Sunday, May 4, 2014

May the Fourth! -Episode 3 and A Giveaway

Woo hooo!!! It's May the Fourth! Hooray Star Wars!

My obsession with this move started when I was just 4 years old. My parents took me and my brother to see it on the ORIGINAL re-release in 1979. Then, HBO got their hands on it and they started playing all.the.time, as HBO is wont to do. It just got worse when in 1991, they release the franchised approved trilogy of books, called The Thrawn Trilogy. 

That was the very first time I ever waited for the release of a book. I scoured the primitive internet for information on the release of book 2 and book 3. I was at the book store the day book 2 and book 3 came out and I ate those books up in less than a day each. They were awesome, and still are to this day. 

I hope that you are enjoying these excerpts. When I reread the one from today to correct the horrible mistakes, I found a gem in it. Marchenta's explanation of the self versus Force to Luke. I completely forgot that was in there. I love it, and I'm so happy I decided to recycle these into the Vaheen Legacies stories. 

I also forgot about Huxley and Tricia and Vincent! They are from another story line I had years before this one. I forgot about Beloque (a direct rip off of the name from Indiana Jones, Beloq), and now I've discovered another story I can polish and put in the other story line. 

Now-- I promised a GIVEAWAY, right? Right! This is for an ecopy of the fabulous Aurora Zahni's "Terminal Romantic", book 2 in the Heller Park Series. (I trust you got book one free, yesterday? I will be sad if you did not, but it's still out there, and "Terminal Romantic" does stand alone.) 

Tell me:
What was the original name of Star Wars that Lucas pitched the script with, and was on the script until well after shooting started?

This is a tough one, and I'll give a lot of partial credit to you for a solid guess. One winner, and chosen at random. You can enter here through the comments, or on the Facebook or Google+ post that brought you here. (I have very little faith in the comments here; they really screwed me over on another contest.) 

So now, without further ado, the last excerpt of "Empire of SixSuns"-- I hope that you'll come back often to check out my happening and keep an eye out for new stuff from me in the near future. 

Chapter Twenty‑Five
Han carefully steered the Falcon in to the atmosphere of Buria. Jaina was asleep in the seat next to him, most of the prickle bush rash gone now. He had scalded her for going down to the garden room by herself, but not too harshly. That little attack by Beloque had clinched his decision to go and get Luke away from SixSuns before anything else could happen.
It was only he and Jaina who were going to Buria, the rest of the fleet was staying behind. They certainly couldn't afford to lose any more time or people on going to pick up Luke.
Han announce their arrival, and the porttender insisted on getting them an escort, and informing the Clearwaters that they were coming to visit.  Han didn't want anything at all like that. He just wanted to land, find Luke and his son and go the hell back to Coruscant.
But, he could see that there was indeed someone waiting for them when the Falcon was getting ready to touch down. It was an older lady (older? she couldn't have been older than he was!) with no escort at all.
The air escort veered off as soon as he was near the groun, and Jaina's eyes fluttered open from her nap.  She watched them go, and then turned her attention to the lady on the ground.  After a minute of looking at her, Jaina turned to her father.
"She doesn't want to be here, daddy," she said. "She doesn't like us, she doesn't like Unca'Luke, and she wants all of us to go away."
Han looked down at the woman. "All I want to do is get Jacen and Luke and go home. I don't want to be here. And I will be more than happy to go home once Luke and your brother on the ship."
Jaina continued to look down at the lady until she was blocked from view by the other parts of the Falcon. Han unbuckled her, took her hand, and they walked down the ramp. He looked at the woman at the bottom of  ramp with suspicious eyes, and could feel Jaina fidgiting. She was an old version of Rose, but with out the grace that a court up bringing had distilled into her daughter.
"General Solo," she said, with absolutely no sign of welcome to her voice. "I am Lauren Clearwaters, the aunt of her highness The Empress Katarina.  I was sent here to escort you to our home."
"Thank you, Lady Clearwaters," Han said.  He was amazed that he actually  remembered Leia's lessons on the proper titles for royal relations. "This is my daughter, Jaina."
"I have made her brother's aqaitance," Lauren said. "If you will follow me, I will take you to our lodgings.  You'll have to forgive us if they are not as magnificant as your palace home on Coruscant. We are humble people without much creature comforts."
"Humble my behind," Jaina said.
Han looked down at his daughter, shocked that she had said that, and wondering where she had ever picked up that idea, or the concept behind it. "Jaina, appoligize, now, young lady."
Lauren looked at her, with the same shocked look. Jaina bowed her head, and said, "I'm sorry, Lady Clearwaters.  That wasn't very nice of me."
"I'll say," Lauren said. "Is this what you teach your children, General?"

Jaina's eyes filled with tears. Han looked at the woman. "I will not have you scolding my kids. My wife and I and their uncle Luke are the only ones allowed to yell at them, and I don't think that you have any right criticise the way we teach our children. It's clear to me that you do no better. She was well behaved enough to say she was sorry, so you don't have to go and rub it in, do you?"
Lauren simply looked at him.  "Follow me," she snapped.
Han didn't move. "Listen, lady, I don't want to be here any more than you want me here.  I came to get my brother and my son, and I will be out of your hair, and you out of mine."
Lauren turned around. "I am not yet in your hair, sir."
"Good, stay out of it, and nothing bad will come of it." Han led Jaina ahead of her, hoping that the vehicle that was stitting there was the one that they were going to be using.  Jaina climbed in and Han got in after her. He could see that Lauren was not all that happy, but she was probably just as stubborn as every other one of the Clearwaters he had heard stories of.
Lauren got in the car and closed the door. She stared the vehicle and pulled away from the space port.  She spoke to them with out turning around.  "There is a dinner party this evening. Luke and Rose will be out until six this evening. I hope that you have brought something more suitable to wear."
"I am not planning to attend your party," Han said. "I am planning to get my brother and my son and get out of here."
Luke walked into Grammy's livingroom where she was sitting and 'reading' a book.  She was actually reading with her fingers, it was an old style of book.  She raised her head when she felt Luke enter the room.
"You are worried about Rose-darling, aren't you?" she asked.

"Yes," Luke said. "Do you know where she is?"
"She's up at the castle," Grammy said. "She always goes there when bad things happen to her.  She likes to be alone for a while and think about things, and I think that sometimes it's better if she does that.  Even if it annoys her mother." Grammy  stood and walked into the kitchen, her voice floating back to Luke.  "Cup of tea?"
"Sure," Luke said.
"Relax, Luke," Grammy called from inside. "She spent six weeks up there alone when her husband died."
Luke jerked up at that. "Her husband?"
Grammy walked back in carrying two cups of tea and handed one to him. "She never told you about him?  Well, that wasn't very nice of her.  If you to are to have a working relationship, you ought to know everything about one another." She sat down next to him. "His name was General Richard Mohran. He and Rose had been sweet on each other for years.  His family used to live down the road, and even after they moved, he kept in contact with Rose. H told me ages ago that he wanted to marry her, but he didn't want to propose to her until he had a secure future no matter who or what she was. 
"He was promoted to general about two years ago and he was here the next day to propose to her. She accepted and they were married about eight months later.  It was a grand ceremony  at the palace, because here finally was the hope of another heir to the throne of SixSuns.  Everyone watched on the vid as they said their vows.  SixSuns was a blissful place during their engagment and their short marriage.

"Richard was sent out to the Rim, where not even the people who inhabit the planet know what lies beyond.  It was training, Katarina said. So that we could be prepared for anything.  But we weren't, or Richard would be here now. Something fired on the ship and slagged it and everyone on it.  They said their deaths were quick and painless, but I could hardly believe that. Not after what Eve desribed to me. Eve was the only one of us brave enough to go and look at what the ship had looked like out there.  It's still there, supposedly, as a memorial to those who died. That was about six months ago.  Rose went to Lake Cauldron as soon as she heard, and it was only her father going up there and talking her down that got her away." Grammy sighed into her tea.  "That's why she was happy to hear that Katya was pregnant.  She feels now like she has no responsiblity to the throne."
"But she does?"
"Yes," Grammy said. "Just as Eve does and Mark does.  They are in line for the throne whether they like it or not.  And this empire is older than your Republic was. It would be an aweful crime to have it turned into fecal matter in one generation. Katarina is too evil to be allowed to rule.  No matter what the out come of this, Rose will have to take the throne.  Either Katya will die, or she will be shamed into hiding forever.  Her child will never sit on that throne. I have forseen that."
Luke put the cup down.  "How long do you think that she will be up there?"
"I will give her one week to think alone up there, and then I am going up there to bring her down by hell or high water. " Grammy took a gentle sip.  "Please realize that she has discovered a betrayal than runs much deeper than loyalties."

"A betrayal which runs as deep as the blood that flows in her veins," Luke said, looking at his right hand. "A betrayal that she will never ever be able to escape from, and an evil that she will never ever be able to put completely right.  She will spend her entire life trying to make up for the short comings of her cousin and friend."
Grammy bowed her head.  "I hadn't realized.....  This is no worse than what you and I went through."
Luke looked over at her sharply. "You went through?"
"You forget, young Skywalker, that I too was betrayed by your father.  He took your hand, and he took my sight."  Grammy put her cup down.  "I wonder what Katya will take from Rose-Darling."
Luke stood. "I won't let her take anything. I have to go."
He walked out the door before Grammy could say anything to him. Grammy sighed and sat back in her chair. "She has already taken her innocence and torn her heart in two.  I hope that she realizes that you are here to help her."

