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Saga - Legends "Glove and Hand" (Legends/NEU AU; Mara origin; Vader, K'Kruhk, C. Xavier, Potterverse, action/etc)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Onderon1, May 29, 2018.

  1. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: This is both a story I've been working a LONG time towards - mostly because of how complex the various pieces are - and one I've had a lot of personal satisfaction in accomplishing. :D

    If you've not read any of my "Nu-Betsyverse" stories, don't worry; this is far enough back in that timeline that it really doesn't matter.

    Suffice it to say that down the line, everyone's favorite redheaded
    shebs-kicker will meet Farmboy ... and among their many children will be a son named Kylo, among other changes. :eek:

    (Oh, and Earth is in the Unknown Regions, and Psylocke joins the NJO. But that's
    years away yet. :p)

    A not-really-spoileresque-spoiler: Yes, John and Elaine Grey
    are Jean Grey's parents. THAT Jean Grey, who's Mara's younger sister in this timeline. As for other details - I can PM anyone who's interested? :)

    There's angst, here, but also hope - and early!Vader being Vader. As always, mods, if this steps over any lines, please let me know, but I think it's all TOS compliant.

    For right now, though, things start with two Sith ... [face_worried]

    ************************************
    1951 CE Terran/Year 3, Imperial:
    Imperial Center, Core Worlds:
    ************************************

    The summons was wordless - a Force-tug at the nape of the Dark Lord's neck. He'd kill lesser beings for such gall.

    As it was, the Sith he'd become merely swallowed and stored away the rage the bidding caused him, and he tried not to reflect on just how little distance he'd truly come from Watto's junk shop as he knelt before his Sith Master's throne.

    "Lord Vader," the deceitfully-wizened whirlwind of awfulness on the blocky throne wheezed. "There is ... a vergence."

    Vader's helmet snapped up, and he watched as the Emperor's gaze turned to him, pus-yellow eyes in a sunken abyss.

    An artificial breath went by as Vader pondered the choice of words, and he asked, "Where is this vergence, Master?"

    "Deep within the Unknown Regions - south of Chiss territory, but monitored by them. The world itself is of little consequence, but its residents bear ... great potential. And threat. However - you are NOT to decimate it, nor even to alert the residents to your presence in any grand way. I foresee much importance revolving around this world," Palpatine said.

    He stood, gesturing toward a holotank, and an image of a pleasant, if dull green-blue world began to revolve. "Likewise, an acolyte of a nagging detail from my past has fled to this world, bearing a Sith holocron. The holocron belonged to my Sith Master, Darth Plagueis, and contains ... details ... I find inconvenient. You are to find this acolyte, slay them with extreme prejudice, and either retrieve the holocron for me or, if necessary, destroy it. And if you find the vergence ..." he trailed off.

    Vader hesitated to reply - not out of fear, but from having learned that his first response was often incorrect.

    "Secure them, as well. My visions have shown a child of vast potential, Lord Vader - a bloodline so potent, that to hold it is to hold the key to surviving our TRUE enemy," Palpatine continued, sounding almost reverent for a moment.

    "As you command, my Master. What is the name of this acolyte?" Vader asked, rising at the Emperor's gesture.

    A sneer so razor-edged as to slay lesser life-forms crossed Palpatine's face as he spat, "An Anaxian - Balvar Pettigrew."

    ---------------------------
    Tirana, Albania:
    ---------------------------

    "John, the next time I volunteer to serve my country, it's going to be in the military. They're saner than you are."

    John Grey just grinned his rakish grin as Charles Xavier helped him string wiring and light bulbs from a generator deep in a side tunnel, and John's wife Elaine sorted through medical supplies. "My girl's tough, Charlie. It was her idea to join the advisors for the anti-Commie rebels," the student teacher quipped, nodding at where the very pregnant woman sighed.

    "First, John, I'm your wife, not 'your girl.' Second, yes, I suggested we help fight the Communists, as much to get away from my parents' fury over my marrying a 'godless Bard student' as for patriotism. Third, I didn't plan to be having a baby in the middle of a war zone. But women have been handling worse situations for thousands, maybe millions of years," Elaine harrumphed good-naturedly, and Charles smiled at her verve.

    She keeps him grounded - good folk. And their child might well be as exceptional - perhaps even moreso - if I'm right, the telepath thought, gently brushing the mind of Elaine's unborn daughter. The girl projected back, radiating curiosity.

    Xavier withdrew his psi-probe as Elaine blinked, patting her abdomen and laughing, "She's kicking again."

    "You mean he's kicking - not that I'd mind a daughter. Your looks and courage, our brains ..." John mused, kissing Elaine's forehead. She playfully shooed him back to work, and Xavier enjoyed his friends' happiness - until he sensed ... something.

