TREK WARS: Episode II
Through the Dark Mirror, by William V. Speer, III
In a time yet to come, in a future of intertwined fates…
War has engulfed the two great galaxies of the known Universe. Starship armadas clash with Dagger-class Star Destroyers. Starfleet officers and battle droids lay waste to whole cities as they battle. Freedom's price weighs heavily upon the Federation as the Fourth Imperial Sith Empire grows, and its leaders grow more ambitious and treacherous with each conquest.
Prince Rahtek, Left Hand of the Sith, and Dark Lord of Imperial Qo'Onos has begun an unthinkable quest to destroy all Klingons in the Federated Galaxy using his endless supply of Jem'hadar warriors. The Intergalactic Honor Force, led by his vengeance-bound brother King Mahtek, opposes him at every turn.
Dark Lords Krygat and Mergmer rampage through the Galaxy of the Force with their droid armies, hunting Jedi wherever they find them, ever seeking the life of Oben-kade Skywalker.
Seeking to consolidate their own empire, powerful Earthling politicians have begun to recruit greedy and murderous humans who share their dream of a Terran Empire in Federation Space. They strike swiftly in the heart of both galaxies, seeking to destabilize the fragile trust between the Federation and the Jedi. New terrible weapons are developed in the silent cold war developing between Earth and Coruscant, even as they join forces against the Sith Lords.
To this end a new Right Hand of the Sith has arisen in the Galaxy of the Force, preparing to unleash a horrible new power against the free peoples of the Federation and conquer the Galaxy of the Force once and for all…
The Wraith's Skull was a masterpiece of engineering. The ship was a Romulan Warbird, covered in black stealth alloys. The ship was stealthy to more than just technology. The Dark Side of the Force hid its every move through space from normal human perception. In the seedy silence of the Outer Rim a creature of unmistakable malice and ill will looked down with disdain upon his pure victim…
Darth Grift stood over an energy chamber sunk down into the floor. Inside its ray shield was an orb of blue light, known to Bajorans as a prophet of the Wormhole.
"Blasphemer, stop!" said the blue orb of light's telepathic voice. "None may defile the Prophets and go unpunished."
"Blasphemy…" the dark robed figure chuckled, "Would require you to be a god." He removed his hood revealing his Romulan features, covered in red and black ritual Sith tattoos. "I will become the new lord of the space and time, once I absorb you and the rest of your siblings into the dark matter reactors."
From high above in the ship's air ducts they were being watched. Seventeen-year-old Kelle Calrissian, a private gunslinger was on a mission. The dark matter reactor was her father's newest pet project. Calrissian Defense and Industry had designed it as part of an above-top-secret black operations project for Jedi Lord Dhalgahar Fel. Now Kelle was here to take it back.
She held a scoped Klingon disruptor rifle to the thin red visor that covered her mocha brow and hazel eyes. The digital, holographic target glowed red on the Romulan Sith Lord's chest. She squeezed the trigger. A bolt of orange energy flashed across the large gap between them, only to shatter against a crimson lightsaber which snapped on at the last second. She fired a rapid stream of blasts, which Darth Grift caught on the round edge of his laser blade, until he began to whip his lightsaber around in forward arcs, sending her barrage back towards her.
The multiple impacts of the reflected disruptor blasts tore the air ducts apart and Kelle rolled out of the charred metal tube, breaking her fall with the pair of anti-gravity boots she was wearing. She flew around the Romulan Dark Lord in a wide circle as she whipped out a pair of phaser pistols and opened fire. The Sith Lord swatted her blue and red bolts aside one-handed as he waved to the containment field holding the wormhole alien with the Force. The floor beneath the Bajoran Prophets opened up to reveal a pool of swirling black vortex energy. The ray shielded prison began to slowly lower itself down towards the swirling vortex. As Kelle's attention was distracted by the imperiled prophet, Grift sent a blast of Dark Side power from his free hand.
Kelle somersaulted as she landed behind a large terminal, narrowly dodging the blast of Force lightning which clipped off one of her anti-gravity boots, sending it flying across the large metal room.
"You can't escape me, fool!" Darth Grift spat with a growl. He raised both of his arms in a gesture of power. Suddenly the ceiling above Kelle Calrissian began to crack. With a shriek she rolled to the side just before the metal plates could crush her.
Grift motioned again and the railing she landed on was torn apart from its fixings on the wall. Kelle held tightly to the balcony's hand railing as the circular porch dangled from the wall. She tapped a com-badge on her chest, panting for breath, "Antilles, now!"
Suddenly a hooded and cloaked figure bolted out from the darkness surrounding the dark matter reactor and the wormhole prophet with unnatural speed. His feet were covered in the same anti-gravity boots that Kelle wore. He was wielding a pair of lathe weapons; a Klingon bat'leth blade in his right hand and an Amban phase-pulse staff in his left. He wore a breastplate of Mandalorian armor atop a brown cloak. Across his eyes was another red visor like Kelle's. His name was Kalbar Antilles, Mandalorian mercenary working as a privateer agent for CDI – with a very personal grudge against the Sith.
He jammed the Amban staff into one of the terminals pulling the wormhole alien into the dark matter vortex, stopping the prophets decent into the dark matter. The containment field's controls sputtered and sparked as the ray shields flickered out of existence.
The blue orb took flight across the room towards where Kelle Calrissian was dangling from the broken balcony. She screamed as she lost her grip. As she grasped wildly she was shocked to realize she had grabbed the Bajoran orb. The sphere of energy was so solid that she was able to pull herself up on its weight.
Kelle took a few deep breaths and bowed. "Thank you, Honored Prophet."
"The will of the Force requires no gratitude." The wormhole alien's response came as a telepathic voice in Kelle's head.
"Come on we have to find a way out of here." She trotted toward the far side of the balcony searching with her eyes. "There must be some place where the ray shielding is weak."
Darth Grift brought down his red lightsaber upon Kalbar Antilles' head. To his surprise his saber was stopped by the shining blade of a Klingon bat'leth. "Surprised, Darksider? We will have our revenge! Mando'a has named its judgment upon you!" Kalbar said, struggling against Zift's Romulan strength which held his beskar-iron bat'leth at bay with only one hand.
"Impudent fools, blind to the power of the Force," Grift retorted. "You Mandalorian scum really think you'll be safe from the wrath of the Dark Side?! If the Federation were what it should be you and all your kind would have been wiped out decades ago!"
The Romulan Sith Lord looked up to see Kelle and the wormhole prophet search for an exit. He tapped his own com-badge, with his freed hand. His badge was in the shape of a globe of Earth with a sword going through it. "Troopers, the wormhole orb has escaped! Put up the dampening field and bring her back to me at all costs." Kalbar Antilles flew around the Romulan Sith Lord with his anti-gravity boots viciously assaulting his red energy sword with the Mando-iron bat'leth. Darth Grift countered with wide, bold strikes, all of them jabbing towards Kalbar's throat, hungry for the kill.
Kelle heard the Dominion troopers' boots storming into the room on both sides of the balcony on which Kelle stood with her phaser guns at the ready, the wormhole alien floating next to her. The new face of the Dark Side was clad in the same segmented white armor as generations of the Imperial stormtroopers before them. Their helmets were V-shaped at the top, made to fit to the Jem'hadar warriors' spiked, reptilian heads. In their hands they carried staff-like, anti-coagulant pulse-loaded rifles.
As the horde of Dominion troopers came closer, Kelle took off her remaining anti-gravity boot and held it over her shoulder, like a bazooka. She clicked a button on the side of it and let it fly into the crowd of storm troopers. Just as it kicked a few of them down, slowing the phalanx's advance, Kelle shot the boot with her phaser. The explosion ripped a hole in the hull of the ship, vaporizing most of the Dominion troopers. The remaining troopers coming toward Kelle were forcefully pulled out into space by the rush of air coming from the hull breach. Kelle held tightly to the balcony railings wrapping her wrists around them.
Kelle turned to the orb floating next to her. "Go!" she yelled over the blustering air, as the decompressed wind pulled away her pistols. "Get out before the ray shields recover!"
"No one escapes me!" Darth Grift roared. With a wide motion of his arm, he slammed Kalbar into the wall with the Force. He fell unconscious. Using both hands he blasted the small orb of light with Force lightning. Emergency double doors closed up the hole in the Wraith's Skull's hull as Grift's Dark Side powers grabbed the wormhole alien.
"No! Honored Prophet!" Kelle called out in panic. Before she could do anything to help the wormhole prophet, Jem'hadar troopers emerged from the door behind her. She spun around positioning herself between their long staff weapons. She struck with Teras Kasi power strikes to their necks and mid-sections, cracking their white armor and bones with her palms and fists. She used painful, bone-breaking locks and grapples as well as graceful spinning strikes to fell over half a dozen Dominion troopers. She looked down to see the plight of the wormhole prophet.
Darth Grift had forced the wormhole alien down into the dark matter reactor with his Sith powers. Kelle's face contorted with horror as she watched the small black hole ripped the small energy life form apart. The vortex began to stretch into a vertical rift and glow.
"Now witness my true power!" Darth Grift announced. The dark matter became a large trapezoidal doorway. Through it one could see armies and armies of stormtroopers. Kelle studied them closely as she quickly grabbed for one of the fallen Dominion troopers disruptor staffs. They were solid black stormtroopers clad with the same badge that Darth Grift wore – the one depicting the Earth with a sword impaling it.
"Oh my God!" Kelle breathed.
"This is the vanguard of the true form of the Federation – the glorious Terran Empire, led by us, the Imperial Brotherhood of Darkness!" The Romulan Sith Lord cackled madly. "In my world, bleeding hearts like yourselves were done away with long ago. Humanity in both galaxies saw its true potential under the watchful eyes of the Sith!"
"No!" Kelle screamed. She opened fire with her staff weapon. The sun-like bolts shattered harmlessly against Darth Grift's lightsaber. With a Force motion he knocked the disruptor staff out of Kelle's hands. Making a fist he began to choke Kelle with the Dark Side lifting her high into the air. The strength of his Force choke broke the mechanism holding her visor to her face.
"Best of all," he gloated as she coughed and struggled, "Your Qo'Onos and Romulus are already ours. Earth will be next. Very soon now, there will be no place to escape the power of the Dark Side!"
