Edited by T-Rex
��� In The Wake of The Return...
��� The Search for Xar
��� (NI Run-on 5)
��� Flight Deck
��� ISD Stormwatch
��� ����������� "Blast!" screamed Icis, slamming his fist into his X-Wing and instantly regretting
��� it. Even through his armored glove, pain shot through his knuckles. "This damage
��� is impossible!" thought Icis, "Every system on the ship is down. When I find Balfin,
��� he's going to pay!"
��� When the AD had first appeared, Icis had attempted to flee Varnus.
��� Unfortunately, thanks to some special modifications by Chief Tech Thad Balfin, his
��� modified X-Wing Traveler malfunctioned as soon as it entered hyperspace. Now,
��� standing on the flight deck of the Stormwatch, Icis could see that it was hopeless
��� to attempt repair. Traveler was a total loss.
��� Worse, Grand Master Xar was missing. It was obvious to the Icis that
��� Xar had been abducted by the Altarin�Dakor. "Just their style," he said aloud. He had
��� hoped to use Traveler to go on a rescue mission, but that option had been
��� eliminated. "I could always borrow a Defender..."
��� A beep from Icis� commlink interrupted his thoughts. He brought his left wrist up
��� in front of him, "Here."
��� "Icis, it's Vamp," came a familiar voice.
��� "Go ahead."
��� "Meet me on the observation deck. We have an important issue to discuss." The
��� fact that Misnera didn't say what the issue was made it certain that it was
��� important. Too important to say on an open channel.
��� "I'm on my way." Icis responded, clicking his wrist-comm off. Not even bothering
��� to protect his broken ship, Icis made straight for the lift. "If anyone tries to
��� steal that hunk of junk, they deserve what they get."
��� Icis adjusted his lightsaber, which had begun to ride out of its holster. "I have got
��� to fix that!"
��� Observation Deck
��� ISD Stormwatch
��� As the Icis stepped onto the observation deck, he instantly spotted Jedi Master
��� Alyx Misnera standing near the windows, gazing out at the stars. On either side of the
��� man was a large duffle bag, stuffed full. Suddenly Icis had a good idea of what
��� the important issue was.
��� "Planning a vacation?" asked Icis jokingly as he neared Misnera.
��� "Officially, yes. In reality, no." Misnera replied as he turned to face the Icis. "I
��� suppose you know what I wanted to talk about."
��� "You're going to look for Xar."
��� Misnera nodded.
��� "And you want me to come along."
��� "Not just you." Alyx added. "I'm assembling a group to go after him. Since you
��� are one of our most powerful Jedi, and since you seem to have some connection
��� to Xar, you are a logical choice for the group."
��� "Normally I work alone, but considering the kind of opposition that's out there..."
��� Icis paused. "Count me in."
��� "Great." Misnera smiled. "Now once you've gotten your things together, meet me
��� on the flight deck."
��� "I'm ready to go now."
��� "Don't you at least want to grab a change of clothes?" asked Misnera, raising his
��� "No." Icis replied, tapping his black body armor. "This is what I always wear."
��� "As a matter of fact I never take it off." Icis said, amused by Misnera's reaction.
��� "But, I mean, I, don't you..."
��� "It's a special organic body armor. It's alive, see." Icis held out his right arm, as
��� the armor pulled back to expose part of his forearm, then resealed. "Responds to
��� the wearer's thoughts. It's always clean and so am I."
��� Alyx shook his head. "Where in the galaxy did you get that?"
��� "You don't want to know." replied Icis.
��� At that moment, Deputy Grand Master Mathis Organa walked up. He was carrying
�� a couple of duffle bags and looking as wild as ever. Mathis, in many ways, was the counterpart to Icis. ����
��� Both were in the Grand Master's inner circle, but whereas Icis had become a friend
��� because of his working relationship, Mathis had developed a working relationship
��� because he was a friend.
��� "Where are the others?" asked Mathis, sounding a bit worried. It made sense that
��� Mathis would be just as concerned over Xar's disappearance as Icis and Alyx
��� had been. Even more so. The man seemed not to be sleeping much, lately.
��� "They should be along shortly," answered Alyx. "As a matter of fact..."
��� Misnera trailed off as two men entered the room. Draken Ar�Kell and Omega Kira were
��� chatting it up as they made their way across the room. Icis thought it strange
��� that they were friends again after that Glitterstim Spice Girls thing. The way they had been
��� going on, he would have thought them to be lifelong enemies.
��� "So," began Mathis. "Why all the secrecy?"
��� Alyx shook his head and replied, "Isn't it obvious? There could be spies
��� "Yeah, but if that's the problem, why meet in a public place like this?" Mathis
��� "We aren't ghosts, Mathis. When we leave, people will notice. Our best hope for
��� fooling the spies is to play this up like a vacation." Alyx explained.
��� "In the middle of all this, the leaders of the Division go on vacation?"
��� Alyx gave Mathis an angry glance, then said, "Well, if you have a better idea?"
��� "Oh, yeah." Mathis nodded his head, and widened his ever present half grin. "Good
��� "Hi guys." Omega greeted them. Mathis and Misnera nodded, but Icis just raised
��� an eyebrow at the swirly-boy. Icis figured that, if nothing else, there would be
��� some entertainment on their journey.
��� "Hi and bye," said Draken with a smile. "I need to get back to work. And don't
��� worry about things around here. I'll keep everyone out of trouble."
��� "Yeah," said Alyx.
��� "Sure, okay." Mathis blinked.
��� "Right," replied Icis.
��� "Hmm." Draken looked at the four men. "Well, then. Good luck, and may the Force
��� be with you." With that Draken walked off.
��� "That it?" asked Icis.
��� "Almost." Alyx picked up his bags. "One more will be meeting us on the flight
��� Mathis nodded his head, then asked, "Speaking of which, what have you selected
��� as the mission craft?"
��� "You'll see," smiled Misnera.
��� Flight Deck
��� ISD Stormwatch
��� The four Jedi stood in a half circle, staring at the beautiful, formidably armed, jet
��� black ship. "We're taking the Black Star?" Omega said excitedly.
��� "I don't think Xar will mind." Mathis commented, looking on as Omega began to
��� rise off the ground.
��� "This is gonna be so cool." Omega was now about a meter off the deck.
