AN: Ok, so I am sitting here with chapter 16 and 17 open, trying to decide if I want to write more or just post what I have and shove everything that is not done off to another chapter and I'm heavily leaning toward the latter. There are a paltry 7,000 words in this chapter, but it signifies my return to writing. The hard part, of course, is my ability to continue writing, but that is a bridge I will have to cross each day. Or not cross. I am hoping for mostly crossing. Chapter 15 was posted 1/30/13, so nearly 2 years ago, and I know you guys have been waiting for me to get this story done. I would love to have it done. But that means dedicating time to it that I haven't had, and I am now making it a priority.
To the reviewers of this and other stories who are clamoring for more: I have not forgotten my place as a writer, and I receive every one of your reviews, and it makes me really sad that I haven't taken time to write more. My life is finally at a place where perhaps I can rectify that. The characters are still there, waiting for their stories to be written. I hope to complete all of these projects someday.
Sw0rdSlinger: The Yoda isn't dead thing was supposed to be corrected in revisions I did recently, but I forgot that was one of the things on my list….I will look back again and see about it. (you can read my profile for notes on what I did and when in revisions if you are so inclined) I'm glad someone caught the 4077 reference; it was one of my favorites as a young adult, though I was never inclined to write in that universe.
UnknownFigment: I'm glad to know that I inspire others, it is one of the great joys of writing.
Brindle Airwing, en route to Horuz system, 39:4:9
It was late in the ship's day, and Liz should have been in bed hours before, but she was not. She was up, thinking about what in the Nine Corellian Hells Celia was doing with some sort of rogue band of lightsaber wielders. She was prisoner, that was clear, and they were not Sith; there were far too many of them. That in and of itself posed an interesting query. And there was a general resonance of unease that she was developing. Uncertain of its origin, she could not make better sense of things than that, but it was preventing her from sleeping. Not that she couldn't go three or four days without rest, let alone sleep. That wasn't the point.
A chime sounded, breaking her out of her reverie. She listened to the pattern of it. ALL RECALL.
She cursed a string of words in Huttese that her father hadn't seen fit to translate for her. It was her Jedi beacon com unit. She had kept it, as it would only go off if something really horrific happened. So apparently something had. Would Celia be safe if she went home without helping her? Would it matter in the first place? And what had her on recall? They would be meeting soon with this Tarkin character, maybe she would have time to check the Holonet. If it was that big a deal, she would probably be able to glean meaning from the news of the day.
That being said, there would probably be repercussions if she did not answer her com beacon. She wasn't sure what those would be, but it would depend on why she was being recalled. Certainly they would understand, wouldn't they?
Coruscant, Jedi Temple, Healer's Hall, 39:4:10
Leia stayed at the Healer's Hall despite her desire to be conducting business elsewhere. She'd spoken with Bail Organa on the com earlier, and now that the Temple was rousing in preparation for another day, he had come by to see her. Sabé and Kitster were sleeping, thankfully, as Bail walked into her room. She hadn't gone to sleep, and probably wouldn't; he'd been woken at about three, and they were scrambling to deal with her parents' absence. Leia sat in her formal robes, in the chair beside her bed, which had been neatly made up by one of the hovering initiates. They all knew she was awake and every one of them seemed to want to ooh and aah over the twins. Still. "Senator Organa."
" Hello, Leia," he said, then sighed. "Your mother is going to be in some pretty hot water if she lives through this."
"Come in and sit down, Bail," she told him, indicating the other chair. Han had gone back to their quarters to write the report that Bail would shortly need, there were others who would need to see it as well, but he didn't want to get involved with the political discussion that she was supposed to be having.
"You are looking well," he commented, and she sensed his discomfort.
"The twins are right there if you are curious," she indicated the bassinette. Bail took this as permission and went to have a look. "I'm glad I look well, the last three days have been fairly standard for our family though. Sabé had to be turned over because she was being stubborn about being born, Han almost didn't make it home to be here, when he did get here he brought a boy who'd been a slave on Eriadu, Luke barely had time to even glance at the twins, Celia has gone missing, and is presumed to be kidnapped, Liz isn't answering her com signal, and Jaedrea, if she's still alive, is out with Dad on whatever half-baked adventure he's dragging everyone else on. All in all, yesterday was a pretty quiet Skywalker week. Thankfully my mandatory three days here is almost up, so if I need to join you at the Rotunda later today, I can do so."'
