|Not Every Happy Ending Is
Author: RngrThorne PM
The continuing story of Jedi Daria Morgendorffer. Daria, Jane and Jodie must stop Quinn, now known as Darth Frost, and her Sith Master.Rated: Fiction T - English - Words: 13,880 - Published: 01-02-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7702154
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
NOT EVERY HAPPY ENDING IS: A Star Wars/Daria crossover fanfic
by: Ranger Thorne
The house was situated high on a hill overlooking the ocean. It was of modest size, with a pale tan exterior and little landscaping. A few trees moved in the wind as Daria neared the door. The walk in the heat of Naboo's midday sun would have made wearing a black robe uncomfortable to anyone but a Jedi.
Reaching the door, she looked for a bell, or a knocker, or any way to let the occupant know she was there. "I guess I'll just have to knock," she muttered as she raised her hand.
Just as her hand started to descend, the door opened, causing her to rap once on the chest of a golden protocol droid. "Oh," came the somewhat prissy voice.
"Uh," Daria lowered her hand, "sorry about that."
"That's quite all right," came the reply. "I'm afraid that's not the first time it's happened. Please come in. The master is expecting you."
"He is?" Daria raised an eyebrow, "I didn't tell anyone I was coming."
"Well," the droid managed to look uncomfortable, "I'm not an expert on such things, but there is an advantage to being a Jedi Master."
"Hmm, good point."
"Anyway, he's on the patio. I was told to take you to him. Please," the droid gestured with one of his arms, "come this way."
As they walked, Daria noticed how, despite the furnishings, the house seemed to lack any personal mementoes or decorations. In fact, the only decoration on the wall was a painting of the beach. Not much on material things, eh? Sounds like a Jedi Master. Someone probably gave him the painting or he'd not even have that.
The droid led Daria out onto a covered patio that offered an excellent view of the ocean. She paused for a moment to take in the view and the hint of salt in the air. Then, she saw the reason she had traveled to the planet.
"Master Luke," the droid said, "may I present . . ." he paused, then looked at her. "Oh, dear. I don't believe I caught your name."
Smirking, she said, "Daria Morgendorffer. And yours?"
"Uh," he was thrown off guard. "I am C-3PO, human-cyborg relations."
A chuckle escaped the man leaning on the waist-high fence. "Thanks, 3PO. I know who Jedi Morgendorffer is." He turned from the ocean to look at her. "Although I haven't seen you in a while."
"Uh," Daria furrowed her brow, "have we met before?"
"No, but I was at your Padawan's Feast."
"Ah." Daria looked him over. He wasn't tall, in fact he was shorter than average, and his thin frame made him seem smaller. His hair was still thick, but a dull gray. Luke's eyes were a pale blue, but despite being surrounded by wrinkles, twinkled with delight. He was dressed in a loose-fitting white tunic with tan slacks. His feet were bare. This is Jedi Master Luke Skywalker? The one who defeated the Emperor? Daria felt a sliver of disappointment settle in her stomach.
Luke watched as only the slightest of emotions played in her eyes. Finally, he smirked and said, "Sorry to disappoint you."
"For some reason," he turned and, with the help of a wooden cane, moved toward a chair, "everyone thinks that I should be ten feet tall and have eyes that are glowing with the power of the Force. Well," he gestured toward himself, "as you can see I'm not that impressive."
"Good," Daria replied. Seeing he was now surprised, she explained, "If you were as impressive as all that, it would be hard to talk to you without feeling inadequate."
"I'll have to remember to tell people that," he said with a nod. "Oh, 3-PO," he said to the droid, "could you bring us some tea?"
"Of course, Master Luke." With a small bow, the droid turned and left.
"He's been a dear friend for over a century," Luke told her, "but he's not the best with a confidence. And," Luke sat as he motioned to the chair across from him, "I feel that what you want to talk about would be best served being kept between us."
"Uh, yeah." Daria sat as she looked out at the ocean. "I thought you grew up on Tatooine?"