    In the months since coming to help the partisans, Xavier had attuned himself to the local astral plane for forewarning. It held bloodshed, both old and recent, as well as the occasional flash of happiness, and more of the simple positivity of everyday living - but now, there were sparks of power, both warming and burning, tied to minds of great depth.

    Two were kind, two were coldly malign, a fifth, panicked ... and the sixth ... Xavier shied away from it, sensing HATE.

    Xavier stopped one of the passing Albanian partisans, a man named Alber, and asked in the local dialect, "Have the sentries seen anything odd?"

    "Just the usual Red patrols," Alber grumbled - until the cave shook, not from mortar fire, but a distant sonic boom.

    The Greys exchanged a worried glance, while Xavier mumbled, "Jets aren't that common ... this is something else."

    "Chuck, wait a minute! You can't go out into the woods in the dead of night - if the Reds and their dogs don't get you, the bears or wolves or something worse will!" John insisted, catching Xavier by the upper arm until the psi glanced at him.

    "First, please don't call me 'Chuck.' Charles, Charlie, even Xavier - but 'Chuck' ... has bad connotations for me," Xavier asked, gentler than he might have. (The face of his loathed stepbrother Cain Marko floated before him for a moment.)

    John released him, but Xavier smiled a bit and joined a group of partisans as they armed for patrol. "And I'll be fine, John. My senses are - sharper - than some, and I'm not prone to taking needless risks. Stay here with Elaine and the others, and I'll be back soon," he encouraged, refusing to enforce the request telepathically (both for moral reasons and friendship).

    Plus, given what I sense is out there, the Communists are the least of our worries, Xavier feared, getting a flashlight.

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

    If it wasn't the occasional lugat, boggart, nocker, or other "exotic lifeform," Albus Dumbledore wasn't all that worried.

    I'm here for a far more dangerous subject ... one whom I hope to reason with, one last time, the middle-aged headmaster of a small, but renowned in certain circles, exclusive Scottish school pondered, a glowing globe floating beside his head.

    He'd pondered using a flashlight, but there were few enough Muggles about in these woods - this part of Albania was infamous even among the non-magical folk for old, deep terrors.

    As usual, though, it was a human menace Albus sought.

    Well - him, and perhaps something else ... ? Whatever is that? the Englishman wondered, staring at a fire-edged clearing.

    It looked like a lifeboat, but doubled over again - a pod of some kind, similar to a design Dumbledore had seen in a Muggle magazine brought to him by a former student who worked in the Ministry's Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Department.

    However, most lifeboats didn't have engines at the back, and this one looked like it'd impacted ... like a shell.

    It fell from the sky? There've been theories of extraterrestrial life, but I'd never dreamed to encounter it, he mused.

    Dumbledore froze instinctively at the edge of the clearing, less from the flames than a sense of malignancy in the pod.

    Or ... rather, something was here, he realized, the glow from his light-sphere shining on a trail of fresh blood leading away from the pod. It led into the woods, and Dumbledore glanced back at the pod before casting a sensory spell on the blood.

    There was a telltale, dangerous resonance of two minds - one panicked, fleeing hunters, but serving a dark, steely master.

    A living servant, then, under the influence or guidance of a preserved sentience ... a magical artifact? Dumbledore thought.

    He started to trail the blood - wolves, or even deadlier predators, would catch up with the injured party - then looked up.

    Something - shining, but with a Muggle aircraft's outline, just far more advanced - descended, radiating ... banked FURY.

    The hunter, then. Whether they're here to recapture the artifact, or destroy it, I'd best move fast, Dumbledore thought.

    He headed deeper into the woods, freezing again as a flash of green - almost more concept than image - flitted past.

    Aloud, Dumbledore called, softly, "Tom?"

    Something like a hiss whispered past - again, more concept than image - and Dumbledore heard, Leave. I still respect you.

    "And what kind of teacher would I be if I didn't try to stop you from making a terrible mistake?" the headmaster sighed.

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

    The Force was strong, here, the third interloper noticed, moving from tree to tree like a woolamander - but complex.

    It's not sentience, in the true sense, but there is a presence ... a long, slowly-building demeanor. This land is old, drenched in life and loss and dreams, the hulking, snouted figure reflected, his features hidden beneath a conical straw hat.

    The forest didn't want intruders, realized the former Jedi Master - who'd left Chase Piru and their youngling students at the Hidden Temple on Arkinnea to seek out rumors of the survival of a Sith holocron belonging to Palpatine's Master.

    This world is so divided - but so full of hope, and secrets. I'd daresay there were Jedi - and possibly Sith - here at some point, but the native humans don't believe nonhumans exist - or if they did, they'd panic, the Whiphid thought, shaking his head.