Bail blinked a couple of times, looked over the twins again, and sat down without comment. Leia waited while he settled in. "Be that as it may, your mother is missing and presumed dead, and the government will grind to a halt without her leadership."
"I think for the moment that acting as if the presumed dead part is true is the best course of action because it will allow for the safety of the group that was nearly blown up, and it will allow us to reorganize the government quickly. Insisting that they are alive will only fuel fires that will quickly get out of control."
"So, that means in all likelihood, me taking over the Senate, possibly permanently."
"Of the available Senators, yes, I think you would make the best choice for the Republic, though there are several others that would also do as well."
"Mon Mothma, Meena Tills, and Yarua."
"Any particular reason you would rather it be me?"
"Alderaan is peaceful, and would exhaust all possibility of diplomacy before the upcoming war breaks out in full. I won't say that it's going to be impossible to avoid, but it's a war that's been brewing for a really long time and has been stoked by the Sith. There will be conflict, but how widespread is going to depend on how delicately we handle things, I think."
"You chose two non-humans in your list, why?"
Leia shook her head. "Non-humans were a large part of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, and valuable allies and most of them were quite resourceful. Yarua has been a part of the Senate for 150 years; Mon Mothma was the Commander in Chief of the Alliance, and Meena Tills was a capable sector advisor for us, so she had a leadership role as well, And she's been in the Senate since before the Massacre."
Bail nodded. "So you've seen them in action and feel that they can withstand the pressures of leadership."
Leia smiled wanly. "Pretty much. I don't think that they will be quite the same people that I remember, but the divergence didn't happen all that long ago, relatively speaking, so most of what made them who they are is still exactly the same."
"And my understanding is that the divergence caused differences, but not as many as one would think."
She nodded. "Pretty much. It's like there were still marks that we had to hit, they were just hit from different angles, and sometimes at different times."
"So what was it like?"
"What part?" she asked, not sure that she was quite ready to speak on any issue with the man that was her father in another life.
"Being in the past."
"A lot like any other day or week here. It's busy, and there isn't enough time to get everything done, and the galaxy is depending on you and most of them don't even know you exist."
Bail nodded. "I understand that. Even in the Senate, we make decisions that affect trillions of beings in profound ways, and none of them even notice."
Han walked in, and Leia rose to greet him. He gave her a hug and a peck on the cheek. "How is the report coming?"
"All done, at least a short one, I'll write a longer version for the official records here in the next day or two, but I thought that this would be good enough detail for the Senate when they are ready for it."
He handed the datapad to Bail, who skimmed it quickly. "This is outrageous," he said tightly.
"I know. I asked Master Na-Beth to send Kyr up, so he should be along in a few minutes."
Bail let out a big sigh. "Your father is going to have a fit when he gets back."
"Yes, he is. In the meantime, this still has to be dealt with," Leia said as Kyr walked in.
"Jedi, Ma'am?" he asked, surmising that despite the fact that the two men in the room had a considerable amount of years on her, that she was the one in charge.
"Padawan Solo," she told him gently. "Or just Leia."
"I was supposed to meet with the Chancellor?"
"Yes, my mother. She is unavailable for an undetermined reason and for an undetermined period of time, so this man," she indicated Bail, "is Senator Organa, and he will be interviewing you, and when the Senate convenes-meets," she changed her word at his confused expression, "He will be the one who asks you questions for everyone to hear your story."
Kyr had been outfitted in the same way a Padawan would have been, though he was not. Leia considered whether that would go over better or worse with the Senate than having him in normal clothing, but decided that it would not hurt his case to be dressed as a member of the Temple so long as it was clear that he wasn't actually a Padawan.
Si Treemba sighed as he waited for the small order of supplies that he would be taking into the small camp that had been set up. Somehow the explanation that he'd received, that Bandomeer was closer than Coruscant hadn't rung truthfully enough. But he did not question his friend. He trusted that he had reason enough, if he was coming back to this place, a place that had nearly killed him. Had he been Human, the curiosity would have eaten him alive. But he was not, and Arcona were much more trusting than Humans. The message he had to deliver was less troubling. It was very simple, really. He would do that as soon as he had the food in hand. The cooks did not ask why he wanted food prepared for Humans, but they were not Human either. And around the mining camps Si Treemba was know to be strange, and friendly with Humans. He was the highest ranking Arcona in the Arcona Mineral Harvest Corporation. The reason that he wasn't the highest being in the company was that he knew the limitations of his species. Dealing with crafty, underhanded people was far more suited to Humans and Hutts. Ensuring that the miners in his operation were happy and healthy was far more suited to him.
