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In the Shadows - A Smuggler's Tale

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Fan Fiction
In the Shadows - A Smuggler's Tale

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silvershadows
02.29.2012 , 06:21 PM | #1
Hi there, everyone, and thanks for looking. Before you progress to the body of my story, I would just like to let you all know that it is fairly long - 21 8x10 pages, or about 50 typical paperback pages. Also be warned - this story makes several references to the Jedi Knight, Sith Warrior, and Smuggler game storylines.

Because this story has several main characters and a small supporting cast, I have decided to also post a 'visual guide' to the characters who appear throughout the story (mostly for those who haven't played through some of the storylines in the game). So, without further delay, here it is.


The Characters of In the Shadows:

Captain Lillian Riggs
Corso Riggs
Jedi Master Isad'ia
Kira Carsen
Doc
Darth Umbral
Captain Malavai Quinn
Sage - Sentinel - Commando - ScoundrelPowertech - Operative - Marauder - Sorcerer
Highjinks - Flashfire Ace - Saberwing
Cadera Legacy The Ebon Hawk

Check out my series of Mandalorian novels HERE.

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silvershadows
02.29.2012 , 06:37 PM | #2
One


Captain Lillian Riggs lay back on her nerf-hide couch within her Dantooine home. Her slender legs hung over the armrest as she stared listlessly at a holodrama that was playing in front of her. A Rodian woman was complaining about the woes of her life, and Lillian found the actresses large multifaceted eyes perfect targets for the handful of koh tree nuts she was snacking on.

Watching the missiles sail through the hologram only entertained Lillian for a moment though, and she rolled over to her stomach and buried her face into a throw pillow, her deep black hair fanning out onto the fabric. Opening her mouth, she let out an ear-piercing shriek, the sound muffled by the pillow. She was so bored!

It wasn't Corso's fault. Lillian smiled slightly as she thought about her husband. His warm brown eyes could still melt her heart, and he had grown his knotted, twisted hair down to the middle of his back, where she could playfully tug at it to tease him. Her smile turned wistful as she also recalled the way he had left their home that morning, saying he was going out to check on his prized ronto herd. Lillian knew he really just wanted to be away from her gloomy mood.

She had tried - really tried - to be happy. She and Corso had agreed to start a family, but in two years of trying they had had no luck. Corso loved her and was more than willing to continue trying, but Lillian had begun to despair about ever having the "normal" life that he seemed to want so much.

There was still no place Lillian would rather be than in her worn pilot's chair in the Silver Shadow, hurtling through hyperspace, or blasting Imperial Interceptors with her turbolasers as she flew with the Coruscant Aegis. She'd even thought about getting back into the war. Though it had been two years since Corellia, battles were still to be fought all over the galaxy as pro-Empire and Republic factions rose and fell on the various planets involved in the conflict. In fact, there had even been fighting mentioned on Corellia itself, as the Empire refused to acknowledge their loss there, placing a blockade around the planet, and as always, Lillian had felt the need to run off and prep the Shadow for flight.

A high pitched, insistent beeping sound interrupted her thoughts. Irritated, she looked around for the source of the disturbance. Her silver gaze slid over the shelves around the room, covered with random mementos from the adventures she'd shared with Corso. A handful of blasters, a giant fake ruby that had once belonged to Skavak, the man who had stolen her ship and started the whole mess, some inlaid runestones from Voss, and there - buried beneath a stack of holostills showing Corso and Bowdaar playing various card games, was the source of the beeping - her old holocomm - the one she hadn't used since Corellia.

Pushing her shoulder length locks out of her eyes, Lillian reached out, picked up the holocomm, and thumbed on the answer button. A tiny hologram appeared, showing the image of a man around fifteen years Lillian's senior, his kind face somewhat worn with care and worry for others suffering. Blinking in disbelief, Lillian sat up straighter.

"Cole? Cole Cantarus?" Her voice squeaked a bit at the end of his name. "I was just thinking of you! Well, of Corellia, but that of course always brings you to mind."

Cole's smile was warm and carried up through his eyes. "Captain Riggs. Been a while."

Nodding, Lillian reached out to the table to pick up a glass of water and took a sip. Narrowing her eyes at the hologram, she gestured with the glass. "Is this a social call? I haven't used this comm in a long time."

The semi-transparent image flickered a little as Cole shook his head. "Afraid not. I have a pressing problem, one I could really use your help with."

"Why me?" Lillian arched a slim black eyebrow in Cole's direction. "Since when do you CorSec types want help from smugglers? Even retired, reformed ones?"

Holding his hands up, palms outward as if in defeat, Cole chuckled softly. "We both know you're rather unique among smugglers."

"Yeah, well nobody can be good-looking, smart, and a great shot all at the same time. Except me, of course."

Cole grinned at her and nodded his head. "Exactly. Actually you're the only person I can think of with the skill and the ship to get what I need done." His face turned grave. "Simply put, I need you to go to Ord Mantell, pick up a shipment of weapons, then smuggle them into Corellia for the CorSec resistance."

"You want me," Lillian began, setting her drink aside, "to pick up Republic manufactured weapons, smuggle them through Imperial held space, land on an Imperial occupied world, hand over the weapons to the resistance, then smuggle myself back out past Imperial picket lines? I thought you said 'simple', Cantarus."

She stared at him for a moment. Cole remained silent, allowing Lillian to mull the job over. "All right, all right, I'll do it."

Cole's response was another grin. "Your contact on Ord Mantell is a man named Till Orthos, he'll meet you in docking bay sixty-four. You bringing your old crew?" Cole's question was answered by a shake of her head.

"No, we've scattered. I wouldn't know where to find Risha or Akaavi." She fiddled with the glass on the table in front of her. "Besides, this one might be simpler if I go alone."

"I was going to suggest that anyway. Orthos is the nervous type and your husband can be rather imposing when he wants to be."

"More like overprotective." Lillian's sigh was a mixture of annoyance and pride. "When I'm alone men - no offense - often underestimate me. This will be much easier if I have something I can use to my advantage."

Cole knew Lillian had a point. Tiny and slender, Lillian's body was deceptively fragile, while her aim was among the best in the galaxy. He almost would have dismissed her himself, had he not seen her plant blaster bolts between the eyes of even Dark Lords of the Sith. Possessing a dark, delicate beauty, with her pale, almost luminous skin and silver eyes framed with thick ebony lashes, lids shaded a deep grey, Lillian had a way of melting the durasteel hearts of even the most stalwart man. The fact that she also possessed a quick wit and could draw and fire both her blasters before one could blink added to her ability to handle just about any situation that could be thrown her way.

"Alright," he said, "Thanks for this, Captain. CorSec will owe you one. Another one. Cantarus out." His image disappeared. Lillian sat there for a moment, gazing at where Cole had been, then staring down at the ring on the fourth finger of her left hand. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. Reaching out, she picked the holocomm back up, and punched the record button.

It was going to be so hard, leaving Corso behind.

*****

Corso sat on the grass in the middle of his ronto herd, watching the animals run around aimlessly. His chin resting in his hand, elbows on his knees, he took in the antics of the ronto with amusement. As he sat there, enjoying the solitude and peace, he was understandably startled when a loud roar filled the air and the pack animals turned and fled. His eyes shifted skyward and widened as he saw a familiar starship head up and into the atmosphere. Bolting to his feet, he practically flew back to the ranch house, his heart thudding painfully in his chest.

He crashed through the door, nearly taking it from it's frame, frantically searching every room with his eyes, yet knowing without a doubt that had been his wife's ship making for space. He just didn't want to believe she would do this to him, after this long, after all they had been through together.

When he found the holocomm sitting on the table in the dining area, its little red light blinking to show a message had been recorded, he sat down heavily in a chair, running his large hand up and over the knotted twists of hair that cascaded from the knot on top of his head down to the center of his back. He almost couldn't bring himself to hit the play button, but finally swallowed hard and did it, deciding it was best to get it over with. Lillian's image flickered to life in front of him, and he stared at it dully as she seemed to gaze right into his eyes while the recording spoke.

"Corso, I know you're angry with me. I don't blame you. I would be angry with me too." The hologram crossed her arms over her chest as if hugging herself. "The truth is, I'm going crazy. It's not your fault. We agreed to do this, I went along with it, and I wanted it just as much as you - at first."

Corso closed his eyes and pressed the button, freezing Lillian in place as he swiped his hand over his face and sighed. After a moment, he hit it again, and she continued. "I'm not going forever. Cole Cantarus called, he had a job for me. I just need to get away for a few days, get into space, out there in the stars - just one more time. I should be back within a week at the most. I love you, Corso. I really do. I really need this though. I hope you understand." The hologram smiled at him, and he felt his heart stir at the sight of the impish Lillian he had fallen in love with, as her image lifted a hand to her mouth and blew him a kiss. The warm feeling was quickly replaced by annoyance - and yes, anger. His hand curled around the holocomm and he threw it as hard as he could, barely flinching when it shattered against the wall.

So Cantarus had called, had he? Corso had always thought the CorSec officer was a good man, and knew Lillian felt the same way, despite the professional differences that they had. On the other hand, he also knew Cantarus wouldn't have called on Lillian unless the job he needed done was especially dangerous or delicate. Corso should be with her, watching her back. Lillian could handle herself, but he always felt better if he could be there to make sure nothing happened. He had vowed that nobody would ever hurt her while he was around, but now he wasn't going to be there if she needed him. She hadn't even been gone an hour, and damn it all, he missed her already.

Well fine, he thought, as he moved toward the bedroom they shared and flopped down onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling. If it was going to be that way, it was going to be that way. Maybe he'd be here when she got back, maybe he wouldn't. If she came back at all.