    He focused on the holocron's Force-signature - then realized, there were other sensitives near, many others, including - !

    The loathing that the Whiphid felt through the Force made him instinctively shield, and he sighed, climbing down.

    Skywalker ... or, rather, what he's become, under Palpatine's wretched 'guidance.' I'll have to be careful, K'Kruhk thought.

    He set to trying to find the holocron before the "Dark Lord" did, armed with Jedi resolve - he'd "died" before, after all.

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

    to be continued ... [face_thinking]
     
  2. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    *****************
    1951 CE Terran:
    Albania:
    *****************

    He ran - the whispers were strong, true, but not as strong as whatever hunter the wrinkled devil had sent after him, and the jabbing pain from his broken rib made him cough blood every so often. If only he could stop for a Force-trance ...

    Stop COWERING, you sniveling fool! Allow me full access to your talents and I will protect you! the holocron whispered.

    "Shut up! You're DEAD, you hateful monster - and what good are your secrets if I lose my free will!?" spat, Balvar Pettigrew, former Acolyte of the Church of the Dark Side, now "heretic" because of stealing Darth Plagueis' holocron.

    The Sith holocron seemed to blaze with cold anger - nothing like the loathing MAGMA of the hatred of the hunter. Balvar ducked into a thicket, not even daring some pyrokinesis to warm himself; who knew how sharp his foe's senses were?

    It was then that something green flitted past, and Balvar raised an eyebrow, his rodent-like face sharpening unpleasantly.

    "Who's there? What's there?" the Anaxian demanded, reaching for his lightsaber - a last resort, but he was willing to fight.

    Something like a Trandoshan's hiss replied back, mockingly, "I sense you carry something of power ... but fear it."

    "I'm smart enough to fear it! You have no idea what horrors are locked inside this device!" Balvar snapped at the shadows.

    Something pale, in green and black robes, with thinning hair and eyes an unnatural reflective red, stepped into view.

    This one ... this one might be worthy, the holocron - or, even worse, something linked to it, Balvar feared - whispered.

    "QUIET! I stole you, I'll -" Balvar started to shriek, until the hiss returned, and he looked up instinctively.

    It was a foolish mistake, and the Anaxian dropped to his knees, fear of all his worst nightmares reflected in those eyes.

    "Yesss ..." the interloper hissed, taking the holocron from Balvar's terror-struck fingers. "Hello, old dark one."

    Whatever unholy conversation began next, Balvar didn't hear it, as some whispered obscenity plunged him into sleep.

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

    "Are you sure about this? You won't at least take a dog or a gun?" Alber asked, as Xavier started off on his own.

    "I'll be fine, my friend. Keep to the main path, and I'll check on that strange fire we saw," the telepath reassured the Albanian man. Alber shrugged, but let Xavier head deeper into the woods, and in turn, was able to focus his psi-talent.

    The cold malevolences he'd sensed before were nearby, but together, now, and that didn't bode well ... but Xavier had too little data to determine a course of action. If I can find whatever crashed, I might be able to get some answers ...

    He froze at the edge of a still-smoldering clearing, seeing what seemed to him like a lifeboat, but pod-like, with engines. Its hatch remained open, but Xavier held back, sensing a strong flicker of one of the malevolences within it.

    Strong, but fading. And whoever was inside headed into the woods, bloodied, he realized, casting about.

    Then, he sensed another strong mind, with power, and stood slowly, hands raised, calling, "I mean you no harm."

    "Well, I'm very glad to find someone - Muggle or otherwise - who's at least not actively threatening," he heard.

    A bespectacled man with a black and white beard, and a suit that would've fit in at Oxford, strode forth from a thicket.

    Xavier doubted the new arrival was entirely out of place amidst the Albanian woods, though - he radiated an aura of power, with a small sphere of light beside his head, and he carried what resembled a magic wand from a storybook.

    "Charles Xavier - I'm a researcher from America, working with the anti-Communist partisans," Xavier introduced himself.

    The older man shook his hand and smiled a bit. "Albus Dumbledore. I'm a headmaster at a - very exclusive school in Scotland, for ... gifted individuals. I sense you're not 'just' a patriotic American, yourself, although I doubt you've quite the same gifts as myself or my students," he said, his smile turning a bit wry as Xavier nodded at the light-sphere.

    "I'm what's known as a 'mutant' - a human gifted with an extra gene that turns on special powers at puberty. My own talent is psionic - telepathy, primarily. I don't use it casually, nor do I mentally eavesdrop unless I must. I've experienced, far too much in my life to doubt the reality of mystical abilities - or the need to keep secrets. Yours is safe with me," Xavier explained.

