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Old 06-13-2007, 01:58 PM   #1
JediMaster12
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[FIC]Shadows of Hope

I decided to take a slight break from Heart of the Deception as I am struggling to keep the plot going and finish it. I will work on it whenever I can and post when chapters are finished. However I have a new story that I began working on. I actually have to thank the people who make their fanfilms as it gave me this idea.

This is a new fic entitled Shadows of Hope and is set a year after Order 66 so we are dealing with the beginnings of the Empire. A smuggler carries the secret of the Jedi and is being pursued relentlessly by Imperial forces. In the end it is the usual good versus evil, etc. Hope you enjoy.


Shadows of Hope


It is a time of darkness as the dreaded Order 66 has come to pass. The Jedi are no more and Jedi Masters Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi have retreated to their sanctuaries in exile.

The Galactic Senate is now under the control of Emperor Palpatine, better known as Darth Sidious. The Empire now reigns while seeking out the remaining Jedi to turn them to the darkside or to destroy them.

After a year, rumors fly about a lost secret that could save the Jedi and destroy the Emperor. High above the skies of Onderon, a small stock freighter is undergoing heavy fire by Imperial forces as it struggles to land…



Chapter 1

The freighter rattled hard, enough to nearly shake loose all the bolts in the panels. Smoke was coming out of various pipes and the alarm was sounding loudly throughout the entire ship. On the speaker, “Warning: Multiple hull breaches throughout the ship.”

In the cockpit, the instrument panels were flashing. Sparks flew uncontrollably from the co-pilot’s panel but not enough to start anything serious. For the pilot, it was rather a godsend from the beating he was taking from his pursuers. When the hull breach warning sounded over the speaker, he let out a curse, “Blast and this is why I hate flying!” Shouting over the comlink, he called, “Two-y can you give me more power?”

The answer was garbled. The pilot gritted his teeth and replied, “Say again. I repeat say again.”

The reply came much clearer. The pilot refused to be dampened down by the news. He then replied, “Do what you can Two-y. I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve. We’ll lose ‘em.” He diverted his attention to the planet that came into view. He remembered in his history of the galaxy course that the planet was called Onderon. Thick jungles dotted the planet and contained many beasts that were considered dangerous. The people of Onderon were divided into two groups, with the beast riders living in the jungle. He didn’t really want to land there but it wasn’t like he had much of a choice. He directed his damaged freighter towards the planet, making a beeline for the jungles. He began to pick up speed as a blaster bolt rattled the ship. He exclaimed, “Oh I have a bad feeling about this.”

The freighter descended towards the surface creating a fire streak in the sky. It fell faster and faster until it disappeared into the jungles outside of the capital city Iziz. The only indication that it hit was a loud rumble as the engines exploded.

****

The cantina was dimly lit and the usual characters inhabited its tables. The swoop jockeys were in their usual corner trying to best each other’s times. The habitual drinkers slumped over the bar. At the various tables were the social drinkers and the pazaak players. The music was the usual type found in any spaceport but had its cultural flair to it. It sounded familiar but…

In the corner, sitting at the back of the cantina, was a hooded person. He sat watching the entrance with a practiced eye at every patron who entered. Occasionally he took a sip of his drink but his eyes never wandered. The pilot approached him and asked, “Are you my contact?”

Then all went dark…


****

The stars were the usual backdrop whenever any ship was in space. The planet below though was one that was a nice change of scenery. For Captain Farra of the Angler, the planet had something of value. It had something that could prove valuable to the Empire.

For the past two days he had been tracking the smuggler who had evaded them ever since Order 66 had been enacted. The Empire finally caught wind of him at a spaceport on Dantooine and sent Captain Farra to bring him in dead or alive but preferably alive. What the Emperor wanted him for, Captain Farra had no clue nor did he wish to know. All that mattered was that the smuggler be found.

They had caught up with his ship in the Onderon system and had commenced firing in order to cripple the vessel. Of course that was after he warned him to surrender. It was inevitable that the smuggler resist and now he paid the price. Enough damage had been caused to force the smuggler to make a crash landing. Unfortunately the damage had been too extensive. It was brought to light when the captain received a transmission from the planet, “Captain, we have found the crash site.”

“Excellent. Any survivors?”

“No sir. You would have to be a droid to survive the landing. Even if he did survive, he would have died from his injuries.”

“Search within a five mile radius of the site Commander. I want him found even if all you have is a pile of ashes to prove it,” Captain Farra ended the transmission abruptly and turned to stare out the window at the planet below. I will find you and you will give me what the Emperor wants.

****

The fog was thick and hazy as he followed the hooded figure. He had no reason why he should follow but he had the feeling that all the answers would be explained. So he followed not saying anything but observed silently their surroundings. He couldn’t explain it but he had the feeling that someone was watching them or following them and he was certain the hooded figure knew it too.

They stopped when they came to the clearing. The hooded figure turned addressed him, “I cannot stay long but this is important. We are nearly wiped out yet there are some who still live.” He then held up a small data sphere, “This has all the teachings plus information regarding one who is in danger.”

“So you want me to take this, find the one and find one of the Jedi so it can be safe,” he took the data sphere and clutched it in his hand. “You know my boss won’t like having Imperials after me Clat’Ha. It’s not good business.”

“It is important Rowan. The Force has chosen you for a reason. Please keep them both safe.” Her face faded from view as blasters began to fire and the hiss pop of the lightsaber filled his ears…


****

The woman sat staring at the body as its owner’s face became gripped in a grimace. Ever since they had found him, he had been twisting and turning with no regard for the injuries done to his body which consisted of a few broken ribs, scratches and bruises all over and a head injury. Her house had been chosen to house him until he awoke and could answer questions since the astromech refused to cooperate.

Cleaned up, she was able to study him. Dark hair, skin a golden tan, eyes of a peculiar blue-grey and an arsenal of grenades and a blaster. From what the leader their group had observed, the stranger was a smuggler though it was strange that he was traveling alone. When the stranger began to groan, she took a towel that had been soaking in cool water and squeezed out the excess to make a cold compress and placed it on his head. She was still cooling his head when her husband walked in.

The man placed his hands on his wife’s shoulders and gave her a kiss on her cheek. He glanced at the stranger on the cot and asked, “Any change?”

Not looking at her husband, she continued to apply compress as she replied, “He still feverish and he still has nightmares.”

“Any chance he will pull through?” her husband removed his hands from her shoulders, “It would be a shame if he died.”

“If he survived the crash, then he will pull through. Minerva will want to question him,” the woman replied replacing the towel back into the bowl. She looked at the stranger who relaxed enough to settle into a deep sleep. She picked up the bowl and began to walk out with her husband. She added, “He will sleep well tonight.”

“Let’s hope so. It is a risk hiding him,” and her husband held the door open for her to exit before following her.

****

Minerva paced inside the house pondering the turn of events that had happened. She had been out gathering food from the jungles when she saw the ship streak towards the ground, heading towards the beast rider settlement. She had been sensing a disturbance in the Force ever since she woke up that morning and seeing the ship confirmed that it was indeed what she sensed.

She had been on Dantooine when Order 66 had been enacted. She was out gaining practice in diplomacy with her master when the coded retreat message had been sent. Her master had begun making preparations to return to the temple when clone troopers had ambushed them. She made it out and hid within the spaceport but her master was gunned down buying her time to escape. She got into her ship and hightailed it out to go anywhere but Coruscant.

She ended up on Onderon, in the jungles outside the city Iziz. Her ship was in fairly good shape so she hid it within the shrubbery. For the past year, she took up residence near a waterfall close to the beast rider settlement and kept to herself. Then yesterday she felt a disturbance and now in the next room was living proof that something was afoot. She calmed down by reciting the Jedi Code and stood waiting until the husband and wife came out.

The wife came out first carrying a bowl full of warmed water and a cloth. She was followed by her husband as they left the room. As soon as the door was closed she asked, “How is he?”

“No life threatening injuries but the head trauma may be the deciding factor,” the woman replied.

Minerva looked at the nothing in particular before asking, “May I see him?”

“I don’t know…” the husband began.

“Yes. You are safe here,” the wife interrupted, “You can stay if you want before returning to the falls.”

“Thank you,” and Minerva started towards the door. Her robes flowed with a grace as if she were at the temple on Coruscant again.