"I did," he nodded.
"Then why . . ." she waved toward the ocean.
"Why the ocean? Well, I didn't have them growing up. So, when I found out that I had houses on Naboo . . . and one of them had an ocean view . . . I knew where I wanted to retire to." Luke stared out at the water. "It's amazing, really. It can be so calm on the surface, all the while life is moving below. But," he seemed to shake himself out of a trance, "you came to ask me something."
"Yeah." Daria bit her lip. Finally, she took a deep breath and asked, "How did you save your father?"
"My father?" Luke's eyes widened. Then, a tender look crossed his features for a moment. "My father. You're wanting to know how I saved him from the Dark side?"
"Uh, yes. You see," Daria shrugged as she looked at the floor, "my sister has been turned."
"So your sister is Darth Frost?"
"You've heard of her."
"Everyone has heard of her, Daria. She made quite a name for herself on Corimoon. Too bad about the school." Frowning, Luke added, "I never thought droid pilots were a good idea."
"No one but the politicians did," Daria commented. "But I'm more worried about Quinn than those fighters."
"I can see why you'd come to me," Luke said with a nod. "I just wish I had something a little more helpful to tell you. You see," he shrugged, "I didn't save my father. He saved me. It was just that by doing so he had to turn from the Dark Side."
"I can tell you something I've learned, however." Holding up three fingers, he said, "There are three ways someone can be turned to the Dark Side, seduction, deception, and coercion. Seduction," he lowered all but the first finger, "is by tempting them with something they don't have, but want. Like the power to have a certain mate." He added the second finger, "Deception is a lie or series of lies. An example would be to convince someone that the Jedi were out to kill them, and they have to turn to the Dark Side to be able to defend themselves."
"Here we are," C-3PO brought in a tray with a teapot and two cups. "I took the liberty of bringing some of those cookies you like, Master Luke," the droid gestured to a small plate.
"Thank you, old friend," Luke smiled at him. "I'll serve the tea. You go see if R2 is behaving himself."
"Knowing R2," the droid said as he turned for the door, "he's found some sort of trouble to stir up."
Luke started to lean forward, only to find that Daria was already pouring the tea. "Now, now," he protested, "I'm the host."
"And a Jedi Master and the person who was giving me information on the Dark Side. You talk," she held out a cup, "I'll pour."
Luck chuckled, "Very well. And help yourself to the cookies." Settling back into his seat, Luke took a quick sip of the tea and nodded, "3-PO took great care in his choice of culinary programs."
"It is good," Daria told him after sampling it for herself.
"Where was I? Oh, yes," he paused for another sip before continuing. "Coercion. A person who is unable to defend themselves is forced to submit to a Sith Lord. This is the least assured method, as the victim may, if given the chance, turn on the master. As my wife was proof of. But," he frowned, "that's not guaranteed. Not everyone wants to be saved. Remember also, these methods may be used in combination." He leaned forward and took a cookie from the bowl. As he looked at it, he said, "If your sister was a trained Jedi, she was probably seduced."
"No, she never took the training. In fact," Daria frowned, "she refused to even be tested."
"Had she shown any changes in her personality?" he asked, no longer interested in the cookie. "Before she refused to be tested, I mean."
"She did have a major fight with her friends a few days before," Daria recalled.
"Hmm," he looked away for a moment, "it's possible that she had already been recruited."
"On Danathrees?" Daria frowned. "That would mean that someone there was a Sith Lord. But, I didn't see anyone who would look like one."
"They may not have been in public. Someone strong enough with the Force would be capable of keeping themselves hidden for some time." Luke bit into the cookie as he watched Daria think. A few moments later, he added, "Are you sure this guy didn't try to recruit you at some point?"
Daria's eyes widened as a memory suddenly surfaced.
"What?" She blinked into the darkness. "Who's there?"
Come to me. Obey me.
"Would you hold it down," came a voice. "I need my 12 hours, here."
You will obey.
