When the Queen next awoke, she was still in the blackened room, although it did not seem as dim as before. Perhaps her eyes were becoming adjusted to the darkness.
She stood up and stretched, trying to move muscles that seemed to ache all over. The floor had not been a pleasant place to sleep, but she did not have any other options.
As she leaned forward to try and work out a kink in her back, her foot accidentally kicked something, and the Queen sat down in shock and amazement. She reached around in front of her, and found a plate of food resting on the ground.
‘Where had that come from?’ the Queen thought to herself, and warily wondered if whatever was inside the dish was poisoned. She sighed, and tried to reason her way through her problem. Finally, her stomach rumbled loudly and she reached a conclusion.
‘If they had wanted to kill me, they could have done that on Domus Prime. For some reason they want me alive, although what good I’ll be able to do for them here, where I can’t use the Force or my powers. Hmm, maybe all they want is a hostage, but I have a feeling that there is more to this abduction than that.’
So the Queen picked up the plate and, using her hands in the place of utensils, she started eating. When she was done, she replaced the dish on the floor, and realising she had no other option, wiped her hands on her dress.
It was then that she realised that the material was unfamiliar to her, and that the shift she was wearing was not the nightgown she had been abducted in. The Queen wondered at this, but remained seated on the floor, crossing her legs and wondering what would happen to her next.
A memory from her childhood came to her, and she spoke aloud the words as she recalled them, remembering the last time she had heard them spoken, so many years ago, by her Master back on Coruscant.
“If you walk in the light and learn all that you may,
Then you will become a fine Jedi someday.
But if in the night, to the Dark Side you stray,
Then the Sith Lord will come here to take you away.”
The Queen shivered at the recollection of the nursery rhyme and wondered at the significance of her remembering it at this moment. Considering her current isolation from the Force, there probably was none. And it seemed as if despite her convictions the Sith Lord had come and taken her away.
Suddenly she grew angry at everything, from the darkness of her prison, to frustration at being kidnapped, and the loss of everything she was used to.
The Queen stood up and started yelling.
“Who are you?” she demanded of the empty room. “I know you can hear me, you are probably monitoring everything that goes on in this room. I want to know why I am here and what you want from me. Damn it, can not one of you answer me?”
As she reached to end of her outburst, the Queen felt a surge of power through her, and knew in an instant that she could use this power to blast a hole in the wall and escape. For a moment she was amazed, but then she suddenly realised why she felt so powerful, and pushed her anger away from her with a gasp.
“No!” The Queen screamed, falling to the floor and trying to force herself to forget that she had almost used the Dark Side in her fear and anger.
She knew then that the room only blanked out the light side of the force. The Dark Side loomed over her, and she could feel it surrounding her. The Queen pushed away her emotions, and tried to find her centre of calm. But it was a long time before she could again relax, and try to think of a way out of her situation.
Jester was sitting down, exhausted by the run around and the cover up. He found a random spot in a corridor and slumped down next to the wall. The Force was not as strong as it usually was, it seemed distant.
Around the corner he heard two voices whispering. “Keep quiet! We don’t know who is around!”
“All right, but we haven’t got much time. Is the next step ready to go?”
“Yes, but we won’t be able to rely on the Force as we had thought.”
“I sensed as much. What is the source of the block?”
“We are unsure as of this point.”
“Put the plan on hold! We will have to wait until this problem is overcome.”
“Yes, now we must move before we are discovered!”
Jester sat still for a moment, making sure that the people have left. He turned and started as someone addressed him.
“Well what do we have here?” There stood a man in clothed in black.
“Who are you?” Jester began to walk away but the man drew some kind of device. There was a spark before his eyes and he fell to the floor, unconscious.
“Good. Let’s take him to our base. No one will see us leave the Palace this late.” The two men carried Jester off.
Outside the Palace, hidden in a dune, a door opened and a small group of people were standing around a table waiting for something.
A hard hand running across his face, a sharp stinging pain awakened Jester. “What”, he started to ask, but changed his mind, “Who are you?”
“Shut up!” His captor spoke in a rough voice. “Now listen here, before we probe your mind in about a minute, I want to give you the chance to tell us, willingly, some information.”
“Oh, wait”, Jester smiled warmly. “I left my datapads back at the Palace, if you want I can run and get them real quick.”
“Sure…” The man unstrapped Jester, who looked at this fool in surprise and began to walk out of the room. Jester saw the exit and started towards it, but then a figure stepped out of the darkness and a quick kick to Jester’s head sent him flying back into his seat?”
“What do I look like?” His captor shook his head irritably.
“A cross between a Kaadu and some of those little treats Jabba the Hutt enjoys.” Jester was slapped again, harder this time.
