Galadriel Astoris (G_astoris@hotmail.com)

Galadriel sat quietly in her office. Try to shut them out though she

did, the sounds of the wedding pervaded through to her ears. For some

reason, her sensitivities to the Force were stronger that night, her

thoughts filled with her twin sister Mairin.

 

She grumbled to herself, leaned back on her chair and brushed her

hands briefly through her hair. Mairin. The runaway - the prodigal

child. Returned to the arms of her family after long months spent

training with the Dark Brotherhood of Jedi.

 

Galadriel shook her head angrily, desperate to remove Mairin's face

and voice from her mind. She ran her fingers over a scar on her right

shoulder. The scar itself was old, the result of one of the reckless

actions of Mairin's childhood, but tonight it burned like fire,

searing her skin.

 

She flipped a switch on her computer, turning it on, and stared at

the shining screen for a few moments. Her fingers reached inexorably

towards the screen, and she chose to replay a message she had

received just before the wedding of Mike and Indy. She gazed

hopelessly at the screen, the image of her happy and joyous twin

shaming her into loathing the very picture of happiness presented to

her.

 

Weddings. She was surrounded by weddings.

 

Galadriel closed her eyes for one moment, sucked in a deep breath of

the stale air of her office. Her hazel eyes snapped open. She rose to

her feet, resolved, and went to join the party.

 

Galadriel nearly took a step backwards as she walked into the room.

Toasts. The last thing she had thought of, and the last thing she had

wanted to walk in on. She had nothing to say. She paused in the

doorway, fiddling with the collar of her uniform and muttering

beneath her breath.

 

"Galadriel," said Cody, crossing over and handing her a glass. "Let's

have a toast out of you. You're the last one to arrive after all."

 

Galadriel could have killed him, but pasted a smile on her face and

took the glass. She tossed back her dark hair from her face and

opened her mouth to speak.

 

"Mike and Indy... It's been a pleasure having you on board. You're

brave and good fighters." She paused, and her eyes lit up wickedly.

"Just don't end up fighting each other now, will you?" She raised her

glass, drank from it and put it down on the bar.

 

The spotlight moved on. It was over. She could just sit here, look

like she was having a good time... no-one would have to know what was

inside her. No-one would have to care.

 

Galadriel knew that she had to be there. As the executive officer of

the Aurora Force, it would be rude of her not to attend the wedding

of two of their members. And to cause gossip and speculation by not

appearing would be to drag the spotlight away from Indy and Mike. It

was their day. Galadriel knew that. She just could not help the

burning rage in her heart.

 

Mairin was getting married. Her twin sister Mairin, younger than her

by only a few minutes... Getting married. Galadriel curled her hands

into fists, her nails digging viciously into her palms, creating

little moon shaped cuts, drawing blood. The golden child, the darling

of their father and mother, Dave's favorite, Jarla's favorite,

everyone's favorite. And Galadriel had been lonely, left out. She

had been alone and hurting, and no-one had noticed. She had been

angry, she had been patient, she had done everything, waiting for

Mairin's fall from grace. And it had come, only to be followed so

swiftly by her restoration to pride of place in the bosom of her

family. And Galadriel was so... angry. She was so... JEALOUS.

 

A hand landed on her shoulder from behind. She looked up into Troy's

face. "Are you OK?" he said.

 

Troy Nexus (Troynexus@hotmail.com)

    Out of all his experience of being a commando trainer and having

some sense in the force, Troy was able to sense something about

Galadriel's dark emotions.  "You OK?" he said again looking into her

eyes opening for a response this time.  "Yeah... Yeah I'm fine..."

she said regaining her thoughts of where she was.  "That doesn't look

like being fine to me Gal." Troy said taking Galadriel's hand into a

napkin and wrapping it around it to stop the blood coming from her

palm.  "Oh, well that was an accident.. I'll be OK" "What's the

matter Galadriel?  I know when people are stressed about something or

preoccupied with something important." Troy said, sitting down next

to her.  He listened and occasionally took a drink from his drink. 

Everyone had been in great moods all day. The wedding had brought

everyone on the ship to the party, and not a one seemed as bothered

as Galadriel. 

     Galadriel told Troy the story of her sister, and of her being

second in everything when it came to her sister Mairin.  "I don't

believe that.. Your parents just don't know you as well as they

should.  If they did they'd see that you were one of the greatest

people they know.  Probably better than Mairin.  You shouldn't have

to prove your importance to your parents.  They should know you are. 

Like we do on the AF.  We need you cuz not many people could do as good

of a job as you can." Troy said, hoping not to sound like a parent or

teacher.  "Now then.. We have a wedding going on and I think it's

time you need to let go of your worries and enjoy yourself." Troy

said with a sly smile and his hand extended out to Galadriel's to

take. 

     She stands and wipes away the tears, smiling a little and giving

Troy a soft hug before saying, "Thanks Troy.  Where's your date

anyways?" "Well.. You know me.. I'm a loner.  Am now and probably

always will be." he said offering her a drink.  "Can't have both the

AF XO's dateless at a wedding.  Now can we?" she said taking the

drink and taking a slow sip.  "Well in that case.. May I have this

dance Ms. Astoris.. er i mean Executive Officer sir??" Troy said

holding out his hand again for her to take, and they enjoy the

wedding for the great and memorable day that it was.

 

     After the wedding Troy just wandered around the deck, watching

all the guests retire to their quarters or continue talking about old

times.  He was still in his Military uniform, black with a blue

streak running up the sides, the collar unbuttoned to free his throat

to breathe more freely.  The wedding had been perfect in almost every

way.  Stopping by the bridge of the ship, Troy leaned over the metal

railing and gazed out over the working helmsmen.  During the wedding

something had caught his eye.  Morcant, along with everyone else had

been wearing their best at the wedding.  But the crest on Morcant's

uniform had been familiar, as if Troy'd seen it somewhere.  He hadn't

had much of a childhood.  He was born on Alderaan, and moved to the

Exploring outpost deep in space to learn new things about alien

races.  By permission of the Alderaan Royal Family, Troy's parents

were able to lead the mission, and bring their eager, young child

along for the peaceful trip.  But the crest didn't seem to have come

from the recent events in joining the RS.  But more from the past

back on Alderaan.  Not many people wore the crest unless they were

important more than the average Alderaanian. 

     Troy lingered on the memory for a while longer before leaving

the bridge and heading back towards the deck to grab another drink

before the wedding waiters packed away the drinks. 

 

Operation 1, complication set #4

Training

Deadmeet (Bubbakidd@aol.com)

            As Deadmeet prepared to leave he sent a message to Mike and Raven's files. To mike because he was a damn good mechanic and he showed interest in the project and to Raven because he was funding the damn thing just to be a trainer on the ship. God knows Deadmeet couldn't afford to finance it.  He messaged them to exact location of were it was going to be made and when it would be ready.

 

            Torin knew what it was and OKíd Deadmeet's departure. But that was about the only other person that knew except possibly the Jedi and Indy, who knows what mike tells and doesn't tell her. After packing up his stuff Deadmeet headed towards the gym for a quick practice and a shower before he got back into his small little ship(god knows if your gonna be in a ship for a while you don't want to smell bad while doing it) So after a few laps and killing a holo trooper about 60 times he took his shower and said his good-byeís. He left Indy and Mike alone figuring that they were doing things that shouldn't be interrupted, and he didn't know were raven ever is so he went to Torin for his good-byes. "Decided to take that little vacation of yours?" he said as he saw Deadmeet with his bag over his shoulder. "Yea figured i might as well, we're between missions and everything has finally settled down." "Sorry to see ya leave i was just about to beet you in sabacc after last time, but i will just have to strip your creds next time." "Till next time," Deadmeet said, as he turned and walked to the shuttle bay. 

 

            His old ship "The Grinder"(the irony) was there, looking as impressive as ever. It was a Hapan Cluster Miy`til Fighter,  commonly know as "Storm" he found it in a junk yard. All the essential systems were shot to hell but Deadmeet easily fixed that. With the  outdated laser and ion cannons on there, two ion and 3 linked laser, he just couldn't resist improving it.  After purchasing new replacement ion and laser cannons he added two more laser cannons right beside the existing three, one south west and one south east. Also he put one more ion cannon on top of the cockpit. After the weapons were done Deadmeet fixed the ion engine and added a hyper-drive just small enough to fit on the ship. The over all speed was just above a Tie Interceptor at sub-light and just slower than the millennium falcon at hyper-drive. The shields he only had to slightly tinker with since they were already good after they were repaired and then it was ready. All except the R2 which was missing when he got it and never had one until the Rebels gave him one for his service.

 

            After lifting off Deadmeet couldn't resist doing a flyby past the bridge then he was off.

 

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

    Slate stared at his picture of Karrialy.  He'd give anything to see her.  He loved her so much, and he missed her.  For a moment, he regretted ever leaving her.  *If you hadn't, you would be dead,* something told him.  He closed his eyes, running over the events of the night before in his head.  *Dad was a Jedi.....*

     He walked over to the desk in his quarters and accessed the database.  He looked up his sister's file.  In bold letters, it said FORCE STRONG-GREAT JEDI POTENTIAL.  Slate stared at the file for a moment.  If Indy was Force-strong, what did that mean for him?  He looked up his own file.  In the same bold letters, it said the same thing:  FORCE STRONG-GREAT JEDI POTENTIAL.  He swallowed hard.  He had the power to become a Jedi?  The thought occurred to him that his new brother-in-law was apparently Force-strong.  He decided to talk to Mike at the earliest convenience....

 

Mike Bullian (KngCaldor3@aol.com)

            Slate looked up as the door signal chimed.  He raised an eyebrow wondering who it was.

            "Come in, it's unlocked."  He called out toward the door.  Mike walked in as the door slid open.

            "I know."  Mike said, somewhat cryptically as he stopped just inside the door, waiting for it to slide shut.

            "Mike, i wasn't expecting you, even though i wanted to talk to you."  Slate looked at him, a little puzzled.

            "Again, I know.  It's a Sedith thing."  Mike smiled and spoke again, just before Slate was about to.  "You want to train as a Jedi, you were going to ask me."  Slate's jaw dropped, even more puzzled

            "You.."  Mike cut him off abruptly, answering his question before he even asked.

            "Read your mind, yes.  I must warn you that training in the ways of the force is by no means an easy thing.  Although, if you wish to be trained I offer to do so.  Before you ask I'm not doing this for Indy, not completely.  I'm training you because I'm just about the best person on board for the job.  No that's not just my ego talking.  I suppose you have no further questions."  Mike waited for a reply, even though he knew what it would be.

            "Not really, except when do we start?"  Slate asked, just as Mike knew he would.  Mike answered quickly.

            "Tomorrow morning, I'll come to get you."  Mike said that and vanished abruptly, utilizing a trick that Raven had taught him.

 

Baron (BaronCoop1@aol.com)

            Well, it's over. The wedding went off without a hitch. Two of my only friends are married. That's rather ironic, considering that I was sent here to make friends. I'm not very good at it, apparently. But I'm not worried. I've noticed that we tend to get closer the more likely we are to all die, and we're expecting another mission sometime soon. I've been training in the simulators for days now. I even managed to stop drinking, even at the reception (except for my own toast, which was unmemorable even to me).I believe I am close to getting back up to my old skill in a fighter, which is to say, not very. But, I'm extremely tired. Simulators are hard to use for 14 hours daily. Especially when it's nerve-wracking work like trying to stay alive. I need some sleep.

            I begin to envy all of our Jedi onboard. They can use the Force to help them sleep better. Me? I have this lumpy New Republic air mattress thingy. I still toss and turn, and wake up to find my hair leaning to one side, and my left leg asleep. Oh, well. I'll make do. Maybe I should become more socially involved. I was trying to avoid Slate at the wedding, so as not to spoil Indy and Mike's big day (after what happened to Quorn, I figured Mike would not want to be interrupted) Silently, I wished them the best of luck, and climbed back into the cockpit, my left leg tingling.