"Would the two of you keep it quiet," a third voice ordered.
"Jodie," Daria took her glasses off of the small table next to the bed, "how many voices are you hearing?"
You will come to me.
"Who is that?" Jane sat up and looked around.
"Don't know," Jodie said from the top bunk across the room from Daria and Jane. Looking down at her, Jodie asked, "You hearing it, too?"
"Yeah." They listened for a few seconds. "I think it's gone," she amended.
"That," Jane slid her feet over the side, "was weird."
"Like nothing else has been this week," Daria commented as she frowned at Jane's feet.
The person in the other bunk sat up. "Are we having a meeting?" The girl was slightly heavy, with dark hair that was normally combed in a messier version of Jane's. She was without makeup, but still managed to look dark. "Cause if we are I vote we sacrifice someone tomorrow at midnight."
"No meeting," Jane said, cheerfully, "we're just hearing voices."
"Yeah," Jodie rolled over to look down at her, "go on back to sleep, Andrea."
"Sure." A few seconds later, she was out cold.
"Okay," Jane said, watching, "I'm jealous."
"Hmm," Daria grumbled as she put her glasses back on the table.
"Needless to say we didn't sleep much that night," Daria told him.
"The forth girl wasn't Force sensitive, was she?" Luke asked.
Shaking her head, Daria replied, "No. Last I heard she owned her own bar somewhere. But it's odd that we never heard from the voice again."
"It found what it needed." Luke scowled, "I'd wager your sister heard it, too. And no one kept her from responding."
Daria glanced at the black ring on her right hand. "I should have done something. I shouldn't have left her there."
"Daria, you couldn't have forced your sister to do anything. And I don't think they would have welcomed her on Yavin under those circumstances." Luke set his cup down and leaned forward. "Besides, that is in the past. Your responsibilities are to the now. You've set yourself this goal, and I think it's noble. After all, no one believed there was good in my father until I proved it." He smirked and shrugged, "Of course, I did by nearly getting myself killed, but that's beside the point."
She nodded then drained her cup. "Good tea," she repeated. "You know, you've been helpful. I think I need to investigate where Quinn met her master." Setting the cup down, she stood. Bowing slightly, she said, "Thank you for your time, Master Skywalker."
"It was my pleasure, Jedi Morgendorffer," he responded. "Please feel free to come visit me again. It was nice to talk to you, despite the topic. Maybe you can come with Jane the next time she's in."
"Jane?" Daria was confused. "You've met Jane? Wait," she looked through the door she had come through, "she did that painting."
"You didn't know?" Luke grinned, "Jane has been here a few times. Her master brought her when he would visit his family. And, since he is my great-great-great nephew, he comes by on occasion."
"You're related to Master Naberrie?"
"My mother was Padmé Naberrie. Her marriage to my father was a secret, so no one knew who my mother was until we found the archives."
"How did that help?"
"The Emperor had the archives moved so he alone would have access to its knowledge. He also had his personal journal stored there." Luke shook his head, "He was evil, but meticulous. Palpatine knew my parents had gotten married, and he used it to push my father to the Dark Side. But, if he hadn't put it in his journals, I'd never have found out that I have Nabooian blood. And," he gestured, "I'd never have known that I was the heir to this piece of land."
"One strike for the Emperor," Daria said in a deadpan, "several million against."
"If you had ever met him you'd say 'billion,'" Luke smirked. "Anyway, back to Jane, lately she's been coming in with Master Naberrie's brother every now and then."
Daria felt her brain come to a stop. Finally, she managed to say, "Jane Lane is dating Senator Adama Naberrie? And she didn't tell me?"
"She actually seemed rather embarrassed about it. But they are a very nice couple." His smirk turned back into a grin, "I wouldn't be surprised to see them marry in a few years."
"If I don't kill her," Daria scowled. Jane, you are in so much trouble.
"Oh, no," Jane put her hand to her forehead.
Jodie turned from the map in front of them to look at her, "You okay?"
