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Before - Legends Shattered Reality - Revan's Return (a multi-author collab) Updated 5/19!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by SoA, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    Title: Shattered Reality
    Timeframe: 3959 BBY, the start of the Jedi Civil War
    Characters: Revan, Malak, Davik Kang, Carth Onasi, Janaice Nall, the Exile, Atton's Parents, and lots of OCs
    Genre: Drama, Action, Angst
    Summary: Revan's return to the Republic as a Sith Lord affected everyone in the galaxy from the most prominent leaders to ordinary citizens just trying to live their lives on the outer rim. This story takes a look at various people's reactions to Revan's return immediately after the Battle of Foerost.

    The idea for this collab came to me this winter, after testing the waters and asking around a bit, I launched into the project, and all of these lovely people hopped on to join. I have really enjoyed this whole process, unifying a bunch of different stories and ideas into one bigger story. I owe a huge thanks to all the participants for making this happen!

    This will be posted in four parts, each revolving around a news update on the attack on Foerost with three or four character pieces by all different authors. This week we have pieces from SoA, LaForzaViva, and MiralukaJedi.

    [U]Shattered Reality[/U]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The fleet is approaching the Foerost System.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Prepare to cut the hyperdrive and activate the sublight engines!”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]All personnel report to your stations in battle readiness.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Revan watched the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Taninim's [/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]bridge stir to life. The air hummed with anticipation; both nervousness and excitement. Fighter pilots itched to be released from the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Taninim's [/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]underbelly and engage their new enemies. Those who once called themselves Jedi polished their sabers and readied themselves to serve their new lord. Amid those feelings were doubts of their purpose and longings soon to be satisfied of returning to the Republic at last. All of this was palpable to Darth Revan through the Force.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Like a monster of the deep seas of Manaan, the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Taninim [/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]was resurfacing at last, after two long years. Beneath the mask of a dissident, Revan smiled. Revan had already saved the Republic once, and now it was upon those very same shoulders to do it again, from a not altogether different source.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Even the brightest minds of the Republic had no inkling of what really lay behind the Mandalorian Wars. Their pitiful reasoning had seen only the Mandalorians' sense of honor, battle, and conquest. Every one of them had glazed over the source of the war that Revan had seen straight through to. They ignored the history laid before them by the Great Sith War. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Doomed fools,[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] Revan thought ruefully.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Mandalore was not the mastermind of the Mandalorian Wars, though he may have been the brilliant perpetrator. The true instigator sat on a throne on Dromund Kaas, calling himself the Dark Lord of the Sith. He would destroy the Republic to exact his revenge, and now he would use Revan and Malak to do it. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]That was something that Revan would stop but nothing to prevent. Revan had seen what was left of the despotic Sith Empire. Even as Revan and Malak knelt before the Sith Emperor, accepting their quest to search out the legendary Star Forge, Revan vowed never to serve the ruler on that throne.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]For the past two years, Revan artfully wove a web of truth and deceit, taking on the mantle of the Dark Lord, Darth Revan. Goals clearly in mind, Revan knew that only through another war could control be wrestled from the lamed and directionless senate. Only through sacrifice would they come to understand the danger they faced. Only through destruction could absolute destruction be avoided. Revan would take the reigns of the Republic and prepare its defenses against the True Sith, who were yet to come, but surely would. In his zeal, not even Malak understood this.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Although Revan would offer peace in return for control of the Republic, it was obvious that the leaders of that stagnant government would not accept such an offer. The war for protection was about to begin.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Reverting to real-space in five, four, three, two—“[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Activate sublight engines!”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The swirling blue of hyperspace morphed itself into thin, white streaks, then resolved into the glittering points of countless stars. Foerost IV loomed outside of the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Taninim's [/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]front viewports. The green and blue planet ringed by its silvery shipyards hung serenely in space. That would change momentarily.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]My Lord,” Admiral Ivgit prompted Revan for instructions. It was only a formality. He knew what to do.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Launch all fighters,” Revan replied decisively.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]And the boarding crews?” Ivgit asked.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Hold,” Revan answered firmly. “It appears that we have company, Admiral. When the path is clear, commence boarding operations.” [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Four capital ships scrambled from their patrol orbits to intercept the Sith fleet, fighters already launching. The pair of [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]hammerhead-class[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] cruisers accompanied by a heavy cruiser and a [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]praetorian-class [/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]frigate did not stand a chance against Revan's fleet of two thousand, even when the rest of the Foerost patrol fleet arrived.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Six more capital ships are approaching around the horizon of Foerost IV.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]None of this surprised Revan. It was all going exactly according to plan. Along with the shipyard's security codes, the enterprising Admiral Saul Karath also provided Revan with a complete defensive read-out of the system.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Tell Darth Malak that he may take the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Red Nova[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] and its compliment of cruisers to engage the patrol fleet,” Revan ordered. Malak would be thrilled to tear the Republic forces to shreds.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]We are being hailed,” one of the bridge officers reported, craning his neck towards Revan expectantly.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Good,” Revan nodded, “Broadcast my response on all channels.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Yes, my Lord,” the officer nodded.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The face of a frightened Sullustan captain appeared on the large bridge holoscreen. Before he could overcome his shock to demand a ceasefire, Revan began, ”Citizens of the Republic, Senators of the Republic, Jedi of the Order, people of the galaxy, I, Revan, have returned. Many moons ago, I stood above the broken, defeated body of Mandalore the Ultimate, the war now won. I fought and led men into battle countless times, the odds always against us. In the space above Malachor V, I and I alone led the forces of the Republic to victory against the Mandalorians. Now, they are fractured, splintered amongst the galaxy, discarded and discredited. They threatened the lifeblood of this Republic, seeking to destroy all that has been built across the ages.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Many of those in power waited as the Mandalorians threw the gauntlet at us, provoking us to fight. They said that the Mandalorians were no threat to us, that they were merely conquering worlds and planets in the Outer Regions. As worlds burned, as children lay slaughtered in the dust, they waited further still. Countless beings, millions upon billions upon trillions of men, women, and children died. And all some could do was watch, shrug their shoulders, and ignore the brutality.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“But not I, citizens. As untold beings cried out for help and rescue, I gathered those who felt as strongly as I did that the Republic was sacrificing its people to avoid a war that would not stop until all were vanquished. Alongside me were many great warriors, soldiers loyal to the ideals of democracy, freedom, and responsibility. Thousands fell, dying for a cause in which they believed, in which I still believe more than ever.”[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]0252 Galactic Standard Time[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Explosion in Foerost System[/FONT][/I][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]HoloNet News has learned at this hour of a large explosion at the military drydocks located in the Foerost system. The Ministry of Defense declined to comment on the matter, stating that it was a training accident.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The Foerost system includes two habitable planets, though only one is currently inhabited. That planet, known as Foerost IV, is populated by a large military base that oversees the construction of two new and major ship classes: the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Centurion[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]-class battlecruiser and the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Interdictor[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]-class destroyer. Both are modern ship designs since the end of the recent large-scale wars against the Sith Empire and the Mandalorians. The ship designs are considered the most advanced designs the Republic military has created to this date. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The ship-building process is lengthy. Designs must be formulated, then tested in a series of computer models and then on a smaller scale in zero-gravity chambers that dictate the rough abilities the ships are designed to fulfill. Production then moves form the small scale to the large scale, where the use of factories and drydocks are required. Once the basic shell of the cruisers are completed on the ground, they are fitted with engines and flown from the surface of the planet to the drydocks, where they are completed, tested, christened, and then sent on their maiden voyages.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]We’ll have more on this story as it develops.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Good morning, Captain,” came a gravelly, low voice. Cainos looked over to his left and saw his gruff lieutenant standing there, saluting, helmet in hand. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]A better match between voice and person does not exist. Except that of the Revanchist[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“G’morning Lieutenant,” Cainos answered. He raised his hand and returned the salute casually and then turned to his right. Ten of the finest pilots he had ever known stood before him. Everyone wore flight suits of dark blue, trimmed with silver piping; a new patch commemorating the re-naming of their squadron adorned the left shoulder. On the right shoulder… there was no patch there. Not anymore.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Lady, and gentlemen,” he began, “today is a difficult day. Today we are called upon to do that which we swore an oath, many years ago, never to do. We all know the pain in our heavy hearts. But, your hearts must be strong, like steel, unable to be bent by the emotion, longing, despair, and pain of this task. For we have been given this duty, this difficult task because we are the strongest and the best. We did not survive war without skill, talent, training, camaraderie, and luck. We have stood together and lived another day. Today I ask you to give me your best again, and to stand beside me once more.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]He paused and looked nine men and one woman in the eyes. They stared back at him, their backs straight, their chests out, their eyes hard. They were ready, but he could see their fear. He knew their fear, knew what they had been asked and could feel his own heart trying to rip free from his chest. But reason, reason from their commander, had convinced them of their task.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“If you cannot or will not complete this mission to the end, please, step to the side now. I will have no traitors and cowards in my midst,” Cainos said at a level tone. No person before him flinched or moved a muscle. “Then board your vessels, and may the Force be with you.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Sir, yes sir!” came the chorus of voices. His lieutenant stepped forward and began barking orders to the fuel and hangar crew. Cainos strapped his helmet on, the lingering smell of new paint hanging over it. The paint smelled to him of guilt, but he pushed the swelling emotions to the back of his mind, trying to control them.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Ready, sir?” came a voice. It snapped him from his brief daze and he nodded, flashing a false smile.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“How old are you, son?” he asked as the young-looking crewmen steadied the ladder to his cockpit.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Seventeen, sir! I hope to fly one of these bad boys, one day,” the boy replied. Cainos smiled sadly to himself. Flying was a precious, fleeting feeling; but not when it involved his current orders. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Today it is a job, not a love[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri].[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“How did you wind up in this fleet, son?” he asked.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Grew up onboard the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Starikashka[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri], sir. Been there my whole life until I was transferred here. For doing well, sir!” he said, his smile brighter than a yellow sun.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“A military brat, eh? What did your dad do?” he asked as he settled down into his seat. The fair hair and then the boy’s face popped up to the side of his cockpit. The boy quickly began hooking him into his gear, his hands quick, nimble, and never hesitating.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“No idea, sir. My momma said he never did come back. She was the captain of the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Terra Nova[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri], sir, until…” he trailed off, looking away. Cainos put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and squeezed tightly.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“I know, son, I was there. I was there,” he said quietly.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“You’re all set, sir. Good luck!” the boy scampered down the side. Cainos realized he’d forgotten to even find out his name. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]There will be time for that later[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] he thought, turning his mind to the task at hand.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“All hands, report in,” he said, clicking on the transmitter. The reports rolled back to him and finished with the lieutenant, reporting as Five, in control of second flight. “Very good. Start ‘em up.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The engines burst to life, the roar filling his ears with a dull noise. The craft was shuddering, desperate to fulfill his every command. Sometimes Cainos thought his fighter was alive and he was merely its director. But today he had to be at his best; he had to be the master of his ship to weather the storm he could sense approaching.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The twelve fighters flew from the hangar and into the cold, quiet of space. Sound ceased to exist in the vacuum and he clicked on the transmitter. He exhaled.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Punch it.” The fighters disappeared into the swirling blue of hyperspace.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] “Aw damn it!” Abel shouted as he flashed his Pazaak hand.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Knew you were bluffing!” his opponent said, grinning widely as he scooped the winnings toward himself.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Yeah, yeah you got lucky. I’ll win that back in a minute, just you wait,” he said, shuffling the deck and re-dealing the cards. As he slapped the last card down in front of him, the lights flipped from their natural white to red. The emergency siren began wailing and a voice crackled over the intercom.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“All hands report to battle stations! I repeat, all hands report to battle stations!” Pazaak cards forgotten, money lying out in the open, the room became a hive of activity. Most of the pilots weren’t in their ready gear, and soon clothes were flying as they all hustled to get in their flight suits. Abel caught a sneak at the second lieutenant, her shirt off before feeling the smack of fabric against his face.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Focus, ensign,” one of the older pilots said, smiling broadly at him, his own gaze settled on the second lieutenant’s figure as well. Abel grabbed the back of his head, muttering to himself and rubbing the pain away.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“You can catch a glimpse later, honey,” the second lieutenant said mockingly, her flight suit on and zipped. “But you’ll have to pay plenty for the privilege, seeing as you’re the new guy and all.” She stepped from the room and Abel rolled his eyes.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Quite the tease, ain’t she?” another lieutenant asked, jamming his feet into his boots. Abel nodded, zipped his suit up, grabbed his helmet and rushed for the door. The hallways were crowded; less like a concert or riot but more like organized chaos. The pilots were all rushing down the right side of the hallways, their helmets bobbing in their grasp. Soldiers, rifles and pistols in hand, were moving in the opposite direction toward separate hangar bays. Civilians, engineers, and administrative personnel moved down the middle of the hall, less in a rush compared to the troops.