��� "I would tend to agree." Said a strong voice. Icis looked at the man, whom he
��� had met before, but wasn't on close terms with. Average height with short black
��� hair and green eyes, DJM Gaius was easy to recognize. The man grabbed Omega,
��� and pulling him back to the deck, said, "However, I would also tend to control
��� "Gaius!" said Omega cheerily, shaking the man's hand. "You're the fifth man?"
��� "Well, I'm not the tooth fairy," Gaius joked.
��� "Excuse me," Icis interrupted. "Not that I don't want you along, but don't you
��� have fleet duties to attend to? I mean with your military expertise and all..."
��� "With his military expertise," Misnera broke in, "he will be very handy on this
��� "Hmm." Mathis grunted an affirmative.
��� Icis twisted his lightsaber in it's holster slightly, trying to hold it in place. Then, as
��� an afterthought, said, "Understood."
��� Omega grinned widely, "In that case... I mean the gang's all here... why are we all
��� standing around when we could be going on a adventure?" He seem dying to start
��� the search.
��� In reply, Misnera nodded and began to walk up the boarding ramp toward the still
��� closed door. He placed his hand on the door, and asked, "Now where is the open
��� "Vrrak'ne na'sarr," responded the ship in a deep, grating voice.
��� "I'm no expert in Crinn," Icis said loudly, "but that didn't sound good."
��� "I think you're...Whoa!" Alyx yelled out, jerking back his hand just in time to
��� avoid being electrocuted by one of the Black Star's built in defense systems. The
��� door was pulsing with energy. "If it wasn't for my danger sense..." Alyx trailed
��� off, shaking his head.
��� "That's what I call a security system," said Mathis with a whistle.
��� Crossing his arms, Icis thought out loud, "The question is, how do we get around
��� "Xar always used a remote control," Omega offered.
��� "Where is the remote control?" Gaius asked, scratching his chin.
��� "Doesn't matter," said Misnera, closing his eyes.
��� Mathis looked at him questioningly. "Care to elaborate?"
��� Giving no response, Misnera just stood there, eyes closed. To anyone else it
��� would look like the man wasn't doing anything, but to the group of Jedi, the Jedi
��� Master's use of the Force was obvious.
��� Misnera reached inside the ship with the Force and hit the door controls on the
��� inside. The door slid open and the group was on their way.
��� Alyx boarded the ship, followed by Gaius who commented, "Security systems
��� wouldn't give much protection against Force wielding thieves."
��� "Yeah, but how many of those do you know?" asked Omega as he stepped
��� through the door.
��� Mathis looked at Icis. "Aren't you bringing anything with you?"
��� "Not even a change of clothes?" Mathis sounded surprised, missing a step as he
��� passed through the door.
��� "This is what I always wear. As a matter of fact I never take it off," said Icis
��� coolly, stepping through the door.
��� "But, I mean, I, don't you..." The doors slid closed.
��� Bridge, ISD Stormwatch
��� Draken lounged in the captain's chair, marveling at all around him. Sure, the
��� Stormwatch wasn't as big as the Pillager Nine, but this was the flagship.
�� �The thought of the Nine made him stop for a moment. He swiveled the chair
��� around to face the forward viewports.
��� "Tactical, where is the Pillager Nine, now?" The young Ensign swept his
��� gaze over the readouts on his screen.
��� "Last time we checked, sir, it was in the Moro System. Reports indicate that Moro
��� has not yet been attacked. Division resources in system include the shipyards and
��� New Marsia, on Ravick." Draken bolted upright.
��� "New Marsia, that's where House Vortigern is, isn't it?!"
��� "Y-Yes, sir. That's right."
��� "Inform the Lord Keto, we go to Moro!"
��� Ravick, Moro System, New Marsia Base
��� The three Jedi stood in a combat circle, two against one. The one carried a
��� lightsaber, and wore the red piping on his combat.
�� �The other two had blue piping on his uniform. Without warning, both blues
��� sent lightning racing towards the red. The red countered the move, moving
�� �his lightsaber in front of one lightning blast, and reaching out with his hand
�� �to gather the energy from the other blast. Then, the two blues were knocked
�� down and back fifteen feet by a Force wave from the red.
��� "End exercise. Good job, guys. You nearly had me." The red closed down his
��� lightsaber and returned it to his belt.
��� "Yeah, sure, Jinx. Sometimes, I don't know where you pull some of the Force
��� tricks from. The number of people I know that can absorb and re-channel two
��� lightning blasts at the same time is a very limited number, and until today, you
��� weren't one of them." The blue known as Roger McReed Vortigern used the Force
��� to grab three towels from the bin along the wall. He sent one flying towards Jinx,
��� while the other two sedately floated towards Roger and his partner, Gui Sun Paan.
��� " He's right, sir. Those tricks are normally reserved for people very learned in the
��� Force, and from the official files and unofficial files around the base, you don't
��� qualify." Jinx tossed an odd look at Paan, then at Roger.
��� " You let him talk to you like that? All 'Yes, sir, No, sir, Three bags full, sir'? And to
��� answer your questions, guys, let's just say that the official files and unofficial
��� rumors don't know everything about me, and that is the way it will stay." the
��� three Jedi began walking towards the exit to the base gymnasium. "Paan, when
��� are you going to get your rear in gear and qualify for Templar, like Roggie Mac,
��� " No idea, si- I mean, Jinx. I still got a long way to go to even reach the average
��� level of other Templars." Just then, the base warning klaxon flared to life. The three
��� Jedi took off towards the command center, and the wailing siren followed them.
��� When they reached the command center, a dignified looking man turned slightly
��� away from the holo tank to look at them.
��� " Sirs, two vessels have appeared in system wishing to talk to you. Sensors show
��� that they are one modified ISD Mark II, and one Dungeon Ship. The Fifth Regulars are
��� currently on an intercept course." Jinx hurried around to the holopod in the middle
��� of the command center.
��� " Put the caller on, now, Colonel." The holopod flickered to life, revealing a figure
��� standing in front of a bridge chair on the ISD.
��� " Jinx, my friend. We need some help."
��� " What's going on, Draken?"
��� Crew Quarters
��� ISD Stormwatch
��� "What's going on, Probbie?" Vynd Acharon asked. He had finally caught up with
��� the ISD Stormwatch in the Moro system, and found to his delight that his Arakyd
��� Viper probot had evacuated on the flagship. The droid had secured a small
��� crewman's cabin as his own, awaiting his master's imminent arrival.