*****

Reaching for the hyperspace lever, Lillian pulled it back, watching the stars fade from pinpoints into blazing lines of light through the cockpit of the Shadow. She settled into her chair for the trip to Ord Mantell. The Shadow's engines thrummed powerfully as the starship roared through hyperspace, and she let out a breath she hadn't known she was holding. So far, so good. She had kept the ship well maintained during her time on Dantooine, often working on it while Corso had been out in the fields, her only link to her old life. How many times had she done this exact thing, hitting hyperspace, flitting from planet to planet, Corso standing at her side, the rest of the crew scatted around the ship. The Shadow had been alive with their little family - Akaavi, Risha, Guss, Bowdaar, and of course, herself and Corso. Now it was empty and silent, except for the sound of the massive hyperdrive pushing her faster past light speed than any other freighter she knew of. Still, the freedom was there - she was breathing easy for the first time in months. This was where she belonged. Pulling her knees to her chest, she rested her chin on them and watched the starlines race by.

A soft chime caused Lillian to open her eyes. She must have dozed off, she realized, because that sound was the Shadow's navcomputer warning her that she was about to exit hyperspace. Straightening her legs, she leaned forward as the starlines shrank back into pinpoints and the planet appeared below her. Lillian aimed the Shadow toward the atmosphere, reaching out and flipping her sensors into passive scan mode. There were several other ships in orbit, but nothing that her threat-assessment programming indicated as dangerous. She knew the real danger of Ord Mantell would be on the ground. Though the separatist factions on the planet had been largely neutralized, there would always be people unhappy with the Republic, and Imperial propaganda always managed to find its way to every world, no matter how hard Republic security tried to stop it. Having fought against the separatists on Ord Mantell herself, Lillian knew they were a tenacious lot. They had murdered Corso's family, giving him the incentive he needed to learn to fight, before he had met her. In retrospect, Lillian mused, that was where a lot of Corso's over-protectiveness stemmed from. He had lost his family and everyone he loved, and he felt if he had been there he could have made a difference. It didn't matter how many times Lillian had told him that if he had been there he would have just died too. She shook her head. Enough thinking about Corso. Right now there was a job to be done.

As the Shadow punched through the atmosphere, she throttled back the sub-light engines, slowing her descent from insanely fast to moderately crazy. Her silver gaze swept over the landing zones until she located the giant "64" that had been painted on the roof over her docking bay hangar. Her starship roared over the heads of Republic soldiers training out in the yards as she headed toward it, and grinning, she twisted her steering yoke, sending the Shadow into a barrel roll. Showing off was always so much fun. Approaching the yawning door of the docking bay, she cut the power to the engines and engaged her repulsorlifts, allowing the Shadow to skim along the ground and into the bay. She brought it down gently, then sat there a moment.

Her hands went to the blasters she had holstered on each hip. Pulling them out, she frowned slightly, then opened the compartment beneath her navcomputer and put them inside. Cantarus had said Orthos was the nervous type, so approaching him with her weapons visible was probably not advisable. Though she never liked being without Flashy - the modified Soro-Suub heavy blaster Corso's father had given him and he in turn had given Lillian - she also knew that her two small holdout blasters were probably better for this situation. Pulling them from the compartment, she checked the power cells. Both were fully charged, and she slipped them into the holsters she wore on her forearms, covering them with the green fabric of her shirt. With a flick of her wrists, the blasters would be in her hands and ready to go, and nobody would even know she was armed.

Smiling slightly to herself, she pushed her black tresses back behind her ears, pasted on an innocent, happy go-lucky expression, and stood up, moving to the back of the ship and pressing the button that would lower the boarding ramp. She stepped down it and into the bay. A sudden rush of memory nearly overwhelmed her as she realized that docking bay 64 was the same hangar she had landed the Shadow in two years previously, when she had first met Corso, when Skavak had stolen her ship out from under her and sent her on a merry chase to recover it. She shook her head slightly. She should have remembered that.

As her eyes traveled around the room, she noticed a man standing against the far wall, tall and handsome, with dark hair the same shade of black as her own. Moving toward him, she couldn't help but also notice his eyes - pale blue and as cold as the wastes of Hoth. She shivered slightly but kept the smile plastered on her face as she spoke. "You Orthos?" He nodded.

"I am. You're here for your shipment, I take it?" His voice was smooth, she noted, and devoid of any regional accent that she could identify. He gestured toward the piled fiberplast boxes all around him. "The weapons are here. You'll have to load them yourself."

Lillian glanced around at all the boxes and groaned inwardly. Maybe she should have brought Corso. "Fine," she said, trying to keep the annoyance out of her tone. "Did Cantarus leave any message for me with you?" She moved back into the Shadow, grabbing her small repulsorlift sled, intending to pile the boxes on top of it and then push it into the ship. As she stepped back out, she realized Orthos had disappeared. "Guess not."

Frowning, she began to wrestle with the boxes, lifting them one at a time and shoving them onto the sled, her muscles groaning with the effort. She really should have kept in shape, she realized, as she leaned over the piled boxes and took a deep breath. The sound of footsteps came behind her, and she straightened. "Orthos? Maybe you can help me here and while you're at it, give me the name of my contact on Corellia." She turned to face the man, and was considerably disconcerted to find herself staring down the barrel of the blaster he was holding pointed at her forehead. She tried a joke. "Or, you could just shoot me and put me out of my misery."

His pale eyes narrowed at her, though his face was otherwise expressionless. "I think you'd rather come with me, Captain. Don't make this any harder on yourself." His voice had changed, Lillian realized - he spoke in clipped precise tones, each word carefully enunciated and perfectly clear. Imperial. She closed her eyes for a second and swallowed hard, then opened them and tried again.

"Hey, I think you have the wrong person here. I'm just a small-time smuggler looking for some credits, I'm nobody important."

Now he did smile, and it was a smile so predatory that it caused a cold pit to form in her stomach. She thought of the blasters on her forearms and tried to calculate whether or not she could get them into her hands and up in firing position before he burned a hole through her skull. Fat chance, she thought. This docking bay was obviously cursed. Better to keep talking if she could. Before she could open her mouth and speak again though, he took a step forward and put the cold muzzle of his blaster directly against the white skin of her forehead.

"You are Captain Lillian Riggs. Your ship is the Silver Shadow, and you were employed as a privateer for the Galactic Republic two years ago during the battle of Corellia. Your husband is a farm boy from this planet named Corso. Your ship's crew was a motley bunch of aliens who have since scattered across the galaxy as scum like that is wont to do. You made the mistake of coming here alone, and now, you will come with me, or I will shoot you."

She had no choice. Shaking her wrists, she dropped the holdout blasters into her palms and started to bring her arms up and in line. The Imperial was a split second faster, however, and she saw his thumb switch the power selection lever on his blaster from "kill" to "stun" just before he squeezed the trigger.

The blue-white ion burst played over her body, frying every nerve ending and causing her muscles to spasm uncontrollably. She dropped to the ground, unable to control her own body, as the Imperial kicked the blasters from her hands, sending them skittering across the floor. He knelt down beside her, pulling a syringe from his pocket, uncapping it and jabbing the needle into the side of her neck, depressing the plunger with his thumb.

"Sleep now, Captain." His voice came to her as if from a great distance as she felt whatever drug he had put in her body start to work, causing her mind to drift. An image of Corso surfaced in her thoughts, his brown eyes staring at her, a loving smile painted across his face. She felt a single tear well up and slide down her cheek as she lay there on the cold floor unarmed and defenseless, before unconsciousness claimed her.




Two

It was cold in the cavern, the floor dusted with snow and ice. Darth Umbral stalked back and forth, her heavy boots kicking up particles of frozen water that whirled through the air, catching the light that filtered down through cracks in the icy ceiling. Her cloak whirled behind her as she moved, left, then right, then left again. She stopped and tapped her foot impatiently. "Where are you, Malavai?" Her question went unanswered and she resumed pacing, her hand fingering the hilt of the lightsaber sheathed at her side. She glanced over at the back of the cave, eying the rubble that lay there, a reminder of the Jedi she had buried beneath the snow here two years previously. Since she had been here last, the entrance to the cave had been blocked by what appeared to be a natural ice maze. She had found her way through it only by using the Force, and had decided this was the place to interrogate her newest prisoner. A red rope wound its way through the maze, a guideline for her co-conspirator to use when he returned bearing his burden.

The sound of footfalls moving through the maze drew her attention, and she stood still, watching. Reaching out with the Force, she touched the mind of the approaching person, and confirming his identity, allowed a small smile to grace her full lips. As he came around the final bend, his pale blue eyes met her deep sapphire orbs, and she practically squealed with delight when she saw the inert body of the woman on the repulsor sled he was dragging behind him.

"Oh Malavai," she breathed, running her gloved hand through her flame-colored hair. "You bring me the best presents." He flashed her a quick smile as he pulled Lillian along, stopping in front of a durasteel chair that had been placed in the center of the cavern. Umbral moved to his side and together they lifted the unconscious smuggler, placing her in the chair, activating the energy binders that would hold the woman's wrists and ankles in place.

"Shall we wake her up, my lord?" He pulled another syringe from his pocket and raised an eyebrow at the Dark Lord of the Sith. Umbral nodded, then reached out and put her hand on his wrist when he moved to inject the chemicals into Lillian's body.

"No, let me." Taking the needle from him, she jabbed it into the smaller woman's arm forcefully, shoving the plunger down to dispense the drug. "How long?"

"It should only be a moment."

Umbral stared intently at Lillian, watching her face for any sign of awakening. When the smuggler's eyes flickered open, Umbral began to laugh softly, the sound gradually growing louder as Lillian's gaze moved around the area and the expression on her face shifted between fear, panic, and anger.

"Captain Lillian Riggs." Umbral's voice was deep yet feminine, possessing the precise accent of all high-born Imperials. Lillian struggled to push the haze out of her mind and assess her situation, but found it all but impossible to think clearly.

"Who," she croaked, her voice hoarse and thick from unconsciousness, "are you and what do you want?"

Umbral clapped her hands together, then leaned forward, pushing her face toward Lillian's until they were mere inches apart. Lillian could feel the heat of Umbral's breath against her face, and the scent of some dangerous and exotic flower radiated off of the Sith lord's skin. Dromund Kaas death orchids, Lillian realized, having acquired some of them for a collector of rare botanicals. How appropriate for a Sith, she thought dryly.

"Who am I?" Umbral's voice was a soft, sibilant whisper. "I am the darkness of the eclipse. I am the shadow from which all light flees. I am the phantom that haunts your nightmares. I am Darth Umbral."