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

    Indy yanked the X-Wing in a loop.  The sims got harder and harder every time she flew, but that's because each time she beat one, the next was harder.  She was getting better though, she could tell.  As the TIE fighter chased her, she knew exactly what it would take to take the thing out.  She went for the kill.

    Tag and her people had left shortly after the wedding.  The Echo Raiders had left a wealth of supplies and objects for Aurora Force.  Tag and Astrid had put together a slicer's kit especially for her.  Indy was a good slicer, but she didn't think she was good enough.  She'd need to practice after she got done in the sim.

    Slate was training as a Jedi, Mike had told her.  Indy could somewhat understand Slate's reasoning in wanting to learn to use the Force.  She also knew that she didn't want to learn it.  The Force had caused her family so much pain that she didn't want to experience ever again.

    Indy blasted another TIE fighter out of existence.  *One down, about another hundred to go.*

 

Morcant (morcant@planetvenus.swinternet.co.uk)

"I've got to go in a bit. Anything you want to ask before I go?" asks

Morcant light-heartedly. "How many TIEís I've shot down with my eyes

closed. How fast I've done the Kessel Run? Anything."

 

"You're from Alderaan, aren't you?" asked Indy curiously.

 

Morcant suddenly became a whole lot less joking, "Yeah, why?"

 

"You said anything, Morc" said Indy, justifying herself.

 

"OK. I'm from Alderaan. Question answered. Anything else?" replied

Morcant harshly.

 

"Geez, you get testy about that"

 

"Yeah, well wouldn't you?" asked Morcant angrily.

 

Indy shrugs, "That's like me getting all sad and stuff when I talk about

my dad."

 

"Well, you're entitled to do that if you want. My entire planet was

destroyed," says Morcant, raising his voice slightly.

 

"I know," says Indy quietly, her voice a calm contrast to Morcant's.

 

"I saw the Death Star arrive and decimate my world. I could do nothing

about it though"

 

"My uncle died at that very moment. Hey, I'm sorry, Morc," added Indy.

 

"He was on Alderaan?" asked Morcant and then added under his breath,

"Another one for the score pad." As he is saying this Morcant is

becoming more and more obviously agitated. He is pacing around and

occasionally slamming his fist against a table or wall when emphasizing

a point.

 

"No, he was a Jedi Master on Corellia. His final words were to tell

Taggie to leave and join up," Indy slowly turns away, the memories

overcoming her momentarily.

 

"Itís a shit world sometimes. God the empire has a lot to answer for."

 

Mike enters the conversation at this point, "Anger leads nowhere, I

know."

 

Slate looks up and takes another drink of ale, "Damn Imperials!"

 

"I thought that was only for you force users? Why can't I be angry? Why

can't I hate the empire"

 

"That's one that's universal, just like fear," explains Mike

 

Indy turns round and snaps at Morcant, "How many times do I have to say

it?! I want nothing to do with Force-usage! I have forsaken my Jedi

roots and things will remain that way."

 

"Well, I'm not afraid of them if you're happy with that. And I was

meaning Mike, Indy."

 

"Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, Hate leads to suffering,"

says Mike, echoing the famous Jedi teaching.

 

"Well, I've got the anger, I've got the hate and I'm going to make the

Empire suffer. I don't see a problem with that."

 

"And that suffering affects everyone."

 

"How will it affect anybody outside the empire?"

 

"You think there are no innocents in the empire?"

 

"I suppose not but they know what they are supporting. The empire

destroyed many worlds, anybody who supports them deserves whatever they

get."

 

"I served them and I am ashamed. I kept the peace and allowed them to

continue to oppress the people of Corellia," put in Indy.

 

"I was in the empire once. I fixed, then flew for the Empire." explained

Mike.

 

"Well, if I'd killed you at the time I wouldn't have cared at all," said

Morcant frankly.

 

"And now?" asked Indy.

 

"Now I have no reason to kill him."

 

"And me?" asked Indy.

 

"I have no reason to kill you either. You're both helping to bring down

the empire"

 

"We were almost all imperial at one time," Mike pointed out.

 

"Yes, that was before the emperor started committing blatant atrocities.

 

"Some people just don't know any better," pointed out Mike.

 

"Morc, like it or not, you were an Imperial Citizen once," observed

Indy.

 

"The empire didn't come into being at any one time as the evil it is

now. It slowly changed from being the Old Republic to the empire. When

people realized the change, they rebelled. I only realized when they

killed all my family and friends."

 

At this point one of the cadets who had been listening interjected,

"Slowly? Didn't it just pop up over night? He was elected president,

made himself the emperor. And there you have the empire. As soon as he

got to president he became emperor and started taking out his enemies."

 

"Yes, slowly. He became a senator and started manipulating the political

situation then. He set himself up as a strong person since that is what

was needed in the struggle to recover from the Clone War. When he got to

be in charge he got the military on his side and then he disbanded the

republic. This wasn't overnight. He did it slowly. If he had done it

overnight it would have been obvious but the changes were slow and

subtle so people didn't notice."

 

"And he's dead now," stated Mike.

 

"But the empire isn't. You're fighting it, why are you arguing?"

 

"His terror lives on," said Indy, "In Iceheart, in the Warlords, in

MinosÖ"

 

"And Thrawn," says Mike shuddering.

 

"Palpatine was crazy! He thought he could control everything," said the

cadet.

 

"Anyway, this is stupid. I'm going to go and get some practice in the

sims," says Morcant as he storms out.

 

"Morc?" shouts Indy at the departing figure.

 

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

 

Morcant stormed into the simulator room. He headed for the nearest empty

module to start to relieve his stress. As he headed over Baron called to

him from one of the other pods, "Wanna do some practice together

Morcant?"

 

Morcant just ignored him and kept going into his pod. He loaded up some

simple problems and jumped into an X-Wing. He loaded a simple program.

Attack a corvette defended by a TIE escort. He was not as well practiced

in fighters but he could still beat this run easily. He just wanted a

way to take his anger out. Rather in here than on those he called

friends.

 

He ran the run several times. Getting near perfect scores every time. He

then started on something more tricky. He started running Death Star

runs. Mark 1 and 2. He was not as good on these and each time he failed

it just made his mood worse.

 

2 hours after getting in he decided to pack it in. He had just been shot

down by an Interceptor whilst skimming over the surface of the Death

Star and he was convinced that the program was rigged and the fighters

weren't running at normal specifications.

 

In a foul mood he left the sim rooms.

 

Mike Bullian (KngCaldor3@aol.com)

            Mike woke up smiling, just as he went to sleep.  The same smile seemed to be constantly on his face, but hey, could you blame him.  He thought of getting up right away to go begin Slate's training, but the truth is that he wanted nothing more than to lay there, staring at his beautiful wife as she slept peacefully next to him, all entangled together.  After a few minutes of staring at her he decided to extricate himself and start with Slate.  He teleported himself away from Indy, so as not to wake her when he got out of bed.  He quickly dressed, this time remembering to put on his underwear.  Mike kissed Indy on the cheek and left the usual way, by the door.  Arriving at Slate's quarters he let himself in, no problem even with the lock.  He stood over Slate, waking him up with the force.

            "It's time." Mike said, offering no other explanation as he teleported them both onto a nearby capital ship, it was nearly empty and the ideal place to begin training for now.  "Welcome to the MC-100 Cruiser Waterdeep.  This is where I'm going to begin your training.  We will proceed at a pace that perfectly matches your learning rate so as not to go faster than you can handle, slower than you'd like probably, but that's how it is.  First rule:  Listen to everything I say and watch everything I do.  Second Rule:  I am not infallible, sometimes, though very rarely I'm wrong.  Final rule:  Use your own judgment and ask questions.  Follow these and your training will be easier.  I'm not one for rote memorization so you'll be learning by doing.  First you must learn the basics of accessing the force, i believe that you have done it instinctively many times."

            "I think so..."  Slate replied, falling into memories.

            "In most cases you won't have to reply verbally, I can hear your thoughts...  Hey! I'm not all that long winded, okay, maybe I am."  Mike waved his hand and all the lights went out.  "Don't worry, the lack of vision will help you to feel the force more easily at first."  Mike began to move silently, now projecting his thoughts without speaking.  "Feel the force as it is around us, try to discern my location and touch my hand, I'm moving around you within your reach and doing this erratically.Ē  Slate reached out  and touched Mike's hand, not on the first try, but not randomly either, considering that Mike was hovering above him.  "Good, you have felt me with the force, now try to feel an inanimate object." Mike tossed a small pebble, Slate caught it.  "Good, you learn quickly, now you must try to move something using the force.  Try to turn on the lights, first feel for the panel and then turn on the lights."  Slate felt out and after a few minutes spoke.

            "Lights on."  The room was suddenly illuminated.  "You tricked me, there was no panel."  Slate accused Mike, somewhat angrily

            "But the lights are on, how did you do that."  Mike asked, though he already knew the answer.

            "I felt for the panel, there was none, but I noticed a microphone and figured it was voice activated.  I felt in your mind for the proper command."  Slate replied, calming down.

            "You have learned much, more than Iíd expected in a day.  I will not train you further this day, you must practice what you have learned." At that Mike teleported them back to Slate's quarters.  "You have done well."  mike disappeared again, teleporting to Raven's medbay.  "Raven, remember when Indy gave you her saber?"

            "Yes i do."  Raven took the lightsaber from the drawer he'd kept it in, guessing Mike's intentions.  "Here, I hope Slate appreciates it."  Mike turned and walked out through the door, heading for the mess, which was once again a mess.  Dinner was about to be served and training made him hungry...

 

Deadmeet (Bubbakidd@aol.com)

    He had  been traveling for over a day now just sitting in his cockpit staring out at the black holes he was passing by. "Damn things, this place is littered with them." BEEB BEEB!!! "Thanks Enyo," he said to his droid. He was almost at the station in the middle of no were. "Perfect place," he muttered. "What a nice idea, let's build it in the middle of a freaking black hole party, one malfunction in the engines and whoops bye-bye ship." But he didn't mind, it would be to powerful for it to fall into any black hole anyway. "Enyo," he told the droid,  ďSend out the de-cloaking signal to Stormlight, i don't want to run into the thing." Just after he finished saying that a small beam fired and then his com link came ablaze. "IDENTIFY YOURSELF," the semi-sentient computer said "Deadmeet password..." he punched in a few numbers on his keypad. "CLEARINSE GRANTED, security systems standing down, will reactivate upon docking." Deadmeet thought Yea that makes me feel a WHOLE lot better. That's when Deadmeet hit the thrusters as the spacestation Stormlight appeared for a rendezvous with a legacy.

 

Galadriel Astoris (G_Astoris@hotmail.com)

Morcant looked up as the door to the bar opened and he found himself

looking at the figure of Galadriel Astoris.

 

"I heard about what happened before," she said, and walked in,

approached him. She touched  his arm. "Want to pour me one of those

drinks?"

 

"Not really," snapped Morcant.

 

Galadriel shrugged, went behind the bar and made herself a drink. She

leaned over the bar and looked into his face. "What's up?" she said.

"They mention Alderaan and you fly off the handle. I know you have

links with Alderaan, Morcant - it's on your files. I don't know the

extent of them or how close you were to the people that died there.

But you can't fight people who are on the same side as yourself."

 

"I can fight the whole world," snapped Morcant. "Don't make me fight

you too."

 

Galadriel raised an eyebrow, sensing the fury raging through Morcant's

body. She smiled. "I didn't come here to fight," she said. "I came

here to help."

 

"What if I don't want your help?"

 

"Morcant. You can't take on the whole empire yourself. You need us.

Like it or not."

 

"Go away, Galadriel. You don't understand."

 

Galadriel looked slightly taken aback and then she spoke again. "Make

me understand," she said softly. "Tell me about Alderaan. Tell me what

happened there to make you hate the Empire so much."

 

The slap came from out of the blue. Galadriel put her hand to her face

and touched her stinging cheek. "Ouch," she said quietly.

 

Morcant said nothing for a few moments. Then he spoke quietly. "I'm

sorry, sir," he said.

 

Galadriel said nothing. She moved quickly round the bar and put her

arms around him, drawing his head down onto her shoulder. "It's OK,"

she said. "Forget it." Out of the corner of her eye she saw a woman

standing in the doorway of the bar. She ignored her.