****

Nighttime was a dangerous time to be out in the jungles of Onderon but their orders were to find any trace of the smuggler that had been shot down. The people had been objective over the martial occupation of Iziz while they searched for him. The commander of the group lead on through some of the know trails. Every few feet, they had to shoot at cannocks to drive them away and the men were grumbling over it.

They had shot at the thousandth cannock or boma when the commander asked his second how far they were from the next settlement. As it turned out, the settlement was a little over two miles ahead after crossing a river of course. Deciding that it wasn’t worth it to go any further, the commander stopped and ordered to pitch camp. He contacted the captain, “Captain. We are about two miles from the next settlement. No one has seen anything.”

“No trace whatsoever?”

“I seriously doubt sir that these primitives would hide a smuggler. Not if they can be persuaded with credits.”

“Take no chances commander. It is imperative that we find the smuggler. His talents may prove useful.”

“Yes sir.”

****

Minerva looked at the inert figure on the cot when she entered. He looked familiar, like the one she had seen in her dreams and she briefly wondered if it was a vision she had received. Her attention was focused on the man’s face as she watched it grimace in pain, or was it fear? A lot of emotions were pouring from him and it filled her senses. The one that stuck out was the pain.

As a student, she was interested in the healing process. Her master had encouraged her to develop her talent, which proved useful in the missions they shared. Even the masters on the Council thought her talent to be extraordinary. Now she decided to use it to help the stranger. It was a risk of being caught and exterminated but it was one she was willing to take.

She removed the weapon that had never left her side since the day she made it and placed it beside the blaster that lay upon the side table. Sitting in the vacated chair, she made herself comfortable. She took one of the stranger’s hands into her own and closed her eyes. She slipped into the meditative state that was so familiar.

Using her mind, she slipped past the memories, the pain to the source. Gently calling upon the Force, she began the long and arduous process of healing. This one must live. She could sense that just by looking at him. It was worth the risk.

****

The pain began to etch away like the waters of Corellia’s seas washing the sands. The headache was dulling as if he had taken a painkiller of some sort. He felt his ribs being cooled as if he were being thrust into a cooling unit. He began to leave the memories and the strange visions behind. The fog was simmering away, turning the fuzzy picture into a coherent view. He left the darkness behind.

He opened his eyes slowly and let them adjust to the light. He felt the gentle caresses of his hand and turned to see who was holding it. He saw a woman with soft brown, shoulder length hair sitting on a chair with her eyes closed. She wore a softened and content expression ass she sat there. He was curious but then a thought hit him, The sphere! Where is the sphere?

Quietly he reached for his blaster. When he managed to grasp the handle, he made a swoop and grabbed the woman and held the blaster to her head. He watched her as she jolted awake but she showed no fear as he whispered fiercely, “I won’t hurt you. I need you to be quiet.”

When she nodded, he lowered the blaster and sat back on the cot. He then began to examine the handle of it looking for something. He kept his eye on the woman who sat there looking at him with the greenest eyes he had ever seen. Noticing that the handle bore no damage of any kind, he pointed it back at the woman and asked, “Who are you and where am I?”

Minerva watched as the stranger examined his blaster. His eyes were an interesting shade of blue; they looked like the seas of Corellia. She also saw that he was rather suspicious and no fool as he kept a wary eye on her as he did what he needed to do. When he asked her the questions, she answered, “None of your personal effects were damaged, just removed so you could get treatment.”

The smuggler responded, “That is not what I asked. Where am I?”

Looking at him with a calm expression, she replied, “You are in one of the beast rider settlements of Onderon. Your ship crashed on the planet’s surface. Do you remember?”

His head throbbing dully, he responded, “Yeah I remember. Who are you?”

“Minerva. I am what they call a witch here since I am considered rather eccentric,” Minerva responded while smiling, “As for you, you have me at a disadvantage with your name.”

He decided to lie and gave one of his aliases, “Arlen Korr.”

Minerva had sensed the lie off the bat and responded, “That is an interesting name…if it were your real name Rowan Kinstarr.”

Rowan pointed his blaster to a spot between Minerva’s eyes with the intent to shoot her only to have it yanked violently out of his hand. He watched as it sailed to her open palm where she grasped and held it. He couldn’t believe his eyes. She was a Jedi! Her calm voice cut into his thoughts, “Now perhaps I can explain.”

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Old 06-13-2007, 08:10 PM   #2
The_Catto
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I liked it, very much.
A wonderful start. Just a couple of misspells but nothing what a quick edit wouldn't fix.
Looking forward to the next chapter!

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Old 06-14-2007, 02:49 PM   #3
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Thank you. Now that I have finished another chapter, here is the next.

Chapter 2

The tale seemed rather long at least to Rowan whose head was still pounding from the head injury. He learned that he had been rescued from his shipwreck and that the girl before him was a Jedi but at least the data sphere was safe. He asked her, “Is there any way I can get a ship out of here?”

Noticing his pain, Minerva spoke, “I see that you must have hit your head harder than I thought. Perhaps if you hadn’t interrupted me, you wouldn’t be suffering so.” She reached to touch his forehead.

Rowan saw her reach for him and he backed away. He wasn’t focusing on her words properly and responded in a heated whisper, “Leave me alone. I just need a painkiller.”

“If you let me, I can heal you. I promise that is all I will do,” Minerva responded looking at him in the eye. She had rightly guessed that he was wary of Jedi but not in fear of them. She was relieved when he acquiesced to letting her finish her healing. True to her word, she healed him and didn’t delve any further. When she was finished, she said, “I am curious as to why the Empire is seeking you out. That has to be the reason why you want to leave so quickly.”

“So what? I probably gave them the slip one too many times. I never disappoint my customers,” Rowan grumbled in reply. This girl was getting too close. Clat’Ha trusted him and he wouldn’t let her down.

“The Empire wouldn’t waste their time on smugglers who smuggle things like spice in the Outer Rim for nefarious Hutts…unless they had reason to believe you have something of interest,” Minerva replied. She eyed him thoughtfully and added, “I doubt Clat’Ha would want you to turn away any help from a Jedi.”

“How do you know about her? You promised!” Rowan sat up straight and reached for his blaster, realizing that he didn’t have it but she did.

“I have kept my word. Clat’Ha left her mark on you through the Force,” Minerva replied. She handed him back his blaster. She stood up to leave, leaving him sitting on the cot. Picking up her lightsaber, she moved towards the door before adding, “Rest easy. I will see you tomorrow.”

Rowan watched as she left but asked quickly, “How do I know that you won’t turn me in?”

“I guess you’ll have to trust me,” and Minerva left.

Rowan waited until she left to open the panel in his blaster. The data sphere rolled out into his palm. He must have done something for the sphere lit and the image of a Jedi appeared. It said, “If you are watching this, then you have reached the presence of a Jedi and he shall have activated it.” Rowan looked at the sphere and wondered how.

****

Minerva went back to her waterfall sanctuary after leaving the smuggler to rest. It was disturbing, the aura of the Force that swirled around him. Clat’Ha must have done more than left her imprint on him, she mused.

Minerva had known Clat’Ha by reputation only within the Order. The rumors were that she had an unusual propensity for visions, much like another Jedi who kept to herself most of the time. It seemed strange that a smuggler should have something of value to the Jedi and the Emperor but the Force worked in mysterious ways.

Upon entering the cave dwelling that had been her home for the last year and looked around. Tomorrow she would be leaving and it would be in the company of the smuggler and his droid. He was reluctant but he won’t refuse her. He was searching for someone or something. Perhaps she would be able to find if there were any other Jedi left if she stayed with him. Besides if her suspicions proved correct, then maybe…

She thought no more as she began to pack useful items that she had collected from the beast riders. Some were what the masters would call ‘uncivilized’ but out here she found them dead useful. The blaster that the settlement leader had given her was a fine weapon and she had spent hours learning how to shoot it with the same precision as the beast riders. She packed a few grenades and a couple of thermal detonators as well along with a short vibroblade.

When her task was done, she went to the nest that had been her bed and laid down to sleep. Before she closed her eyes, she reached out with the Force. She sensed something that alarmed her. She closed her eyes while muttering, “We have to hurry tomorrow.”

****

Captain Farra was getting impatient. He felt that he had nothing but a bunch of imbeciles under his command and it was aggravating him to no end. He had just received reports that there had been no sign of the smuggler. One of his lackeys dared to suggest that he had been incinerated on the way down. Of course he was duly taken care of. That didn’t help much as he paced the bridge of his ship looking occasionally out the window. The last report sent was that one of the patrols closest to a settlement was going to stop for the night. He would have demanded that they keep going but common sense told him that with all the creatures about, there was no way, even if they had rifles.

