AN: I bought Hunger Games trilogy on a whim and raced through it over 4 days. It absolutely fascinated me. What could lend itself to chaos theory better than a situation of 24 people being forced to kill one another? It got me thinking and I came up with the idea of putting together the most unique blend of enemies I could think of from many sources of sci-fi/fantasy/whatevertheheckIlike and see how they react. I normally don't write in the way of posting before I have the whole thing done, but I want to see if anyone is interested in me continuing this...that said, things might change in earlier stuff to reflect future stuff (I'll inform differences as I go if necessary.) I have to admit that this will interfere with my other writing, so I have to keep this behind everything else I'm committed to. I kinda like the idea of having multiple projects, as if working on a master's degree while working full time and helping with a few charity organizations isn't enough :D If I don't get much of a response for it, I'm not going to bother continuing it. So you know, there are two different view points in the story which will be indicated by the style of writing. 1st person will be Katniss, 3rd person will be Jacen.
As always, I own nothing from Hunger Games, Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate SG-1, The Legend of Zelda, and/or Harry Potter. But I will be borrowing the following characters (consider this the DP):
Katniss Everdeen (1st Person POV), female human hunter from The Hunger Games
Gale Hawthorne, male human hunter from The Hunger Games
Jacen Solo (3rd Person POV), male human Jedi Master from Star Wars
Eriana Fostenton, female human Jedi Knight OC of my own creation in the Star Wars Universe (see profile for my other works)
Captain Jean-Luc Picard, male captain of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek: TNG
Doctor Beverly Crusher, ship's doctor of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek: TNG
Colonel Jack O'Neill, human male soldier from Stargate SG-1
Major Samantha Carter, human female soldier from Stargate SG-1
Link, Hylian male from The Legend of Zelda
Princess Zelda, Hylian female from The Legend of Zelda
Harry Potter, male human wizard from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Hermione Granger, female human witch from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Darth Vader, human Lord of the Sith from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Mara Jade, human assassin from Star Wars
Borg Queen, cyborg female monarch from Star Trek: First Contact
Tomalak, male Romulan from Star Trek: TNG
Anubis, half-ascended Gou'ald from Stargate SG-1
Osiris, female Gou'ald from Stargate SG-1
Ganondorf, male Gerudo, The Legend of Zelda
Twinrova, female witches of fire and ice, The Legend of Zelda
Bellatrix Lestrange, female witch, Harry Potter
Voldemort, male wizard, Harry Potter
Q, omnipotent being, Star Trek: TNG.
I'm in the wrong bed. Last night I had curled up to sleep in my bed in the Victor Village of District 12 with Peeta's strong arms around me. He's still struggling with his conditioning and I know I shouldn't trust him, but few things keep the terrors from haunting me like he does. Few things keep the nightmares from my two Hunger Games away.
But this morning I wake up in fear.
Where am I? How did I get here? I feel fear crawling up my throat trying to strangle me, so I push it down. To survive, I have to think, not feel.
I get up and look at my surroundings. I'm naked in a cold, badly-lit room with no visible door. My distorted face stares back at me in a blank television screen on one wall. I shiver, not really knowing if the coldness or my distorted face is what creeps me out the most.
My flesh prickles from the cold. I need to prepare.
I find some clothes in a closet and put them on. First undergarments, then a base layer of black wool under wear. Next a white sweater, a pair of white and black camouflage thermal pants, and finally a similarly camouflaged parka.
Looks like wherever I'm supposed to be going, it's going to be cold. At least I've got decent clothes.
As I'm warming up, I look back into the closet and see a belt with several pockets on it. I strap the belt around my waist over the parka and find a pair of white thermal gloves, a white toque, and a pair of sunglasses stuffed into some of the pockets. Hanging from a loop is a cylinder of metal that I've never seen before, so I ignore it for now. The last thing, sitting on the shelf in the closet, I barely notice. I pick it up and my heart fills with dread. My fears have been realized.
It is my Mockingjay pin. The one thing I was allowed to bring into the Hunger Games. It can mean only one thing.
"Katniss Everdeen," A voice calls to me from the television and I whip around to find a middle-aged man with black hair staring at me. "Welcome to the Trans-Everything Hunger Game. My name is Q, and I will be your coordinator for this game. I think you know how all this works."
I blink and find myself standing on a silver circle in the middle of the room that I had not noticed before. Like the first two Hunger Games I participated in, a glass tube encases me and I start rising upward. A trap door opens as I rise exposing me to a harsh winter's cold that hardens my heart into the Mockingjay warrior I had hoped I would never need to become again.
Jacen Solo could not figure out what was going on. He woke up naked in a small room and found various supplies in a closet that seemed to be designed for living on Hoth, except for an ornate bow and a quiver of arrows. When he reached out with the Force, he could detect twenty-three others in shared confusion, but only one he recognized – Eriana. The others either confused or scared him. At least two others were Force sensitive, but carried such dark auras that he was sure they were Dark Jedi. Some felt like normal humans, and some felt…magical.