"Daria knows about Adama."
"I told you keeping it a secret was hazardous to your health." Jodie grinned, "Now pay the price you will."
"Okay, 'Yenchi' Landon, I get the picture." Jane sighed, "I just didn't want Daria to feel left out. I mean, you're still seeing Mack, and I'm seeing Adama. All Daria has is a sister who wants to kill her."
"Hey, she's got us," Jodie told her.
"Daria's cute, Jodie, but I'm not going to kiss her," Jane replied with a smirk.
"Hmm, good point."
"Turfan," Jane groaned, "why did it have to be Turfan?" She looked depressed as she headed down the sidewalk.
"What have you got against this place?" Jodie asked her as she stepped aside to let a droid pass.
"They have one color, here," Jane complained. "Look." Jodie had to agree. The dirt was gray, the buildings were gray, even the sky had a gray cast to it. "Shades of gray everywhere. And the people here think it's normal."
"Jane, they see in the ultraviolet. To them it's not monochromatic."
"It is to me," came the reply.
"Well, it beats looking at that blasted speeder bike you keep dragging around."
"Hey, I'm almost finished with it," Jane protested. "Give me a few weeks and it'll be as good as new."
"Yeah, sure it will." Jodie rolled her eyes.
"It was in better shape when I got it than Daria's ship was," Jane pointed out.
"But Daria knows how to work on a ship."
"And I've learned how to fix a speeder."
"Well, I just hope you went back and fixed the stuff you worked on before you learned." Before Jane could reply, she pointed to a sign over a door, "Daria said to meet her in here." She smirked, "Maybe they have a green or something for you to look at."
The interior was the same mix of grays as the outside. The only color was, indeed, green. In fact, it was the green of Daria's tabard in a far corner.
"Nice way to blend in," Jodie commented as they joined her.
"Hey, I'm just glad she's wearing something other than gray," Jane said as she looked at Daria. "Good to see you."
"I'm sure." Daria glanced once at Jodie, who winked at her, then back to Jane. "You know I should kick your skinny white tukus all the way to Coruscant, right?"
"Uh," Jane looked nervous, "yeah. Look, I just didn't want you to feel left out, okay?"
"You were afraid I'd tease you about it, Jane." Daria let a slight smirk escape, "Now you're going to have to put up with worse until I get caught up."
"I'm a dead woman," Jane put her head on the table.
Jodie shook her head, then became serious. "So, what's the plan?
"I think I need to pay a visit to our old stomping grounds on Danathrees," Daria told her. "Jane may have had a point about Quinn starting her training before we started ours, and I want to see if it was before we even left the planet."
"You sure that's a good idea?" Jodie frowned, "I mean, you'd be flying into the mouth of a dragon."
"Are you referring to the enemy fleet or the fact that Danathrees is stuck between two black holes?" Daria asked.
"Take your pick," came the answer.
"It'd make that rancor we met look like a church mouse," Jane added.
"It's something I have to do." She shrugged, then looked at the table. "I just wanted you to know."
"Daria," Jodie leaned forward, "Quinn's master is a Sith Lord."
"And," Jane put in, "the head of a fleet of stolen ships."
"Many of whom will probably be there."
"Would you two stop doing that?" Daria complained. "You're giving me whiplash." She sighed, then looked at the table again. "I can't explain it, and I can't ask you to go. Besides," she looked up at them, "someone has to tell the Council and the Senate where the fleet might be."
"Well," Jane nodded toward Jodie, "she's a better diplomat, so she could explain it to them better than I can."
"I'm not the one dating a Senator," Jodie argued.
"Look, Jodie," Jane scowled, "I have to go with Daria. And, as much as I'd love to gang up on these goobers, if we take three people, they'd probably just off us before we land."
"Only if they know there's three," Jodie argued.
"Hold it!" Daria looked from one to the other. "What makes you think that either of you is going? This trip is for Quinn."
"No," Jane shook her head, "this trip is to stop Frost and her master. You know we have to stop them if we can."