A few feet from him dark troopers began emerging from the dimensional portal he created out of the wormhole alien's energies. "Come!" he said, "Come forth to your new world to conquer!" He looked up at Kelle who struggled to stay conscious. "I thought it might amuse you to witness the beginning of our ascendancy – before you die!"
Suddenly, Kalbar Antilles' Amban staff began to beep. Before Darth Grift could respond it exploded sending him and the Terran Imperial troopers flying. Kelle plummeted toward the ground. Kalbar swooped through the smoke with his flight boots and caught Kelle Calrissian as she fell.
Kalbar looked back into the thick smoke. The dark matter had warped into a black hole filled with plasma fire. The dark troopers screamed as they scramble with futile effort to escape the deadly vortex. The Wraith Skull's was coming apart all around them.
"Call your dad's new droid," he said to Kelle as they bolted up away from the flames. "This place ain't gonna hold up for much longer."
Kelle pressed a button on her wrist. "Good thing you convinced me to stow that thing along with us."
Far below, a large metallic monstrosity erupted through the floor boards. The Basilisk 9400 Droid Craft stood 25 feet tall on its hind legs. Several desperate Dominion troopers blasted it to no avail against its thick, beskar armor. The Basilisk stomped on several of the troopers as it went down into its four-legged prowling mode. Two chain guns sprouted from its shoulders and ripped through the Dominion troopers' ranks.
Kelle clicked her wristband again. The Basilisk transformed, tucking in its arms and hind legs as it took to the air. Its head opened up, revealing itself to be a cockpit. It flew over to Kelle Calrissian and Kalbar Antilles and they jumped into it. The cockpit closed around them and Kelle took the controls.
As she did so, several large energy pellets hit the ship, rocking it slightly. Kelle looked down to see Jem'hadar setting up tripod cannons to bring the ship down. She squeezed the joystick's trigger. The Basilisk's chain guns ripped open a new hole in the hull and she took the ship through it. "Switching to impulse drive," she announced, running her fingers through her short spiky hair.
"Hyper-core is online," Kalbar said, "warp-light in five, four, three, two…"
"They've got to know, Antilles," Kelle said, "The whole Universe has got to know what that monster is planning."
Space before them stretched into brilliant star lines as the Basilisk Droid Craft disappeared.
Back inside the rapidly disintegrating Wraith's Skull, Jem'hadar attended to their Romulan Dark Lord in the hangar bay. His right hand had been vaporized in the explosion leaving only a smoking stump which he barely seemed to notice. "Lord Grift," a Jem'hadar clone commander said, being decorated with red shoulder pads and a cape, "Our ship is ready."
"Our ship?" Grift snarled as he reached out with the Force. His intent, hateful stare began to choke the Jem'hadar clone until he finally collapsed motionless on the floor.
Darth Grift looked over at the dark troopers from the Mirror Universe and smiled. He motioned to them and they entered the large shuttle together. "Commander Krill," he spoke now to their commander who wore a dark blue cape and shoulder pads. "Send out the signal to the Federation traitor. Continue with our special operation… on Earth." The small shuttle exited the Wraith's Skull as it imploded into plasma dust. "Take us to the rendezvous point, Krill." Darth Grift smiled wickedly. "Everything is going according to plan."
Captain Jill Hannah stood with a gleam in her eye a she ascended in the lift leading toward her new command, the Enterprise-M. She had gotten over the dismay of commanding a ship of the almost the same exact model as the one that had been destroyed with nearly all of her previous crew members. This new Federation flagship had been dubbed the first of the new Democrator-class starships. The ship resembled a Star Destroyer turned side ways so the widest parts of the wedge shape appeared vertical to the eye instead of lateral. The triangle's point converged with the edge of the oval-shaped section so that the entire ship resembled a Starfleet insignia with a disk set inside. On either side of the saucer section were four warp-nacelles held at an X-configuration on diagonal pylons from the saucer section. To be sure she was beautiful.
Emeraldis Leth, a master engineer from Coruscant, had created The Enterprise-M's ground breaking flash-warp system. The technology behind it was so top-secret that only the astromech droid, now the Enterprise-M's engineering officer, BEREE 496 was permitted to maintain her engines by Starfleet Command. The entire new crew was waiting inside. All that was needed now was the order to take her out of dry dock.
The lift door opened. She was met by the smiling gaze of Commander Kyriol Rola who saluted her proudly. "At ease, Number One," she said. "How is she?"
Kyriol chuckled, "Captain, I have never seen anything like this ship."
"And the engineering decks?"
Kyriol sighed, forming a half-smile. "I can't tell you how it works but I do know what it does. This ship will take us from hear to the Klingon Neutral Zone in a little over thirty minutes."
Jill raised her eyebrows, "Thirty standard minutes?"
Kyriol nodded, beaming. "Zero temporal-spatial erosion."
"Impossible!" Jill smiled. "Anything over warp nine can cause a dangerous spatial distortion if overused – that is first-grade knowledge, Kyriol."
"They say this is the ship to rewrite the books, Captain." Captain Hannah looked at her wryly "I promise!" Kyriol replied throwing up her hands.
"I will believe it…" The doors to the lift opened to the most impressive bridge she had ever seen, "… when I see it." Jill was left breathless as she entered the command center of the new Enterprise. The consoles were pristine and shiny. The terminals themselves were only thin rails, their controls floated above them in totally holographic displays.
BEREE 496's red eye scope looked her up and down before announcing, "Captain on deck!" in her synthesized voice.
The crew stood to their feet saluting with smiles. Jill surveyed them all with her eyes. Her padawan and science officer, Shody Briggston stood beaming the brightest. He bowed slightly, a gesture which Jill returned. At tactical she noticed Viridian 88 standing in a Starfleet uniform at attention.
"Viridian?" she asked.
"Lt. Commander Senior Grade," Viridian replied. She held out a PADD.
"Transfer from … Intergalactic Honor Force, New Qo'Onos." Jill was stunned.
"Aye, Captain. His Majesty, King Mahtek believes that I will best serve the Klingon people here in Starfleet where I began."
"Welcome aboard, Viridian." They shook hands. Jill was taken aback by the strength of the young girl's grip. Over the year and a half they had been apart, she had forgotten about the extra strength given to Borg by their exoskeletons.
At communications was a blue skinned woman with a pair of long tentacles for hair. Jill shook her hand. "Ensign Shayla-Noosri, at your service," said the Twi'lek bowing.
Jill was shocked to see the woman at the helm standing next to Shayla. She was the mirror image of Sheila Bray, the Trill who died when the Diamond Sword was destroyed. "I am Felicia Bray…" she could see the emotions in Jill's face. "Bray was bonded to my twin sister, Sheila." Her white hair was in long braids above her symbiotic skin spots as opposed to the short shocks of hair that Sheila wore.
Jill nodded, "She served with the utmost honor." Jill swallowed hard choking back the memories. "Welcome aboard, Ensign Bray."
Detaching herself from the painful memories of her last starship command posting, she stood near her post at the center seat of the Enterprise next to Commander Rola with her padawan, Shody Briggston, standing just behind her, parallel to BEREE 496.
"Welcome all of you, aboard the United Federation Starship Enterprise, Mark M. Each of us was chosen to become a part of this ship and its grand legacy for a purpose. This starship, bearing this name holds the hope for freedom in not one, but two galaxies. This ship and its advances – advances so precious that only the Black Berry can even know of them – represents a new hope for the Universe.
"As I speak, the Dark Lords of the Sith are making their plans for the conquest of this very planet – my home – on which we now stand. Right now, at this very moment Prince Rahtek is carrying out a genocidal war against the Klingons – his own people, who have been scattered through out the Universe by his treachery. A year and a half ago I fought against Admiral Kilroy Carn who was revealed to be the Dark Master of the Sith himself, and he was the very head of Starfleet Command. Even now, some of you have heard of this so-called Terran Empire spreading its poison throughout the Federation. Well I can tell you this – they stop here and now – with us!" Jill nodded to Kyriol.
"Brave and valiant crew of the Enterprise," Kyriol said, "Welcome to the war."
No sooner had Kyriol said those words did the command center of the dry dock holding the starship they were in explode with a brilliant flash.
"Red alert!" Jill said as they all scrambled to their posts, "All hands to battle stations! Shayla,"
"Captain," the Twi'lek, replied sitting at her console in front of the bridge, waiting for her first order as communications officer of the Enterprise.
"Give me a full scan of the entire sector. I want to know about any unusual chatter on any frequency."
"Aye, Captain," she responded.
"Captain!" Felicia Bray sudden shouted, "Unidentified attack craft; TIE configuration coming in at mark 2-3-4-5-0!"
"Phaser banks are armed and ready, Captain," Viridian calmly informed. "The new targeting system is fully functional. I will have firing solution on all targets in 15 seconds."
"On screen," Jill said. They could see about a dozen TIE fighters bolting through the blue picturesque clouds. At once, they began strafing the dry dock holding the Enterprise with their signature green laser bolts. Large explosions filled the view with fire and smoke. Emergency droids flickering with red and blue lights, flew out of small ports all over the dry dock and began dousing the raging plasma fires with flame retardant.
The TIE fighters were not the droid TIE Hunters of before. These starfighters consisted of the TIE fighter's spherical cockpit, surrounded by circular axis studded with missile hard points. The missile axis circled around the cockpit on its own orbit as the TIE fighter flew.
"What are those?" Bray exclaimed. She checked the sensors. "These new Imperial sentries… they have no gravity center. They're perfectly spherical globes."
An alarm began to blare on the bridge. "Captain, one of the TIE globes has missile lock on us," Viridian announced. "We are unable to evade."
"Bray, get us out of this dry dock," Jill said. "We are sitting ducks this way."
"Too late, Captain," Viridian said, tapping frantically away at her holographic terminals ethereal buttons. "The TIE globe at mark 0-2-4-5 is firing." The TIE globe nearest to the Enterprise released four missiles from its spinning outer axis. "Shields are locked down by the magnetic docking fields. Holo-kinetic defensive countermeasures are too slow." To everyone's surprise two assimilator tendrils extended into the computers hologram emitter. Her gray-green irises filled with glowing circuitry.