 

She felt Morcant's body starting to shake in her arms, and sensed the

sobs that racked their way out of his tortured body. They seemed

nearly to tear his lungs out.

 

"I couldn't - I couldn't DO anything," he choked out, and Galadriel

stood, her head lowered to his, silent, allowing him his moment of

pain. There was nothing she could do either.

 

Mynok (Mynok9985@aol.com)

Mynok sat at his holo caller. This was the happiest day of his life. He had just asked Astrid Burns to marry him. He had only know Astrid a short time but he felt that he truly loved her. He was excited now as he ran through the hall screaming " Guess what, I'm getting married." He was really happy now. Astrid was his true soul mate he felt it within himself. This must have been one of the happiest days of his life.

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

    Slate lay on his bunk, thankfully alone in his quarters.  He was tired, although Mike hadn't physically worked him that hard, mentally, he was worn out.

    The communications terminal in the wall pinged insistently with an incoming message.  Slate rolled off of his bunk and answered it.

    Karrialy Darjinn's face appeared.  Slate sucked in a breath.

    "Hi Slate.  I hope NRI didn't crucify you.  You were hurt pretty bad when they picked you up, so I hope they were merciful.  I just thought that I should let you know that I'm all right, and I've managed to elude the Imps.  I miss you very much, and I love you very much.  I hope this message finds you in a better condition than the one I last saw you in."  She smiled.  "I'm sorry that I didn't contact you sooner, and I'm sorry that you can't contact me.  Hopefully, things will change and I'll be able to get a transfer off of this rock."  She kissed her hand and blew him a kiss.  "Love you, Slate.  I'll see you when I see you.  Good-bye."

    As the image winked out, Slate felt both elated and crushed.  Karri was all right, but they were apart.

    He turned back toward his bunk and lay down again, savoring the memory of Karri's smile.

 

Kenta Jelnor (OCSGAME1@aol.com)

            Hmm. Been busy lately. Too busy for all this stuff going on. Jedi here and Jedi there. Can't keep track of it all. I have a ship to build. A ship to put together. The "Star Turtle". Even if It won't be the flagship of Legend Wing, it will be pretty important.

 

            So here I am, in the innards of this YT-3400 CEC Freighter, installing some more black market sensor systems. The black market weapons come next, of course. I've heard rumors. Rumors that playtime ended along with the wedding. Rumors that fights are on the way. Well, with Jedi, its a sure thing.

           

            But whatever fights we have coming, this ship will be able to handle them. I'll let Mike and the rest of Legend Wing worry about their MC-100, with all its armor and such. This will be a good, old-fashioned hot rod, and thatís the truth. Of course, it'll be a hot rod capable of single-handedly taking out 3 ISDs on its own. Well, back to work I go. The bugs in the ALS (Automated Laser System) need to be worked out by morning, and the cloaking device has started acting up again...

 

Dack Mauldeer (Xwing884@aol.com)

            Dack picked up the hydrospanner and opened up the panel to the belly of the A-wing. He knew that if you got the gears just right, you would definitely get more power, which meant more speed, defensive lasers, and shielding.

            He had wanted to pay the Alliance to buy an Incom 3X-D Avenger heavy starfighter, but his Phoenix Squadron CO had told him the Avenger was still in test runs, and still being modified. So, Dack had purchased an A-wing, a ship that he normally preferred in a dogfight. When he needed a B-wing or a Y-wing, Aurora Force might could supply him with one.

            He allowed the thought to leave his mind, and started working on the main engine batteries...

 

Carlos DeLong (BodoBaasJM@aol.com)

Carlos was having trouble sleeping.  No real surprise there, he had been having trouble sleeping most of the time for the past three years.  Images keep on coming to his mind.  Images from the past that was blocked.  Images from what had happened to him since that day on Ithor that had dropped into the present without a past. 

 

Some good, some bad.

 

Blasters, screaming.....

 

The Phase 1 Dark Trooper on Terrac III about to stab him......

 

The pain of that first month....

 

The Shynar home on Coruscant......

 

Images morphing into the Krayts and the Auroras.....

 

Flames.....

 

A cavern.....

 

The wedding.....

 

The times spent with Janice......

 

And one message, written down upon his mind's eye, which he had never been able to remember.....

 

Until tonight.

 

"Until we are reunited, you will forget."

Baron (BaronCoop1@aol.com)

            It's my first time back! I decided that I need some more practice flying, and simulators just can't cover everything. Besides, Cody is always trying to get his pilots to fly guard duty. I volunteered, and hoped against hope that this would be quiet.

            Well, here it is, three hours into my shift, and nothing has happened. I have a wingman, but I'm not sure what his name is. He's part of a new squad from the Courageous Group, and he's just arrived. We decide to fly back around one more time, to the stern of the Imladris and back, than go on home, and let the next shift take over. Fine with me.

            I have spent the past three hours worried sick that the entire First Imperial Fleet would show up, and I would make another mistake, and this man beside me would die. Just like all the others. It was a relief when the bay doors opened, and a pair of A-wings came out to join our X-wings in one more pass before we headed in. My first flight (since my failure that is) is almost over without incident.

            Suddenly there is a flicker of psuedomotion to my starboard. Fearfully, I glance over that direction, and see what I have fervently hoped not to see. It should not be there. Not now. It should wait one more minute. But no. An Imperial Mark II Star Destroyer has just entered the system.

            Panic flared through me, as my wingmen turned around and headed for the warship at full throttle. They seemed so sure of themselves, that I followed without thinking. Wait. This is the exact same mistake I made last time. Fear makes me act without thinking. I want to slow down and turn back badly, but I know that if I do, the others will have that much less of a chance of surviving. But I can't do this! I can't attack a Star Destroyer! Even with four fighters, I will be killed. I'm not good, and their fighters outnumber us. ..... wait.

            Where are the fields of TIE's? No enemy fighters have even been launched. The ship just sits there. My sensors say that the shields are even at half-power. Does it not know that it has stumbled onto a New Republic Warship? Have the Imperials really become that stupid?

            Ah, now it's launching. I see three blips appear on my sensors. I wait for the computer to figure out what type of enemy I'm dealing with, as I try to get a missile lock. It's a........ B-wing? But how did? Who?

            A startled voice breaks through my headset "I'm being targeted! Green Two! Unlock your torpedoes, now!" The mere fact that this one voice registers in my mind makes me rethink the past half of a minute. The other voices have not even been excited. Now that I think about it, I haven't actually been paying attention to what has been said, or how it was said. I reach down and turn off the switch that locks my torpedoes, but I keep the lasers on full power just the same.

            "Green Two, did you not hear me? I said we're going to escort the shuttle in to the Imladris. Do you copy?"

            "Uh, copy that Green Leader. Escort the shuttle." I don't see a shuttle. Wait, there it is. I'll go in front of it and ..... wait a second. Why am I escorting a shuttle coming off of an Imperial Star Destroyer? I read my sensors again, and finally see the name of the ship. The Redeemer . Oh! This is the ship that was captured by rebels shortly after the battle of Endor! This is one of the rare Rebel Mark I Star Destroyers! Only important officials or dignitaries get to use one of these to chauffeur them around! And if there is an important officer or other person aboard, then he/she/it must be in that shuttle!

            I watch as the Lambda shuttle lands safely, then circle on more time to prevent any untimely attacks, and bring my ship in. I jump out, and run over to see who the hell ranks high enough to get a freaking Star Destroyer to take them places. It's definitely NOT a low-profile person, or someone who doesn't want to be noticed here. You don't take a Star Destroyer to look inconspicuous.

 

Mike Bullian (KngCaldor3@aol.com)

            Mike turned his A-Wing toward the star destroyer, he knew that this wasn't an Imperial for a couple reasons.  1: It's not using standard Imperial engagement tactics, 2: It's launching a shuttle, and 3:  It's not getting blown up today. He went to full speed, and I do mean full speed, 430 mglt with all the power dumped to the engines and the SLAM's active.  He buzzed past the bridge, coming within a centimeter of the viewports.  A few of the officers will need new underwear.

            Most pilots would get a reprimand for just such a stunt, but  not this one, the occupants of that shuttle were very appreciative of that kind of flying, and so was that ship's captain.  Mike swung his A around and brought himself up in front of the shuttle, inverted over the cockpit and his aft nearly touching the shuttle's wing.  He waved to the shuttles pilot, knowing him from some of the many meetings and interviews, Wedge Antilles.  Rogue Squadron was on that shuttle, and so could Mike have been, he'd been offered a spot with the rogues many times before, but he turned them down each time, preferring to stay with Legend Wing, which was then just a Squadron, Dragon Squadron to be exact.  Mike was just a pilot then, flying the best he could, then he got an appointment as Dragon XO.  The CO at the time decided to take his retirement early and Mike was made Acting CO until they could find a replacement.  After a couple weeks, Starfighter Command saw how well Mike led the Dragons and officially made him CO.  Mike built up DS to be one of the best of the New Republic elites and it was made into a Wing.

            Mike snapped out of his quick reminiscence as they got nearer to the Imladris docking bay and jetted forward a bit, doing two quick rolls and landing gently on his spot at exactly the same time as the Rogues' shuttle.  He climbed out of his fighter and saluted the men, and women, coming out of the shuttle.

            "Sorry we're late for the wedding."  wedge shouted to no one in particular, returning Mike's salute, but not recognizing him at first.

            "You still don't recognize me, do you Wedge?"  Mike replied slightly sarcastically.

            "No, but flying like that should've got you in the Rogues."  Wedge smiled, truly impressed by Mike's performance, not like he couldn't do it himself though.

            "It did, you practically begged me, I turned you down."  Mike smiled, seeing new recognition spreading over Wedge's face.  "You were sore because I vaped you 9 out of 10 in the sim."  Kenta, from nearby where he was working on the Star Turtle piped in.

            "There's still that one, Mike"  Mike smiled as Wedge started to speak.

            "That one we were in Y's and he took me down with Ions."  Wedge smiled, Mike was a great pilot, and he knew it.  Mike smiled, Wedge was a real legend, and HE knew it.

            "C'mon, Iíll get you guys a drink and take you to meet the other guys."  Mike turned around, for some strange reason everybody blinked at the same time and saw that Mike was wearing his usual loose black pants and black leather vest.  Everyone blinked again, wondering what just happened.  Mike chuckled slightly, knowing exactly what happened...

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

   After the Rogues had disembarked from their shuttle, another figure stepped out.  He was slender, of average height, with brown hair and deep green eyes.  Around him hung an air of calm reservedness.  This was Captain Nylan Bridger, Jedi Knight, and New Republic Intelligence Special Operative.

 

Morcant (morcant@planetvenus.swinternet.co.uk)

Morcant found himself back in his room. He couldn't remember exactly how

he'd got there. It wasn't that he was drunk, the amount of emotion

going through him had just messed his head up a bit. He needed to relax,

properly. There was only one place he could really do that. A place that

always filled him with a sense of peace and wonder and above all a

belief that the galaxy had some things worth living for. It was a big

place. If you didn't take the right precautions you would die there and

a lot of people died there even though they were careful.

 

He signaled Una on the comm. She responded immediately, "What's up?

You OK?"

 

"Yeah, mostly," replied Morcant without much emotion. "I need you to do

me a big favor."

 

"Sure thing. What is it?"

 

"Meet me on the Light as soon as possible. We're going for a short

trip."

 

A few minutes later the two were aboard the smuggling vessel. Morcant

sat in the pilot's chair and Una sat next to him, keeping an eye on the

other systems. Morcant got clearance from control and eased the ship out

of the hangar. Una was worried by this. She knew Morcant and how he flew

and this was not it. He was flying like he couldn't be bothered to.

Normally he would blast out at full speed and do a flyby of the bridge

but now he was pushing the throttle up like he was trying to push an

unwilling bantha. He hadn't told her what was going on yet either but

she didn't mind. She trusted him to not do anything too stupid and

decided that if he didn't think anybody else needed to be here then

nobody else was needed.