��� "Command channels have been severely disrupted by the evacuation of Varnus,
��� and many of our ships are acting semi-independently," Probbie said with his crisp,
��� Cybot-designed vocabulator.
��� "Like this ship, for instance," Vynd said. "You get stuck on the wrong side of a
��� planet during an invasion, everyone leaves without you, and it takes you forever
��� to track down the flagship."
��� "And when that happens, everyone of import has already left," Probbie provided.
��� "Thank you," Vynd said. "Speaking of persons of import, did they happen to file a
��� flight plan?"
��� "Not one that I have access to."
��� "No matter. Now that I've checked in with Stormwatch, I have a mission of my
��� "Really? You've cleared it with Draken?"
��� Vynd shook his head. "I still can't believe it. Draken Ar'Kell takes an ISD to the
��� homeworld of House Vortigern and does not blow them away. Whatever happened
��� to the good old days of feudalism and inter-house warfare?"
��� "Went out with micronic circuits and electric toasters, sir," Probbie said.
��� Vynd shrugged. "Whatever. Interface with the CAGCOMP and ready an escort
��� transport. Upload file b1m1fm to its navicomputer."
��� "The route to the current?"
��� "That's the one," Vynd said. His face darkened. "And make sure it has plenty of
��� weapons. I won't have any chance against what's out there if they manage to
��� intercept me, but I won't go down without a fight."
��� The Black Star
��� En route to New Cov
��� "Focus. Feel the Force flowing through you." Icis said, guiding Omega in the use
��� of a new Force power. "Now feel the individual molecules that make up the air just
��� in front of you."
��� Omega's voice was laced with strain, "I can feel it."
��� "Good, now move the molecules faster and faster. Friction builds... heat rises...
��� and..." Icis broke off as a small flame formed in the air in front of him.
��� "I did it!" shouted Omega with glee. "Wow, thanks!"
��� "Well, it was nothing really, I'm just glad I could..." Icis trailed off as Omega
��� enlarged the flame into a ball of fire, then made two more fireballs and began to
��� juggle them. "Why you..."
��� "Ha ha!" Gaius erupted in laughter. He had watched the whole thing, and now it was
��� painfully apparent that he knew Omega had already achieved a level of mastery of
��� Fire Control. "Quite the little firebug, isn't he."
��� "You knew!" Icis yelled, as Alyx walked into the room.
��� "Knew what?" asked Misnera.
��� "He... I... well...stop laughing!" Gaius looked like he was about to roll on the floors.
��� "Man, it sounds like I missed a good one." Misnera smiled, siting down on a table in
��� the corner.
��� "Ok! I've had enough! Gaius," Icis pulled his lightsaber from its holster, "I
��� challenge you to a duel." Suddenly screams erupted from behind him.
��� "Shoot, I dropped one of them." Turning around, Icis could see Omega beating on
��� his cloak, trying to put out a spot that had flamed up. "You aren't seriously going
��� to fight Gaius."
��� "If he's up to it," challenged Icis.
��� "Oh, I'm up to it." Gaius pulled out his own lightsaber.
��� "Oh, great." Alyx said under his breath. Shaking his head, he said, "You don't
��� know what you're getting yourself into."
��� Icis lit up his blade, a warm yellow shaft off energy shooting from the handle. Gaius
��� followed suit with his blade of ruby red. Just at that moment Mathis walked in,
��� took one look at the two men, shouted out, "Oh, stang!" and the promptly ran
��� back out of the room.
��� "Let's begin." Icis said calmly, letting lose on Gaius with a lightning fast series of
��� strikes. At first it seemed that Gaius was having trouble keeping up, barely
��� managing to block Icis' attacks. But then the man stuck back with flurry of
��� powerful attacks. It wasn't a case of one attacking and the other defending, both
��� men were attacking,
each block a strike.
��� teeth grit, continued to strike out at each other, neither making any headway.
��� "Time for a new plan of attack," said Gaius, stepping in with his strike. Locking
��� sabers together, it was no longer a matter of strikes and blocks, but a test of
��� strength. Then, releasing his lightsaber with his left hand, Gaius shot out a powerful
��� backfist strike catching Icis clean in the jaw, spinning the taller man around.
��� Then, with Icis' back to him, Gaius swung his lightsaber with his right hand, directly
��� at Icis' head.
��� Sensing the blade's movement, Icis ducked, and using the spinning motion left
��� over from Gaius' strike, came around with a kick to the gut. Gaius grunted, and they
��� locked blades again. Returned to their starting positions, Icis never expected the
��� next change of strategy. With a sudden burst of energy, Gaius let out a roar and
��� pushed Icis backward. Quickly regaining his balance, Icis tried to catch the man
��� with another kick to the gut, but no sooner had he started than Gaius caught his
��� foot, and threw Icis onto his back.
��� Scrambling to get back up, Icis was barely able to block Gaius' next strike. They
��� locked up again, but this time Icis was on his knees with his lightsaber over his
��� head, and Gaius
bearing down on him.
��� Icis� face, blinding him.
��� Quickly sliding to one side, Icis allowed Gaius� blade to come down beside him.
� ��Then, using the element of surprise, Icis ran his blade up the underside of Gaius� to
��� strike at the man's unprotected hands. But Gaius was not fooled be this tactic and
��� began to spin his blade around in small circles, the grip of the energy beams
��� pulling the weapon out of his attacker's hand, disarming the Traveler.
��� Icis stood up, red energy blade only centimeters from his face and smiled looking
��� over Gaius� left shoulder. Gaius gave a look of interest and quickly glanced behind him
� ��where Icis� lightsaber, still ignited, hovered in the air poised to strike. Gaius smiled.
��� "What are you grinning about?" asked Icis with a look of mild confusion.
��� Misnera laughed. "You're not the only one who can use the Force around here."
��� With that, Icis realized that he could feel a small disturbance in the Force coming
��� from Gaius and being channeled behind him. Looking around, Icis could see that
��� most of the gun racks that lined the room were empty, and the guns were all
��� pointed at him.
��� Gaius� grin widened. "Do you yield?"
��� "I yield." Icis said with resignation. He hadn't realized that Gaius was so powerful,
��� but then again, he was a Jedi Master, in addition to the Commodore of the Stormwatch.