“Well don’t we have the class clown here.” The man looked up and snapped his fingers. Another figure handed him a long pointed object, which had a serrated blade and was covered in SithSkript. Looking at the weapon, Jester could only make out one word, ‘death’.
“You know,” the man sighed happily as he admired the tool, “I love this little thing. It’s so darn pretty, especially when it’s halfway through a skull.” He began to lower the tool closer to Jester.
“Hey, does Ravage have a new arm yet?” Jester asked conversationally, deciding to get into the spirit of things.
The man was not amused, but his eyes did become wider as he realised what was being said to him. “What did you say?”
“You know, Ravage’s arm, has he got a new one yet?”
The man looked a little confused. “How did you know about that?”
Jester looked around the room, noticing that four figures were closing in on him. He straightened up his clothing, brushing some dust away, then looked his captor in the eyes, seeing his new fear. “Well”, Jester thought about the best way to phrase what he was about to say, “because I took it!”
Jester flipped up, delivering a swift kick to the man’s jaw. The other figures jumped in. Jester turned to his right and gave a right cross; he faced left with a kick to the assailant’s neck. Two came from behind, he flipped over them behind their backs used all his strength to use the Force, his hands flew into the air between them and the two figures flew across the room, one hit a wall and the other was impaled on a nearby weapons display. Jester knelt down on the ground, trying to catch his breath.
No one else approached him. He walked around the room, checking his enemies, two dead, three injured, two of which are unconscious. But the third one was squirming in the ground; the one that had been asking him questions. Jester walked over to him, picking up the little tool along the way.
He stopped and knelt down next to him. “So, how does this thing work?” Jester smiled grimly. “Who are you?”
“Like you said, the son of a Kaadu and a….”
Jester quickly grabbed the man’s hand and cuts off a finger. The man gritted his teeth and did not make a sound.
“It’s obvious that you are not a Sith, nor is anybody else here.”
“They’ll be back soon enough! And when they do, I’ll be the one with that tool, and you’ll be the one that’s half dead!”
Another finger was taken. “Now that’s not a nice thing to say.”
Jester looks up and saw one of the other people beginning to move. He held the tool in his hand, studying it, then he throws it as hard as he can at the other man, hitting directly in the skull, “I’ll be right back, don’t you go anywhere.”
Jester stood up, walked over to the now deceased person and retrieves the tool. He cleaned the blade off as he returned to the man. “So, you have a name?”
“Puddintain, ask me again I’ll tell you the same.”
Another finger. “Alright, Puddin’, what are you up to, what are you doing here!”
“I think you missed a few fingers!”
“Yeah, I guess I did.” Jester holds the tool to Puddin’s wrist, “Ready?” Pushing back his revulsion at his actions Jester sliced off the man’s hand.
With out a sound of agony the man says, “I’ll never tell you a Goddamn thing! So you can kiss my ass you scum sucking, brainless, weak, girly…”
“Oh shut up!” Jester, fed up with the way things were going, slit the man’s throat, “So long Puddin.”
Seeing that the only other live person in this place was still unconscious, Jester scoped out the small hide out. A small stash of weapons, mostly blasters; a small food storage unit, well stocked; and under a sheet in the corner, a panel was hidden, it was a communication system!
Thinking about it, Jester remembered the frequency for the Riddler’s private line back at the Palace. “Riddler, come in, this is Jester, are you there?” He was answered only by silence. Jester recorded a message and told the computer to send it every minute until a reply was given. He only hoped that the Riddler would respond before the Sith, or anybody else came back.
The Grand Admiral Riddler was relaxing in his therapy bath, meditating on all that had transpired since he had left the Palace on his failed mission. He was truly upset over the loss of the Queen, not to mention the sudden disappearance of Jester in the last few hours and the attacks that had taken place on General Zal’s mind.
The Riddler thought about Darth Ravage, the new leader of the Sith, who was also a clone of his younger self. It would be only a matter of time before Ravage took an apprentice of his own. The Riddler had a clue as to which unlucky person it could be but he did not want to put that possibility into stone yet.
A dry voice suddenly came over the intercom in the Riddler’s rooms, startling him out of his reverie. “Grand Admiral?”
The Riddler reached for a towel and got out of the bath. He walked into his room, newly refurbished since the attack of his old master and the ferocious fire that nearly devastated it.
He answered the empty room even as he dressed. “This is the Grand Admiral Riddler, authorisation code 1-9-Echo-Bravo-Zulu.”
“Authorisation accepted. Voice command authenticated”, the disembodied voice sounded bored despite its computer source, “we have a weak signal coming in on your private line. We cannot seem to trace it and we have tried to amplify the signal on several different frequencies. We just cannot trace it.”
“Very good, com. Put it through to my personal terminal in my room.”