    "And I, yours, Charles - please, call me Albus. I was searching for a former student of mine, who's ... delved far too deeply into lore and arts he very much should NOT be tampering with. I sensed what I suspect is a potentially dangerous mystical artifact, carried in this ... star-lifeboat, apparently, and an injured being with it," Dumbledore said as they walked.

    Xavier nodded, following the blood trail, and asked, "Did you also sense a hateful mind? A hunter, possibly?"

    Dumbledore nodded also - then froze, holding up a hand, and mouthed the words, Can you mentally link us?

    Xavier did so, and the wizard thought, I'm sensing something - not our quarry, or the hunter, but definitely mystical.

    Something - bulky, robed in brown cloth and a straw hat - leapt from a nearby tree, and regarded the men with caution.

    Xavier tried not to gasp as the being's snout came into view, and he and Dumbledore exchanged looks of surprise.

    Perhaps even more surprising was when the warthog-like being bowed and said, in precise English, "Greetings."

    "I am K'kruhk, a member of a ... violently-disbanded order of peacekeepers. I sense you're beings of power, and your willingness to not just attack a strange life-form speaks to your sentience and kindness. I think we can help each other."

    ~Albus - this is amazing! We've met an actual extraterrestrial life-form! And it's friendly!~ Xavier sent, awed.

    Dumbledore nodded, wary but hopeful, and thought, At the very least, we should put our best foot forward.

    He stepped toward K'Kruhk and said aloud, "Greetings - K'Kruhk? My name is Albus, and this is Charles -"

    That was when a wave of rage - as much toward its source as toward the fleeing visitor - swept the astral plane. Xavier had to shield against it, and noticed K'Kruhk and Dumbledore both stagger a bit as the emotional storm passed.

    The beings shared a look, and K'Kruhk sighed, saying, "Have you ever heard of the Jedi Order, or our foes, the Sith?"

    "Not until now ... but I fear we'll get a crash course in your rivalry very soon," Xavier said, nodding through the trees.

    Something - an armored figure, rasping like they were in an iron lung, but moving fluidly - stood a few feet away. The entity was clad entirely in ebon armor, red-reflecting lenses regarding the trio, and Xavier knew they'd found the hatred's source.

    What was especially troubling was that the being seemed to be absorbing what little light there was - and rereleasing it as pained loathing, almost a nexus of the forest's old bloodshed, but tapping into and drawing strength from it.

    K'Kruhk's eyes narrowed as he rumbled, "Darth Vader. Or should I say -"

    "Silence, Whiphid," the invader snarled, modulated resentment dripping from every word. "Where is the thief?"

    K'Kruhk absently shrugged, reaching for a cylinder on his belt - which ignited with a green blade, as power flowed through him. "If I knew, we'd have been able to avoid this conversation. As it is ... I'll hold you here," he replied, tensing.

    The meaning was obvious, and Xavier didn't want to leave the alien with - whatever Vader was - but Dumbledore nodded.

    We're too unfamiliar with this 'Vader,' Charles. I do suspect I know who has the object we seek, and if I'm right, we need to find it quickly, before they tap its knowledge, the wizard thought, leading Xavier through the trees.

    The telepath watched as Vader removed a hilt from his belt, and a crimson blade ignited from it - this couldn't end well.

    K'Kruhk ... be careful, Xavier thought, risking a mindprobe of the "Sith" - and recoiling at the RAGE roiling there.

    Vader seemed to glance at Xavier, and something like a bitterly-cold icepick slammed into the psi's defenses.

    "Charles!" he heard, as someone threw him over their shoulder, and the clash of sparks followed Xavier into slumber.

    You'd think that after all the times Cain surprised me until my powers manifested, I'd have learned caution ...

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

    You SEE, then, the binding of the spirit to the vessel - yes, I sense you're familiar with the binding ritual, Tom heard.

    The similarities - the requirements - are too similar to be coincidence, Riddle agreed, beaming with the dark entity.

    The "holocron" he'd recovered from Pettigrew - who would still prove useful, the heir of Slytherin mused - was amazing, full of dark lore and spells from an entire culture of wizards from beyond the stars ... but also oddly familiar.

    There had long been suspicions and theories on the edge of wizarding culture that Hogwarts' founders had refined wizarding culture with surprising speed and precision, given that the great school had been founded shortly after the Dark Ages. Before roughly 1,000 A.D., European mages had been primarily either stuffy elitists or hedge wizards.

    But the parallels of these 'Sith' spells to our own Dark Arts - and their more basic 'Jedi' talents to the basic mainstream wizarding protocols - hint at the legends that the Hogwarts founders 'fell from the stars,' after all, Riddle mused.

    He continued deeper into the holocron, seeking the refinement of his greatest goal - survival after death.