 

Morcant bent over the nav computer and seemed to tap things in almost at

random. The computer quickly spewed out a course and Morcant turned onto

their exit vector. As they gained clearance from the Imladris he

punched the control to activate the hyperdrive. The ship disappeared in

a streak of light leaving his friends behind in its wake.

 

Una turned to Morcant and finally asked, "What's going on? Where are we

going?" Her tone was soft, friendly and comforting. She wasn't demanding

answers but just making it known that she was curious. If Morcant didn't

want to answer then he didn't have to.

 

"Nowhere. We're going nowhere." As he said this the ship left

hyperspace. Una was somewhat shocked since they had only been going for

a minute or two. She instinctively checked the instruments. No ships,

no large masses. Wait... no small masses either. There was nothing

within sensor range at all. They literally were nowhere.

 

Morcant finished tapping something into the computer and then stood up

to move back into the ship. "Una, I bought you along in case something

goes wrong out here. I'm not quite at the stage where I am being stupid

yet. You know the basics of how to pilot a ship."

 

Una was getting worried by this talk. Was Morcant about to do something

stupid and dangerous? What though? They were a million miles from

anywhere and there wasn't much to do out here. "What's going on, Morc?

What are we here for?"

 

Morcant turned to her with a bit of a smile, the first for a while, "I'm

going for a walk."

 

So saying he strode back into the rest of the vessel and headed for the

rear storage bay. Here was where the suits were racked up and the dorsal

hatch. He shut the door behind him and locked it. Una's voice came from

behind the door, "Morc, talk to me, please."

 

he ignored her voice and minutes later he was in the suit, air tight and

with two extra air tanks. He tapped the door lock again to release it

and stepped to the airlock. He cycled through and climbed out the top.

He stood on top of the vessel for a few moments and then as the airlock

shut behind him he gave a small jump and drifted slowly away from it.

 

Roughly 10 seconds after the hatch shut the ship moved forwards. Slowly

at first but then faster. Morcant wasn't looking and by the time he did

turn around the ship could not be seen. Unfazed Morcant just lay back

and stretched out his arms.

 

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

 

Una was worried. She had given up on trying to persuade Morcant to come

out. He had locked the door and it wouldn't open. She returned to the

cockpit to try to work out the route back to their home base. The

hyperspace route was fairly simple and the return course was easily

computable. As the numbers came up on screen she tried to remember how

to pilot this thing. She hadn't ever needed to before and though she

knew how to it was not the same as being able to. Then a light on the

control panel lit up to say that somebody was using an air-lock. So

that's what he meant by taking a walk. She ran back to the storage area

where he had gone. The door was open by the time she got there but he

was already leaving the ship. She started to put on one of the other

suits when she felt the ship move. She hurried back to the cockpit where

she saw that they were slowly accelerating forwards. She sat at the

controls and firstly ordered the ships sensors to keep a track of where

Morcant was. She then tried to stop the thing from moving.

 

She hit the buttons to call up the main navigational information and saw

a message from Morcant. The message said, "Una. Sorry I didn't tell you

this personally but you would've stopped me. I wanted to be alone. Very

alone so I have programmed the ship to autopilot. It won't go far

though. Its just going to get it far enough to be out of my sight. I

asked you along in case something goes wrong and somebody needs to

manually pilot this vessel. My radio is on but don't try to contact me

unless there is an emergency, otherwise I'll switch it off. If the ship

doesn't pick me up in three hours come get me yourself. Morcant."

 

Una read the note again, somewhat less panicked this time. She had never

seen Morcant stressed out to quite such an extent. She thought back to

the last few days and what Morcant had been doing that could have got

him in this bad a state. She felt it had started at the wedding. She

could tell that he was thinking back to his family and friends back

then. It wasn't just his toast and later contemplating. She felt there

was something about his clothes that was curious. She had never seen him

in that outfit. Never even seen the outfit. Apparently it was not

standard issue on board this ship and she could find no record that he

had ordered it whilst here. Neither was it on board this vessel that she

knew of though. It was a puzzle and a possible clue. However it wasn't

the solution.

 

Yesterday he had been talking with a few people in the bar she had heard

when he got a bit angry and upset and had stormed out. They had been

talking about Alderaan but he had apparently over-reacted by a long way.

From what she had heard he was reacting worse than normal. He would

usually remain quiet about his past and just refuse to speak. He had

become quite loud on his opinions and upset at others for not sharing

them.

 

Then later on he had been with Galadriel, the XO. She didn't know what

they had talked about but he had slapped her at one point and ended up

crying on her shoulder. She supposed that everything was resurfacing.

His feelings on what happened at Alderaan were coming alive again and he

was once again reacting with bitterness and resentment. Maybe this would

let him get it out of his system if he didn't try to suppress it again.

On the other hand it could consume him and drive him to do his death.

 

Una had no choice. She sat there and waited for three hours. She could

have gone and got some sleep or read something but she was too worried.

She couldn't sleep with Morcant in this state and so she sat and watched

and waited and worried.

 

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

 

The stars turned slowly above him, or besides him. Up and down were both

fairly meaningless here for him. He decided to call it up. Above his

head was probably the best choice for up for lack of anything

contradictory. He watched them turn and marveled at them. They had been

here for so long. Millions of years. Some of them were no longer there.

They had been destroyed long ago but their effects were still felt

throughout the galaxy. The last of their light struggling to make it

out to show their beauty to everybody.

 

The stars were one thing that relaxed him. It was amazing how many there

were and how varied they all were. More than that it was amazing that

they were here at all. As Morcant relaxed his mind started to wander.

There was nothing to hear, the air was odorless and tasted of nothing.

There were no new feelings and after the first hour his mind started to

ignore the input from his eyes. His mind unraveled itself and let

itself flow through the galaxy. A feeling of peace came to him.

 

Images flicked through his mind. Old friends, new friends, family,

people he vaguely recognized and people he didn't remember meeting. The

faces blurred from one to the next and with them came scenes. From his

past came visions of home. He saw his home with all his friends there,

Inigo, Garant, Filicow, and all the rest. Slowly the scene changed to

show his room on the Imladris and his friends changed slowly to his new

friends. Appearing from his old friends came Indy, Mike, Galadriel,

Baron, Mynok and more. He saw the truth and meaning behind the vision

and tried to remember it. As it drifted off and was replaced by more

random images however the memory slipped away too.

 

It seemed like minutes later but it must have been hours when his suit

beeped at him. He had four hours of air with him but had taken some of

it merely as a precaution. After one hundred and seventy five minutes

his alarm was set to remind him to get back home. He keyed his com and

it sent the signal to the light to come back to get him. He had no idea

of the direction to expect it from, he could have remembered but that

thinking would have defeated the point. He looked around however and

before long discerned their ship approaching him. It stopped twenty

meters away and Morcant used his maneuvering thrusters to guide him

back to it. Five minutes later he returned to the cockpit. He was

feeling more relaxed and happy than he had been for the last few months.

 

He checked the return course that Una had plotted and before long they

were home. Una talked about things to him. Possible upgrades she was

considering for the ship and other silly things. Everything that wasn't

connected with Alderaan. Morcant in return replied cheerfully and

happily and chatted like there had never been anything wrong. Una looked

at him as he got off the ship, once again in Imladris's hangar bay. Was

he all right again or was he just covering himself in a fragile layer of

protection. If people weren't careful that layer might break and if

people were relying on him then it might not be good. She would try to

help him though and make sure that didn't happen. The first thing she

did was to find people and to ask them to be careful.

 

She talked to some in person and left messages for those who were in

bed.

 

"Be careful around Morcant. He is in a bad way emotionally but generally

fine as long as you're careful with what you say. Don't talk about the

Alderaan and try not to get him started on the subject of the Empire. I

know I don't know a lot of you that well but I thought you ought to

know. I don't think offering to help would be useful though. He'll just

resent you for it.

 

Una Caltharis, Light of Dawn, Imladris."

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

     The agent sat at the bar, in the corner, a glass of Whyren's Reserve in front of him.  His green eyes were distant, thinking over all he had seen in the past year.

     He had seen the commanding officer of this outfit, presenting himself as who he was--Nylan Bridger, NRI Special Operative.  Nylan found it surprising that the general had not so much as batted an eye at the sound of the words "New Republic Intelligence."  Most officers cringed.  General Torin Qel-Droma was the only the second fleet officer that Nylan had ever met that had not reacted badly to his status.

     The other officer was Tag Rendar.

     Nylan sighed as he thought of his blood-sister.  He still cared deeply for her.  He knew that Tag still hadn't been told of his return from his mission.  Not many people knew.

     Torin had informed Nylan of the presence of his cousins among the ranks of Aurora Force.  Nylan had yet to seek them out.  At that point, he was content to sit at the bar, thinking.....

 

Baron (BaronCoop1@aol.com)

            I walked into the bar, rather nervous. I had heard that Rouge Squadron was the group that almost made me change my flightsuit earlier, and I felt the need for alcohol. Yeah, I know I kinda gave it up, but I REALLY need one. I gotta calm down.

            I get to the bar, and order my usual. A Coruscant Riot. It's really good. I got hooked back when I was a cop there. The usual explosion in my stomach made me feel better, so I looked around at my drinking buddies today. I look..... and then I groan. Rogue Squadron is here.

            It's not that I have anything against the Rogues, it's just that I tried to kill them earlier. I'm sure they might resent that a little. And there's no way I'm going to get in a fight with all of them. Or any of them. They're all heroes, legends! I'm sticking to my stool right here at the bar until I finish my drink.

            I glance over at the other end, and see ..... a familiar face? I know that guy! I think. I know him from somewhere, but I can't seem to place his face. I try over the course of ten minutes. The drink doesn't help my memory, but I continue gulping. Finally it comes to me. I saw him while attending NRI training. Only he was a visiting teacher, you know. One of those field agents they bring in to impress the cadets.

            What was his name? Nill .... Noll .... Nyl? Nylan? Yeah, that's it, Nylan. Nylan ....ah, crap. Nylan Bridger. Another Bridger. He looked up at me and gave a wane smile. I looked away quickly, realizing I had been staring.    

            "Yes," he said to me from across the bar. "Another Bridger."

            Eh? How did he do that? I didn't say anything about what I was thinking. And how did he whisper across the bar? And ..... awwww crap. Another Jedi.

            "You don't like Jedi?"

            I glared at him, and contemplated the phrase Stop listening to my thoughts.

            "Sorry. I'll stop. It's just that the name Bridger has come up quite often in this room's thoughts. Only yours was not referring to Indy or Slate. You must know who I am."

            I got up, and walked around the bar to the stool next to this man. "Okay, let's not do that whole whisper thing, okay? I'll just talk to you from here, how's that?"

            "Fair enough."

            "Good. Yeah, I recognize you. Do you recognize me?"

            "No, but I can try." He closed his eyes, and concentrated. "Four years ago. Coruscant." He opened his eyes again. "You went to NRIU?"

            "I told you to stop reading my mind." I murmured.

            "I wasn't. I was just recalling the past few years photographically. You weren't that far back."

            "Uh-huh."

            "Why are you in here tonight Agent....."

            "Lieutenant." I corrected him, sharply. I am undercover here.

            "Lieutenant, then." He apologized. "Why are you slowly poisoning yourself Lieutenant ..." He closed his eyes again, then slowly opened them. "I never heard your name."

            "Good. Never gave it." I smiled. "Lieutenant Baron, sir. Glad to meet you. And I am not poisoning myself. I'm giving my throat a good abrasive scrubbing. Nothing better than a good Coruscant Riot for that, by the way."

            "Might I suggest some Romulan Ale?"

            "Ummm, you might suggest that. If it actually exists." I told him, dubiously.

            "Oh, it does, though you'll never taste it. Damn shame."

            "Oh, well. I'm happy with my own floor cleaner here." He chuckled a bit. "Now let me guess why you're here." I started. "You went to General Torin, and told him you're NRI, didn't you?"

            He looked taken aback. And he also looked like he wasn't used to being taken aback. "How did you....?" He began. "Are you a Jedi too?" He said.