“Transfer commencing. The signal has been transferred. Go ahead and have a pleasant day, Grand Admiral.”
The Riddler smiled to himself. He loved to hear the metallic voice try to say ‘Have a pleasant day’ with absolutely no meaning whatsoever.
He walked over to his terminal, put in his password and heard a voice saying,
“Riddler, come in, this is Jester, are you there?” He did not need the computer’s voice identifying software to recognise that this message was authentic.
“Jester, where are you? Are you hurt?” He spoke quickly, hoping against hope that Jester could hear him.
A number of words were lost in a crackle of static. “…Sith! Probing of mind…” As they started to repeat, the Riddler realised that he was listening to a recorded message and cursed that he had not been present when Jester had first tried to contact him.
The Riddler tried to reach out with the Force to touch Jester’s mind but he could not find his friend. Suddenly the message was cut off, and the screen of the terminal went blank.
Frowning at it, the Riddler contacted General Zal and Jedi Nay.
“Grand Admiral, if the Sith can do long-distance mind probes, then it would be in our best interest to keep information restrained.” General Zal’s voice was calm and he seemed to react reasonably well to the news of what had happened to Jester.
“What kind of information? And to who?”
“Like the upcoming battle. We have to keep it secret from all people except Jedi strong enough to resist a mind probe.”
The hologram of Grand Admiral Riddler frowned. “So you’re out of the loop?”
“Nope.” Smiling, Devron picked his ysalamir up, taking it away from its food dish. The creature gave a crooning whine out at losing its supper as Devron holds it in front of the holocamera. “I bought a new pet.”
The Grand Admiral looked slightly stunned as he recognised what the furry creature was. “Where’d you get that?”
“Why’d he have it?”
“Probably to shield himself from the Force. Gotal have Force-sensitive ‘ears’ on their heads, and the presence of too much Force in one spot, like around a Jedi Master, hurts their heads.”
“Alright, so you have the means to escape the Sith. Do you have a plan on how to defeat them?”
“I’ve been working on one for the invasion army. Here, I’ll send it to you for review.”
“Alright. Grand Admiral out.”
As he set his ysalamir back down to its dinner, Devron quickly called up the hefty-sized plan file and forwarded it to the Grand Admiral. Muttering a prayer to a random god for the Sith to keep their noses out of it and for the Grand Admiral to like his plan, he swivels his chair around to face his own dinner.
“…Sith! Probing of mind…”
Jester tried to focus the output of the commlink, but the line went dead. “Shoot! This commlink must be for short distance communication. That means I’m far away from the Palace.” He searched some more.
No luck, everything that would have been useful was on the computers and all of the computers required access codes. “If only I had paid more attention to Devron when he was telling me about this technical stuff!”
Jester had nothing to do until the last prisoner woke up. He walked over to the person, a woman, restrained her and sat down to meditate. He tried to reach out with the Force and sense when the Sith returned. Jester hoped that it would not be for a while yet.
As time passed, the Queen found herself sinking deeper into depression. The darkness around her seemed to have penetrated her soul, and she could find no joy in her prison. They had still made no efforts to communicate with her, though she knew that they would be watching her at every moment.
Each time she awoke, she found herself trying to believe that what had befallen her was nothing but a dream, that she was safe in the castle, with her friends and her people. But then she would open her eyes and realise nothing had changed. She was still trapped in the lightless, soundless cell, with the mechanism that seemed to be inhibiting her, stopping her from using the Force from calling for help, but still allowing her to sense and, she feared, use the Dark Side of the Force.
When the Queen went to sleep she found herself making promises, that the next time she awoke she would start exercising again, that she would keep in training even though she could not use the Force or her powers. But when she awakened, the Queen could hardly find the energy to eat the stale, cold food that they had prepared for her, let alone get up and exercise.
After a time, the Queen found that she no longer believed that her friends from Domus Prime would rescue her, and this frightened her more than the ever-present feeling that she was being suffocated by the Dark Side of the Force. As she lost all hope of a joyful future the Queen learned that she had no more tears to cry, but in her heart her grief and sorrow was slowly consuming her.
From the room overlooking where they were holding the prisoner, the dark one
watched, and bided his time. The Sith were patient, they would wait for her to learn
how to think and act like them. She would join them, he had seen it in his visions. He
had also seen the destruction of Domus Prime, a stray thought mocked him, but he
repressed it with a skill developed over many years. The outcome at Domus Prime had not been expected and his anger grew every time he remembered how the Royal Forces had rallied and overcome their forces seemingly at the last moment, forcing the Sith into retreat.
And the Sith did not retreat without retribution, as the young Queen was now learning.