"Jacen Solo," A voice said to Jacen, bringing his attention to the flat holopanel on the wall that had become active when he was not looking. A man with dark hair and an impish grin regarded him as if he were remembering a joke. "Welcome to the Trans-Everything Hunger Game."
"Thanks, but the name sucks."
"It's a work-in-progress," the man said. "My name is Q. I'm sure you're wondering what the Hunger Games are."
"Your insight is remarkable," Jacen complimented.
"The Hunger Games is a tournament of champions," Q said, ignoring the quip. "In this tournament you will face twenty three others in a battle to the death. It will test your resourcefulness, your cunning, and your prowess in combat. Not only must you survive against your fellow champions, you must survive the wild as well."
Jacen opened his mouth to ask a question about Eriana, but Q shook his finger.
"Not so fast, young Solo," Q grinned even more broadly than before. "Only one may survive. Just one. Now be a good lad and step into the silver circle in the middle of the floor and don't move until you hear the gong."
Seeing himself without much of a choice, Jacen walked over to the designated spot and looked back at Q as if to say "Now what?"
"May the odds be ever in your favour," Q said.
A glass tunnel enclosed Jacen and the platform he stood on slid upwards toward the arena of certain death.
The sunglasses help block the glare of the sun reflecting off the snow all around me. My eyes focus quickly and I survey my surroundings, trying to take in as much about my competitors and surroundings as I can. The first thing I notice is that we're in a forest clearing and everything is covered in snow. Unlike the first two games, there is no cornucopia full of supplies and weapons. Each of the competitors rise up with me and we're all waiting for the gong that tells us we can step off our steel circles without getting killed by the explosives in the ground.
I look to my left and gasp. Gale is staring back at me, his face telling me he is as surprised to see me as I am to see him. In his hand is an ornate wooden stick that looks as useless as a blade of grass in a fight. I examine my opponents but can glean very little insight on them except that the people on my left look terrified and the people on the right look terrifying. Among others, there is a woman with wires coming out the back of her head, a man who looks like a snake, and someone about twice my height with bright red hair. There's even a crazy blue and red woman that is floating on a broom!
I can't help but be glad that I'm nowhere near that giant of a man, but I know that every contestant in this game will want to kill me. I look to Gale and our eyes meet for the second time since he departed for his job in District 2, but our thoughts are the same.
The gong echoes through the woods and we both sprint for the tree line.
The snowy forest would normally catch Jacen with a measure of interest, drawing upon his childhood curiosity to discover this new environment, but the warning from the mysterious Q and the presence of so many dark figures put him on edge. Immediately to his left, about three metres away, was a two-coloured woman hovering above her platform on a broom regarding him with a level of mischievous interest. He could sense her intentions clearly – she hungered to win this sadistic tournament. The giant man beside the hovering woman, seemed…angry. There was no other way to describe the red-haired man's presence, except that he was abounding in sheer power. This would be no easy competition.
To Jacen's right was Eriana, assessing the situation just as he was.
Hey you, Eriana thought at him. Notice anything?
Jacen reached out with the Force and assessed the contestants. Everyone on his left felt angry, calculating, or domineering. Everyone on his right felt concerned, defensive, and…most importantly, attached.
Everyone on this side came in with a friend, Jacen thought back. And none seem ready to kill unless necessary.
I'll try to gather them into a team, Eriana thought. You distract those guys.
Jacen went back to assessing the opponents on the left half of the field and his eyes froze on one figure that was staring right at him. He recognized the face, but the yellow and red eyes were impossible to ignore even from twenty metres away. The shock hit him like a rampaging Tauntaun.
Grandfather. Darth Vader. Before he had to wear the suit.
Jacen tore his eyes away from the ghost of his past and was even more surprised to see a younger version of his Aunt Mara staring at him just beside Vader. Unlike the Aunt Mara he knew, this one looked at him with pure malice knowing full well what he was. There was no doubt who this woman was.
The Emperor's Hand. One of Emperor Palpatine's most prized assassins.
Jacen shook his head and slipped the bow over his head across his body so it would not fall away. He brought his hands together, concentrating on an orb of energy coalescing between his palms. At the sound of the gong, he launched it toward the left side of the field and ran toward Eriana. The blast did what it was supposed to – it sent the large man and the witch off balance and away from their escape path.
"Come with us!" Jacen heard Eriana shout to the people that were on the platforms beside our own. Jacen ran toward Eriana and noticed that the men and women had paired up, as he suspected they would based on the feelings of familiarity he had sensed passing between them, but they were immediately suspicious of the other groups. On the far side of the field, the other three pairs had already disappeared into the woods.
"Look, we're not going to kill you," Jacen said. "We're Jedi. And we'll do a lot better if we stick together."
The group of six sprinted for the tree line and did not stop running until long after the sounds of combat at the clearing had diminished. As they ran, two cannon blasts rang out with mere seconds between them, but they kept going to put more distance between them and their adversaries.
"Could we stop for a moment?" The oldest man asked. "I'm afraid I haven't had the chance to keep up with my running in the last few years."