            "God, no. You just have the look of someone who has just been told that the greatest secret he holds was never a secret, or a surprise. Believe me, I see it every morning in the mirror."

            "Ah, Jedi are notoriously hard to keep secrets from."

            "I've noticed." I said bitterly into my drink.

            "Well, Lt." He got up saying. "It has been a true pleasure meeting you. Now, can you tell me where I can find my sister, or my brother?"

            "Well, as long as Mike over there," I pointed at Mike Bullian who was still chatting up Rogue Squadron, "isn't with her, you can find Indy in his *Ahem* I mean, her quarters." I wasn't sure if anyone told him Indy was married, and decided to let her say it. I gave him directions, then told him, "I have a feeling that as soon as you see Slate. I look forward to it."

            He looked slightly confused, but left in the direction of the newlywed's quarters. I gave it about an hour before I saw him again. I finished my drink, and was about to order another, but decided against it. I was going to have a very mad Jedi at my door soon, and I remember what happened to Quorn.

 

Mike Bullian (KngCaldor3@aol.com)

            Mike walked up to Baron's quarters and activated the door signal.  The door opened and Baron was standing behind it, looking a little nervous.

            "Stephen, you want to take a sim run with me and the Rogues?" Mike asked, a friendly tone underlying his voice.

            "I think Iíll pass on this one." Baron replied, turning back into his quarters.  Mike grabbed him.

            "You're not getting out of this one that easily.  You told me you wanted to get better in the cockpit and where else can you get tips from the best pilots in the galaxy."  Mike said somewhat jokingly.

            "Well, when you put it that way, okay."  Baron said, knowing that Mike was very persistent and that he really wasn't getting out of this one.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

            Baron hopped out of the sim, having just toasted Dllr Nep for the third time out of five and being himself toasted by Mike, who was flying Dllr's wing.  Mike's tips had paid off, a few of the others were still in the sims, engaged still and from the look on the control board, Mike was pulling ahead in the 2-man team melee.  It was down to Wedge, Hobbie, Tycho, Wes, Elscol, and Mike, the rest were watching the control board to see who was in the lead.  As a brilliant strategic move Mike and Wedge had unofficially teamed up and it was soon down to Wedge, Mike, and Tycho.  Wedge flew Mike's wing for a head to head.  As soon as Mike saw Tychoís x-wing blow he felt lasers slamming into his shields, Wedge had taken the initiative.  He was 10 meters behind Mike.  Mike switched all shields rear and dumped lasers to engines, draining the charged power into his shields.  Mike gunned the throttle, taking steady hits to his rear.  He dropped the throttle to zero to let Wedge crash straight into him, Wedge responded quickly enough to not crash straight, but he did crash, the cockpit crumpled and Wedge was out of it.  The blow took out Mike's engines and hyperdrive, but he was alive and relatively undamaged, and the winner.

            Mike hopped out of the sim and noticed that another man had entered the sim room, he was familiar, the eyes though had a depth the type that he had not seen on a similar face...

 

Dack Mauldeer (xwing884@aol.com)

            Dack was sitting down, running through his messages for the day, when the chime at the door to his quarters sounded.

            Must be the guys, Dack thought. He keyed the commands for the opening for the door. Major Gerald Caridian and Captain Mike Bullian stood at the threshold. Dack smiled. "Come on in, elite of Phoenix! "He gestured for them to enter. A table had been set up in the center of the place. The Phoenix party was complete, right down to the flatbread and Corellian Ale, finest draft Dack could find.

            They all sat down, and Dack pulled out some Sabacc cards, tossing them to the table's occupants. They began playing.

            "So, any word from Colonel Horn, Caridian?" Dack asked.

            "Nothing. Phoenix must be doing fine in our leave."

            Dack grinned. "As soon as we get back, we need to talk to Glytch and Horn about sending Glytch to the front lines."

            Caridian snorted. "That kid can be so annoying sometimes..."

            "Amen to that." Bullian agreed. "His motto is so... so..."

            "Unneeded?" Dack looked up from his cards.

            "That's it." Bullian tossed in a couple of decicreds.

            "What sector is Phoenix working these days?" Dack asked.

            "I think they're mostly patrolling, but I heard they're also working on missions to crack down on pirates." Caridian filled a glass with the Ale, and took a bite of flatbread.

            Dack glanced at Caridian. "I worked on a pirate ship once."

            Bullian looked up from his cards with interest. "Really?"

            "Yeah. I was desperate for work after getting out of the second Death Star, and took up with a guy names Jadon Karrde, on a beat-up Corellian Corvette called the Starrunner. I didn't stay for more than a year, don't worry. Earned my gunnery skills there."

            Caridian raised the stakes in the game a bit. "I've also heard that the New Republic is almost through with the testing for that new Incom Avenger."

            Dack was surprised. "Really?"

            "Oh yeah, should be in standard service in a couple of months or so."

            Bullian whistled. "I remember that was a beeeauty of a starfighter. An A-wing's speed combined with a Y-wing's defenses, shields, and weapons."

            Dack nodded. "And two gunner's laser turrets."

            Bullian nodded and took a sip of Ale.

            Dack laughed. "Remember the Katholian rebel missions?"

            Bullian and Caridian's noses turned up at the mention. "Ugh, don't remind me. Escort and Protect is a mission I do NOT like." Bullian stated.

            Dack nodded. "The pilots in the STD's were horrible. The Empire has too many rookies these days. Not enough veterans to produce a challenge."

            Caridian nodded in agreement, then, seemingly, an idea popped into his head. "hey, wonder how many rookies are in Phoenix now?"

            Dack shrugged. "Dunno. Glytch'll give'em a Swirlee, though."

            The pilots chuckled at the memory of Glytch's antics. Whenever a rookie came to Phoenix, Glytch had lured him into the hallway and, with the help of a couple of other Phoenix pilots, had dragged him into the pilot's stalls and plunged his face into the refresher units, flushing them, seemingly cleaning off any previous Squadron associations, and giving him (and it had to be a him, otherwise they would get in trouble for the event) Phoenix germs.

            Dack and the others continued to play on into the night, reminding themselves of old times in Phoenix...

 

Gerald Caridian (OVEREADER@aol.com)

            Gerald smiled as he played cards with his squadmates. He enjoyed reminiscing about Phoenix, especially nowadays. He had only been away for a short time, and he started to miss the action. 

            "You know, I think we have some big missions coming up in Phoenix. We might get called back to duty there." he said. He watched as the other two frowned.

            "What kind of missions?" Dack asked.

            "I'm not sure. I just have a hunch."  In fact, he had been getting these hunches lately.  He knew his Jedi intuition was trying to tell him something. He closed his eyes and sighed.

            Color burst through his eyelids and swirled around in his brain. He began to see pictures in the color...visions.

            He saw a strange Calamari Cruiser floating in space, with Phoenix Squadron approaching it.

            He saw Corran standing at a podium, his face in a grim expression.

            He saw a pilot reluctantly approaching the podium, and accepting...something.

            "Major?" A voice startled him back to the real world.

            "Major are you all right, you kind of blacked out for a second there." Dack's look of concern filled his view, right next to Mike's.

            "Yeah, sure."

            "Should I go get some-"

            "No, no, it's fine. Just had a small vision."

            "A vision? Like, of the future?" Dack said.

            "Yes."

            "What was it?"

            "I don't know yet. But I have a feeling we'll find out son enough."

 

Mike Bullian (KngCaldor3@aol.com)

            Mike looked up from his cards at the two other phoenixes, slightly wondering about Gerald's vision.  Mike wanted to know what the vision was but didn't want to probe inside his mind, such was rude.  He wasn't about to ask either, that was rude as well.

            Dack tossed in a couple decicreds and Mike raised it, Gerald folded.  Dack met, and called.

            "We ARE playing Old Republic rules, aren't we?"  Gerald said, to remind them of the variant.  Dack laid down his four cards, 1 of staves, 2 of flasks, 7 of coins and the idiot.

            "Looks like I won this one."  Dack said, chuckling softly and reaching for the pile of credits.  Mike grabbed his wrist.

            "Not so fast."  He laid down his cards, the Jedi Master, the Jedi Knight, the Ace and 2 of Sabers.  "Jedi's array, and pure sabacc to boot."  He laughed and pulled the creds into a small pouch.  "That's gonna be the last hand for me, I need to get down to the hangar.  I've got two new X-Wings to tune up and such.  See you later"  Mike stood up and walked out of the door, heading for the hangar.  He was at the turbolift when he bumped into the man who he had seen in the sim room, he had the feeling that he was in for a talk.  Mike walked up to the man and shook his hand  "Hi, Iím Captain Mike Bullian, I haven't seen you around, you new here?"  Mike asked, a friendly smile on his face.

            "I got in with the Rogues, I saw your performance in the sim. no wonder the Rogues are so desperate for you to join."  Mike smiled at the compliment.  "By the way, I'm Captain Nylan Bridger."  Mike kept the friendly smile on his face but thought to himself.

            "Nylan Bridger?  nooo, it couldn't be.  But it is."  Those thoughts spun through his head.  Mike decided to speak. "Yet another NRI agent on the ship, we're starting to seem overloaded with intelligence." Nylan  took on that same look that Baron had seen in the bar, Mike smiled genuinely at this.  "it's no big secret, Iíve heard a bit about you.  You save a woman's life a few times and she gets talkative."  Mike tried to see if he had accurately assessed the strings he could pull.

            "Indy?  You won't have to save her life anymore, she has family here to do it." Nylan replied, just as mike had predicted.

            "She's had family here for a while, her brother Slate, blood sister Tag..." Nylan's eyebrows raised slightly at the mention of Tag. "her husband..." A look of shock spread across Nylan's features.

            "Indy?  Married?  Who?"  Nylan was really shocked, he hadn't known after all.

            "I can tell you that she got a great guy, a really great guy.  He's a Captain, the best pilot in the galaxy, an accomplished healer, a good cook and a Sedith Master."  Nylan was still shocked, but to a lesser extent.

            "Sounds like you really like the guy, who is he?"  Nylan asked.

            "I'll give you one big hint.  You're talking to him."

 

Bethan Leitbur (Raptor27@hotmail.com)

Bethan stepped out of his shuttle and looked around.  There was

nothing special about this hanger, he'd seen more than enough in his

time, but this one seemed different.  Perhaps it was simply the fact

that this was the first time in almost fifteen years that he wasn't a

mercenary while in it.  Did it matter really?  He had joined up with

this group to create a better life for himself, and their weren't many

other jobs as good as this one that were available for someone with

his qualifications.

 

He noticed also that no one was here to greet him and the other few

new arrivals.  All he saw were several mechanics working on ships,

mainly repairing them, others adding maintenance and upgrades.

 

He left the hanger now and headed down the corridor, glancing at

faces, engraving their faces into his head.  He had learned awhile ago

that remembering faces, even nameless ones could come in handy, since

in his previous profession one never knew when one's employer would

send his agents to double-cross him.  He really didn't expect a

double-cross from the Republic, especially since he had now joined

them, but the practice had become a habit over the years.

 

Looking into the eyes of some of the younger officers, he could still

see an innocence within them, something he had lost long ago, and

something that would not last long for them either if they survived

long enough.

 

As he passed an entrance, Bethan spotted what he was looking for, the

bar.  He would still need to drop off his bags in his quarters, but

after what he'd gone through the past few weeks, he could stop for a

quick drink or two.

 

The bar was alive with chatter as Bethan entered and sat down at the

bar.  He set his bag down next to the seat and ordered a drink.  He

then began listening in on the conversations around him.  He knew it

was rude, but he had learned through experience that politeness could

get oneself killed if not careful.  Most of the conversations were

about the arrival of Rogue Squadron to the Imladris.  That definitely

explained the Mark II Star Destroyer he had seen coming in.  He had

recognized the Redeemer from the Battle of Endor, where his former

merc group had been hired by the Rebels then to help in the attack. 

He had been the only one to make it out of that battle, and only

barely then.  Though he was paid for the entire group, he had

restrained from joining other groups and opted to go solo.  That had

limited the jobs he could reasonably take, but it did pay better.