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Abel skidded into the pilot waiting room and took a quick glance at the holo-map displayed on the screen. The shipyards were a series of crosscutting blue and green lines while the ships waiting to be finished were colored in various shades of white, yellow, gold, and brown, representing the degree of completion. And on the far side of the map blinked hundreds of white dots. Some small, and some large. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]A fleet. The Mandalorians are back[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri].[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Get to your ship gods damnit!” the first lieutenant shouted at him, grabbing him by the right arm. The patch sewn there tore as the man dragged him through the door and pushed him toward his ship, cursing him out with a series of unrepeatable words, mixing in “rookie” occasionally. Abel straightened up, smoothed the torn patch, and then sprinted for his fighter. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The crewman assigned to him didn’t even bother with a ladder and merely took his helmet. Abel jumped and grasped the edge of the cockpit and hauled him up, all the pull ups during training finally coming to be useful. The crewman tossed up the helmet and he put it on, hooking the clasp closed under his chin. He didn’t bother with the secondary restraints and hooked into the primary ones.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“All wings, report in!” came the voice of the captain, a stout veteran of multiple battles. The reports rolled through as Abel ran his hand across the old picture taped to his flight board. He stood on the right in the photograph, his arm slung loosely around the broad shoulders of his big brother. Abel had just graduated from secondary school, and his brother surprised the family by arriving for the ceremony decked out in his dress uniform. He was sent to the front a few days later, and after the battle at Malachor V, he’d never been heard from again.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Lapis Eleven, you there, rook?” crackled a voice, snapping him out of his thoughts.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Lapis Eleven, all good to go, yes sir!” he replied.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Lapis Twelve, let’s rock it,” came the final report.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“All pilots, fire up your engines and form up on my wing,” the captain said, his fighter turning out of the hangar. Abel waited until the first ten had gone and powered his ship out into space. He squinted in the distance but couldn’t see much beyond a few specks of silver in the distance; the fleet was very far away.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]He switched his frequency to the one used between wingmates. “What do you think, Twelve?” he asked. Twelve was another veteran of the war, but didn’t like to talk about his time much. He was getting older and had fallen from the leader of third flight to the second to last man on the roster, since the most junior pilot was always the wingmate of the squadron leader. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Thankfully I got out of that spot quick, even if I’ve only been doing this for a year.[/FONT][/I][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“I reckon it’s the Mandos again. Can’t keep their damned metal heads out of our business,” Twelve answered, his voice surly, the chomping of his teeth on the processed nicotine audible through the speakers.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Roger that,” Abel answered. The captain was leading them out toward the enemy fleet at a slow pace; Abel guessed they were trying to figure out who it was by sensor readings. Suddenly, the captain sped up and Abel jammed down on the accelerator, cycling through his gears to keep up.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Little bugger got damned excited, now didn’t he,” Twelve chewed through the line. Abel didn’t bother to reply – something had definitely changed. His line to the rest of the squadron was open, he checked, but no one had been saying anything. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Cap, what’s going on?” he asked. He knew he should’ve kept his mouth shut, but he couldn’t stop himself.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Look at the data read out, rook. They're back. May the Force be with us!” came the second lieutenant’s cry of joy. Abel glanced down at the screen on the flight board and cycled through the screens until his sensors locked onto the first ship in the enemy fleet.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The screen read one word: [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Taninim[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]. Everyone knew that name. The Revanchist had returned.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] Hyperspace dissolved in a flash of white light. Cainos’ hands flew over the board as he checked all the read outs. In the distance, a green and blue planet revolved. Just visible from their distance, Cainos could see the silver metal of the shipyards of Foerost. Hulking masses of silver and grey metals glinted in the reflection of the red sun. Intel had been right: at least three hundred ships or more were sitting in their drydocks, waiting to be completed. He began a series of sensor sweeps as the squadron waited quietly, doing the same. They had been sent in advance by a few minutes, and eventually the sensor read out exploded into color as thousands of ships flooded in behind them.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Serroco squadron, report in,” came a voice from the [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Taninim[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri], the flagship appearing behind them. It took him a moment to remember that “Serroco” was the name of their new squadron, named after the nuclear holocaust on the planet bombed by the Mandalorians. It had touched the Revanchist more than many knew, and it was almost a rallying cry of sorts.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Intel checks out, sir. I read 452, repeat, four hundred and fifty-two capital ships stationed in dry dock. Ten capital ships are present in patrol formation Beta, and sensors report multiple fighter launching from the patrol fleet and from the dry docks. Numbers are not confirmed, though they appear to be heading toward the hundreds,” he answered crisply.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Confirmed, Serroco One. Proceed in patrol formation Epsilon and wait for my signal,” a new voice said. The timbre resonated and Cainos felt chills ripple down his arms and neck. The Revanchist was personally leading the battle![/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Serroco squadron, move to patrol formation Epsilon and wait for command by [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Taninim[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] for initiation,” he said over the transmitter. The squadron tapped their transmitters as a reply and Cainos flipped on manual control and shifted his flight to the left.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]They continued to hold their pattern as the communications crackled to life. The Republic fighters had sped up and were flying at top speed toward them. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]To welcome us home[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] he thought grimly. But the Revanchist brought no welcome with them. Revan and the Sith fleet were bringing only heartbreak.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The Revanchist began to speak, message broadcast to all open channels, “Thousands fell, dying for a cause in which they believed, in which I still believe more than ever.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“You, citizens of the Republic, deserve to know what I saw in the depths of the darkest space of the Unknown Regions. I took those most loyal to the Republic and me, and sought out a faint, but growing evil. Space, blacker than evil itself, wrapped us in its coils, seeking to smother us. In that evil space, this fleet and I, loyal citizens and soldiers to freedom, discovered a threat. A threat that, left to its purposes, will come to destroy and dominate this Republic.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“It is with no embellishment, with no exaggeration, with no hyperbole, that I bring this news to you, citizens loyal to freedom. The renegades, slaughterers, murderers, brutes that we called the clans of Mandalore pale in comparison to this unspeakable threat discovered in the darkest of space. This evil, left unchecked, will become unstoppable.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“This is why I have returned, with men, women, and Jedi loyal to the call and purpose of freedom and democracy. These men, women, and Jedi surrounding me fill me with hope that this evil, this darkness, can be destroyed before it destroys us. It is often said that history repeats itself, and once again the galaxy is facing a dangerous threat, a threat for which the Republic is unprepared, and must be made ready. This process can occur peacefully or violently, but it cannot be allowed to fail, for the Republic is in grave danger. I will not let the Republic be swallowed by evil; I will do what I must to preserve it.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Beside me, around me, and with me are the greatest heroes this galaxy has known. They pledged their lives to the combat of evil, and they understand what I asked of them following the destruction of Mandalore’s armies. They followed me blind into the blackest of space, into the deepest of nights and yet I ask of them now, in the starkest language possible, to join me in fighting evil once more. And I ask you, citizens, soldiers, and Jedi of the Republic, to join me once more. Join me and we can protect the galaxy, save the lives of trillions of beings, and reinvigorate the Republic.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“You, who believe that the Republic is dying and in need of reform, join me in this endeavor. It will not and it cannot be easy, but it must be done. The costs of this endeavor are great, perhaps greater than any faced in the history of the Republic, but they must be borne if we are to emerge, once more, from the fires of war. I am convinced that with the strength of the greatest men, women and Jedi at my side, that this evil will be defeated. Peace, freedom, and democracy can only be preserved through strength. If I must, I shall bring this strength to the heart of the Republic in order to make it ready.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Stand at my side, citizens and soldiers of freedom. Stand with me now as you stood with me before. If you do not stand with me and my men on the side of freedom, you are no friend of mine; you are an enemy to freedom and shall be treated as such. With my greatest friend Darth Malak at my side, I, Darth Revan, savior of the galaxy, implore you to stand with me. Fight with me for the preservation of freedom, for the continued health of our great Republic. May the Force be with us, always.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Cainos tried to listen, but soon turned the volume down. The truth of the Revanchist’s words were too much to bear and he lowered his gaze from space to the cockpit. A worn picture was taped next to his flight stick. He stood in his full dress uniform, the first time he’d worn it. Standing next to him was his brother, a huge grin on his younger brother’s face. He’d just graduated and wanted to be a pilot like Cainos.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]He’d never seen him again, after the Revanchist took them into the deepest, darkest reaches of space. Cainos never got a chance to say good bye to his brother Abel.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] The silence was deafening. Space was always quiet, but the abnormal silence after the Revanchist’s broadcast was something different. It was silence as if all life had been cut off, as if a black hole had opened up and swallowed the galaxy whole. The Revanchist had returned to the Republic. At the head of a battle fleet. And not to help the Republic, but to conquer it.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Abel exhaled slowly, the magnitude of the broadcast sinking in. The entire squadron, once at full speed toward the massive fleet had halted and was sitting dead in space. The engines of the captain’s fighter were silent and shut down. A better metaphor for the sudden hollowness inside Abel could not be scripted.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The Revanchist once had been the beacon of hope for the Republic in the blackest of times. The Mandalorians had destroyed many trade routes and dozens of planets were under simultaneous siege. The Republic task force at Serroco had been obliterated in a nuclear barrage, destroying the entire planet and all its inhabitants in a planet-wide nuclear fire storm.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The Revanchist had appeared from the mist, taking command as the leader of the Republic’s forces. Revan was a Jedi, and yet, far more than just that. The Revanchist was light incarnate, the physical representation that all believed in as their guiding star. The Revanchist was to take back all the worlds sundered and ruined by the Mandalorians. Revan was going to free the Republic, and did.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Abel’s brother had given his life for the galaxy’s cause. A war only the Revanchist could explain to the people, a war only the Revanchist could win, had ended with so much death and destruction at Malachor. Abel could never look at the pictures they showed in training. He knew his dead brother’s body floated there in that space, frozen solid.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Abel could feel his heart freeze, his pulse growing slower and slower, his breath growing more shallow as he stared at the fleet above him. The Revanchist had returned and, with the same hands, was going to destroy that which had been saved. The Revanchist was going to destroy the Republic, having loved, bled, sweated and nearly died for it. The Revanchist was no longer a beacon of light, but a symbol of darkness; a self-proclaimed Sith.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Sir, the fighters have changed formation!” came the panicked voice of Lapis Six. Suddenly the communications chatter became overwhelming as multiple voices from the Republic fighters clamored to be heard. Some were pleading with the fighters now turning toward them; others addressed the Revanchist. A number of fighters, Abel could see, had turned around and were fleeing.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Then the chorus of voices fell by the wayside as training began to kick in. Engines were restarted and even the captain’s fighter came back to life. He swerved to the left and broke off from the straight line and began to angle back to the right.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“This is Serroco One. Shut your engines down, lower your shields, deactivate your lasers and missiles and I can promise that you will not be harmed,” one of the enemy fighters’ squawked.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“This is Lapis One, with whom am I speaking!? Traitors! I demand you speak your names before you slaughter your brethren in cold-blooded combat!” the captain roared, his challenge broadcast across all systems.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“This is Captain Cainos Inox, of the planet Corellia, commander of Serroco squadron, the pride of the flagship [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Taninim[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri].” Abel’s heart stopped. A knife had been plunged into his heart by the Revanchist, and now it was twisted and thrust deeper. A lump caught in his throat. His hand hovered over the transmission button. The galaxy was spinning and he could not right himself in the storm. Pain tore through his heart. He looked at the picture on his flight board. And then he spoke, the tears rolling down his cheeks and into his mouth.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Lapis Eleven… Cainos, it’s me. Cainos, it’s Abel,” he said, breaking off the transmission as sobs rocked his body. His own brother was alive. His own brother had returned as a traitor, as the Revanchist had returned as a Sith Lord.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] “Lapis Eleven… Cainos, it’s me. Cainos, it’s Abel.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The words were like lightning to his body. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]My brother. Here. A pilot.[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] Pride, joy, pain, terror, fear and anger flashed through his veins, currents alternating yet all entwined. The brother he’d longed to see again, to hold tight, and to protect from harm as all older brothers should do was seated in the cockpit of a fighter streaking toward his squadron.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]<Captain Inox, I trust your emotions will not cause you to deviate from our cause. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one> the Revanchist’s sweet, dangerous voice sounded in his head. Cainos’s hand tightened on the flight stick, the seconds until contact with the Republic squadron ticking down. Seconds until he might shoot his brother down, kill the brother he’d grown up mentoring and grooming to succeed him as the man of the family. Their mom had been sick when Cainos returned home once, but he was needed at the front. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]I know he took care of her. I taught him what was important, and above all I taught him that loyalty was important[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri].[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]His hand shook on the flight stick, his arm trembling. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]And yet here I am, an oathbreaker to the Republic. I gave them my life and they gave me their time and training, and I have returned to wage war on them. I have broken my bonds, and for what? To follow the Revanchist? Is my loyalty to one person worth more than my loyalty to the Republic?[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] His hand shook unsteadily on the flight stick.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]<Cainos, I sense, and I understand the feelings you are experiencing. This is the hardest moment, a moment I have steeled myself against for a year. But if we are to save this decaying system, we must reform it. That reform must come by an iron grip, for it will not occur any other way. I need you, Cainos, in this endeavor. You agreed to come on this journey, pledging to follow me wherever it led. It has led, sadly, back to where we began. But we are righteous in our cause and you swore an oath of loyalty to me. Your oath to the Republic was fulfilled when you risked your life at Malachor. Fly for me, Cainos!