Chapter Twenty-Six
           Katarina looked at the baby in her arms.  Tender and small and so young. Less than two days old.  The heir to the perfect empire that she was creating for her.  Calesh was looking at her from across the room, with a look of digust.
"Women.  You have a child and you turn all mushy," he said.
"You ought to shut up," Katarina snapped.  "This child will rule this empire one day, no thanks to you."
"That child wouldn't be here if it weren't for me," Chalesh said, stepping forward.
"Oh, now who's mushy.  You are a bigger fool than your student, Chalesh." She handed the child to the nurse carelessly. "Do you realize that that fool you are teaching is more dangerous than you and I combined.  Not because he's powerful, but because he's a total moron.  He almost ruined everything with his little attack on the Solo girl. He ought to learn that she, and her two little brothers are of no consquence in this and they ought to be left to die with their parents."
"Beloque accomplished the task of getting Solo and his daughter out of the sh'Ris camp," he said. "More than you have done."
"Oh, he got them out," she snapped, "and drove them right to my cousin's house. Pure genius. So now, not only to we have to deal with Skywalker and the old woman, but Solo and his twins. And a marvelous job your task force did trying to illiminate Skywalker and my cousin."
"I was not aware your cousin and Skywalker were so resourceful," he snapped.

"You should have been!!" Katarina yelled. The baby started crying. "Get her out of here! I don't want to hear that child crying!" The nurse was startled and ran out of the room with the baby.  "You should have been aware of what Skywalker was capable of.  He destroyed your spy on Coruscant,  he broke through the old woman's wall. He was certainly more than able to out think and out maneuver those half trained idiots you sent after him!"                     
"They are not half trained idiots, dear Katya.  They are religious fanatics who are more dangerous than any soldier you or I could train", Calesh said.
"You foolish little man," she said quietly walking down the stairs. "You are blind to anything but what you want to see. Do you have any idea how close you came to losing me my throne at least three times?! Tell me what you see on that throne!!"
He looked at Katarina. "I see my daughter, not very old, sitting on that throne, with the Crown and Scepter of SixSuns on her." He continued to stare at her. There was a loaded pause.
Katarina raised her eyebrow, delicately. "That's all? That's all you see? I see my daughter, as you saw her. I see my daughter, old and cripple sitting there.  I see my cousin sitting there, young and pretty, with Skywalker next to her.  I see my cousin, old, sitting there. I see Eve sitting there, with a young child in her arms. I see that chair destroyed." She turned and walked away from him. "You are a fool to blind yourself to the other possiblities of what will be  You are almost as moronic as your little student. I plan to see my daughter on that throne when I am dead. You may see what you like."
"If you are so worried about the future, you ought to get yourself pregnant again as soon as possible," he walked toward her. "That's the way to assure your future."

"You keep away from me, Calesh," Katarina said, not moving. "I dare you to lay a hand on me. You will find out how truly angry I can get. I will have another child at my discretion, not at your's. And anyway, you have another child." Calesh looked shocked, and Katarina smiled at him. "Oh, I know all about your other child.  A little boy, correct? About three years old? And absolutely reeking with the Force.  Except his mother has outsmarted you, hasn't she?  She's gone and hid where you can't find her or the boy. She found out who you really were, and she took away the only thing that you really wanted from her. She's some ruler's daughter too, from what I know. On Atteraan, the president's daughter, or some such thing. You ought to guard your secrets more carefully, dear Calesh.  You really ought."
She walked back up to the throne and sat down. "Now, go. Get out of my sight. I want a full report of everything that is going on the sh'Ris systems, and I want you to eliminate Skywalker and the old woman. Do not come back until you have succeeded. And if you don't ever come back I will assume that you have failed and died trying." She looked straight at him. "Rest assured, Calesh, to die trying would be the far better fate in this case."
Calesh realized that he didn't want to argue this with her. Katarina stayed exactly where she was, not looking at him, not even knowing he was there any more.  Calesh gave her a sarcastic formal bow, and walked out of the throne room. 
Katarina stayed as she was for a good minute before daring to move.  And when she did move, she only took a deep breath, and held it.  She let the rage build inside her, and released it with blast of the Force so powerful that it chipped the throne of SixSuns.  She spun around and looked up at the Victory Carving.

She pointed to the Victor in the  middle, and yelled at him. "I don't know who you are, and I don't think anyone does.  But I curse your very bones for having been a Jedi, for having started the Jedi Order, and for ever even touching the Force.  Where ever you are now, and who ever you were, I hope that you are roasting in your own personal hell."  She turned and stormed out of the throne room.
Luke tossed the rock into the pond.  It broke the surface and caused ripples to the very edge near the rock he sat on.  He threw another one in to destroy those ripples.  He was angry. Did everything he did have to have another meaning?  He couldn't even skip rocks on a pond without think of a metaphor for his own life. 
He looked up at one of the moons that was nearing full.  He closed his eyes in concentration, and he could feel Rose's worn presence near the ruins of Lake Caulderon Castle.  He suspected that she hadn't slept in the four days she had been up there. He want to go up there and comfort her, but she wasn't even acknowledging that he was looking for her. She wasn't doing much of anything.
This whole thing was a bad idea, he told himself.  Once Callista was gone, he should have given up.  There was no one out there. No one. Callista might come back, she might not.  But he had been alone this long, why not just keep going like this.  The first of the new order of Jedi Knights makes a noble sacrifice for the good of the order.  Rose had already fallen love once and had her heart broken, he ought to go away and leave her alone. He did owe a lot of his life to the Force, and he couldn't see it completely unreasonable to dedicate his whole life to it....
"Damn it!" he yelled, and threw a handful of pebbles into the lake.  He pulled the muscles in his shoulder as he did so.  The pain felt good, and helped him to calm down a bit.  Emotions in sentients were not as convenient as they were for droids; sentients couldn't switch them off as they pleased.  Though there were days he really wished he could.

Through the mist of the years, he could still hear Yoda's voice telling him, For the Jedi, there is no emotion, only peace.
"Troubled?" came Grammy's voice.
Luke hung his head. "Grammy, it's two in the morning."
"So sue me, I'm an insomniac," she said, sitting down next to him.
Luke threw another pebble into the lake.  Grammy threw one in as well. Luke sighed. "I guess that I'm angry.  About what, I don't know.  I'm a wreck, and through all of it, I can hear Yoda telling me that there are no emotions, only peace."
He could feel Grammy smile. "You've got it bad, Luke."
"Got what?" Luke asked, very concerned.
"You are in love," Grammy said. "You've got it bad for Rose."
He began to boil at the suggestion, and forced himself to calm down. "I guess that's where I am now. I don't know if I can, or even should be in love with Rose. Maybe I am destined to be alone."
"Well, she's in love with you, Luke, whether you like it or not.  She's just very confused right now. Her secure little world crashed down around her five days ago, and you know yourself, when your world crashes, it takes some getting used to.  Don't ever doubt that she loves you. And you most certainly can be in love.  What about your sister? What about me? I was, and still very much am in love with my husband."
Luke took another pebble and tossed it into the lake. "For the Jedi, there is no emotion; only peace. There is no ignorance; there is knowledge. There is no passion; there is serenity. There is no death; there is the Force."  He repeated the mantra that Yoda had taught him perfectly.

Grammy shook her head with an ironic laugh. "Oh, Luke.  You are so old and so young at the same time. Yoda gave the Jedi Code to a young man who was a headstrong and reckless youth.  You are no longer that young man. You are a Jedi Master, and yet there is so much that you were never taught. Perhaps you will take a lesson from an old and feeble blind woman?" Grammy cocked her head to one side and didn't wait for an answer.
"There is no death; there is the Force," she began at the end of the Jedi Code. "But when you are in the Force, you have still known a death. Physical though it may have been, it was still a death. You have not yet crossed to what is beyond, and you are have no bearing on the world that you existed in. A death, no matter what.
 "There is no passion; there is serenity.  If there were no passions you could have no serenity. Think. Without your passion for life, you would be dead. Without your passion for knowledge, you would not be here now.
"There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.  Quite true, but with out having once been ignorant, you could not glean the knowledge that you now have. And don't forget the other half of that coin, that knowledge can lead to ignorance.  Once person hellbent on what they know can be ignorant to other options and aspects, and that can be their undoing."
Luke looked at Grammy, and was surprised at what he was seeing.  On the rock in the moonlight, she didn't look one bit like the eighty-five year old woman that he had talked to earlier at dinner. She was replaced by a younger version of Marchenta Windrunner, who had learned the lesson she was giving him the hard way; the loss of her husband, the loss of her homeworld, the loss of her sight, and the betrayal of her dearest friends.  This was a true Jedi Master sitting next to him.  Some one who could teach far better than he could. 
            She straightened her head, and continued. "There is no emotion; there is the Force. " She snorted somewhat indignantly.  "That is the most all encompassing half truth that I have ever heard. What is peace but the ability to identify emotions and live with them.
"Pick up a rock, Luke," she instructed.  He complied. "I want you to throw it as far as you can without using the Force at all.  Remember where it lands."
Luke tossed the rock as best he could, and it landed about fifteen meters out.
            "Good," Grammy said. "Now take another rock the same size, and do the same, except this time, use the Force."
This time, the rock landed over a hundred and twenty meters away.  Marchenta nodded.
"You see Luke, you owe very much to the Force. As much as the distance between where those two rocks hit.  That's how much the Force has given you, and how much you have given in return.
"But there's that distance between the shore and the first rock.  The Force had nothing to do with that distance. That distance, that space is your's, it was your doing. There is where you and only you control. That is where your emotions hide; hate, anger, jealousy, pain, resentment, happiness, joy, friendship, love...
"That is where the Force does not tread, and will never.  You can decide your emotions. Fill that space up with whatever you like; joy or anger, fear or happiness, jealousy or friendship, distrust or loyalty,  hate.... or love.
"Those are the most true feelings you have. Believe and trust in those emotions and there.... there is where you shall find peace."