    The "gatekeeper" of the device, a flat-nosed, yellow-eyed nonhuman, nodded with approval, sharing more details. Your comprehension and strength do you credit, Tom Marvolo Riddle ... but to truly be Sith, you need a new identity, it said.

    Tom opened his eyes, nodding as he replied, Then I am no longer Tom Marvolo Riddle, Lord Plagueis.

    Call me ... Voldemort.

    Plagueis - possibly the gatekeeper, possibly something more - chuckled with approval, thinking, Darth Voldemort.

    I do believe you will make an excellent apprentice ... but first, you must survive those who seek to prevent your study.

    ***********************
    to be continued ...
     
  3. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    *********************
    1951 CE: Albania:
    *********************

    Despite spending much of his time behind a desk, Albus did pride himself on staying in shape - which was proving useful.

    I can't spare magic right now when I need to keep prepared to face Tom. And Charles is no light load, Dumbledore admitted, setting the mind-reader beneath a tree. A quick diagnostic spell revealed no permanent damage; whatever "Vader" had done had been a reflection of Charles' mind-probe, not an actual attack - but it'd been enough to stun the American.

    "Forgive me, my new friend, but - Charles!" Dumbledore exclaimed, as Charles stirred with a groan.

    "Not your fault. I'm too reckless for my own good - Albus, we have to go help K'Kruhk!" Charles asked, getting to his feet.

    Dumbledore shook his head, pointing down the rough-hewn path toward what sounded like unholy chanting. "He knows about Vader, whereas we'd just be getting in the way. Similarly, I know some of who - and what - we face ahead," he advised.

    Charles went a bit pale as they drew closer to a small clearing, and Dumbledore tsk'ed at the sight before them.

    Tom Riddle - who was looking even less human than the last time Albus had seen him, and that was saying a lot - held aloft a red-glowing pyramid of some kind, as some kind of ... entity ... hovered over the object, occasionally chanting.

    ~What is that? Is the one in the robes your old student?~ Charles asked telepathically - Dumbledore spared a moment to admire the skill of the mutant psi; most wizards couldn't come close to such mastery of their own form of mind-reading, called Legilimency.

    Indeed, he is. Tom Riddle ... who appears to have delved even further into the Dark Arts than I had feared. He is extremely dangerous, Charles - power-hungry, ruthless ... but he respects those with more power than himself. And, your gift gives me an idea. Can you shield others' minds from other telepaths? Dumbledore asked, glancing at Charles.

    The telepath nodded, and something like a scarf, but for one's mind, seemed to settle on Dumbledore's head. I've never actually encountered proper wizards as such - much less another mutant, although I've met a few I suspect of being like myself. Still, this should theoretically protect your mind, Charles sent, and Dumbledore thanked him.

    He took a deep breath, advised Charles to stay out of sight, and stepped into the clearing, calling, "Tom? Tom, please -"

    Inhuman red eyes twitched to him - echoed by a frightful pair of yellow-orange sparks amidst the entity over the pyramid.

    "My old teacher. Professor Albus Dumbledore, meet Darth Plagueis, one of the extraterrestrial Lords of the Sith - beings of such magical, or as they call it, Force knowledge, as to rival even MY glorious ancestor, Salazar Slytherin!" Tom boomed.

    Do not sell your 'Dark Arts' short, my new apprentice. This world's dark-side acolytes are very formidable - if, perhaps, a bit too reliant upon extradimensional sources of knowledge and power. But then, the ancient Sith species relied too overmuch on arcane rites, as opposed to provable knowledge, rasped the foul entity - Plagueis, Tom had called it.

    Dumbledore glanced at where an unconscious human man in odd robes, who radiated magical presence, was sprawled, then asked Tom, "Is what you're learning truly glorious, Tom? Or just leading you further down a destructive path?"

    Tom's eyes twitched - once toward Plagueis, then toward Dumbledore - as he replied in an icy tone, "It's necessary."

    Dumbledore tried not to sigh - he feared where this would go - and prepared to lecture Tom again on death's inevitability.

    That was when another storm of HATRED lashed around them, and Plagueis exclaimed, My traitor apprentice's student!

    Tom's eyes narrowed as Plagueis seemed to seep into the holocron, and the Slytherin spat, "A rival - to SLAY."

    He flowed as much as darted off - Apparition was an inexact art under most circumstances, but Tom had always seemed to have a knack for learning the more difficult magics - while Charles asked, "Albus, are they going after Vader?!"

    "I believe so, although I'm unsure who to feel more concerned for in this instance - Tom, or Vader," Dumbledore replied.

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

    Wherever the wretched Whiphid Master had been hiding these few years since Order 66, he'd not lost his skills.