"Rather full of yourself, aren't you?" Lillian arched a slender eyebrow, then cried out softly as the back of Umbral's armored hand connected with her cheek hard enough to cause lights to dance before her eyes. That was going to leave a mark. She glared at the other woman defiantly as she worked her jaw to ensure it wasn't broken.

"You are in no position to make jokes, Captain Riggs. You have been brought here to be punished for your role in the battle of Corellia, and to tell me everything you know about the Galactic Republic."

Lillian scoffed at the Dark Lord of the Sith, twisting her hands against the energy binders that held them in place. "Is my punishment having to look at your face? Because it's working." Umbral raised her hand to strike the smuggler again, then changed her mind mid-swing. She straightened and pointed a finger at the man standing beside her.

"This is Captain Malavai Quinn. He is the man who brought you here after we intercepted the holomessage you received from Cole Cantarus. Really, Captain Riggs, you should not have left Dantooine." Umbral stepped aside, beginning to pace again, back and forth in front of Lillian's chair. "You have a choice, you can tell me all that I want to know, or I can have Quinn get it out of you. And I assure you that Imperial Intelligence has had him well trained in information extraction." A dark smile curled the edge of Umbral's lip as she glanced sidelong at the Imperial officer. "It would be a pleasure to watch you work, Quinn."

He nodded his dark head, his expressionless gaze moving to Lillian's face. She shuddered at the sight of those cold eyes. There was no doubt in her mind that he would greatly enjoy the interrogation, just as much if not more than Darth Umbral would. If Lillian had to describe Malavai Quinn to a stranger, she would have used the word "stone" a lot. She certainly wouldn't want to play sabacc with him. He could probably pull her fingernails out and feed them to her, all while keeping that same blank look on his face.

"I'm not sure," Lillian began, "that I can help you. I've been out of the loop for two years. Any information I have is old and probably useless." Her silver eyes finally found their focus, and she noted the walls of ice behind Umbral that formed the maze-like cavern entrance. Shifting her gaze down to the binders around her wrists, she tried to figure out how exactly she was going to get out of this one.

Umbral shrugged her shoulders slightly, smiling down at Lillian, reaching out her heavy gloved hand to stroke the smuggler's pale cheek in a mocking caress. "You will help me, or you will die here, cold and alone. Nobody will know what happened to you, and nobody will ever find your remains. You will become part of the frozen wastes of Hoth, just another block of ice on this forsaken planet."

So she was on Hoth. At least she knew that much.

*****

Isad'ia's twin yellow lightsabers spun through the air as she drove herself through a series of practice swings, twirling them hand over hand in an impressive display of swordsmanship. Calling upon the Force, she leapt straight up into the air, extending the humming blades fully on either side of her body, then bringing them together in front of her as she landed, a strike meant to cut an enemy completely in half. Her blue skin shone green under the light cast by her sabers, her tattooed lekku whirling around as she began to spin, lifting her blades and driving them sideways and downward, the motion like that of a mining drill digging deep into stone.

Completing her spin, she hit the buttons on the hilts of her lightsabers, closing the blades down and hooking them to either side of her belt. The sound of hands clapping filled the air, and she turned to find she had an audience. "Good morning, Kira." Isad'ia's smile was warm as she gestured for the girl to join her, moving to a small table and pouring out two glasses of cold water. She handed one to Kira, who moved to stand next to the Twi'lek Jedi, returning her smile with one of her own.

"Master Isad'ia, the Council has asked to see you. The message just came through." Isad'ia nodded and sighed softly. Putting her glass down, she straightened her clothing, a simple cut off top and tight pants that allowed her a full range of motion for fighting. She disdained the robes most Jedi, including Kira, wore, finding them hampering in battle. Thankfully the Order did not forbid her wearing traditional Twi'lek clothing, though she made them one concession in the embossed straps that encircled her arms, covered with Jedi iconography.

"Thank you, Kira. I'll go right away. Come with me, if you want." Her former Padawan, now a Jedi Knight in her own right, nodded and grinned at her. Together they moved toward the door, heading from Isad'ia's room into the common area they shared within the Jedi Temple. As they stepped out, the door to their rooms opened and a man stepped through the threshold, his arms full of boxes piled so high he couldn't see over them.

"Hey beautiful," he called out, "I found some medical supplies, you wouldn't BELIEVE what they're hiding here in this temple." He deposited the boxes on a nearby chair, then straightened and blinked when he noticed Isad'ia and Kira both standing there. "Oh. Erm. That is, to say... well, never mind."

"Doc..." Kira fought to keep laughter from her voice. "Did you just steal medical supplies from the Jedi Temple?"

"Noooo... who would do such a terrible thing?" He ran his hand over the goatee on his chin and assumed an innocent expression.

Isad'ia rolled her amethyst eyes. "Put them back, Doc. We have enough on the ship for you to save an army."

"Fine!" He began to pile the boxes back on top of each other. "Speaking of the ship, when are we getting out of here anyway? Feels like we've been on Tython forever." Isad'ia opened the door and turned before stepping out.

"I'm not sure. I have to go see the Council now, they might have an assignment for me. Head to the ship and get it ready just in case, alright? AFTER you put those medical supplies back from wherever you got them."

"Yeah, Archie. Put them back!" Kira easily ducked the box he threw in her direction, and laughing, both Jedi exited the room. They moved out into the great hall of the Temple, the massive staircase leading up to the council chambers before them. As they climbed the stairs, other Jedi nodded at them or waved from where they stood clustered in small groups, talking quietly.

"You shouldn't tease Doc," Isad'ia admonished Kira. "He thinks he's doing good things, even if his ways are a little... unorthodox." They reached the doors to the Council chambers, and Isad'ia paused before pushing them open. Kira frowned slightly at the Twi'lek.

"You're just a small bit biased, Master."

Isad'ia sighed. "This has nothing to do with that. It can be difficult with the two of you always trying to one-up each other. We're supposed to be a team, it's time you learned to work together. Now, let's find out why the Council wants to see me." She pushed open the massive doors leading to the Council chambers and stepped in the room, her footfalls muffled by the deep red carpeting.

She had been expecting to face the Jedi Council, and so found herself a little bewildered when the room was empty, save for one woman who's dark black hair was cropped short except for the twin braids that fell over her shoulders.

"Master Satele." Isad'ia moved forward, coming to stand directly in front of the Grand Master of the Jedi Order. "I thought the Council wished to see me?"

"Ah, Master Isad'ia. The others left a few moments ago after we discussed your assignment. We are all in agreement that this is a situation we would like you to handle." Satele reached out onto the table before her and pressed a button. The holoviewer in the center flickered to life, showing two individuals, one male and one female.

"We need you to go to Ord Mantell and investigate the presence of what appears to have been an Imperial agent there." Satele pointed at the image of the man. Isad'ia noted his appearance, in particular his ice-blue eyes and the birthmark on his left cheek.

"As you wish, Master Satele." She frowned. "May I ask, why me? Is this Jedi business? Surely Republic SIS is better equipped to find possible spies."

Satele gestured toward the hologram again, her fingers pointing at the image of the female. "If our information is correct, this man is Captain Malavai Quinn, an Imperial officer in the command of Darth Umbral."

"Umbral?" Isad'ia looked closer at the hologram. A well muscled body encased in heavy armor, large eyes and full lips showed the Sith lord to be an attractive woman. She wore a single lightsaber on her left hip. "Isn't she..."

"The Emperor's Wrath," Satele finished for her. "Yes. That is why we are sending you. Her powers of the dark side are matched only by your own in the light. If indeed this was her agent on Ord Mantell, the Council directs you to find out what he was doing there, and pursue him if necessary. Darth Umbral played a large part in the war, and we cannot risk her becoming active in it again."

Kira stared at the hologram, her fists clenched at her sides. "This Darth Umbral has killed many Jedi." Satele nodded gravely at the girl.

"Yes. Though several Jedi survived their encounters with her, she has killed more than her fair share of the Order. It is up to the two of you to see that it doesn't happen again. May the Force be with you."


*****


Lillian twisted her hands against the bands of energy that kept her restrained to the hard chair. Her eyes followed Darth Umbral as the Sith lord paced back and forth across the cavern, her attention monopolized by the datapad in her hand. Frowning, Lillian tugged harder, then let out a frustrated sigh. The sound caused Umbral to raise her gaze from the datapad, and her sapphire eyes narrowed in Lillian's direction.

"Struggling is futile, Captain. The energy rays will only grow tighter." Umbral stalked over to stand in front of the smuggler, reaching out her hand and taking a fistful of Lillian's hair, tugging it painfully as she caught it up in her fingers and yanked Lillian's head back. Gritting her teeth, Lillian smiled against the pain, drew a breath, and spit into Umbral's face.

Releasing her hold, Umbral wiped the mess off of her cheek, then unhooked her lightsaber from her belt, but did not ignite it. Turning it into a reverse grip, she brought the hard metal hilt around, smashing it into Lillian's face, causing a bright red stream of blood to begin flowing from the smaller woman's nose.

"Your defiance is admirable, Captain Riggs." Returning the lightsaber to her belt, Umbral's hand reached out and took hold of Lillian's own. "However, it is ultimately useless." The Dark Lord of the Sith let her lips curl in a sinister smile as she closed her grip around Lillian's left hand, squeezing it as hard as she could. The smuggler's eyes closed against the pain - Umbral's grip was like a vise, inexorably applying more and more pressure. Lillian felt something give, and heard a loud pop from the bones in her hand as they separated from the cartilage that bound them together. Tears sprang to her eyes, though she refused to cry out, denying Umbral the pleasure of hearing her agony.

Releasing Lillian's hand, Umbral turned to Quinn, who had been standing by, observing the whole episode. "Give her hand an injection of kolto," Umbral instructed him, "so that I might break it again." Nodding, Quinn moved forward to treat the shattered appendage.

"What do you want?" Lillian ground the question out between her teeth as the Imperial man slid a needle beneath the skin of her hand.

"Tell me about Republic Strategic Information Services." Umbral pointed one finger at Lillian. "I know that you have worked with them many times."