"I just want to save my sister," Daria insisted. "Stopping her mysterious master is merely a bonus."
"Daria," Jodie frowned, "shouldn't we wait for help? I mean, there's going to be a fleet there."
Daria shook her head, "No. We can't wait. Ever since I left Master Skywalker's home I've felt that our time was running out." Her face took on a determined expression, "The Gamble leaves for Danathrees in an hour."
"I'll need to move my bike," Jane muttered to herself.
"Then we need a plan," Jodie stated. "Any brilliant schemes running through your devious minds?" When she received two blank looks, she sighed, "I guess it's a good thing a little deviousness has rubbed off."
Jane smirked, "Oh, it has?"
Raising an eyebrow, Daria said, "You mean I've been a bad influence? My Aunt Amy would be so proud."
"Danathrees Control, this is the freighter Cynic's Gamble requesting landing clearance."
"Cynic's Gamble," came the response a few seconds later, "we have you on our grid. You are cleared for docking. Maintain current heading."
"Affirmative, Danathrees Control. Maintaining course and speed." Daria flipped the comm. off and leaned back.
"You okay? You've been kinda quiet this whole trip," Jane noted from the copilot's seat.
"Just thinking about Jodie's expression when we left," came the reply. "She's worried."
"So am I," Jane admitted. "But you were right, there's a deadline coming, and we have to beat it." After watching Daria chew her lip for a while, she said, "You up to this, amiga?"
"What do you mean?"
"Facing Quinn. She's at least as dangerous as she was, and probably more so. It seems that whatever humanity she might have had got lost in that armor." Jane paused for a second before plunging in, "What if you can't turn her away from the Dark Side?"
Daria looked out at the slowly growing planet, "I can't think about that, Jane. I let her down enough."
"But you might have to face it," Jane told her. "Not everyone wants to be saved."
Nodding, Daria said, "Master Skywalker said the same thing." She looked at her friend of so many years. "Jane, I promise, if I can't turn my sister from the Dark Side, I will stop her any way I have to. But I've got to try to save her first."
"I know." Jane watched as Daria faced forward again, then turned to look out at the expanding globe ahead of them as well.
"Well," Jane looked out from the bridge at the large group of armed men and women who had surrounded the ship, "we got a reception committee."
"I just hope I don't have to give a speech," Daria replied.
The ship was indeed surrounded. It appeared to the two Jedi that at least one or two hundred people had weapons trained on the Gamble. The docking bay they had landed in had closed behind them before the landing gear had touched down, allowing the soldiers to come into the area before the two could disembark.
"How do you want to handle it?" Jane asked.
"They didn't blow us out of space, so I think our mysterious Sith Lord has something planned." Daria stood and left the bridge. "Come on, let's go for a walk."
A few minutes later, the landing ramp lowered, and two robed figures calmly walked out of the ship. The Jedi Knights acted as though the gathered personnel were there as an honor guard rather than people holding blasters on them.
"Here she comes," Jane whispered from beneath her hood, waving a hand toward a distant figure.
"Good," Daria replied. Her hood was also pulled up to cover her head.
The figure was black, and taller than Quinn had been in the past. She was almost two meters tall, with a helmet that resembled swept-back hair covered with a dark gray hair net. Her face was covered by a mask, the lower part of which emitted the sound of an artificial breathing machine. Her eyes were hidden behind gray lenses. A long black cloak billowed slightly as she walked, revealing black boots that reached a quarter of the way from her knees to her hips. The figure was feminine, with controls on her belt for, they guessed, the breathing apparatus. A loincloth went from her belt down to the same height at the top of the boots. On her left hip was a lightsabre.
"Her lightsaber looks the same," Daria noted quietly, "but is the one-bladed type."
"I guess she decided to simplify things," Jane replied. A grunt was the only answer.
"You have come as my Master said you would," the figure said without preamble. The voice was low and husky. "Welcome back to Danathrees." She turned slightly to an officer who had walked beside her. "Take their Jedi weapons."