The Enterprise-M's weapons came alive. An amber phaser beam sliced through the four missiles, vaporizing each in rapid succession. With bright blue flashes a spray of quantum torpedoes flew out from the Enterprise and smashed into four of the TIE fighters. Explosions of blue plasma steam consumed the four TIE globes instantly. The remaining starfighters circled back and retreated towards space.
"Nice shooting, Viridian," Jill said turning back to the Borg Jedi plugged into the ship's tactical computer. She turned to the caramel-skinned Trill driving the Enterprise. "Bray, get after them," Jill said. "I want to know where these bastards came from."
"Captain…" Ensign Noosri looked as if she had seen a ghost. "The TIE globes were not shielded and I was able to hack into their comm. Relay correspondence. I've traced their communications… and it's coming from one of ours."
Jill grimaced. "What do you mean one of ours?"
Bray suddenly shouted, "Incoming object!" They all lurched as the ship rumbled around them.
"BEREE, damage report!"
"No damage to the Enterprise, Captain," Berry replied her eye-scope rapidly scanning the terminal in front of her floating body. "The object did not strike the ship."
Ensign Bray worked with her holographic terminal. "Captain, it's the dry dock. Someone has launched a projectile containing series 4 buzz droids into the dry dock." She grimaced in frustration. "The dock is dead, Captain. I can't move the magnetic field clamps – not even the emergency code is working. The buzz droids have shut down everything."
"Is there any way to free the ship, manually?" Jill offered.
"We could go to impulse drive… but the plasma exhaust would destroy the entire dry dock and every ship in it." Bray's eyes softened as she looked out over the view of the wounded people being carried of by medical droids amidst the flames and wreckage. "Almost everyone in the dry dock would certainly die if we attempted it."
"Captain," Noosri said holding an earpiece beneath her right hair-tentacle, "We are being hailed. It's the USS Flamberge."
Jill thought for a moment. "Shody you and BEREE take the emergency loading tubes onto the dry dock."
"Yes, Captain – I mean, Master," Shody replied.
"Series 4 buzz droids are large and violent but they are not very smart. They have to still be plugged in to the main computer terminals to keep the dry dock inoperable. They'll most likely be locked in secluded compartment in engineering. That's where you'll start looking." Jill turned to Noosri. "You have their com-badge signals?"
"Yes, Captain," The Twi-lek ensign replied. "I also have their vitals on sonar. If their blood pressure raises half-a-heartbeat I can tell from here."
"Go," Jill said, "May the Force be with you."
Jill waited until Shody and BEREE 496 had entered the turbolift. She took a deep breath. "On screen," Jill said.
On the view screen appeared a Starfleet captain the same age as Jill Hannah. He had brown hair and fair skin. He sat in a center seat surrounded by stormtroopers, instantly recognizable by their white, segmented armor. He was bleeding from the head. His hands were cuffed together with brass binders.
"This is… Nicholas Paulsen," he struggled to breathe, being awfully scuffed up. "I am Captain of the Flamberge."
"Oh my God…" Bray gasped.
"As you can see… I am no longer in command of my vessel. I have been asked to tell you: Captain Hannah that your genetic structure is vital to the safety and security of the Planet Earth. I am to — Oh, hell with this!" Captain Paulsen was struck hard in the chest by one of the stormtroopers blaster rifles. He coughed and wheezed. He glared at someone off screen. "You scared to face her, yourself, Fruge?"
Another, younger man with dusty blond hair walked in the view screen's range. "Hi, Captain." He said chuckling. "I am Wilson Fruge, and as you can see, I am now commander of the Flamberge. Now before you start screaming accusations of treason let me tell you that every…" he slapped on of the stormtroopers' shoulder affectionately, "…single…" he slapped another shoulder, "…one of these guys is full-blooded, pure blooded human. Just like me – more importantly, just like you."
"I am a Starfleet captain, Lt. Commander Wilson Fruge," Jill retorted. "You are a terrorist and a murderer."
"I prefer the word forward thinker," Fruge said smiling wickedly. "See I understand that the nature of the Universe is summed up in the survival of the fittest. The weak do not survive and they have no right to do so. To that end humanity must get stronger. The key to this strength is for us to put aside all the silly hindrances of due process and the rules of war. We must take off the gloves with these people not treat them like pets."
"And by these people…" Captain Paulsen seethed. "You mean all of the non-human members of our crew that you and these soulless, war constructs slaughtered!"
"It had to be done!" Fruge shouted. "In order for the galaxies to learn to respect us they must first fear our power." He pointed to Jill waving his finger. "That is where you come in."
"I will never join you," Jill said coldly.
"Why not?" Fruge motioned to Kyriol. "You think you can trust her. A filthy sniveling Romulan, whose people are so shameless that they fled their once beautiful empire just to tear it in half by joining this weak and gutless Federation?"
"We sided with freedom and justice…" Kyriol seethed.
He motioned to the Trill and Twi'lek at the ships CONN. "And these two… You're surrounded, by weaklings Captain. I'm trying to free you from your servitude to these weak creatures parasitically living off of our glorious blue world's abundance."
"You're disgusting, Fruge," Paulsen cut in. "Ever since the Academy you've been nothing but a cheat, a liar, and a consummate bastard. History mocks fools such as you; so convinced of your own superiority that you never see…" Paulsen was cut off in his words by a purple lightsaber blade burning through his lungs. Fruge snapped off the purple energy blade and let Captain Paulsen crash to the floor with a thud – dead.
Fruge sat down in the freshly murdered captain's chair. He held up the lightsaber hilt he had just used to kill his commanding officer. "You remember this one, Captain?" He asked wiggling the saber hilt a bit. Jill's chest began to heave with rage. "Yeah, you remember. The sword that sent Jack tumbling down the hill to Jill…"
"Cut communications –" Jill began no longer able to stomach the rage building inside of her.
"You don't want to do that, Captain," Fruge said just as Ensign Noosri's hand came close to the holographic button. "The same buzz droids that have you all locked up safety in dry dock also have a special payload attached to them."
"What have you done?" Jill demanded.
"Simple – I'm showing you why you should be with us." Fruge replied. Jill's eyes widened. "Lord Metris had plans for you, Captain. Those plans are still the most important thing in this Universe to human ascendancy."
"Never…" Jill seethed.
"Now, now – don't be hasty." Fruge sighed. "Jedi are so stubborn. You always need just a little prodding to do the right thing." He motioned with his hand and the view screen turned to a long shot over the dry dock they were trapped in. A black swirling cloud was swirling inwardly between the decks of the dry dock, a few hundred feet to the starboard of the Enterprise.
Captain Hannah tapped her com-badge, "Briggston, talk to me."
Shody's voice came back in. "Captain…" his voice was obscured by static, "The buzz droids were some kind of bombs. They are releasing huge amounts of dark matter. I don't think… we… should be here, Captain. It's spreading rapidly! Everyone who touches it…. We've got a lot of casualties, Master."
"Still think the Force can save you, Captain," Fruge scoffed, "The magic, invisible ray shield that surrounds us and binds us. Rubbish! Power without passion is nothing. This is a weapon we stole from them – the Jedi Galaxy!"
"You're lying," Jill said, he heart pounding in her chest. "You are nothing but a power-hungry terrorist!
"And they're not? They have been dealing under the table from the beginning. It is always about power and any species that wants it for their people is more than welcome to join us. Those who oppose the will of power will be crushed. Three minutes, Captain Hannah – that is how long you have, before our plans crush you." The screen went to an insignia that made the entire crew of the Enterprise cringe. It was the Earth's globe with a sword going through it – the symbol of the Terran Empire.
Jill ran her hand over her face. "How did they get so close to us without us seeing this coming?"
Kyriol shook her head. "The Dark Side is always on the other side of the mirror, Captain."
Jill looked to the front of the bridge. "Bray do you have them?"
"Yes, Captain, but the dark matter is making it difficult," Felicia Bray informed. "The dark matter anomaly its diameter is spreading like a wild fire. With each atom it comes in contact with those atoms become dark matter in… just under a minute."
"Lock onto to BEREE and Briggston," Jill said, "Beam them directly here to the bridge."
"Aye, Captain," Bray replied. "Energize…" A few seconds later Shody and Berry materialized in a cloud of bluish white light.
Shody stood frozen in panic for a few seconds, his white-bladed lightsaber fully extended as he stood in a fighting pose. He shook the panic off of his sweat-beaten face as he retracted his laser sword. He turned to the Captain. "I've never seen… anything like this, Master. I felt… pure evil on the other side." Shody's expression was one of shock and horror.
"Other side?" Jill grimaced. "Other side of what?"
The ship rumbled again. Noosri worked frantically with her controls. "Captain!" she half-shrieked. "Our sensors are being overwhelmed with communications, coming from inside the dark matter field."
"What frequency?" Jill asked seeing the horror in her communications officer's blue face.
"Imperial frequency, Captain," Noosri replied.
The ship vibrated horribly around them. "Captain, the navi-computer is going insane," Bray said. "It's telling me that another ship is coming out of the dock."
"Hail them," Jill said, "Maybe one of ours broke free."
"No, Captain, it's coming out of the dark matter," Bray replied. "It's almost… three kilometers long."
The ship lurched even harder. Everyone held on to their consoles to keep from being floored. Sparks burst from the lights in the walls. "Damage report."
BEREE's red eye-scope looked up from her terminals. "The structural integrity of the dry dock is collapsing. Our impulse nacelles are now free of the dry dock's magnetic clamps."
"Ensign Bray, take us out." Jill yelled over the rumbling.
"Aye, Captain." The Enterprise-M turned its saucer section vertically as Felicia Bray skillfully turned the starship between the crumbling wreckage of the shipyard. The V-shaped body of the Enterprise, behind the saucer section, was barely ahead of a wall of flame which consumed the inner workings of the dry dock. The plasma fire shot out of the long tunnel leading out of the dry dock as the Enterprise bolted out of the doomed shipyard.
Shody stared into his holographic screen. "Master, the dark matter…"
"I sense it, too, Ensign…" Jill said. "The Dark Side."
"Captain, the dark matter vessel," Viridian informed, "we have a visual on it."
On the view screen appeared a large Star Destroyer, solid black with a saucer section where a normal Star Destroyer's bridge would be. Metal shrieked and cracked as the large ship exited the dark matter portal. Exiting, it tore through the spires of the city surrounding the Federation shipyard. Thousands of people of all different species ran screaming in terror as smoke, fire, and rubble fell down on top of them.