"Sit down, Jean-Luc," the redheaded woman said in a motherly tone and cleared a layer of snow off a fallen tree so they could both sit down. The other two were suspiciously regarding the others while careful to keep an eye both on their new allies and back toward the clearing.
"So what the hell is going on here?" The suspicious man asked. "Carter, any ideas? What're those cannon blasts we heard?"
The woman, Carter, shook her head. Her wide-eyed look echoed the confusion Jacen felt radiating off her. "No idea, sir. I went to bed at the SGC and woke up in a small room."
"Eriana, climb that tree and keep an eye out for anyone," Jacen suggested, pointing at a tree that looked sturdy enough to support her. She passed him the bow and arrows that she had been wearing, a much more complicated and technologically advanced version to the one Jacen had been given, and jumped high into the tree to looks of surprise from their new allies.
"I'm Jacen Solo," Jacen introduced himself. "I'm a Jedi Master, a protector of the peace and justice. Eriana Fostenon is my apprentice. We can sense none of you want to harm anyone and are just as much victims of this convoluted game as we are, so we thought an alliance was in order."
"Colonel Jack O'Neill, U.S. Air Force," the one man introduced himself.
"Major Samantha Carter, U.S. Air Force," the woman beside him said. "We're explorers from Earth."
"U.S. Air Force?" The older man sitting on the tree asked. "That division has not existed in over two hundred years. I'm Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise, and my ship's doctor, Commander Beverly Crusher. We're also from Earth."
Jacen wracked his brain. "I've never heard of Earth, the Federation or the U.S. Air Force before. I suspect we're not from the same galaxy."
"Or the same time," Carter said. "That Q guy did say…"
"Q?" Picard demanded. "I knew he had to be behind this!"
"Mon Cap-e-tan!" With a flash of light, the man who had appeared on Jacen's holodisplay was standing among them. "So good of you to recognize my work."
"Q, what is the meaning of this?" Picard demanded. "What sick game have you devised now? Haven't you tested humanity enough?"
"I cannot take all the credit," Q said indifferently. "Your kind came up with this game, my dear captain. I got bored with all your constant ramblings of philosophy and history and blah blah blah and I finally decided to start exploring alternate universes. And look what I found!"
Q gestured around, grinning like a child in a candy factory.
"A war-torn version of your Earth came up with this idea of having these silly Hunger Games to entertain the rich at the expense of the poor. I thought, why not bring together all the most interesting people I could find and see how my own Hunger Game would turn out?"
"Come up with a better name yet?" Jacen asked.
"Not in any tongue you would understand, boy," Q said in a thoroughly condescending voice that Jacen could hardly feel insulted by. "But, enough about me, get back to your fun. Just remember: only one can survive."
With a flash of light, the impish man disappeared.
"Q!" Picard shouted, but it was too late.
"Who is that guy?" Jacen asked.
"An omnipotent being that craves attention," Picard said miserably. "He preys upon sentient beings for his own entertainment."
"We should find some food," O'Neill said. "Something tells me this game will continue for a while."
"We can melt snow for water," Carter said. "If we can start a fire, but that might give our position away."
"No problem," Jacen said and held out his hand. He sped up the air molecules above his hand until a bright yellow flame appeared, electing a gasp of surprise from both Carter and Crusher.
"How?" Carter asked, thoroughly interested in the mysterious fire.
"You can write a thesis on him later, Major," O'Neill said. "Something tells me the other side of the field isn't going to want to get all warm and cuddly with us. What do we have for weapons?"
Picard pulled a broadsword and shield off his back and held them in front of him. The long, well-balanced blade had an ornate handle and an engraved blade showing a trio of triangles inside a larger triangle, which also appeared on the blue and silver shield. Doctor Crusher extracted a thin silver rapier from a scabbard on her belt, and Jacen indicated the two bows and two quivers full of arrows. It was not until Samantha Carter pulled a metal cylinder from her belt that Jacen recognized any weapons.
"Eriana, we found your lightsaber!" Jacen called. "I wonder if this Q guy spread our weapons among us to get us to kill each other for our natural weapons."
"Anyone bring their drums?" O'Neill asked sarcastically, holding up a beautifully carved stick.
"It must be a weapon for someone," Picard said. "Does anyone feel comfortable with a sword? I'd much prefer a rapier myself."
"I'll take the sword," O'Neill offered. "Carter, you may as well give that lightsaber thing to the tree child and take her bow."
"I'm not bad with a bow," Crusher said. "I took an archery class in med school for extra credit."
"I guess that leaves me with the stick," Jacen said. "I don't really mind, though. I've been trying to do without weapons lately."
They traded weapons according to their preferences, and Jacen received the stick last. A powerful rush of energy travelled up his arm upon touching it and left him momentarily breathless.
"Did ya stick your finger in an electrical socket?" O'Neill asked with more annoyance than concern in his voice.
"No, but this thing's powerful," Jacen said. "Some sort of conduit for internal power. Interesting."
Eriana chose that moment to drop out of the tree.
"Something's coming this way. We'd better move."