"What do you want me to tell you? It isn't as if they gave me all their secrets, I just met with their agents and did whatever job they told me to do." As Quinn pulled the needle out from underneath her skin, Lillian could feel the kolto at work, knitting her bones back together.

"The perfect lapdog, were you?" Umbral raised an eyebrow. "Surely you have some sort of information, such as how many of them are deployed in Imperial space or onto Imperial occupied worlds."

"Enough to cause your Empire a universe of hurt." Feeling stronger, Lillian's defiance was back, and she was determined to give Umbral nothing useful, if for any reason than the principle of the idea. "There's thousands of SIS agents deployed all over the galaxy. Hell, half the time I didn't even realize I was working for SIS until after the job was already done."

"What a testament to your intelligence." Darth Umbral shot Lillian a bemused look. "Really, Captain, you don't appear to be stupid. Why protect SIS, they certainly aren't protecting you."

Lillian shrugged, flexing the fingers of her left hand as they began to tingle, the pain slowly receding as the kolto took hold. "Who said I was protecting anyone? If I have no information to give you, then I have no information to give you."

"Very well," Umbral withdrew a holocomm from her belt. "I see we are going to have to resort to... extreme measures." She thumbed on the holocomm, and the image of a large, imposing man flickered to life. "Lieutenant Pierce," Umbral addressed him. "Do we have our surprise ready for Captain Riggs?"

Pierce nodded his head, his gravely voice carrying clearly to Lillian's ears. "Yes, my lord. The charges are set. Uploading visual data now." Umbral's datapad beeped softly as the information was transferred to it. Using her free hand, the Sith lord tilted the display so that Lillian could see.

"Do you know what this is, Captain?" Umbral held the datapad in front of Lillian's face.

"It appears to be my house." Lillian tried to keep the fear that was creeping into her heart out of her voice. Did he say charges? "Why are you showing me this? I know what my home looks like."

"Are you aware of how much damage a class-A thermal detonator can do?" Umbral's soft chuckle caused Lillian's blood to run cold. "There are four of them planted within your home now. One word from me, and the lieutenant will blow the charges. Your house and the land for kilometers around it will be vaporized in an instant. Tell me about Republic SIS."

Her heart beating rapidly, Lillian tried to collect her thoughts. "It's just a house. I can always buy another one."

"True. But there are some things that credits cannot purchase." Pressing a button on the datapad, Lillian watched the display change to a thermal scan. Blue and green splashes of color predominated the image, aside from one area in the corner of the house, which had a small blob of red and yellow, indicating a living being. "Your husband, for example."

She couldn't help it. Lillian strained against her bonds as she tried to throw her body toward Umbral, succeeding only in rocking the chair forward and falling face first onto the icy cavern floor.

"Tsk, tsk." The Sith lord nodded to Quinn, who came forward and lifted the chair back to an upright position. Lillian's soft black hair fell over her eyes, and her lips twisted in a grimace as she continued to struggle with the energy bands holding her arms. "Tell me about Republic SIS." Umbral's voice turned soft, almost gentle. "Tell me, Captain, and nothing bad will happen to your beloved."

Lillian's thoughts raced and her heart pounded within her chest. She had no doubt that the Dark Lord would indeed give the order to destroy her Dantooine home. She plumbed the depths of her brain for something to tell the Sith woman.

"They operate in small cells. To avoid espionage, each cell is kept in the dark regarding the others missions. Usually one to three agents to a mission, and they are constantly in contact with Coruscant. Their messages are relayed via small satellites that are deployed into orbit around a planet when the insertion team arrives. The satellites are no larger than my fist. If you found the satellites, you might be able to break the cipher they use to encode messages."

A triumphant light sparked in Umbral's eyes as she stared down at Lillian. "There now Captain, that wasn't hard, was it?" She turned her attention back to the image of Pierce, floating above the holocomm in her palm. "Lieutenant. Blow the charges."

"As you wish, my lord."

Lillian's anguished scream rang out through the cavern as she watched the image on the datapad shift as the detonation ripped through her home. The warm spot on the thermal scan became indistinct as the entire picture turned red, orange, and yellow from the heat of the explosion.

"Corso!" The smuggler closed her eyes against a fresh onslaught of tears, her muscles straining as she struggled with her bonds once more, futilely attempting to lash out at Darth Umbral, whose mocking laughter filled the icy air.
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silvershadows
02.29.2012 , 06:38 PM | #3
Three

Corso Riggs took a deep breath as he glanced around at his surroundings. If you had asked him two years ago if he ever thought he would be back on Ord Mantell, the answer would have been an unequivocal "no." His head bowed slightly in thought, he walked through the paved streets of Fort Garnik, mechanically putting one foot in front of the other.

He really wasn't sure why he had come back anyway, other than he was missing Lillian. His decision to return to the place where they had met was made on a whim. She had left him, just taken the Shadow and gone. She had told him she would be back in a week, but it had been ten days and he hadn't heard from her. He stopped walking and stood still, his head lifting as he reached the hangar bay where Lillian had touched down two years ago, flying through a separatist shooting gallery and straight into his heart.

Reaching out, he pushed the door to the bay open and stepped inside. His brown eyes went wide in shock. There was the Silver Shadow, resting on its landing gear in the center of the hangar, just as it had been two years ago. He shook his head. Unbelievable.

As he approached the freighter, he noticed the boarding ramp was up. He stepped forward and reached a hand up to punch in his security code on the panel next to the ramp. The panel beeped at him, and the hatch remained closed.

Corso frowned. That meant the Shadow's automated security had closed the ramp, not Lillian. The Corellian XS freighter was programmed to raise the boarding ramp and lock down the engines if it was open for more than an hour with no organic life forms aboard the ship. Lillian had the system installed shortly after getting the Shadow back from the thief, Skavak. Only the captain's security code could override the lockdown. He tapped the numbers to enter Lillian's code, his brow creasing in worry. How long had the Shadow been here?

The ramp lowered, and Corso fairly leapt his way up it, rushing through the mostly barren cargo hold to the bridge. The ship was silent, cold, and empty. He lowered himself to the co-pilot's chair, taking a deep breath and letting it out shakily. "Damn it all, Lilly, where are you?"

His gaze was drawn to the console in front of the captain's chair. A hairline crack ran through it - the secret compartment Lillian had built into it was open slightly. He pulled it fully open. As he looked at the contents, he felt his heart skip a beat. There, nestled snugly against the bottom of the compartment, were Lillian's blasters. He knew she never would have left Flashy if she could help it - the Soro-Suub heavy blaster had been her prized possession since he had given it to her. She always did have good taste in weapons.

Suddenly, the sound of footsteps on the boarding ramp came to his ears. He stood swiftly, his hand curling around Flashy's grip and his finger sliding over the trigger. Exiting the bridge, Corso lifted the blaster and aimed it at the top of the boarding ramp. To his surprise, three people came into view as they cleared the hatch. Two women - one human and one Twi'lek - and a dark haired human male. When they noticed Corso standing there with a blaster pointed in their direction, all three stopped walking forward. He noted the lightsaber hilts at the women's hips, but did not lower his weapon. "Who are you and why are you on my wife's ship?"

The Twi'lek held her hands up, palms forward as she spoke. "I am Jedi Master Isad'ia." She gestured to the other two. "This is Kira Carsen, a fellow Jedi, and Doc. We are here investigating the presence of an Imperial agent named Malavai Quinn."

Corso relaxed his arm, lowering Flashy and frowning at the Twi'lek. "I'm Corso Riggs. This is my wife Lillian's ship, the Silver Shadow. She's gone missing and I'm looking for her. Never heard of this Quinn guy."

Isad'ia nodded her head slightly, then turned to the other Jedi. "Kira, go outside and take a look around, see if you can find anything." The girl turned and stepped down the ramp as Isad'ia's amethyst gaze moved back to Corso. "We were told that a man matching Malavai Quinn's description had been seen entering this hangar bay. He is known to be in service to a Sith lord named Darth Umbral. Can you think of any reason why someone like that would be interested in your wife?"

Sighing, Corso sat down on a fiberplast box full of spare parts for the Shadow's computer. "We battled our share of Sith lords when we were involved in the war. My wife worked as a privateer for the Republic."

Isad'ia raised a brow at him. "Your wife is Lillian Riggs. Now I remember reading something on the holonet about her taking out the Voidwolf."

Doc whistled softly. "Hey, I remember reading that too. Something about half the galaxy's underworld uniting to fight the Empire. That's pretty impressive. You know, for someone who isn't me." The Jedi jabbed her elbow into Doc's side without blinking an eye. "Ow!" He grinned sheepishly at her.

"If that's all true," Isad'ia began, "then I could see why the Empire would take an interest in your wife. She knows a lot about the workings of the underworld, and she probably has had access to quite a bit of classified information."

"She did here and there. We did a lot of work with Republic SIS and even some Jedi." Corso looked up at the Twi'lek from where he sat. "You think the Empire took Lillian." As Isad'ia nodded, he stood and walked back to the bridge of the ship, gesturing for her to follow.

"Master Isad'ia." Kira's voice came from behind them as they entered the Shadow's bridge. The young Jedi held two small holdout blasters in her hands. "I found these behind some boxes. The boxes have other blasters and various weapons in them."

Corso closed his eyes and swallowed painfully. "Those are Lillian's. She uses them when being visibly armed isn't the brightest idea." He reached out his hands and Kira deposited the blasters into them. "If you found them on the floor, then she's definitely in trouble." He sat down in the co-pilot's chair again, reaching out to tap a few buttons on the console in front of him. "The Shadow has holocams installed on the hatch. They turn on when the ramp is lowered, and record everything that happens within their line of sight until it goes back up. Maybe they caught something."

Four pairs of eyes fixed on the image that appeared above the console. Four pairs of eyes watched as Malavai Quinn held Lillian at gunpoint. Corso's hands clenched into tight fists when the hologram showed Quinn injecting some sort of drug into his wife's body. He punched the console as hard as he could, and the hologram flickered, then died. "I'll kill him!"

Isad'ia reached out, placing a hand on Corso's shoulder. "Calm yourself. Your anger will hurt more than help the situation. There is no emotion, there is peace."