> The Revanchist’s words stirred a cauldron of shifting and battering emotions. Less than five seconds remained. He exhaled.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“This is Serroco One. All hands, weapons free.”[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] “This is Serroco One. All hands, weapons free.”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Bursts of red lasers burst from the lead squadron of the traitorous fleet. Abel flicked down the shaded blast screen on his helmet and felt his hands move independently of his mind as his ship veered away from the initial blasts. His fighter dove and curled, snapping under the first pass of the Sith fighters. He rolled to the right and came up behind the now-dissipating squadron, his hand hovering over the flight stick.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Was that fighter Cainos’?[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] he thought, his fingers hesitating. The fighter curved away and Abel turned in the opposite direction, lasers trailing behind him. A Sith fighter, its markings identical to his Republic fighter, trailed him, lasers zipping after him. Abel tried to shake the mist forming over his thoughts but memories kept flashing past his gaze.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]When he was eight, he’d fallen down the side of the creek in the back yard and scraped his knee. Cainos had been crossing above the stream on a log, egged on by Abel, who wanted to see Cainos fall and ruin his newest pair of pants. As he screamed in pain, Cainos jumped right into the water, pants and all, and brought Abel home. Cainos had told him that he had to always remember family and brotherhood.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]When he was fourteen and eyeing a pretty girl in his class, he’d asked Cainos what to do. Nearly an adult now, and someone destined to be great, Cainos had been so affable and outgoing that girls were tripping all over themselves to see him. Abel was still short, his growth spurt having not kicked in yet; he was still an awkward boy. Instead of telling him to get lost or to go play with toys, Cainos gave him some advice. Abel and that girl dated a few years later, but she slipped away when Abel went to the academy. He knew she still wanted to be with him, and he with her, and they had planned to see each other in a few weeks.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]When he was eighteen and graduating from secondary school, he recalled the whispers and cries of delight as Lieutenant Cainos Inox stepped through the door to congratulate his little brother on his graduation and acceptance to the academy. That dress uniform, fitted to his brother’s frame to a T, had wowed even Abel, who knew that one day he would be just like his older brother, the great Cainos Inox, and would help fight back the Mandalorians and save the Republic. Before he left the ceremony, to never return home, Cainos told Abel simply that the loyalty to his family was the greatest gift he could use. And that if he became a pilot, that his oath to the Republic was sacred and unbreakable. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]And that, no matter what, he would protect me. He would always be there for me.[/FONT][/I][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Abel laughed, a bitter laugh filling the cockpit as he twirled his fighter. His brother was returning to destroy the Republic. Abel was just a speedbump along the way. An old Jedi saying popped into his mind, no more appropriate now than ever before. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]There are no coincidences; the Force works in mysterious ways[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]. Abel cursed the Force to eternal damnation and steadied his grip on his flight stick.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]If his brother was going to kill him and destroy a Republic he loved and served, he was going to take a few of the bastards out first. His loyalties were to his family and to his oath. Cainos was no longer his brother. He was his enemy.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]He drove the fighter down and then hit the right rudder, sending the fighter screaming to the left. The traitor in the fighter followed but was late, opening some space in the non-linear boundaries of space combat. Abel bit back to the right and then slammed on the brakes, the fighter shuddering as it complied, his foot cranking on the right rudder again. The nose of the fighter turned back to the left and the Sith fighter overshot him. Abel squeezed the trigger as he pushed back down on the accelerator, his fighter blasting through the fragments of the exploded traitorous enemy.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The battle raged in two parts, Abel could see. The few capital ships the Republic had here at Foerost were trying to approach the Revanchist’s fleet, but with hundreds of ships aligned against them, there was no conceivable thought of winning, or even escaping. They could only do some damage and try to protect some of the dry docked ships from powering up and fleeing. Abel knew that most of the ships didn’t even have installed hyperdrives either. The Revanchist wanted the cruisers in dry dock, and was going to get them.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Abel, listen to me,” Cainos’ voice registered. Abel looked at the flight board and saw that the communications network had been hacked roughly by his brother, and that they were alone on a channel. Abel could not, would not respond. Anger flared through his body as he dove and blasted another of the traitors into oblivion.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Abel, please, talk to me,” came the voice again, nearly cracking with emotion. Abel felt his mind tell him to ignore the communiqué, but his heart willed him to answer. Lapis Two exploded, his scream silenced as his transmitter was destroyed along with his life. Other fighters from Foerost were beginning to succumb to the overwhelming number of traitorous fighters, their numbers swollen as each enemy capital ship launched squadrons of them. Abel clicked on his transmitter, broadcasting solely to his brother; a traitor.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“You have broken your oath to your service and to me. You are no longer my brother.” Tears clouded his vision and he wiped them away as best as he could as Cainos’ voice came back over the comm.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Abel, I… I cannot undo what has been done. The Revanchist has called me to a higher purpose and it is something I must do. You don’t know what it was like to stare down a Basilisk droid, the bloodthirsty Mandalorian aching to cut my fighter into pieces. In those days I saw the horror of war and vowed I would do all I could to prevent it again, even if that meant taking lives. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“I know how you must feel, betrayed by me and by the Revanchist, but the words the Revanchist spoke are the truth – there is a great evil coming and the Republic is not ready! Abel, you were not meant to be here. Run, while you still can! I will allow you to escape, and one day we shall be family again when this is all over, when the Republic is saved once more by the Revanchist,” Cainos said, sniffing and crying. Lapis Seven burst into flames and spun into a tailspin, cockpit on fire. His wingmate, Lapis Twelve called out for help, but was silenced in the middle of his sentence.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Abel looked at his sensor read out and saw the green dots blinking slowly out of existence. The red menace crept further and further across the screen as numerous capital ships began to engage the small protective fleet and the few operational turbolaser batteries on the docks. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]It is hopeless, Abel. Run while you still can and save yourself![/FONT][/I][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]His inner voice toyed with him, building false memories of him and Cainos flying together, brothers again and living life as though nothing here, nothing at Foerost, had ever occurred. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]My heart wants this, but I cannot break my oath. I will not dishonor my name and my life by turning on my people![/FONT][/I][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]He ducked from a blast of fire but an alert beeped and the voice of the computer blared. “Shields down to 15%.” Abel swore; another hit would take his shields off completely. His screen told him that only the captain and he were alive. Even the beautiful second lieutenant was lost in a swirl of fire, dead and gone.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Abel, get the hell out of here, there’s nothing more we can do! I will cover you!” the captain said through his transmitter, his fighter wheeling back toward Abel. A fighter was on the captain’s tail, and Abel could feel as though Cainos was behind the pane of smoked glass. A coward hunting a foe outnumbered.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“I am no coward, captain. I will not run. A brother shall die here today. I will not flee like a yellow-bellied coward, like Captain Inox, the traitor. He will die by my hand, or I by his. There is no other way,” Abel said, his broadcast open to all channels. The fighter behind the captain wavered for a moment, and Abel drove his fighter forward, switching to his missiles.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] “There is no other way.” [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Cainos’ grip slackened on the flight stick. Fear and despair raced through his mind, replacing the brief spell of hope he’d somehow managed to conjure. [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]I’ve lost my brother. I could not save him; I have failed to protect my only sibling.[/FONT][/I][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]A fighter shot toward him, and Cainos’ computer warbled that the craft had a missile lock on him. He slammed his hand forward on the flight stick and pressed his accelerator pedal to the maximum as the fighter’s sirens wailed. The missiles streaked past his ship and exploded harmlessly far behind him. He pulled the craft from its nosedive and checked his scanners for the two remaining Republic fighters. One of them blinked off the screen and Cainos felt a tremor ripple through his veins.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]<At our moments of greatest trial, we discover who we are, and who we are not. This is your moment, Cainos Inox. In this moment, you will discover who you are, for now and all time> came the voice of the Revanchist, filling his head. Cainos looked to his left and saw the final Republic fighter turning toward him.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“Die, your traitorous bastard, die!” came the battle cry of his brother. Cainos rolled to his left and pointed his fighter directly at his brother’s. The two craft flew toward each other, neither man able to squeeze the trigger. The distance closed until, for a brief second, Cainos could see the face of Abel, frozen in time and memory.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Cainos squeezed the trigger, ending the life he had sworn to protect. Abel was dead, killed by his own brother’s hand.[/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] [/FONT][/COLOR]
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]...We present you with a breaking news bulletin. The shipyards of the Foerost system have been attacked by a massive fleet of unknown origin. Authorities speculate this to be the harbinger of the return of the Mandalorians, but one unconfirmed eyewitness account claims the fleet to be Sith, under the control of Darth Revan and Darth Malak. Such speculation strikes horror in the hears of citizens of the Galactic Republic, calling those who were once our heroes our new enemies. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Who really is attacking us here? Why would Revan and Malak turn on the Republic? There must be some reason, or this speculation must be a horrible mistake...”[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Davik Kang looked up from a welcome distraction from an unusually stressful game of pazaak to look at his fellow guests who were frozen and pale faced at the news bulletin just playing out on the HoloNet. It was definitely something different from the ordinary, but perhaps not as much as these sniveling excuses for sentient beings would think. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]His ‘guests’, fellow bosses from the Exchange come to discuss their business at his estate on Taris, were pitiful excuses for beings. Indeed, it was a wonder sometimes that they had managed to rise to such an august rank within a ruthless but efficient organization like the Exchange in the first place. But they made excellent managers of assets, pulling in illicit profits by the shuttle load. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]For that reason alone, he was willing to play host to them and offer them his hospitality. But if he ever had a chance to shoot them and confiscate their goods, rising further in the organization in their place, he would do so without hesitation. Or have someone else do it for him- which ever option was the most expedient. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Can it be true? What are we going to do?” one of his better ‘associates’, a Duros named Lem who ran the Exchange operations on Wayland asked. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Davik quirked an eyebrow and set down his hand face down before opening his mouth to speak. Unfortunately, he was interrupted by one of his more irritating ‘associates’. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Gods save me from these mindless fools or give me a hold out blaster to shoot them all where they sit! [/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]He thought darkly, wishing that the witless ones would finally stop arguing about whether this portended the destruction of the universe and just open their eyes to the opportunities that this represented. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]I, for one, do not believe that the universe should be as fragile as it is. It's where I keep all of my stuff.” The most witless of them all, a Clawdite named Asine, proclaimed when the others started arguing that this must be the indication of the start of some sort of apocalyptic prophecy. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Too bad, it’s gonna happen. When Jedi do stuff like this, means that they’ve had something happen to them- somethin’ has changed them. They’ve decided to let the galaxy burn.” Rasped another, a one-eyed Corellian whose name often escaped Davik’s mind. The man was just that insignificant.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]They really had no imagination. These ‘Jedi’ were no longer Jedi that much was clear to Davik. They were instead Sith. However that had happened, whenever that had happened, didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that it had happened and what they were going to do to profit from it. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Gentlemen, I think you’re missing the big picture here. This could be an opportunity beyond our wildest dreams. All we have to do is seize it and we can expand our profits, as well as our positions.” [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]They all looked at him collectively for a moment as if he were mad, the full meaning of his words escaping their no doubt feeble minds. The color remained drained from their faces, terror evident in their looks of confusion and disbelief that one of their number would be as bold as to suggest that even with the return of Sith, that they could profit rather than be destroyed. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Davik, I think I speak for all of us when I say I think you’ve lost it. There’s no way to squeeze any money outta anything if these Jedi have gone red and are out to shot the lot of us. You know what happens when Jedi go red, they like to sit back and watch the galaxy burn.” The one-eyed Corellian spoke with a strange sense of entitled authority, as if being backed up by this collection of idiots gave him such a right and suddenly sparked some level of intelligence in him. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]“[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Well, if we’re all gonna burn, maybe we should try to get all that we can outta if before the Sith burn everything done. So, Davik, how do we get all we can outta this?” Lem asked. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]Davik was surprised to say the least that one of them had all of a sudden decided to undergo a halfhearted attempt at growing a spine. It made him wonder briefly if he would need to keep a closer watch over his Duros colleague, now that he had proven capable of surprising him. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][I][FONT=Calibri]Perhaps I’ll have to keep a closer eye on you Lem, lest you start getting any ideas. You might be useful but you might be more ambitious than I want you to be.[/FONT][/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri] Davik made sure to keep this thought in the back of his mind as began to explain to the gaggle of mostly simpletons exactly what he meant. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]He explained how they could take advantage of the Sith’s desire for order and control no matter what the cost—if they were paying the most attention to who was going to rebel next rather than criminal activity, the Exchange could potentially thrive as never before. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]History showed that Sith often made use of slavery and were open supporters of the trade, giving the Exchange yet another means to suck in as much income as possible through their own ties to traffickers and supply lines. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]How the Sith were likely to ignore other various illicit vices and how much easier it would be to bribe their officials than the ones from independent worlds and the Republic that they were used to dealing with. For a relatively small price, they would be able to corner the market on these vices and with their resources; the Exchange could crush the competition easily. Sith cared about superiority above all else, rather than the sort of law-abiding justice of the Jedi.[/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]He watched with a nearly unrepressed glee as he saw his ‘colleagues’ begin to twitter in excitement at the prospect of a near criminal monopoly. Davik slyly grinned as he saw their faces alight as their imaginations took off at the thought of what they would do with their cut of the action and how their lives would be all the better as they gained more influence within the Exchange—unless Davik himself decided to take them out, of course. [/FONT][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri]The return of the Sith boded a profitable and wonderful future for the Exchange and criminal enterprises everywhere indeed. [/FONT][/COLOR]