He thought nothing more of it as he stopped his pacing and turned to head towards the communications room. Once there, he activated the comm to reveal a presence that brought fear and awe. It said, “What is it Captain?”

“We have tracked the smuggler to Onderon. Unfortunately he put up resistance and was shot down,” Captain Farra replied in a professional voice.

“Any survivors?”

“I have sent patrols to look through the wreckage for anything. Several have reported no trace of the smuggler. It is possible that he was incinerated upon impact,” the captain replied rather fearful of what might happen to him.

He was met with the response, “No he is still alive. Double your search, Make sure he is found.”

“What of the citizenry milord?” Captain Farra asked.

“They can be persuaded to see our point of view. Do what you must Captain Farra. Show no mercy to those that try to harbor him.”

“Yes milord,” Captain Farra replied with a slight bow.

“Good. You are a great asset to the fleet Captain Farra,” and the image disappeared from view.

Captain Farra waited a full three seconds before turning on his heel to carry out the Emperor’s orders. He will find that smuggler if it was the last thing he ever did.

****

The morning proved to be better than the night before as Rowan woke up and set about getting ready to leave. He wasn’t going to wait for the Jedi to come to him. He had a mission and he was going to see it through. Besides it was no use taking her along. She could get killed and that would be one less Jedi in the galaxy.

He packed his things and placed his blaster with the data sphere in his holster. He noticed Two-y in the corner on stand by mode. He called to the droid, “Two-y. Wake up.”

The droid activated with a series of indignant beeps. It swiveled its dome head until its optic lens focused on Rowan. It then let out a series of beeps and boops.

“Not so loud Two-y. I’m sorry that I woke ya but we have to get going,” Rowan replied in a harsh whisper. He wasn’t anxious to wake the people who lived in the house. He just wanted to get out as quickly as possible. He opened the door to the room he was in and peered about.

Seeing no one, he motioned Two-y to follow him. He crept through the house towards the door. His hand was almost on the door when a voice called, “Leaving so soon?”

Rowan whirled to face Minerva who stood there in some version of Jedi attire but it was different. He had withdrawn his blaster with the intent to fire but stopped. In response, she did nothing but stood there. Rowan’s immediate reaction was of anger, “Are you crazy or something? Are you trying to get yourself killed?”

Minerva for her part continued to look at him. She replied, “You are quick on the trigger I see. It has served you well.”

“Will you stop with the Jedi speak? I just want to get out of here before Imperial troops arrive,” Rowan glanced about and backed slowly towards the door.

“So you are running from the Empire. Perhaps I can help you in that if you allow me to join you,” Minerva arrived.

“Do you think I am stupid? If the Empire finds out that I have been hanging around Jedi then there is nothing to stop them from following me to them,” Rowan replied. He had managed to calm down and had holstered his blaster. Two-y beeped something as it sat waiting until Rowan moved.

“From what I see, all they are chasing is a smuggler and his crew. There aren’t any Jedi here,” Minerva replied, “Besides I have the means to leave and right now you don’t have much of a choice.”

“Oh really? Maybe I’ll just head to Iziz and steal a ship from there,” Rowan retorted.

“If you want to get caught quickly then by all means go ahead.”

“Blast you are the most frustrating Jedi I have ever met. Can’t you stop acting like you know everything?” Rowan was getting impatient with her. Reluctant as he was, he knew that he had no other option but the girl was making it difficult to swallow his pride.

“I don’t know everything. All I’m saying is that if the Imperials are indeed looking for you, their base of operations would be in Iziz.” Minerva watched under an inquiring gaze as the smuggler debated on whether or not to accept her help. It allowed her to reach out with the Force and confirm her suspicions.

Rowan looked at her. Clat’Ha had said that he would meet a Jedi that would help him but he was unwilling to believe that it was this girl standing there and looking at him as if she were laughing at him. He did remember that he needed to get the data sphere into a safe place and find the other he was to look for. For once he decided to swallow his pride and he replied, “Fine you can tag along. Just remember that I take orders from just one person: me,” and he emphasized it by pointing at his chest.

“It’s a wonder you are still alive then,” Minerva replied as she brushed past him to open the door. She had already let her friends know that she was leaving and they wished her well. She knew that she annoyed the smuggler but it was his problem. As she glanced about outside she added, “You might want to follow me you Hairless Wookiee.”

“Nothing is worth this,” Rowan muttered as he followed Minerva out into the compound.

****

“Commander, the settlement is just beyond those shrubs over there.”

“Good. We are making good time. Move along men,” the commander motioned to his men.

The patrol struggled through the brush until they came to a clearing. They could see a bunch of dwellings and people milling about. Despite the rumors he had heard of the beast riders, the commander wasn’t going to take any chances. He headed directly to what passed to be the leader’s home and banged on the door.

The leader opened his door to a group of Imperial troopers milling about his door. He asked, “Greetings to members of the Imperial forces. May I ask why are you here?”

The commander didn’t want to waste time on etiquette so he abruptly answered, “Where is the smuggler? His ship crashed within two miles of this settlement.”

The leader knew who the commander was talking about but gave no indication. He only answered, “We searched the wreckage and found no one. A droid would have had to survive that wreck.”

“Some how I don’t believe you. Perhaps a mode of persuasion is in order?”

The woman who had attended to the stranger saw the troopers enter their settlement moments after they had left. She called to her husband and pointed at them. Following her finger, her husband saw the troopers surrounding their leader and started walking towards the group. Behind him his wife followed. He called out, “Troopers, why are you here?”

The commander was growing impatient with everything and pointed his blaster pistol at the woman and said, “I grow tired of this. Either one of you tells me where the smuggler is or I will shoot her.”

The leader repeated, “There is no smuggler. If he did survive, he may have been too injured to find us. Perhaps the cannocks ate him.”

The commander cocked his pistol only to hear a, “Wait.”

****

“Well it certainly isn’t in the best of shape but she’ll do,” Rowan said will examining the ship that had been hidden for the better part of a year. He was surprised that there was very little damage to it, carbon scoring or jungle elements. He suspected that the Jedi kept up in maintenance. He said then to the droid, “Two-y, warm up the systems and get her ready for take off.”

The droid beeped a reply and scurried off into the ship. Rowan smirked at the droid and turned to face the Jedi. She was standing there watching and looking at him but she wasn’t completely there. Her green eyes had a faraway look that Rowan called the Jedi look. It didn’t last for long for she broke her gaze and asked, “So does it suit you?”

“It’s fine,” Rowan replied while slowly approaching her. The last thing that he wanted to do was to do anything to make her jump. He looked at her with a puzzled glance and asked, “Everything all right?”

Minerva had felt a slight tremor. It was such a quiet thing and she didn’t know if it was something or nothing. She was in the middle of debating on what to do about it when she became aware that he had been staring at her. She directed her gaze to him and asked how he like the ship. Upon receiving an answer and a query, she responded, “Nothing. Just remembering when I landed here.”

It was a lie and Rowan knew it. Still there was no point in aggravating a Jedi, especially one that seemed bent on annoying him every step. Clat’Ha had warned him that the Jedi he would meet would be rather blunt, headstrong and bent on getting her own way at times. Sure enough Clat’Ha’s description matched the girl’s but he was going to wait and see. Instead he replied, “Alright. Well Two-y is warming up the engines and we should be ready to burn sky and see lines.”

“Where will we go?”

“Don’t know. Anywhere but here,” Rowan replied with a shrug, “The Outer Rim will be our best bet until I can make some inquiries.”

“What of Tatooine?” Minerva asked suddenly.

“That sand bag? Not much to look for there unless it means talking to the Hutts. Don’t get me wrong but the types there would get the wrong idea about you,” Rowan replied eyeing her speculatively.

The effect was totally unexpected, “A suitable distraction while you settle things.” Not once did Minerva blush. In fact few things surprised her any more.

“Fine,” Rowan replied controlling the fact that she had yet again guessed, or sensed or whatever about him correctly again. His attention was drawn to Minerva who jerked her head towards the brush. “What is it?”

“I sense a disturbance in the Force.”

“What do you m…” and Rowan was pushed out of the way while Minerva withdrew her prized blaster and fired at the brush.

Immediately return fire sounded and the commander’s voice sounded loud and clear, “There they are. Arrest them!”