"Monstrous!" Noosri exclaimed. The dark vessel was at least twice as long as the Enterprise-M. The wedge-like vessel turned to face the Enterprise.
"Battle Stations," Jill ordered, "Raise shields, lock phasers and quantum torpedoes."
A blip on her screen caught Shayla-Noosri's eye. "That thing… is hailing us, Captain."
"On screen." Jill ordered. Her eyes widened. Her lips parted. She felt like her lungs would collapse from the sheer weight of the horror she was experiencing.
The woman sitting at the center seat of the opposite ship was almost her mirror image. Her hair was black where Jill's was blonde. Half of her face was covered in red and black Sith tattoos. Her uniform was a black version of the blue one Jill wore. The Starfleet com-badge was replaced by the globe-in-sword of the Terran Empire Insignia. On her woman's waist was an onyx black lightsaber with red grips, hooked to a red sash that was tied around her waist. Her eyes were orange, yellow, and red.
"Captain Jill Hannah," she said with sadistic satisfaction. "Our loyal servants in your world have successfully created the gateway to our universe. Now our legions will pour through in a flood of terror and drown you all in your own blood!"
"Identify yourself!" Jill demanded, shaken to her core.
"I am Darth Desprye of the Terran Empire, Commander of the ISS Geist. Pleased to meet me." Desprye chuckled. She spoke with a Mediterranean accent. "I could not ever imagine myself as weak as you."
"I could never imagine being a mass murderer for the Dark Side," Jill retorted.
"No more of these insipid platitudes. Trooper!" Desprye turned to a black-clad stormtrooper at her ship's helm. He clicked his heels in salute. "Launch the fighters and take us to warp-light." She turned back to Jill. "I'm sorry I can't stay and play with you, but we have real goals to achieve – The Sith do not settle for crossing swords with Starfleet's cheap Jedi imitations!" Desprye vanished from the viewing globe.
Her image was replaced by the imposing shape of the Geist. At once dozens of TIE fighters poured out of the black ship, all of configurations the crew of the Enterprise had never seen before. The spherical cockpits had a singular, forked, interceptor's wing protruding from the center of the starfighters' spherical bodies. The forked wings were tipped with phaser banks. The Enterprise was caught in a swarm of amber beams, blasting it all over.
"Viridian," Jill ordered, holding onto her seat as her starship lurched, "Fire at will. Bray, do not lose that ship! Lock on to her heading."
"Aye, Captain," Bray replied, typing on the holo-screen frantically. "I have it, Captain." Ensign Bray grimaced. "The dark matter capital ship is heading for… the Bajoran Wormhole." Bray turned to her captain utterly confused.
"The wormhole?" Jill pondered. "They must have business in the Delta Quadrant. Whatever it is, we can't let her escape."
"They're nearing warp-light velocity, Captain, along with the Flamberge," Bray warned.
"After them, Bray! Let's see what this bird's above-top-secret engines can really do."
"Captain!" Shayla-Noosri suddenly shouted, before the white-haired, mocha-skinned Trill next to her could send them into hyperspace. "Message from Starfleet, Captain," She pressed a holo-button.
A man with white hair appeared on the screen. "Captain Hannah. Admiral Joser, here,"
"Admiral, we were just about to pursue the attackers who…"
"Belay that Captain," the Admiral said.
"Sir that ship is responsible for thousands of…" Jill was flabbergasted.
"I know, Captain. Justice will be served – in time." Admiral Joser was joined by a Vulcan woman who made Jill Hannah's stomach turn. "She will explain things better."
"Admiral! Arrest that woman!" Jill screamed.
"Captain," the Vulcan woman spoke up, "I am not person who you think I am."
"You are Starfleet Intelligence Agent Maira Shorn," Jill seethed, pointing a stiff, accusing finger at the Vulcan Starfleet officer. "You are a Sith Lord – and you killed my husband."
"The woman who killed your husband was Imperial Secret Service Agent Maira Shorn," Jill's eyes closed briefly then softened. "She took my place in this world when I encountered refined dark matter in the Galaxy of the Force."
"The Vulcan Sith Lord who killed Jack Hannah was her Mirror duplicate, Captain." Admiral Joser said plainly.
"And the enemy commander responsible for this atrocity is…"
"…the Mirror Universe's version of you. I know." The Admiral sighed. "That's why I am reassigning you, Captain."
"Admiral with all due respect," Jill sighed, "the Enterprise is the most capable ship in the fleet to deal with this… Mirror woman."
"This is exactly why you personally are being reassigned – with your padawan, Science Officer Briggston – to the Bespin System in the Galaxy of the Force." Admiral Joser tucked his shirt, straightening out is slightly wrinkled fabric. "Commander Rola is a brilliant space combat specialist and a Jedi Knight like you. She also knows you better than anyone else. This may give her an intuitive edge against your Mirror-self."
"Thank you, Sir," Kyriol saluted the Admiral. "I will not fail the Federation."
"I know you'll do your duty, Commander Rola. May the Force be with you." He turned his gaze back to Jill. "Captain Hannah, you're to take a private vessel through the Rift. Agent Shorn will be joining you and providing a full briefing on the sensitivity and importance of this matter."
"Aye, Sir." Jill said. "When do we disembark for Bespin?"
King Mahtek's gilded battle cruiser fired three more, red photon torpedoes into the flaming Star Destroyer nearest to his ship. He sat upon the golden center seat of the cruiser as Klingons moved rapidly around him, barking orders to each other as they ran through the sparks flying from random Klingon consoles.
Mahtek grinned sadistically as the flaming Star Destroyer dove into a Jem'hadar cruiser and exploded in a brilliant wave of plasma fire. "Torok," King Mahtek said to his first officer. "Lock on to the flagship with all of our tractor beams."
Beyond the burning Star Destroyer wreckage was the K'Chula, Klingon attack cruiser and Prince Rahtek's personal flagship. The attack cruiser's hull was covered in torpedo scars and flaming phaser burns. All at once the golden battle cruiser released three green, frayed rays into the K'Chula.
Aboard the massive Klingon warship, Rahtek sat in the center throne brooding. All around him Jem'hadar stormtroopers lie dead on the floor. Fires burned all over the bridge. A reptilian soldier in an Imperial officer's uniform ran up to Rahtek's throne and knelt. His head ridges were bleeding.
"My Lord," said the wounded Jem'hadar, "We are caught in multiple tractor beams. Our shields are utterly depleted." He pulled dagger from his belt and held it to his neck. "I offer my life for this failure."
"Please, Commander…" Rahtek said as he gestured with the Force. The Jem'hadar officer began to gag as the Dark Side gripped his throat. "…allow me." The Jem'hadar collapsed as his throat made a sickening crunch. He turned to the communications console. Using his Force powers he opened a hailing channel.
A floating hologram of Mahtek appeared above Rahtek. "Your High and Exalted Majesty." Rahtek bowed mockingly. "Why do you hesitate to vaporize me?" he sneered.
"The Klingon Law of Revenge must be fulfilled!" Mahtek announced. Suddenly, Mahtek's hologram vanished. Seconds later Rahtek heard the familiar chime of a transporter beam. With a snap-hiss he activated the gold blade of his claw-like lightsaber and turned around.
Above him, on the battle deck, Mahtek stood holding his green lightsaber. He leapt down roaring crashing his blade into Rahtek's. "This is pointless, Brother. The Jem'hadar fight in honor of the Dark Master. Their gods are dead and still they fight. No matter what, they will continue the Dark Side's war for absolute supremacy for all of eternity!"
Mahtek and Rahtek hurled their bodies around with the power of the Force, spinning, twirling, and performing cartwheels and somersaults with their lightsabers. Vahtek had trained them both in a vicious, animalistic version of the ancient Ataru style. In between spinning flourishes they clawed large bloody plugs out of each others' arms and torsos. They sliced apart consoles and chairs with their laser swords as they went, acting out a duel of the fates as old as time.
Their wounds became more egregious and their movements got slower with each gash of the claw and scrape with the edge of the saber. With a final fatal spin, Mahtek's claws caught Rahteks jugulars as their sabers locked. A spray of hot magenta blood dowsed the view screen. Rahtek gurgle as he crumpled onto his ridged face.
"Justice is served," Mahtek declared to the silent, ruined bridge. He turned to the view screen and watched with pride as his fleet of Klingon warrior flooded into Qo'Onos, retaking their homeland once again.
The Bespin System was home to the industrial sector of the Galaxy of the Force. The Galactic Fealty had begun contracting large quantities of weapons, starships, and blasters over sixty years ago. Their industrial sector was massive with floating city-factories dotting the groundless skies of Bespin. It was home to the most powerful man in the most pivotal of the military industrial empires. His name was Landis Calrissian, founder and CEO of Calrissian Defense Industries.
Ever since Dhalgahar Fel rose to power, CDI had been the backbone of the Fealty of the Galactic Republic. While most citizens of the Galaxy of the Force consider CDI to be a providential establishment, tragedy more often than triumph gave it its strength.
CDI was responsible for creating the Z-wing starfighter, the first starfighter in the Galaxy of the Force to use the Federation impulse drive. The Z-wings were instrumental in the destruction of the Crimson Maw – the Imperial super weapon built by the Cardassian Sith Lord, Darth Reave, responsible for the complete and total destruction of Mandalorian Space. Ever since then CDI has supported the Mandalorian-Sith War, supplying the honor-bound mercenaries with their latest technological advancements.
Lately however, CDI has been dealing with Jedi Lord Fel's black operations. These missions were so secret and precious to galactic security that they were trusted only to family. Kalbar Antilles a Mandalorian sympathizer and a second cousin to Fel along with Kelle Calrissian, Landis' own daughter were sent on a mission of counter-intelligence.
Since the two galaxies first met a technological competition has been waged between Starfleet Intelligence and Lord Fel's secret forces. This industrial cold war has been waged underneath a thick veil of intercultural niceties, intergalactic unions and child-bearing, but most of all, a solid alliance against the Dark Lords of the Sith.