    Revan was written by SoA
    Cainos & Abel as well as the News bulletin were written by LaForzaViva
    Davik Kang was written by MiralukaJedi[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Calibri][/FONT][/COLOR]
  2. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Yay it's posted! And excellent stuff so far! I'm super excited to see the rest of the collaboration, no doubt. The Exchange would be that dirty, thankful for a Sithy war.
  3. Commander-DWH

    Commander-DWH Manager Emeritus star 4

    Nov 3, 2003
    Excellent entries by all! I'm really looking forward to reading all of the entries here, it's fascinating to see how reactions differ between all these different people.
  4. MiralukaJedi

    MiralukaJedi Jedi Knight star 4

    May 15, 2008
    Great work so far everyone. It fits together beautifully and all well written.
  5. Shillani

    Shillani Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jan 9, 2011
    Lovely vignettes! Very nice action and description in the first one, with Revan--it makes quite a good starting scene for the collab. The tale of the pilots is beautifully heart-rending, especially the twin pictures in the cockpits and the brothers' memories of each other inserted in the midst of the battle. And of course, last but not least, Davik Kang sounds wonderfully written and right in character in the last one.

    I'm pretty much just going to be repeating what other people have said, but I'll say it anyway: I can't wait to see the rest of the stories!
  6. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    And we're back! Sorry for the long delay. I was moving home from India and stopping for a while in Japan to clean up tsunami debris up in Miyagi Prefecture. But anyhow, I'm back and this is rolling again!

    I've really been enjoying all of the different stories everyone has been submitting, this time included. Here we have stories by Shillani, Commander-DWH, LaForzaViva, and SoA. Enjoy!


    Setting down her datapad, Janice Nall looked up at the middle-aged human standing on the other side of the counter. "That'll be five hundred credits, sir."

    "Five hundred credits?" The man looked doubtful. "Isn't that a bit much for a droid computer probe? Why, I could get one for a hundred over at Karraten's Droid Repair by the cantina in the South Quarter!"

    "However that may be, the price here is five hundred. I think that's quite fair. Karraten may have cheap prices, but the price isn't the only thing that's cheap about his products," the Twi'lek hinted darkly. "Or so I've heard, that is," she hurried to add. It wouldn't do to give her potential customer the impression that she had been black-mouthing a competing droid dealer. Business was tight enough for her now, what with the prevailing anti-alien attitude of most of Taris's influential upper-level citizens. She was lucky even to be allowed to run a business in the Upper City, when aliens were normally relegated to the dirtier, more crime-ridden lower levels of the planetwide city. Apart from herself, the only aliens Janice Nall knew of in the Upper City were a select few working in the cantina--the Hutt duel coordinator Ajuur, a Rodian duelist named Twitch, and various touring bands of musicians and dancers such as the Starlight Entertainers. Despite the disgust and enmity non-humans were often regarded with by the nobles and even some of the middle class citizens, the benefits of these aliens' presence--and the business it brought to the wealthy owner of the cantina--were evidently too large be dismissed with the classic Tarisian objection that aliens were "enemies of the true people of Taris" (the "true" people of Taris being, of course--according to them--the supercilious human nobility).

    Janice's thoughts were interrupted, however, as the voice of her customer drew her back to her surroundings.

    "Mmm, well, Karraten's products do tend to have somewhat of a shorter life, I'll give you that," he said, looking down at the narrow, cylindrical metal item on the store counter before him. "Tell you what--I'll pay you two hundred for the computer probe."

    "Make it four hundred. I spent quite a bit of time adding modifications to that device--something that I can tell you right away you won't find at Karraten's."

    "Hmm..." the human frowned, clearly unwilling to give up the item, yet loath to pay Janice's desired price. "Fine," he threw up his hands, "three hundred."

    "Three hundred fifty, and if you like it, make sure everyone knows where you bought it. That's my final offer," said Janice decisively.

    The man fingered the dull but sturdy metal of the probe once more, then nodded. "Deal," he said, picking it up.

    Janice's eyes, sharp and attentive from hours of working with the complex inner wirings of droids, could not fail to see the movement. "Three hundred fifty credits on the counter, sir, and then you may take full possession of your purchase. Not that I'm accusing you of being a shoplifter, but it's store policy."

    "Oh, right--yes, of course, credits," the man muttered sheepishly--though whether at being caught on the verge of attempted thievery, or at having acted so thoughtlessly as to risk interpretation as such, Janice couldn't tell. Either way, the credits were handed over with no more complaint, and the transaction completed uneventfully. The man didn't look like a thief, but still, thought Janice as she entered his purchase into the log stored on her ever-handy datapad, it never hurt to be careful. Some of the nastier Tarisian citizens would think nothing of...ah..."relieving" a so-called unclean alien of certain choice droid parts they took a fancy to.

    Stowing the datapad away on its shelf under the counter, Janice straightened up and turned her attention back to the customer. "Splendid, sir!" she cried enthusiastically, glad that a bargain had been struck and another sale made. "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

    "Nope, this is all I need. Thank you."

    "Then have a nice day, and enjoy your purchase. Remember my store motto: if you need droids or droid parts, Janice Nall is your gal!"

    "You'll drive me broke if I come back here too often," the man grumbled half-heartedly.

    "Perhaps, but if you do come back that often, you'll be able to take comfort in the fact that thanks to me, your droids are the best and happiest on Taris!" returned the Twi'lek woman cheerfully, blue-grey eyes twinkling.

    The human's face went grim. "I think we'll soon be more in need of flame throwers than computer probes and memory chips, if what they say is right," he said darkly, lowering his voice.

    Caught off guard, Janice stared at him in obvious confusion. "What? Why? What does who say?"

    "Didn't you hear? It was in the news earlier. Foerost has been attacked. The authorities think it might be the Mandalorians returning."

    "The Mandalorians?! But--but we defeated the Mandalorians...didn't we? How could they be coming back now?" asked Janice, perplexed.

    "You can call me a tach if you think I know, Ma'am. I'm just repeating what the reporter on the HoloNet said; I wasn't there. I wouldn't have wanted to be, either, 'specially if it really was the Mandalorians that attacked Foerost."

    Picking up the computer probe and stowing it in a pouch slung from his belt, he turned and made his way toward the door.

    "Foerost...Foerost..." the name had an interesting sound on her tongue, foreign and yet vaguely familiar. "The shipyards system?"

    The man paused in the doorway of her shop. "That's the one. It's easy to see what they wanted over there. Well, I'd best be going. Good luck; we'll all need it if the Mandalorians are back."

    Janice gazed after him, her mind in a whirl, as he passed under the lintel and became just one more small figure among the many going about their business on the streets of Upper City Taris. The Mandalorians? It couldn't be! How could the Mandalorians have returned? It didn't make sense. The Mandalorians had been routed, defeated, driven from Republic space. Had they somehow regrouped and amassed another invasion fleet? Slain the seemingly invincible Revan and all those the charismatic Jedi Knight had led off to hunt down and destroy them? With Revan gone, would they now make good on their earlier attempt to bring the galaxy under their iron-fisted rule? Would they conquer Taris a second time, as they had done four years ago during the Mandalorian War? There were so many questions flooding her brain; she wished she had asked the human for more details of the attack.

    Pacing agitatedly back and forth in the narrow space behind the store counter, the droid-maker fetched her datapad back off the shelf and managed to get halfway through re-recording the sale of the computer probe before she realized that she had already done it just two minutes ago. She shoved the device back onto the shelf, sending a calculator and a number of half-finished droid parts skidding across the smooth wooden surface on a collision course for the flashlight standing a few inches away. The impact destroyed the flashlight's precarious balance, and it toppled and fell to the floor with a loudly-pronounced clack that Janice barely heard. It was too hot and stuffy inside the windowless lower storey of the shop. She couldn't think properly. The stifling heat made it feel like her thoughts were bouncing around and around the inside of her head. Fresh air, that was what she needed. It would do her good to take in breath of fresh air and perhaps a short stroll around her neighborhood of the Upper City.

    Outside, the late afternoon sunlight flooded the air, glancing off buildings and spires and bringing out the soft, rosy tinge in the stone and metal of their construction. Janice leaned against the low wall at the side of the street, built to guard against the near-endless fall possible from the lofty avenues stretched from building to building across the empty space below. Gazing out over the maze of towers and streets stretching away into the distance, she took a deep breath of the sun-warmed air, with its familiar scent of airspeeder exhaust, and let out a sigh of relief. This was better. It had been a long time since she'd gone outside for anything more than to fix the sign hanging above the front entrance of her shop. In the early hours of the morning before she opened up her doors for customers, her time was normally spent working on half-completed droids in a small workroom off the back of the store. After closing time, generally around seven o'clock in the evening, she didn't normally have energy enough to do more than eat a short supper in the living quarters atop her shop and tinker with various droid upgrades and tools before going to bed--in summertime, often before the sky was completely dark. And anyway, inside the shop she did not have to endure the disdainful looks and stares bestowed upon her by high-born human passersby who thought that all aliens should live in the dumps.

    Today, however, little notice was paid to the Twi'lek, alien as she was. The hurrying citizens seemed all to be absorbed in their own thoughts, not even the snootiest of them pausing to sniff or look down their noses at her. Was it just her imagination, or was there a sense of anxiousness, of worry, to the movements of the populace? The air taxis and speeders navigating the congested lanes below her all seemed to be flying a little faster, steering a little more haphazardly, disregarding traffic rules more frequently. There was an undercurrent of nervousness to the everyday activities of city life going on all about her, Janice thought. Like herself, pedestrian and pilot, servant and noble alike were all asking the same questions to themselves--had the Mandalorians really returned? What would happen if they had? And, most importantly: what was to be done about it?


    "I'm not listening to you," Alyse called over her shoulder at her ever persistent sister, Skye.

    "It would be a first if you were," Skye replied sourly. "Honestly, though, when have I ever steered you wrong?"

    Alyse stopped and turned around to face her twin. "You don't know the Revanchist like I do, Skye." Her face softened. "Or Squint. He'll be back. He always comes back."

    "Squint is amazing," Skye replied gently. "I've seen him fight. I haven't seen the Revanchist, but I assume that anyone who can be Squint's Master must be a talented Jedi. But it's been months. We haven't had any communications from them at all, and intraship chatter isn't hopeful."

    "To hell with your intraship chatter," Alyse scowled. "I'd know it if they were dead. I'd know."