 

For most of the people here, this was probably the first time they'd

seen Rogue Squadron, but Bethan wasn't very interested in it.  He'd

seen them before, several times in fact, and authority figures annoyed

him some.  They, after all, were usually the ones who stiffed him on

jobs, though it was almost always their last mistake since many of

them fell to mysterious accidents shortly after.

 

A cadet plopped down now at the seat next to Bethan.  Glancing over at

him, Bethan could see that this was another of the innocent ones,

still not knowing the full extent of what war was.  He was fairly

young, about 13 years younger then Bethan, maybe twenty-one or

twenty-two, and seemed so excited and eager to talk to someone that

he was nearly jumping out of his seat.

 

The cadet likewise turned toward Bethan now, looking Bethan over

for a moment.  He could tell from the very way he carried himself that

this guy had been around the block a few times.  He could see that

Bethan was covered with old scars, some minor ones on his forehead,

most of which were covered by his thick sandy hair.  But the one that

stood out was a long one that ran from the left side of his forehead

down the side of his face to just below his ear.  And the eyes,

they had a story of their own.  They were deep with time and

wisdom, but seemed cold and hard, as if all life was drained from

them.  The cadet though, anxious to engage in any conversation said to

Bethan, " Hey, you knew here?  I'm Zack Klein.  And you?"

 

Bethan took a sip from his drink then sighing turned and said to

Klein, " Leitbur, Bethan Leitbur, and I'd like to be left alone now."

 

Klein though, had no intention of going and pestered on, " You know

the Rogues are here don't you?  There like, the best out there."

 

Bethan moaned now, fighting the urge to snap the kid's neck.  He

thought to himself, " Why can't this kid understand what it means when

somebody says they want to be left alone?"  Bethan had no friends and

liked it that way.  They always had been weaknesses before, and though

he knew he'd probably make some on board eventually, he had no

intentions of befriending some kid less than half an hour after he

arrived.  Still, he knew his only three options were to knock the kid

senseless, leave the room, or humor him a little until he could get

Klein to leave on his own.

 

Though the first option carried some gratification, he had come here

looking for a new beginning, one that was better then the last one,

and beating a cadet down inside the first day of arrival was not a

good way to start off.  And since he had no intention of letting some

punk kid drive him away from anywhere, he turned and replied, " So

what, seen 'em before, see 'em again.  Do you expect me to go crazy

over it?"

 

Klein quickly replied, " No, but I figured you'd be at least a little

excited.  But you just talk in one dull, emotionless tone."

 

Bethan shrugged and responded, " Maybe I have no emotion.  Or maybe I

have no reason to use it."

 

Klein had no idea what that meant and decided to change the subject

before he got another answer like that.  " So where you from?"

 

Again Bethan sighed before replying, " Here, there, everywhere.  No

where in particular."

 

Klein just threw his hands up at that one.  Bethan meanwhile was

studying him very carefully.  Then putting his hand to his chin, he

said, " Do you understand?"

 

Klein seemed baffled by the question and said, " Understand what?"

 

Bethan chuckled slightly under his breath before answering, " I'll

take that as a no.  And that is a fine answer, no.  An old friend I

once had told me that you will be far wiser when you begin to

understand that which you don't understand.  He was right of course,

but I'll give you some advice with that, don't understand too much. 

Because if you do, you may not like what you find."

 

Bethan now got up and grabbing his bag began walking toward the door.

 He still had to find the CO and report in, and the sooner the better.

 Klein though spun in his chair and said, " What does that mean?"

 

Bethan simply ignored him and continued toward the door.  Klein though

jumped up from his seat and said, " Wait, where you goin'?  Hey wait a

minute"

 

He then grabbed Bethan's right arm and suddenly knew true pain. 

Bethan had grabbed Klein's arm with his left and twisting it, yanked

him forward bringing his right elbow up landing it in Klein's face. 

Bethan then quickly brought his fists around and put several quick

body blows into the kid's gut before bringing his leg around knocking

Klein aside the head.  Klein quickly fell to the floor unconscious as

the rest of the room had turned from what they were doing to see what

was happening.  Bethan glanced over at them for a second with an

annoyed look on his face, then turned and left leaving Klein lying on

the floor.  He had no time or wish to answer anyone elseís' questions

as he still had to report in.

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

     Nylan's rather grim expression dimpled into a smile as he caught

sight of Wedge Antilles, Wes Janson, Derek "Hobbie" Kilvan, and Tycho

Celchu climbing out of the simulators.  The four Rogues grinned at the

other man, who had spent much of their trip isolated.  He nodded to his

old friends, who waved.

     "Hey Nylan," Wedge said.

     Nylan grinned at Wedge.  "Hey Wedge.  Been a damned long time,

huh?"

     The other man nodded.  "You've no idea, man.  Tag was a wreck for a

while after you left, but she's better now."

     Nylan looked down at the reference to Tag.  Wedge was her cousin. 

"She's better now, you said?"

     Wedge nodded.  "She's been helping me out some with uh....some

things."

     Nylan's eyebrows went up, but he didn't ask.

     Wedge decided it was best to get off the subject, so he reached for

Mike.  "Uh, Nylan, I'm not sure if the two of you have met, but this is

Mike Bullian, your cousin's husband."

     Nylan nodded slowly, a spark flaring in his eyes for a moment, then

fading.  It was obvious to all that looked at him that this man was a

Jedi, one who had been through the fires of the Dark Side and had his

heart forged into one of diamond--shining, but hard.  "We've met,

Wedge."

     Tycho tapped Wedge on the shoulder, and whispered in his ear. 

Wedge nodded.  "OK, Rogues, we've got things to do.  Move out."

     The Rogues filed out, leaving Nylan, Mike, and Baron in the room. 

Baron moved to leave, but something kept him.  He stared at the man who

looked so much like Indiana Bridger Bullian that he could have been her

twin, and shivered.  Something......

     Indy poked her head into the simulator room, and the tense air was

broken.  She smiled at her cousin, whom she knew was aboard.  "Hey

Nylan.  I wasn't looking for you, but this is good."

     Nylan turned and smiled at his cousin, heightening the family

resemblance.  He hugged her.

     Indy glanced at Mike, and pointed at him.  "You I was looking for. 

Come on, we've some things that need to get gone over before we get

tossed into the mix again."

     "Like what?"

     Indy pointed to Baron.  "Like making sure that Slate doesn't try to

kill this one on the next run.  He's coming, you know."

     Mike shook his head.  "Somehow, I don't think that'll be a

problem."

     "Well, let's make sure," Indy fired back.  "Come on."  She reached

out and grabbed Mike's arm and pulled him from the room.

 

Mike Bullian (KngCaldor3@aol.com)

  Mike and Indy headed to the hangar to work on their X-Wings.  As

they passed the bar they noticed a new rookie walking out, Mike

looked in and noticed another of the new rookies kneeling on the

floor, dazed and with a bloody, probably broken nose.  Mike also

noticed the spot of blood on the first rookie's sleeve.

  "You'd better have a good reason for breaking that kid's nose..."

Mike looked at the rookie's uniform  "Lieutenant Leitbur."

  "Who are you to care?"  Mike put on a show of being really upset.

  "I'm Major Mike Bullian, Sedith Master, you do NOT want to get me

pissed."  Mike's heart lifted a bit as he saw the rookie stand firm,

not showing a slight bit of fear.

  "In that case, sir, he grabbed my arm rather roughly as i was

exiting, i used a reflexive defense maneuver intended to disable

him."  The rookie, Bethan,  explained logically.

  "All right, you will escort him..." Mike indicated the fallen

rookie "to the medbay, then you will report in to General Qel-

Droma."  Bethan saluted

  "Sir yes sir"  He walked into the bar as Mike and Indy went on

their way to the hangar.

 

Deadmeet (Bubbakidd@aol.com)

            It was just like he had left it. With a few decorations of course. When engineers and scientists are trapped on a space station for months at a time they tend to get bored and get creative, like making new ship designs on the walls. As Deadmeet looked at some of them he was startled to notice a few interesting ideas with Tie fighter cockpits but on tanks. "A ball with treads, interesting."

 

            After a while Deadmeet found the central computer core and began to activate all the automated mechanics, "I need all of you if Iím gonna be done in time." Codyman had told Deadmeet when the next mission would be, that was all right with Deadmeet anyway I work better with a deadline he thought.  After all the droids were online Deadmeet inserted his data pad that had all the schematics   on it, the designs took up all the room on his pad and didn't have room for anything else. He had to have Enyo carry the excess stuff.

 

            By the time Deadmeet took a shower, ate some breakfast, and got to the observation deck, were the normal eggheads could see what they were building, the super structure of the ship was only a thousandth percent completed, "God this will take for ever." Deadmeet felt a very gentle wind and then heard mike say, "Rome wasn't built in a day." Deadmeet turned, "Yea, but i bet the builders were just as impatient to get it done too." They shook hands and gave each other a pat on the back. "Nice to see you again," said Deadmeet. "You too," he replied. "So what's going on back on the Imladris?" He shrugged, "Ohh nothing much, the Rouges are still hanging out and a new recruit named Bethan hit Klein pretty bad, you know same old same old."

 

            After talking for a while longer Mike and Deadmeet played a game of sabacc. "You know," Deadmeet said as he tossed down his cards for about the 5th time in a row, "You should really show me how to win this game, that's the 3rd time you got Jediís array." He shrugged, "Sure, but for now i got to give you this and get back to the ship, I got a wife to keep company and a brother-in-law to train," he said as he handed Deadmeet the data pad. "I take it this is the modifications you made?" Mike shook his head, "Yea, and a few good recipes for ya, I know how well you like Indy's and my old fashion space cooking." Deadmeet laughs, "Ya, I do. See ya Mike, you come up with any new ideas or recipes feel free to scare the shit out of me when you appear out of no ware." "I will," he said, and with that he was off just as quickly as he came.

 

            Once again Deadmeet made it back down to the computer core and updates the specs for the ship," The guys will like it when it's done." Later he went to the mess on the station which really suited it's name. After doing a little clean up he made some chicken and shrimp spicy stir fry which he got off of Mike and wondered if he would get a visit from Raven, that is if he could find time away from his own imperial disguise he had to keep up. After all, he IS financing this project. The fact is Deadmeet could use just about any company. Luckily there was a training area of the ship with holo projectors that projected things you could actually touch. Calling his little R-2 over, the only one that he knew of that had a devise that made it so it speaks English instead of it's little beeps, he downloaded his favorite opponents and started the program. "Stormlight," he said to the computer, "activate program, Zero hour level 1, increase level every 5 minutes." Just as he said the command the projectors went into action creating a jungle with the sounds of his 4 enemies around him. Each one of them were programmed to fight each other as well as him, so if he wanted to he could let them beet each themselves stupid and then come in for the kill. BUT WERE'S THE FUN IN THAT?? So he immediately set out to find his enemy.....

 

Operation 1 Complication set #5

The Changeling

Carlos DeLong (BodoBaasJM@aol.com)

The hangar deck had the routine sounds of welding torches, banging metal, and yells from irate crew chiefs.  One sound that had not been there before was the banging and grunting coming from the area where the light capital ships were docked.  Specifically, the sounds came from the Peregrine's Claw.

 

Carlos was busy at work doing some routine maintenance on his ship, routine maintenance that had rapidly turned into a hard days worth of crawling around through the ship, locating system after system that had failed.  He was beginning to worry that Peregrine was starting to go to seed, until he found the sensor link cable.

 

It was cut.  Warning lights went off in his head.  He rapidly crawled out of the Claw, and brought the wire to the head Crew Chief.

 

"Chief Patricks,"  Carlos said to Master Chief Varsin Patricks, "We may have a saboteur aboard."

 

"You're sure, Lieutenant?  Thatís a serious thing."

 

"Well, its either that, or Peregrine has started doing some very weird stuff in his spare time."  Right then one of the other chiefs came up to Varsin.

 

"Sir, two of the X-wings in my section appear to have been deliberately tampered with."

 

"'Tampered with?'  Could you be just a bit more specific, Lasiter?" Varsin said, knowing all his men by sight and sound.