Marchenta stood and laid a hand on Luke's shoulder. "Remember always, Luke. The Human mind is a wonderful thing. With it, we can understand the Human heart."
She tousled his hair fondly as he hadn't had done since he was 12. She walked away quietly to leave him to think on what she had said.
A Jedi, he could hear himself say to Threepio, can't become so entangled with the galaxy that they forget about  individuals.  And wasn't that exactly what he was doing?  Forgetting that he was an individual too, and forgetting that he needed to be remembered once and while?  He was so busy trying to give the galaxy it's new Jedi, that he forgot that he was a person as well as a Jedi.
You are so selfish! Leia had screamed at Han. And Han, calm as ever had looked at her and said, simply, You should try it once and while. It might do you some good.
And as wrong as it sounded to Jedi Skywalker to be selfish, Luke knew that it was a part of him.  He needed to think about himself once and while.  To be selfish, especially now, would be a good thing.  To be selfish about Rose would be very, very good. 
In that spot that Marchenta had shown him, the part that would always have been there whether or not he had been Jedi, there was a rage of emotions.  Love and hate, and resentment, but most of all were his feelings for Rose.  He realized that he didn't come here to play ambassador, or try and sort out anything with Marchenta or Lauren, but to get to know Rose better.  He had fallen in love with her when he first glimpsed her swinging  braid as she walked off the ship, the look at her slender figure, the first sign of her cheery disposition, and the first time he glanced into her saber green eyes.
Using the Force, he lifted some pebbles off the ground, and juggled them through the air, and formed the words 'Luke loves Rose.'  He encircled with the very ancient symbol of the heart.

"Uncl'Luke?" Jacen giggled. "You're in love?"
The pebbles plunked noisily into the water as Luke turned to find his nephew standing there in his pajamas.  He had Han's lopsided grin plastered on his face. Luke couldn't help smiling at him.  "I guess I am, Jace," he said, motioning for the boy to come and sit next to him.
Jacen plopped down next to him.  "Good," he said. "Can I start calling Mark my cousin yet?"
            Luke laughed.  "Not yet, Jacen.  Give me a few days to talk to Rose."
"Rose is mad, isn't she."
"No, she's upset.  She found out something that she didn't like."
"Then just kiss her, " Jacen said. "That's how mom and dad always make each other un-upset."   Luke laughed, and tousled Jacen's hair.
Han was standing on the back porch as Luke walked up. He did not look very happy standing there.  He was watching as Jacen, Jaina, and Mark were playing tag in the front yard. Luke walked up the stairs, and onto the porch, looking confused.
"Han?" he said. "What are you doing here?"
Han looked up at him. "Luke, good you're back.  Jacen, get your stuff."
"Han, what's going on?  What are you doing here?" Luke asked.
"Taking you and the kids home," he said. He looked over at Lauren, who was standing the kitchen and watching them. "I need to talk to you alone, away from here."
"Ok, but I don't understand what's going on," Luke said, following him off the porch.  "What are you doing here?"

"Like I said," Han said, "I'm here to get you out of here. You're in a lot of danger."
"Han, I am always in danger."
"I know," he said, as they walked into the wood, "But you haven't been in danger like this since Palpatine's clones were bothering us.  Katarina is evil, Luke. She won't stop at anything.  She nearly killed Anakin, me and Chewie. Anakin is still unconscious, and they don't know if he'll ever wake up. She is controlling the sh'Ris against their will, her call for help is bogus.  She is just as bad as Palpatine, maybe worse."
"Anakin?" Luke said.  "What happened?"
"One of Katarina's little friends sent out a request for some thorindian crystal, and the data chip was tamper resistance.  It stunned me and Chewie, and knocked Anakin across the room.  They think that it may have done permanent brain damage to him."
Luke hung his head.  "Oh, no." He looked back at Han. "How was Leia taking all of this?"
Han looked very angry. "How do you think she would take the near death of her youngest son?" He took a deep breath and calmed down. "Luke, I want to get you out of here."
"I can't go," Luke said. "Not yet."
"What?" Han hissed.  "Are you blind? Didn't you hear me?  Katarina is evil. She will stop at nothing to kill you and Jacen and Jaina and Leia."         
"And Rose, " Luke added.  "Han, I've known all along that Katarina was no good.  That's not why I came here.  Kirana Ti, Kyp and I have known for a long time that something was going on out here in this quadrant of the galaxy.  When Rose showed up looking for peace, we got really confused, but since I have been here, everything fell into place."
"You've known?" Han asked.

"I have," Luke said. "I didn't come here to be an ambassador, I came here to find out about Rose and her family. Mostly Rose.  Han I love her, and I am not going to give her up to her cousin. I don't want to lose her. If you want to, take Jacen and Jaina and get out of here.  You are more than right about Katarina.  She's crazy and she will do anything to kill me and any Jedi. She thinks just like Palpatine did.  That destroying the Jedi is the only way to completely rule the galaxy.  Jacen, Jaina, Mark, Caylee, Carson, Eve and Sondra would all be better far away from here.  But for now, just get your kids away."
Han sighed. "Sometimes Luke, I don't know what to think about you."
"Me neither," came Grammy's voice.
"Grammy, what are you doing? Following me everywhere?" Luke asked.
"Maybe," Grammy said. "Except you were talking right outside my window back there, and well, I could help over hearing a few words and become very interested in what was going on.  You should not disregard this man's advice to leave now, before Katya becomes obsessed with you  and killing you."
"Your concern is noted," Luke said. "Han, this is Rose's grandmother, Marchenta Windrunner.  Grammy, this is my brother in law, Han Solo, Jacen's father."
"Nice to meet you," Grammy said, taking his hand before he could stick it out. "Don't lag, Solo.  Just because I can't see doesn't mean that I can't be polite. Sheesh, don't you teach your friends manners, Luke?"
Han laughed in spite of himself. "My mistake, ma'am."
"Please, call me Grammy. Everyone else does. Luke, I think that it's time to get Rose off that hill. You will bring me up there?"

"Of course," Luke said.  "Han---"
"I can get back to the house, kid," Han said.
Luke smiled. "Thanks."

Chapter Twenty-Six
Wedge looked at the screens in front him.  Perfect Clone War antiques.  Even more surprising than that was that they worked.  The sh'Ris had kept them repaired and working for more than fifty years, and the New Republic couldn't keep brand new units working for more than six months at a time.
"Makes you feel like you don't know what you're doing, doesn't it," Huxley said.
Wedge looked at him. "Yeah.  These things are older than I am, and I don't work half as good as they do any more.  I guess you learn to work with what you have. I wish that we would learn to do that." Wedged looked around the control center.  "Well, I think that we can handle working from here. There certainly is the right equipment, and working equipment."
Huxley walked over and punched up some of the screens of the surrounding area of space.  "Everything appears to be normal.  Which means that we get to sit around and wait for word from either Han or Coruscant.  Wonderful."
Wedge looked at him.  "You are new to this stuff, Hux.  Sitting around happens so very little that you take all the time you can when it does come around. Trust me, the further you get along into the New Republic, or into the Jedi Order you are going to find your self sitting around less and less."
"I did enough sitting when I was on that throne, trust me." Huxley punched up another set of screens. 

"It's really strange to think that some one like you was once on a throne.  It doesn’t seem your style," Wedge said. "You and Tricia blend right in with the common folk of the galaxy.  You aren't at all like any of those royals that visit Leia and Han all the time, and you aren't like the senators either."
"Think about it," Huxley said. "If you hadn't known all along that Leia was a princess, would you ever guess now with the way she acts out of the private eye?  Leia and I were just made of a different royal mold than the others.  We like high society, but not all the time. There are so many regulations and rules and courtesies that you have to follow that it gets very boring and very artificial.  It is far easier to get along in life without having to remember that when you have a High Lady from Gerolitan, you must seat her on the host's right, put all the proper utensils on the right, the water glass on the left, the wine in the middle, cover the plate with a napkin, never ever serve nerf nuggets, meats must be on the left, and don't ever bring up the economy or trade of any kind or you'll offend her ears."
"Oh," Wedge said. "I can see that."
Huxley laughed. "Well, my brother won the election fare and square, and I conceded the power of the crown to the senate of the Gercanima.  Not to mention that Han had recently bumped into me, and introduced me to Luke.  Tricia had always hinted that she knew about my grandfather, and when Luke and Han visited that night, she out right told them who he was.  We didn't have anything else to do then, and Vincent was just two, so he wouldn't know the difference if we moved. So we did. Tricia moved right into the Massassi temple and whipped the administration right into shape. She has gift for organization. While she organized I trained. And we both took care of Vincent."
"How did you find out that Tricia was Force talented? She hadn't shown it up that point, why all of a sudden did it come out in her?"