    Skye's gaze darkened. "Yes, thanks for reminding me again of being the Force-blind twin, and how useless my normal talents are. Where would I be without you?"

    "You know I didn't mean it like that," Alyse's voice softened. "We'd never make it through anything without you guys in the computer room. It's just... it's like if you had a... I don't know, some way to monitor someone's life force. If you had the link to it and I didn't, I'd believe what you had to tell me. When you tell me that the ship is going to fall apart, I believe you. Even if it wasn't, I wouldn't even think to question, because you are something like ten million times smarter than I am, Skye."

    Skye looked taken aback. "I... you're right. I'm sorry. If you say they're still alive, then I believe you."

    Alyse gave her a small smile, but shook her head. "I still hear a 'but' in your voice."

    "Being alive doesn't mean they'll return," Skye replied bluntly. "I want to believe they'll come back, don't get me wrong. But there are a million things that could detain them. The Unknown Regions are called that for a reason. We have no idea what's out there, or what they might have fallen into, or if something or someone more powerful than them could have captured them..." Skye shrugged helplessly. "I like Squint. He's a good man, and even if I thought he was foolish to follow his Master on this particular quest, I want him to come back. The Jedi can use leaders like them."

    Alyse hooked her arm through her sister's as they continued down the hall. "We all survived a war together, you know."

    "Some of us from a computer room."

    "Just as important." Alyse looked her sister in the eye. "I know half the ship doesn't even realize you're there, and if they happen to see you, they just think I got a haircut."

    "Story of my life," Skye smiled.

    "But don't ever let anyone tell you that you weren't a huge part of this. Remember that time when Squint went on a secret mission and you found his location by searching through a zillion text files?"

    "Ah yes, those were the good days, when things were simpler and could be solved with proper application of regular expressions," Skye grinned nostalgically. "Now I can't get a job easier than writing an artificial intelligence that can pass a turing test."

    "Hey, Fake Squint saved our skins more than once," Alyse replied. "It amazes me that every time we have to pull him out again, he just gets more believable."

    Skye pulled her sister in close. "I hope we can replace him with the real Squint soon. Now come on, I'm pretty sure Carter's making homemade ice cream today, and if we drop in at the right moment, he just might hand some over."

    Alyse grinned. "Gotta love having an in with the local chef."

    Walking down the hallway, they turned the conversation to the sort of lighthearted topics they hadn't had much time to entertain since before the war got bad. It was a semblance of normalcy neither of them had felt in more than a year. Skye wanted to believe that after the Revanchist defeated Mandalore in single combat that maybe, just maybe, fighting was over for good. No one would have questioned it if the two brave Jedi leaders hadn't gone cruising off into the Unknown Regions after some vague and mysterious threat. She certainly hoped the fighting was over- with the two heroes of the war in the middle of uncharted nowhere, and the Jedi general who orchestrated the final attack reportedly sent into exile, well... things would be much better if nobody ruffled any feathers.

    When they walked into the kitchen, Carter was absorbed by whatever was on his holoscreen terminal. Skye touched him gently on the shoulder. "Hey-"

    Carter jumped, then relaxed when he saw it was Skye. "Skye, Alyse. What are you doing here?"

    "Well, we'd heard something about ice cream."

    He looked at the pair of them, back at his screen, and then back at them. "You haven't seen the latest newscast, have you?"

    Skye's stomach sank into her shoes. "What happened?"

    A pained expression came over his face. "It's Squint and his Master. They're back-"

    Alyse squeaked. "They're alive! I've got to go find the others." Without a further word, she darted out of the room.

    "You don't look happy," Skye looked pointedly at Carter. "This should be celebratory news, right? They made it out of the Unknown Regions alive."

    "Well, maybe if they hadn't attacked the shipyards at Foerost."

    "They what?"

    "Look," Carter grimaced. The screen behind him was still playing footage of the events at the shipyard on a constant loop. Skye squinted at it. She was no expert on ship design, but she'd been with the Republic fleet long enough to know all the basic ship designs they employed. The vessel that came sailing into the shipyards was no design she'd ever seen from the Republic or the Mandalorians. The shape reminded her of the beak of some sort of very large and predatory bird, ready to hook around its prey. It was soon followed by other smaller, but still dangerous looking ships of a similar design, starfighters pouring out of them.

    "They never even had a chance," Skye said disbelievingly. "This can't be them, Squint would never do something like this. He was a little aggressive, sure, but-"

    "Skye," Carter interrupted her gently. "Watch."

    She returned her gaze to the screen as it switched to a video feed of Squint and his Master. The Revanchist still wore the signature mask donned during the war, but it was accompanied by much more armor than she'd ever seen a Jedi don. Squint was also wearing vibrant red armor, the blue tattoos on his head standing out even more than usual.

    "...I did not expect to return in this way, but that was before I discovered what lay beyond our borders," the Revanchist intoned. "The galaxy is under a grave threat, a threat for which the Republic is unprepared and must be made ready. This process can occur peacefully or violently, but it cannot be allowed to fail, for the Republic is in grave danger. It is for that reason that I return to you not as the Revanchist that you knew, but as Darth Revan, Lord of the Sith, with my apprentice, Darth Malak."

    Skye looked at Carter disbelievingly. "They're joking."

    "A shipyard full of dead Republic soldiers is a poor excuse for a joke," Carter replied, voice tight.

    "Squint isn't like that, though- you knew him as well as I did. This just doesn't make any sense."

    Carter put his arm around her shoulder and she leaned into his embrace. "I know it doesn't."

    Skye looked back at the screen as they replayed the footage of starfighters swarming out of the carrier ships, quickly overwhelming the inadequate defenses of Foerost. The feed only lasted for a few minutes before the camera was shot down in a burst of static. Suddenly, she felt much less safe than she had mere minutes before.

    Sensing her unease, Carter looked down at her. "Still want that ice cream?" She made no reply, she just held him closer. "Yeah," he replied, patting her back and watching the continuous news loop with dismay. "I didn't, either."


    0421 Galactic Standard Time


    HoloNet News has learned, in a breaking news story, that the Foerost system was attacked by a large fleet at 0240 GST. Nighttime for most of the system, eyewitnesses report seeing a massive fleet of possibly two thousand ships jumping in a few thousand kilometers from the precise location of the drydocks ringing Foerost IV and Foerost V. Eyewitnesses report that the number of ships on patrol duty were destroyed within a matter of minutes by fighters and unknown classes of starcruisers.

    The drydocks at Foerost hold the near-completed cruisers and destroyers in skeletal like structures so that crew and engineers can finish all the necessary exterior and interior components of the ships before christening them. Public records indicate that the drydocks have the ability to hold over 400 ships in their drydocks. It is unclear at this time how many ships were located in the drydocks, and what their statuses of completion are.

    One eyewitness, who escaped the system in a blind jump and was able to contact HoloNet News minutes after the attack, claimed that a group of five unknown cruisers were situated in a defensive posture around a Republic Hammerhead-class cruiser. This report is unconfirmed. There have also been unconfirmed reports of a ground bombardment by this unknown assailing fleet as well, targeting the military barracks on Foerost IV.

    Our military correspondent, Anolo Cata, currently en route to the Foerost system, informed HoloNet News that such a large scale attack could only be perpetrated by the Mandalorians, as there are no other fleets of a comparable size in existence. Correspondent Cata reminded HoloNet News that the former Jedi General, known as the Revanchist, disappeared only a few short years ago to find the remaining Mandalorians and to eliminate them as a threat to the Republic. It is presumed that this effort failed, and that this attack at Foerost is a resumption of war against the Republic by the Mandalorians.

    Correspondent Cata, speaking hurriedly before jumping toward the Foerost System minutes ago, stated that “in terms of raw numbers, the Mandalorians are the only force capable of massing a fleet this large, this quickly.” An analyst at the Ministry of Defense, speaking anonymously for fear of leaking information, told HoloNet News that “this appears to be a classic Mandalorian first strike; big, bold, and right at a critical juncture. Their first major attack on the Republic disrupted supply lines and caused havoc. It looks like this attack is meant to destroy our rebuilding efforts.”

    The attack has spawned a concerted effort across the galaxy for those families with relatives in the military. The Ministry of Defense reports that it is fielding as many inquiries as possible, but that with close to ten billion service members in the line of duty, the number of inquiries is overwhelming their systems. They request that family members attempt to get in touch with their relatives in any possible manner, but that querying the Ministry should be their last option.

    The loss of the Revanchist is hitting the Republic hard, including the Jedi Order. A spokesperson, when reached for comment, had nothing to report but appeared to seem visibly distressed by the news that the Revanchist’s mission, presumably, has failed. The Revanchist gained significant notoriety when she and a number of her Jedi brethren took up the cause of the oppressed and desperate people in the Outer Rim and Inner Rim by vowing to fight against the Mandalorians.

    Repudiated, initially, by the Jedi Order, the Revanchist took control of the Republic’s fleets and battle plans and began to shift the military’s strategy. Said then by retired General Velren Kre’klo, an analyst for HoloNet News following his retirement, “that Jedi is as brilliant as they come. I’ve never seen someone so young pick up tactics so fast, and so effectively as well.”

    The Battle of Althir is now noted as a significant turning point in the war’s effort, a battle led personally by the Revanchist both in orbit and in battle on the planet’s surface. The Mandalorians suffered a large blow to their fleet, and military historians and analysts now credit this victory as setting the stage for the next major battle, at Malachor V. The Revanchist disguised her fleet to appear to be in a weak position at Malachor V, a position cultivated to lure the Mandalorians to the planet. Once the trap was set and sprung, a machine of unknown origins destroyed most of the Mandalorians, ending a war that had cost trillions of lives across the galaxy.

    The Revanchist, now the savior of the Republic, soon took a third of the Republic fleet into hyperspace, claiming that the Mandalorians were not yet defeated. With the Revanchist’s failure to destroy them and her presumed death, it appears the Republic will engage a new war with the Mandalorians.

    We’ll have more as news develops in this breaking story.


    Wes poked at his toast, never raising his grey eyes to look at anyone. "What do you suppose is going to happen?"

    Skye shrugged. "I suppose we're not going home any time soon."

    "You think they'll come after us?"

    Erik snorted. "Maybe with recruiting posters. Didn't you hear their speech about welcoming anyone from the Republic who wanted to join them?"

    "I heard they're sheltering all the rogue Jedi the Council got mad at during the war," Wes lowered his voice to a conspiratorial tone. "And that they're going to stage some sort of Jedi coup."

    Skye rolled her eyes. "Jedi coup? Really?"

    "And it took less than five minutes for the resident Jedi expert to weigh in," Jash tapped his chronometer knowingly.

    "Seriously, guys." Skye looked around at them. "You're the best tech team I've ever worked with, but of the five of us here, exactly one of us is from a Jedi family. And you shouldn't listen to everything you hear on the news anyway- people are panicking."

    Wes shrugged. "And why shouldn't they be? The heroes of the war just came back and attacked us. If there's a better reason to panic, I don't want to know it."

    "I could come up with a few," Erik replied darkly. "Couldn't sleep last night, so I ended up monitoring the communication lines-"

    "Did I not just say I didn't want to know?" Wes threw Erik an exasperated look. "We all know that by 'monitoring' you meant 'eavesdropping.'"

    "You ought to know that something is up," Erik replied. "Nobody's saying it, but everyone's wondering- who's going to jump ship and join Revan and Malak?"

    "Force willing, no one," Skye replied sourly.

    "You sure?"

    "Yes, I'm sure," Skye snapped. "Come on, how long has this crew been together?"

    Wes grimaced. "The man has a point. We've been together for more than a year, but Alek was one of us. Well, one of the Jedi, anyway. They were tight, especially after what happened on Dxun."

    Skye shifted uneasily. "Yeah."

    Before the conversation could continue, a ball of energy in the form of Alyse slid into the seat next to Skye. "Hey! How are you?"

    Skye looked askance at her sister. "Slightly worried for my own safety, and for once not because of you?"

    Alyse frowned. "You don't think Revan and Malak would attack us, do you?"

    "Let's see," Wes looked thoughtful for all of a second. "Yes, I do think they would consider it. Did you see what they did to that shipyard? Those were Republic soldiers."

    "Please," Alyse replied. "If they attacked that shipyard, they had an unassailable reason to do it."

    "Unassailable?" Skye echoed. "You sound like you've been hanging around Kylan again, except he's been gone for months."

    "Maybe he left a mark on my vocabulary," Alyse replied stiffly. "And anyway, it's still true. I've fought in dozens of battles with those two, and they never made a decision I thought was wrong."