Gale and I tear into the woods without even bothering to look back. The last thing I can remember hearing were the cries of two pathetic sounding people calling for each other. It didn't matter. They're probably dead if they wasted time looking for a hug.
As we run we see two other pairs running not far away but in the same direction. A blond-haired man with a green hat instead of the provided toque and the woman with long auburn hair are running side-by-side. The man seems intent to protect her based on the way he watches her and the world around him. Two more are crashing through the woods not far away, but none of them attempt to harm us. Or even seem to care we're there.
"Alliance," I say to Gale and direct him toward the green capped man. As we get closer, the green hat guy skids to a halt and tells the woman to keep going.
"Wait," I say, holding my hands up. "We won't hurt you. We could be allies."
"How can I trust you?" the man asks. "We're all in the game together."
"Do you know any of the guys on the other side of the field?" I ask in return. A flicker of recognition appears on his face. "Those guys look like the ones to avoid to me."
"You have that correct," the woman says cautiously. "Ganondorf and Twinrova would not hesitate to kill us. But we still have no reason to trust you."
"We have a better chance of surviving together," Gale said. "Maybe we can beat this thing as a group and force a safe ending for all of us."
We both know Gale's words are a lie. Only two hunger games have ever ended with more than one survivor, and both were due to cheating. Something tells me this Q guy won't be easy to fool, but our potential allies don't need to know that.
A branch breaks and the man with the green cap spins around.
"I couldn't help but notice you're not fighting," a boy, not much older than me, wearing glasses said. His accent reminds me of the snotty voices of the people in the Capitol, but the dirt and blood on his face is far from the artistic tattoos and makeup that people of the Capitol used to wear. The girl looks similarly disheveled and just as bewildered. "I don't suppose any of you know what's going on?"
I decide these people are not that big a threat to us and gesture for them to keep walking in the direction we were headed. As we walk, I callously explain what the Hunger Games are. When I get to the part about us all, eventually, facing the decision about killing the person we care about in order to escape, the two Capitols and the girl with long hair look at their partners with a mixture of fear and concern for the other's safety. Gale and the man in the green cap both react the same way, with looks of resolve that tell me they're willing to give up their lives to save their friend.
I suddenly have little to fear about the group I've collected. Nobody looks at each other with even a hint of desire to kill anyone. Their faces echo the same haunted look mine does every time I look in a mirror – the face of someone who has seen far too much death.
"I'm Katniss Everdeen. I've been through two of these. If there's a way we can all survive, we will find it."
Everyone looks at me with hope and a heavy mixture of doubt. Maybe even a pinch of fear. And they should.
I grab the cylinder on my belt and hold it up.
"Anyone know what this is?"
The blank looks on everyone's faces answer my question.
Gale holds up the stick I saw him with earlier. I see it is not just any stick – it was carefully carved so it even has a handle.
"That's my wand!" the boy in glasses says. He holds up a grey gun of some sort with two handles on it. "I'll trade you."
Gale shrugs and trades with the boy.
"We don't really know what to do with these," the man in green tells us, holding up some black gun by the middle. The other woman does likewise and also pulls a crunched Z-shaped device out of a hip holster.
"That's a P-90 sub machine gun," the bushy haired girl tells us in a very matter-of-fact voice, indicating the weapon held by the man with the green hat. "It's pretty loud, so if we're trying to avoid detection you shouldn't use it."
She seems to detect her friend's blank stare and continues. "What? I picked up a guide on Muggle weapons one summer when You-Know-Who was gaining power thinking we might be able to use them on him. But I don't recognize the other one. "
"Who?" I ask. You-Know-Who…what a stupid name for someone when nobody knows who You-Know-Who is.
"Voldemort," the boy replies, rolling his eyes. "I thought I had killed him about five minutes before I ended up in this game, but he was across the clearing from us. He's the one that looks like a snake."
"Speaking of names, what're yours?" I ask. "He's Gale. We're both from District Twelve."
"I'm Harry, this is Hermione," the boy with the glasses says. "We're from England."
"I am Princess Zelda, and this is Link. I'm sorry, Hero, but I'm afraid I don't know your full name."
"It doesn't matter," Link replies. "We're from Hyrule."
"You mentioned some enemies you recognized?"
"Yes, Ganondorf. He is the holder of the Triforce of Power," Zelda explains in a soft but powerful voice, "He's the extremely tall, angry man, and Twinrova is two of his minions. Two witches that fight with fire and ice and can merge into one body, which is her current form of the red and blue witch. Ganondorf is…a frightfully powerful being bent on controlling the unified Triforce."
"And I thought I killed him," Link continues. I'm half listening, but also playing with the metal cylinder to figure out its purpose. "Drove the Master Sword right into his black heart and left him to fester for three days. Nobody should be able to survive that."
Two enemies that my new allies thought were dead? And the two Capitols didn't seem like Capitols at all, not to mention that Princess Zelda and Link were obviously from out of this world. This world...Did we even come from the same one? Are we still on Earth? I've never even heard of England or Hyrule before.