He watched her now in the viewscreen, sitting on the floor of her cell, her shoulders slumped and her hair matted with tangles and tears. He admired her courage, for it was worthy of a Sith, but she would submit soon. She had come so close to it during her outburst a few days ago, but her fear at what she had discovered within herself had caused her to retreat once more into her depressed silence.
It was said that the Queen had a pure heart, for she always looked for the best outcome for her people rather than herself, and she gave without thought of the consequences. But soon she would learn the price of her innocence, and he would be the one to teach her.
It was said by some that this young woman had other powers, and it was true that strange things had frequently happened around her. But he dismissed the claims that she had the power to throw balls of energy and could trap people in crystal prisons with a thought, for if she could, the Queen would have been free by now.
He reached into his pocket and withdrew the locket she had been wearing as she slept, fingering it lightly. There was something strange about it, the silver chain gave off a slight resonance, and he was unable to open the locket itself. He pondered the strange device carved into its otherwise smooth surface. A thought nagged at him,
suggesting that he should recognise the sigil, that he had seen it before, but he could
not remember having ever seen anything like it before.
She had been trained as a Jedi, which would make her submission to the Dark Side all
the more enjoyable. She was truly worthy of his attentions, and when she made her
choice and gave herself over to him, then he would truly be a Sith Lord. She would be his, body and soul. And there was no one who would be able to stop him.
“I have to go look for her.”
“No you don’t, Devron. It’s too dangerous. Do you know what will happen if they catch you prowling around their home base?” The Grand Admiral’s voice sounded concerned, and this was reflected on the image of his face as it came over the holo system.
“I don’t care. I’m willing to take that risk.”
“I can’t let you take it.”
“Why? Give me one good reason.”
“It’s too dangerous. You might get tortured or killed.”
“So be it. That’s not good enough. Any others?”
“Devron, we need you here.”
“Why? You’re the Grand Admiral.”
“But only you know what’s going on at Praesitlyn.”
“You would know too if you looked at my lengthy message detailing what has been done and advice on what should be done.”
The Grand Admiral’s image sighed. “I know I will regret doing this, but I give permission for you to go and find out if Catherine’s on Toxtenkopp.”
“Thank you, Grand Admiral Riddler. Remember, I am well trained: seven years in the Tuebor Defensive Military working in a SpecOps team…”
“Yes, yes, yes. When will you be leaving?”
“When I can get my gear together, eat a last meal, and load everything up on the modified Hetrinar assault bomber I got as a gift from a Hapan high commander.” Devron smiled at the thought of his specially modified ship.
“How’d you get it from her?”
“She used to be a girlfriend.”
“Oh. Well, Devron…I admire your bravery.” The Grand Admiral said before pausing. “Do you have your double-bladed saber?”
“Yeah. I keep that around with me all the time.”
The Riddler nodded. “Alright then. If I don’t see you again before you leave, may the Force be with you.”
Devron grins. “Sorry, but no can do, Grand Admiral. My ysalamir wants to go along.”
The Grand Admiral laughs. “Leave it to you to make a life or death conversation humorous. Good luck.”
Devron saluted, and the Grand Admiral returned the salute before switching off the conversation. Hurriedly, the General began to assemble a small collection of weapons and other things needed for the trip to Toxtenkopp.
As Devron browsed the armory, looking at all the rows of weapons in thought, he heard soft footsteps behind him. Spinning on one heel, he turns to face the person approaching him, “casually” spinning a Merr-Sonn holdout blaster in his right hand, then started.
He stares, trying to comprehend the fog of confusion settled over his head. He stares into her violet eyes, trying to fathom how she got here from wherever she was being held.
Wait a second. Violet eyes?
“Who are you?”
“I’m the Countess Tamira of Chikara, we met at the celebrations after the last invasion. Nay told me that Commander Brican told her that Colonel Kyncaii told him that Admiral Grisnik told her that he heard the Grand Admiral Riddler had tried to talk you out of going to rescue Catherine, but the Grand Admiral failed so you were only going to be here for a few more hours.”
He stared at her in confusion. “Huh?”
“You’re going to go get Catherine from wherever she is, right?”
“So, I figured since you might be gone and maybe even dead, then this was my last chance to meet the General Zal, leader of the Royal Ground Forces and main organiser of the Praesitlyn fleet which is going to go and bust the Toxtenkopp base wide open so the Sith will be gone and the galaxy won’t have to worry about them anymore.”
“You don’t talk much, do you?”
Devron shook his head in amusement at the Countess and her strange but candid outlook on life. “Not really. I’m thinking about what weapons to bring along with me.”
“Doesn’t look like you’ve gotten very far. One holdout blaster?”
He grinned and shucked his long overcoat, revealing a Merr-Sonn BiPolar blaster carbine strapped to his right biceps and four power packs strapped to his left. He then pulls up both his baggy pant legs to show her six more power packs, two holdout blasters and one heavy blaster pistol.