    "Need I remind you that you signed up for this war on a whim, before you'd even considered any of the ramifications?" Skye pointed out. "In fact, I think it had something to do with Kylan paying attention to you-"

    "Hey," Alyse protested. "Just because I come to conclusions quickly doesn't mean they have no merit. Wouldn't you agree we've done a good thing here, defeating the Mandalorians?"

    "At what cost?" Skye asked. "You do know what went into that final defeat, right?"

    "Some gravity thing." Alyse shrugged. "You're better with the technobabble than I am."

    "I believe it was called a Mass Shadow Generator, and killed hundreds of Mandalorian and Republic ships that got too close to Malachor V," Erik supplied helpfully.

    "Did Kylan teach you the phrase 'morally ambiguous'?" Skye asked sourly.

    Alyse's face went flat. "I didn't come here for a lecture, you know. I was honestly happy my friends are alive."

    Skye exchanged worried looks with her fellow techs. "Are you sure they're still the same people? Mom and Da always talked about the Sith in the same way they discussed natural disasters, sweeping plagues, the end of the galaxy as we know it..."

    "And did either of them ever see a Sith?"

    "Alyse. They fought in the war against Exar Kun."

    "Oh." Alyse sat back. "Right."

    "I'm just saying, be careful."

    Alyse gave her sister a small smile and rose. "Am I ever anything but?"

    Skye gave her a rueful look as she walked away. "Almost always."

    When she returned her gaze back to the table, all eyes were fixed on her. "She's going to run off and join them," Wes stated simply.

    Skye wanted to protest, but she knew her sister too well. "Yeah, I know."

    It was well past midnight, a perfect hour to skulk. Alyse knew it would be of limited use- the hangar bay was monitored, of course, but breaking things would have been a more sure way to tip people off to their exit than just knocking out a guard or two. That lesson she learned the hard way, long ago. They'd have to ditch the official shuttle soon, but it would get them planetside, and that was all they really needed.

    Iryla adjusted the hood of her dark blue robe to better hide her golden hair and looked over at Alyse. "There anyone you need to notify before leaving?"

    "Isn't the whole point of sneaking out avoiding awkward questions?" Alyse asked.

    "Well, yeah, but... what about your sister?"

    Alyse shook her head. "She already knows. She always knows. If she meant to stop me, she'd have done something already." She stooped down and picked up the duffel that contained all her belongings. "Now let's leave while we still have the chance."

    They silently stepped over the guard who they'd put into a healing trance, and Iryla punched the security code she'd pulled from his mind into the terminal. There were seven of them, Jedi that survived the war with Squint, that decided to leave to fight with him. Whatever he was up to, they'd agreed, must have some merit to it. It didn't take long for them to load their few worldly belongings on to the shuttle- a Jedi owned few things, and this time it was really working to their advantage.

    Alyse didn't look back as the shuttle took off in the silence of the night.

    Erik found Skye staring at the security screen as the shuttle took off.

    "If I'm not mistaken, you could have stopped them," Erik stated.

    "Could have," Skye shrugged. "Would have been simple enough to access the shuttle's main computer and change the security access. Could have done it before they took out the guard."

    "So why didn't you?"

    "I came here because my thoughtless twin sister ran off to join a war she didn't understand, and someone had to look after her. I thought that if I could just be here to protect her, that she'd be okay. But now I wonder if I should have just stayed on Corellia."

    "We'd have been worse off without you," Erik offered.

    "But would she?" Skye wondered aloud. "I think sometimes that she might have learned something more if I hadn't been here trying to provide some sort of commentary on everything."

    "Or she would have done the exact same thing, because that's what she does."

    "Or that," Skye admitted. "But I can't follow her this time. And I can't make the choice for her."

    "So you're just going to watch?"

    "No." Skye turned around a new determination set cooly in her green eyes. "I'm going to stay, and I'm going to make sure that anyone who tries to take down the Republic is thwarted at every turn I can manage. If the Jedi want to leave, they can leave. Those of us who stay will be ready if they ever come back."

    Erik shook his head and took several long seconds before responding. "Are you ready to face your sister?"

    Skye winced. That was a question she knew was coming, but hearing it was uncomfortable. "Not really," she admitted. "But if we're all very lucky, it won't come to that. And if we're not, well... let's just hope I'm ready when it does."

    "For both your sakes, I hope that's true." Erik sighed. "I've got some bad news."

    Skye raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Considering the last couple of days, I'm pretty sure I don't want to know what can be considered bad news now."

    "I'm fairly certain I didn't want to know either," Erik shrugged and sat down at his terminal, typing deftly. "Remember how I said I couldn't sleep, and was monitoring communications last night?"

    Skye nodded. "Yeah."

    "Well, I forgot to turn off the program before I left, so I had a couple of hours of text to go through when I got back. Mostly uninteresting, but for one communication." He pulled up the file.

    "That's some heavy duty encryption," Skye squinted at it. "Do we have anything that can break that?"

    "We didn't," Erik replied. "So I had Jash take a look at it. Turns out, it's Karath's personal encryption, not any of the official military ones."

    "How did he know that?"

    "Jash found it on the main computer months ago," Erik grinned. "For a guy smart enough to obtain his own encryption key, he wasn't smart enough to hide it from the ship-board cryptographer."

    "To be fair, Jash wasn't hired as a cryptographer and barely does any work with encryption here." Skye pointed out.

    "You'd think Karath might have noticed it on his resume, though." Erik shrugged. "Whatever the reason, it works to our advantage. We decrypted the message and funneled it straight to text." He brought up another file and expanded it to fill his terminal.

    Skye leaned in and quickly read over it, eyes growing wide. "No. No, no no. This is not happening."

    "Unfortunately, it is." Erik switched over to another workspace, which had a growing list of encrypted files. "When we read that, we knew we had to go back and see what else has been going on, so we're scanning every date directory since Squint left for any record using that encryption key."

    Skye backed up and started pacing, running her hands nervously through her short black hair. "How did we not notice this happening? We monitor the lines here, we've been keeping track of things for more than a year. This is the Admiral we're talking about. I know he didn't love the Jedi, but how could he turn on the Republic?"

    "We always left the encrypted stuff alone, unless it was an emergency," Erik reminded her. "Something about ethics. I think you brought it up first."

    Skye stopped pacing and blinked. "Now is not the time for logic. Admiral Karath gave them the codes to enter and destroy Foerost. That's kind of a huge kriffing deal."

    Erik nodded. "Well, I've been pondering exit strategies-"


    "No?" he looked at her curiously.

    "We've got to stay," Skye replied firmly. "At least for now. As long as Karath appears loyal to the Republic, we have to appear loyal to him. We have his encryption key, we can intercept his transmissions. Maybe, just maybe, we can avert disaster."

    "Or the Admiral can catch us and have us arrested. Or killed. I hear the Sith are big into killing."

    "Either way," Skye insisted. "We swore to protect the Republic with our computering skills, right?"

    Erik breathed in deeply, then let it out in a rueful sigh. "We did indeed. Well, I'll cancel that shuttle out of here."

    "We'll meet tomorrow," Skye rubbed her temples wearily. "For now, I don't know about you, but I am in need of some serious sleep."

    "Sleep is for the weak," Erik quipped, but locked his terminal screen. "However, I believe in this case, it is the most prudent course of action."

    As Skye left the room, a weary sense of determination set in, and she wondered if this was anything how Alyse felt when she got it into her head to fight for something. Whatever it was, she had to carry on—things were bound to get very, very ugly, and fast.


    Calix Lenn awoke to the sounds of scuffling and laser fire. At first he thought it was an extension of his dream, but as his senses resolved into a roaring headache, he knew it to be reality.

    The Devaronian man stiffly sat up, rubbing his horns with his left hand. More shouts and blaster shots rang in from the corridor outside the engine room.

    The engine room? What am I doing here? Fuzzy memories of a raucous pazaak tournament from the night before with the rest of the engine room staff, ending in Calix demanding to be left right where the game had been played flitted back to him. The trek back to the tech support barracks had seemed too far last night.

    None of that explained the fighting in the hall or the warm hum of the engines. The Amber was supposed to be in dry docks for at least another three weeks getting its final fittings done. It only housed a small compliment of security personnel, and none of the technical crew were permitted to carry blasters.

    Hands empty, Calix suddenly felt naked. Standing up, he scanned around him for anything that could be used as weapon. Whatever the cause, the battle was coming closer to the engine room. His hand came to the hydrospanner clipped to his belt. Smiling grimly, he took it in his fist. It would be useless against a blaster, but having the tool in his hand gave him a sense of security. He faced the doorway, ready for whoever would come through.

    Calix spotted a welding laser hanging in the kit beside the door. As he lunged towards it, the body of a Foerost Security Force guard fell through the open door with a rattling scream.

    Calix froze, staring at the dead man's horrified face. A pair of soldiers dressed completely in silver filled the doorway, rifles trained on Calix. Tinted black visors obscured their faces. Calix had no way of knowing what or who they were.

    Freeze,” one of them commanded, “Drop your weapon.”

    With a chuckle of remorse, Calix let the hydrospanner clatter to the deck and raised his hands above his head. So much for that 'weapon'.

    The Amber now belongs to Darth Revan and the Sith,” the other soldier barked, “You can resist and be terminated or you can join the Sith under Revan's command.”

    Darth Revan? The Revanchist? But everyone thought Revan was failed and dead after all this time. Well, I guess not.What would the Revanchist want with an incomplete Centurion battlecruiser? Calix caught himself. Now was not the time for idle questions if he wanted to keep his skin.

    So you're the new owners of the Amber, then? She's a good ship, so far, anyway,” Calix observed with bold casualness, hands still in the air, “I wager you'll be needing some engine mechanics to keep her going. I'm Calix Lenn, second chief mechanic of the Amber. I would be happy to transfer my employment into your services.”

    Good,” one of the soldiers nodded, then gestured with a sweep of his rifle, “Take him up to Commander Draam to have him registered for duty.”

    Come with me,” the second ordered gruffly.

    Calix complied with a smirk. Worse contracts have been made at blaster-point.

    As he stepped over bodies of FSF guards and even a few techs he had known, trying not to see them, Calix mused, They had better pay me at least as well as the shipyards ever did, or I'm going back to the Exchange.


    Janice Nallby Shillani
    Skye & Alyse by Commander-DWH
    News by LaForzaViva
    Calix Lenn by SoA
  7. tjace

    tjace Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 11, 2008
    Great job by everyone!
  8. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    Another excellent post! I thought Alyse and Skye were quite familiar. And to Shillani, I thought using a relatively forgettable (though important!) character in that manner was great - I really got a sense of the character in something that short. And even as we see people getting nervous or worried, we've got those people who decide to flip their allegiance... this is turning out wonderfully!
  9. Shillani

    Shillani Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jan 9, 2011
    Thanks :) I like writing about minor characters--there's so much room to explore them, their pasts, personalities, etc. I'm glad I managed to convey a bit of Janice's character through my writing.

    I really liked reading Skye and Alyse's piece--they seemed to just step off the page (I guess it would the computer screen, in this case) and become their own unique people. Calix Lenn seems quite the character too; I'd be interested in seeing some more of him. And the news articles inserted in and among the stories nicely complete each post with the background information they add.
  10. gaarastar58

    gaarastar58 Jedi Master star 3

    Dec 19, 2010
    This is a great story, I has a lovelly pacedespite coming from so many different sources. Looking forward to reading more!

  11. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    My sincerest apologies for another huge delay in posting this. Darth Real Life got the better of me for much of this fall, but I'm back and ready for action again! Here we have selections by JediDingo, LaForzaViva, Padawan4687, Shillani, and SoA.


    0700 Galactic Standard Time


    In a transmission broadcast less than ten minutes ago from the ruined Foerost system, the former Jedi General known popularly as ‘the Revanchist’ declared her return to the galaxy as a new Sith Lord, with her Jedi General Alek ‘Malak’ Squinquargesimus as her fellow Sith Lord. They declared themselves to be now known as Darth Revan and Darth Malak, respectively.

    The last Jedi to declare themselves as a Sith Lord was Exar Kun. The war wrought by Exar Kun ravaged planets, cost the lives of billions, and nearly led to the complete destruction of the Republic’s government and home planet, here on Coruscant. The speech broadcast by the former Jedi General now turned Sith Lord appeared to signal another such war was about to occur.