"Voldemort is the most powerful dark wizard of our age," Harry says, breaking the silence. "If his wand was given to someone else, like ours were, he'll be a pushover. But with a wand he'll be nearly unstoppable. I suggest, if I'm killed, you destroy my wand before letting him get it."
"We need to find my wand, too," Hermione says anxiously, but she looks more distressed at the thought of her friend dying. "It won't respond very well to him, but he'll still be more dangerous with it than without it."
"Who's the chick who looks like a cuccoo flew into her head?" Link asks.
"Bellatrix Lestrange." Hermione practically spits the name out. "She's as dark and demented as they come, but not as powerful as Voldemort."
A snap-hiss sends a stream of green light out of the cylinder with the push of the biggest button and I push it away in shock. Before it is even out of my hand the blade disappears, and everyone has jumped back about two metres from me.
"Was that a sword?" Link asks, suddenly interested in the cylinder. "May I?"
I pick up the cylinder carefully and toss it to him, which he catches deftly in his left hand. He presses the biggest button and a metre-long glowing green blade appears. He experiments by chopping into a small tree, but the blade cuts through it like nothing is there and the tree crashes to the ground. He deactivates it and tosses me the "P-90" followed by the belt with the holster, odd gun and some long yellow plastic clips for the P-90 attached.
"I much prefer a sword, thanks," Link says.
"No problem," I reply. "Let's keep moving and find some food."
Team Military, as Jacen started calling his team of six, trudged through the frozen, snowy woods seeking shelter and food for hours as the sunlight slowly faded. Without any sort of container to carry water in, every ball of snow that someone wanted to drink had to be melted by either Jacen or Eriana and fed directly into someone's mouth. Thankfully Carter could shoot because she scored a couple of small furry creatures that O'Neill was able to skin using the rather unwieldy but razor sharp broadsword. He was able to chop the meat into chunks that Jacen cooked using the Force, and they all ate what O'Neill called "Bugs Bunny Delight." It was not much, but it kept their energy up.
The two oldest team members, Picard and Crusher, were slowing the team down. Between his relative lack of fitness compared to two career military personnel and two Jedi, and her inability to shoot anything except the ground around any sort of potential meal, everyone's patience began to wear thin.
However, Jacen knew that they were merely the scapegoats of everyone's frustration.
Jacen soon realized that everyone's frustration with them was really aimed at the entire situation they were in and focused his efforts on covering their tracks with the Force to abate his frustrations.
The forest they travelled through was dense enough to block enough light from coming through to affect visibility past fifty metres and snow-covered enough to slow their progress. If it were not for the situation they were in, it might be a beautiful walk through the woods with fluffy snowflakes falling around them. The outfits they wore kept them plenty warm, easily regulating their body temperatures through their advanced properties.
So far there had been no sign of pursuit since Eriana had spotted the floating witch flying overhead, nor the mysteriously ominous cannon blasts they had heard before. As they walked they discussed the people that had been on the opposite side of the field from them. Picard and Crusher spoke about a Romulan named Tomalak and a Borg Queen. Apparently the biggest threat was that the Borg Queen would inject someone with nanites and turn them into a half-mechanical drone to do her bidding. Friend and enemy alike would become mindless slaves and would be used against her enemies.
"If your friend is infected with nanites," Picard said in an ominous voice. "Don't hesitate to kill them. Believe me, you'll be doing them a favour."
Carter took over the explanation from O'Neill about a being called Anubis, a half ascended parasitic worm that retook human form. He could apparently do things that sounded a lot to Jacen like using the Force. The other was another parasite in a human host called Osiris. Nobody else seemed to recognize the other contestants.
Jacen did not know how to describe the presence of Darth Vader and Mara, so he figured he would describe them as he felt them for the few moments he reached out before the gong. He described Darth Vader as an agent of darkness, a powerful Jedi lost in dark intentions. Mara he described as an assassin for Darth Vader's master. It was not a rosy picture to paint, but he knew he could not let his personal feelings get in the way of this deadly game.
Jacen gave some insight into what he sensed about the other combatants, but it did not take long for him to run out of things to say. Occasionally they stopped to try catching some food, but they mostly kept up their pace through the woods.
While Jack and Carter quietly muttered to each other at the front of the group, and Picard and Crusher did likewise as they followed, Jacen occupied his time silently trying to figure out the strange stick that Jack had given him while Eriana walked backward beside him watching their rear. Using the Force he could focus his efforts through it, but it did nothing to enhance or better focus his command of the Force. Everything he could sense about it told him that he was missing something, but what surprised him most was that the stick exhibited an emotion. If he could put a name to it, it would be loneliness.
A crashing sound behind the group was the first indication that something was wrong. Jacen's danger sense flared up and he barely side-stepped out of the way to avoid a chunk of ice about the size of a Wookiee's fist falling from the sky.
Jacen and Eriana took off and passed the others without waiting to see if they were running. Balls of ice tore through the woods wrecking tree branches and smashing into the ground with enough force to spray dirt at the contestants. They sprinted through the forest trying to use the trees as a layer of protection, but stopped bothering after the fourth or fifth tree got blasted to splinters in their path.