��� The guns floated back to their places on the wall as Icis called his lightsaber back
��� to his hand, switched it off and put it back into its holster. "You're not bad with a
��� lightsaber," offered Gaius, holding out a hand.
��� Gripping the man's hand, Icis said, "If we do run into any trouble, it'll be good to
��� fight with you instead of against you."
��� "Ooh, fire." Omega intoned. Icis turned to face the young Jedi who was now
��� juggling eight fireballs. "Icisie, don't feel bad that you lost."
��� "Icisie?" The Icis glared. "Have you been talking to Delta 1?"
��� "How could you tell?" Omega asked. "Anyway, it is no dishonor to lose to a
��� superior opponent."
��� "What?!" Icis could feel his temperature rising.
��� Omega didn't answer, but began to whistle a very familiar song and added another
��� fireball to his act. Icis thought to himself, "Just stay calm, there must be a
��� bathroom around here somewhere, and when I find it, it's swirly time!"
��� With that, Icis vanished.
��� The Black Star
��� En route to New Cov
��� Icis stood alone in the small room eying his belt. One by one he used the Force to
��� punch small holes through the belt, and around the holster. He could have used
��� his body armor's adaptation ability to form a holster, but he was afraid that if the
��� armor ever became badly damaged it would drop everything on the belt. However,
��� he had been having problems getting his new lightsaber to fit the holster because
�� �of the holsters inability to change.
��� Icis thought it quite strange that it took him as long as it did to come up with a
��� solution. By putting holes in the belt that the armor could grow through he would
��� be able to adjust his gear with just a thought and should something happen, the
��� remainder of the belt would keep his gear from falling off.
��� Reattaching his belt, Icis sighed in satisfaction as he felt the holster tighten
��� around the troublesome lightsaber. At last he was free from the nagging feeling
��� that the lightsaber was going to fall out of the holster. Then he looked down in
��� admiration at another one of his projects. He had removed his wrist-comm and
��� reworked it into his belt buckle. Now with a mere thought he could move the body
��� armor to activate his comm.
��� "And you too." Icis said aloud, pushing two ration packs into his belt. Designed to
��� be injected directly into the bloodstream, they provided complete nutrition for an
��� adult human for one day each. Hunger would still be a bit of a problem as the
��� stomach became empty and began sending the "refill" signal, but that could be
��� Opening a small box on the table, Icis pulled out one of the many small
��� cylindrical objects that he found inside. "Light Darts." he said aloud. Once thrown,
��� the miniature lightsabers would ignite at cause considerable damage to anything
��� they hit. Icis was surprised that Xar had so many of them, as they were
��� difficult to construct. "Or are you one of Runis' pets?" Icis thought aloud.
��� It didn't matter where they came from, just as long as they worked. Icis filled up
��� the remainder of his belt space with them, 24 in total. That done, he began to
��� walk out of the room to make one final check on the others before getting some
��� shut eye. He really didn't need but an hour or two of sleep each night, but
��� sleeping would make the trip go faster. It would also give him less time to think
��� about what they might run into. He had spent so much time trying to get away,
��� trying to prepare, and now the "show" was about to begin. Icis was a strong Jedi,
��� stronger than most, but there were forces out there that made him look like an
��� insignificant child. If only...
��� Mathis walked in. "Oh, Icis, I didn't know you were in here," apologized Mathis. The
��� man was looking rather haggard, with dark circles under his eyes.
��� "Hey, that's all right, Mathis. Here..." Icis pulled a chair out of the corner. "Have a seat."
��� "Thanks," said Mathis, easing into the chair. He sat normally for a moment, and
��� then slumped down with his head in his hands.
��� "I realized you were hurting pretty bad," began Icis, sitting down in a chair facing
��� Mathis. "when Alyx organized the search party. Not that he isn't qualified, but as
��� Deputy Grand Master, I would have thought that job would fall to you."
��� "I..." Mathis cleared his throat. "I started to put the search party together, but
��� it... Alyx said he'd talk care of everything. I wasn't in any shape to protest."
��� "Don't worry about it. Alyx is a capable leader, and no one thinks any less of you
��� for it."
��� "Yeah, but... I mean I did everything I could to keep Xar safe. Every time he
��� ran off to fight yet another of his seemingly endless stream of foes, I wasn't sure
��� if he was coming back." Mathis shook his head. "I mean, the risks that man
��� takes... When he finally gave it up and let me post a guard, I thought our troubles
��� were over. Just to have him kidnapped right under my nose."
��� "Me too," said Icis. "No one has kept a closer watch on Xar than me. Always
��� there in the shadows, trying to guide him... to protect him. And in the end, what
��� good did it do?"
��� "He was my leader," Mathis explained, looking at the floor. "My teacher... my
��� friend... in many senses he was my brother. I lost my brothers to the Death Star,
��� Xar lost his to that General Akira, and having no family, we became family."
��� "I know what you mean." Icis confided. "Xar was the first real friend I have
��� had. Everyone else wanted to use me, or was afraid of me. But Xar really took
��� me in, and pushed me to step forward and rejoin humanity. Now I have more
��� friends, but all because of him."
��� "Do you think he's still alive?" asked Mathis.
��� "I know it. I can feel it. I would know if he was dead." Then looking directly at
��� Mathis, Icis said, "You know that I have the ability to sense when something
��� important is about to happen. Well, sometimes it isn't a something, but a
�� �someone. I found Xar because he had the spark, the undeniable mark of
��� someone destined for greatness. There are some people who seem to twist fate.
��� When they will it, the world changes around them. Xar is one of those people,
��� and so are you, and for whatever reason so am I. When we are together, nothing
��� can stop us. We are the same, you and I, a different breed from the rest. We will
��� find our brother."
��� Mathis grinned. "We will find him."
��� The Black Star
��� In low orbit above New Cov
��� "... requesting clearance to land." As Misnera spoke, Icis made another scan of
��� the area. New Cov hadn't changed much since he was last there only a few
��� months before. Domed cities and carnivorous plants didn't impress him much, and
��� he couldn't wait to set down and get back to the search for Xar.
��� "Request denied," was the shocking response.
��� "What?!" asked Misnera, raising his voice slightly.