Huxley punched up yet another screen. "We were outside doing the usual grounds maintenance. It has to be done one a week or everything gets over grown again.  So it was our rotation to help.  Everyone pitches in whether or not you are being trained.  Tricia, Vin and me were out there with about twelve other people. Tricia kept looking up, and walking around the other side of the building.   After about an hour of this, I was getting annoyed by it.  The next time she looked up and began to walk away, I followed her.  There was nothing on the other side of the building except more overgrown forest.  I asked what she found so fascinating on the other side.  She looked back at me and smiled, and shrugged. I didn't think about it, and we went back to the maintenance. About five minutes later, she looked up and saw me watching her. She smiled again and went back to cutting some leaves. About ten seconds later, she gasped, grabbed her hand dropped the sheers and went running around to the other side of the building.  Two of the others doing maintenance ran after her. I wanted to know what she was doing, so I followed her too.
"As we were running around to the other side of the building, I remembered that there were still some unfinished repairs on that side.  No one had bothered to do them because  no one was living on that side of the building at that time, and there was no rush on them.  But when I rounded the corner I realized that they should have been done right away. 

"Half of the temple looked as though it should be toppling over at that very moment.  But there were two trainees about half way up the side, and they were stuck there. And they were cowering in awe and in fear.  Tricia's voice cut through the awkward silence. 'Are you going to do something Hux?  We can't hold this thing forever.'  I didn't think about what she said at that moment.  I just started scaling the wall, using everything I knew of the force to get to those two kids up there. They were two young Lupans, and they were scared to death to move.  When I got to them, them clung on to me like was the only thing left in the universe.  I don't think I have ever seen two kids so frightened.  I practically jumped to the bottom, and ran out of the fall zone.  The wall came crashing down practically on my heals, and the two kids were crying like mad.  Tricia came over and took one of them from me and tried to calm it down.
"By then I had gathered my wits enough to look who had held up the wall. It was Tricia and two new students. And by new, I mean less than a week. Kirana Ti had shown up now and she took the other Lupan from me and quieted it down as Luke and Kyp helped me to my feet.  I was so dumb struck that I all I could do was stare at Tricia.
"'Good job,' Luke said to me.  I was still staring at Tricia.  'How did you know?' I whispered to her. She smiled and shrugged. Luke said something like he could feel the whole thing through the Force. I shook him off and walked over to Tricia. How did you know, how did you do that? I think that was what I said. I was still stunned. She looked over at Luke, then back at me and said, 'I could feel it.  How I did it was I imagined that it was Vincent up there.'  Luke's eyes went wide as well at that point.  He looked at her and said,' You did that?'  Tricia nodded. I asked her, ' But how could you?'
"She smiled at me, and said, 'After all these years, you never asked me who MY grandfather was.'  She rocked the Lupan and walked away from me into the infirmary."  Huxley laughed. "I never did ask her who her grandfather was. Turns out, he was MY grandfather's teacher." 
Wedge laughed. "Seems like all you Jedi are connected some how. It's almost funny."

Hux nodded. "Almost. You know that Luke is still surprised you aren't Force talented. He said that with some of the stuff you pull, there's almost no way that you couldn't be."
Wedge shook his head. "Not an ounce of the Force in me at all.  My uncle was.  He had to go into hiding eventually even though he was never trained. But not me. Luck and training, and keeping both eyes open at all times.  That's all it is for me."
"Blip!" one of the station monitor's yelled.
Hux and Wedge ran over to see what was going on, when someone else yelled, "Blip!" And seconds after that, four other stations joined the chorus, and more after them as well. Hux ran over to the intercom, and yelled, "Red Alert! All hands scramble!!"
Wedge stared at the screen in front of him.  "Look's like the Empress."
Huxley looked over at him before he ran out the door, and said, "I know it is."  He left the room.
Wedge still wished he was going up there, but he could command the battle from the sh'Ris room better than from his fighter.  There were days when he wished he hadn't be convinced to take the General's rank.  He waited until he saw Hux's ready light blink on to give the squadron the go ahead.
"How many are you picking up?" Wedge asked one of the lieutenants that had come down from the ship with him.
"Twenty large destroyer style ships," she said. "I can't identify the type, or anything about them.  We have no records of any ships in this configuration." She paused. "I have a weapons estimate, if you really want it."
Wedge braced himself. "Go ahead."
"Two thousand turbo lasers, fifteen ion canons, and about 30 torpedo launch tubes."

Wedge let his breath out. "That's all?"
"That's per ship, General," she said.
"PER SHIP?" Wedge exclaimed, running over to her station.  The estimate was there on the board.  "Holy.... per ship. "  He hung his head.  "This looks a little one-sided."
"General, we have a transmission coming through, for Commander Alexander," came another voice.
"Put it through to him, and over our speakers here," he said.  Why would anyone demand to speak to a commander when there was a general listening in.
The speaker crackled and came to life. "Huxley Alexander, I have a proposal for you." It was a voice that Wedge didn't recognize from the intercepted communiques from SixSuns to the forces nearby.  "Are you willing to listen?"
"Shut up and fight," Huxley growled.  There was a note of strain that he had never heard in Hux's voice before.
"You will die," the same voice said. "You are massively outgunned. General Antilles, would you like to confirm how badly you are outgunned?"
Wedge toggled the switch to the private frequency in Hux's fighter. "Outgunned is putting it lightly, Hux. They wouldn't even blink and wipe out what we've got here. I've never seen anything so heavily armed in my life, with the exception of the Death Stars."
He heard Huxley sigh. "What's your deal, Tyrone?"

Wedge could almost see the smile in the words. "My master would like to challenge you to a duel, dear cousin. You and he, alone.  Both fleets will withdraw no matter what the outcome of the duel, that way, total causalities will equal one. The combined sh'Ris/Rebellion forces will retreat deep into sh'Ris territory, and the SixSuns Fleet will go back to Buria.  You and my master will meet on a deserted planet, and you will duel to the death." The voice paused. "You're choice, dear cousin. One causality or thousands."
"Hux, you don't have to do this," Wedge said. "We're totally prepared to fight."
"General, any good leader would take the deal.  Even if I lose, I've won.  My life in exchange for thousands. And this can buy some time until the rest of the Fleet shows up here. I have to accept on principle.  Don't worry about me.  Luke taught me well."  He heard Hux toggle back to the open frequency. "You have a deal, Tyrone. Your master and I alone. You will order the withdrawl now, and so we will we. There is a planet on the outskirts of the sh'Ris territory that has decent gravity and atmosphere.  I am heading there now, I will be waiting."
"He and I shall be there," the voice said. "A true pleasure, cousin."
The voice broke off,  and Wedge spoke. "Hux, you don't have to. At least let us send an escort with you. You shouldn't have done that."
"No escorts, Wedge,"Hux said. "He'll blow them away. I know him."
"Who is this guy?" Wedge asked.
"My cousin. He was fourth in line for the throne of Gercanima, after me and Vincent and my brother. He thinks that we were fools for giving up that throne, and that we were wrong in not asking him if he wanted it before we dissolved it.  I'll be fine, don't worry." He paused. "Just tell Tricia I love her."
"You're planning on coming back, right," Wedge stated.

"I am, but you can never be too careful."  Hux was silent a minute more. "I'll dump the coordinates to the planet, and if you don't hear from me in two days, come and get the body.  Ready for Hyperspace."
Wedge bowed his head. "Huxley, thank you. You didn't have to."
"I did, and you're welcome. Permission to engage?"

"May the Force be with you. Permission granted." 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May the Fourth Celebration- Episode 2

So I'm sure by now, you realize I'm trying to make Luke less of a wuss by directly addressing the issues he's had with women in the past. I thought it would be an effective strategy. I really think that it should have been done because he was wimpy even after he and Mara get together. I mean, they're in love, but he just seems like he's trailing along behind her, and he's supposed to be a freakin' Jedi Master.

Grow a set, Master Skywalker. I'm trying here. I was matching him up with someone who was equal in the force, but not his equal in life experience. I thought that would be a better way to handle the whole.

In the following you learn about Rose, my match for him, as well as one of my favorite crotchety old women-- Marchenta Windrunner.

The art above, again. Mr. McQuarrie and George Lucas worked together on the concept drawings from very beginning, and this was one of the small concept ideas for the overall story. The movie was called "The Star Wars" For a very long time, almost until release.