Jacen glanced over his shoulder and saw Jack pulling the older man along. On the ground several metres back was Beverly's body, obviously pummeled to death by the ice.
"Keep moving, gramps!" Jack shouted over a cannon blast. "She's gone."
Jacen sprinted back past the others and skidded to a halt in front of the battered body. He could barely look at the fatal injuries, so he focused on removing the bow and arrows from her body. A chunk of ice nearly hit his leg, so he took off sprinting again with the weapons. With the Force lending him speed, he easily overtook the others and joined Eriana at the front.
"We need to find shelter," Eriana yelled over the sound of a tree exploding from a near impact.
The Force gave Jacen a hint, and he sharply changed paths. A minute later he saw it – a crevice in the ground.
"Over here!" Jacen shouted over the icy destruction around them. He stood next to the crevice and put his hands in the air to construct a telekinetic shield against the onslaught of rampaging ice balls. The rest of the team joined him under his dome of protection.
"Eriana, lead the way," Jacen shouted. "I'll hold the ice off."
Eriana hopped into the crevice and eased her way down.
"Plenty of room; get down here!"
Picard followed her and Carter went next.
"Couldn't have done that sooner?" Jack asked.
"I can't hold this much longer," Jacen grunted. The impacts on the shield were tiring him and it seemed the longer he stood there, the more concentrated the bombardment became. "Take the bow and arrows get down there!"
Jack removed the weapons from over Jacen's shoulder and disappeared into the crevice. Jacen gave him a count to five before he dropped the shield and dove in, slamming into Jack's back.
"Watch it!" Jack said. "Old men crawling here."
"Sorry, there's a bit of a snow storm out there," Jacen replied. A chunk of ice exploded against the rock a foot away from his head, showering him with shards of ice.
"I thought Canada was bad," Jack muttered. "At least the people are nicer."
Eriana led the group deeper into the crevice with her lightsaber as a beacon to guide them until there was enough room for four of them to stand side by side, leaving Jacen lying across a rock shelf a bit higher up from the rest of them.
"This is cosy," Jack smiled at Carter.
"Yes, sir," Carter replied, glancing at Picard beside her and back to Jack. "Very cosy, sir."
"It sounds like the storm is slowing down out there," Jacen said. "But I think we'll be best off sleeping here tonight. I'd guess we're about half an hour from dark, anyway."
"Colonel, may I ask what year you believe it to be?" Jean-Luc asked in his odd accent.
Odd, Jacen thought. His friend just died. He doesn't even sound sad.
"2005," Jack replied. "You?"
"2375," Picard responded.
They laid in silence, absorbing the fact that more than three hundred years separated them.
"35," Jacen said, trying to make conversation, but the silence only became more uncomfortable. "In my galaxy, what's known as the Battle of Yavin was the start of a new calendar. It was the start of what most historians believe was the beginning of the end of Emperor Palpatine's rule."
"Nice guy?" Jack asked, though his tone sounded quite sarcastic.
"He killed off almost every Jedi and turned my grandfather against his wife and best friend," Jacen said coldly. "And that was just the start of his reign of terror."
An awkward silence hung between the allies as they sat quietly for a few moments, so Jacen pulled the stick out of his pocket and started examining it in the Force again.
"So Johnny," Jack said. "What's with the English accent and the French name?"
Carter shook her head softly and sighed.
"I grew up in France, but my teachers were from England, as is with most Europeans."
"Parle bien?" Jack asked.
"Meillieur que toi."
Jacen squinted down the crevice and considered his options as he tapped the stick against his left hand. Not able to see very far, what he really needed was more light.
A brilliant beam of light appeared from the end of the stick and shocked Jacen enough that he almost dropped the stick. "Shut that thing off, will ya?" Jack hissed.
He pointed the beam away from his allies when he realized it was pointing in their faces.
Dark, Jacen thought, and the light disappeared.
"What was that?" Carter asked. "How did you do that?"
"I don't know," Jacen said looking at the stick as if it had just grown teeth and wanted to bite him. "I was thinking about how dark it was and what we needed, and it did…that!"
"Can you do somewhere between that and…not that?" Jack demanded.
Jacen regarded the stick and pointed it down. Trying to visualize a small amount of ambient light without creating a beacon, he pushed his thoughts into the stick.
A little bit of light.
The end of the stick started to glow again.
"It sounds like the storm has passed. I'm going to head back up and keep watch while you guys sleep."
"I'll join you for a minute," Eriana said.
"Here, take this with you," Jack said, handing the bow and quiver to Jacen.
Jacen worked his way back out of the crevice and Eriana shimmied her way up and over their allies.
Back on the surface, Jacen surveyed the damage done by the large balls of ice. If nothing else, their tracks were well covered.
"Do you want to switch shifts in the middle of the night?" Eriana asked when she finally arrived at the surface a few minute after him.
"You go ahead," Jacen said. "I'll watch tonight and we'll switch tomorrow. I figure the two of us can sustain ourselves with the Force for several days straight, but if we take turns sleeping each night they can get some good rest so we can keep moving during the daylight."