“Well. Aren’t you packing a lot of heat?”
“Yeah. I’m probably going to leave half of my choices on the ship, and load some onto a landspeeder I’ll buy.”
“What else are you getting?”
“Well”, he paused. Reaching up to a top shelf, he pulls down a pair of BlasTech A280 heavy blaster rifles, a BlasTech E-11, a disruptor rifle, a box of power packs, five fragmentation grenades and a TC/21-C blaster carbine. “That should be enough, don’t you think?”
“Yeah… You like weapons, don’t you?”
“I was trained as a SpecForce commando for a few years. Of course I do.”
She laughed, a pretty sound that echoes lightly through the armory.
Loading all of the weapons onto his hovercart, Devron made his way out of the armory and toward the lift tube. Tamira followed him, talking about various things.
When they reached the hangar bay, he pushed his hovercart toward his Hetrinar assault bomber. Arriving at it, he proceeded to load all of the guns into the main ordnance bay. When that was finished, he climbed up into the cockpit. Tamira smiled at him, her violet eyes glittering in the harsh white lights of the hangar bay.
“Keep your head down, General. May the Force be with you.”
“Keep the place safe from any stray Sith while I’m gone. See you later, Tamira.”
With that done, he slide into his seat, closes the canopy and straps in. “Ready to go, Talon?” he asked his ysalamir, who resided in a nutrient cage strapped to the floor of the cockpit.
No response. Typical.
He powered up the engines. While they thrummed to life, he ran pre-flight checks on all the major systems. All check out green, so he pulled the control yoke to himself, gripped it tightly and nudged the throttle forward with his thumb. The assault bomber rose off of the hangar bay floor. As he turned the bomber towards the bay opening in order to fly out, he caught a glimpse of Tamira waving at him. In response, he hovered for a few more seconds and waggled his wings as a goodbye tribute. Then, he pushed the throttle forward and launched out of the hangar bay.
Five minutes later, the stars of hyperspace swirl around him. With a timer set to wake him up and a goodnight to Talon, Devron settles in for the trip into the Sith lair.
The Queen waited, her heart still full of sorrow, but her thoughts at last becoming clear to her. She would strike a deal with the kidnappers, would do anything to get out of this lightless prison in which she was being held. She stood up, as she tried to rehearse the words in her mind. The Queen opened her mouth to speak, and realised that she could not.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you”, the voice came from behind her, and she whirled around in surprise, not knowing what to see or expect. However, the Queen was still startled when she realised that it was the old Jedi Master who had twice before appeared to comfort and advise her.
The pale glow from his spirit form was the first light she had seen in who knew how long, and it was unbearable to her eyes. When she realised that squinting would not help, the Queen tore a small strip of material from the bottom of the thin shift she was wearing and tied it around her eyes. She reopened them, and could see his form clearly. She blinked in surprise.
“How is it possible?” she asked him, wondering if she was hallucinating.
He quickly shook his head. “Don’t speak aloud”, he said to her. “They cannot detect my presence here, but if they hear you talking, they will begin to wonder. Speak in your mind, and I will be able to hear you.”
‘But that is impossible’, the Queen thought, ‘the block should surely stop you from hearing my thoughts. It stops me from doing anything, why should you be able to circumvent it?’
He laughed softly, a kindly sound that brought tears to her eyes. “I am dead, my dear. The same rules do not apply to me.”
She recognised her foolishness, and sat back down on the floor, wrapping her arms around her knees as she pretended that nothing was happening to the people outside.
‘Why?’ She asked.
“Why what?” he answered, “Why am I dead? The Sith attacked my world, and I was caught unprepared.”
‘That was not precisely what I meant.’
“Then what did you mean? Why were you taken? Why are you being kept here? Why do they plan to keep you here?”
‘All of those.’
“Because, my dear, you are the Queen of Domus Prime, Sailor Coruscant. You are valuable as a hostage. With you as their prisoner, the Sith can easily take control of your planet.”
‘Then it was the Sith’, The Queen murmured, more to herself than to him. She looked back up to him, understanding suddenly flashing in her eyes. ‘There is something else though. You would not have come here just to tell me what I already knew. How is it possible that they can block out the light side of the Force?’
“That I do not know”, he sighed sadly.
‘Why am I still here though? If they wanted a hostage they could have kept me in a normal prison cell. There is nothing normal about this place.’ She made a slight gesture that could be mistaken for one of helplessness.
“You can see right through me, huh?” he asked, and the Queen reluctantly resisted the urge to strike out at him for this frivolous comment. “The Sith believe that if they can sever you from the Force, from everything you know, from all that you believed in, and replace all that with the Dark Side surrounding you, you will turn to them, and become like them. They believe that you will soon become one of them.”