"Don't give me that Jedi babble!" He twisted away from the Twi'lek's touch, standing and stalking back to the large holocomm table that took up the area behind the bridge. "I'm calling Cole Cantarus. He's the one who got Lilly into this whole mess!" The others followed, close behind. Before Corso could enter Cole's holofrequency, the table's display lit up and it began to chime softly, indicating an incoming call. He jabbed his finger down on the answer button and snarled, "What?!"

The holocomm displayed an image of a young man with unremarkable features, who would have easily been able to blend in just about anywhere. In fact, the only interesting thing about him was the bulky bandages he had wrapped around his midsection and upper right arm. The image blinked at Corso, and a look of confusion crossed the man's face.

"I'm looking for Captain Lillian Riggs."

"Seems like everyone is," Doc quipped from where he stood behind Isad'ia. "Popular lady."

"She's my wife," Corso frowned. "Who the hell are you?" He pointed a finger at the hologram.

"My name is Orthos. Till Orthos. I'm with SIS - I was asked by Cole Cantarus to meet Captain Riggs here on Ord Mantell." He gestured with his good arm at the bandages he wore. "Instead, I was ambushed and shot by a man with an Imperial accent." Isad'ia and Kira looked at each other and nodded as Orthos continued to speak. "He left me for dead, and I would have been, if I hadn't had a medpac I carry for emergencies. As it was, I passed out from the blood loss. When I came to, someone had dragged me to the medcenter here in Fort Garnik. I was hoping that your wife would still be around to take the shipment I was supposed to give her to Corellia."

Corso shook his fist at the hologram. "She's missing! That same Imperial that shot you drugged her and took her away." The fist became an accusing finger, pointing in Orthos' direction. "It's all your fault, yours and Cantarus'!"

"Corso," Isad'ia interjected, "You're angry. You know that your wife's abduction isn't anyone's fault except for Malavai Quinn and Darth Umbral's."

He sighed and his shoulders slumped in defeat. "You're right. I'm sorry. I'm just - I'm worried. I need to find her."

"Orthos," the Twi'lek Jedi began, "Is it possible for you to locate Darth Umbral? I'm sure SIS has descriptions of her starship on file. It's a sure bet that if we can find the Sith lord, we'll also find Captain Riggs."

Orthos' face turned contemplative. "Let me check." He pulled a datapad out from his belt and began tapping away at it. "Darth Umbral. Here we go." His finger ran down the datapad as if scanning a list. "Flies a Fury-class Interceptor, the Nova Eclipse. I can put out some feelers, see if I can find out where it was last sighted. It might take a little while though."

Isad'ia nodded. "Do it. We'll be waiting." The image of Orthos disappeared as the transmission was cut.

"I don't like standing around while Lilly is in danger." Corso stalked back toward the bridge. "I'll at least get us into space so we'll be ready to go when Orthos calls."

"Patience," Isad'ia counseled him. "We'll find your wife. When Orthos gets back to us, Kira, Doc, and I will return to our own ship. We can slave it to yours and make the jump to hyperspace together."

"Patience." Corso's voice was bitter. "Easy for you to say. It isn't your wife who's been stolen by the Empire."

"We'll find her. The Twi'lek smiled at him confidently. "The Force is with us."

*****

It had been eleven days now since Malavai Quinn abducted Lillian and brought her to the frozen planet Hoth. He leaned against the side of the icy cavern, watching Darth Umbral as the Sith lord knelt in meditation on the cold floor. The smuggler was slumped in her restraints, unconscious from another dose of the sedative he gave her. Bruises covered her pale face, and he almost felt bad for her, until he remembered that she was responsible for the deaths of many Imperials, both citizens and soldiers. There had been a time in the past where this sort of torture would have been reprehensible to him, but ever since his attempt to kill Umbral in a misguided act of patriotism, he had been determined to never fail her again. If that meant standing by her side while she extracted information from this Republic criminal, then so be it.

Quinn quietly stepped to Umbral's side, reaching out and placing a hand on her shoulder. "My lord," he said softly, "I need to speak with you."

Umbral's sapphire eyes opened and she smiled up at him. "Must you 'my lord' me, Malavai? She's not likely to hear you." Standing, the Sith lord reached out and ran her finger over his cheek, down his jawline. Despite the cold, her touch sent waves of heat through his body.

"Umbral," he tried again, "We need to talk." Taking her hand, he pulled her to the back of the cave, behind a mid-sized boulder that had fallen when Umbral had collapsed the tunnel network two years previously. She raised an eyebrow at him quizzically.

"What's the matter, Malavai?" She crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot.

"What are we doing with the woman?" His hand gestured back toward where Lillian was bound to the chair. "I'm not sure we'll be able to get any more information out of her."

Umbral's brow furrowed and she bit her lower lip gently. "It occurred to me that we might be able to get some detailed information regarding the movements of the underworld from her. She did, after all, turn many of the galaxy's most notorious criminals against the Empire."

He nodded slowly, then frowned. "But she believes we killed her husband. What incentive does she have to tell us anything further?"

"If she values her own skin," Umbral began, reaching out to wrap her arms around Quinn's neck, pulling his body close to hers. She tugged his head down, brushing her lips against his softly as his hands came up to rest on her shoulders. "She will tell us all that we need to know."

Quinn's grip on Umbral's shoulders tightened as he instinctively returned her kiss, then his arms straightened, and he pushed her away gently. "Umbral, now is not the time for this." The Sith lord glared at him for a moment, her deep blue eyes sparking with sudden anger.

"You do infuriate me sometimes, Malavai." She whirled away, her cloak flaring with the movement. He sighed and reached his hand out as if to draw her back, then dropped it to his side.

"Forgive me, my lord." His eyes followed her form as she strode back toward the unconscious smuggler, no doubt to take her frustrations out on the other woman. He sighed. It wasn't easy, loving Umbral. Her tempestuous moods, caring one moment and murderous the next, were going to turn his black hair grey.

*****

Isad'ia sat cross-legged on the floor in the Silver Shadow's cargo hold, her eyes closed in meditation. Her mind was empty, open and receptive to the Force. Across the room from her, Doc lounged on the overstuffed couch that Lillian had made Corso bolt to the wall. His dark eyes were trained on the Twi'lek, only shifting away when Kira came through the doorway leading to the bridge. She glanced at Isad'ia, then at Doc, and smirked slightly.

"I don't think Corso is going to wait much longer," she said, leaning against the wall. "He's more anxious than a tauntaun on ball bearings."

His face growing serious for a moment, Doc looked up at Kira. "I would be too, if I was in his situation."

"Yeah well," Kira said, waving her hand in Isad'ia's direction. "You don't have much to worry about there, do you? It's kind of hard to abduct Jedi Masters."

"Kira." Isad'ia's eyes snapped open. "Is there news, or did you simply want to antagonize Doc?" In one graceful movement, the Twi'lek stood, pushing her tattooed lekku behind her shoulders.

"I'm sorry, Master." Kira looked down at her feet. "I came to tell you that Corso is putting a call through to the medcenter to try to get ahold of Orthos and see if he's learned anything. It's been over twenty four hours, and he's getting impatient."

Isad'ia nodded, and moved past Kira toward the Shadow's bridge. Lifting himself from the couch, Doc followed her, with Kira close behind. They found Corso standing in front of the holocomm table, staring up at the image of Till Orthos that had just flickered to life.

"Any news?" Corso's voice was rough, the whites of his eyes tinged with red from a sleepless night. He had absently pulled a few twists of his long knotted hair over his shoulders and was tugging at it nervously.

"Actually, yes. I was about to contact you." Orthos had pulled out his datapad and was glancing over its display. "Darth Umbral's ship, the Nova Eclipse, was spotted at the Hoth orbital station twelve days ago and is still there. Apparently, the Sith lord shuttled down to the planet and went through Dorn base, but she hasn't been seen since then. If the Eclipse is docked on the orbital station though, it's safe to assume that Darth Umbral is still on the planet."

"Hoth, huh?" Doc shivered. "I never really wanted to go back to that ball of ice. The last time I was there I got frostbite in some... pretty interesting places." Kira made a face at him, and Doc spread his hands innocently. "What? I mean between my toes!"

Despite herself, Isad'ia chuckled softly. "If her ship is on Hoth, then that is where we need to go. Thank you for your help, Orthos."

"Always glad to be of service, Master Jedi." The image of Orthos turned his gaze to Corso. "I hope you find your wife. She has been an invaluable asset to the Republic."

"Yeah," Corso said, rubbing his hand over his eyes. "Me too. Thanks, Orthos." The transmission ended, and Corso walked to the Shadow's captain's chair, sitting down and flipping the switches that would bring the freighter's engines to life. His head turned in Isad'ia's direction. "Your ship is docked on the orbital station?"

The Twi'lek nodded. "The Force Warden has a decent slave-circuit installed. You bring us up to the orbital station and we will slave our ship to yours, then make the jump to hyperspace." Her dark purple eyes narrowed at him in concern. "While we're en route, you might want to think about getting some rest. We're probably in for a fight, and you'll be no good to your wife if fatigue gets the best of you."

"I'll try." Corso reached for the Shadow's steering yoke, pulling it back and down. The repulsorlift engines kicked on and the freighter lifted off the ground, its landing gear retracting into the ship's belly. With his thumb, he depressed a button and the sublight engines roared to life, the Shadow leaping toward the sky.

As Ord Mantell fell away beneath them, Corso began to think about the time Lillian had stood next to him and watched his homeworld grow smaller, the grand vista of space opening before them as they had punched through the atmosphere on a shuttle bound for Carrick station, home of the Republic fleet. Then, he had been filled with a sense of adventure and excitement, ready to take on a galaxy full of challenges and defeat them all head on. Now all he felt was worried. Lillian could be hurt, even dead, and the thought of that made him wonder if his heart might shatter into a million pieces.

They reached the orbital station, and Corso skillfully guided the Shadow to the airlock next to the red and white Corellian Defender-class light corvette Isad'ia identified as the Force Warden. He walked with his passengers to the hatch, waiting until the lights above it turned green, indicating a good atmospheric seal, then opened the door. The two Jedi stepped out, but Doc lingered a moment, turning toward Corso with sympathy in his dark eyes.