Eriana nodded and caught Jacen's eye.
"Do you sense it?"
Jacen nodded and pointed into the woods. "About two kilometres that way. I can sense the person holding it is someone with…I'm having a hard time placing it. I want to say…great courage, as odd as that sounds."
"What do you think about the other team?"
"They seem like more good guys," Jacen said. "I don't think they noticed my probing, and I haven't sensed anyone else intruding yet. I say we try to work our way toward them and team up. Eleven of us will be stronger than five, and maybe we'll all get our weapons back."
"Agreed," Eriana said. "What about our friends downstairs?"
"They're suspicious, for sure," Jacen said. "But who wouldn't be in this situation? They probably think you'll sneak back and try to kill them in their sleep. Especially Jack. He doesn't seem like the type to trust easily."
"What's with Picard? His friend gets killed and he doesn't shed a tear."
"I don't know," Jacen said. "Something feels off about him. I can't quite place it."
"None of them are overly excited about this," Eriana said. "I get the sense that Jack and Sam would be willing to die for the other. Jacen, what if it comes down to the two of us?"
Silence hung between them as they both mulled over the question neither wanted to answer.
"You better get some sleep. I'll wake you if any of the bad guys approach," Jacen said. "For now, I'll use a Fallanasi technique to keep us hidden. Get some sleep. Tomorrow's a big day."
Giving the wand to Harry was a great idea. The boy, who is actually a year older than me, can do some pretty amazing stuff with it. He creates water bottles for us out of thin air and fills them with clean water when we run out. While he insisted that he could not create food because of some seventh law of magic, having clean water and something to store it in helps us keep going.
After hours of walking we still do not find any food, but at least having water helps us keep going without tiring too much. One cannon blast echoed through the woods, indicating a death, but we plough on. The more we walk, the darker it becomes and I finally decide we need to get some sleep.
"Let's make camp here," I say. "I figure the best plan would be to tie ourselves into the foliage of the trees to get some sleep. It won't be comfortable, but we'll be safer than on the ground.
"Can you make some sleeping bags and some rope?" I ask Harry. "Dark green would be best to blend into the trees."
He flicks his wand and my wish is granted – six sleeping bags and coils of rope appear in the clearing between us.
I help Zelda find a tree and guide her into it as she appears to have the least experience living in the woods. Pretty obvious given that she still hasn't had the sense to either cut off or tie up her hair. Really, what girl would leave butt-length hair down in a freaking forest? Maybe she'll let me braid it later when she sees how out of the way my hair is.
When Zelda is about twenty feet off the ground and safely stowed in her sleeping bag between two tree branches, I tie the rope around her with a knot that will slip loose if she pulls it, but will tighten if she falls.
Link and Gale are already stowing themselves away when I climb down, so I help Hermione into her own tree, and then Harry tells me to secure myself when I finish. He had been covering our tracks with magic, making our footprints disappear, and he tells me that he'll erase our footsteps before getting into his own tree.
I make my way up into an old tree and settle in for the night, tying myself into position between two large branches. I watch Harry as he climbs into his tree, waves his wand, and makes his way up. After a few moments of moving around, Harry settles in and I pull the hood of the sleeping bag over my head.
Somewhere in the middle of the night my over-sensitive left ear alerts me to a branch cracking below me. I carefully open my eyes, careful not to move a muscle, and look at the ground below where three figures are walking through. One holds up a fist and they stop. A blade of purple light appears in her other hand and a giant blade is held up by another figure. The one with the giant sword turns around and looks directly at me with yellow eyes that practically glow in the dark.
A shiver runs down my spine. The other two, a woman with the light sword and the man who looks like a snake also stare at me. I watch as their eyes dart around the clearing at exactly the spots where we are hiding.
Link is the first of us who reacts. I watch as he drops from his tree in a stream of green light, light sword activated. Even from twenty feet up I can see a look of determination on his face that scares me more than the three bad guys.
"This one's mine," the woman says and moves in to engage Link, their glowing swords making dazzling shapes in the night.
Link gives me the distraction the rest of us needed. I wiggle my way out of my sleeping bag and bring my P-90 to my shoulder. I squeeze the trigger and a burst of bullets flash out at the guy with the sword, but he flicks his blade in front of him like a shield.
Crap. Did he really just do that?
I squeeze the trigger again, moving the gun wildly across his body and his sword blocks every bullet that I fire. Harry and snake man, a.k.a. Voldemort, are shooting at each other with wands and Hermione is taking shots at Voldemort with her rifle which are bouncing off a giant metal shield. When I run out of bullets in the clip, my enemy rushes forward and takes a single swipe through the tree. I feel the tree shift and drop a bit. I know exactly what is next.
