I cannot read your mind, Bryony Thuvell,” Kreia responded, confirming her suspicions that Kreia indeed did know far more about her than she let on at their first meeting, “I can only sense your feelings, as you would be able to sense mine, were your connection to the Force stronger.”

    “But how?” Bryony marveled.

    “Your unconscious mind must have reached out to mine as we both hung near death,” Kreia surmised, “And the Force has bound us together.”

    Force bonds… Bryony thought back to her years as a Jedi apprentice and as a padawan. She remembered the bond she felt with her older brother Kaden, able to faintly sense each other’s presence even as Bryony trained on Dantooine, distant from Kaden in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. She thought to her her old master, Kavar, and the Force bond that grew between them as the traveled the galaxy, fighting as one. But when the Force had abandoned her, it had severed her connections to them and all of the others she valued most—Alex, Atris, and too many others to count. Remembering them and the disapproval and disappointment they must still hold towards her was almost too painful to bear.

    “It is no use to dwell in the past,” Kreia scolded, “This is the present, and now you see what a precarious situation we are in now. We urgently need weapons and a means of escape.”

    Bryony nodded and, still shaking, bent down to recover the mining laser than the second miner still carried hanging from his belt. Two lasers was better than one.

    “I will guide, as you need it, as you rediscover your connection to the Force,” Kreia added, “It seems that is the will of the Force.” Her words carried the faint feeling of disdain.

    Bryony did not answer her. She did not feel the need to. Kreia would be there in her mind anyway. Instead, she approached security console. Settling into the chair where one of the miners had been when she arrived, she navigated through the screens he had had open. She inwardly cursed the navigation interface, no doubt ‘improved’ to be more intuitive than the computer terminals she had used ten years ago. Why did programmers always feel the need to vastly upgrade every operating system just as soon as you had become familiar with the last one?

    She sifted through matrices of security camera feeds. Drowsy miners armed with mining lasers and mining droids wandered across a number of the screens. The bodies of dead miners lay silently in other views. A number of the feeds revealed on static. She found the set of security cameras denoted “hangar bays” and called them up. Only two of the bays housed ships. She immediately realized which had to be the one she came in: a beat-up freighter, probably Corellian in origin, that looked as if it had just barely made it to the hangar before shorting out. Even so, what appeared to be repair droids swarmed all over the body of the ship. That is where she had to go.

    Knowing that the security system had to have a map somewhere, she closed out of the camera feeds and scanned through the other system commands. The map was easy to find and exactly what she was looking for. Labeled with names that corresponded with all the camera feeds and flashing red with sections that were under security alert it showed her where she was, where she should probably avoid, and how to get to the hangars. She would have to head to the Central Control and then descend a lift to the hangars. Bryony double-checked the relevant security camera feeds again and confirmed that there was little visible danger in her path. The large central control room was patrolled by numerous mining droids, but at least there were not any sentients to be seen—live sentients anyway. Committing her path to memory, Bryony stood up and started off.

    Although the camera feeds had shown no danger to her between the security station and the central control room, nothing was ever static and there were always holes of vision that cameras could not cover, not to mention several dead camera feeds along her path. She kept the laser ready and her senses extended, probing for life.

    Bryony passed through several more empty corridors before she arrived outside the central control room. The door controls here were still in tact, thankfully. She did not want to waste any more time boring through blast doors with under-powered mining lasers. She reviewed her mental map of the facilities in her head. There were undoubtedly still unfriendly droids roaming around inside, so she would have to move quickly if she did not want to get swarmed and overwhelmed. The entrance to the lift must be to the left of the door, she recalled.

    Preparing herself for anything, she pressed the door controls and let it slide open.

    The droid directly on the other side, swiveled and scuttled towards her, blasting off ill-aimed laser bolts. Bryony shot directly at its underbelly, and it collapsed, powering down. She leaped over it and dashed to the left before any of the other droids registered her presence. She tapped the door controls to the first door to the left and leaped inside before the doors were fully open, and then slapped the controls from the inside again to shut herself inside.