‘Me? A Sith? This has got to be some sort of joke.’ But even as she thought the words, the Queen remembered how close she had come to using the Dark Side a few days ago and shuddered. She had come so close to fulfilling their plans, even unwittingly. ‘So what do I do?’
“You must wait. Darth Ravage grows overconfident, and will soon make a costly mistake. Keep your thoughts pure and focussed on the light, for even if you cannot sense it, it is still a part of you. Set aside your feelings of anger and frustration, they could lead you down the path you do not wish to follow. But most importantly, do not give up hope. Everything will turn out alright.”
The old ghost leaned down, and brushed a shadow hand against her cheek, now wet with tears again. There was something he was not telling her, but she could not read it from him. There was a deep sympathy in his eyes, that she thought was due to his understanding of her situation, but in truth his thoughts were focussed on Darth Ravage, and his plans for the young Queen.
“I do not envy you the task ahead. Have faith and everything will turn out alright.”
He left then, before his own emotions could get the better of him. It would not be right for a Jedi Master to betray his thoughts by the showing of emotions, especially one who had been dead as long as he had.
The Queen dried her tears on the sleave of her dress, fingering where she had torn it, as she pulled the improvised veil from her eyes, using the ribbon instead to tie back her hair.
‘So, they want me to become a mistress of the Dark’, she thought, ‘we will just have to wait and see about that.’
This time, when she sat down and tried to meditate, she did not attempt to concentrate on the Force, rather, she sat still and tried to find the peace of her own thoughts necessary to formulate a plan.
‘Well’, the Riddler began to think, ‘With the Queen gone and Devron off looking for her, and Jester is trapped in some strange location, what can I do?’
He paced up and down the corridors of Fuhenteki Na Shiro, trying to think of a way to save Jester, the only thing he could do right now. He was the one left in charge of Domus Prime. The only one that held any kind of real authority. Sure, there was Tamira and Jedi Nay, but they did not have any experience that he knew of.
The Riddler’s eyes looked at the floor as he methodically paced, and in the corner of his eye he saw something. He walked over to the side of the corridor, close to a corner, and picked up a small computer chip. On it was writing, “Sith”. The symbols translated to a set of numbers,”275.1334″. He studied the chip further.
“It almost looks like the chips that belong in the communication array.” The Riddler’s eyes lit up as he ran toward the war room, he knew what this could mean.
As he charged into the room, he handed the chip to one of the technicians, saying, “Install it!” The technician took the chip, removed a cover panel and began to work. The Riddler paced about impatiently, “Well?”
“Almost ready, Sir. I think it will take another five-“
“Just hurry up!”
Jester sat in the Sith base, playing with the little torture tool that was almost used on him. The last survivor of the base began to move, “So now you’re awake.”
She said nothing.
“Ok, you don’t have to say anything. I know your kind doesn’t have a large enough brain to handle such an evolved thing as talking.”
She looked up at him, “Die.”
“Oh, you are a happy person. Well, as you can see, you’re the last of your friends here.”
“The others will return.”
“I’m counting on it.”
A light on the comm panel began to blink, catching Jester’s eyes. “Oh hello, what’s this?” He walked over and pushed the button, one of the buttons, saying “Thank you for calling, all of our operators are busy at the moment, so if you’ll just-“
“Oh shut up, Jester!” A familiar voice scolded him.
“Riddler? How did you-?”
“Don’t worry about that now. Look, we will have lock on your location soon.” Jester smiled, help was coming soon.
A shiver of coldness overcame Jester, and the woman began to laugh. “You’re in trouble now”, she said ominously.
“What was that?”
“They’re coming back.”
‘Déjà vu’, Devron thought as he, not able to go to sleep, prepared for the mission ahead. Before, it was infiltrating some Tuebor Rebel base to exact revenge on his personal agenda. Now, it was infiltrating a Sith base to find the Queen and to exact revenge on her account. The stakes were a lot higher, but the payoffs would be greater, he supposed. He could destroy the whole Sith base, taking orders from nobody but himself.
Devron strapped a holdout blaster to his right hand, runs a trigger wire to his index finger, and slipped gloves on his hands, concealing that weapon perfectly. Four grenades were secured to his left ankle, a holdout blaster up his right sleeve and his A280 strapped tight enough to his back to be able to restrain breathing a little bit, were all covered up.
Briefly, Devron glanced at his image in a mirror. ‘Sort of like swoop scum. Perfect. That S-swoop I parked in the ordnance bay will come in handy.’
Suddenly a loud beeping noise interrupted his thoughts.