Branches around me start snapping against other tree branches as my ride to the ground gathers momentum. I throw the P-90 aside and pull the other weapon from my belt, hoping I can figure it out before that huge blade cuts me in half. Squeezing a soft spot by the index finger makes the top of the gun pop up, and squeezing it again sends a bolt of energy at the swordsman. I start running at him down the length of the tree, trying to get as close to the base as possible before it hits the ground, and one of my shots gets past his guard. He staggers backward as the tree hits the ground and bounces, sending me tumbling through the air.
I don't remember hitting the ground, but my shoulder hurts like hell and my mouth is full of snow and dirt. Somewhere in that mess I can also taste blood. While trying to make sense of what just happened I can hear weird humming and clashing noises, shouts in some funny language, and the blasts of a rifle.
Amid the pain, some tiny part of me is yelling "GET UP!" but all I can do is roll over half way onto my good shoulder and spit out the crap in my mouth.
I almost wish the fall from the tree killed me. The guy with the giant sword shook off whatever I hit him with and is coming at me.
I can't believe how yellow his eyes are.
Sitting high in a tree, Jacen meditated on keeping his presence in the Force as small as possible. Over time he had learned some of the most interesting uses of the Force can be done at the microscopic and even atomic levels of matter, and the only way to explore them is through reducing one's presence in the Force. Toxins can be neutralized, metals and crystals strengthened or weakened, but by far the most useful part of making oneself small is that it is nearly impossible for another Force user to detect one's presence.
If Jacen could describe his and Eriana's skills relative to each other, he was the master of the Force, and she was the master of the sword. She readily admits that his control over the Force greatly overshadows her own, although he will argue that she has learned more from him than some Jedi Masters in the Jedi Order know. He knew she did not believe him when he told her she would be shocked to discover what some of the Jedi Masters would really be like, but she would find out soon enough when they arrived at Ossus. Yoda had just promoted him to Jedi Master and requested he return to Luke not an hour before he woke up in the dark room earlier this morning.
A branch cracked below and the only movement Jacen made was to open his eyes. They darted around, enhanced with the Force to see in the dark, until they settled on a wolf below. No, not one wolf. Seven. A hunting pack looking for dinner, sniffing around the woods. They must have detected the scent of some delicious humans and decided to investigate.
Jacen silently extracted an arrow from his quiver and placed the notch on the string. He took the bow in his left hand and pulled back with his right, letting the Force guide his aim. He picked the smallest wolf, deciding not to be greedy for food, and aimed for the back of its neck.
I'm sorry, friend. Jacen thought and released the arrow.
The wolf dropped with a tiny yelp and the other wolves sniffed around the body of their fallen friend. Jacen found the Alpha wolf and pushed a thought into its head that there was food over there, somewhere in the opposite direction of the other team he and Eriana had identified as "good guys." The wolf's head shot up in the direction Jacen had indicated and the entire pack ran off in search of the meal, leaving Jacen to collect his team's breakfast.
With the swordsman approaching me I know I have mere seconds before I'm dead. That blade just cut through a half-metre thick tree without hesitation. What am I compared to that? I shift over to point the gun at him, but a flick of his wrist sends it out of my hand. I feel a fist tightening around my neck as I'm lifted into the air, but I cannot pry the invisible hands away.
Oddly enough, I can't even look at the man choking the life out of me. Behind him I see Harry and Hermione attacking Voldemort, and Link hammering at the woman. I'm truly captivated at the way he is beating her away from where Zelda is hiding with the glowing green sword. So captivated that I almost forget that my life is fading away.
"Tell me what you know of the other Jedi," my attacker demands. With every word the invisible hand squeezes tighter making it impossible to breathe. Forget answering his question. If I even know what to say, I couldn't.
I must be hallucinating. No oxygen getting to my head. Fire. Giant blasts of fire raining down from where Zelda was sleeping. One ball of fire slams into the back of my attacker, breaking his concentration and I fall to the ground. Ouch. That hurt. But I can breathe again, so I suck back the best tasting air of my life by the lungful.
I know I'm supposed to be the girl on fire, but I'm glad someone else is for a change. My attacker pulls his coat off before he gets burned and turns around to witness a massive bombardment of fire raining down on his allies, and all three decide to abandon their attack and run off. Fire continues to follow them as they retreat.
I don't know how long I lay there slumped on my back and staring at the sky, but Harry eventually decides to come over and help me up. Hermione hands me the laser gun and my P-90, which I replace on my outfit.
"Is everyone okay?"
"I think so," Harry replies, but I hear the hesitation in his voice. We rejoin the others and it takes me a few seconds to realize why Harry hesitated.
"We don't know," Zelda replies in her maddeningly calm voice. "Link found his sleeping bag tied up in the tree. There's no sign of him."
The helpless despair I felt when Gale was captured by Peacekeepers wells up in my chest, threatening to choke me, but I swallow and try to force it back down, steeling my nerves.
"He probably went to find some food."
Who am I kidding? None of them. They're looking at me skeptically. I didn't even convince myself.
"We can't stay here," Link tells us. "They'll plan another attack on us. We need to move."
I set up a marker under Gale's tree to indicate the direction we're setting off before we leave. Even though I hold on to hope that I'll see him again, this nagging feeling deep in my chest tells me something is very wrong.