Rowan jumped to his feet and ducked behind a boulder while drawing his weapon. He peered over the edge and looked for targets and fired. He managed to down two of them before looking at the Jedi.

Minerva was dodging the blaster bolts as she ran towards her foe, drawing a short vibroblade. With a deliberate speed, she sliced to ribbons the two that had been firing at her. She then dropped to one knee and began firing again at the brush. She could sense that it was double the size of a standard patrol. Jerek must have ratted us out, the thought raced through her mind as she avoided fire. She glanced to make sure the smuggler was ok.

Rowan watched her handling the blaster and blade was amazed that a Jedi would even bother to use one. He always thought that Jedi were supposed to be married to their lightsaber. He continued to fire at the shrubbery catching glimpses of the familiar white armor of the clone troopers as the girl raced back towards her cover. A beep from his comlink told him what he needed to know. He shouted at Minerva, “Get on the ship. Now!”

Minerva ran under Rowan’s cover fire and up the loading ramp. Rowan continued to fire at the brush while backing up into the ship. Once on board, he closed the doors and shouted, “Fire up Two-y!” and ran towards the cockpit.

It didn’t take much for Minerva to take control of the ship and lift off until Rowan could make it up to the cockpit. He took over without even noticing it was her in the co-pilot seat. He guided the ship towards the sky.

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Old 06-18-2007, 03:18 PM   #4
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Chapter 3

Captain Farra was staring out at the planet below. His patrols reported having found the smuggler and were going to arrest him. The interesting bit was that he was in the company of a female, another member of his crew. He gazed out still when one of his lieutenants came up to him and said, “Captain, they have lifted off and heading towards our sector.”

“Set the tractor beam and prepare to fire. Target the engines,” Captain Farra replied after a brief glance at the lieutenant.

“Yes Captain,” and the lieutenant turned to walk back towards one of the controllers. He said, “Ready laser canons. Ready tractor beam.”

****

The blaster fire came, glancing off the shields and bumping the ship. Rowan kept one eye on the systems and one eye on the scene before them trying to avoid the blaster fire as much as possible. He didn’t want to land like the last time. He was getting frustrated when Two-y began beeping loud and indignantly. Rowan growled, “I know. I know I saw them.”

“Saw what?” Minerva asked, knowing the answer already before he gave it.

“Star Destroyer trying to cut off our escape. Looks like it’s the one that had been chasing me,” Rowan replied concentrating on flying.

Two-y began beeping. Some of beeps became loud and sounded like whining.

“I know. A few more hits and the shields will be down. They’re not gonna get me without a fight,” and Rowan put all power into the front shield. He was going to try something and hoped that it would work.

****

Captain Farra cast a second glance at the ship. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He muttered aloud, “They are moving to attack position,” then to his orderlies he ordered, “They are moving into attack position. Shields up.”

He is more foolish than I thought.

****

Minerva watched as the pilot maneuvered the ship into attack position. She had listened to what the droid had been beeping about and heard everything. She was quiet after her question and was content to watch. After hearing that if they took too many hits and they would be sitting ducks, she decided to take action.

Ignoring the reply of the pilot, she settled back into her seat and closed her eyes. Again she was forced to use her talents that could expose her and put her at risk but how were they to know that she was a Jedi? Wiping her mind from distraction, she slipped into battle meditation. It was a rare technique that blessed few and she was one of the few long with her healing. A strange pairing, but as her master always said, the Force works as it wills.

Rowan was busy piloting towards the Star Destroyer. He had no idea if they would survive the encounter but it was worth a shot. He was in the middle of maneuvering when he began to sense something. It was like someone was gently urging him when to turn and when to dive. It was rather strange but Rowan didn’t ignore it. He was well aware that the bucket of bolts they were in probably couldn’t stand another beating so he took the chance. Glancing out the window, he noticed that the laser canons of the destroyer were missing them by wide margins. Either they were playing with them or they were really bad shots.

Two-y then beeped something. Rowan asked him to repeat and Two-y beeped again stating that the coordinates were set once they cleared.

“Great. Let me know when we’re clear.”

****

Captain Farra was getting angry. It was as if his men were missing on purpose! He asked his lieutenant, “Can we launch any fighters?”

“A squad of four are ready to launch sir,” came the reply.

“Launch fighters. I want that ship!” Captain Farra demanded.

“Too late sir!” the lieutenant shouted. He was pointing at the window.

Captain Farra turned to see the ship coming upon the viewing window. It looked as if it were going to crash into them. Both he and the lieutenant ducked as it passed. Standing back up Captain Farra looked around his view. He ordered, “Track them. They may come around for another pass.”

“Captain,” a lieutenant from below sounded, “the ship just made the jump into hyperspace.”

“Impossible,” Captain Farra muttered. “No ship that size could make the jump into hyperspace that quickly.”

“It’s gone sir.”

“Track them. Send patrols to the most likely destinations within distance of this planet.” Captain Farra then turned to the aide standing next to him, “Find them. I will allow no rest until we have the scum.”

“Yes sir.”

Captain Farra then turned abruptly and marched off the bridge. This was rather humiliating but there is no need to report anything until he had something to report. The lieutenant waited until the captain had left before order, “Alert all commands and deploy the squads.”

****

The sigh of relief was loud as Rowan leaned back in his seat. He smiled cockily and said, “Well that wasn’t too bad. Sometimes I amaze even my self.”

The reply was a rude series of beeps from Two-y. Rowan replied, “Hey at least we are in one piece you walking tin can!”

Minerva was chuckling to herself. She replied, “Well that wasn’t too hard. You could say that they let us go. That’s why it was so easy.”

“Easy? You call that easy?” Rowan replied indignant, “I suppose you think you could have done better.”

Minerva looked at Rowan with a smile that hid annoyance. She replied dangerously sweet, “If I could have done better, I would have gotten off Onderon long before you arrived.”

“Fine if it’s gratitude you want then you have it,” Rowan replied exasperated, not the least intimidated by her.

“Not gratitude. Just be more observant. There are other things at work besides your piloting,” and Minerva stood up and left the cockpit for the main hold.

After she had left Two-y beeped a low beep followed by series of beeps that sounded reproachful.

Rowan listened rather reluctantly to the droid. He replied, “What? It wasn’t you that was helping me fly this bucket of bolts?”

The beeps that followed would have made any other man blush. In Rowan’s case, it left him speechless. He then responded, “What was she doing while I was heading for the destroyer?”

The droid beeped as response. Rowan then asked incredulously, “Since when have you decided what was for me to find out and you to know?” After an aggravated sigh, he added, “Alright, I’ll go talk to her. I swear the both of you are out to give me a headache,” and he started towards the main hold.

He found Minerva sitting on one of the bucket seats near a console. Her eyes were closed and she was sitting upright and she looked comfortable. It looked as if she were asleep. The only thing that indicated that she wasn’t was her saying, “What do you want to boast about now?”

Briefly annoyed, Rowan held his temper and said as gently ass he could, “Nothing. I just wanted to say thanks.”

“For what?” and Minerva opened her eyes.

“Well for helping out. There was no way that they would have shot that badly unless they had some help.”

“Maybe they got frustrated with you playing dodge the bolt?” Minerva replied with a slight hint of sarcasm.

“And I suppose Jedi are supposed to be modest about their talents no matter how rare?”

“Yeah,” Minerva stood, “I helped you. If I hadn’t we would have been captured or worse, blasted out of the sky.” She stood to walk out of the hold towards the dormitories when she felt a slight tug on the Force. It was a crude form of stasis but nevertheless noticeable. She turned to see Rowan with an outstretched hand as if to stop her. She asked, “How did you do that?”

“Do what?” Rowan asked confused. When Minerva left, he wanted her to stop so she could hear him out. He held up his hand and she froze slightly before turning.

Minerva didn’t answer but instead walked right up to Rowan and gazed into his eyes. The blue-grey clashed with the green as they locked onto each other. She scrutinized him, reaching out with her senses. Finding what she was looking for she took a step back and muttered, “Curious,” and turned to walk towards the dormitories leaving Rowan staring at her as if she had grown horns on top of her head.

Minerva went to the port side dormitories with every intention on meditating about her discovery. She had sensed that something was off about the smuggler when she first talked to him and now with that interesting revelation, she wasn’t sure about what it meant. She sat cross-legged on the floor, positioning herself to be comfortable. It was then she had noticed a small burn on her upper arm.