He had been very young, just striking out in the universe when he'd come to Bandomeer. That had been an eye opening experience. He was knocked out of his musing of the past by his food order arriving. "We thank you for your good food," he said to the clerk at the counter.
The Arconan boy just nodded, taking the credit chips Si Treemba handed him and making change. After he received his change, Si Treemba moved to a public terminal, dialing the Jedi Temple. A young Knight answered, he could tell by his voice. "How may the Temple be of service?"
"We wish to speak with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. We feel this matter is of the utmost urgency."
The Knight shook his head. "I'm not waking one of our most revered Masters in the middle of the night."
Si Treemba tilted his head to one side. He had not been told this was that urgent. Nor had he been given any sort of code word that would get him any sort of instant attention. "We understand, and did not consult a Standard clock before contacting you. If you will please tell him that we, Si Treemba, have again come across something that he once lost and we helped him to find, we would be very grateful."
"Will there be any way that I can have him contact you?"
"We do not have an interplanetary contact number, but he should remember how to find us from the assistance we provided him in taking down Offworld Mining Company."
"I'll send the information to him, but I doubt he will do much about it. He is 96 years old."
"We understand that he may be unable to come himself. But it is important that he know."
Horuz System, Death Star, Brindle Airwing, 39:4:10
Liz was off shift when the slave ship she was working on docked with the orbital station she'd been told about by Vait. He liked to gossip, and he told her things even when he was fairly certain she wouldn't understand. She wasn't certain that the man stopped talking for more than a few minutes even when he was asleep. /His Huttese was getting better under her tutelage, and her Basic was "improving" as well. She felt the ship's gravity shift off and a half a beat later, another, more potent source of gravity imposed itself on the ship. She could feel the immenseness of the structure, and knew that she would have no problem getting lost there; it was being able to get off that would eventually be a problem. She was reaching for a small holonet reader when a blue glow shimmered in its place and she drew back, looking up. "Master?" she asked quietly in Huttese.
"What do you think you will learn by doing that?"
"The source of the Recall signal I received last night."
The Houk tilted his head, and nodded. "You would find that out readily. I would prefer to tell you myself, and you will not need to go back. There are reports that your parents, Masters Kenobi and Tano and their three Padawans were all killed. I want to reassure you that this is untrue, though you should already know that through the Force."
Liz let out a ragged breath. "They are all fine?"
"Every last one of them. Not even bruised up. You have my word." he shifted so that he could take a seat across from her in the room's one chair. "However, you are now ready for your third trial."
"Now, Master? What do I need to do?"
"You will need to find a backdoor into Tarkin's systems and have them start downloading to Coruscant. Your slicing skills should be up to the task. There is much information that is held here and it needs to be sent on if the Republic has any hope of winning the war that will be starting soon."
"How long will I have?"
"Your little slaver band is going to be busy most of the day, by the looks of things. You must return to the ship before it leaves, or not only will you not pass this trial, you will be unable to aid your sister, and the consequences for that would be dire."
He had just ratcheted the stakes for this mission higher than she'd thought possible. "So, if the consequences are so dire, why do I need to do this?"
"Doing this is possibly the difference between the Republic and an Empire for the next millennium, saving your sister is saving your sister."
Liz swallowed hard, bowed her head, and said, "I understand, Master."
"Good. I would prefer you have the opportunity to do both, so you had better get going if you are going to do so."
Coruscant, Jedi Temple, Master Jinn's Quarters, 39:4:10
Qui-Gon Jinn passed the early morning as he had many mornings in his life. He was feeling his age, and, while he spent some time most days teaching in some of the more peaceful classrooms of the school, it wasn't the active life of a Jedi that he'd been used to for so many years before. It was his twilight time, and he was ready to go, ready for a peaceful transition into the Force. But not yet. He knew it was soon, but it wasn't today. Today, before much else happened, he had a visitor. One of the Knights that had been assigned to take incoming calls for much of the Temple had given him the odd message he'd received the night before before taking his rest for the day. Si Treemba was a name he recognized from a thoroughly unpleasant mission on Bandomeer. And he hadn't lost something on Bandomeer at all. He'd lost something far more precious than any object. He'd lost the boy who hadn't even been partnered as his Padawan yet, who would grow to be one of the greatest Jedi Knights he'd known. And one of the wisest Jedi Masters. Though he still required some nudging occasionally to ensure that he was thinking everything through, just as Qui-Gon did.