��� "It seems that you were here a few months back and caused quite a stir. The city
��� of Ilic was in chaos for a week after you left, and we're only now finishing repairs
��� inflicted during the riots. You will never step foot in this city again." With that,
��� the transmission was cut.
��� "That's just great," Mathis complained from behind the pilot's seat. "Now what?"
��� "Well," said Alyx, swiveling around to face Mathis. "We could always sneak in
��� under their defenses."
��� "You don't mean landing the Black Star in that living deathtrap they call a jungle?"
��� asked Mathis, blinking in surprise. That really wasn't a good idea.
��� "That really isn't a good idea," Alyx admitted. "Those things would eat the ship
�� �inside of ten minutes."
��� "Whew, for a minute there..." Mathis sighed in relief.
��� "I intended just to fly low enough to drop you guys off, and then move to a safe
��� "What?!" Mathis sounded just a little stressed at Misnera's idea.
��� At that moment, Omega stepped in. "Hey, I'm ready. Bring it on!"
��� "What the Krath is that?" asked Mathis, pointing on the giant cannon looking thing
��� strapped to Omega's shoulder.
��� "It's a Merr-Sonn Munitions PLX-2M Missile Tube. It can fire a 3t3 proton missile
��� for up to fifty kilometers. Isn't it cool?" Omega was grinning ear to ear. However,
��� Gaius wasn't having the same reaction. It was obvious he knew what the thing was
��� the second he saw it.
��� "Put that thing away before you destroy us all!" Gaius screamed.
��� "No, I found it and finders keepers, losers what's that light for?" Omega asked,
��� pointing at the missile controls.
��� "Sith Spit! You activated it!" yelled Gaius, grabbing the controls. Chaos reined for a
��� minute as it seemed that they were all about to die, but finally Gaius shut the
��� weapon down. "Give me that!"
��� "Ow, Oww! You're choking me! Akk akk!" Omega choked as Gaius tried to rip the
��� weapon away, pulling the collar strap way to tight around Omega's neck.
��� Mathis turned back to Misnera. "As I was saying before we were almost killed..."
��� Mathis trailed off. "I seem to be saying that a lot since joining the Division. I wonder if
��� it's related? Oh, well, as I was saying... You can't be serious about setting us
��� down there."
�� �"Just the rest of you." Alyx smiled. "I'll have to stay in the ship in case you need
��� an emergency pickup."
��� "I can stay," pleaded Mathis. "I'm not such a bad pilot myself."
��� "Yes, but you'll be leading the ground force." Alyx explained, trying to avoid
��� going down there and being eaten.
��� "Don't make me pull rank here. I am the Deputy Grand Master you know."
��� "Mathis," Icis interrupted. "Alyx's right."
��� "He is?" Mathis almost choked.
��� "I am?" asked Misnera, who was just trying not to get dead on this trip.
��� "He is." Icis confirmed.
��� "But we'll be eaten alive." complained Mathis.
��� "We're Jedi." Icis pointed out. "The Force is our ally, and a powerful ally it is."
��� "Yeah," Mathis admitted. "But Yoda was living in a nice peaceful swamp when he
��� said that, not on this nightmare world."
��� "Hold on." Icis butted in. "How do you know about Yoda? He was in hiding most of
��� your life. Skywalker only discusses Yoda with his closest friends. So the question
��� remains, how do you know about Yoda?"
��� "I... uh..."
��� "Who's Yoda?" asked Misnera, a little confused.
��� "Well, uh... a rancor told me?"
��� Icis shook his head and glared.
��� "Yes, well... I would like to tell you but we have to hurry up and get down to that
��� "I'm with you," said Gaius, who had finally managed to get the missile launcher off of
��� Omega. "I'm always in for a good adventure."
��� "Hey!" panted a very red faced Omega. "Don't.. I.. get a.. vote?"
��� "No," they all said in unison.
��� The Black Star hovered only thirty meters over the surface of the planet,
��� surrounded by tall trees. The boarding hatch was open, with four Jedi peering out
��� of it.
��� "Let's get it on!" cried Gaius as he hurled himself out of the ship.
��� "That guy is way too excited about this." Omega shook his head.
��� "Let's go Omega," prodded Icis as he calmly walked out of the ship, and began to
��� "That looks like quite a drop," gulped Omega.
��� "Just use the Force to slow your fall," advised Mathis, who promptly dove out of
��� the ship.
��� "Well, I could, but I think that Misnera might need a hand around here. You guys
��� just go on without me." Omega hit a button on the control panel and the hatch
��� began to close.
��� Suddenly, Gaius� hand appeared through the still closing hatch doors, grabbing
��� Omega's cloak and sending them both spiraling to the ground. "Come on," Gaius
��� laughed. "This is going to be fun."
��� The Black Star shot out of sight, returning to the safety of low orbit.
��� Three of the four Jedi stood amongst the ravenous shrubbery of New Cov,
��� wondering where the fourth could be. "I don't know," Gaius said. "I pulled him out of
��� the Black Star, and we all saw him come down with us."
��� "Maybe he got blown off course," Mathis suggested. "Or stuck in a tree." A boot
��� hit him on the head and he looked upward, to see Omega sitting on a tree branch
��� as the leaves nipped at his thighs.
��� "Little help here," Omega asked.
��� "Is this yours?" Mathis asked, indicating the boot.
��� "Yes, I'm sorry," Omega said. "I lost one on the way down, then that one fell
��� when I lodged here in this tree. Speaking of which, this tree is looking really
��� hungry. If it gets through my pants - "
��� "We don't even want to think about it getting through your pants," Gaius muttered.
��� "Just be a man and jump out of there. You jumped out of the Black Star and didn't
��� get hurt, didn't you?"
��� "I guess you're right," Omega said. Pulling the masticating leaves off his legs, he
��� pushed forward with his hands and plummeted groundward, landing squarely on
��� "Are they unconscious?" Icis asked incredulously.
��� "I think so," Gaius said.
��� Black Star
��� Low Orbit above New Cov
��� ����������� Alyx sat alone at a console in the lounge of the ship. The display showed four
��� red dots superimposed onto a terrain map of New Cov. �Well, at least they made it
��� to the surface all right�, he thought aloud, being glad he had covertly placed the
��� tracking devices on the party.