It was a blaster shot that must have hit her when she was heading towards the ship or something. Strange, it didn’t hurt then and it didn’t hurt now. Concentrating, she healed the burn, allowing herself to relax. When that was done, she set herself to meditate. It had been a long time since she seriously took the time to meditate. Now that she was back in space, she was surprised at how easily it all came back. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, stripping away all distractions.

Rowan, for his part stayed in the main hold wondering what had just happened. He had been around enough Jedi to know that they never bothered that close of an inspection unless they sensed the Force around you. Rowan scoffed at that idea since he was no Jedi and he had no abilities to speak of. All he knew was that he could survive in almost anything the galaxy could throw at him. He sat down on one of the seats and ran his hand through his dark hair, making it look messy.

It probably has something to do what she mentioned earlier about Clat’Ha, he thought. Again he scoffed at that since Clat’Ha knew that he had no patience with Jedi speak or anything like that. Then again what about what the data sphere said?

After that thought, he withdrew his blaster and took out the data sphere. He looked at it again. Right like you might have a bit of the Force in you. He looked at it closely and recalled the nightmares he had when Clat’Ha gave him the data sphere. He had never asked where she had gotten the information from and now it was too late.

After she had given him the sphere, they were ambushed. It was a bunch of storm troopers who had probably been tailing them and surrounded them. Rowan remembered how Clat’Ha grabbed him and flung him to the side and yelled for him to run. He watched as they gunned her down, buying him time to make it to his ship. Ever since then he’d been on the run from the Empire searching for the one that Clat’Ha said to meet up with. Well you found a Jedi. Maybe she would know what to do with the data sphere. Maybe she could explain something. Deciding not to delay the inevitable, he went in search of Minerva.

****

Captain Farra had never been afraid when he joined the Emperor. Now for the first time he felt afraid standing in the Emperor’s presence. The holo image of the Emperor glowed its blue hue while Farra kneeled respectfully. He waited as the Emperor said, “I sense that something has happened Captain Farra.”

“Yes my lord. The smuggler…he…he escaped from Onderon.” Farra, with is head down, waited for the ax to fall. He could feel his heart trembling and the fear rolling down his back.

“Was he alone Captain?”

It took a moment for the question to sink in and knowing that the Emperor didn’t like to be kept waiting, Farra replied, “My scouts reported that a woman was with him. They surmised that she was part of the crew.”

“Did he have a crew when he arrived in the Onderon system?”

“There is no word on that my lord.” Farra grew anxious at this unusual line of questioning.

“How did he escape Captain Farra?” came the next question.

Farra didn’t want to get into it but now confronted with the question, he was force to. He gave an account on how he doubled the search and that someone from one of the settlements tipped them off and how they pursued. He got as far as when the ship tried to make it past to jump into hyperspace, “It was a surprise move he did. He moved into attack formation and came straight at us.”

“Anything else?”

“The laser fire I had ordered to cripple the vessel shot at them but missed. It was as if they were deliberately trying to let him get away,” Farra blurted out.

“But he did escape Captain Farra. He had help though.” The Emperor seemed pleased at the report that Farra had given him but it was hard to tell.

Farra not sure if it was a good thing or not couldn’t help but ask, “What do you mean milord?”

“Captain, continue the pursuit. I wouldn’t worry about the smuggler’s companion,” and the Emperor signed off.

Captain Farra was confused but who was he to question the orders of the Emperor? He turned and went to find his lieutenant and relay the orders to keep up the search.

****

The room was rather cold but wide open giving the impression that it was rather open. The presence of the two people in the room was what made it cold. The hooded one gave what could pass for a smirk as the image of Captain Farra faded from view. It wasn’t he who spoke but the one in his company, “How long are you going to let the bumbling fool chase the smuggler my lord?”

“As long as it takes Talim.” The Emperor turned to face Talim Ventura, member of the Emperor’s Hand. “The smuggler can be dealt with easily but his companion is another matter.”

“What will you have me do?” Talim asked, head bowed.

“Move against the Jedi. Bring her before me when you have her,” the Emperor replied.

“Jedi? I thought they were purged with Order 66,” Talim raised his head in surprise.

“At least one has come out of hiding. A unique one if I remember.”

“I have never had much experience against a Jedi milord but I will bring her if you so desire,” Talim replied, nervous. He had assassinated political enemies but never had he encountered a Jedi before. He slightly labored under the delusion that Jedi were tough and hard to kill.

“Good. I sense you will succeed,” the Emperor then sent Talim on his way, “Do what must be done Talim but bring her before me alive.”

“Yes my lord,” Talim headed towards the door.

He was stopped by the Emperor’s, “Be mindful. Let her make the first move.”


Last edited by JediMaster12; 06-26-2007 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 06-26-2007, 03:51 PM   #5
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Here is another chapter. I actually like this story and it gives me pleasure in thinking up dialogue.


Chapter 4

The fields were green with the wild grasses, like they had never been before. The sun shone softly its warmth and the wind rippled through the grasses. The beasts were gently roaming the fields and grazing. Hidden between the beasts came a giggle. Then clouds…

Then it shifted to darkness. The darkness was impenetrable. She felt bound, almost afraid to move. Off in the distance came a low cackle of laughter. She could feel the cold, the death, the darkness flowing through. It came to her and surrounded her…


Minerva opened her eyes abruptly and glanced around, checking her surroundings. She rubbed her hands up and down her arms trying to warm them. She still felt the cold and the darkness. She had no idea what it meant but she was sure that it was her own emotions that were there. For a moment she felt fear, fear like she had never felt before, except when her master had died. Now is not the time to be afraid, girl. Trust in the Code even if you don’t believe in it, she told herself.

Instead she focused on the first vision of what she saw. From all looks of it, it looked like the lake country of Naboo but that didn’t make any sense. Neither did the giggle she had heard. She had visited Naboo but once and that was for some reason she had forgotten. Perhaps I could be mistaken. It was rather vague after all. Minerva decided not to bother with it for now. She had learned long ago that if the Force had meant for her to know about something, it would show her in its own time. Right now she focused on what had happened in the main hold.

It was obvious that Clat’Ha left her imprint on the smuggler. Scoundrel’s more like it, she thought to herself. That didn’t account for the sensitivity to the Force though and his ability to draw upon it. Thinking more, she thought perhaps that it was because he had been around Jedi enough but that seemed as likely as Master Yoda doing a jig. The only thing that made sense was someone had awakened that ability in him. If that were the case, he was in just as much danger as was she. Never mind the item he had, if the Emperor knew, there was no telling what he might do with him. It was one of those times she wished her master were still alive to guide her.

Suddenly feeling stiff from sitting, Minerva stood to her height and gave a slight stretch. Thinking about it, she decided she had to know more. It would do her no good in thinking of what might have been. It was counterproductive. Instead she focused on the task at hand, get to Tatooine. While it had never been agreed upon formally, she knew that was the first place to hit. She walked out of the dormitory with the intention of heading towards the cockpit. She was in the walkway when she bumped into Rowan who seemed just as surprised to see her.

After deciding to seek her out, Rowan found her in the dormitory in deep meditation. Having been on the wrong side of disturbing a Jedi in meditation, he left her alone. He checked every few hours to see if she was done. He thought it impressive that someone her age could meditate that long. This time he was coming to tell her that they would be arriving at Tatooine within a few hours when she appeared out of nowhere and ran into him. After an awkward moment, he said, “So you’re awake then. I was just coming to tell you that we will be arriving at Tatooine in a few hours.”

“Alright,” Minerva replied giving him one of her quiet, piercing gazes. She then went around him and headed towards the main hold.

Rowan watched her go and sighed, That was lame. If you really wanted to talk to her you would have thought of something better to say. He was not used to this brand of Jedi. She was, well aloof wasn’t the right word for her but she was definitely not like the other Jedi he had come across. They were more inclined to be well informative. He overlooked the fact that she had spent a year in a jungle and pretending to be a witch of some sort. If you want to know about the data sphere, you have to ask her sometime, the little voice rang in his head.

Not taking it any more, he took the path that Minerva took towards the main hold. She was sitting at one of the panels, reading scans while munching on something that was edible. She looked like any other girl that he sometimes took on a ride when he had a shipment to make for the company of course. Her back was facing towards him and he approached her with the intent of trying to corner her. It failed when she said, “You have a question?” She then turned her seat to face him.