    Nor am I the callow fallen Knight whom Kenobi savaged at Mustafar, either, Vader thought, telekinetically reaching for a rock to throw at K'Kruhk. The stalemate increased Vader's anger - which, eventually, would only empower him.

    The Whiphid easily deflected the stone, but found Vader rushing him, and the SZL-KRAK of their blades echoed through the darkness as they danced. "You've adapted to the armor's limitations," K'Kruhk backhandedly complimented.

    "And you have not allowed age to slow you - WHAT!?" Vader rumbled, dodging as some kind of green flash shot by.

    He and K'Kruhk stepped back, watching as a pale, red-eyed humanoid with a flat nose - and a holocron - appeared.

    "You. Where did you get that device?" K'Kruhk demanded, glancing as the Force-adept and the arrogant telepath from before caught up with the new arrival.

    "Surrender the holocron, and I may spare you," Vader ordered - he no longer tended to kill those who displeased him.

    Often, anyway. There were just so many fools in the Imperial military who enraged him ...

    The interloper laughed with derision, grating on Vader's already short temper, and pointed a wand, saying, "Avada -"

    He wheezed as a gloved fist slammed into his stomach; the burst of Force speed wasn't usually a move Vader used, but whatever arcane Force-use the fool was threatening had been accompanied by a surge of power, best interrupted.

    Vader shoved the odd entity back, grabbing the holocron at his belt - and was staggered as a wave of contempt hit him.

    The 'Chosen One.' My wretched apprentice's apprentice; a poorer 'grandchild' I cannot think of, Plagueis' revenant spat.

    Burn-scarred eyelids narrowed behind shielding lenses, and Vader thought back with FURY, I am NEVER YOUR CREATION.

    The mental assaults were similar enough to make both Sith stagger, and Vader redoubled his shields; as he'd learned, some Sith actually bound their essences to their holocrons. While his Master had sipped some of the Muun's life-force the night he'd slain him, there was enough of Plagueis remaining to be dangerous - and then, the Force rippled, nearby.

    What -? Plagueis asked, and Vader saw opportunity ... channeling the dark side into the holocron.

    The explosion was as immense as it was effective - the other Force-adepts and the telepath were forced to fall back, and Vader brushed crystalline matrices from his armor (he'd been sure to telekinetically shield himself) before he turned to go.

    "YOU - FOOL! DIE!" the flat-nosed dark-sider spat, aiming his wand - but Vader Force-shoved the fool aside ... a bit.

    "Parlor tricks and whispers of the dead are useless against the power of the dark side. We are DONE here," Vader spat.

    He stormed off, seeking the Force-signature he'd detected ... that of the vergence the Emperor had spoken of.

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

    to be concluded ...
     
  4. Onderon1

    Onderon1 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2008
    A/N: Concluding this little work; I have to update certain other 'fic that I've left fallow for too long ... [face_blush]

    ********************
    1951 CE: Albania:
    ********************

    Xavier couldn't understand where Vader was going in such a hurry - at least that cold, ancient darkness had dissapated.

    That didn't make the current situation any better, as Riddle gestured with his wand, hissing, and Dumbledore countered him.

    The wizards were caught in a standoff, and Xavier didn't dare interrupt - he helped K'Kruhk to stand and asked, "What now?"

    "The holocron's destruction had to be Vader's main focus, or he'd have stayed and fought us - but leaving the Force-adept alive is odd. The Empire's usually more thorough in stamping out, or conscripting, Force-users ... unless ..." the alien said.

    His eyes narrowed as he looked back toward the partisans' cave, and K'Kruhk asked Xavier, "Do you know any like myself?"

    "Not aliens, unless you mean Albus - or ... wait, Elaine's unborn child. She has the same kind of - Force - you, Vader, and the wizards have ... but that would lead Vader back to - !" Xavier stammered, his eyes widening in panic.

    He darted back toward the cave, ready to reveal his telepathy if it meant warning John, Elaine, Alber and the others -

    And then, a rumble on the horizon chilled Xavier's blood, as he heard planes.

    If the Communists have targeted the partisans - I have to get there!

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

    "John - AAGH! - Wyatt - URMPH - Grey! If you EVER get me pregnant again, I'LL KILL YOU!"

    John paced outside the infirmary - one of the nearby village midwives had come running, with even the partisans' chief medic deferring to the incredibly old, but knowledgable woman, when Elaine had warned John the baby was arriving.

    Alber chuckled a bit and offered John a flask, which the young professor sipped from; he'd gotten somewhat used to the local brew, but it was still an experience. "Don't have too much," the partisan warned.

    "Right. I need to be clear-headed to help with the baby," John said, but the gathered local men laughed.

    "Well, maybe that's an American thing. The way your lady's going, you'll need to be clear-headed to run," Alber laughed.