But the message made no sense. No sense at all. He needed to consult with the Council as to their thoughts on the meaning of Si Treemba's words. If taken at face value, then everything that the Council been told about what happened on New Ralltiir was a lie. Though perhaps it was just not the truth, because some did not know the whole truth. Obi-Wan and two of his Padawans, both of Anakin's Padawans, and Ahsoka's Padawan, as well as the Chancellor had perished in a great explosion that no one had anticipated. But if they hadn't, what had happened? And how in the blazes had they ended up on Bandomeer?
Perhaps in going to ground, they had chosen somewhere they would likely find friends, but would be overlooked. After all, a ship had mysteriously been stolen mere hours after the explosion had taken place.
Horuz System, Death Star, Main Bridge, 39:4:10
Lead General Wilhuff Tarkin, was pleased with this first effort on the part of those in the hire of the Imperial Contingent. Ten thousand ships had been sent out in the name of the IC's first volley against the Republic. Most had reported back successfully already, though there were always stragglers when dealing with large groups of individuals. Some had perhaps been stymied, some shot down, some captured, but it was already an immensely successful campaign, and the best part was that no one would realize for possibly weeks that this was a coordinated part of the war effort.
To ice the cake properly, the Chancellor of the Republic herself had been killed, or so it seemed. If there was one person he thought slippery enough to escape even death's grasp, it was that thrice damned Jedi breeding cow. He would give it a couple of months before he started to really believe. She'd already defiantly lived through a dozen assassination attempts since the last election.
Coruscant, Jedi Temple, Council Room, 39:4:10
Mace Windu was rubbing his temples, not a good sign this early in the morning. "It took two weeks for this situation with Skywalker to spiral completely out of control."
"Either they are alive or they aren't. There isn't much we can do about it either way," Saesee Tiin said, "I don't think that this is something that anyone could have foreseen."
"How is Julia handling this?"
"It doesn't seem to be bothering her. Either it hasn't sunk in yet, or she fundamentally believes that Luke and Leia know what they are talking about. She is prepared for a full day today."
The flickering image of Shaak Ti in her seat nodded. "Cedric is much the same. From the way the children are acting I would be more inclined to believe that they have gone to ground rather than been killed. It isn't like Anakin hasn't survived worse."
"Would it be just Anakin who survived though? What about the Chancellor, Jaedrea, Obi-Wan, and the rest?" Plo Koon asked.
"I spoke with Mara Jade earlier, there is no indication that her connection with Obi-Wan has been severed, and Luke was adamant that he could not feel any emotional distress from his father. I think if any of them are alive, they are most likely all alive," Kit Fisto said.
"But as Master Tiin said, we can't do anything until they reappear," Mace said.
The outer door opened, interrupting, and the Knight who was guarding the door said, "Masters," after a deep bow. Mace waved for him to speak. "Master Jinn is here and wishes to address the Council." Mace nodded, and the Knight disappeared, and after a moment, Qui-Gon appeared.
"I don't think that the explosion on New Ralltiir killed as many people as they thought."
"We were discussing that," Mace said.
"I received a message overnight that something I lost is on Bandomeer. Again."
"What did you lose on Bandomeer?" Stass Allie asked. "And when? It's been a long time since you've been out that way."
"The last time I was on Bandomeer was before I took Obi-Wan as my Padawan, so it has been a very long time indeed, and it was Obi-Wan that I lost."
"This needs verified, immediately," Mace announced, and there were murmurs of agreement around the room.
"But who could we send, I wonder, without attracting notice," Ki-Adi-Mundi mused.
"I would go myself, but I do not believe that to be the best of ideas," Qui-Gon admitted. "I am retired from active duties for a reason."
"Well, at the least we would not want for you to go alone," Master Allie said. "Perhaps I could go as well."
"We could also request that Mara Jade stop by there on her way back, as much as I am loathe to do anything but order her straight home," Mace said.
"That does not seem like a good idea, if there are still elements on New Ralltiir who would see that group harm. If she stopped there, and anyone were tracking her movements, there is a much greater possibility that they would then be caught."