A countdown timer hologram appears on his canopy transparisteel. When it reached zero, Devron dragged back on the hyperspace lever. With a final swirl, the blue-white vortex of hyperspace changes to white lines on a black background, which shrink to mere pinpoints of light. Also appearing is a large planet, greyish-green as seen from orbit with spots of blue. He shut down his engines and let himself drift aimlessly in space while he performed a quick sensor scan for the base.
There it was. Devron picked a spot to land, powered the engines up again and started down into the atmosphere.
After descending to the planet’s surface and landing, he grabbed his ysalamir and hopped out. Setting Talon down, Devron hurriedly unloaded his jet-black (with blood red upholstery and highlighting) S-swoop and stuck the nutrient cage under the seat. Piling all of his other weapons in over the cage, he shut the Hetrinar bomber up, locked all entry spots, and powered up the swoop. When a green light appeared on the handlebar, he twisted the throttle and shot off toward the city that was next to the Sith base.
Powering down his swoop, Devron hopped off the repulsorcraft and walks the few steps to an outdoor cafe. He sits down, and soon, a waiter droid rolls over to him.
“What do you desire?” its vocoder says in a barely demechanized voice.
“That will be 10 credits.” After the money was deposited in a slot, the droid spoke again. “Thank you for doing business at the Death’s Head Outdoor Cafe and Bar. Please be patient for your selection to arrive.” With that, the droid rolls away, presumably to get the drink.
In 5 minutes, the droid returns. “Here is your selection, sir. Enjoy, and have a nice day.”
Devron took the bottle from the droid’s outstretched gripper and took a drink of the pale green liquid, alert for anything to do with Sith.
Forty-five minutes and a plate of food later, a transport rumbles into view. Sith writing is stencilled on the side, but for all he understands of Sith, it could be little picture drawings, except for one word he had seen during the Grand Admiral’s training of Jester in how to read Sith books.
“Great”, Devron muttered. “What help is ‘The’ going to do?”
The transport opened up, and prisoners dressed in black scrubs filed out of it. Two armed guards followed, carrying EKX-10 cryogenically-cooled repeaters. “Alright, be back at the transport in thirty minutes! Anyone not complying will be shot, etcetera, etcetera, you know the drill, go do your stuff.”
The prisoners spread out in all directions. Some travelled to other bars, some to shops. Casually drinking his own purchase, Devron watched one prisoner who walked into the cafe he was at. The waiter droid approached him, and soon came back with a drink. The prisoner tossed it back in a few gulps and moved on to another spot.
As another prisoner approached, Devron begins to think. ‘It’d be a bit risky, but, Sithspawn, this whole thing is a risk. Might as well go for the whole sabacc pot.
Acting normal, Devron kept an alert eye trained on the prisoner. Fifteen minutes passed as the man ate a meal and called for the waiter droid again. Straining to hear, Devron could only make out a couple words.
‘Ah. Good. He’s heading to the ‘fresher. Time to have some fun.’
Devron stood and walked after the prisoner into the men’s refresher building. He walked over to a sink unit, all the time watching in the hanging mirror where the man was. As the man finished and began to walk over to the sink unit to wash his own hands, Devron levelled his concealed blaster at the man’s right ear and snapped off a shot.
The shot struck the man in the side of the neck. With a curse, Devron leapt forward and clapped a hand over the man’s mouth. With another curse at forgetting to bring a knife, he quickly and neatly snapped the man’s neck.
A few minutes later, Devron walked out of the building in the prisoner’s clothes. His glove-hidden holdout was strapped to his left shoulder, right over his stash of small power packs. Checking his chrono revealed that it was about time to get back on the transport, so he walked towards it and joined the other prisoners inside.
Soon he was sitting in one of the hard, uncomfortable seats of the transport as it continued toward its destination, submitting a prayer to a random god that the transport was headed to where Catherine was stuck at.
‘Hmm’, thought the Queen, ‘what is the best way to upset a Sith Lord? Particularly one who is bent on the destruction of you and your home?’
When the answer came to her, it was so simple that she almost laughed. Despite her newfound understanding of her situation, she was still tired and depressed, and so the Queen hoped that she was a better actor than she thought she was.
The Queen would be happy, she decided, she would show joy in everything she did in this awful dark place, until they saw fit to come and get her.
‘So where to start?’
The Queen stood up and stretched muscles that were sore from so much inaction. Her stomach rumbled loudly and she grimaced, for it was not very Queenly of her. She thought of the plate of food they had left out for her this morning, or whenever it was that she awoke, and again speculated that perhaps they were trying to kill her rather than turn her to the Dark Side. The food, if she could call it that, had consisted of some sort of thick material, rolled up into balls of gunk. Her use of Basic would not win her any awards for calling it that, but she would rather be eating roast ewok.
She thought of her friends back on Domus Prime, and tried to think of what they would do in her situation.