    Then, everyone became sober as the drone of planes closed - but the picket screamed, and John heard a frightful hum.

    "What fresh devil -" one of the sergeants shouted, and the burp of machine guns rang out as Alber went ashen.

    "Lugat - or something from the Pit, get your lady and baby and go, John! The Communists didn't send that!" he gasped.

    Something - towering, pitch-black, with a blade of red hatred, was - carving its way through the partisans.

    Elaine's cries reached a sudden, fearful pitch - and then a baby's cry broke the silence, as John ran to his family.

    The midwife tsk'ed him, but shrieked when she saw - whatever - was making its way through the base - to the infirmary.

    Sorry, old woman, but I've got to protect my family, John thought, bursting into the infirmary as he saw Elaine.

    She looked small amidst the sheets, but strong, and held a blanket-wrapped bundle that waved a tiny hand. Elaine smiled at John, but immediately grew serious as he carefully lifted her, beaming at their child, and they slipped out the back.

    "I heard the planes, but John - where are we going to go? And what was that - John!?" Elaine cried as they - stopped.

    The baby broke into a cry, as whatever unnatural grip held the Greys turned them to face the infirmary's entrance.

    Elaine merely gave a faint gasp, while John steeled himself, and the - creature - all in black armor looked at them. Its' - his? - arm was outstretched, and he shut off that horrible flame-blade as he stepped toward them ... slowly.

    "The local government is sending aircraft to Base - to scour this location with explosives. You cannot hope to escape with your wife and your child, burdened as you are, before they arrive," he rasped.

    John and Elaine traded a horrified gaze; just because it was true, didn't mean they'd needed to hear it.

    "What do you want?" Elaine asked, clutching the baby closer; John realized he hadn't asked if it was a boy or a girl.

    "In exchange for flying you out of the blast zone? Your child. She will be treated well, given a chance to serve something far greater than anything your paltry planet could offer her for a destiny," the being rumbled, glancing at the baby.

    The girl - my firstborn, just like all the old folk stories, this monster wants my firstborn! John lamented - cooed softly.

    Elaine looked away, then kissed the baby's forehead and looked at John, every inch of her fire warming and chilling him.

    "If this is a damnation, then let it be on me - I want our little girl to live. Whatever you are - get us clear before I change my mind," Elaine snapped, and the being released them, leading them back toward the emergency cave exit.

    John stammered, but kept pace with the terrible creature, as Elaine closed her eyes and held their baby closer.

    "Mara. Mara Rhiannon Grey. I'm just sorry we couldn't get you baptized," he heard Elaine whisper as the planes rumbled.

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

    For a moment, Xavier feared he was too late - K'Kruhk wasn't badly injured, but the Jedi did have some burns.

    They'd evaded the edge of the partisan camp, and followed K'Kruhk's senses toward what he'd called a "Theta-class shuttle." As it was, the tri-winged craft was obviously not of Earth, and the telepath and Jedi waited in the shadows.

    Two white-and-black-armored figures with T-visored helmets waited near the - starship - and Xavier asked, "What do we do?"

    He froze, as something gripped him, and Xavier's blood chilled as he heard John Grey shout, "Release him!"

    "I am not taking chances now that my mission's end is in sight. Do not anger me, Earth-man, or I will simply take your daughter and leave you here," Vader warned, striding from the forest with John - who was carrying Elaine, and she held - !

    "Vader!" K'Kruhk began, but Xavier saw the pleading look in Elaine's eyes, and shook his head; the Jedi backed down.

    Vader glared at Xavier and K'Kruhk, then glanced at the Greys and asked, "The bald one is your friend?"

    "The bald - Charles? Yes, he's a former student of mine!" John asked as Vader released Xavier.

    "I'll assume you've heard the planes coming - K'KRUHK!?" Xavier exclaimed as the Jedi was thrown away, savagely.

    The Greys and Xavier glared at the - Sith - but Vader snapped, "I'm altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it further."

    "... very well," John sighed, and Xavier patted his shoulder before picking up K'Kruhk's hat, hoping the Jedi would survive.

    They boarded the starship, and the troops helped them strap in as Vader took the controls, deftly lifting them aloft.

    "Keep the Whiphid's hat, Jedi-friend. Perhaps you can divine its' secrets more easily than he ever did," the Sith growled.

    Xavier tried not to scowl, taking a moment to glance at John and Elaine's daughter - the child seemed healthy.

    Elaine, however, burst into silent tears, while John went pale as they headed for the coast, and Xavier felt an awful chill.

    Oh, my friends ... Alber, and K'Kruhk - and Albus! What'll become of him - and what price will we pay ... ?

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

    Unlike far too many wizards, Albus had kept up to date on Muggle technology and politics, so the droning warned him.