However, with the revelation of the Dark Master being of Federation origin, Lord Fel decided to take precautions against the Federation's possible fall to the Dark Side. A new technology originally designed as a purely defensive measure was made into a deadly weapon. It was meant to counter the red matter missiles of the Crimson Maw, which could create black holes in space and even destroy entire solar systems with in hours. It was now weaponized as a state of the art infiltration device. Dark matter was the very substance of the Universe, the fabric of space. If harnessed properly dark matter could create temporary wormholes through space instantly. Entire fleets could be moved from one galaxy to another with in minutes.
Dark matter engines seemed to be perfect — until they were stolen and perverted by the Sith. Kelle sat alone in her room thinking over the horror she had witnessed. By using the mystical energy particles emitted by wormhole prophets a dark matter engine could not only open portals in space, but rifts in reality, opening doors to nightmare universes where all that was good and right had gone completely awry. Kelle was a believer in the Prophets of Bajor. One of their visions saved her life when she was a young child. Now the guilt of failing to save a god from destruction ate away at her soul.
If such blasphemy was not horrible enough to bear, her father stood stoically as he gave her and Kalbar their new assignment.
"I need you to ensure this for me, Spanner," Landis' face cracked into a charm-oozing smile. He was a smooth man who had seen his share of war, business, and the business of war. His right leg was a golden-bronze cybernetic implant plated with finely spun electrum. In his left hand was a lovely gentleman's cane.
"Don't call me that," Kelle whined. "I'm not ten years old anymore, Dad." Kelle's father only called her "Spanner," when he was trying to guilt-trip or charm her into some questionable escapade for the company. She enjoyed it mostly, always preferring to think of herself as a blaster-slinger than as a "princess."
The thought of becoming a helpless damsel clad in lily white waiting for Jedi to come to the rescue made her puke. She was a fighter and she trained with the best mercenaries teams money could by. She had her principles, but she believed in getting the job done by any means necessary.
Kalbar laughed. "Always were a grease monkey, eh, Spanner?" It was no secret that Kelle Calrissian was a miracle worker when it came to machines. The nickname came from the hydro-spanner, the most useful and universal tool in either galaxy. Kelle would not be caught dead without at least one on her person.
"First I fail my destiny, now I have to commit kidnapping." Kelle ran her fingers over her eyes.
"It helps to think of it as aggressive travel planning," Kalbar chided as he sat with his muddy, booted feet propped on the expensive, Kashyyk wood boardroom table. He checked the chamber of his plasma caster. Stamped on the side of the large pistol was a bantha skull the symbol of the Mandalorian people. "Besides," he said with a shrug letting the gun dangle by its trigger loop on his finger, "We're doing this Hannah chick a favor, right?" As he leaned back precariously in the expensive chair his long, nappy, dusty blonde dreadlocks fell across his brown eyes.
"That is correct," Landis said with a slight groan as he said down slowly laying his ornate cane on the table. He spared his daughter a soft glance. "You can't underestimate the power of the Force, Kelle. You are not responsible for what happened to the wormhole alien, Honey. The Sith killed her."
"So how is kidnapping some Fed gonna help?" Kelle asked wryly letting her shoulders slump. "It won't bring her back."
"The night you came back here," Landis began, standing up to activate a hologram. "You said you saw visions of thousands of Jedi being killed by a great fog – is that correct?" Kelle nodded slowly. "We have reason to believe that this is what the prophet may have put into your mind before she died."
The 3-D hologram showed a model of a molecule. "Noi je'tat!" Kalbar exclaimed, "They've gone biological on us! Federation slimo!"
"This is the primary reason we must get Captain Jill Hannah out of Federation Space," Landis declared. "She is unique amongst the Jedi. The Dark Master knew it, and now Starfleet Intelligence is picking up where he left off."
"What is it, Dad?" Kelle asked swallowing hard, remembering flashes of her horrible nightmares about the demise of the wormhole alien. "A plague?"
"An anti-Midichlorian nanite virus – designed to kill Jedi. Her cellular structure is the key to making it work."
Kelle lowered her head. "All that hope. All of that cultural advancement – it was all a lie! They're just like the Empire."
"I told you, Kelle," Kalbar said shaking his head. "Ain't no such thing as peaceful government. There's just power and the will to fight against it. Now me and the Klingons we've got an understanding. They know the meaning of honor. The Feds… they're nothing but Imps with a savior complex."
"Hey," Landis said raising his voice to stop their tirade. "That is exactly the kind of talk we don't need right now."
"C'mon, Old Man it's obviously war. You'd have to have your head up your poodoo not to see it!"
Landis slammed his fist into the table. "Watch it, Antilles. You're still contracted to me. As long as that's the case you'll show me the proper respects in my city!"
Kalbar bowed slightly. "Just stating whose side I'm on, Old Man. That's all."
"Mister Calrissian! Oh I say, Mister Calrissian!" a shiny blue protocol droid suddenly pitter-pattered into the room. As usual the droid was fussy, prissy, and utterly panicked.
"What is it 4CH?" Landis gave the droid a scolding eye and a half-smile. "I told you this meeting is a top secret security issue."
"Yes, but look!" 4CH wailed. His navel glowed, projecting a hologram. The image was split between a two-headed newscaster and a recording of the Geist emerging from the dark matter portal.
"Oh, no," Landis sat sitting down with a look of utter despair. "We're too late. The Sith plot has begun."
"What is that thing?" Kalbar exclaimed. "A Federation Super Star Destroyer!?"
"It's from their world," Kelle informed, shaking her head in disbelief. "An entire universe of darkness is waiting to invade us." Kelle's chest was heaving. "Prophets preserve us."
"Also, sir," 4CH added, "The Federation captain you were searching for – she's here!"
"What?" Landis face contorted with confusion.
"An unregistered vessel, surnamed X-Runner is requesting permission to dock," 4CH elaborated.
"Okay…" Kalbar began rubbing his chin. "You pay me to chase down a bounty, but now the bounty comes knocking on the door… Forty percent discount – Take it or pay up the full arrangement."
"Not now, Antilles!" Landis shouted over his shoulder as he turned to answer 4CH. "Welcome our guest warmly and bring them here." He stopped the droid mid-step. "Wait, what are they – species wise?"
"A human Jedi Knight, female; a Vulcan Jedi Knight, female; and a Romulan male Jedi padawan, male."
"Three Jedi… they'll sense we're hiding something," Landis schemed aloud.
"We could just tell her," Kelle declared. All eyes were suddenly on her. "No Jedi would agree to a virus that would kill all of her people, no matter who ordered it – not if she knew what was happening."
"And what if you're wrong?" Kalbar interjected. "If she doesn't bite, it could get nasty in here real quick. They are trained Jedi … and killing a Starfleet officer is an act of war."
"It won't come to that!" Kelle said locking eyes with Kalbar.
"Even so – we'll need some place to stow her where the Feds can't find her."
Kelle narrowed her eyes, "What place?"
"A nice little spot, some place right off the equator of Hutta."
Kelle scoffed, then shook her head in surrender. "You are such a scoundrel!" Kelle stormed out of the opulent meeting room. "I'm not going to be a part of any of this. I'm going to tighten up the loose power couplings on my ship."
Kalbar looked to Landis. He shrugged a gesture of surrender to the accurate description. He shrugged back to Landis. Landis motioned to 4CH and he toddled off to invite Captain Hannah in.
This would be an interesting discussion.
The jungle world of Naro was home to one of the Intergalactic Jedi Mausoleums in the Galaxy of the Force. Sense the destruction of the Jedi Temple on Qo'Onos, the Mausoleums had become the sole nexus for contact, trade and communication between Jedi from the two galaxies. It had also become a frequent battlefield, targeted by Jem'hadar Dark Lords Krygat and Mergmer and the Imperial Droid Army.
Droids bearing various bombs and seismic charges would invade the Jedi castles under the cover of night or a diversionary battle attempting to destroy all of Jedi history into a g single attack created by their many weapons of mass destruction. Each time they were thwarted by Jedi Master Oben-kade Skywalker and his padawan, Jayrene Shayheart.
They were back to try again. Oben-kade and Jayrene stood side by side. The Jedi Master wielded his legendary swords akimbo – the green blade of Luke Skywalker and the blue blade of his father Anakin. Next to him Jayrene wielded a new saberstaff, now sporting purple blades, having ceremonially destroyed the Shadow Guard weapon that she began with.
Surrounding them were battle droids, outnumbering them ten to one. The odds were bad to be sure – for the droids.
Master Oben-Kade jumped high into the air with the Force, twirling about with his twin blades, slicing apart half a dozen battle droids in a few quick seconds as he landed. He fought his way up the spiral stone stairway leading into one of the Jedi Castle's towers. At the summit of the spiraling tower were Mergmer and Krygat – Jem'hadar clone soldiers whose rare mutation formed midichlorians in their bodies. They sought to prove themselves worthy of joining the Brotherhood of Darkness. In their hands was a bomb unlike anything Oben-kade had seen before. The device was taller than a humanoid, consisting of a cylinder filled with yellow-green fluid. Whatever it was, it filled Skywalker with dread.
Down below Jayrene covered her master's ascent blocking the hail of red laser fire that followed him up the stairs as she protected the youngling and padawans that were often stationed on Naro to study Jedi history, practice the Jedi Arts, and to learn to live independently of their Jedi masters. Now they faced real, mortal danger from a horde of Imperial battle droids. Unprepared, they huddled in fear inside the library as Jayrene counter-attacked the phalanx of battle droids.
Jayrene twirled her double-blade lightsaber with finesse and power as she lit into the droids. She became lost amidst the shower of sparks and saber-scorched droid wreckage flying in all directions around her. The battle was all but won on the ground. Jayrene looked up to see her master's situation.
Oben-kade Skywaker was battling both Jem'hadar Sith assassins at once. They each wielded double-sabers similar Jayrene's. Oben-kade twirled and slashed desperately between, throwing around his arms in wide circles, parrying the four red and orange light-blades assaulting him.
Jayrene Force-jumped up to the summit of the tower where they were. She caught Darth Mergmer's orange blades on the edge of her own purple saber-staff as she landed between them.
"Jayrene," Skywalker said between strikes, "That device is creating a great disturbance in the Force." His twin blades clashed and locked with Krygat's red double-saber. They strained against each other. Oben-kade turned his head to Jayrene. "Shut it down!"