Without further ado, Episode 2:

Chapter Fifteen
Luke was fascinated by the transportation that Rose was using. It was an automobile, a car as she had called it. It was an enclosed, wheeled ground vehicle the likes of which he had only seen in Coruscant's archives. And it was shiny clean and very new looking, as if had only recently been manufactured.
He heard Artoo beep disdainfully from the trunk of the vehicle as they hit another bump. Luke felt somewhat guilty about putting the faithful little droid back there, and roping him in, but there was no room in the back seat for him and Jacen. "Sorry, Artoo," Luke called. "But there's nothing we can do about the road surface. Just hang on."
The little droid beedooped, and Luke guessed that he was reminding him that not only did he not have appendages, but there was nothing to hold on to. He also heard, quickly following the first noise, what he had come to know as Artoo's sigh of resignation. Luke smiled to himself, and settled back in his seat.
So far, he admitted to himself, he had been astonished by everything that he had seen on Buria. It was a modern world that liked the antiquated past, and clung to it with a passion.
But this car was something else. Of course, he should have suspect something when they landed at the main field in Westlake and were shuttled by another ancient looking vehicle called an airplane. It had taken them close to a full hour to get to the little town Rose had called Far Aboreas in the airplane. And then the car....
Luke laughed to himself. He could sense that Rose was getting a kick out of his reactions to everything. She was also glad to be getting home. But, she had told Luke, it would take at least two and half hours to get to their house in a place called Kathmu. Two and a half hours? Luke was amazed at the time these Burian people could waste travelling around from place to place.
Though it was beautiful here, Luke had one thing that was bothering him already, and that was Katarina. He let his enjoyment of the landscape here cover over the thoughts that he wanted to explore.
The first thing that was the most important was the way Katarina had gotten so angry when Rose told her that he was going to stay at her house, and then abruptly turned off the emotion when she remember that Luke was Jedi. And Jacen had said that she felt cold. (A quick probe of the back seat of the car revealed Jacen to be quite asleep.) He knew what kind of control a turning of emotions like that took. It had taken him years to learn it, and forget mastering it. But she had it down pat. A Jedi master's control of self where there were supposedly no other Jedi save Rose?
Then there was Rose's complete ignorance of the situation, and her laughing it off as a quirk of an Empress. That meant that Katarina had been like this for quite a while, and Rose had come to accept it. But it was a mask for her benefit. Did Rose refuse to see it? Ben had let the same thing happen with Anakin, ignored the other half until it was too late and looked what had happened there. Luke hadn't seen Joruus C'baoth's evil madness until Mara had shown him. Kyp had come dangerously close to the edge as well.... Maybe Luke would have to show her what Katarina was hiding, soon as he figured it out himself.
And on top of all of that, there was the evidence he had found in the Coruscant archives when he was helping Rose that day.
Then why in the name of all that was holy was here? That questioned was answered every time he looked over at Rose. He wanted to be there, he wanted to get to know Rose. She was different from every other woman who'd ever caught his attention. When he met Gaeriel, he felt something very like what he was feeling with Rose, but with Rose it was more. More of what, he didn't know. He remember telling himself that when he met the right woman, every emotion, every ripple of pleasure or pain, would bounce back from the other, resonating until sweet echoes faded. Very poetic, he told himself now, but not precisely. Not only did they echo each other, but they were in perfect syncopation.
He wondered if Rose was feeling the same thing.
Then, suddenly, her sense change next to him, from it's happy monotony to a happy revelation. And there in front of the car appeared the Clearwaters home. Once again Luke was fascinated, as he climbed out of the car. He felt Jacen stir from his nap in the back seat, and helped his nephew out. Both of them turned to the house to examine it.
Jacen summed it up, "Wow."
The house was an ancient three story home that only the richest of families in the New Republic could afford. It had a generous front porch with double, manual doors with key locks. It stood in it's grey color that warded off any intruders that dared to come near. Luke could tell the windows were of real glass, not plasteel, by the shine on them.
And behind one of those glass windows on the third floor, someone was cleaning. They looked up, and Luke saw that it was a younger girl. She saw the two of them there, and waved to them enthusiastically. Rose waved back, and the girl disappeared. Luke followed her enthusiasm into the house, to discover that there were seven others in the house beside the one girl.
Rose interrupted his thoughts. "Now, remember, Luke, they maybe part of the royal families of SixSuns, but if you treat them like that, they'll wallop you one and good. So try to relax and lay off the stuffy ambassador act. Have fun."
Rose led him up the front porch stairs as she advised him, and before he had a chance to respond the front door was flung open by a young boy.
"ROSIE!" he yelled, and pulled her into the house, forgetting the door so Luke and Jacen could walk in. Luke stifled a laugh as two huge hairy creatures suddenly over ran Rose and the boy, practically knocking them over.
"Samson! Thunder!" a voice from the stairs on their right scalded gently. "Heel!"
The two hairy creatures gave Rose one more vigorous nuzzle and went over to the girl on the stairs.
Luke noticed then that all the people in the house were standing in various doorways leading into the main room of the house. They were all whispering and glancing at one another, and Luke could feel their happiness at seeing Rose safely at home.
"Okay, everybody," she called, and the whispers were gone almost instantly. "Yes, I'm back. I went to the New Republic, and they've agreed to investigate the situation."
Luke felt a malignant twinge from someone in the room.
"I've offered to put up their ambassador here for the duration of his stay," Rose said. "Everyone, this is Luke Skywalker, the New Republic's ambassador and his nephew, Jacen Solo."
"Hi!" Jacen exclaimed, waving at everyone in the room, while Luke caught another twinge of the malignant mixed in with shock and fear at his name. Rose didn't notice.
"This little creature," she said, musing the boy's hair, "is my brother, Mark."
Mark looked at Jacen, then at the small metal object in his hand. He proffered to Jacen. "Wanna play in the back yard?"
Jacen looked up at Luke. "Can I?"
Luke nodded, and looked over at Rose. Rose nodded as well. "Go ahead. We'll call you for dinner." But the two boys were already gone out the door. Rose giggled, and looked at everyone else.
"Let's start here," Rose said, to a couple in a door to the right. Neither could've been older than Luke was. "This is my Uncle Joseph and his wife Bella."
Luke proffered his hand as seemed to be the proper courtesy, and each of them shook it offering a polite, "Nice to meet you."
"And these two," Rose said, pulling two children out from behind them, "are my cousins, Caylee and Carson."
"Hello," they said together eerily. Luke sensed a great Force potential in both of them.
"Don't mind them," Rose said. "They always say things at the same time just to freak people out. I think that it's a twins thing."
Luke smiled thinking of all the time that Leia and he had done that, and how many times Jaina and Jacen had done the same. He nodded. "Definitely a twins thing."
"These are my parents, Marcin and Lauren," Rose said, directing him over to the next door way.
"Hello," Marcin said, genially. His sense was one of light‑heartedness and a lover of fun. He stuck his hand out first and Luke shook it firmly. "I hope you'll be comfortable here. As a guest, don't be afraid to ask for anything, Mister Skywalker."
"It's just Luke, and thank you sir," he responded, with a genuine smile.
He was expecting the same kind of response from Marcin's wife, but what he did get was nothing of the sort. Her icy eyes bore right into him, and she extended a stiff hand. Luke took and shook it quickly. He felt nothing but hatred in the touch. She was the one who had reacted to his name. She must've been the one who watched as his father cut down her father. But why was she afraid of him?
Rose still didn't notice any of this as she pulled him along to the stairs, where the girl who was in the window was standing. Luke could feel her presence like he could feel Leia's or a new student at the academy. She was being trained, possibly by Rose.
"This is my sister, Eve," Rose said. "And her two monsters Samson and Thunder." Rose scratched the two creatures behind their ears, and they enjoyed it.
Eve looked at Luke with a critical eye. "You're kinda cute," she blurted out.
Rose whipped her head around to look at her sister. Her color had gone from normal to bright red in record time, and she looked at Eve incredulously. "Eve! I think you have a little more tact than that."
"You're bright red," Eve smiled.
"Eve!" Rose yelled slapping her hand on the outside of her leg.
That elicited an instant response from Eve. Her hands dropped to her side, and she hung her head. "I apologize," she said, loud enough for everyone to hear. "I have more manners than that."
Luke took a second to realize that was Rose's way of making her student realize she was now a teacher and not a sister was the hand slap. It worked the same way Yoda's gimmer stick had with him. Luke felt something wet on the palm of his hand.
He looked down to see the two creatures fighting to lick his hand and sniff between his legs. He was a little surprised by this, and decided to take their attention away from there by scratching behind their ears much the same as Rose had done.
"They like you, Luke," Eve said, kneeling between them. "They don't usually take to total strangers so quickly. Usually they sniff and run."
"That's normal for them?" Luke asked.
"Don't have a dog, hunh?" Eve asked. "Yes, perfectly acceptable. They have some of the keenest olfactory senses in the galaxy, and that's how they identify you. Your strongest person scent is, unfortunately, between your legs.    
"This one," Eve continued, petting the black dog, "is Thunder. He friendly to you if you're friendly to him. He's a Rottweiler, and you don't peeve these dogs off." Eve pointed to a large scar on her hand. "Thunder did this when he was a pup. I learned not to hit him on the backside real fast.
"The other one is Samson," Eve said, indicating the light cream‑brown dog that Luke was petting. "That is the most friendly dog you will ever meet. She's a Saint Bernard, and her breed has a history of being rescue dogs. Legend has it that these dogs were let to roam in the wild, and that if they came up on an injured human, they would try and get help."
Before anyone could another word in, the front door swung open again and another young girl walked into the house. The dogs instantly forgot all about Luke and bounded over to the newcomer.
"Hi!" she called to the audience in the main room, and petting the dogs as they licked her enthusiastically. "Rose, you're back! Good, I need...."  Her words cut themselves off as she saw Luke standing there. "Who are you?"
"I had hoped," Rose interjected, "that you would at least call before you came over. I guess that I was wrong. Luke, this is Sondra Hawking, our final unofficial family member. Sondra, this is Luke Skywalker, the ambassador from the New Republic."
"Oh," Sondra said. "Not bad." Rose turned bright red again. "Listen, you got some kind of thing in your trunk beeping and honking. I think it cursed at me when I walked by it."
"Artoo!" Luke exclaimed. "I forgot all about him."
"Come on, we'll get him out of there and in to the house. By that time, dinner'll be ready." Rose looked back at Eve. "And then you and I are going out back."
Eve groaned audibly, but really didn't seem to mind what ever the phrase had implied.  As Rose motioned for Luke to follow her, Lauren called to them from the door to the kitchen.
"Rose, don't forget to introduce Luke to Grammy," she said. "She'll be very upset if you don't introduce them."
"I won't," Rose said. "As soon as we get Artoo out of the trunk, we'll go back there." Rose motioned for him to follow her again.
Artoo was beeping and honking from the trunk, and whistled a sigh of relief when Luke and Rose appeared. Which the little droid promptly followed up with a loud swear word directed at the two of them.
"Artoo, cool your circuits," Luke said. "I'm sorry I left you out here. I completely forgot. And you know that there is nothing that I could've done about the road surface." Artoo whistled a question, and Luke answered, "No, they don't seem to have repulsor lifts."
"Oh, we do," Rose said. "We just don't use them very much. No one in SixSuns is in that much of rush that every one has them. If we needed them, we'd have them."
Artoo burbled to himself for a minute as Luke and Rose untied him and lifted him out of the trunk. They set him on his wheels, and Luke brushed off some road dirt. "There, good as new." Artoo beeped disbelievingly, and rolled away.
"Do you want to put him in the house?" Rose asked. "Or he can sit out in the garage if it's easier for him."
"We'll see. He may be better off in the garage," Luke said, glancing after the little droid. Artoo was already exploring the area.
"Well, come on," Rose said, and set off for the back of the house. "Grammy will want to meet you, and the longer I wait the less happy she'll be about it."
Luke walked quietly for a minute, thinking about the girl, Sondra, who had come into the house. She had a very strong sense in the Force, and a very unusual personality. "Who is Sondra?" he asked as led him down a heavily wooded path.
"Sondra is Eve's best friend," Rose said. But Rose picked up the underlying mean in the question as well. "I don't really know how to explain her. She came to live with her aunt and uncle about two years ago and she sort of latched on to Eve. Eve doesn't even know all that much about her. But from what I can get in bits and pieces is that she lost her parents in a supposed accident when she was seven or eight, was bounced around her family until she came here. This seems to be the only place she'd fit at all." Rose cut her own words off.
"But what?" Luke asked.
"Her aunt and uncle were sort of hoping she wouldn't fit in. They don't really want her there, she's a burden to them. They have their own family, and they don't want anything to remind them of Sondra's parents. That's why she spends most of her time here." Rose paused. "I know she's strong in the Force, more than she knows, but you watch how she reacts when I take Eve to the course tonight. You'll get a real feel for what happened to her parents."