��� His peace was interrupted by his danger sense and a loud alarm coming over the
� ��ship�s speakers. He hurried to the bridge only to see 3 hostile TIE Avengers
��� closing quickly off of the port bow. �I guess they were serious about not setting
��� foot on New Cov again�. He kicked the engines into full throttle and began to
��� climb away from both the incoming fighters and the planet in a tight spiral. One of
��� the Avengers pulled in directly on his six and was quickly dispatched with one of
��� the ship�s Nova mines. �I won�t be that lucky again�, he thought, regretting not
��� having anyone to man the turrets. The second Avenger launched a pair of
��� Advanced Concussion Missiles, forcing Alyx to pull the Black Star back into a dive
��� toward the planet while releasing a pair of flares just in time. Using the Force, he
��� manipulated the weapons panel at the copilot�s station and locked the two
��� remaining TIEs into the targeting computer. He brought the ship into a wide loop
��� that placed him directly above the second fighter. Alyx smiled to himself as he
��� squeezed the trigger and twin lasers ripped through the other ship. Sensing the
��� fear in the last remaining pilot, he decided to have a little fun before destroying
��� the pathetic target. He brought the ship into a steep dive into the atmosphere,
��� pulling up into level flight just above the tree tops. The Avenger was struggling
��� to keep up and scraped off part of his solar panels on the top of a tree in the
��� process of copying the Black Star�s maneuver. Suddenly the port dorsal turret
��� swept around and filled the TIE�s cockpit with red energy beams.
��� Back in high orbit, Alyx used the commlink to call down to the ground party.
��� �Better make this quick�. You�re not likely to get a friendly reception.�
����������������������������������������������� ����������������Draken Ar�Kell
��� On Board the
��� ISD StormWatch.
� ������������� ��Draken sat back and was thinking to himself.
��� "I wonder what would happen if I pressed this button and all the guns started to
��� fire at Vortigen's Base!"
��� "Draken!!" shout came from the bridge door.
��� Draken snatched back his hand like a little kid just being caught doing something
��� "It wasn't what you think!" Draken said quickly.
��� "I bet it wasn't," Came the reply from Havoc as he walked up the Command Chair
��� to stand in front of his Quaestor "I bet if Neres was here instead of you, his hand
��� would have been chained so that he wouldn't be able to press it." Havoc
��� "Well anyway, Report!" Draken said sounding a little miffed.
��� "Sir, the SoulShadow and the Galthian are ready to move and I've just finished
��� talking to the Aedile of the two other Houses, they are also preparing their
��� "This is good, Aedile, now lets see what trouble we can cook up." Draken had
��� that look in his eye.
��� Havoc groaned to himself. Last time he saw that look, BlackOps stormed a
��� stronghold of the NR with forty men against a whole battalion.
� 1700 hours,
� New Cov,
� Jungle, near the gates of Ilic.
� ������������� Finally they had reached it! Mathis stepped out into the open and pressed the switch next to the
� massive door. Nothing happened. Icis and Gaius joined him, and a few seconds later Omega got there
� as well, though his cloak looked torn and he had an unidentified green slimy substance on his left
� "Freakin' plants in here," he mumbled to himself, "Why do they all come to me? Eat somebody else!"
� Gaius looked at Mathis and asked, "What's up? Just press the button and get in there!"
� "I tried to," Mathis replied, while pressing the switch several times, "but this stupid door refuses to
� "Let us in hereee!" he shouted while pounding his fist against the gate.
� Suddenly a metallic voice sounded above their heads. "Please refrain from damaging Ilic public
� material, or defensive measurements will be undertaken against you. State your business here on
� New Cov."
� "Great," Gaius muttered, "a droid! Just what we need now."
� "Shut up," Mathis whispered to the rest of the team, "let me handle this one." Then he turned back
� to the door and said, "My friends and I were making a little walk through the city when we
� suddenly stepped through the wrong door and ended up in the jungle! The door wouldn't open up
� again, so now we're here! Let us in!"
� They all heard a metallic clang and the gate opened up barely enough to let them all in. As soon as
� they all got in, the door banged shut again. Two red eyes lit up in the dark in front of them.
� "Your story sounds highly suspicious!" the same droid said, "please follow me to the waiting room
� where the city authorities will investigate this case. I suggest you keep your IDs at hand."
� Mathis looked at Gaius, but there came no answer. Instead Gaius just nodded with a confident look in
� his eyes.
� Mathis faced the droid again and said "Okay, lead the way."
� Omega looked behind him for the last time before they started walking and suddenly he noticed
� that Icis was nowhere to be seen!
� Yeah, he thought, that's another trick he really has to teach me!
� "Damn!" Omega cursed. "Now how are we going to get out of this! I suggest we wipe those guards
� out and get out of here."
� "No," Mathis replied sternly, "we will not kill innocent bystanders. There are less brutal ways to get
� rid of them. Besides, we still have Icis out there to help us if needed."
� Suddenly the door, the only entrance to the cold room, opened and a middle-aged man in an Ilic
� police uniform and with a stern look on his face appeared.
� "Gentlemen," he said, "follow me to the main police building. Planet authorities have taken special
� interest in your case. Do not resist or you will be harmed."
� "No need to use those," Mathis said, while pointing to the man�s blaster rifle, "we won't resist."
� The three Jedi were walking through the streets of Ilic, surrounded by 30 policemen. Nobody said a
� word, but the policemen looked tense and ready to shoot them if they made one wrong move.
� Mathis moved closer to Gaius and whispered "See that walkway on your right? It's about 4 meters
� high. Force Jump to it and then run to the right. We're going to leave this party."
� Gaius nodded and Mathis moved to Omega to inform him of the escape plan.
� When they finally reached the walkway, the three Jedi jumped to the walkway and as soon as they
� landed, they started running to the right, as told.
� Before the startled police commando could even give the order to blast them, the Jedi had already
� rounded the corner and disappeared into the shadows.
� "Okay stop here," Mathis gasped. "We got rid of them� Now let's continue with the mission."
� "Aah, Mathis," Gaius began, "I feel something very wrong here� I think that� DUCK! NOOOOW!"
� Instantly all three Jedi dropped onto the ground and three piercing beams cut through the empty
� space where the Jedi had been only milliseconds ago.