Caught off guard yet again, Rowan was ready to assume a more defensive posture. He replied, “Maybe. Depends on if you want to listen.”

Regarding him with an amused expression, she replied, “I’ll listen. Just not to the ego.” She smiled sweetly at him.

“I don’t have an ego issue here,” Rowan began, irritated that she seemed to bait him to the extreme every time. Gritting teeth and controlling his temper he fished the data sphere out of his pocket and held it in his fist while saying, “I just wanted you to take a look at this.” He held out the sphere for her to see.

Minerva looked at the sphere with a curious expression, “Where did you get this?”

“A Jedi gave it to me,” he rattled of sarcastically. Glancing at the look Minerva shot him, he then added, “Clat’Ha gave it to me.”

Minerva cast him a glance that stunk of suspicion. She reached out to take the sphere from him. Holding it in her hand she said nothing but looked at him curiously.

Rowan didn’t miss the look she cast him. At least she isn’t like a weak kip pup, he thought before adding, “She said something along the lines that it would help the Jedi.” He saw that she wasn’t entirely convinced and he got indignant, “Look would I lie about Clat’Ha? You do seem to know everything about me.” He turned away frustrated, I don’t why I bothered.

“Not everything.” It was quiet and barely audible.

“What?” He replied, turning to face her.

“I know nothing of you. Only what I observe.” Minerva held the sphere between her thumb and forefinger, “Why would she give it to you?”

“Figure it out Jedi,” Rowan retorted, “In case you haven’t noticed, Jedi are hunted like kath hounds either to destroy them or to turn them.”

“I have noticed. I was chased by them when Order 66 was executed. My master bided time for my escape with his life,” Minerva retorted back. She then turned with the intention of ignoring him. She gazed at the sphere, rolling it about her fingers when she felt something stir within the Force. Not turning away from it, she tapped it and the sphere levitated above her open palm and activated.

Clat’Ha appeared looking weary and tired but still the proud woman that Minerva had met. The small blue image flickered as it spoke, “If you are viewing this, then you are one of the few Jedi that can activate the data sphere. Within the sphere contains information that few of the Order have ever known. Also there is a list of Jedi that survived the purge along with it. They should be able to help you keep the sphere safe. May the Force be with you,” and the image flickered away.

Rowan wanted to say something but he noticed that Minerva was still staring at the sphere levitated in her hand. She looked as if she were possessed or something. Before he had a chance to say anything, the sphere glowed again and she said in a strange voice, “Bringing up the main data.”

It showed a holo version of a console with data. It showed planets, star maps, it looked like a giant archive. Rowan asked, “What are you doing?”

Minerva replied, “I found the list of Jedi. Bringing them up now.”

The series of images and names showed. Apparently they were ones that he had come into contact with at some point in the last year. Rowan was amazed at it but casting a look at Minerva, he saw that she was getting weary and said, “Ok Ma…er…ah whatever your name is. That is enough.”

Like a computer console the data closed and the sphere powered down until it rested in her palm. Minerva breathed slowly in and out, aware at what she had done. She had heard of holocrons accessible to those trained in the Force, but a select few? It was strange. Seeing that Rowan was looking at her, she looked at him and said, “I can see why the Empire is after you. This has teachings long since forgotten, some buried on various planets.”

“I guess Clat’Ha knew what she was talking about when she mentioned about meeting someone special,” Rowan said trying to play it off and lighten the mood.

“I am no one special. It just happened to be the Force that willed it,” Minerva retorted, “I just happened to sense how to open the darn thing.”

“Sithspit!” Rowan answered back, “You heard what it said, one of a few chosen. Clat’Ha said that I would run into a Jedi. A special one and her exact words were, ‘she will help you find a safe haven for the data sphere.’ Now if that isn’t the Force at work then I don’t know what is.”

“At least we can agree on one thing. The sphere must be protected from the Empire. As for the Jedi listed, it would be good to keep an eye open for them,” Minerva stood, clasping the sphere in her palm. She went to go back to the dormitories, ignoring her meal.

“Going to meditate again? That’s all you Jedi ever do,” Rowan belted out.

Minerva stiffened slightly but then continued walking. Rowan for his part turned and headed to the cockpit. After all, they could keep out of each other’s faces for the rest of the way to Tatooine.

****

The Dune Sea looked beautiful and sparse at the same time. The lolling sand dunes reminded one of the ocean waves of various worlds with large bodies of water. When the storms brushed over the dunes, the sand became a weapon. The grains stung one’s eyes like tiny barbs and it made the skin rough. For the lone figure staring at the suns setting, it was minor. He looked at the suns for a moment before turning away and walked towards a building.

Tatooine was not much to look at but it had its uses. It had a few native groups like the Sand People and the Jawas. Moisture farmers for the most part but the spaceports that dotted the surface were the havens for those that didn’t want to be found. Controlled by the Hutts, the Empire bothered little with Tatooine. It was one of the few places where you can get things with no questions asked.

Mos Eisley was the most notorious. You would never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. The cantina had the best, service that is. That didn’t necessarily mean it prevented an occasional drunkard from taking a swing at your face. For the man sitting at the table in the corner, it was fine.

Mace Dinn was a career smuggler having been in the business since he could fly a speeder. Born on Tatooine, he went to work for the Hutts after he lost his family in a raid by the Sand People. A combination of hard times and a sarcastic attitude gave him the reputation of something to be wary of, not that all of it was true. He was one of the best pilots for Jabba the Hutt, the other being his best friend since they met years ago, when he was fifteen.

For the past seven evenings, he had come to this particular cantina, ordered his usual Corellian whiskey and sat in his corner. Occasionally he played with his sabacc deck to pass the time. It was the usual meeting spot whenever he and his friend needed to make a contact. The last transmission sounded urgent so he added the extras waiting in his speeder. Tonight however he was worried. His friend was long overdue since the transmission.

That was the least of his worries. Dinn’s attention was directed at the stranger who just entered. He was hooded so that meant he was one of those shady types but there was something off about him. First off, he carried himself upright, no hunched shoulders, no attempt to be secretive, definitely from the core worlds. His voice, when heard over the din was cultured, again not from the Outer Rim. Dinn was curious but he wasn’t going to assume any risk to get to know him. In a place like his, if anything went down, you saw nothing and you heard nothing, unless for the right price.

He was surprised when the hooded stranger made his way towards him and sat in the seat across from him. Dinn, ever the ‘perfect’ host said, “Can I get you anything stranger?”

The stranger looked at Dinn without removing his hood. He said in his cultured voice, “I have a job that would be worth your while.”

“That depends on what the job is and I don’t come cheap,” Dinn replied, leaning back in his seat.

“I have heard of you Mace Dinn. Your reputation is well known beyond these parts. This however won’t be difficult,” the stranger replied.

“What’s the cargo?”

“Only this,” and the stranger pulled out a datapad, “It is for the companion your friend will be traveling with.”

Mace Dinn had a few surprises in his life but nothing would have prepared him for that comment. He didn’t let on and replied, “I don’t know what you are talking about. However the job is a blue milk space run. I don’t do those kind of runs,” and he pushed the datapad back towards the stranger.

“All I ask is that you deliver this,” the stranger pushed the datapad towards Dinn once more, “This should be suitable compensation.” The clink of money hit the table.

Glancing at the money, Dinn saw that the stranger was serious. He asked, “How important is it that this person gets this?”

“Enough that your friend is willing to keep his companion around,” the stranger replied nonchalant.

“What makes you think that I have a friend?” Dinn couldn’t resist asking. Most people saw him and his Corellian friend as rivals.

“There are ways of finding out,” the stranger replied. “You must be a very loyal friend to keep up the pretense and meet him.”

“What I do on my time is my business,” Dinn replied, uncomfortable that the stranger was getting close to the personal. It was as bad as that one time he met one of those Jedi as a favor. “I’ll do the job. The money is more than worth it.”

“Thank you,” the stranger replied and made to get up.

“Wait,” Dinn grasped the stranger’s arm, “I need a name and some info if it is to be delivered to the right person.”

The stranger turned his head to look at Dinn. He replied low, “Minerva,” and turned and walked away. The robe billowed out behind him as he headed towards the exit, calm.

Dinn sat back in his seat and continued to stare at where the stranger exited. He batted several Jawa’s hands away from the money left on the table. Of all the jobs he had, this was the strangest of them all. The only cargo was this datapad and a name. What really rattled Dinn was the fact that the stranger seemed to know that his friend would be coming by this way.