Chapter Sixteen
Leia had to run out again during the middle of dinner. The Ord Mantel incident still hadn't been complete taken care of, and every time something went wrong with the negotiations, Mon Mothma instantly called Leia down.
Chewie roared playfully with Jaina and she giggled ludicrously as she darted out from behind the couch to try and get away from the giant Wookie.
Han picked up Anakin by the pants and dragged him over to the changing table. "You, buddy, need a fresh diaper. This is one is overripe."
"Noo diapoo!" Anakin yelled, wiggling madly in his father's grip. "Nee noo diapoo!"
"I know you don't take after me," Han mumbled to himself. "But why can't I see Leia doing this?"
Chewie rumbled with laughter at that comment. "Well, it's true. Think about it. Jacen has got a head like mine at the tender age of four, and Jaina is her mother's daughter." Chewie roared a suggestion. "Luke? You must be kidding? Can you see Luke Skywalker acting like this?"
Chewie looked thoughtful, then gufawed his answer and Han nodded. "You're right. I keep forgetting what he was like when he was younger." Han turned back to the task of Anakin's new diaper. "Looks like you get stuck with Luke as your role model, kiddo."
"Unka'Loof!" Anakin yelled. Han pulled the tabs off the old diaper, and bundled up the surprise inside. He threw it in the diaper pail with the loudest bang he had ever heard.
It took him a second to realize that it wasn't the diaper but the door in the main room banging open. And as he turned to see who it was, the person strode into the room.
"Where's Leia?" the person demanded.
"Good to see you too, Lando," Han said snidely, fastening the tabs on Anakin's new diaper. "How am I? Oh, fine. Three little ones you know. Keep me hopping. The missus? She's fine, but busy, busy, busy, as always. And you?" Han glanced over at the ex‑general and wondered what kind of trouble he had gotten in to now. Lando never showed up unless he was having some kind of problem.
"Where's.... ah forget it. You're just as good," Lando said.
"Jee, thanks," Han replied, pulling Anakin's pants back to their original position, and put him on the floor. He ran right over to Chewie and began to climb up the furry back as Chewie reached behind the chair to pull out Jaina.
"Here," Lando said, handing him a data chip. "Read this."
"You came all the way from...from... Where are you now?" Han asked walking over to the reader.
"Darkyon," Lando said. "But that doesn't matter. Read it."
"You came all the way here for me to read this?" Han asked, holding up the chip. "Why didn't you just send it on subspace?"
"Read it, damn it, and you'll see why," Lando said.
Han inserted it into the reader that Leia had installed separately from the main system, and the message appeared on the screen. "In demand," it began, "Thorindian crystals, top grade flawless only. Paying market price plus twenty percent. Needed‑‑‑‑ gods!" Han swore, looking over at Lando. "One point two five million metric tons. Broadcast availability immediately coordinates as follows."
"What do you think?" Lando asked, sitting down on the couch.
"I think that rounds out to about thirty‑six billion, billion, credits," Han said. "And thorindian crystals are used in cold lasers."
"You got it," Lando said, holding up an aqua colored crystal. "This little piece of top grade flawless weighs six point two karat. This has enough to power a turbolaser on a Star Destroyer. And the order is for over a million metric tons. I smell a war."
Han took the crystal and examined it. "Did you trace the coordinates‑‑‑"
"General Solo," came Threepio's voice, as he walked in. Lando threw Han a look at the title. "Sir, there is a interstellar communication for you."
"I'll take it here," Han said. He sat down in front of the comm screen and punched in his code. "Solo here."
"Solo?" came a questioning voice. "Good. This is Talon Karrde. I've been trying to get through to Skywalker, but they told me he isn't there, and he isn't on Yavin."
"No, he's on a diplomatic mission," Han said. "Maybe I can do some good?"
"Of course," Karrde said. "A couple of days ago I received an open market request for thorindian crystal."
"Yeah, I heard," Han said. "Lando just had the courtesy to tell me about it. He thinks that there may be a war in the works. Your thoughts?"
"I think that we may have a dark Jedi on our hands," Karrde said. "That's why I was trying to get Skywalker."
Han and Lando and Chewie looked at one another, and Lando said, "What makes you say that?"
"My new associate, Tipton is a Force‑sensitive. When we received the data chip, and I handed it to him, he had force fit, swearing and screaming. He said it was cold, and that a pair of icy hands ran up his back."
"A pair?" Han asked.
"A pair," Karrde agreed. "So you can see why I wanted to contact Skywalker. Is there any way that you can get in touch with him?"
"`Fraid not," Han said. "On an odd shot, have you decoded the coordinates?"
"Yes, I have," Karrde said. "A place called Mestovovok, in a place called SixSuns, or something."
"Uh, oh," Han said. "Guess where Luke went."
"SixSuns," Lando said. "He's walking right into the hands of a dark Jedi. Do you think that he'll notice?"
"Probably," Han said. "But let's not take that chance. Karrde, is there anyway that I can contact you?"
"I'll call you tomorrow at the same time, I'm sure that you understand. I'll see you then." Han nodded, and the screen went blank. "Lando, take my comlink, and go find Leia. I don't care where she is, get her here. I'm going to try and get Kyp on the comm. Go."
Lando mock‑saluted him and walked out the door. Jaina ran after him yelling for him to wait for her. Chewie was allowing Anakin to climb all over him.
Han punched in his i.d. again and waited. The New Republic symbol came up, and Han requested, "Yavin Four, Jedi Academy, Kyp Durron, request communication immediately."

