Disclaimer: I am not Rick Riordan or George Lucas.

Enter Luke and Mara, on the Millennium Falcon.

While using the Force to protect the ship from further monster attacks, Luke tells Mara about his dream.

Mara. Luke. You have to promise me something. Don't tell the others about this dream.

Luke. Don't what? Mara . . .

Mara. What you saw was about the Mark of Ashla. It won't help the others to know. It will only make them worry. And it will make it harder for me to go off on my own.

Luke. Mara. You can't be serious. That thing in the dark, the big chamber with the crumbling floor . . .

Mara. I know. But I have to do this alone.

Luke pushes down his anger.

Luke. You know what's in that cavern. Does it have to do with arachnes.

Mara. [in a small voice] Yes.

Luke. Then how can you even . . . ? [aside] But it's no good, not once Mara has made up her mind. I remember that night over two years ago, when we saved Ahsoka and Kyp Durron at the Shadow Academy. Mara was captured by the Sith Lord Count Dooku. For a while, I wasn't sure if she was alive or dead. I traveled across the galaxy to save her from the Count. It was the hardest few days of my life . . . not just the monsters and the fighting, but the worry. How can I intentionally let her go now, knowing she's heading into something even more dangerous?

Luke steps back as realization dawns on him.

Sithspawn. The way I felt back then, for a few days . . . That's probably how Mara felt for the six months I was missing with amnesia. Now I feel guilty, not to mention selfish, to be standing here arguing with her. She has to go on this quest. The fate of the galaxy might depend on it. But part of me wants to say, "Forget the galaxy." I don't know what I'd do without her.

Luke stares out into the vacuum of space, reveling the fact that this is the same stretch of space once traveled by every Old Republic and Imperial heroes from Anakin Skywalker to Jax Pavan.

[to Mara] We're not far from the Bastion system. Maybe a hundred parsecs from Imperial Center.

Mara. Good. By daybreak, we should . . .

The Star Destroyer Inquisitor comes out of hyperspace . . . an anomaly which reverberates through the Force, detected by Luke Skywalker.

Luke. Stop. We have to stop.

Mara. Why?

Luke. Ben. Stop.

Enter the Inquisitor.

As the Falcon is caught in the Star Destroyer's tractor beam, in spite of their vain attempts to fire on the capital ship, the YT-1300 freighter is boarded by the crew of the Inquisitor: an army of rakghouls.

While Ben manages to sound the alarm, he is accosted by the rakghouls before he can reach the quad laser cannons. Meanwhile, Luke and Mara draw their lightsaber and vibroblade respectively, and the latter makes a vain attempt to reach into the Force, but his efforts are impeded by the captain of the Inquisitor.

The rakghouls circle Luke and Mara, but wisely keep their distant from the lightsaber. Meanwhile, even more rakghouls move down towards the crew's quarters to round up the rest of the crew. Ben is brought from the cockpit into the main cargo hold, where is thrown aside.

Enter Antinnis Tremayne, an intimidating cyborg with glowing red prosthetic eye, dressed in armor built from beskar.

Luke. Who are you? What do you want?

Tremayne laughs and activates the scarlet blade of his lightsaber. Moving quicker than Luke can react, the Inquisitor knocks the lightsaber out of Luke's grip, knocking the Jedi weapon out into the vacuum of space.

Never having been disarmed so quickly, Luke steps back, shocked.

Tremayne. [accented Basic] Hello, brother. Always happy to rob a fellow son of Vader. I am Antinnis Tremayne, the Iron Fist. As for what I want . . . [turns to Mara] Well, that's easy. I want everything you have.

Flanked by his rakghouls, Tremayne paces back and forth between Luke and Mara. As he does so, more rakghouls return from crew's quarters, carrying crates of bota, Tibanna gas, and baradium.

Mara addresses the rakghouls with the crate of Tibanna gas and baradium.

Mara. Careful with that. It will blow up both our ships.

Tremayne. [laughs] We know all about baradium, girl. Don't worry. We've been looting and pillaging ships within the Intergalactic Void for eons.

Luke. Your accent sounds familiar. Have we met?

Tremayne. I haven't had the pleasure. But I've heard all about you, Luke Skywalker. Oh, yes, the young Jedi who saved Tython . . . and his faithful sidekick, Mara Jade.

Mara. I'm nobody's sidekick. [to Luke] And Luke, his accent sounds familiar because he sounds like his mother. We killed her on Anaxes.

Luke. [frowns] I'm pretty sure that's not a Core World accent. Who's his . . . ? [with realization] Oh. Garowyn is your mom? Stang, that sucks void.

Tremayne. [snarls] You are as arrogant as the first Skywalker. But yes, Luke Skywalker. Darth Vader was my father. Garowyn was my mother. After Garowyn was changed into a monster by that so-called goddess of wisdom . . . [turns to Mara] That would be your mother, I believe . . . Garowyn's two children were trapped inside her, unable to be born. When the original Skywalker cut off Garowyn's head . . .