‘Well, let’s see. The Riddler, no, he is a bad example. He would just use the Dark Side to blast a way out of here. And Devron, he would think of a clever plan, he is the brain of the group. Why was none any of this written in the “Queen’s handbook”? They should tell you what to do when a crazed psychopath kidnaps you and tries to turn you to the Dark Side. And they never thought me anything about this at the Temple. I should never have returned to Domus Prime. Where was I? Oh yes, my friends.’
As she went down the list, the Queen tried to figure out something to do that would annoy the Sith, but she could not think of anything.
‘What about the Jester?’ A small part of her mind questioned the Queen. The rest answered glibly, ‘Him? He is too busy juggling his stupid lightsabers to be of any use to anyone most of the time’, ignoring that fact that Jester was slowly learning to use his Jedi abilities.
‘Wait a minute’, the Queen realised, ‘that is it!’
She reached down into the bowl of food, picked out three of the disgusting items, holding them as far away from her nose as possible. The Queen threw one of them up in the air, and caught it a little unsteadily in the darkness. Without any light or the Force to guide her movements, this was going to be tricky. Slowly she threw one, then another up into the air above her head, giggling with delight.
“Alright, get out. And hurry.”
Slowly, the prisoners began to get up and file out of the transport. Devron stood and followed them as they were led into the main prison facility. Before he entered though, he looked up and around for any tall landmarks. He spotted a sentry post and what he thinks is the top of a Turbolaser turret. Then, something started whining. It sounded almost like a TIE, but not really.
“Come on, Cironiv! Move on!”
Devron was pushed into the prison facility behind all the rest. Harsh white lights illuminated black walls only broken by glowing red electron shields that lined both sides of the facility and trapdoors were set in the floor at regular intervals.
‘Probably solitary-confinement cells’, he thought with a smile.
Devron was directed to a cell and pushed in. The electron shield started to glow again and he was cut off from the outside world.
But not without arms. Devron briefly touched the double-bladed lightsaber he has strapped to his right thigh, wondering how he could smuggle this anywhere.
‘It’s surprising enough they didn’t do a search already’, he thought. ‘They’ll probably do one if I’m to get in one of these trapdoor cells. I need my lightsaber and at least one blaster.’
An idea struck Devron, and he smiled again. It was so easy. He had to wait for nightfall, though. He looked down at his dead left arm, which looked perfectly alive, but hung limply at his side with no feeling whatsoever. ‘You’ll get your use in…’ A plan decided on, Devron went over to his cot and slept.
Later in the silence of night when the red glow of the shield was the only luminescence, Devron went to work. First, he broke off a sharp piece of metal from the cot’s side. Then, finding the sharpest edge, he began to cut a trench in his dead, unfeeling left arm.
Fifteen minutes passed and progress increased until finally Devron had made a trench in his arm just long enough to store his double-bladed lightsaber and one of his holdout blasters in. Satisfied with that, he covered up the trench with what he could, secured the cover and pulled the sleeve of his shirt over it. His arm was going to be permanently straight until he removed the things inside, but that was just a liability. Hoping nobody will notice, Devron went to sleep once more.
When he woke up, the lights were back on and guards were milling about. Grimly smiling, Devron unstrapped his A280 blaster from his back and shot five times into the electron shield. The shield matrices, overpowered by that much energy, exploded, and Devron ran out of his cell, shooting indiscriminately. Two guards tackled him, stripping the blaster from him and knocking him around a lot. One pulled him up and demanded, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Trying to escape.”
“Where you’re going to go, there’s no escape.” Fuming with rage, the guards removed the rest of Devron’s “concealed” weaponry, marched him down to a solitary confinement cell third from the left and threw him in, slamming the trapdoor shut behind him and sealing him in pitch blackness.
He smiled in triumph. ‘Perfect.’ Withdrawing the lightsaber from his arm, Devron considered waiting for an hour or two before cutting through to the next cell. ‘Yeah, I’d better.’ He settled down with his back against a wall to wait for a while, stashing his lightsaber back in his arm.
She had finally gotten the hang of it, the Queen realised, as she deftly caught and threw the four lumps of unidentified globs of food into the air at a fast pace. It was a piece of cake!
From somewhere in the roof of her cell, a bolt of lightning struck one of the balls, and she jumped back in surprise, causing the others to scatter around the room. The Queen looked around, wondering if there was someone in the cell with her, but a few minutes of absolute silence convinced her that she really was alone.
She took a step forward, only to realise that she had stepped on one of her juggling balls. She lifted her food gingerly away from the gooey mess, and walked back until she found an empty spot to sit down again.
‘So much for that’, the Queen thought, ‘Now what am I going to do?’
Not knowing where else to begin, the Queen opened her mouth and began to sing, a delicately pure sound that she hoped would torment the ones outside.