The symbol for the New Republic abruptly became the one for the Jedi Academy. Luke had spent hours look for the old symbol, and had simply updated it by putting a miniature version of the New Republic symbol where the Old Republic one had been.
A young woman appeared on the screen a few seconds later. "Han? Hello, how can I help you?"
"Where's Kyp? I need to talk to him, Tricia. Something important has come up, and Luke may be in trouble," Han said, not disguising the worry in his voice.
"He's...out. I don't really know where he is," Tricia responded. "He went out yesterday, and he didn't take a comlink. A sojourn, I think."
Han swore. "Perfect timing. Okay, when he gets back, get him right to a terminal and have him call us. Me or Leia, or any one, Just get him to call here."
"No problem," Tricia said. "Luke'll be fine, don't worry about him, Han."
"I hope that you're right, Trice, thanks. Care are of yourself and that kid." Han smiled and cut the link. He sighed angrily at himself, and suddenly began to feel very tired again.
Chewie rumble at him softly. Han looked over at his friend, and sighed again. "You're right Chewie. They should've gone by now. But the nightmare gets more intense every night, and I just can't remember them. It's gonna drive me crazy, or kill me. I haven't decided which yet."
Chewie cocked his head, and growled a question. "I hope she doesn't," Han responded. "That'd kill me really fast. But there's nothing I can do about them. Every doctor in the palace has looked at me, and even Luke doesn't know what it could be. I am stuck with them until further notice."
Chewie voiced his opinion of that, rather loudly. Threepio took offence at that, "Chewbacca! That is not the proper way to speak in front of the children! Such words should not be said around anyone, especially‑‑‑"

"Threepio, shut up," Han snapped.
"But sir..." he protested.
"Just clam it, Threepio. I am not in the mood for you or philosophy. Just be quiet and let me think."
"Yessir," Threepio said, and began examining the flowers on the table in front of him. Han shook his head,  pulled out the data chip from the reader and began to toy with it.
"Two hands," he mumbled. "Not one, but two. And a request for a million tons of cold‑laser crystal. Something is going on." He looked over at Chewie. "Even I've felt fingers, usually those of Death, brush a little too close to me. But two whole hands?"
Chewie roared laughingly, and shook his head in complete seriousness. "I know I'm not a Jedi, but what about when we were on Kessel? Don't tell me that you didn't feel the hand of death when we were in that mine."
Chewie reluctantly grumbled his agreement, as he picked Anakin off his leg and put him on his waist. Han was still playing with the chip, and there was something about it....
"Well, I'll be damned," Han said. "This chip is an exact replica of the SixSuns insignia. The memory clusters are arranged like the suns on the insignia, and.... the chip is the same shape too. This has a little... thing in the middle." Han proded it with his finger. "I wonder wh‑‑‑‑"
Leia had never felt so hopeless in her life. She looked at the small form of Anakin in the incubator, and felt an anger like never before rising in her. It took all she had to push it back down. She looked over at Two‑Onebee, as he closed the lid to the incubator. "Will he be alright?"

"It's too soon to tell," Two‑Onebee said. "The stun was set for a being of General Solo size or larger. Anakin was in a most unfortunate place. The stun seems to have affected his cerebral cortex. But he is young and still growing. Allow him a few days and we'll see what has healed itself. He will live, but I don't know how much damage has been done."
Lando put a had on her shoulder. "Leia, he'll be fine. He's one of the liveliest kids I've ever met. There's no way that he could be damaged permantently."
Leia laid a hand on the incubator, and said, with ultimate calm, "Damn them." She turned to look at Threepio in the corner. No help there, he had been shut down internally because of the overload on his circuits. He wouldn't be back up for atleast five hours.
"Lando, do you have any idea what Han was doing when you left?" Leia asked.
"He was going to try and get Kyp on the comm. He wanted to talk to him," Lando said. "Something was on that data chip that had bothered him and Karrde had said something about a place called SixSuns and a Dark Jedi."
Leia took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "Then Rose lied to us. The sh'Ris are not the antagonists. The people of SixSuns are. And Luke is in the middle of it all." She looked at Lando. "I want you to go to my apartment, get on the comm there and locate Ambassador Jorash Creo. Tell him he is needed in medical as soon as possible. Take a translator droid, the ambassador doesn't speak Basic well. And don't let him know what's gone on with Han, Anakin and Chewie. I'll warn you now, he's very Force‑sensitive."
Lando nodded, a little reluctant. He turned and walked out quickly, hoping Leia wouldn't pick up on his anger at himself. He ought to know better than to come here by now. Every time he got involved with Han, he got sucked into another New Republic problem. It was almost ironic that one of the best smugglers he had ever known was now one of the best military leaders he had ever known as well. Who would've guessed that the smart‑assed kid from Corellia who had hated authority would be made a general not once but twice. Lando had to laugh. Only Han Solo could be a general and retain his position in the smuggling rings the way he did.
Leia wanted to scream. That's all. Just scream. It wasn't fair, not in the least. Han would be fine, he'd been through worse, and Chewie, well at two hundred years old that sort of said it all.
But Anakin. Little Anakin who had just come out of hiding. This was his first time at home. And he nearly gets killed. Leia wanted to be angry. But who was there to be angry at? Not Rose, that was for sure. Perhaps she had lied, but it was not intentional. She hadn't known a thing about this.
Or had she? Maybe the whole thing had been a trick to get Luke in their grasp. Leia desperately hoped not. Rose had seem genuinely interested in Luke, and for Luke to lose another girl... that would crush him.
Chewie's low grumble came from the other side of the room. Leia walked over to him, and brushed his furry hand with her fingers. "Chewbacca? Can you hear me?"
Chewie grumbled softly and slightly drunkenly. Leia made out the question there though. "You were hit by a stun and knocked out. How do you feel?"
He groaned again, and Leia translated it to mean roughly, "Like hell." She sighed. "I know that you aren't up to this, but can you tell me what Han was doing before you were knocked out?"

Still very groggy, it was hard for Leia to get the exact words that he said. But she got the general idea. Han had been playing with this infamous data chip, and had just realized that it was in the shape of the SixSuns insignia. That was all that he could remember.
"Thanks, Chewie," Leia said. "Get some sleep, it was a very powerful stun, so you'll be out for a few more hours."
He rumbled meaninglessly, and rolled onto his side. Almost instantly his breathing pattern was that of a sleeping Wookie. Leia felt a resurgence of anger, and pushed it back down again.
Winter walked in to the room, and stopped to look at Anakin. Leia could feel her friend's sense twitch unhappily upon seeing her young charge wounded. Leia could detect no anger in Winter, and had never been able to. The woman was the proverbial pillar of rock. But then Leia had learned long ago that some one with a perfect memory couldn't get angry or they would go crazy.
"Winter?" Leia asked.
"Your highness," Winter said. "Captain Calrissian told me to come down here and give you this:" Winter handed her a chip in a transparisteel bag.
"The data chip," Leia said, accepting the bag. She glanced at it, and realized that it was indeed in the shape of the SixSuns insignia. She pulled her comlink off her belt. "Locate Ghent Takson."
"Takson," came Ghent's voice.
"Ghent," Leia said, "I've got something for you to do. Come to medical right away."
"On my way, your highness," he said, and the comlink clicked off.
"What are you going to have him do?" Winter asked, looking over her shoulder at the incubator with Anakin in it. "If he sets it off, he'll end up in the spot as General Solo and Anakin."
"I think this is set to off only once," Leia said. "And I want Ghent to look at this and tell me if this the kind of crystal I think that it is. Because if it is, then we are in the middle of another war."
Winter looked at Anakin again. "Will he be alright, your highness?"
"Two‑Onebee said he will live," Leia said, not turning to look at the incubator. "But if the frequency was off even a little bit, it may have done permanent neural damage." Leia felt her friend's sense waver in the Force. "But for now, all we can do is hope."

Chapter Seventeen
The house in front of them was not big in the least. It was actually one of the smallest dwellings that Luke had ever seen. It couldn't contain more than four rooms, and they would be extremely tiny at that. He could sense one person inside the house, and two animals, different from the two dogs that he had previously met.
Rose looked back at him and said, "I think that you'll like Grammy, and I know that she'll adore you. I've got warn you though, Grammy is a little nuts. She does lots of weird things all the time, so expect anything. "
"I've learned that's all you can expect from a Jedi Master," Luke said, remembering his first encounter with Yoda.
Rose knocked on the door and swung it open. She walked into the house. "Grammy? Are you here? There's someone I want you to meet." Rose motioned for Luke to come in.
Just as Luke was about to step over the threshold into the small main room, something in the Force told him to halt right where he was. And he was thankful that it did.
Not five centimeters in front of his neck appeared a red glowing blade that was attached to an intent that would hold back from taking off his head.
"Don't you dare take another step, Skywalker," came a gravelly female voice. "Back away from the door."
Luke complied. He really wasn't in a mood to lose his head. But as he backed up, he felt his light saber leap out of hook on his belt and saw it land in a waiting hand.
"Grandmother!" Rose exclaimed, astonished. "What is wrong with you?"
"This man is not welcome here," said the elderly lady. "And if he tries to come in here, I'll take his head his head off, just like his father took my husband's."
"Grammy, Luke is here as a friend, not an enemy," Rose said, pulling the light saber out of her hand. "He's the ambassador that the New Republic sent to us."
"Luke, hunh?" the woman said. "Is that his name? Well, Luke, you aren't welcome here. Go to Katarina's court stay there. But don't foul my home with your presence here."
"I think that you‑‑‑‑" Luke began.
"Shut up," the woman yelled. "You are a Skywalker, and you have no place among my family, and no right to be near my home. Neither you nor your sister."
"Grandmother, you are acting like an ass!" Rose snapped at her.
"Do you know who he is?!" the woman demanded.
"Luke Skywalker, the only son of Anakin Skywalker," Rose stated clearly and loudly. "The man you would call Darth Vader and whom I would call dead."
"He has no place here," the woman stated.
"He is not his father, why don't you understand that?"
"I am trying to right the wrongs of my father," Luke said quickly so that he wouldn't get cut off again.
"Did I ask you?" the woman snapped.
"Grammy, give him a chance," Rose said.
"I give no Skywalker any chance at all," the woman stated, calmly and angrily. "I taught you‑‑‑"  
"You taught me that all people, no matter what their position, rank, species or history was, deserve a chance to prove themselves!" Rose barked the words at the elderly woman.