Jayrene parried another flurry of strikes from Mermger's fiery swords. She twirled, gracefully dodging a lunge attack and Force-pushed Mermger to the ground. She approached the large cylindrical bomb to deactivate it. The Jem'hadar Sith latched a breath mask across his jaw and nose and released a barrage of Force lightning into the cylinder.
The cylinder exploded into bright green cloud engulfed the entire area and began to swirl downward from the summit. Jayrene was caught full in the face by the blast of greenish-yellow gas. The blast threw her down to the ground below. She landed in a pile of droid wreckage.
"Jayrene!" Master Oben-kade sensed the danger. Spinning as he inverted his blue lightsaber, Oben-kade sliced with an uppercut motion. His blue blade sliced clean through the center of Darth Krygat's saber staff. A deep molten gash was opened from Krygat's navel through the top of his forehead. Krygat fell lifelessly with his red saber-staff cut into two deactivated saber hilts.
Oben-kade turned around. He was made all but dizzy by a sick feeling in the Force. He looked down the tower to see the green cloud spreading in all directions. Below the youngling and padawans all seemed to be sickened by it. They wheezed and struggled, falling to the ground as the cloud swept through the library. He turned to Darth Mermger who stood laughing as Oben-kade stood seething in horror and anger.
Oben-kade pointed Luke Skywalker's green laser sword at Mergmer. "What have you done?"
"Compliments of the Federation, Jedi," Mergmer said with a sadistic smile visible even underneath his breath mask. "I am merely the deliverer of the war that has been coming for ages now."
"What do you mean?"
"This is the Federation's answer to the dark matter engine, Skywalker." Oben-kade's eyes widened. "That's right, Jedi. They know and now that they know that Jedi can be anywhere in space at any time, they want an insurance policy. This anti-Midichlorian virus is that assurance."
"Insurance policy…?" Oben-kade looked over the area. Everyone was dying. The grass began to turn brown right before his eyes. "This is the mass murder of everything!"
"Now that your eyes have been opened," Mergmer extended a hand to Oben-kade, "Join us. Give in to your anger and help us take revenge on the Federation in honor of the Dark Founder."
Oben-kade shut off his swords and holstered them on his waist. "I'll show you my anger!" Suddenly Oben-kade made two swift gestures in the Force. The first snatched the breath mask off of Mergmer's face. The second shoved him into the green cloud.
Mergmer instantly crumpled to one knee. He laughed. "It's already too late Skywalker. I can feel your anger. Soon the whole of the Galactic Fealty will feel it as well. The Federation knows that the destruction of the Midichlorians will rid them of the Force…" Mergmer wheezed. "The Senate will demand blood… All the Sith need do is sweep away the bodies when all is finished…" Megmer fell still and silent.
Oben-kade leapt down to where Jayrene lay. She heard the rhythmic breath of his mask as he approached. She could feel his anger. He looked so menacing with his breath mask beneath his hood. "Master… I'm sorry."
"Come on Jayrene," he said, "You have to fight it."
"There's no need, Master. For once I don't just know the Force…" Jayrene closed her eyes, "I … feel it!" She smiled as her body disappeared into the Force.
Oben-kade walked into the communications room in the center of the castle. The planet was disturbingly quiet. The only sound made was the sound of his breath mask. He activated the holo-com.
Jedi Lord Fel appeared. He was in a white dress military uniform. A golden saber hilt was at his side. "Master Skywalker," Fel said. "We were just about to contact you. We've lost all communication with Naro." Skywalker only stared with deep grief in his eyes. "Why are you wearing a breath mask?"
"Naro is dead Lord Fel." Skywalker said flatly.
Fel swallowed hard. "There are over a thousand Jedi students on Naro. What do you mean?"
"1,260, Lord Fel. They are gone." Skywalker sat down crossing his legs, "It was a biological weapon, delivered by the Sith – made by the Federation."
"Did you know?" Jill looked Maira Shorn directly in the eyes as she said it.
"No, Captain," Maira said plainly. She sighed. "I can tell you don't believe me."
Landis and Kalbar looked to each other and then back to the two Starfleet women. 4CH stood in the corner preparing their refreshments.
"You're a Vulcan, aren't you?" Jill shrugged. "Prove it."
"Very well." Maira Shorn placed her hands on Jill's face. "Our minds are becoming one…"
At once, Maira saw Jill's mind filled with visions. She saw the lightsaber duel between Maira Shorn and her Mirror Universe double, Maira's sword being magenta, while the Sith double wielded the darker purple blade that killed Jack Hannah. She saw the grand plans of the Mirror Universe. The Earth was covered in Sith statues and dreadful castles. Black-clad stormtroopers marched through the streets being hailed by the people.
Together their minds saw factories filled with the anti-midichlorian virus. They saw hundreds of Jedi signing up to join the Senatorial knights. They saw fleets amassing near Sullust, full of Galactic Fealty soldiers. They saw Starfleet Jedi being sent to imprisonment camps. They saw the future – and it was dark.
The vision shifted to the present. Jill looked into Maira's thoughts and saw the Bajoran Wormhole and the Enterprise. She saw the Geist and its swarms TIE globes and daggers. Then she saw Shody Briggston being surrounded and questioned by Starfleet police right outside in the X-Runner.
Their eyes popped open. They both stood up in alarm. "Captain, outside!" Maira snapped on her magenta lightsaber.
"I know," Jill said, "They've followed us here."
Kalbar slipped into his Mandalorian helmet and put up his hood, cocking a plasma caster. "All these government folk around here…" he grumbled. "I knew this was a bad idea."
Commander Kyriol Rola stared at the black emptiness of space. She grimaced shaking her head. "Where could they be?"
"Not only that," added BEREE, "But where is the Bajoran Wormhole?"
Kyriol turned to the floating astromech droid. "What?"
"The Bajoran Wormhole does not appear on any scan," she replied. "It is gone."
"That's impossible. Scan the sector again," Kyriol told her.
"I have scanned this sector five times on five different wavelengths, Commander Rola. The only thing I am detecting is large quantities of dark matter."
"Dark matter…" Kyriol echoed. "That's what was used to create the portal inside the dry dock."
"No…" Viridian suddenly looked as though she seen a ghost. "That's not the only thing."
Everyone turned to look at the Borg Jedi. "The dark matter needs a catalyst. I've been running the possibilities through the tactical computer. The only way to break the space-time continuum like that is through a very specific cosmic reaction."
"What reaction?" Kyriol asked, sensing the answer to her question would be something unfathomable.
"The kind of spatial portal created on Earth requires for at least one wormhole life form's particles to be disseminated into dark matter." Shayla-Noosri and Felicia Bray were aghast. "The anti-fusion reaction causes the fabric of space to collapse in on itself, thus weakening the boundaries between dimensions enough for a starship, starfighter, or even a person – anything at all with velocity to slip through."
"She beat us here!" Kyriol exclaimed. "She must have escaped back to her world…" Kyriol sat down in the center seat, "… and destroyed the Bajoran Wormhole in the process."
Shayla-Noosri touched her earpiece. "Message from Starfleet, Captain – distress frequency."
"Patch it through," Kyriol said as she began to pace nervously.
The voice came in on the speakers. "This is Admiral Joser, Commander in Chief of the United Federation of Planets Naval Forces. The Planet Earth is under heavy assault and bombardment from the Galactic Empire. Over a million ships have come through a dark matter portal. With this morning's attack on the shipyard, we are unable to mount up a proper defense. Earth is being evacuated. All ships are ordered to return to Sector 001 to protect our people as they resettle…"
The message faded into static.
"Everyone… I need you at your sharpest!" She turned to Viridian. "We are going to war with the worst enemy possible. Pull no punches, understand." Viridian nodded. "Shayla, keep an ear turned to the space lanes at all times. This is the moment of reckoning." Kyriol tapped her com-badge. "Attention crew of the Enterprise. The Empire has invaded Planet Earth, capital of the United Federation of Planets. Their vessels may number in the millions. Our mission is to save as many Federation lives as possible before it is too late. May the Force be with us all."
"Captain," Viridian said before Kyriol could sit down. "Two Federation patrol ships are flanking us."
"Good they can join us," Kyriol said taking the center seat. "We'll need all the firepower we can get."
"They are hailing us, Commander," Shayla said.
They were stunned to be met by the imposing face of a Starfleet policeman's bio-protective mask. "Commander Kyriol Rola, in accordance with Operation Saber Sunder, as enacted by the Federation General Assembly, you are hereby relieved of command of the Enterprise."
Kyriol's eyes widened. "Operation… what is this?"
"As a Jedi you are a hostile liability to the security and safety of the Federation."
"Captain Hannah is on a secret service mission to Bespin as we speak." Kyriol was almost dumbfounded by the officer's tone. "We Jedi are the only defense against the Sith!"
"Jedi are Sith," Kyriol felt sick. "The difference is a matter of culture. Genetically your allegiance to the mystic energy field known as the Force is entirely the same."
"This is insane! Earth is being invaded. We need each other."
"No commander, we need your ship. You will be taken to Starbase Regula Prime and processed as a conflict detainee. Your crew will continue to Sector Sigma Twelve under my command."
"Captain!" Viridian suddenly shouted, "Armed Starfleet officers have beamed aboard."
"This is unlawful mutiny!" Kyriol shouted. "I am a Starfleet officer!" She snapped on her golden bladed lightsaber. "What about Earth?" Two Starfleet troops trained phaser pistols on her.
The masked Starfleet security officer looked down for a moment. "Earth is lost, Commander. The colonies bear the burden of vengeance."
"Vengeance leads to the Dark Side," Kyriol replied keeping her lightsaber level with the two men's phaser guns.
"I told you, Commander. That no longer makes any difference to the Federation. The Force is too dangerous a power to be allowed to exist any longer."
"What are you saying?" Kyriol said half-pleading.
"The Force must be destroyed."
Shody Briggston struggled terribly against his Starfleet captors. His hands were cuffed behind his back as the two officers tried to force him into the Runabout.
"What are you doing?" he demanded.
"I'm saving the Federation from scum like you." One of the officers put a phaser to Shody's head. Shody closed his eyes. The other officer had taken his lightsaber.
All at once the saber flew from the other officer's belt and activated in mid-air. Before the officer could turn, the laser sword's silver blade had impaled him from side to side. Shody ripped the silver lightsaber out of the security trooper's torso and sliced down the other officer in one deft motion.