Mara. Two children sprang out: Aiwha and you.

Luke. [blinks] So your brother is a winged equine. But you're also my half-brother, which means all the aiwhas in the galaxy are my . . . You know what? Let's forget it. But if you're Garowyn's son, why haven't I ever heard of you?

Tremayne. [sighs] When your brother is Aiwha, you get used to being forgotten. Oh, look, a winged equine. Does anyone care about me? No. [raises his lightsaber] But don't underestimate me. My name means the Iron Fist for a reason.

Luke. As in beskar?

Tremayne. [scoffs] Mandalorian iron, yes. Later on, the Empire called it beskar. But I was the first to ever wield such a blade. I should have been the most famous Jedi of all time. Since the Holocrons decided to ignore me, I became a dark-sider instead. I resolved to put my heritage to use. As the son of Garowyn, I would inspire terror. As the son of Vader, I would rule the ocean worlds.

Mara. You became a pirate.

Tremayne spreads his hands.

Tremayne. The best pirate. I've voyaged this space for centuries, waylaying any demigods foolish enough to explore the Intergalactic Void. This is my territory now. And all you have is mine.

One of the rakghouls drags Booster into the hold.

Booster. Let me go, Sithspawn.

Booster vainly tries to fight off the rakghoul.

Tremayne. Ah, a Corellian. A little old and stringy, but Wookiees will pay well for a morsel like him. Chain him up.

Booster. I'm nobody's nerf meat.

Tremayne. Gag him as well.

Booster. Why you metal little . . .

A gag placed over his mouth, Booster is tossed amongst the rest of the rakghouls' loot, which includes the Falcon's portable refrigeration unit.

Mara. You can't do this.

Tremayne. [laughs] I can do anything I want. My warriors have been trained to perfection. They are vicious, cutthroat . . .

Luke. Sithspawn.

Tremayne. [shrugs] Yes. So? They had some misfortune a few millennia ago, kidnapped the wrong being. Some of their crew got turned completely into beasts. Others went mad. But these . . . these survived as mutant hybrids. When I found them on Dromund Kaas and offered them a new life, they became my loyal crew. They fear nothing.

The rakghouls exchange nervous looks amongst themselves.

Yes, yes. They fear one thing. But it hardly matters. He's not here.

The rakghouls return from the crew's quarters, hauling in Tahiri, Danni, and an unconscious Jacen Solo. Jag alone seems to have escaped.


The rakghouls toss Jacen aside as Tremayne studies Mara, Tahiri, and Danni with lecherous pleasure.

The boy is no use to me. But we have an understanding with the witch Talzin. She will buy the females . . . either as slaves or trainees, depending on their skill. But not you, lovely Mara.

Mara. [recoils] You are not taking me anywhere.

Luke's hand moves toward the folds of his robes, where his lightsaber has returned in the guise of a stylus.

Tremayne. Oh, sadly, Mara, you will not be staying with me. I would love that. But you and your friend Luke are spoken for. A certain goddess is paying a high bounty for your capture . . . alive, if possible, though she didn't say you had to be unharmed.

Danni lets out a scream, falling backward onto the nearest rakghoul, knocking him back. Tahiri crumples to ground, likewise feigning madness.

Using the distraction to his advantage, Luke ignites the emerald blade of his lightsaber, lashing out. Before the lightsaber can cut through his neck, Tremayne dodges and parries as the rakghouls back up, providing Tremayne and Luke with a wide berth. They duel.

Luke. [aside] I haven't crossed blades with an opponent like this since . . . well, since Yun-Yammka. Tremayne is that good. Maybe my Force powers have gotten stronger over the years. But now, too late, I realize I have not grown in prowess as a swordsman.

Luke and Tremayne battle back and forth, but the Inquisitor is clearly the superior foe.

Without meaning to, I think back to Darth Caedus, my first lightsaber combat instructor at the Jedi Praxeum. But none of his suggestions seem to help. Not to mention, Tremayne's cyborg appearance is unnerving. That, and the fact that one of the rakghouls is currently holding a vibroblade to Mara's throat, is throwing me off.

Luke feints and thrusts at Tremayne's middle, but the Inquisitor anticipates the move, and Luke only succeeds in being disarmed once again, his lightsaber returning to the vacuum of space. In the aftermath, Tremayne points his lightsaber at Luke.

Tremayne. A good try. But now you'll be chained and transported to Abeloth's minions. They are quite eager to spill your blood and wake the goddess.

Though disarmed and outmatched, Luke deduces where Tremayne's weakness lies: among the rakghouls.

Luke. [aside] Nothing like total failure to generate great ideas. I'm so used to Mara providing Old Republic legend information that I'm kind of stunned to actually remember something useful. But I have to act fast. I can't let anything happen to my friends. I'm not going to lose Mara . . . not again. Tremayne can't be beat . . . at least not in single combat. But without his crew . . . maybe then he can be overwhelmed if enough of us attack him at once. How to deal with Tremayne's crew? I put the pieces together: the pirates had been turned into rakghouls millennia ago when they kidnapped the wrong being. I know this story. Kriff, the wrong being in question has threatened to turn me into a thranta on more than one occasion. And when Tremayne said the crew wasn't afraid of anything, one of the rakghouls nervously corrected him. "Yes," Tremayne said. "But he's not here."