 

"Sorry sir," Crewman Lasiter Britegn said, "The power converters that feeds into the laser systems appear to have been cut."

 

Varsin looked at Carlos.  Both of them had the same thoughts.  It was no longer "maybe" there is a saboteur, it was now a question of "who" and "where".  And when will he or she strike again.

 

Baron (BaronCoop1@aol.com)

            Ah, now this was something I could do! I'm not a fighter pilot by trade, and though I could down anyone (without Jedi powers that is) in a drinking contest, I finally have something worthwhile to contribute to the team! Back on Coruscant, I was one of the best undercover cops in Section 5266, and my specialty was a stakeout. I once managed to catch four "protection" enforcers by hanging off a ledge for two and a half days straight just to get a good angle on their conversations.

            And now we have a saboteur. Hrm. It could be any of a number of people. Let's look at the crime itself. Cut wires. That could mean anything, but I'm guessing that the perpetrator is not a professional. A pro would not simply cut wires and leave them clean like that. It's simply too easy to detect. If you're gonna cut wires, you singe the edges to make it look like they burned out, and you take a knife and fray the ends. You also don't do the same thing to every machine you want to sabotage. It's real easy to simply rewire certain things, and real hard to detect. And whoever did this wanted the whole squad out of commission, and they didn't care who knew, or they didn't know better. That left an amateur, or someone with a timetable that simply requires us to be inoperable for a day or so as the only suspects.

            The probable cause is that someone wanted the (in?)famous Rogue Squadron out of the way for a day or two. But apparently they didn't count on the skill of the Imladris Tech team. All the fighters were in working condition by the end of the next shift. I decided not to stake the place out to make sure the saboteurs didn't return. As much fun as it would be, it was insane. I have no idea why they even bothered to turn down the lights. Almost every fighter-jock, and wannabe detective was in there hiding behind a box, or ship, waiting for the saboteur to return. If they did return tonight, they were stupider than any amateur. They were a mental patient escapee.

            I decided not to bother joining the circus. Besides, I already had a fairly good idea of where I could find our saboteur. I walked down the hall towards their quarters, and made sure my blaster was in the holster, and clearly visible. I might just need it.

 

Mike Bullian (KngCaldor3@aol.com)

  Mike Lifted Indy up on to her X-Wing, using the more conventional

method of pulling by hand, not with the Force.  They were going over

their ships, fixing the damage done by the saboteur and tuning them

up a little.  Mike had already fixed his A-Wing and was planning on

fixing and tuning his X after they finished with Indy's.  Mike handed

Indy a hydrospanner, she was doing the work on this one and Mike was

assisting, though he was the better mechanic, it was her ship.  They

worked for hours, Indy tuning, Mike handing her tools and giving a

few little tips on how to increase the performance, without sounding

like a teacher, or her superior.  He knew that it would anger her if

he did make himself sound superior, besides, she was pretty good at

tuning an engine herself.  They finished her X soon, and they were

truly enjoying themselves.  They moved on to Mike's X-Wing and

worked, this time Mike did the tuning and Indy assisted, Mike

could've done the work in less than an hour, but was having too much

fun to want it to stop.  He so enjoyed spending the time with his

wife.  They soon finished on the engines and other systems Mike

wanted to boost.  Mike figured that both X-wings should now have an

average cruising speed of 150mglt and shield and laser recharge

faster.  They both hopped down from the X and headed off to their

quarters to take a shower...

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

   Nylan listened rationally to what Slate told him about Stephen Baron, his face an emotionless mask, nodding slowly every so often.  Nylan, a product of the Rebellion's early days, had long ago promised himself never to make opinions of someone after just meeting them.  True, he had seen Baron while the other man was undergoing training, but he'd never actually talked to the man.  He remained silent and contemplative as his elder cousin spoke.

   Slate found this maddening.  Finally, he just let loose on his cousin.  "Nylan, damn you, how can you just sit there and nod?  How can you not react to what I've been telling you?  That man nearly killed me."

   Nylan blinked, and finally spoke.  "You're still alive, Slate."

   "And most of my comrades are dead."  Slate spat back.  "It's his fault."

   "Is it his fault, Slate?  Is it really?  Or is it the fault of the Empire that forced him into a bad situation?"

   Slate ground his teeth.  Leave it to his cousin the Jedi to come up with the hard questions.

   "Besides," Nylan added, almost as an afterthought, "I knew that Agent Darjinn would get you out of any trouble you would get into."

   Slate's gaze jerked toward his cousin.  "What do you know about her?" he demanded.

   Nylan allowed himself a smile.  "I trained Karrialy Darjinn."

   There was a knock on the door.  Indy entered as Slate shouted that it was open.  She glanced at them both.  "I was just wondering, the next run is coming up soon.  Are you two in or out?"

   Slate shrugged.  "I don't have a choice."

   Nylan's face became an expressionless mask again.  "You're going to need all the help you can get, cousin."  There was a distance in those emerald eyes, as if he was staring off into the future.

   Indy shuddered, and again silently thanked her good sense to have forsaken the Force, so she would never have to face what her family had and did.

 

Bethan Leitbur (Raptor27@hotmail.com)

The Imperial Star Destroyer was over the planet now, and the people on

planet could see it from the capital city.  There had been uprisings

in the capital recently, and the Empire would not stand for it.  Lara

Khymer was walking through the streets now, happy that the troubles

would all soon be over.  She had no interest in the politics of it

all, and felt glad that soon she would be married.  Her fiancť was an

officer in the Empire, many people in town thought he'd be an admiral

someday, and he had sent her a message that he'd be getting leave soon

so they could be married.  The ring he had gotten her was gorgeous,

and shimmered in the light.

 

She could hear the riot going on across town, protesting even in the

face of despair.  She admired their courage, though she felt it would

be futile.

 

Suddenly she heard a noise, and saw a terrible sight.  The Destroyer

had opened fire on the capital, taking supporter and protester alike.

 Lara turned to run as the image blurred to red flame.

 

Bethan awoke with a start now, cold sweat dripping from his head.  He

had had the dream again.  Fifteen years had passed, and it still

haunted him.  He hadn't had it though in years, but he had a hunch

what caused it.  That run-in with the force wielder.  He couldn't

remember the name just yet, but his face burned in his mind.  He had

given him the respect a superior officer demanded at the time, but it

was more show than not.

 

The kid would have survived.  He didn't have to take him to the Med

Lab.  He had known the second he saw the man, Mike was the name, that

he was a force wielder.  Bethan could spot one a parsec away.  Didn't

know how, but he could.  Just something about the way they moved, the

look in their eyes.  And a Sedith master, he'd have to put on a real

good act around him so not to offend him.

 

He hated all force wielders with a vengeance, because of what they

took from him.  After the tragedy, he had traced back through the

chain of command and learned that Vader himself had given the order.

That ended his previous career and the start of his mercenary career.

They said Vader was not really a Jedi and that all force wielders

should not be blamed for his crimes, but a force wielder was a force

wielder.  He'd fought and defeated force wielders before, but a Sedith

Master?  One thing for sure was that though he hated all force

wielders to the core, he had developed a great respect for their

abilities.  For now though, he'd have to keep an eye on them and learn

more about the situation here.  There'd be time for action, but

knowledge was the true key to defeating any opponent, whether that be

the Empire or his fellow crew members if necessary.

 

Maybe he was overreacting though.  He was starting a new life now and

it was important to bury the past.  Still, the habits of the past

stuck fast, as did the paranoia that everyone was out to get him.

 

That's when Bethan realized that it hadn't been the dream that woke

him, but something else.  Someone was outside his door, not a force

wielder, he'd know that, but someone was standing there.

 

Quickly and silently he leaped from his bunk, pulling the knife he

kept under his pillow at the same time and moved to the side of the

door.  He waited now with apprehension, wondering who could be out

there.  The door opened now and a shadowy figure stepped in.  With

lightning quick reflexes Bethan reached out and in one sweeping motion

slammed the intruder against the wall, knocked the blaster on his side

away and put the knife up to his throat.  Then staring into the

intruders face a look of disbelief came over him.  Then in a still

somewhat surprised state Bethan said, " You?  I remember you."

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

     Nylan entered his quarters after his little talk with his cousin.  He tossed his jacket on the bed and sat down to take off his boots.

     "Quack!"

     Nylan looked toward the door.  There was a duck sitting in front of it.  He frowned.  *A duck?  What's a duck doing here?*  He began to get up.  "Hey little fella, what are you doing here?"

     Suddenly, the lights went out.

 

     Indy and Baron came running at the sound of screams.  They'd been talking over the sabotage situation, trading insights.  Indy realized that the screaming was coming from her cousin's quarters, and cycled open the door.

     Nylan collapsed onto the deck at he feet, bloody and barely conscious.  "Duck...."  he murmured, and slid deep into a Jedi healing trance.

     Indy and Baron looked at each other.  Finally, Indy said to Baron, "Help me carry him to my quarters."

     After they settled Nylan on the couch with a pillow and blankets, Indy called an all-Aurora Force meeting.

Baron (BaronCoop1@aol.com)

            "Damn it, Bethan! Put me down!" I hate being picked up by the neck. It hurts like hell.

            "Well, well." Bethan replied in the dark. "If it isn't Sergeant Baron, Coruscant Police Force. Section..... What was it again? I'm sure you remember." He never released me.

            "9555." I choked out.

            "Tell me why I shouldn't turn you in right here and right now. You're an Imperial agent. You're aboard a New Republic Warship. You will be tried as a spy, and shot. Hell, I might just get a few people to actually like me on this ship, not that it matters, it's just easier that way."

            "If you turn me in, I'll just disappear. There won't be a trial. And it's 2nd Lt. Baron, New Republic Intelligence now." I waited until he let me to the ground, then continued. "I thought I recognized you when you came onboard. Small galaxy, huh?"

            "You could say that." Bethan replied, still holding his knife. "Why are you here?"

            "Right to the point huh? All right." I sighed heavily. This was not easy. "I need your help."

            "My HELP?!?" He laughed, and almost dropped the knife. "YOU?" I sat through at least half a minute of laughter, before he asked me "Why in the hell should I help you?"

            "Because of your special experience in this matter." I replied. "You know almost better than anyone, certainly better than anyone on this ship, how to disable a Jedi."

            At this he went silent. Jedi were always one of his sore points.

            "Yeah," He growled. "maybe I do. So what?"

            "So, someone is mauling Jedi on this ship. Nylan Bridger got bloodied up today, and he's in some sort of healing trance. I'm afraid that this has to do with the sabotage earlier today. The two seem too coincidental not to be connected."

            "And I'm not your prime suspect?" He countered, somewhat surprised.

            "No." I told him. "For one thing, this was strictly amateur. You are better than that. They just cut wires." Bethan made a face of contempt. "And for another thing, you just don't like Jedi, you don't actively try to kill them. Besides, I get the feeling that if you got in a fight with Nylan Bridger, he would have at least scratched you."

            "True." Bethan replied. "And I really didn't do it, but you still haven't told me why I should help you." He then shook his head. "You want me to help you first of all, and in the process, you want me to help Jedi? " He said, slightly incredulous. "You really have forgotten what I'm like, haven't you?"

            "No, I just haven't played my trump card yet." I told him. "I had hoped that you would do this out of honor, or something, but I can see you don't have any of that left." That riled him, so I continued to press that button. "If you ever had any." He looked murderous, so I changed the subject. Especially since he held the knife.

            "It is a small universe, Bethan." I repeated to him. "Do you know who else is on this ship?" At his small shake of the head, I went on. "Does the name Slate Bridger mean anything to you?" His eyes opened slightly more, and he tensed a little bit.

            "Slate is here?"

            "Yes," I told him. "I believe you had a run-in with his brother-in-law, Mike Bullian."

            I swear I heard him mutter "Sithspawn."

            "Maybe Slate would like to hear who exactly it was who sold out his rebel unit?"

            "Maybe he would like to know who did the actual shooting?" Bethan countered, angrily.