"Yes, Lady Frost." The man stepped forward, but stopped as Daria and Jane both reached for them.
"Your house," Jane said as she took the lightsaber from her belt, "your rules." With a nod, Daria followed suit.
"It's good to see you again, Quinn," Daria told her.
"You are mistaken," Frost/Quinn replied. "My name is Frost. But do not worry, soon all your illusions will be stripped away." Without another word, she whirled around and strode away. After a glance at each other and a mutual shrug, the Jedi fell into step behind her. The troopers watched as a cloak and two robes caught the breeze from the passing of their wearers.
"Is this a holding cell?" Jane asked Daria as the door closed behind them.
"Doesn't look like one," Daria observed.
"Yeah, it looks more like a throne room." The Jedi looked around at the room they had been left in. Elegant wall sconces with flickering lights lined the lavender walls. The ceiling was high and black while the carpet was a lush purple. Several doors led off of the room, including the one behind them. At the far end was a dias with a black object sitting upon it.
"You know," Daria said, looking at the object, "that looks familiar."
"Hmm." Jane tapped her chin. "You know," she looked at Daria, "it reminds me of that vid we saw of the Emperor. He use to sit in a chair like that."
Daria crossed her arms through the sleeves of her robe and smirked. "You're right. And they said you watch too much television."
"You think anyone's sitting in it?"
A new voice interrupted, "It seems you have not changed."
"Meaning?" Daria asked.
"Meaning," the chair turned, "you still prattle on about nonsense while things of import escape you." The figure was in a black robe, with the hood pulled up to cover his face.
"We figured out there was someone in your chair," Jane pointed out, crossing her arms through her sleeves as well.
"And we know who you are," Daria added.
"We do?" Jane asked.
"Director Tyran," Daria smirked. "Or do you use 'Darth?'"
There was silence for a moment before the figure pulled the hood back. "Very good, Jedi."
"How do you do that?" Jane asked.
"Simple," Daria told her. "He was in charge when we arrived. It was him who oversaw our evaluations. He was very upset when someone contacted the Jedi. And," she looked at Tyran and smirked, "you seemed to spend as little time as possible around Jane."
"And that told you he was a Sith?" Jane was confused. "If that was the case, amiga, most of Lawndale High were Sith."
"He avoided you because of your sketches," Daria explained as she moved to the foot of the dias. "'Darthy' here couldn't afford to let you do a sketch of him or your connection with the Force might reveal the real him."
Tyran scowled down at her, "Your insight may have identified me, but it will not save you." He looked past them, "Frost, come here."
The door they had entered slid open, revealing the armored figure. Ignoring her sister and Jane, she walked to her master and knelt. "What is thy bidding, my Master?"
"You have their lightsabers as I instructed?"
"Yes, my Master." She stood and placed the weapons in his hands. For a moment, the only sound was her breathing.
"Jedi weapons," he held one in each hand. "A symbol of your authority. Before her death, Quinn use to tell me about how they use badges back on Earth. These," Tyran held the sabers up as Daria and Jane glanced at each other, "are like your badges." He placed both in one hand and held them out. "Now, my apprentice . . . destroy them."
Frost drew her lightsaber and, activating the blade, slashed the two in half. The cut was two centimeters above Tyran's hand. The lightsaber was back on her belt before the two severed halves hit the ground.
"That should tell you what I think of your authority," Tyran said, walking past Frost to stand in front of the Jedi. "Now, what fun should we have before your end?"
"We could watch Sick, Sad World," Jane suggested, calm.
"I'm sure I can find a book to read," Daria added with her usual amount of emotion. "In fact, I have a few on my ship."
"I think," Tyran licked his lips as he walked behind Daria, "I will turn you over to my apprentice. She has a score to settle with you."
"Actually," Daria corrected, "it's you she has a score to settle with. You see, although we didn't get along, I never hated my sister."