Luke glances toward the gunnery stations, where Jag is lurking, and smiles.

The girls, Jag, the refrigeration unit . . . It's a barvy idea. But as usual . . . it's the only plan we've got. [to all] Fine. Take us away, if our captain will let you.

Tremayne regards Luke.

Tremayne. What captain? My men searched the ship. There is no one else.

Luke raises his hands dramatically.

Luke. The Je'daii appears only when he wishes. But he is our leader. He runs our Jedi Praxeum . . . doesn't he, Mara?

Mara. Yes. Master Q . . . the great Qel-Droma.

A ripple of nervousness passes over the rakghouls, causing one of the mutants to drop his weapon.

Tremayne. Stand fast. There is no Je'daii on this ship. They are trying to scare you.

Luke. You should be scared. Qel-Droma will be severely irate with you for having delayed our voyage. He will punish all of us. Didn't you notice the girls falling into the wine Je'daii's madness?

Luke glares pointedly at Tahiri and Danni, who resume feigning madness. Instantly, the rakghouls begin to back away, wishing to creating a distance between themselves and their captives.

Tremayne. Sithspit. Shut up, Luke Skywalker. Your praxeum director is not here. He was recalled to Tython. This is common knowledge.

Luke. So you admit Qel-Droma is our director.

Tremayne. He was. Everyone knows that.

Luke. You see? We are doomed. If you don't believe me, let's check the refrigeration unit.

Luke reaches into refrigeration unit and withdraws a can of fizzade, holding it out dramatically before the rakghouls.

Behold. The Je'daii Lord's chosen beverage. Tremble before the horror of fizzade.

The rakghouls panic, on the verge of retreat.

The Je'daii will take your ship. He will finish your metamorphosis into beasts, make you insane, or transform you into insane beasts. Your only hope is to haul jets now.

Tremayne moves his lightsaber between Luke and the rakghouls.

Tremayne. Bantha fodder.

Luke. Save yourselves. It is too late for us. [points to where Jag is hiding] Oh, no. Jag is turning into a barvy thranta.

Nothing happens.

I said, Jag is turning into a barvy thranta.

Jag stumbles into the hold, grabbing his throat.

Jag. [monotonous] Oh, no. I am turning into a barvy thranta.

Through the Force, Jag metamorphoses into a thranta, flopping through the hold.

Exit the rakghouls, fleeing from the Falcon and the Inquisitor.

Within seconds of the rakghouls' desertion, Mara has untied Tahiri, Danni, and Booster, and the coalition of Jedi and Imperials have surrounded Tremayne, abandoned by his followers.

The tables having turned against him, Tremayne backs away.

Tremayne. This isn't over, Skywalker. I will have my revenge . . .

Jag assumes the form of a wampa and throws Tremayne off the ship, sending the cyborg screaming as he crashes onto the surface of Tion, from which the two ships currently orbit, splashing into the sea below.

Mara. That was brilliant.

Mara kisses Luke.

Luke. It was desperate. And we need to get rid of this Star Destroyer.

Mara. Burn it?

Luke glances at the fizzade in his hand.

Luke. No. I've got another idea.

Once Jacen and Ben have been healed with bacta, the Seven return their supplies to the proper places and tidy up from the invasion. Once this is done, they board the Star Destroyer, during which Booster trashes the enemy ship. After returning Tremayne's weapons, they discover a storeroom filled with aurodium, Corusca gems, diamonds, rubies, and other precious gemstones.

Tahiri. I can sense about six million credits' worth of aurodium aboard . . . plus diamonds, rubies . . .

Jag. Six m-million? Chiss currency or GA?

Luke. Leave it. It's part of the tribute.

Tahiri. Tribute?

Luke exchanges looks with Jacen and Danni, who understand.

Danni. Oh. Ruusan.

Jacen. [grins] Barvy. But I like it.

Using the Force, Luke fills the Star Destroyer with fizzade and sends the Inquisitor onto a remote trip into hyperspace. As the Star Destroyer soars away, Luke holds up Tremayne's mask.

Luke. Ulic Qel-Droma. You made this victory possible, even if you weren't here. Your enemies trembled at your name . . . or your fizzade, or something. So yes, thank you. We give this ship to you as tribute. We hope you like it.

Ben. Six million in aurodium. He'd better like it.

Tahiri. Shh. Precious metal isn't all that great. Believe me.

Moments before the Inquisitor vanishes into hyperspace, Luke tosses Tremayne's mask onto the ship and stands back, watching its departure.

Luke. [aside] I don't know what will happen. But I've done all I can. I have no faith that Qel-Droma will hear us or care, much less help us in our battle against the Yuuzhan Vong. But I have to try.

Exit all.