"Or we could do nothing. For a time. Si Treemba was a good friend to Obi-Wan back then, it does not seem an unsafe place for them," Qui-Gon suggested, then tilted his head as though listening. "Perhaps not. The Force tends to be very murky when trying to deal with Anakin."
"Sending Master Allie and Master Qui-Gon together would not be a terrible idea," Master Koon said, sitting back. "Does anyone object?"
Shaking of heads and murmured 'no's greeted this, and business moved on to another topic.
Shiava, Shiava, Landing Pad, 39:4:10
Cedric settled back as his Master, Shaak-Ti began the lift off sequence. She'd insisted on being the one to fly them out, despite her usual insistence the other way around. It was therefore, not as big a shock when his signal comm went off. There was always a reason for everything, he knew. He heard the staccato beat it put out, and tilted his head to the side. "I wonder what that is about."
"I spoke with the Council while you were getting clearance to take off," she told him. "It appears that Anakin-and the whole contingent at New Ralltiir-perished in a massive explosion."
Cedric sat back, looking more like the child he was ceasing to be than the confident young man he was rapidly becoming. "That doesn't sound right," he told her after a long moment.
"Luke and Leia said much the same thing. The Council doesn't seem terribly worried about it, and considering the number of times your father's been reported dead, the media won't get too out of line, we hope," Shaak-Ti said.
"It involves my family, they will be their usual ravenous selves," Cedric said.
"That may be," Shaak-Ti said with a wry grin and continued, "There isn't much more that we can do other than wait for them to show up if that is what is going to happen."
a ship, 39:4:10
Something in Celia's belt pouch chimed. Her belt, all her equipment was outside her sight, but she heard this chime, and frowned. It was an ALL RECALL chime, meaning she was supposed to hightail it back to the Temple double time. If she could. If it was not possible, it would, of course, be forgiven, but it was something that was not to be ignored lightly. "How do you shut this thrice damned thing off?" one of the Padawans asked.
"Push the buttons top and bottom at the same time," Celia told him without looking up from her school work. Acknowledging the signal wouldn't hurt anything. That particular device was not a tracking device, more the pity.
Her captor, the one most in charge, anyway, came over to her with it. "What is this?"
"A chime signal com. It operates at significantly longer distances because it doesn't have to transmit, it only receives."
"And what did it receive?"
"A message for me to report back to the Temple as quickly as possible."
"For you, for a specified number of Jedi or for all Jedi?"
"There's no way to tell. It could be for any of the above."
"How many signals are there?"
"I don't know, quite a few. They are only for unequivocal orders from the Council, or group orders, like mass recalls, or for Jedi to stay away from the Temples, there are a lot of different ones."
"Anything that the Temple has thought they would need to tell a large number of Jedi without directly communicating with them."
"Pretty much. There are a lot of war-related ones, like truce, peace, surrender and victory."
"Did you learn these signals as a child?"
"Sure, right along with learning droid and Shriiwook, Huttese, and a little Gungan."
Gethor nodded, and put the signal com back where it had been, or she assumed he did. She had some hesitation, opening herself up to him, telling him the answers to everything he asked, but it was far better than the alternative. She didn't want to tempt her fate with him having access to some sort of nanite that could attach to one's midi-chlorians.
Coruscanti Space, Outbound Lanes, Oron Kira, 39:4:10
Rain was still in Coruscanti space, about to transition to hyperspace when the ALL RECALL chime sounded on her transmitter. "Sithspit," she cursed, moving out of the way of ships coming in behind her, and flipping on her com unit. "Jedi Knight Burtola here," she told the Knight assigned to answer for the Council if they were in session, or if it was night at the Temple and whichever Council member was up happened to be busy. "I am being recalled?"
He consulted a data screen. She knew the station well; she'd done the duty he was doing several times in the last month alone. "Yes, all members of the Skywalker-Kenobi Clan are."
"I'm still in Coruscanti Space, I'll be there as soon as ATC can get me into an incoming lane."
New Ralltiir, explosion site, 39:4:10
Mara was pondering the mysteries that the hole in the ground left by the explosion on New Ralltiir offered her, when a pair of somewhat familiar Jedi approached her. She glanced as they moved around the edge toward her, but neither seemed inclined to actually come out into the circle of destruction. She assumed the younger was not yet confident in his ability to do so safely, but it took a few moments to remember why the other would not.