    Broadcasting from the bridge of the Interdictor-class destroyer Taninim, the Revanchist’s command ship during the Mandalorian Wars, the pair spoke of a new era dawning on the Republic. The Revanchist said that “the galaxy is facing a dangerous threat, a threat for which the Republic is unprepared and must be made ready. This process can occur peacefully or violently, but it cannot be allowed to fail, for the Republic is in grave danger.” The former Jedi General pronounced that all Republic personnel, but especially Jedi, who “believe that the Republic is dying and in need of reform” would be welcomed into his fleet. The Jedi Order, through a spokesperson, had no comment on this development. Fears are widespread that many Jedi and military officers will flock to the Revanchist’s call, given his charismatic personality and past success in destroying the bulk of the Mandalorian fleet.

    Shortly after the message was broadcast, the fleet commanded by the Revanchist entered hyperspace, taking with them all of the ships in the drydocks at Foerost IV and V, where a major number of capital ships are manufactured. The Ministry of Defense had no comment on the matter. The Chancellor’s office could not be reached and a spokesperson did not immediately return an inquiry.

    The number of ships hijacked, by the now traitorous Revanchist, is currently unknown at this time, though there are unconfirmed reports that over 300 ships were near or at full completion in the drydocks. Since the end of the war with the Mandalorians two years ago, the Republic has sought to rebuild its battered and ruined navy. Our military correspondent, Anolo Cata, confirms to HoloNet News that these Centurion-class battlecruisers and Interdictor-class destroyers were meant to make up the core of the new Republic Navy.

    The Republic Navy, devastated by the Mandalorian War, suffered a 65% casualty rate of battle-ready cruisers, Anolo Cata reports. The main cruiser used in the war, the distinctive Hammerhead-class battlecruiser, was considered outdated even as the Mandalorians invaded. Due to the outbreak of war and the necessity of certain materials on the front lines, attempts to produce large quantities of the new Centurion -class battlecruiser, the triangular-shaped cruiser filled to the brim with the latest in technology, were put on hold for the majority of the war and were only produced after the tide turned against the Mandalorians.

    Following the Battle of Malachor and the disappearance of the Revanchist and most of the remaining battle-ready cruisers, production of Centurion-class battlecruisers took off primarily at Foerost IV and V. The Hammerhead-class cruisers, still making up the bulk of the remaining capital ships in the Republic Navy, were due to be replaced within the next five years and either decommissioned, used as mobile laboratories, or sent to far outlying systems where they were unlikely to come under attack.

    Reaction to the news of the Revanchist’s betrayal have sparked widespread rioting on Coruscant, Corellia, Selonia, Drall, Alderaan, and hundreds of other planets. Planetary governments have suspended all ships from landing on their homeworlds, concerned that traitorous Republic troops and Jedi are preparing to invade and recruit sympathetic soldiers to their cause. Travelers trapped in space are urged not to attempt to force a landing, as the planetary governments have signaled their resolution to open fire on any ship attempting to land without authorization.

    The Senate will convene an emergency session within the next two hours, a spokesperson for the Senate confirmed. A number of senators have arrived at the Senate building, their faces grim and ashen, the stress and fatigue of another brewing war hanging heavily on their shoulders. The Senate has also requested the presence of the Jedi High Council at this meeting; sources confirm that the Jedi have accepted this request.

    We’ll have more as this story develops.


    Nev Lubboun sucked in the cool, crisp air through his olfactory glands beneath his red eyes. Placing a greenish blue hand on his hip, he looked out at the beautiful scene before him. The rolling hills of Kaikielius, just outside the planet’s capital city of Kesipili, stretched out before him in impressive majesty. His lipless mouth formed a smile as he watched a flock of local birds fly across the scene in a distance. Nev loved mornings such as this. The Duros remained standing there for a few moments, taking in his surroundings and preparing for the day ahead.

    Mornings such as this always reminded him of his friends, like the wiry Ho’Din named Ta’sa and the scoundrel, but loveable rogue Maverick Baron. Nev smirked at the thought of the two as he leaned against the railing remembering the adventures he had with the crew of the Divinity. Slowly his smile faded as he thought of all the good people that had been lost, and all the sacrifices made. It had been over a year since those times, and since then Nev Lubboun had been trying to find his place in the galaxy. He had decided that he needed to find his own path, to really find out who he was. After the Battle of Duros, he had been made a teenage orphan until the Divinity took him in.

    But that time had passed, and he was excited and a little scared to find explore the galaxy by himself. The Duros had taken an interest in possibly being a doctor, and he guessed that urge had come to him because he had always wanted to make people feel better. Nev had seen a call for volunteers across the galaxy to come and help out in hospitals and to take care of patients still left over from the Mandalorian War. Nev found himself quickly signing up and had been assigned to the planet of Kaikielius, near the Deep Core situated right between Foerost and Ruan. Glancing back out at the scene before him, he was glad that he had come here. Nev looked down at the chrono strapped to his wrist; it was time for him to get ready. The Duros walked back into his apartment, jumped into the steam shower and quickly got dressed. Nev ran his lanky hand over his bald, blue head as his comlink frantically began to beep. Nev glanced down at his belt, frowning. It only went off during emergencies at the hospital. He quickly snatched it off.

    Yeah,” Nev said quickly. He heard the sound of one of his co-workers voice come through in a hurry. His name was Husta Illian, he was a young human the same age as Nev.

    Nev, turn on the holo.” Husta said urgently.

    Why?” Nev frowned, already making his way towards the holo projector screen.

    Just do it,”

    Nev reached down and flicked it on. What he saw struck terror down into the very core of his being. His eyes scanned the caption at the bottom of the breaking news report: Live Coverage of Foerost. It appeared that the famous shipyards were burning, some even breaking apart.

    You see it?”

    Nev couldn’t find his voice to reply.

    Nev?” Husta asked again.

    Yeah, I see it.” Nev still couldn’t believe it though. Kaikielius and Foerost might as well been practically neighbors. The devastation seemed endless on the viewscreen. He knew that soon, people would be fleeing to this planet for safety and rescue.

    They said they still aren’t sure what exactly is happening, it just happened literally like three minutes ago.” Husta explained. “But you better get here quick, Nev. I have a feeling it is going to be a long day.”

    Nev agreed, it was certainly going to be one of the longest days of his life.


    Padawan Alanna Etsuko sat in her meditation stance, struggling to focus. Her Master, Renora Ta'a, should have gotten clearance by now! She was aboard a small Republic ship, hovering above the planet Nar Shadaa. Her Master had gone down to the planet surface to try and get clearance for them to land, but it was clearly a hassle.

    Alanna absently twisted her long black hair, and her fingers found her Padawan braid. At the rate they were going, the smugglers they were trying to find could easily get off-world. She stood up from the meditation mat. She knew she couldn't concentrate, and she could hardly wait any longer. She walked over to the bridge, and activated her comlink.

    "Hello, Master, are you there?" she asked. After a few minutes, she heard the voice of Master Ta'a. "Yes, Alanna, I'm here."

    "What is taking you so long to get clearance?" she asked impatiently. "I've been waiting in the ship for hours!"

    She heard an anxious sigh from her Master, and she spoke. "The guards here are extremely suspicious of letting anyone leave or enter the planet. It sounds like something big happened recently. They were never this careful."

    Alanna sighed. "What did those smugglers manage to get away with this time?"

    "It's not the smugglers they're worried about." Renora replied. Alanna placed a hand on her chin. If an entire planet could blockade against visitors so suddenly, she may be able to find information on it. "Hang on a second, Master. I'll check the Holonet."

    Alanna quickly made her way to a computer terminal, and searched, "Sudden blockades." The first option on the screen was Nar Shadaa. "I think I found something!" she spoke quickly into the still-activated comlink. She scanned the article, to get a major shock.

    "Master!" she blurted out into the comlink. "You were right--it's not the smugglers the guards are worried about! It's a Sith Lord!"

    "It says that recently, two people had entered the planet recently, and attacked, probably searching for something. No one knows what. A few lives were lost, and now everyone entering or leaving needs clearance from the guards, and it is getting more and more difficult. That is probably why you are having such a hard time!" she finished breathlessly."

    "I'm going back to the ship." Her Master suddenly said. "We have to tell the Council about this."


    Gad Rinnh sipped his caff as he settled into the chair at his desk as CEO of Rinnh imports. Through the broad window to his left, he absently watched the dawn rush of the speeders and shuttles of Coruscant zip by. Switching on his computer console, a list of nearly thirty new messages greeted Gad, six of them flashing, 'URGENT.' Leaning back in his office chair, Gad sighed. “No point in ruining a good cup of Arkanian Roast just yet,” he murmured, then switched his console to the morning news broadcast.

    A frazzled blond woman graced the screen. “...attack occurred around 2:40 this morning, Galactic Standard Time,” she was saying. Images of a planet and its shipyards projected on the screen behind her. Gad felt sure that he should recognize those shipyards, but their name escaped him.

    Gad straightened up, unconsciously gripping his caff cup more tightly.

    Representatives of the Republic Military insist that this attack on Foerost and its drydocks could not have been perpetrated by any force other than the Mandalorians. There is no other military organization currently in the galaxy that could carry out an attack on this scale,” the woman continued.

    Gad caught his breath and punched the mute button on the console, then turned to the comm unit on the other end of his desk. Foerost was one of Rinnh Imports' major trading ports. Any one of his pilots could be there. He scrolled through his contacts until he found his largest trading partner there and dialed.

    The network you are trying to reach is busy. Please try again later,” a pleasant female droid-voice informed him. “The network you are trying to—”

    Gad hung up and dialed the next of Foerostian contacts. The same droid-voice answered.

    Finally, on his sixth attempt, the call went through. He waited anxiously as the beeping tone rang again and again. He let it ring for over a minute, fear growing in the pit of his stomach with each beep.

    He glanced over at the muted computer console. The blond woman, eyes wide, waved her hands agitatedly as she spoke, the images of Foerost still sliding behind her.

    Gad cut off the call and dialed the regional head office on Nubia. It would be nearly the same time of day there.

    A familiar, jolly voice answered, “Everel Rinnh, Rinnh Imports Nubian Central Director.”

    Everel, have you seen the news this morning?” Gad asked quickly, flicking on the video screen. The face of his oldest son appeared.

    Dad?” Everel queried.

    Have you seen the news?” Gad repeated.

    No, what's going on?” Everel asked, growing serious.

    Switch it on,” Gad advised. He saw Everel lean out of the screen to do so. “In short, Foerost has been attacked. They don't know what's going on yet, but they think it's the Mandalorians, back for more.”

    You're joking,” Everel paled, his eyes flicking between the news console to his left and to the comm screen.

    I've been trying to contact our trading partners there, but the comm network in that sector is busy. When I did get through to one, I got no answer,” Gad recounted quickly.

    Everel frowned, “So we know nothing more than the news does.”

    Foerost trade is under your region,” Gad reminded him, “Who have you sent there recently? If one of our pilots is in route to that system, we need to re-route him now.” Gad left his biggest worry unsaid: If one of our pilots was on that planet when it was under attack, we will need to contact his relatives.

    Give me a second,” Everel nodded gravely and turned to his console again, presumably to check the database of pilots and their current courses. Rinnh Imports employed over nearly three hundred pilots and had over a hundred more on contract. Although his company had long grown beyond his ability to know each one of his pilots, he still felt individually responsible for every last one of them. Especially when it came to three particular pilots; his three younger children.

    Gad himself turned back to his own console to wait for Everel to finish his search and pressed the mute button again.

    ...not the Mandalorians, as many have suspected,” the anchorwoman explained animatedly, “It seems impossible, but this attack was commanded by none other than the Revanchist, hero of the Mandalorian Wars. The Republic is shocked by this turn of events, as no motive can yet be given for the Revanchist's actions at Foerost...”

    Gad swallowed hard. This day couldn't possibly get any worse.

    Everel suddenly spun back into view on the comm screen. “It's Kionee,” he said urgently.

    It got worse.

    Kionee?” Gad's heart almost stopped. Kionee: his youngest daughter, sweet and sharp, but reckless. “Wh-when was she due to be on Foerost?”

    You know she signs up for stops as she feels like it and defines her own schedules,” Everel replied quickly. “Usually I don't get the details until after she has completed her transactions at a planet.”

    And what else is on her list right now?” Gad asked as evenly as he could, anxiety rising.

    Everel glanced at his computer again. “Only that and Caamas,” Everel answered.

    Bad odds,” Gad murmured. “Listen, Everel, I'm going to try to contact her right now. You keep an eye on the news and keep trying to connect with our contacts on Foerost. I will let you know what I find out from Kionee.” Or what I don't.

    Right,” Everel nodded, “Force, she's got to be alright.”