Becoming bored and too muddled thinking about it, Dinn pocketed the money and picked up the datapad. He activated it only to find that it gave a preliminary access and in the end it only revealed a letter. To go further required a password of some sort. Dinn flipped the datapad off muttering, “Well I hope this Minerva knows how to open it.” He then called for another round of whiskey. Kinstarr I hope you know what you’re doing.

****

Rowan was silent and annoyed. Not only had he screwed up big time but now even his droid, his droid was angry with him. Ever since that firefight he had with Minerva in the main hold, she had avoided him and he avoided her for the remainder of the trip. Since then Two-y never missed an opportunity to scold him. This latest one was grating on his nerves. He responded hotly, “Fine if you want to be her droid go ahead! If I wanted an uppity droid, I would get a protocol droid. Go away you trash compactor.”

The little astromech beeped something rather rude at him and rolled away to check on some secondary systems. Rowan was left alone with his thoughts, Blast! She is the most frustrating thing that crashed into my life.

More like you crashed into hers, that little voice inside responded.

She totally refuses to believe that she is that important.

Yeah but Jedi are not given to boasting are they?


Rowan was getting angrier, more at himself. Dinn always told him that he was the most accident-prone man on this side of the Rim especially when it came to women. Yeah but he has never had to deal with a frustrating Jedi, he argued internally. Thinking about Dinn made Rowan wonder if his transmission got through before he got shot down over Onderon.

The transmission was the usual coded message saying that he was in a jam and needed a way out. It was a code to set up a meeting, especially to keep it from the prying eyes of the slimy Hutts. Though Rowan was a smuggler, there were some things that he had set standards for and that constantly brought him at odds with Jabba. He was just lucky that he didn’t have a bounty on his head. Right now his best bet was to hope that Dinn got the message. If not, there were other ways of meeting up. As Tatooine came into view after they came out of hyperspace, he let out a sigh of relief. He didn’t notice that Minerva had come out of hiding and was sitting in the co-pilot seat until she asked, “What did you say to make a droid so angry flyboy?”

The name struck a humor chord within Rowan who hadn’t been called that since his last time on Tatooine but he didn’t laugh. Politely he answered, “He’ll get over it. We always argue.”

“Alright,” Minerva replied calmly. She then held out the data sphere at him and said, “Here. You might want to put that in a safe spot.”

Rowan didn’t accept it but focused on piloting the bucket of bolts. Knowing that he would have to say something, he laid out truce, “Why don’t you hold onto it for now? I think a Jedi could do a better job of protecting it.”

Minerva said nothing but put the sphere within a pouch on her belt. She saw Tatooine get bigger in the window and asked, “What can we expect on Tatooine?”

Rowan glanced at her. Seeing that she wasn’t really looking, he diverted his focus to flying into the port and replied, “Well it is a place where one can easily hide…”

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Old 07-03-2007, 04:23 PM   #6
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Chapter 5

The ship landed on the outskirts of Mos Eisley with a stealth that would have made an assassin proud. It was early evening when the ship touched down and no one noticed. After all for the right amount you might as well not be there. The ship took no notice of this as it powered down and lowered its ramp. Once down a man in black walked down to survey the city.

Talim Ventura had arrived on Tatooine after figuring it to be the most likely choice where the smuggler and his friend would go. Tatooine was sparsely populated but with the right amount of credits and a little intimidation, he would find them quickly. He would then find a way to capture the Jedi. Why his lord wanted this particular Jedi was a mystery and he was not one to question. He got out his binoculars and surveyed Mos Eisley.

It looked fairly large and a good walk through but that didn’t bother him. His best bet was to get to the docking bays since all ships landing had to pay some sort of landing fee. He went back onto his ship to pull out a speeder bike. It was better than trying to go the whole distance on foot. Taking care to make sure the ship was left alone, he mounted the bike and started off towards Mos Eisley. He preferred to look himself rather than send droids.

****

It was late and Dinn saw it as another night not completely wasted. Something had to have happened to make Rowan late in meeting him. He gathered his sabacc cards, winnings and the datapad that he had been given and made ready to leave. He was almost to the door when a blaster was poked into his chest by a Weequay. In his native language he said, “Going somewhere Dinn?”

Annoyed more that this scum wanted to start a scene than fearful of his life, he let the Weequay guide him back to his seat while drawling, “Yes. As a matter of fact I am going to get some. You are really annoying me.”

“Too bad, so sad,” the alien replied in his language, “I have been looking for you. Jabba is upset that you backed out on the last shipment.”

“And he knows the reason why, worm,” Dinn replied looking bored, “Besides that’s not why you are here are you?”

“Smart human,” the Weequay replied, “The stranger that was here gave you something. Worth many credits to the right person.”

Dinn shifted slightly as if to be in a more comfortable position. He was quietly readying his own blaster. He said, “It’s a job and I took it. Jabba will get his usual cut on the payment. I don’t have it with me though…”

“You still have it. You may be the best smuggler but you are a terrible liar Dinn. If you give me what the stranger gave you then I might forget I ever saw the stranger and you.”

Dinn knew now that there was no way he was going to let this scumbag get what the stranger had entrusted him with. Listening to the conversation, the Weequay made it seem like he had just made a deal with a Jedi. As if that would ever happen. He replied, “Over my dead body.”

“That’s the idea,” the Weequay replied, “I have been looking forward to besting the great Mace Dinn.”

“I bet you have,” Dinn replied with a smirk. Then a flash and the unmistakable sound of a blaster shot rang out. Smoke rose up as the Weequay fell forward dead, his head thumping on the table before falling onto the ground. Dinn wrinkled his nose at the smell that was coming, ignoring the fact that there had been a brief silence in the cantina. He slowly stood up and walking casually, he reached into his pocket. When he reached the barkeep, he said, “Sorry about the mess,” and tossed some extra money at him.

Once outside, he noticed that the skies had become dark. He decided to head to his ship and sleep there. He had a better chance of protecting the datapad there until this Minerva came a got it. For a blue milk run, it was sure an exciting one.

****

The morning spilled over the buildings of Mos Eisley like a warm blanket as the ship flew in and landed in one of the unmonitored docking bays. Its struts groaned under the weight as it settled into the sandy floor. Rowan glanced out the viewing windows to see around the docking bay before lowering the ramp. Satisfied, he stifled a yawn and went towards the main hold. He came across Two-y who beeped the status of the ship in a manner that was rather rude. Rowan muttered, “Fine Two-y you can stay on the ship but we’ll be leaving later.” He then continued towards the main hold.

Minerva was sitting in one of the bucket seats with her head resting on the console. Her eyes were closed and it looked like she had fallen asleep. She had come there after Rowan described Tatooine to her and what to expect. At least he apologized in his own way and made a show of it by allowing her to hold on to the data sphere. It wasn’t until she sat down that she realized how exhausting sparring with the smuggler was. She put her head on the console with the intent of resting and instead feel into a deep sleep. It was here that Rowan found her.

Rowan stifled a yawn and made a move to touch her lightly on the shoulder. He was surprised that she didn’t just jump up and start swinging her lightsaber. Then again she really had nothing to fear. It wasn’t like he was going to turn her over to the Empire. As frustrating as she was, he kind of liked her. He watched as her eyes fluttered open and she sat up and stretched. He stifled a yawn and said, “We’re on Tatooine.”

Minerva stretched upon being awoken. She swiveled in the seat to face Rowan and scanned his face. Her green eyes frowned slightly and she said, “You look terrible.”

“I’ve looked worse than this,” Rowan retorted gently, “Can’t think of when right now.”

“You should get some sleep and I’ll scout around,” Minerva replied standing up, “It’ll be all right.”

Rowan raised a brow at her. Despite his tiredness, his protective instincts took hold, “You have any idea what kind of folk walk around here? Don’t take this the wrong way but you would be an easy target.”

Minerva’s green eyes narrowed slightly as she looked him in the eye. She replied, “I spent a year in a jungle with occasional trips to Iziz while pretending to be a witch. I think I can handle a walk around Mos Eisley.” She then started walking towards the dormitories to change.

Rowan grabbed her by her arm, firmly yet gently, “This is not a walk around the jungle here. The scum here do what they want and no one talks unless you have the right amount,” he released her, “It is too dangerous for you to be alone.”

“That’s sweet,” Minerva replied, “I didn’t know you cared.” She then smiled at Rowan and added, “I am a big girl and can take care of myself.”