"Jedi Knight Halcyon, it is good to see you," she greeted as she made her way to a place where it was unnecessary to use the Force to telekinetically keep herself balanced. For some reason the Halcyons were mostly unable to use telekinesis, though there were some more spectacular uses that they could power by absorbing something-heat, Force, electricity-and mold it into something they could use against an enemy.
He was in traditional green of Corellia, and she'd heard that he'd moved back there after he'd been knighted late last year. "It is good to see you as well. I have heard congratulations are in order?"
She nodded and smiled wanly. "This takes precedence. I would like to go somewhere private where we can talk."
"Of course. We can retire to my ship if that is acceptable."
Mara nodded again, and they walked quickly and quietly to the berthing area that was just outside the spaceport proper. He showed her to a ship, and it was light and nimble, not really a combat ship, but something that would do for missions where one was not expecting to have to live out of it. "I'm sorry," she said to the young girl, "I don't think I caught your name."
"Melaya, Master," she said awkwardly, "I belong to the Coruscanti Temple, but Master Halcyon may take me for a Padawan, and then I would belong to the Correllian Temple."
"Perhaps," Corran said. "Perhaps we would stay on Coruscant. I am still considering my Uncle's offer to work for CorSec."
"That is far from the most unpleasant duty in the galaxy," Mara said with a small grin. "I did a short internship there during one of my school breaks."
"I am glad you were able to take advantage of the opportunity afforded when the Coruscanti Temple chose to see the light, as it were."
"As well as allowing for you to be trained by Master Fisto. Did he personally ask you to come out here?"
"He did. He always did complain of how my head interfered with my feelings, but now he wants to put that to work."
"It does have its value," she agreed as they got the ship sealed up and secured. "How much did he tell you?"
"That the eight people who were at the epicenter of this explosion may or may not be dead, and I need to do my best to determine that. All indications were that there was no way anyone could have survived, but Luke and Leia Skywalker insisted that at the very least, Anakin Skywalker is still alive, and strangely, a ship went missing."
"Good. The only thing I really have to add to that is that when we examined the area directly upon landing, maybe two hours after the explosion, there was a very large null space in the Force. We waited until morning to examine it further, but by that time it had dissipated."
"Perhaps five meters in diameter."
"Large enough for several people, then."
"Why did you wait?"
"It wasn't particularly safe; the ground was still smoldering, and we were being watched."
"That is unfortunate. Do you have any thoughts on the matter?"
"The people in charge of the rescue effort seem genuine enough. Even their investigation team seems to be honestly looking for an answer. I just don't know if they will find it. Master Skywalker was here to see if he could find Darth Maul; he seemed to be fairly certain that this was where he was. Also, I know my connection is more tenuous, but I am fairly certain that I would know if Master Kenobi were dead, and I did not feel that connection break."
"Master Windu seems to think that you should be cloistered up in your rooms at the Temple, so I have been explicitly instructed to tell you to take the Burgeoning Thunder and go straight back to the Temple once I had debriefed you. However, having delivered that message, I will do nothing to enforce it."
Mara smiled. "Do you think I could be of any assistance here?"
"I actually think delivering the information about the null in the Force in person is something you should do. I would rather not have to transmit that, no matter how tight the band was I was sending it on and how many levels of encryption I was using."
"What do you think it means?"
"I am surprised you haven't connected the dots. If Master Skywalker, and anyone else for that matter, was alive, they were in that bubble, protected from everything from prying eyes to smoldering dirt. How many Force users were there?"
"The negotiation team eventually comprised three Masters, two Senior Padawans, and Jaderea Skywalker, who's 13."
"And, while the Force is keenly sharp with hundreds of deaths in that small area, none of them feel like Jedi."
"That is true as well."
"So, I think that someone went to a lot of trouble to kill off the people in that room, and the people in that room were smart enough that when it failed, they went to ground and they went to ground hard. I don't know if they could have known that the Force users outside their little bubble were friend or foe, and if they could not, then the more reasonable assumption, especially as you were here long before anyone could have been expected, was for that presence to be Maul."
"It is a logical conclusion. I suppose that reporting in person to the Council at least this much is needed."
"I thank you for the detailed information that you have provided to me. It will make my search of what did happen easier, as I doubt very strongly that if the Jedi survived, they are anywhere near this planet anymore. I will not assume that they did, and I will investigate thoroughly the theft of this ship, in case it has to do with something else, but I will expand my efforts into more suitable directions such as who planted the bomb and why, though there may be a very simple explanation, such as the presence of the Chancellor."