He retracted the lightsaber. At the tender age of seventeen, Shody had never taken a sentient life before. He stood panting as he stared at the two Starfleet bodies. Before he could linger on the violence that had just transpired, the roar of ion engines filled his serrated ears. Several MAAT gunships landed on the far pad. Fealty troopers poured out of the gunships.
They closely resembled Imperial and Dominion stormtroopers. Their armor was of the same segmented style with a rounder helmet. Faces could be seen beneath the fully transparent face plate of their helmets. Some of their bodies were visibly male and female. At least one of them was much burlier than a normal human with an extra set of armor-covered arms. They all carried blaster rifles. The alien trooper with four arms carried two. They stormed into the building shoving aside a panicked, white protocol droid. A female and the four-armed trooper turned towards Shody.
"I have a bad feeling about this."
Aboard the Enterprise the tension mounted as the two patrol ship began arguing with each other, while Kyriol Rola stood with her saber drawn as two Starfleet security officers held guns on her.
"Enterprise, you are clear to leave," said one patrol ship.
"Belay that!" shouted the first commander, "Our orders are to detain these people before it's too late."
"Captain!" Bray suddenly shouted, "One of the patrol ships is powering up weapons!"
The masked patrolman on the screen suddenly became bewildered. "Raise shields! Arm phasers – Aaaaaaaargh!" He vanished in a wave of static, screams, and flames.
Shayla turned around wide-eyed. "The patrol ship off of our port has been destroyed."
"It's over guys," Kyriol pleaded holding her yellow laser blade tightly. "Please, stop this now. We are killing each other over nothing!"
One of the patrolmen became irate. "Jedi witch! It's your fault!"
"Don't do it!" Kyriol shouted.
"You did this! You got my ship taken out… You killed my partner!" He fired. His fellow patrolmen follow suit. Instinctively, Kyriol caught the beams on the edge of her sword. The deflected rays crisscrossed each other in the air and each landed in the other man's chest. Both men were vaporized.
Kyriol shut off her lightsaber. The other patrolman's voice came in over the speakers. "You've got an hour, Enterprise. That's how long before I call it in."
Kyriol struggled to speak. "Much… Much appreciated, Commander Patrolman."
"May the Force be with you." The patrol ship vanished into hyperspace.
Kyriol sat down. She was utterly overwhelmed with horror, guilt, indignant rage, disgust, and worst of all fear.
"Do we have a heading, Commander?" Ensign Bray asked, sheer terror in her eyes.
"I…" Kyriol was blank.
Suddenly a small blue orb flew up through the floor. It circled around the room and stopped in front of BEREE 496. "Is that…?" Bray said, cocking her head to one side.
Shayla beamed folding her hands. "Prophets preserve us! One is alive."
Suddenly, the orb crashed into BEREE. The droid convulsed horribly, its eye scope circling wildly. After a few minutes, the droid spoke with a male voice. Its inner red coloring and eye scope had now turned cerulean blue.
"I am Adar Nor of the Wormhole. Forgive my temporary intrusion upon your droid, but I have come to guide you all in this time of great darkness."
Kyriol bowed. "I am Commander Kyriol Rola of the USS Enterprise. Our ship is at your service." Kyriol's eyes softened. "And your guidance is much needed."
"You must first convince the Galactic Senate of the Fealty that there is ample resistance to the Federation within the Federation."
"What do you mean, within the Federation?" Kyriol asked. "The Empire has taken over Earth."
"I now possess all of the secret knowledge hidden deep with in the circuits of this droid. It is true – the Sith, joining forces with the dark hordes of the Mirror Universe have overrun Sector 001. However, the orders given just now against the Jedi where given not by Sith Lords, but by the Federation General Assembly. They seek not only to destroy the Sith, but every creature which feeds off of the Living Force – particularly in the form of midichlorians."
"How is that possible?" Kyriol grimaced. She had not learned of the weapon as her captain had.
"Just as the engine of this ship runs on the dark matter that destroyed my home, the Federation has engineered a virus that kills Jedi – and all living things containing midichlorians."
"No…" Kyriol shook her head. "All along these weapons have been at the heart of everything, right under our noses." She forced herself to focus. "Where is Captain Hannah?" she panted.
"You must go to Coruscant and plead for the lives of the Federation's Jedi, Commander Rola. Captain Hannah and young Briggston will soon be endangered by many foes."
Shody stood in shock as a beautiful, flying girl shot down the two Fealty troopers surrounding her. He looked down to see the female trooper and her large, four-armed, Besalisk comrade moaning and unconscious – the phasers were set on stun.
Kelle Calrissian landed right in his face, shutting off her anti-gravity boots. "Oh…" Kelle touched Shody's olive green skin. "You are a cute one." She holstered her two phaser pistols. "And now you owe me." She looked back at the ship she was working on. "C'mon."
"Wait, wait, wait!" Shody panted, "Who are you?" he said. "And where's my master?"
She turned to see flashes of blue light in the main building. "In there, making a whole lot of trouble…"
Jill stood in front of a large window as the troopers closed in. "Come with us, Captain. No one will hurt you," said the trooper closest to her. "Lord Fel knows what you are. He wants to help."
Jill looked to Maira who stood with her sword at the ready surrounded by three other soldiers with blaster rifles. Two of them were caught in a Mexican standoff with Kalbar Antilles, who bristled with wrist mounted ammunition.
"If I were him, I would want to experiment on me quietly some place secret," Jill replied.
"There won't be any pain," A female soldier took off her helmet. She was a Vulcan. "They took me into their ranks when I failed the Kolinahr. They'll accept you, too."
"And when Fel decides to use me as a weapon against Starfleet – just like Starfleet used me as a weapon against you? What then?"
The Vulcan trooper sighed in frustration. "Look, Captain, we take what is given. You don't have any other choice."
Jill looked over to Maira. "Agent Shorn, go with them." Maira grimaced. "Lord Fel may be the only logical leader left in the Universe. Starfleet is overrun by hatred and fear. Plead our case to him for me."
Maira shut off her saber and rolled it along the ground to the troopers' feet. "What about you, Captain?"
"I shouldn't exist," Jill stepped closer to the window. "As long as I do exist, no one will be safe."
"No!" Kalbar shouted. "Don't give up your life for these government scumbags!"
"My life always has belonged to someone else." She snapped on her lightsaber in reverse grip, shattering the window. "This is the only way I will ever get it back."
Jill fell backwards.
"NO!" Kalbar screamed.
The Vulcan trooper ran to the edge, dropping her helmet on the floor as she went. There was nothing but cloud. "Regina," her commander called to her in a soft voice. She turned back only to see him shake his head.
Maira lowered her head. "Let us go. Lord Fel should know that the source of this terrible weapon… is no more." Regina looked at Maira, "Her actions were … only logical."
Regina snatched a com-link angrily from her belt. "Dakson, Rico, were done here." There was a long pause. "Dakson, Rico, report." She grimaced. "Commander, I got no response from Dakson and Rico."
"How long before they find out what we did?" Shody asked the beautiful mercenary sitting awkwardly close to him in her war droid/ spacecraft. He tried not to stare.
"Shh!" Kelle had an earpiece to her ear. "Dad wires all of his offices," she whispered. "I can hear what's going in there while we're planet side." Her eyes suddenly widened. "Oh, no…"
"What happened?" Shody could sense her fear as well as see it in her eyes.
"Jill Hannah jumped out the window!" Shody fell silent. "I'm so sorry."
Shody sighed. "She's not dead."
"Shody…" she touched his shoulder, "There is no ground on Bespin. If something falls…"
"No I mean I can feel her presence." Shody nodded his head with a serious look. "We're the only ones who can ever know that Jill Hannah is still alive. The Sith can't know. The governments can't know." Shody sighed and slouched back in his chair. "May the Force be with you, Master."
Kelle nodded setting the earpiece down. "So now what will you do?"
"Well," Shody smiled. "At the moment I'm stuck with you."
Kelle smiled back, "Good – Cuz you still owe me."
"Speaking of owing you…" Shody said, "Don't you have a friend back there?"
"Oh, Kalbar – he's a Mando. If anybody can get out of CorSec's hands, it's him." She flipped a few switches. "You are going to help me do something I couldn't do before."
"Save the Prophets – and make that echuta pay for what he did to them?"
"What echuta would this be?"
The War Droid bolted into warp-light.
Kalbar found himself moving through the engineering tunnel beneath the floating factory. Thanks to a flash grenade he had escape the Coruscant Security soldiers without too much undo fuss. His preferred ship was only a hundred feet away according to his wrist-mounted locator beacon. He could see the Nexu Fang. A thing of exotic, organic beauty
Kalbar's ship was a Wookie Gnasp flutter-craft, cross-bred with a Yorik-et to a truly unique and beautiful starship.
Unfortunately, the CorSec had sent Fealty battle droids to make sure their quarry did not escape. Far superior to Imperial battle droids, these robots wielded electro-staffs in one hand and blaster pistols in the other. They were burly things with think armor – too thick for his plasma caster and a grenade would attract unwanted attention.
Just as he was about to opt for the grenade, a blue lightsaber flew from out of view and sliced apart all four droids in less than three seconds, guided by the Force.
Kalbar exited the tunnel cautiously. He could hardly believe he was saying what he was saying. "Captain…? Is that…you?"
Before he could say more Jill grabbed him from behind and put her blue saber close to his neck. "Not a word," she commanded. She pointed upward to the bridge high above them. On it were two soldiers: one female the other with four arms. They crouched behind Kalbar's flutter-craft.
"I can't believe I let her get the drop on me like that," Orobund Rico said rubbing his upper back with his lower left hand.
"What do you expect from Mr. Z-wing's daughter?" His partner said. Arinya Dakson was the female that Kelle stunned. "She's probably loaded down with cutting edge mercenary tech out of both galaxies." Dakson stopped. "This might sound crazy, Rico, but I think she did the right thing."
Rico's four shoulders slumped. "She shot us and helped a Starfleet Jedi escape from us, Dakson," he replied wryly. "She's probably on the other side's payroll."
"Starfleet don't have a payroll, Rico," she retorted returning his wryness. "They don't believe in money."
"But really, Rico, that kid was scared to death of me." Dakson paused. "The look on his face… he had never killed anyone before he took out those two Starfleet thugs."