“I’m sure you can but you’ve never been to Tatooine. I know it,” Rowan looked at her determined to have his own way for once, “You have no idea…”

“I would never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy,” Minerva interrupted, “I will go. If you want to stop me, you can try but know this: if you force me to use my abilities, you only put me at risk and possibly you.” She then turned to go towards the dormitories to swap clothes.

Rowan stood there long after she had left. It was frustrating that she had to be so hell bent on getting her own way. Two-y beeping at him didn’t help matters at all. He responded, “Like hell I am going to let herself get killed,” and stormed to the other set of dormitories to grab some gear.

****

The sun said morning but the day felt hot as Dinn went about his usual business. After the incident in the cantina the night before, he wasn’t going to take any chances. At first he tried to see if he could find the hooded stranger and get him to explain but that turned out to be a waste of time. Every other person had a hood on and he might as well have disappeared into thin air. Dinn went about pulling off hoods only to be met with angry retorts in various alien language plus a few unsavory names.

After pulling every other hood off, Dinn gave up and went strolling through the streets of Mos Eisley. He didn’t stop to make sure that the datapad was still in his jacket pocket. It was a sure fire way to make him a target for pickpockets. Instead, he walked as if he owned the streets, walking with a swagger. He decided to stop playing around and head back to the cantina. It was probably a mistake starting a routine but he kept his word. After all they were friends.

The barkeep remembered Dinn from the night before and let him through. As much as he was loathe to let Dinn in, he saw what happened the night before and he was prepared to let Dinn do anything. He motioned to a table in the back, the same one that Dinn sat at the night before. Someone had managed to clean the bloodstains off and there was the faint hint of polish. Dinn smiled at that ass he took his seat and ordered a Corellian whiskey. Hope you show your face today Kinstarr.

He didn’t have long to wait before he noticed a group come in. They caught his eye immediately because they weren’t in for a friendly drink. They meant business, the kind that could turn you into space dust. Lucky for Dinn he was way in the back and hidden from their view but he got a good glimpse of them. From the looks of them, they looked like one of those local groups of bounty hunters. Dinn was outnumbered seven to one but he was the kind that liked those odds. He only hoped that they would leave by the time his friend arrived.

He spoke too soon. After they entered and had their seats, another person came in. It was a woman this time and she was quite beautiful, that rare and deadly kind. Somehow he got the feeling that she was whom he was looking for and it was confirmed when she was followed closely by Rowan Kinstarr.

****

Minerva had never been to this side of Tatooine before but she did remember some fundamentals that her master had told her about the characters that inhabited Tatooine. It was different however in that Jedi were not really welcome anymore. There was no doubt that these two credit thugs would do what they can to bring in a Jedi for the Empire. That was why she took the precaution of wearing unobtrusive clothing making her look like a smuggler but an offworld smuggler and she stood out slightly.

She made up for it with her vibroblade strapped to her waist along with a small dagger. She also had her blaster strapped on her waist. Her lightsaber was on her belt as well but it looked like a Bothan stunner. It was probably overkill but it blatantly said ‘Hands off.’ It worked too for the thugs, especially the men, paved the way for her. She also had the hint that it was because her companion was right behind her. She didn’t look but was content to let him try and catch up.

Rowan only ran at one time and that was when someone was chasing him, not the other way around. However he was in the company of a Jedi and a pretty one to boot but totally a pain in a Hutt’s backside. When he stepped out of the dormitory looking refreshed, it was only to find that she had already left and was heading towards the nearest cantina. He swore and left Two-y in charge of the ship and took off after her buckling the holster of his blaster onto his waist.

He caught up with her as she was making her way down the street looking like she was going for a daily stroll. It was a wonder she wasn’t mugged or robbed by any to the two-bit crime thugs Jabba hired. He then noticed that she was armed with two blades and a blaster. They were in plain view and any potential thugs saw that she wasn’t one to be messed with. Well I’ll be a Gamorrean’s sister, the amused thought ran through his mind followed by annoyance, but she’s still walking into a nest of gundarks. He quickened his stride but giving her a wide berth so as not to draw attention.

Minerva knew that he was following her and realized that he would persist unless she slowed down. She was methodical about it by appearing to be interested in some of the slop that passed for non-alcoholic drinks. It worked for Rowan was able to sidle up next to her, appearing to be one of the bold ones to approach her. She waited until he was close enough for her to whisper, “I thought you were going to get some sleep.”

Rowan retorted back, “And I thought I told you it was too dangerous for you to be out by yourself.”

“I told you I could handle myself. I…I have been to Tatooine before,” Minerva revealed.

“Maybe so but you haven’t been here as long as I have,” Rowan replied taking a sip of the slop that Minerva asked for, “I do admit that you’ve a pretty good get up Min.”

“Excuse me?” Minerva turned to look at Rowan.

“What? I called you Min,” Rowan gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. Seeing that raised brow at him he rolled his eyes and explained, “Look, Minerva is a nice name and all but here you need something that is not so Core World. Min is short for Minerva. It’s still your name for Force’s sake.”

Minerva still looked at Rowan with a brow cocked before turning away and leaving some money on the counter. She then started walking away not really looking to see if Rowan was following her or not. She then replied, “I like Min. A master at the temple once called me that. It was a private joke. Something about ‘wait a min.’” She then looked at Rowan who was walking beside her and then asked, “So who are we meeting?”

Surprised at her quickness to change the subject, Rowan obliged, “He’s an old friend of mine. We sometimes run spice on the Rim worlds. He watches my back and I watch his. I was on my way to meet him when I crashed in your backyard so to speak.”

“The Force was at work,” Minerva intoned, teasing Rowan, “So Onderon wasn’t even on you list of stops.”

“Another thing Min, stop with the Jedi speak. Believe me there are little guys here thinking they thugs and willing to do anything to turn a Jedi to the Empire,” Rowan became serious. Then he had a slight grin, “I don’t know if I’m blessed or cursed by meeting you.”

“Depends,” Minerva countered, “After all we are both in the same boat now.”

“Maybe,” Rowan allowed before steering the conversation back on course, “Anyway we usually meet when we need help or info. We always meet at the Dewback’s Hump. Because of my crash landing, I’m a little late.”

“I hope he didn’t give up on meeting you,” Minerva replied with a hint of apology in her voice.

“If I know Dinn, he’d have been checking in every day. Like I said, I watch his back and he watches mine.”

“Dewback’s Hump?”

“Yeah I know very original but low key,” Rowan then motioned to a nondescript building, “There she is.”

Minerva hesitated to enter. It wasn’t that she was afraid of the group waiting for then inside. She sensed them the moment they came within range of the cantina but that wasn’t what bothered her. What bothered her was a niggling within the Force. It felt like a shadow that was upon them, ready to swallow them whole. The only time she felt that was just before the clones turned on her and her master. She didn’t like it but she decided to do what her master had always cautioned, what until the Force revealed it.

Rowan for his part mistook her hesitation as repulsion. He wondered if she had been sheltered too much in her life. He decided to tease her and said, “Come on Min. It’s cleaner than it looks on the inside.” He motioned for her to go first.

Minerva wanted to smile so she allowed a small one to form. Putting on a brave face, she walked in first. She couldn’t help but try to reach out and find what it was that clouded her mind like a shadow. She entered the cantina with the air that she belonged there and looked around.

****

Talim spotted them through the crowd as they headed towards the cantina. The smuggler looked like a cocky thing but the girl held his interest. Just by looking at the way they were talking to each other, it appeared as if they were friends, shipmates more likely. There was something different about the girl however.

She walked differently compared to the smuggler. She walked upright and with a sense of honor. She also had this look about her that looked as if she stared off into space. He had seen that look before. Some of the Jedi he had hunted down wore similar expressions. This particular expression was common to Jedi who could see. At first he was confused when the Emperor told him to deal with the Jedi accompanying the smuggler but now he could see.

Moving at a healthy distance, Talim kept the pair in his sights. To prevent the Jedi from sensing him through the Force, he used the rudimentary blocks that he had been taught. That and the distance should be adequate. While he professed no love for the Jedi, he did have to admit that it was no surprise that the Emperor wanted this one alive. He did have to admit that she was better looking than some of the women Jedi he had been after. He brushed such thoughts aside as he put his hand on the one thing that he always made sure to have. He had been taught well how to use it and he was damned sure that the Jedi would have one as well. He presently sent a call through his comm.

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