Mara rose, and bowed slightly to Corran. "May the Force be with you in tracking down the person who did this, Knight Halycon, and Melaya, may the Force guide you in your travels, and to a good Master to guide you."
"Thank you," she said quietly. Now that they were on the ship, and she'd taken her hood down, Mara could see that she was a very pale shade of green, and a Twi'Lek. She didn't look much past old enough to be beginning to search for a Master, but perhaps this particular pairing potential was further along than she originally suspected.
"I will gather my things and depart after I introduce you to some of the local people you will probably want to be in contact with."
"Thank you, Mara Jade Skywalker."
Horuz system, Death Star, Throne room, 39:4:10
Sev'rance Tann bowed in subservience to her Master. He had been her entire world up to the point at which she had tried to take Cedric Skywalker on her personal death ride. "Rise, my pupil." he said after a short period of time. If he felt like he was on a short schedule, he wouldn't make her wait, but if he was bored, he could have her sitting there all day. She had docked aboard the Death Star, bringing them in their last shipment of panels from Cloud City. It was a small pity to her that she would no longer have Lando Calrissian to toy with, but he had outlived her use for him. "You have been traveling for several days, you may not have heard the latest news."
"What is that, My Master?"
"There was a large contingent of Jedi on New Ralltiir. And they were destroyed in a massive explosion."
He seemed very pleased, perhaps almost smug. "And who were these Jedi?"
"Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and two of his pupils."
"His newest one, and Anakin Skywalker?"
"Correct. Very good, my dear."
"Some others too?"
"Yes, Ahsoka Tano, her Padawan, Skywalker's Padawan."
"That is a significant contingent. What were they there for?"
"Some trade negotiations, at least that was why Kenobi was there with his Padawan. I'm uncertain as to why two other pairs showed up," he said, but the lilt in his voice said he wasn't done despite the significant pause he took. "With the Chancellor."
"This explosion took out her as well?"
"Yes. All of them were in the building when the explosion went off."
"This is excellent news," she said. She knew how much he despised Anakin Skywalker and his entire clan, and she knew he would be taking extreme joy at his demise, however that had been accomplished. For herself she had to guard her emotions closely, while she had little care as to the fates of the patriarch of the Skywalker clan and the others, she knew Cedric would care very much and a very un Sith like desire to be with him at this time of distress had to be carefully hidden.
"Yes, if true it will make the coming war much easier," Maul replied.
"Skywalker has proven most resilient my Master," she said.
"I wish you to investigate this, it is a far better use of your talents than playing supply officer," Maul ordered.
"As you command, my Master," she said and took her leave, being extra careful to hide her joy at being given the opportunity to see Cedric.
Coruscant, Jedi Temple, Master Tinn's Quarters, 39:4:10
Julia walked into her Master's quarters; he was already settling in for their morning meditation. "Good morning," he said.
"Good morning," she sighed.
He looked at her for a moment. "You seem rather deflated, Padawan."
She ducked her head, and sighed again. "Leia is at the Healer's her twins, and Mom and Dad are both gone, and there's no one at home."
"To share your news with, you mean?" he asked, bemused.
She nodded slowly. "Or just to be there. It doesn't feel right to be there with just Threepio."
"The Council recalled the family with the exception of Luke and Jasmine, someone should be home tomorrow, though truthfully, Cedric was already on his way, and we are uncertain as to what may or may not have happened to Elizabeth."
Julia frowned. "What do you mean?"
"At about the time that she should have been arriving at Iktotch a slaving ship raided the planet, or that is our best guess of what happened."
"So, she's missing too?" Julia wailed.
"Possibly. I am sorry to be the bearer of yet more bad news."
"It's not your fault, Master," she dismissed his concern, already concentrating on the issue rather than her personal concerns. "Does this mean staying home and spending time at the Council rather than going to help Biggs put Renegade Squadron together?"
"For me; you may go, and since you are going you can stress the importance of having the second squadron formed up as soon as humanly possible."
"I'll tell Biggs, but I think he's of the opinion that right is better than fast."
"They have had over a week to evaluate the various recruits; Dreis has made his selections, leaving everyone else available for Biggs. Knowing that we will need their services soonest should aid him in finding the proper mix of individuals."
"Yes, Master," she agreed without really understanding the nuances of what he was talking about.
"And those he does not retain should be sent to the pilot training program here. They seem to all be proficient enough for that duty."