"Hey," he said, "Don't worry. Isad'ia will help you find your Lillian. And if there's a Sith lord to fight, she'll do that too. She's pretty good at that sort of thing. Kind of her specialty, if you know what I mean."

Corso let out a sigh. "I just hope Lilly is alive. I feel like a huge chunk of me was just bitten off by a rabid rancor."

Doc glanced out toward where Isad'ia and Kira had disappeared into the Warden. "I know what you mean. There was a time when I thought the woman I loved might be gone for good, lost to a deep darkness. But then she came back from it, and I haven't left her side since. We'll find your wife. I'm no Jedi, but I can feel it."

Raising his eyebrow slightly, Corso stared at Doc contemplatively for a moment. "You know," he said, his lip curling in a tiny smile, "You aren't half as shallow as you seem."

"Yeah," Doc chuckled. "Don't tell anyone." He ducked out the door and was gone, following Isad'ia and Kira into the Force Warden's airlock. Corso pressed the button to seal the door, and headed back to the bridge. Time to head to Hoth.



Four

The energy binders holding Lillian to the cold chair hummed softly as they splashed yellowish-orange light over her skin. She was so tired, despite having slept most of the thirteen days she had been held captive. Whatever sedative she was constantly being drugged with didn't allow her to feel rested - or perhaps that was just the throbbing pain in her face and chest - she wasn't sure. The only thing that she was certain about anymore was that she wished Darth Umbral would just kill her already. The Sith lord had broken Lillian's nose with her lightsaber hilt in a fit of rage when the smuggler had refused to answer her questions, and she was certain that her ribs were at least fractured from a heavy kick delivered by Umbral's durasteel-tipped boots when Lillian had told her to go jump into a sarlaac pit.

Unlike when Umbral had broken her hand, the Dark Lord had not allowed Malavai Quinn to treat Lillian's wounds, reveling in the agony that her victim was feeling. Though her wounds were grave, they were nothing compared to the heartache that threatened to consume Lillian's soul. In her mind's eye, all that she could see was the image of the thermal detonators destroying the life she had built, the life she had so carelessly left behind when Cole Cantarus called. If she could turn back her chrono, she would never have left Corso, she would have stayed - boredom be damned.

Corso is gone, she reminded herself. A bitter laugh threatened to escape her lips as she thought of how silly it was that she had ever been annoyed with him or his need to protect her from anything and everything. Sure, she could take care of herself - present circumstances notwithstanding - but it was nice to have him there backing her up. His presence had made her stronger, his encouragement had led her to help the Republic and make a name for herself that didn't include the words "scum of the galaxy." He had believed in her, even when she didn't believe in herself.

If I get out of this alive, she thought, I'm going back to work for the Republic. It's what Corso would have wanted me to do. It's not as if I have a home to go back to, anyway.

The sound of footsteps approaching from behind startled her out of her contemplative state. Darth Umbral's form came into view as the Sith woman came around and crouched down in front of Lillian's chair so that she could look more directly at the smuggler.

"Captain Riggs." Umbral's voice was soft and gentle, belying the fact that she was the cause of all the pain Lillian was feeling. "Truly, I tire of having to do this to you. If you would only talk to me, then we could work something out. I have been known to be merciful." The Sith lord reached out and placed her gloved hand on Lillian's pale one. If the smuggler could have jerked away, she would have. Umbral's touch made her skin crawl.

"You already showed me your version of mercy when you blew up my house and killed my husband." Lillian's silver eyes slid closed as she sighed. "What else could you possibly do to me? Kill me? End my suffering?"

Umbral smiled slightly. "I could let you go back to your precious Republic. All you have to do is give me the names of the major underworld players and the locations of their bases of operation."

"And then when they find out I've squealed on them, they can save you the trouble of having to kill me by doing it themselves?" Lillian scoffed at the other woman. "Didn't think they made Sith that stupid, but you're a few thrusters short of a hyperdrive if you think I'm going to tell you anything after what you've done."

Standing and brushing snow off of her legs, Umbral stared down at Lillian. "Such a sharp tongue." Her gaze was drawn to the side as Quinn approached, a datapad in his hands. She raised an eyebrow at him. "Captain Quinn. Is something wrong?"

"Communication from Adamas Orbital Station, my lord." He held the datapad out to her. She took it and scanned the display. Her sapphire eyes widened slightly and her head snapped up to stare at Quinn. "Is this accurate? When did it come through?"

"The time stamp shows it to be less than an hour old." He frowned slightly and stood at attention. "Orders?"

Umbral let out a vexed sigh. "Prepare a welcome for our guests." He nodded and stepped away, disappearing into the opening in the ice maze that filled the cavern entrance. The Sith lord looked down at Lillian, then moved to stand behind the smuggler. Gripping the back of the chair, Umbral began to pull it toward the back of the cavern, dragging Lillian over the icy floor.

"Hey!" Lillian's cry mingled with the sound of the chair scr aping across the cold stone. "What's going on? You said guests, are you throwing a party? Going to have all your sithy friends show up and maybe eat some children or something?"

The back of Umbral's hand connected with Lillian's head. "Shut up." From a pouch on her belt she produced a strip of cloth, which she unceremoniously shoved into the smaller woman's mouth, tying it around the back of her head.

"Mmgrrpph!" Lillian tried to spit the gag out unsuccessfully. She glared lasers at Umbral as the Sith lord strode to the center of the cavern and knelt on the floor in meditation, her lightsaber hilt in her lap.

*****

The Silver Shadow and the Force Warden came out of hyperspace in the Hoth system just beyond the Republic orbital station. The sound of the alarm warning Corso that they had arrived at their destination woke him from the state of fitful sleep he had been in. Switching to sublight engines, he reached out for the console and released the Warden from the Shadow's slave circuitry. Kira's voice came to him over the secure communications channel they had set up.

"Master Isad'ia says to dock at the station and we'll shuttle down to the surface. Neither of our ships is equipped to handle the cold."

He acknowledged the transmission, then guided the Shadow to the station, nestling the freighter up against an empty airlock. Across from him, he saw the Jedi's ship doing the same. He let Isad'ia do the talking when the station's commander queried their intentions, not trusting himself to talk to anyone with his brain in such turmoil. All he could think about was getting down to the planet and finding Lillian.

He stood up from the pilot's chair, walking back to the captain's quarters he had shared with Lillian when they had been living on the starship. Opening a storage compartment, he reached in and pulled out the armor he had worn while fighting in the war. Made of durasteel and spun cortosis ore, it was enough to turn aside blaster bolts and even glancing blows from lightsabers. He strapped it on, its heavy weight resting comfortably on his shoulders. Once it had been like a second skin, and he smiled grimly as he ran his fingers over the black Republic symbols that graced the white plating. His hands lifted his blaster rifle from the compartment, and he checked it over carefully, making sure the power cell was charged. He slung it across his back, then turned to leave the room. Hesitating in the doorway for a moment, he shook his head, and went back inside.

He grabbed up Flashy and shoved the blaster into his belt, along with Torchy, his personal favorite. As he tucked Torchy away, he smiled slightly, remembering when Lillian had taken it back from Skavak after he stole it. He recalled how she had smiled at him and laughed at the way he had talked to the blaster as if it was alive, and decided to keep that image of her in his head as a reminder of everything he loved about her.

Corso finally exited the room, striding toward the airlock. On the way, he stopped in the cargo hold, prying open a box that had been left in there and adding some concussion grenades to his arsenal. "Can't be too prepared," he muttered to himself. Reaching the airlock, he stepped out of the Shadow and onto the orbital station. Isad'ia, Kira, and Doc were standing by the entrance to their own starship. The Jedi Master was talking to the others, and neither of them appeared very happy with what she was saying.

"No, I want both of you to stay with the ship." Isad'ia's head turned as she sensed Corso's approach. "Kira, I need you to monitor all transmissions to and from the planet. Doc, I want you to get the medbay ready. Captain Riggs is likely to be injured or at the very least suffering from exposure to the cold, and will need to be treated. Corso..."

"No offense, Master Jedi," he cut her off. "But you're not in charge of me. I'm going with you down to the surface whether you like it or not." Corso's voice was firm, his jaw set with determination. "Lillian is down there and she needs me. Besides, that Sith lord isn't alone, you'll need someone backing you up."

Isad'ia nodded. "I expected nothing less." She looked back at Kira and Doc. The younger Jedi appeared to be ready to argue, but the look in her master's eye changed her mind and she simply shrugged, turning to walk back through the Warden's airlock.

"May the Force be with you, Master." Kira stepped onto the ship and disappeared. Doc frowned, running his hand over his mustache and down over the hair on his chin.

"You better come back, gorgeous." His voice shook slightly. "Don't go getting yourself killed." He looked over at Corso. "Don't let her do anything stupid."

Corso chuckled humorlessly. "Do you really think I could stop her?"

"I'm right here, you know." Isad'ia smiled at Doc, then on an impulse stepped forward and planted a kiss on his cheek. "Don't worry. We'll be back before you know it. I promise." She turned and headed for the outbound shuttle that would take them down to the planet's frozen surface. Both men watched her walk away, and Doc reached out and clapped his hand on Corso's armored shoulder in wordless support, then followed Kira into the Warden.

Corso hurried toward the shuttle. Isad'ia was waiting for him at the doorway, and they climbed inside, seating themselves on a hard plasteel bench. They were the only passengers traveling to the frozen planet, and the shuttle pilot barely waited until they had strapped themselves in before taking off and heading away from the orbital station, pushing through the atmosphere toward a Republic base. Ice crystals quickly formed on the shuttles viewports, shrouding the view of the planet as they descended.

When they set down, both Isad'ia and Corso leapt to their feet, pushing open the door, exiting the shuttle to stand in the frigid air. Their breath plumed from their lips and nostrils, and Corso grunted softly.

"I hate this place." His boots crunched in the snow as they began to walk forward. They hadn't taken more than a few steps when the soft chiming of Isad'ia's holocommunicator filled the air. She frowned slightly, pulling it from her belt, then turning it on. A miniature of Kira appeared over the holocomm.