"His is the exception!"
"No! You taught me better than that! He isn't his father, and I know that he doesn't act like that! You are being a stubborn ass, Grandmother. And until you see that I am right, and Luke is not like his father, you aren't coming in to the main house either."
Rose walked out the door quickly, handed Luke his lightsaber and marched smartly away from the house. Luke turned and followed just behind her.
"I don't think that that was adoration," Luke said.
"I had completely forgotten about the obsession she had about your father," Rose said. "I am sorry that you had to be witness to that. You see, before they came here, Vader swore that he would follow her anywhere and finish what he had begun with my grandfather. And she has never forgotten those words. That's why she stays in the house back there. She thinks that the woods will protect her from his wrath." Rose took a deep breath. "But there is no wrath to escape anymore, and she won't acknowledge that. Probably never will."
"Well, I will admit," Luke said. "Vader was rather frightening. He had a way about him that could scare anyone, and I wasn't the exception. His ultimatum with me was join him or die. Took my hand off to prove his point." Luke wiggled the fingers of his right hand.
Rose sighed. "I don't understand her anymore. When I was little, she always made perfect sense. Now, she seems to babble endlessly. And I'll be lucky if she ever talks to me again after this." She glanced over at Luke. "No offence to you. You aren't the crazy person."
Luke laughed. "Thanks."
"Well, dinner is going to be ready by the time that we get back to the house," Rose said. "So let's find Mark and Jacen and go eat. I'm getting hungry."

Luke wiped his mouth, and secretly wished he could lick the plate. "That was fabulous, Bella," he said. "I haven't had a meal like that in years."
"You ate like a starving rhino," Bella teased him. "Don't they have real food in that New Republic of yours?"
"Oh, they do, but it always seems to taste the same," Luke said. "And a meal like this is only served at very formal occasions."
"Then you'll like it here, Luke," Marcin said. "This is what we eat every night. Bella and Lauren are excellent cooks, and we never lack for a meal."
"Can I have some more?" Jacen asked, politely.
"Sure thing, Wolfie," Rose said, and scooped some of the food in the bowl on to the plate. "Luke?"
"My mouth says yes, but stomach is saying don't you dare. So, I'm afraid I'll pass." Luke smiled. He could learn to like it here. Everything was very informal, and very much reminded him of how it used to be on Tatooine when he younger.
"I think I'm done," Eve said.
"Good," Rose said. "Then come on, and we'll go work by the lake tonight."
Luke felt Sondra stiffen at the reference. She had been talking non‑stop through the meal and had a comment for everything. But when Rose said that, she froze for only a second, and her sence went from bright and happy to dark and brooding. Without another word, Sondra got up from the table, taking her plate to put in the sink, and walked out of the kitchen altogether.
Rose quickly looked at Luke and nodded at him. Do you see what I mean? She stood from her own seat, and motioned for Eve to do the same.
"Luke," Eve said. "Do you want to come with us?"
"I don't see why not," Luke said. "Jacen, are you going to behave here?"
"Sure, Unca'Luke," Jacen said, more intent on his food than anything else. "Mark and me are gonna play in the yard after dinner."
"Be good?" Luke asked.
"`Course," he said, and shoveled some more food into his mouth. Luke smiled and tousled his hair as he passed him.
It was a twenty minute hike up hill to the lake that Rose had mentioned. And it wasn't an easy hike either. Luke had been on easier trails on Endor and Wayland. When they finally reached the lake, Luke saw that they hadn't even put a dent in the climb to the top of the mountain that they were on.
The lake was at least a kilometer long and half as wide. One complete side of the lake was a cliff face off which a waterfall emptied it's self into the lake. The water was crystal clear, full of fish and plants, and very deep.
Rose pointed Luke to a rock ladder. "You and I are going on top of the cliff and watch from there. Eve starts over here," she pointed to a vine, "and ends up on the other side of the waterfall's ravine. Go on up, and I'll be there in a minute."
Luke nodded and walked over to the rock ladder. It was very dangerous looking. Luke scaled it carefully, and when he reached the top, found Rose only a few steps behind him.

She was complete relaxed into the Force, and Luke found himself relaxing as well. Rose gestured to a grove of trees. "You'd better stand out of the way. She is still learning and you may distract her."
Luke nodded, and backed into the grove. He stood there silently as Rose nodded to Eve. Eve nodded back, and started on the course.
She lept up the vine a good three meters, and then began to climb the rest of the way. She flipped herself onto a branch, and found another vine. She hung from this one, and swung along it hand‑over‑hand.
The next pause was at another tree and another vine. Eve grabbed the vine and swung out from the tree, stayed with the vine until it reached it's pinnacle, let go of it, and managed to grab a branch on another tree four meters away. She leaped up onto the branch, and without pausing, vaulted off the branch and onto the cliff edge.
Immediately, she began to jog along the edge until she was above one of the deepest parts of the lake. She launched herself off the cliff, did a perfect half‑gainer, and slid into the water without a sound or a splash.
She appeared in the middle of the lake in less than twenty seconds, and emerged on the opposite shore in less than thirty more. She began jogging again, this time, a full kilometer from the spot she had emerged to what looked very much like a shear cliff face.
Eve climbed up the twenty meter cliff face in less than twenty seconds and this time broke into a full run. She darted right past Luke, and headed for the ravine. She launched herself again into the air, turned a perfect aerial somersault, pulled her lightsaber off her belt, and sliced at the metal rod that Rose had thrown in to the air.
By the time she landed on the other side of the four meter ravine, she had the lightsaber back on her belt. The metal rod followed her to the ground and it clamored‑‑‑    
‑‑‑Into four pieces.
Rose looked at her sister critically. "Only four?"
Eve's eyes went wide. "ONLY four?" she asked. "The last time it was only three, and the time before that was only two. Give me a break, I did everything else perfectly."
"Well begun is half done," Rose said. "If you had everything perfectly, that would be in eight pieces."    
Eve groaned and sank to the ground. "I can't do again."
"You can and you will."
"You said the first thing a Jedi has to learn is their limits! Well, I've reached mine!"
"With anger like that, you'll never be a Jedi."
"It's impossible!" Eve despaired. "Six is the most you could you do!"
Luke smiled to himself. He remember the feeling of despair that he had when he was training. He knew that Eve was getting to the point where she was going to give up if she didn't see that it could be done.
Luke sprinted out from behind the trees, and vaulted himself over the ravine. He lifted another one of the metal rods that lay at Rose's feet through the Force, and sliced it. He landed next to Eve.
And the rod fell into twelve pieces.
"Not you too," Eve groaned. "I have been practicing, and I just can't get it into more than six pieces."
“When I was training," Luke offered, "I thought that I had impressed my master with six. He told me that had I been a Jedi, it would've been in seven. And do you know what happened when I got to seven? If I were a Jedi, it would be in eight."
"If it's any comfort," Rose said. "It took me nearly five weeks of doing the whole routine six times a day before I even got to four. You're two weeks ahead of me."
Eve rolled her eyes, but stood up anyway. "What's next, teach?"
"Since you are having trouble with the lightsaber, let's try doing some work with that." Rose lifted two round globes off the ground.
"Two?" Eve asked. "But I've only been working for a week on the‑‑‑‑"
They all froze, and looked at one another. Luke felt the all‑too‑familiar chill roll up his spine. Eve looked at the two of them.
"Is that the Dark Side?" she whispered. "I feel so  cold..."
Luke nodded. "Yes. And it's intentions are directed at us." He sent a tendril of the Force toward the intentions that were tinting the air foully to see if could get exactly what they were going to do.
And it was obvious that they wanted these intentions heard. Luke picked them up right away. He whirled to look back at the house where Jacen was.
"We've got to get back," he said.
He felt Eve realize the intentions right about that time. She looked at him. "Follow me, I'll show you the quickest way back."
She launched herself off the cliff, and Luke followed her without an instant of hesitation. Rose groaned, and jumped in after them.