    Gad hung up with his son and dialed his youngest daughter. This call did go through. With each ring tone, Gad's anxiety grew exponentially.

    Hello?” Kionee's sleepy voice answered. “Who is it?”

    Kionee!” Gad exclaimed, “You're alright! Where are you?”

    I'm in orbit around Caamas,” she replied sleepily, “until the Ellrynlin spaceport opens up in the morning and clears me for landing.”

    Oh, good,” Gad sighed. Relief poured out of him. With shaking hands, he took a sip of his now tepid caff. “You're not going to Foerost after this, are you?”

    Foerost? I was just there yesterday,” Kionee replied, “You want me to go back again for something?”

    No, no, I don't want you to go back,” Gad said sharply.

    What's with Foerost, Dad?” Kionee asked.

    Have you looked at the news lately?” he asked in return.

    No, I've been sleeping,” Kionee replied rather shortly.

    Kionee, there's been an attack on Foerost,” Gad explained, “We were worried that you might have been there when it happened.”

    What? When? Who would want to attack that planet?” Kionee seemed to perk up with concern.

    No one on the news seems to know why, but they're saying it was the Revanchist,” Gad explained.

    But Revan wouldn't—” Kionee started to protest, but cut herself off, “I have to get back there and help those people.”

    Kionee, no,” Gad said firmly. “You will not get involved this time. This isn't a blockade and this isn't the Mandalorians. Revan is a Jedi and has Jedi friends. Jedi have all sorts of uncanny abilities that no Mandalorian has ever had. If they've gone bad, well, I don't want you to wind up on the wrong side of a lightsaber, understand?”

    But Dad,” Kionee started to protest.

    Kionee, no buts,” Gad interrupted, “Promise me you won't get involved this time.”

    I—I guess,” Kionee sounded crestfallen, “I promise.”

    Thank you, Kionee,” Gad sighed with relief, “Now you can get back to sleep. I'm glad you're safe”

    Okay, bye Dad,” Kionee murmured, and the call was cut off.

    Gad leaned back heavily in his chair. Contacting Everel again was first on a long list of duties extra for the day. He could only hope that the news network, in all of their enthusiasm for the moment, was greatly mistaken. He wanted to believe Kionee. Revan wouldn't do this.


    The sun had not yet risen from behind the snow-covered hillside at the edge of town, but golden light already shone cheerily from the kitchen window of the small house belonging to Wendyss and Corman Rand. Inside, business proceeded as usual for an early weekday morning in the middle of winter. Wendyss stood by the stove, revelling in the heat drifting upwards towards her angular face as she waited for the tea kettle perched on top of the glowing elements to boil. A thick, grey woolen sweater, tunic, and leggings shielded the rest of her from the perpetual chill which crept into all but the best-made of houses at this time of year. Across the room from her, Wendyss's husband Corman, similarly bundled up, was occupied with a large computer terminal built into the wall, downloading the Holonet's latest news articles to a portable datapad to read at the table.

    Said table was a small, circular affair, more than a few stains darkening the surface of its light-coloured wood. Simple but elegant animal carvings adorned both the edges of the table and the backs of the three chairs clustered around it. The arm of one chair sported a faded reddish splotch that might once have been blumfruit juice, while another patch of the same shade was visible on the table. Most of the spills and stains were concentrated in the same area as the aforementioned spot, which just so happened to be directly in front of the blumfruit juice chair.

    The whole kitchen was small, to fit with the rest of the house, and might have been dismissed as quaint and old-fashioned by a visitor brought up amidst the glamour and high fashion of upper-level Coruscant. Certainly, situated on a planet on the outskirts of the Republic, the room had none of the newest (and sometimes ridiculous) fads and inventions so common on the core worlds, but it was far from primitive, and the traditional wooden cabinets, tile floor, and grandfather clock suited Wendyss and Corman perfectly.

    A shrill whistle from the kettle alerted Wendyss to the fact that the water was boiling, and she quickly took it off of the heat and poured the steaming liquid into two enamelled mugs waiting on the counter.

    "Ansionian or jeru tea?" she questioned, rummaging through the overhead cupboards.

    "Doesn't matter," said Corman absently. The downloading complete, he scanned the headlines on the datapad, then caught his breath and collapsed weakly into a chair.

    "I don't believe this!" he gasped.

    "What, is Czerka Corporation buying out another weapons manufacturer?" asked Wendyss, carrying the mugs, a small black tea bag dangling over the side of each, over to the table where Corman sat.

    Her husband shook his head, just managing to stammer out a dazed reply. "'s...they've come back."

    "Come back?" asked Wendyss sharply, "Who? Not Czerka Corporation?"

    "No. The...the Revanchist." Corman's disbelieving voice was barely audible over the dull clack as the mugs were set down on the table.

    Wendyss froze, her hands still clutching the smooth, curved handles of the mugs. The shock of Corman's whispered proclamation gave way to a flare of delighted hope, as she felt her eyes drawn past his pale, anxious face to the framed holo-print resting in a prominent place on the window sill, next to a collection of dusty, second-hand datacards and other electronic hardware. She vaguely wondered at the look of horror plastered across Corman's features, but the smiling, carefree face depicted in the picture pushed all other thoughts out of her mind.

    Even if the holo-print had been invisible, even if a blindfold had been thrown over Wendyss's eyes at that moment, it would have made exactly no difference to what she saw, so deeply ingrained in her mind and memory was that face. She had, after all, given birth to it. She had nursed the tiny baby boy to whom it belonged, raised him, watched him grow into a man. She had fed him, taught him, loved him--just to bid him a sad goodbye as he walked out the door and set off for the Mandalorian War. She had seen nothing more of her son Jaq in the four years since, other than the holo-print which now sat by the window, sent to her and Corman from their son's training camp shortly after his enlistment.

    After the Republic victory at Malachor, Wendyss had hoped that Jaq would finally be allowed to come home, but that was not to be. Revan led the survivors of Malachor, Wendyss's son among them, into the depths of unknown space in pursuit of the fleeing remnant of the Mandalorians, and what was at first estimated to be only a few short months until they returned stretched on for two whole years. Most people at last gave Revan and the rogue Jedi's followers up for dead, and over those two long years of waiting, the hopeful glint in Wendyss's eyes when she looked at the treasured holo-print faded to a sad mist, a sparkle of unshed tears.

    But now Revan had returned. And following the Revanchist, surely, would be Wendyss's son. He who had been believed dead, among so many other mothers' sons, might be--must be--alive. With that wondrous thought, surges of joy and hope came flooding into Wendyss's soul, so that it was a few moments more before she could speak. When she finally found her voice, it trembled with delight at the news Corman had delivered.

    "Revan's back? But--but that's wonderful news! So the Republic fleet is back, too? What happened to them? Why were they gone so long? Does the article say?" she asked, the torrent of words flowing from her mouth like a river.

    But Corman's gaze held none of the joy dancing in Wendyss's eyes, and when he spoke, it was with a voice that was as drawn as his face.

    "Wendyss, we're at war."

    There was one second of shocked silence.

    "Wha--what?! At war with--Revan? That can't be right; there must be some mistake! Let me see that!" Wendyss demanded, letting go of the mug handles and leaning over the back of Corman's chair to look at the datapad. As she read the sorry tale, her happiness of a few moments ago evaporated to leave the same stone-cold, bewildered horror that was so vividly depicted in Corman's face.

    Revan had returned.

    Revan had returned as a Sith.

    Along with his unofficial apprentice Darth Malak, the now Darth Revan had led a fleet made up of former Republic soldiers and Jedi in an attack on the Republic shipyards of the Foerost system, efficiently taking command of hundreds of newly-built Republic ships.

    "But Revan and Malak were Jedi! Didn't they just save the Republic from the Mandalorians? How could they just--just turn on us and betray us, now? How could they?" cried Wendyss, knowing as she said it that there was no satisfying answer she or Corman could make to the question.

    "Jedi? Not any more, at least," Corman replied, shaking his head. "Were they really saving the Republic at all, I wonder? Were they planning this all the time? Even as they fought and destroyed the Mandalorians, even as they supposedly saved so many millions of lives from them? They were our saviors--we thought. They were heroes to us, and to their troops. Frankly, I can see why most or all of the soldiers under their command are still with them."

    "But to follow Revan and Malak now--obviously, they've changed! They've become Sith, they're attacking the Republic! The old Revan and Malak would never have done such a thing."

    "Of course they've changed, though I think perhaps we'd be surprised at some of the things the "old" Revan and Malak were willing to do. Take Malachor, for example. The military never released statistics of how many men and women died in the battle, but there are rumors that as many as three-fourths of the Republic soldiers and Jedi who fought were slain. It was a victory for the Republic only in that the Mandalorians lost even more than that. I know they were savage fighters, the Mandalorians, but how could Revan and Malak, being the generals they were, have let them tear apart three-quarters of their host before the battle was won? I think there was something more going on in that final battle, that was never made known to us average citizens.

    "However much or little Revan and Malak have changed," Corman went on, "in the eyes of their troops, they're still their leaders. What difference does it make to them, Jedi or Sith? Their soldiers followed them through battle and bloodshed and into the unknown; why should they stop following now?"

    "What are you saying? You can't be agreeing with their actions!" exclaimed Wendyss incredulously.

    "I'm not," said Corman gently. "What Revan and Malak and their followers are doing is wrong, plain wrong. I'm just saying that Jaq may not see it that way."

    "But--but surely, though, surely Jaq wouldn't stay with them, not once he knew what they were! He's our son--haven't we raised him to know the difference between good and evil?"

    "Sometimes it's not that easy to leave, even if you know it's the right thing to do," said Corman. "You know how much he respected Revan--revered, almost. Also, I'm sure what Revan is saying, about taking control of the Republic to defend it against some unknown threat, is as much about attempting to provide the Sith's existing followers with justification as about attracting new ones."

    "Jaq's got to see that's just propaganda! Nobody with half the brains of a rabid gizka goes about attacking something they truly want to protect! He can't really believe that Revan is in the right." It was half a statement, half a question.

    Corman said nothing at first, but heaved a long sigh. "Wendyss," he said at last, "he's only twenty-two. He's been gone for four years. He's been with different people, people who might well have different values, different world views. A lot can happen in four years. A lot can change. How do we know that he's still the same person he was when he left? We've done our best to raise him into a discerning, kind young man; the rest is up to him. Whether he chooses--or has already chosen--to join the Sith or to leave them, it's his matter. We've done our part. There is nothing else we can do," he reached for her hand and clasped it firmly, "but hope."

    It was as much a gesture of encouragement as of comfort, though it served both purposes better than any more words could have done. Hope. Corman was right, thought Wendyss. They could still hope. At least Jaq was still--probably--alive; that had to count for something. Though all thoughts of him bursting back through the battered, grey front door within the week, fiddling with the dusty electronics, and then sitting down to dinner in his old blumfruit juice-stained chair were now gone, it was still possible that he had not joined the newly-christened Dark Lord of the Sith, that he had fled when he learned of Revan and Malak's plan of conquest.

    And even if Jaq did still serve Revan, he might yet change his mind and leave when he saw what Revan had become. Whatever happened, Sith or no, he was still Wendyss and Corman's son. He could change his name or fly to the farthest reaches of the galaxy-- He would always be their Jaq.

    While the old-fashioned grandfather clock ticked off the minutes from its place on the wall and the forgotten tea cooled in its mugs, the couple remained silent, holding hands as if their simple bond of faith and hope could withstand the trials and turmoil that might very well tear the galaxy apart in the coming years. And indeed, if there were things in the galaxy that would endure through those trials, faith and hope were two of them, surpassed only by one other thing, of which there was also plenty in that bond: love.


    News by LaForzaVivia
    Nev Lubboun by JediDingo
    Alanna Etsuko by Padawan4687
    Gad Rinnh by SoA
    Jaq's (Atton's) Parents by Shillani
  12. dralksakrak

    dralksakrak Jedi Youngling star 1

    Mar 29, 2006
    Holy Crap, this is so good. Please continue.
  13. LaForzaViva

    LaForzaViva Jedi Knight star 1

    Jul 6, 2008
    I would dearly, dearly love to read a story about Jaq coming home.
  14. SoA

    SoA Jedi Knight star 3

    Apr 2, 2008
    And I just fixed all the truncation there.

    I am very sorry I haven't finished putting the last part together yet. I would blame the board move, but it's really my bad. [face_blush] Over Christmas break while I am visiting DWH, I'll drag her out to a coffee shop and we'll hash out the last couple of pieces to conclude this. I promise. :D

    If there are any newer KotOR writers around the boards that want to get in on this last post, send me a PM to let me know!