"Master, I picked up a transmission from the Imperial orbital station." The hologram flickered and a burst of static nearly cut off Kira's next words as the cold threatened to disable the communication. "They announced the arrival of our ships in the system. Darth Umbral likely knows you are coming."

Isad'ia nodded. "Thank you, Kira. Continue monitoring transmissions." She turned the comm off, and her purple eyes met Corso's brown ones. "We need to find your wife quickly."

"No argument here." Corso's hands clenched into fists. "Any bright ideas?"

The Twi'lek held her hand up to silence him, then closed her eyes. Reaching out with the Force, she spread her awareness out, delving deep within herself to stretch her senses over the planet. Her brow furrowed as she felt a presence, a white-hot spot of fury amidst the peace and serenity she knew in the Force. Her mind brushed up against Darth Umbral's, and she could feel a spark of triumph as the Sith lord noted her probing. Isad'ia shook her head as if to clear it, and opened her eyes.

"This way." She strode forward across the snowy landscape, Corso close behind.

*****

Kneeling on the cold stone floor, Umbral felt the touch of Isad'ia's mind. Her lips curled in a derisive smile. She felt rather than heard Quinn's return, but did not move from her position on the ground. He remained silent, letting Umbral commune with the Force, mentally preparing herself for the battle to come.

In the back of the cavern, Lillian was also watching the Sith lord. Her wrists were raw from struggling against the energy bands binding her, and her mouth was dry, the gag having sucked all the moisture out of it. She wasn't sure what was happening, but she could feel the tension building in the air. Her silver gaze remained intently on Darth Umbral as time passed. Just as she was sure that nothing was going to happen, the sound of an explosion filled the air and the cavern rocked with the concussion force. Shards of ice flew up from the front of the maze-like entrance, spraying every which way. The chair the smuggler was in nearly fell backwards, but she rocked her body forward in order to stay upright.

There was a snap-hiss as Umbral ignited her lightsaber, the red blade shimmering and humming as the Dark Lord of the Sith began to pace, back and forth, left to right, right to left, her eyes trained on the opening in the ice maze.

The sound of blaster fire reached her ears, and she smiled. Someone was blasting their way through the maze rather than attempt to navigate it. Quinn drew his weapon and dropped out of sight behind a rocky outcropping.

A small, dark object came flying out from the maze, landing at Umbral's feet. Almost immediately, she kicked it, sending it back toward the ice wall, where it exploded on impact. The wall disintegrated into powder. As the air cleared and afforded her a view of the intruders, she began to laugh softly, the sound growing louder and louder as they stepped forward.

Lillian's eyes went wide as she saw a blue-skinned Twi'lek Jedi approach, a man close behind her. A very familiar man. Corso was alive! The smuggler began struggling with her bonds with renewed vigor.

"Lillian!" Corso's voice carried clearly to her ears and he started to run forward. Intercepting him, Darth Umbral lifted her hand and pushed outward with the Force, lifting him into the air and sending him flying backward into what was left of the ice maze. He groaned as he hit the ground, shaking his head.

Dismissing him as no longer a threat, Umbral's sapphire gaze fixed on Isad'ia. She lifted her lightsaber, drawing the crimson blade back and angled forward as her right foot shifted behind her left, her free arm extending in front of her body parallel to the ground for balance and in an obvious challenge to the Twi'lek Jedi.

"Come, Jedi." Umbral's voice was full of contempt. "Step forward, and meet your destiny."

Isad'ia's answer was to draw her own lightsabers, thumbing on the brilliant yellow blades. She held them steady, one above the other in front of her body, their glow causing her blue skin to glow green beneath the light. As she took a step forward and to the side, Umbral moved her own body, keeping Isad'ia directly in front of her. All time seemed to stop as the two Force-users circled the cavern, each one waiting for the other to make the first move.

Taking advantage of Umbral's preoccupation, Corso stood and rushed to the back of the cavern. Reaching Lillian's side, he pulled the gag out of her mouth. He noticed the bruising over her face, and the broken nose. She had never looked more beautiful to him. His hand found the control panel on the back of the chair that was powering the energy binders, and he smacked it, shutting it off. Lillian immediately rose to her feet, reaching out and snatching Flashy and Torchy both from his belt, her hands curling around the blasters.

At that moment, Isad'ia made her move. Drawing on the Force, she leaped through the air, twisting her body into a spin, bringing her lightsabers down toward Darth Umbral, who lifted her crimson blade in a swift parry. The blades screeched against each other, crackling in the air.

The Twi'lek whirled away as Umbral struck, bringing her lightsaber around in a vicious blow that whipped the air next to Isad'ia's body. The yellow blades came forward, one high and one low, seeking to push past Umbral's defenses. The Sith lord blocked the high blade, shifting her body back to evade the low.

Umbral growled soft in her throat as Isad'ia's body became a blur, the Jedi Master utilizing the Force to give her a burst of unnatural speed, lifting herself into the air again and turning a somersault as she came down toward the Dark Lord, her blades angled downward, stabbing at the Sith's face. Umbral's free hand drew back as she pushed with the Force again, catching Isad'ia in her fall, slamming the Twi'lek back against the far wall, knocking the wind out of her body. Umbral made a leap of her own, driving her crimson blade toward Isad'ia's face in a vicious stroke.

Gasping for air, Isad'ia brought both her lightsabers in front of her, parrying Umbral's attack. The Sith Lord took full advantage of Isad'ia's defensive position, hammering a series of blows down on her, then jumping backwards as the Twi'lek's foot came forward, connecting with her chest and driving her back.

Isad'ia's yellow sabers lifted and she began to spin, driving the blades around and around, her lekku flying out behind her body as she closed with Umbral, who began to spin her own saber in front of her body to block each blow.

Corso and Lillian stared at the two Force-users, forgetting their surroundings as they watched the deadly duel. Neither of them had seen anything like the two women as the tableau unfolded in front of them, the humming lightsabers clashing over and over again as Isad'ia tried to work her way past Umbral's mastery of the defensive Soresu form. The Twi'lek's acrobatic movements were hampered by the close confines of the cavern, leaving her with few opportunities to take full advantage of her own mastery of the Ataru form of lightsaber combat.

Separating for a moment, Dark Lord of the Sith and Jedi Master began to circle each other once more. Isad'ia flipped her lightsabers hand over hand as she moved, her amethyst eyes never leaving her opponents face.

"Tell me your name, Jedi," Umbral said softly, her voice taking on a sinister edge, "So that I might let your fellows know that it was Darth Umbral who took your life."

"I am Jedi Master Isad'ia." The Twi'lek's voice was strong and clear, her breath coming easier. "And I will not be the one who falls this day." She rushed forward again, twirling her lightsabers around in a series of strikes intended to batter away at Umbral's defenses. The red blade came up again, but too slow to block each blow, only managing to bat aside one saber as the other caressed the armored breastplate she wore, scoring a line through it. Isad'ia smiled grimly at the sight, the smell of melted durasteel wafting through the air.

Taking a deep breath, the Jedi Master filled her senses with the Force, reaching out with it to become aware of Umbral's every movement. The Sith Lord seemed to be moving in slow motion, Isad'ia seeing every action before it happened. As she focused on Umbral, she could hear the Dark Lord's heartbeat fill her ears.

Striking out with her lightsabers, Isad'ia brought them down in a vicious sweeping circle, forcing Umbral to drop to her knees and bring her own blade up to stop the Twi'lek from cutting her in half. The yellow and red lightsabers crackled and hissed as the two Force-users held their positions, each pushing against the other with all of their might.

Suddenly, Isad'ia became aware of another heartbeat, this one more rapid and softer than Umbral's, yet intricately intertwined with the Sith's life force. As she realized what she was hearing, she frowned deeply, but continued to press down with her lightsabers, keeping Umbral pinned to the floor.

"Darth Umbral." Isad'ia's voice shook slightly with the effort she was exuding to keep her blades in contact with the other woman's. "I find myself in a quandary. You are too dangerous to be left alive, yet there is an innocence within you that I cannot destroy."

Umbral began to laugh. "Innocence? You are delusional, Jedi. I have never been an innocent."

Isad'ia shook her head from side to side. "Search your feelings, Sith. The Force will guide you." She closed down her lightsabers, keeping the hilts in her hands.

Intrigued, Umbral closed her eyes, though she kept her own blade at the ready. She allowed the Force to fill her, then her deep blue eyes snapped open in shock.

"No." The whispered denial fell from her lips even as she thumbed off her own lightsaber, the crimson blade disappearing with a hiss.

"Yes." The Jedi Master stood above her, her words soft, almost gentle. "You may not be innocent, but the child you carry is."

There came a soft choking sound from the back of the cavern. Lillian's eyes snapped from the dramatic scene in front of her toward the noise, where she found Malavai Quinn half-hidden behind a boulder, his blaster trained on the Twi'lek Jedi's back. Instinctively, she lifted her own weapon, squeezing the trigger before the man could pull his.

The blue laser burst lanced out, hitting Quinn in his chest just next to his right shoulder, burning it's way through his skin. The smell of burned flesh filled Lillian's nostrils as she watched him drop his blaster, his left hand coming up to cover the hole in his body that was pumping out his life's blood. He staggered slightly and leaned heavily against the stone.

Umbral stared at him, her face twisting in anger. Her gaze shifted toward the woman who had fired the shot. Isad'ia took a step back as an amazing transformation took place. Umbral's pale skin grew even paler. Her sapphire eyes flared with rage, then started to burn with a red light that began to glow brighter and brighter. She took a deep breath, and the Jedi Master, sensing what was coming, clapped her hands over her ears.

The Dark Lord of the Sith screamed. The sound was magnified a hundred fold through the Force, causing both Lillian and Corso to stumble and fall to the floor, their ears ringing from the deafening roar. The cavern began to shake, and icicles started to rain from the ceiling. Corso leapt to his feet, pulling Lillian up with him, yanking the blaster rifle off of his back as he began to run for the cavern entrance. He saw Quinn pick his weapon up off the ground with his good hand, and pushed Lillian behind a half-fallen ice wall in what remained of the maze. The Imperial man shot, chipping holes in the dense ice, and Corso returned fire, his own bolts narrowly missing as Quinn ducked back behind the boulder.