New Ralltiir, landing pads, Burgeoning Thunder, 39:4:10
Mara sat in the cockpit of the Burgeoning Thunder and waited for her clearance. She left the planet of New Ralltiir and their investigation in the capable hands of Corran Halycon, of Knight of the Corellian Temple.
Working with CorSec made him more than qualified to lead an investigation, and she doubted he would need more than himself and the initiate that he had brought with him. She still didn't feel quite right leaving the planet in Anakin's ship. Her father-in-law was spectacularly protective of his ships, and in times past, he'd almost demanded that he be able to personally inspect every ship that carried one of his children. He was past that particular quirk, though she didn't know if it was Obi-Wan, Yoda or Padmé who had talked him out of that as a full-time occupation.
Clearance came in and she did her flight checks and started off.
Millenium Falcon, en route to an unnamed system, 39:4:10
Jasmine stared out of the cockpit window into hyperspace. It wasn't particularly interesting; she'd seen hyperspace almost as much as she had real space in her short life, and there were some short periods where she saw space more than she saw groundside. "So, what has you thinking this hard, young Padawan?" Luke asked her gently.
"This thing with Ci feels big. but I'm missing pieces of the puzzle to know what makes this so important."
"I agree, but could you elaborate on your feelings?'"
"Whoever took Ci had to know she was at least a Jedi, that is big enough, and while Mom and Dad have done their best to keep us out of the spotlight, once we become Padawans...it's like the packing foam is off as far as the newsies are concerned. I'd say it's likely they know exactly who she is and they haven't messed their pants about it," she said.
"A crude if accurate summation," Luke said with a wry grin at his sister. "Theories as to why they took her?"
Jasmine frowned in thought, "Just elimination of possibilities, Master. They haven't asked for ransom, and if that is what they were after they would've already."
"True, but it is well know that the Order doesn't negotiate with terrorists or kidnappers," Luke said.
"Yes, there also hasn't been any claims of having killed her to build their reputation," Jasmine said.
"Yes, but if she was accidentally killed, they may not want to pull primetime holonet time about it either," Luke said.
"We'd both know if she was seriously hurt or dead, Master," Jasmine said a bit tartly.
"True, but as a Jedi you need to consider all possibilities. You won't always have the family connection to people you are trying to help," Luke said.
"I understand, Master, but what I said holds true and we haven't kept secret that we'd know if anything happened to anyone in the family, and any sleemo that would seek to harm us know that the entire Order would drop everything to bring them to justice and you'd have to be insane to want that kind of attention," Jasmine said.
"It could be someone that crazy," Luke said.
"Possible, but my feelings tell me this was done by a large, well organized force which reduced the likelihood of lone action, besides it would take a well-thought-out trap to get Ci, or an incredible amount of luck. She's not in Uncle Obi-Wan or Dad's league in getting out of sprung traps, but she's still a Skywalker," Jasmine said sagely.
"Point taken, Little Bit," Luke said with a grin as he tousled Jasmine's hair.
"At least she has help, now," Jasmine sighed, causing Luke to raise his eyebrows.
"Help?" Luke asked.
"Yes, the source of the help is fuzzy, but the intention is clear," Jasmine said.
Luke closed his eyes and found what his Padawan meant. "Well, this is a bit of good news."
Twisted Mark, en route to a their planetary base, 39:4:10
Gethor Alenx had sent all the Padawans to bed, and he and the rest of AS-5 were sitting in the lounge of their craft. "What reason do we believe that the Council has for recalling its wayward Padawan?"
"Her parents' death," Nasir said quietly. "They were killed along with some others, unnamed, in an explosion out on the Outer Rim."
Gethor sighed. "Wonderful," he spat out. "Are we certain?"
"That that is why she was recalled? No, but it seems likely," Davron Michears said.
"Does the Council even know that she's gone?" Laren Crenafta asked.
"It is unlikely that they have missed her absence, though the significance of it may have escaped them so far."
"What about whoever was breaking through the barriers we had around her while we were on Coruscant?"
"She said that was her sister; I don't know how close she got to actual information before we quashed the connection. Just that could have been enough for the Council to decide she had been taken."
"Should we just drop her at the nearest planet? I know we need a healer, but this one?"
"I don't know that we will get a chance at another one," Gethor said. "And perhaps one of the Padawans can pick up on the techniques quickly, making it unnecessary for us to continue to hold her."
"Let's hope that you are right, Gethor, for all our sakes."