"Yeah, poor bastard," Rico paused rubbing his chin with his lower left arm. "Maybe he'll get smart and join the Senatorial Force."
Dakson chuckled. "Not while he's hooked up with that Calrissian chick. She'll have him chugging ale with all kinds of scum and villainy."
The two of them reached the other side of the bridge. "We're heading back, Commander. The Mando's gone. A real shame about Captain Hannah, though. Those Federation bastards! They have to answer for this." They exited the hangar bay, never noticing the sliced up battle droids on the floor.
Kalbar and Jill entered the Nexu Fang. Jill was stunned by the beautiful array of crystals and organ-like controls. "What kind of ship is this?" Jill asked.
"One of a kind," Kalbar said with pride. "My old mad scientist friend made it for me as payment for a solid he owed me." He looked at Jill a long time. "You know… I'm really glad you're not dead."
"Oh," Jill looked surprised. "Coming from a mercenary I'm deeply touched."
"Eh, Feds like to give us Mandos a bad rep," Kalbar said removing his helmet and taking a seat. "The truth is, nobody should live or die without knowing what it means to be free." The ship took off into the picturesque clouds of Bespin.
"So what does it mean to be free?" Jill said sitting down.
"That you gotta figure out for yourself," Kalbar told her. "To me it means my guns, my armors, my wine, and the occasional reactor smoked nerf burger. For you – well that's what we gotta find out."
"I appreciate you helping me, Kalbar."
"Appreciate?" Kalbar scoffed. "I speak money, sweet cheeks."
"Starfleet does not mint money. We replicate what we need."
"Explains why replicators are banned here."
"How about a favor?" Jill offered.
"A favor?" Kalbar half-smiled. "What favor could a Starfleet space bunny offer an invincible Mandalorian tough guy."
Jill returned his mischievous smile and snapped on her lightsaber. "Aggressive negotiation skills – in return for your help."
Kalbar chuckled. "Alright. What kind of help are we talking about here?"
"I need someone who can find out why I'm so…"
"Different?" Kalbar asked compassionately.
Jill nodded vulnerably. "And maybe… find a cure or vaccine for that horrible bio-weapon."
"Hmmm… I think I know one guy. He's exiled Yuuzhan Vong. Long Sha-Rin. He's the one responsible for the work of art we're sitting in. Hell of a swordsman too, you'd like him."
"A mechanic?" Jill raised her eyebrows. "You're taking me to see… a mechanic?"
"Yup. Making the Jump – next stop Nar Shadda."
The Nexu Fang bolted in hyperspace.
The planet Earth was in a state of shambles and terror. All of her leaders had fled. All of her Jedi and soldiers were hidden – waiting for a time to strike. Darth Desprye the new Dark Lord of Earth knew this full well. She knew that Romulus was now under the complete control of Darth Grift. She knew that Rahtek had lost Qo'Onos to his brother Mahtek. What she did not know was where her other self was. That would be dealt with soon enough.
Desprye sat in the chair of the now fled President of the Federation. Kneeling before her was Jonathan Fruge – the defector who had launched the first dark matter weapon that allowed her to enter the Federation's universe.
"Moff Fruge…" Desprye chuckled wickedly. "It certainly has a nice ring to it."
"Thank you, My Lady," Fruge replied.
"You can thank me with the whereabouts of Captain Jill Hannah," Desprye said coldly.
"Dread Lady, CorSec reports that she is dead – that she flung herself out of a window to stop our plans."
"They lie!" Desprye roared. "I can feel her in the Force!"
"I assure you, My Lady our troops are…"
"Your troops are incompetent clones! Their duty is to instill fear – not to think!"
"You will handle this matter personally, in the private sector – from the overflowing coffers of wealth now at your disposal." Desprye smiled with dark charm.
Fruge's greed wrapped around his lips in a crooked smile, "I think I know some people."
"I thought you might." Desprye's condescending smile was made even more disturbing by the glow of her orange eyes. "Now go – Bring me Jill Hannah's body, dead or alive."
Fruge scurried out of Darth Desprye's presence. She swiveled in her chair to face the view screen. On it appeared Darth Grift.
"Greetings Dark Lord Grift."
"Greetings, my Dark Sister. How goes the conquest?" Lord Grift propped his chin upon a new metal hand.
Desprye smiled. "Delicious." She stood up from her new throne. "Tell me, Dark Brother, is it ready?"
"It has begun. The Terran Imperials have built their first midichlorian virus launchers according to my spies. They will show the Jedi no mercy in their panic. And we are the only ones who can truly control the nanites at the heart of the poison!"
"And our ultimate plan?"
"The Dark Maw is already under construction in the Void between the galaxies. Before the Jedi realize its existence it will be too late. Just a few more Bajoran Prophets to capture and the last, great, dark matter reactor will be built."
Desprye became perversely giddy. "At last – the ancient arts have yielded us a living creature of unbelievable power and insatiable hunger to do our biding. Have the rest of the Dark Brotherhood arrived?"
"They will be among us very soon. It will require all of our power to give the Dark Maw life."
"Then let us proceed with all expedience," Desprye said, rubbing her chin. "These humans are weak, but it is foolish to underestimate them."
"Once the war between the Jedi and the Federation begins their numbers will be few enough to fit within our fists!"
Jedi Lord Dhalgahar Fel's war room was even more opulent that Landis Calrissian's boardroom. Commander Rola sipped fine Felucian nectar with him as they sat talking. The Enterprise-M was held under Senatorial impound, but the crew were allowed to enter the city freely as visitors.
The situation seemed schizophrenic to Kyriol. One minute they are war heroes battling Sith Lords, the next they are criminalized for being Jedi. Now here they sat in the Galaxy of the Force making friends with those declared their mortal enemies by irrational politicians.
"Lord Fel, please allow us a few weeks to explore our home stars. I know there are those who detest this new direction the Federation is taking." Kyriol knew what she was asking.
"There are those here who find me hawkish as well, Commander. I understand your plight – but I'm thinking of your safety as well."
Kyriol was taken aback. "What do you mean?"
"Don't be naïve, Commander Rola. More than half of your crew was born here on Coruscant – I know, I stamped most of their visas. They are the best, the brightest, and the most progressive. They'd also have huge targets on their backs back in your world."
Kyriol shook her head. "But it's our home."
"It may be, but look…" he turned on a hologram. "This is a security cam of the recreation sector."
Kyriol was moved by images of Felicia Bray and Viridian enjoying the malls and food courts of Coruscant. They deserved this. The Sith had given them nonstop war all of their lives. They deserved to have this carefree enjoyment – but they deserved to have this enjoyment in the Federation, the great beacon of progress and optimism in the Universe. Now a galaxy famous for its star wars had given them peaceful respite from a trek that had only ever ended in deceit and disaster. It was unbearable.
"Earth is Imperial now, Commander," Fel said softly. "I don't doubt the human spirit. We are rebels – it's our nature, but to have a Terran Rebellion – we have got to give them an alliance worthy of their valor and risk."
"I can't," Kyriol said.
Fel sighed. "They haven't returned your loyalty, Commander." Fel clicked the holo-screen again. The recording of the Starfleet patrolmen's assassination attempt on Shody Briggston and Jill Hannah's "suicide" played.
Kyriol lost her breath. "Captain…" Kyriol shook her head catching tears with her fingers. "This is a lie."
"I never lie," Fel retorted sharply.
"I would have felt it." Kyriol gritted her teeth as her chest heaved.
"So would I. Unless the Dark Side was clouding things – as it always seems to be."
"I can't believe…" Kyriol slowed down her breathing. "We have to declare war on the Federation General Assembly – on the Terran Empire."
"If you want to save the Federation… I'm afraid so." Fel locked eyes with her. "If it's any consolation, Sith use clones more so than regular officers. They aren't a very trusting or trustworthy bunch. They need obedient constructs in their ranks, not thinking, emotional, ambitious people."
"So we may save more Federation lives than we risk taking?"
"In theory – but you know like I know – war is hell, and it gets awfully foggy at the front."
Kyriol stood at attention. "Lord Fel," she shook his hand. "I wish you the best of luck, but…"
"You need time."
"The declaration of war is to be made at dawn tomorrow – this planet's time. If you can't do it, you may remain here as guests of the Republic Fealty. However, if you do not join us as non-combatant citizens or sign up as a foreign legion I cannot allow you to leave this galaxy without restriction."
"I understand." Kyriol bowed.
"Then, I bid you welcome to the Galaxy of the Force."
The Federation freighter Resilient was a lonely, aged space-bird that had long since been a supply horse in times of war or crisis. Now the Earth had been conquered by extra-dimensional fiends and the Federation was bent on destroying any mimetic knowledge of the Force. The ship's eerie cargo was proof of this horrible fact.
"C'mon, Joe something's gotta be wrong here," one of the crew men, Wilford Higgins said to the other.
"Look, Higgins," Joseph Jin replied, wearily, "All we gotta do is take this cargo to Regula Prime, turn in our wings, and we can happily deliver foreign food for the rest of our natural lives. After this run, we quit – I swear on my mother."
"But Joe…" Higgins looked over his shoulder anxiously, "I had a Toydarian buddy that got a job doing this. One of the tanks was loose in the clamp – it fell over, broke, leaked, and … He was dead before his co-pilot could get to a tricorder."
"Well, yeah, but … That only happens to, uh – them." Joe said nervously.
"Them!" Higgins was incensed. "That guy was my pal – my grandmother's half Corellian, Joe!"
"I didn't mean it like that!"
"Well how did you mean it Joe – you racist prick!"
"Hey, I take offense at…"
Suddenly a rhythmic mechanical breathing stopped their bantering in its tracks. "Do you hear that?"
"Yeah, it sounds like it's right…" They turned to see a figure hooded and cloaked wearing a menacing breath mask on his face. "…behind us!" Two lightsabers snapped on – one blue, the other green. They were held at Joe and Higgins' necks. "The virus – it's refined at Star Regula Prime isn't it? Take me there – now."
"Uh… the temporary detainment facility is only for emergency detainment of uh…"
"Now!" The Jedi in the breath mask demanded.
"Yeah, yeah. Of course, right away Master… uh…?"
"Skywalker," he replied, "Oben-kade Skywalker."