Lillian popped her head up over the wall, her hands full with Flashy and Torchy. She squeezed the triggers, scything fire back and forth through the cavern, hitting the ice that fell from above and sending sharp shards raining down on Umbral, Quinn, and Isad'ia. The Sith screamed again as the ice hit her face, causing a myriad of tiny cuts to open and blood to begin flowing like tears down her pale cheeks. A loud rumbling filled the air as cracks began to open in the ceiling above her.

The Twi'lek Jedi twisted and spun as she raced toward where Corso and Lillian hid behind the wall, just barely avoiding being impaled by a particularly large icicle that fell with a loud thud, shattering on the hard rocky floor.

"We have to get out of here," she shouted above the noise as she reached them. "This whole cave is going to collapse."

Corso nodded and pulled a grenade out from his belt. "Get down!" he yelled as he tossed it toward the remaining ice wall blocking their way out. All three covered their heads with their arms as it exploded, Corso pulling Lillian close to shield her body with his own. The rumbling sound grew louder as the already unstable rock walls absorbed the concussion blast. Lillian scrambled out from beneath Corso, grabbing his hand and running toward the exit.

Umbral launched her body toward Quinn, the blood on her face threatening to blind her as it dripped into her eyes. She grabbed his arm, looking up as a crack widened in the ceiling above her. His breathing was labored and shallow. When he spoke, she almost couldn't hear him for the sound of rocks falling all around them.

"Get... out." He gasped for air. "Just leave me and get out of here." She shook her head. Dark as her soul was, leaving him behind was the one thing Umbral could not do. Without him, she would be left an empty shell, a shade of what she once was. Her passion for him gave her strength and power, filled her with determination. She swiped her hand over her eyes, wiping the blood from her field of vision. She tightened her grip on him as she watched the ceiling part. When it was wide enough, she reached deep within herself and allowed the Force to fill her body. She leapt straight up into the air, pulling him with her, the power of her jump carrying them through the opening. They landed on the slick ice that coated the top of the cave, and went tumbling down the side, their bodies tangled together as they fell. A thick snowdrift broke their fall.

As Umbral and Quinn made their escape, Corso, Lillian, and Isad'ia dashed through the cave exit. They had barely cleared the rocky archway when the whole thing collapsed behind them, sending tremors through the ground that hurled them forward, throwing them through the frigid air like children's toys. A thick cloud of snow and ice flew up in the air behind them. Struggling to stand, Lillian lifted her body off the ground slowly. Every bone ached, even ones she didn't know she had. Despite the pain, a smile broke out across her face. She reached down and hauled Corso to his feet, and he immediately wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug.

Isad'ia stood up and walked over to stand beside them. She coughed softly, loathe to disturb their reunion, but anxious to get back to the orbital station where Doc could tend to their wounds. The couple reluctantly separated, and the three of them began the march back to the Republic base.
Sage - Sentinel - Commando - ScoundrelPowertech - Operative - Marauder - Sorcerer
Highjinks - Flashfire Ace - Saberwing
Cadera Legacy The Ebon Hawk

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silvershadows
02.29.2012 , 06:45 PM | #4
Epilogue

Darth Umbral stared out of the Nova Eclipse's viewport, watching the stars shimmer in the distance. The wounds on her face were almost gone, thanks to applications of kolto that accelerated the healing process. The sound of footsteps came behind her, but she did not turn. She felt hands touch her shoulders and fingers curling around them as Quinn pulled her back to nestle her body against his.

His shoulder was bandaged heavily, but he would eventually regain full use of his arm. He inhaled deeply, taking in her scent as he wrapped his arms around her midsection, a rare display of affection from the usually stoic Imperial captain.

"We need to find a place to hide for a while." Umbral's voice was soft. She hated the thought of crawling into a hole for months at a time, but also knew that her many enemies would be delighted to come after her if they knew of her condition.

"Yes." Quinn's affirmation was a whisper in her ear. She closed her eyes and leaned against him, letting his strength compliment her own.

"I will see that Jedi Master again," she said. "And only one of us will walk away from it."

He nodded, a motion felt rather than seen. "You will. After our child is born, when you have regained your strength."

Umbral reached out with the Force, stretching her senses through the vast darkness of space to touch the mind of the Twi'lek Jedi. "When the time comes, I will face my destiny."

*****

Doc frowned as he worked on tidying the Force Warden's medbay. He glanced over at Isad'ia, who stood in the doorway. "Are you serious?"

The Jedi Master nodded her head. "Of course I am." She laughed softly as his face screwed up in disgust.

"That's just... that's gross. I mean really, tiny pale Sith babies?" He pretended to gag.

"Where did you think little Sith come from?" Isad'ia's voice suddenly became serious. "The Dark Side is strong with that one. It twists and destroys everything it touches. If she isn't careful, she will give birth to a monster."

Doc's eyes came up and he sighed at the Twi'lek. "This isn't over, is it?" He threw some wadded up bandages into the garbage bin.

"For now it is." She lowered herself onto the examination table, dangling her legs over the side. "But I don't think we've heard the last of Darth Umbral. Not by a long shot."

"Of course not." He turned his back to her, then spoke over his shoulder. "Next time though, I'm going with you. You can't keep having all the fun without me."

"Doc..." Isad'ia frowned at him.

"Sithspit, Isad'ia, you almost got yourself killed. What if you hadn't made it out of the cave before it collapsed?"

"But I did." She reached out as he turned, her hand grasping his and pulling him closer. "The Force was with me." She flashed him a brilliant smile. His face remained stern for a moment, then he grinned at her with a mischievous light in his eyes.

"Well next time, you'll have Doc with you, too."

She accepted her defeat, and nodded at him. As he reached out and enfolded her in his arms, hugging her tightly, Isad'ia felt Darth Umbral's presence touch her mind. The Dark Lord of the Sith was still out there, and one way or another, Isad'ia knew that they would meet again.

*****

Lillian found Corso standing on the bridge of the Silver Shadow, his back to her as he watched the world of Dantooine lazily spin beneath them. When she had told him about Umbral's destruction of their home, she was surprised at how well he had taken it. She had expected him to be angry, upset, but instead he had just shrugged. She reached out and tugged gently at one of the twists of hair that fell down his back. He turned to look at her, gazing down into her face as if trying to etch it into his mind.

"We'll buy another house," she said quietly. "One with even more land for you to enjoy, and a whole bunch of ronto. Maybe some banthas, too. A couple nerfs for you to herd." He shook his head, and she arched an eyebrow at him, surprised.

"Do you remember," he began, "what I said to you two years ago? When I told you how I felt about you?" She just stared at him, waiting for him to continue. "I told you that if I had a choice between the rest of the galaxy and being here with you, that I would pick here, on the Shadow, for the rest of my life, so long as we were together. I meant it."

"But you loved that house." She bowed her head slightly. "You wanted it so much."

"I love you more." He reached out and cupped her chin in his hand, lifting her face so he could look into her silver eyes. "I thought I had lost you for good. You have no idea how much that hurt me."

She thought of how she had felt when she thought he had been killed in the explosion that had erased their home from the face of Dantooine. "I do know. I... I'm sorry that I left. I never should have done that. I made a terrible mistake." She gestured around at the interior of the Silver Shadow. "I just thought that if I got out here one more time that it would be enough, that I could come back home to you and we could live our lives."

"But it's not enough." Corso placed a hand on her waist, pulling her body against his as his right hand stroked her cheek. The bruises on her face were faded almost completely, and her nose was exactly as it used to be, thanks to Doc's medical skills. "Listen," he said, "Let's just live here, on the Shadow. We can go back to work for the Republic. There's still a war going on out there, and they could use us."

Lillian stared at him. Would he never cease to surprise her? "I thought you wanted a family."

"We are a family. You and me." He shrugged his shoulders slightly. "If children come, we'll deal with it when it happens. Until then, this is plenty. You're enough for me, Lilly."

She leaned against him, lifting her arms to wrap them around his neck as he tightened his grip around her. Her voice was soft. "When I fire a blaster, is it still a thunderclap you feel in your heart?"

Corso favored her with a grin and a sparkle in his deep brown gaze that filled her soul with happiness. He lowered his head, brushing his lips softly against hers as he whispered, "Never stop shooting."
Sage - Sentinel - Commando - ScoundrelPowertech - Operative - Marauder - Sorcerer
Highjinks - Flashfire Ace - Saberwing
Cadera Legacy The Ebon Hawk

Check out my series of Mandalorian novels HERE.

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PerfectlyPeachy
02.29.2012 , 09:11 PM | #6
Way awesome!
~46 Operative, Shien Server

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cocopants
02.29.2012 , 09:49 PM | #7
nnngh. I MUST HAVE MORE.

more Quinnn.

MORE QUINN

fflkdjdslfj
Time to go a-killing!

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silvershadows
02.29.2012 , 10:05 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by cocopants View Post
nnngh. I MUST HAVE MORE.

more Quinnn.

MORE QUINN

fflkdjdslfj
He'll be around for the sequel
Sage - Sentinel - Commando - ScoundrelPowertech - Operative - Marauder - Sorcerer
Highjinks - Flashfire Ace - Saberwing
Cadera Legacy The Ebon Hawk

Check out my series of Mandalorian novels HERE.

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cocopants
02.29.2012 , 11:49 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by silvershadows View Post
He'll be around for the sequel
HE BETTER.

I'M WATCHING YOU.
Time to go a-killing!

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silvershadows
03.01.2012 , 03:24 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by cocopants View Post
HE BETTER.

I'M WATCHING YOU.
don't worry, the only reason nobody dies in this story is so i can write sequels, and quinn will feature pretty heavily in any story with Darth Umbral in it. I'll probably be writing a few just about her, and probably her and the rivalry with Jedi Master Isad'ia.
Sage - Sentinel - Commando - ScoundrelPowertech - Operative - Marauder - Sorcerer
Highjinks - Flashfire Ace - Saberwing
Cadera Legacy The Ebon Hawk

Check out my series of Mandalorian novels HERE.