� Gaius grabbed for his lightsaber and turned to his left. He sensed somebody with bad intentions
� coming. Another shot cut through the air, barely missing him. Then the black shadow got into
� range. "Eat this!" Gaius shouted while stabbing his lightsaber deep into the creatures head. Then he
� looked at Mathis and saw him standing him with an activated lightsaber in front of a body cleanly
� sliced into two pieces.
� Then he looked at Omega.
� Omega charged toward the third creature while waving with his lightsaber. Two more bright flashes shot
� out of the shadows, cleanly cutting two more holes in Omega's cloak.
� "Noooo," Omega shouted, while running up to the creature at full speed, "first I burn my cloak, then
� it gets eaten by hungry plants and now you cut some holes in it! This calls for revenge!"
� The creature pointed his gun to Omega's chest, but before it could fire again, Omega cut off the
� hand holding the gun. The creature gave an inhuman scream and tried to run away, but Omega
� tackled him. He brought up his lightsaber to deliver the final blow, but he was stopped by Mathis.
� "No, don't kill him!" Mathis shouted. "He could be useful to us!"
� Gaius and Mathis walked up to Omega and the creature, which had gotten on his feet by now.
� "I bet he has a lot of interesting stories to tell us," Mathis grinned, with a malevolent look in his
� eyes. "But first, let's see who this is�"
� Mathis pulled the cloak, hiding the creatures face, away. When he saw what lay behind the mask
� and his jaw dropped. "What in the blazes is this," he finally managed to whisper�
������������������������������������������������������������� Varanus Templar
� ������������� ��The three Jedi stared in disbelief at the woman on the ground. She sat there
��� almost oblivious to them, nursing her wound, which had already began to heal and
��� now was just oozing blood and puss.
��� "Well, I bet no one saw that coming." said Omega "What do we do now?"
��� "Now, now we get some answers." replied Mathis. "Who are you working for? What
��� do you want?!"
��� The woman slowly turned her head upwards as if she had noticed the men for the
��� first time. As the light caught the features of her face. The Jedi were all taken
��� aback despite themselves. Her face was of a perfect symmetry that conveyed
��� austere beauty and unbridled rage. At first glance she was human. But at closer
��� inspection it appeared to be totally alien, it was in the way she held herself in the
��� subtle grace and her imperial presence. She simply stared at them. Those few
��� moments seemed to draw out. Her face, calm and serene, suddenly contorted
��� into a mask of hatred. In a single demonic gasp she screamed "Fear the shadows,
��� despise the night. We are the horrors that no man can fight." With this battle cry
��� she plunged a dagger into the side of her navel and in a single efficient stroke
��� brought it sideways across her body. There was a sickening sound as stomach
��� juices and gases burst forth and ligaments and tendons ripped and her intestines
��� spilled out on the ground below her. The fire died in her lifeless eyes and she
��� slumped forward on to the New Cov street.
��� "Well I bet you didn't see that comi..." started Omega.
��� "Shut up!!" interjected Mathis
��� "Wait it's no use arguing, besides, you'll only attract attention and that is
��� something we don't want at the moment." admonished Gaius. "Our main objective is
��� Xar. I think we should gather any equipment she has on her for later R&D and
��� move on before there is more of our dark zealots appearing."
��� The Jedi worked quickly and had gathered up any thing that wasn't attached. As
��� they turned to leave Omega commented "I've never seen so many sharp edges
��� on someone before."
��� Mathis took one last look at the still figure with blades embedded all over her
��� armor before turning away and hurrying after Omega. Gaius was the last to leave,
��� as he turned towards the shadows he could not help but think that the armor
��� seemed oddly familiar. He pushed the thought to the side of his mind as his
��� thoughts returned to the mission at hand and he ran into the night.
��������������� �� As soon as the Jedi had left, Lang Char left his hiding place in the shadows and
��� ran to his mate's side. "Fel!" he rasped, kneeling over her. "Can you hear me?"
��� Fel's eyes fluttered open at the sound of Char's deep voice. She licked blue lips
��� before saying, "How bad?"
��� Char looked over the deep wound. The glistening tissues were in motion, soaking
��� up spilt blood and knitting together, healing at an unnaturally rapid rate. The
��� Force at work. "It will not heal properly," he said. "But it will be functional."
��� Fel sighed in relief and closed her eyes. "How were the Jedi able to find us, Lang?"
��� "I don't know. They connected this planet to Turles; from there, it's not a far leap
��� to - "
��� "That doesn't explain it," Fel snapped, opening her eyes again. "They must know
��� more about us and our operations than we suspect. We are still in a transitional
��� age. Until the new age is fully upon us, we must fear any credible opposition."
��� Char shook his head. "None of these fools are credible. Even now, our mercenaries
��� are preparing their ambush. While the 'Jedi' are distracted, let us return to Mizar."
��� Fel nodded. The effects of her "suicide" rapidly abating, she reached up to grab
��� Lang's hand and together they started for the spaceport.
��� Meanwhile, in orbit....
�� ������������ �Misnera had hidden the Black Star from the roving security patrols by setting
��� down underneath a small overhang on one of Ilic's gray, airless moons. This put
��� him out of contact with the team on the planet, but it was necessary. Since
��� destroying those three TIE Avengers, every security patrol and privateer in the
��� system was looking for him. The moon had provided a good hiding place, until
��� now. "Sithspawn," Misnera swore as he rechecked his minimal instruments. An
��� escort transport was following the terrain of the planetoid, heading straight for
��� him. The pilot was a Force-user. Its shields were up and weapons hot. The Black
��� Star had been shut down to make it harder for the searchers to find him; now, it
��� would take about a minute to get the defensive systems at full again. Only one
��� turbolaser was working. "You may have called the whole New Cov militia down on
��� me, buddy, but I only need one or two shots." He carefully aimed the targeting
��� reticule over the ETR and pressed the fire button.
��� "Black Star, I repeat, please come in," Vynd Archaron said. He could clearly see the
��� distinctive ship hiding under an outcropping of rock. All of its systems were off,
��� presumably to avoid detection by the security patrols. "Is anyone aboard? If -
��� whoa!" Delta1 broke off in mid-sentence as his ship was flooded with sensor
��� radiation. He pulled the ship back into a steep climb and was narrowly missed by a
��� turbolaser bolt. The Black Star suddenly charged out from its hiding place its pilot
��� said over a general frequency, "All systems are online, and you're dead!"