    "TOM! Stand down - this entire place is about to be flattened by an airstrike!" he warned, still countering Tom's spells.

    Tom merely sneered, drawing power into himself - this wasn't going to end well at all, Albus realized.

    He managed to dive away from the decidedly-lethal spell of Tom's which he'd been blocking, then rolled as fire neared.

    Unsurprisingly, Tom was surrounded by a greenish-black miasma of the forest's ages of negative emotion, and Albus decided discretion was the better part of valor. He scanned for any light, and Apported to it - landing near K'Kruhk.

    The Whiphid was bruised, bloodied, and missing his hat, but managed to stand tall, helping Albus to balance. "The local political factions' stalemate is about to break badly, I'll assume?" the Jedi said, as Albus helped him walk.

    "Unfortunately, yes. Did Charles escape?" Albus asked, looking up as the airplanes drew nearer, and booms rang out.

    "In a manner of speaking. We've lost, Albus - if your fold space power can carry two, I'd appreciate it," K'Kruhk asked.

    "Gladly, my non-Terran friend. While I can't promise your safety here in Europe - sadly, even my fellow wizards gaze unfavorably upon the unexpected visitor - I do know wizards in the East who would gladly shelter you," Albus offered.

    K'Kruhk's smile was enough to calm Albus' nerves, and he Apported them away - hoping Charles would be all right.

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

    Vader was neither overly abrupt, nor overly kind, in dropping Xavier and the Greys off at the coast; he did have one of the clones make sure that Elaine Grey's medical condition was stable before the Terrans disembarked.

    (The young woman's eyes were accusing, in a manner that drew Vader back through flame and gasps and pain.)

    He accepted the Greys' child, a girl, with uncommon gentleness - telling himself the gesture was to meet his Master's orders, to deliver the child unharmed to Imperial Center - and turned away, only stopping to glare warningly at Xavier.

    The telepath's loathing was almost tangible, and for a moment, Vader was - mildly concerned; the mentat was strong.

    However, quiet words from John Grey drew Xavier back, and Vader boarded the Theta, carrying the girl.

    He spared Elaine Grey a glance, and she asked, "At least let me name her. I won't try to stop you leaving."

    The Dark Lord nodded once, and Elaine kissed the child's head, saying, "Mara. We'll always love you. Be brave."

    With that, the admirably-strong woman leaned on John Grey's shoulder, and Vader boarded, giving the girl to one of the clones - who twitched, and Vader gave the infant a wary glance as unfocused power rippled from her, even this young.

    Twin jade-like eyes stared back at Vader, with what the Sith suspected would be a very temperamental personality.

    Mara Jade, then. We will see what our Master makes of you, young one ...

    The thought was almost enough to comfort Vader - especially when he swore he heard a Muun's cold, bitter laugh.

    You destroyed my holocron, 'Dark Lord.' But I? Even as a wisp, I have learned to stave off death, Plagueis seemed to mock.

    Vader ignored the whisper, leashing his anger - and fear - as the whisper taunted, Your soul may be beyond me.

    But we will see who claims your body, after your own life departs this scorched, armored shell.

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

    The starship lifted off, and Xavier shook his head, then watched as John shuddered and Elaine shook - but not with sorrow.

    "No more foolishness - I don't know, or care, what actually just happened. My daughter is - gone, because of this adventuring. No more craziness, you HEAR me?! Not for decades!" Elaine ordered, fixing John, then Xavier, with her glare.

    John merely nodded, and Xavier didn't dare reply - both because he respected the Greys' loss, and out of uncertainty.

    What if I had tried to stop Vader? There was an innocent in the line of fire, though! Xavier lamented.

    He prepared to signal their escape boat, then blinked as Albus and K'Kruhk appeared - and Elaine turned bright red.

    The Greys slumped, though, as Albus gestured, saying sadly, "I'm sorry, but non-wizards can't know of our existence."

    Concern filled Xavier, but his new friend clapped him on the shoulder and said, "You, however, Charles - I doubt the Obliviate spell would even affect you. And I'd be a poor friend if I made you forget this day - dark as it is."

    "Thank you, Albus. I'm just sorry things went as they did - K'Kruhk, will you be all right?" Xavier asked, watching the Whiphid set the Greys gently on the ground.

    The Jedi nodded, smiling with what Xavier suspected was wryness. "I've survived worse, Charles. Keep the Hat - it's full of secrets, and I suspect you'll accomplish more with it than I will. I'm headed into the East, to study with monks who sound like they might have had Jedi influence in their past. We should get you and the Greys back to your home country," he said.

    Xavier nodded, feeling drained; he just wanted to be home, with his friends, and call Moira.

    And pray I never encounter another being like that 'Vader' ...

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

    [face_thinking]
     
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