            "He already knows it was me." I said, softly. "The only thing that has kept him from charring my corpse over the engines, is that I managed to convince his sister and her husband that I'm not evil. You have not managed to convince them of anything yet." That last one got to him. Jedi, this guy could handle. I'd seen him do it while on Coruscant. But revenge grudges carry a bit of weight. They don't die, or simply go away. Especially when the avenger has a Sedith Master for a brother-in-law. I was actually doing Bethan a favor by even telling him Slate was onboard. Slate would have seen Bethan eventually, and then, if he hadn't been prepared, all hell would have broken loose.

            "Oh, and I might warn you," I went on "Slate has been training." At the confused look on Bethan's face, I explained. "He's undergoing some force-training. It seems our little naive rebel has a grudge against both of us, and he is about to get really powerful. I don't think the question is whether he will turn on us, but when." I waited for that to sink in. A revenge problem with a Jedi. Even a bad boy like Bethan knew that was a bad combination.

            "I didn't want to sell them out." He growled. "I had no idea you were a narc."

            "Hey, it was my job. I was good at it." I countered. "And besides, you had to have known that it would have made it back to the government anyway. You just got lucky that I cut out the middle man. Besides," I continued, "I seem to remember you telling me they meant nothing to you, and you just needed the credits." That last one hurt him.

            "Slate does not need to know any of this, if you agree to help me catch the perpetrator. I have a good idea of who it is, but they just beat the crap out of a Jedi, and I can't do this alone." He glared at me momentarily, then with a sigh, got up, and gave me back my blaster.

            "Let's go." He said. "Who do you have in mind?"

            "Well, I'm actually undercover right now, so no one besides the few involved know I'm NRI. It's actually kinda interesting..."

 

Carlos DeLong (BodoBaasJM@aol.com)

Carlos had spent most of the afternoon going over the evidence with the security detail on the Imladris.  They had been reviewing the evidence, and had decided that the sabotage was probably more of a distraction than the actual target of the bad guy.  What his actual target was remained to be determined.

 

We're being harassed, Carlos thought.  This saboteur is trying to distract us.  From what?  What is his target?  With these questioning thoughts, Carlos went to his quarters to try and get some sleep.  He had no more entered his room than there was a knock at the door.  He opened the door and got quite a surprise.

 

"Janice?  Aren't you on duty?"  He stopped as he recognized the look in her eyes.  It was a look that he had occasionally seen in some of the female staffers on Salasia IVb.  It was a look of pure lust.  He had never seen it in her eyes.  They were of the same kind about that, and had already vowed to each other to save that for when and if they take the vows of marriage.  Her coming on like this was his first indication that something was not right.  Strike One.

 

"Not anymore, love.  I'm all yours."

 

"I guess you want to get to know me a little better, huh?" he asked, testing the waters, trying to find out exactly what was going on.

 

"You bet." Her positive response to this was Strike Two.

 

"Like last Friday?"  Trick question.  He had been on patrol all last of Friday night.  He had talked with Janice over the comlink, but they had not done that.

 

"Uh-huh," she said as she began to kiss him harder.

 

Strike three, yer out, Carlos thought.  Slowly, unnoticeably, he moved his hand downward toward his blaster.  In one quick, fluid motion, he shoved the blaster into the impostorís face.

 

"Back off," Carlos said as he put his command voice into play.

 

The pseudo-Janice slowly backed off.  Suddenly she burst out into a grin, and let loose a deep, bass, malicious laugh.  Carlos watched as her form melted into a shimmering, bronze-colored blob.  He got one shot off, but it passed right through the blob as it flung itself through the air vent with blinding speed.  Carlos stood there and watch for about ten seconds.  Then he went to the intercom and called the Security chief, XO Troy Nexus.

 

"Troy?  Carlos.  I found the saboteur."

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

     Indy knelt next to her cousin, carefully dressing his wounds.  She knew that he would have rejected the thought of going to sickbay--if anything, Nylan had always been full of pride and confident in his skills as a Jedi.  An image suddenly flickered past her eyes, and she gasped.  The vision was utterly impossible.  *utterly.  She looked down at Nylan, who's eyes darted around beneath closed eyelids.  Suddenly, emerald green eyes flew open and he almost shouted, "Duck!"  He thrashed on the couch, and would have surely injured himself further if Indy hadn't restrained him.

      Her hands firmly held him in place on the couch, forcing him to rest against the pillow beneath him.  "Nylan, relax!  You're safe.  What happened to you?"

      Nylan squeezed his eyes shut.  "You wouldn't believe me if I told you, Indy," he whispered, his breath rasping in his throat.

      Indy stared at him for a moment before adjusting the blanket over him.  "I think you need some more rest, Nylan."

      "You are correct in that regard," he sighed.

      Indy stayed by him until he was asleep again, and thought about what he had said.

 

Bethan Leitbur (Raptor27@hotmail.com)

Bethan walked over to his bag now and began searching through it.  Baron

stood behind him waiting.  Speaking over his shoulder now he said, "

You can wait outside if you want, I'll only be a minute here."

 

Baron shook his head and said, " No thanks.  If I might ask, what are

you getting?"  Baron had no intention of pushing this if Bethan

declined to answer after what he had done a few moments ago.  He

knew Bethan wasn't one to annoy.

 

Bethan however, was willing to share.  " It's some of my anti-Jedi

weaponry.  I'm not taking much, mainly the lightweight stuff that is

just as effective against non-force users."  He went back to searching

and then pausing said, " Do you know if this is a Jedi we're going

after, or just someone who can take down a Jedi?"

 

Baron simply replied, " I have some idea to who it is, but all I truly

know is that they can take a Jedi.  Why?"

 

" It will just make things easier if I knew what I was going up

against.  Bethan survival code: rule 14, know as much as you can about

who, what, where and when your objective is, or you'll be caught in an

unexpected situation."

 

"You numbered them?"

 

Bethan replied, " I had a lot of time to think about things like that

between missions."

 

Bethan now got up and putting on a headset with an optic scanning

device over one eye said, " OK, let's go."

 

Then walking toward the door, he strapped another device with some

kind long, flat, rectangular box the length of his forearm and a slit

in the front to his left arm, and a circular object, similar to a

watch, to his right.

 

They then left Bethan's quarters and headed toward Nylon's.  Bethan

wanted to see firsthand just how badly Nylon had been beat up.  It

would let him know just what he was going up against.  As they walked

Bethan explained to Baron that the scanner was designed to lightly

sweep the area for lifesigns, and could jam Jedi attempts to shut it

down quite effectively, so even if they were playing with his normal

perception, he could still find them.

 

Then Bethan chuckled slightly before saying, " Been a long time since

Coruscant, huh?"

 

Baron nodded, " Yeah, a lotís happened since then."

 

Bethan then said, " About what you said back there... don't ever try

to blackmail me again.  I would have helped you anyway.  You may not

believe this, but I do still have some honor and loyalty left.  But

after you've been stabbed in the back enough times, you begin to sleep

with one eye open, and suspect everybody.  Just remember this though,

if you do tell Slate, after I'm finished with him, before that Sedith

Master finds me, I'll find you, and find a very creative way to kill

you.  And you know what kind of imagination I have."

 

Baron nodded now, and took a half step away from Bethan, finally

realizing that Bethan was one of the last people one wanted to

threaten.

 

Bethan paused for a moment, as i realizing something, then said, " Why

are there so many Jedi on board this ship anyway?"

 

Baron shook his head then said, " I don't know.  That bother you?"

 

Bethan replied, " I just get suspicious when something rare happens is

all.  One thing though.  If you knew my record, why don't you think

I'm not some spy, hired on some long term reconnaissance mission?"

 

" Because of your reputation.  Didn't recognize you at first,

but once I did, I knew you weren't against us.  You're one of the

best, but you don't get those kind of jobs cause there are just as

adequate mercs out there for the job who don't carry your price tag.

No, you were always hired to break into and out of heavily fortified

areas quickly to sabotage, destroy, assassinate, or steal something. 

You don't do long term jobs, too much interaction, and too likely some

intelligence agent who debriefed you before would recognize you."

 

Bethan grinned slightly, almost showing pride that someone else was

just as cautious as he was.  Suddenly he turned and looked back down

the hall.  He then turned to Baron and said, " Did you just hear

something go 'quack'?"

 

Baron shook his head and said, " No, you sure you're all right?" 

Bethan nodded and they continued.

 

They arrived at Nylon's quarters now, and upon entering saw Indy

nursing Nylon.  Upon seeing Indy, Bethan's eyes blazed with fire and

with a despised tone said, " Force wielder."

 

Indy now turned and seeing that he was referring to her replied, " I

have nothing to do with the force anymore.  My brother's one in

training, and my cousin is a Jedi, but I have forsaken it."

 

Bethan was taken back by this some, but he stood his ground.  He knew

that he'd read her right on her abilities, but her response confused

him.  However, he had no intentions of getting on her bad side and

stuck his hand out saying, " Bethan Leitbur, pleased to meet you."

 

Indy Bullian (IndyBridger@hotmail.com)

   It was a bit longer before Nylan drifted back into consciousness.  He found himself alone.  His body ached, and so did his head.  He looked around, guessing he was in Indy and Mike's quarters, considering the pictures of fighter squadrons and cops that sat on shelves, all mixed up.  Gingerly, he sat up, rubbing his head.

   *That duck is no duck!*  All at once, he knew what exactly the duck was.  He had only trusted one shape-shifter, and that was Odo.  Fortunately, he knew how to beat a shape-shifter.  Unfortunately, he was in no shape to do it.

   He stood up, and the room spun around him.  He made it five steps into the corridor before collapsing.

   That was where the others found him.

 

Baron (BaronCoop1@aol.com)

            Yeah, I know, I know. I really should have never threatened Bethan like that, but I wasn't sure if he would help me, and I really do need his help on this particular mission. By now I have heard that the saboteur is not the person I was thinking it was. I really am surprised. Shocked actually. Who would have guessed a shapeshifter? I have seen very few in my lifetime, and none of the ones I have heard of are sentient. Most are creatures who live in swamps, and enlarge themselves or change their appearances to scare off predators. I never imagined one of those green, shapeless blobs could impersonate a human!

            Fortunately for me, Bethan was still prepared. Damn, it's a good thing he doesn't actively hate me. He really shouldn't worry, though. I will not tell a soul who sold out Slate's rebel cell all those years ago. I have taken the responsibility for that action all these years publicly, I will continue to do so. We set off down the hall, looking for clues, and then, suddenly, we found some. Nylan was outside his room. Unconscious. A most disturbing sight, especially considering that he was also standing over the body lying down. Two Nylans? Crap.

 

Mike Bullian (KngCaldor3@aol.com)

  Mike prepared a small note for Indy telling her where he would be, then he teleported to Stormlight station.  Mike knew there was something on the Imladris that was targeting the Force users, and he being the most powerful Force user on the ship would be a prime target.  Mike knew that by leaving that he may be suspected, but all that was in the note.  Mike arrived on the Stormlight instantly and remembered...

  "Indy is Force strong, she'll be a target."  Mike reached out and made a mental link with his wife that she might not detect, but will let Mike know whether she was in danger, he could teleport back.

  Mike walked into the operations deck and looked at Deadmeet, he was watching his new ship being slowly built by a small army of mini-droids.

  "Hey Deadmeet, I'm back"  Mike called out, smiling at how high he jumped "Sure is fun scaring you like that."

  "Yeah, but you should see the laundry bills."  They both chuckled and went into the other room.  "I really liked those recipes you left, much better than this reprocessed MRE crap that the Stormlight puts out."  mike pulled a datadisk from his pocket.

  "Good, I brought more, and a few minor interior alterations, more efficient for training, oh, and you should line the refreshers with this." Mike held up a piece of metal.  "There're directions in the datadisk on how to synthesize it."

  "Why?" Curiosity caused Deadmeet to ask

  "Because this metal creates a Force-dead zone within a centimeter of it's surface, and we all want a little privacy while in the 'fresher" They laughed a bit at that and brought out a deck of sabacc cards.  They played for hours later and long into the local night, Mike didn't sleep at all when he didn't want to, and he was keeping a constant vigil on Indy through his link.

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