��� "Master Misnera?" Vynd said. "Is that you?"
��� There was a pause. "D1? I'm sorry, I ... All the systems were shut down, and that
��� must've included the IFF receiver. I'm not totally familiar with this ship - "
��� "Don't worry about it," Delta1 said. "But now there's about 20 ships ranging in size
��� from YT-class freighters to Loronar patrol boats bearing down on us. Suggest we
��� enter the ravine at 040 mark 65 and try to find a new hiding place."
��� "Good idea," Misnera said. He plunged the Black Star into the ravine and switched
��� his outgoing communications to encrypted tight-beam. "Where have you been?"
��� "I was looking for help," Delta1 said. "But we won't be getting any. Not from them,
��� Misnera thought he caught something in Delta1's voice ... Could it have been
��� grief? Or something even worse?
��� Mathis, Omega and Gaius were walking down the streets of Ilic when suddenly Icis
��� appeared from a nearby alley.
��� "No need to continue our search here," he said. "I have found what we came here
��� "How do you know?" Mathis asked suspiciously.
��� "I was watching you kill that creature." Icis said. "Its suicide was a deception.
��� Then her partner arrived and they talked about 'returning to Mizar while their
��� mercenaries were attacking'. I killed them both - for good this time - and ran here
��� to catch you."
��� "Okay then," Mathis said, "the choice is made, let's call in Misnera, and hope that
��� he has news about this mercenaries stuff..."
��� Black Star
��� Low orbit above New Cov
� ������������� ��Both Misnera and Delta1 had their hands full for the moment. Piloting the Black
��� Star and an Escort Transport through a ravine with a bunch of hostiles eager to kill you on
��� your trail was difficult enough without Mathis� call to pick up the Jedi in Ilic.
��� Misnera switched his comm system back on and said to Archaron, "Hey, a few clicks
��� from here the ravine will split into two smaller branches... I suggest we split up to
��� divide our enemies."
��� "Deal," Vynd answered. "Let's race!"
��� Misnera plunged the Black Star into the right branch of the ravine and then cut
��� back the throttle to zero and waited.
��� The 5 YT-1300s and 2 YT-2000s had difficulty to see the ship there and they had
��� not anticipated its move so they just overshot the Black Star. Very quickly they
��� realized their mistake, but they had to pay for it. Misnera�s turbolaser bolts quickly
��� brought down two of the YT-1300s and one YT-2000 which had their shields
��� shifted fully forward to stop his bolts from coming from in front in the subsequent
��� explosions, but it appeared relatively undamaged.
��� Off course, Alyx didn't wait for them to open fire on him, and he pulled the Black
� ��Star into a steep climb. But the enemy pilots were now even more eager to kill him,
��� and they closed in fast. No. Misnera let them close in fast.
��� When they were only half a click away and spraying his aft shield with laser bolts,
��� Misnera switched to advanced torpedoes and before waiting for a solid lock, he
��� fired 3 pairs of them at his pursuers.
��� Luck, and a little help of the Force changed two YT-1300s into exploding fireballs.
��� Then Misnera cut to starboard very quickly and throttled up.��
��� prevent them from firing a missile at him. The other ships followed and Misnera
��� got an idea. He throttled down a little to let the ships gain on him - but without
��� getting the missile lock they wanted - and he tried one of the many tricks
��� installed on the Black Star. At the back of the ship, near the engines, a small
��� hatch opened and smoke poured out to fool the others that the Black Star had
��� engine problems.
��� Alyx then guided the ship down to a sharp ridge. The other ships flew at top speed
��� and were almost getting in fire range. It looked like Alyx would fly straight into
��� the mountaintop, but at the very last moment he throttled up and pulled out. The
��� remaining YT-1300 and YT-2000 had concentrated only on getting him killed and
��� they were too late to see through the deception. Both ships slammed into the wall
��� and exploded brightly.
��� Misnera throttled down and scanned the area for Vynd�s ETR. Soon he found
��� it. Its port wing looked black and scorched but apart from that it looked all right.
��� Misnera opened the comm channel and said "Delta1, you okay?"
��� "Well, I had some trouble with them, but I managed to deal with it," Vynd said.
��� "My left is a little burnt, but there's no serious damage."
��� "Good," Misnera said. "Now let's get our friends out of Ilic..."
��� New Cov
��� "Alyx, once again, do you copy?" Mathis spoke into his commlink once before.
��� But apparently to no avail, as he got the usual static back.
��� "Damn," he cursed. "Where could he be?"
��� Suddenly his commlink hissed and Misnera�s voice came over: "Mathis, you there?"
��� Mathis grabbed the little device with both hands and shouted "Alyx! At last!
��� We need you to get us out of here now. We're in the top of Ilic, near hatch
��� 00781546. Can you find it?"
��� "There are men who are searching us coming into the vicinity, I can feel them,"
��� Icis said. "He'd better hurry."
��� "Yeah, just keep them off for a few seconds... I'll be there right away while Vynd
��� flies cover for us." Misnera answered.
��� "Vynd? Vynd Archaron?" Mathis asked. "How is th..."
��� "Tell you later," Misnera said, "Now get aboard."
��� Mere seconds later he docked with the correct hatch and a light blinked green on
��� his console, indicating that he had a solid lock. Instantly the door slid open and a
��� few robed figures jumped in. Misnera probed with the Force and saw that
��� everybody was in, so he quickly accelerated. Then he opened the intercom
��� channel: "Tell me, Mathis, what's the destination?"
��� "Icis said our final destination, or at least another clue should be at Mizar."
��� Mathis answered.
��� "Course set and locked," Archaron�s voice came back over the comm.
��� "Okay, that�s just outside NI space," Misnera muttered, "I�m leaving atmosphere
�� and directing the ship towards the hyperspace point. Enter hyperspace at my mark...
�� �Three,... Two,... One,... Mark!"
��� He slowly slid the hyperspace lever and the stars stretched out to starlines and
��� then into the bright colors of hyperspace. They were on their way to Mizar...
������������������������������ TO BE CONTINUED
��� Don�t miss Shadow Revealed, the thrilling story of the Grand Master rescue,
��� and the most shocking Plotline story yet! Brace yourself as the deadly secrets of
��� the galaxy�s ancient past threaten the future of the New Imperium and the entire galaxy...
��� And the danger is far greater than you can anticipate...