"Your sister is dead," Frost told her. "You killed her yourself."
"No," Daria locked her eyes upon where she knew her sister's eye would be behind the mask. "I sense that he has hidden your true self away, but you are Quinn Morgendorffer."
"Quinn Morgendorffer was my friend." Frost stepped forward and raised a fist. "She was my best friend until you killed her! And I will have revenge!"
"Enough," Tyran's single word caused Frost to lower her fist and step back.
"Revenge?" Daria didn't back down or acknowledge Tyran's word. "Revenge proves its own executioner. It was your actions that condemned you to that armor, Quinn. Yours and his."
"I am not Quinn."
"As you see," Tyran whispered into Daria's ear, "she isn't going to be fooled by you."
Daria turned and met his gaze. As they stared at each other, Jane smirked. As she expected, Tyran looked away almost a minute later, looking somewhat surprised.
"Daria never loses that game," she informed the Sith.
"The time for games is over," he snapped. "Frost, strike them down." He pointed at Jane, "Start with her."
Daria stepped between her friend and her sister, but did not remove her hands from the sleeves of her robe. "Don't do this, Quinn."
"My Master has ordered her to die," Frost said as she drew her lightsaber. "Do not worry, I will kill you after I have finished with your friend. Moronic, isn't it? I will kill your friend the way you killed mine."
"Excuse me? What friend did I kill, exactly?"
"You should remember," Frost's voice became as cold as her name. "After all, Quinn was your sister."
"You are Quinn," Daria insisted.
"Liar!" Frost brought her lightsaber up and swung as she ignited it.
Daria backed out of reach, but did not move from in front of Jane. "Take care of Tyran," she instructed. "I'll," she paused, "take care of Quinn."
"Not very likely without your weapons," Tyran taunted.
"Speaking of which," Jane said, pulling her hands from her sleeves. There was a familiar snap-hiss as the lightsaber she had been hiding in her right sleeve came to life.
"What?" Tyran looked at the severed sabers he still held in his hands. Turning them over, he watched as parts fell out onto the carpet.
"Careful," Daria pulled her hands from her sleeves, revealing a lightsaber in her left hand, "you might stain the carpet."
As Tyran's face turned the color of the walls, the Jedi slipped out of their robes. "You," he struggled for words. "Er!"
Glaring at Daria, he finally managed to bark, "Frost, kill her! And as for you," he growled at Jane, "I will see you die personally." A black lightsaber appeared in his hand. "And you will die."
An alarm began to sound, causing Frost and Tyran to step away from the Jedi. Moving to his chair, Tyran pressed a button. "What is going on, General?"
"An intruder has been detected leaving the landing dome."
Tyan's face seemed to get even more purple, then the color started to fade. When he spoke, his voice was calm. "I see." He glared at the Jedi Knights, "Could it be that you brought Miss Landon with you? Clever. You two distract us while she goes about bringing destruction from within." Turning back to the intercom, he said, "Find the Jedi and kill her."
Tyran smiled at Daria and Jane. "I've worked here for thirty years. Soon, the Republic will learn what I have done with the planet. You, however," he activated his lightsaber, causing a crimson blade to spring forth, "will not live to see the fall of your vaunted Republic."
The alarms did more to annoy Jodie than worry her. She had been seen just as she had snuck out of the landing bay where the Cynic's Gamble had been sitting. Now, the entire station was looking for her. Spread them out and they're easier to deal with, she thought to herself. I just have to avoid being —"
"Halt!" Jodie spun and brought up her lightsaber in time to deflect the incoming shots from five soldiers in brown. It was over in a few seconds.
"Blasters," she grumbled, "How uncivilized." As she started to walk away, however, she noticed something. Each of them had a small device hanging from their belts. Scooping one up, she looked at it. It strongly resembled a p.d.a. from Earth, with some rudimentary controls set on one end. The other end was a circular holographic projector. After learning the controls, Jodie turned it on.
A small model of the planet appeared above the projector. Experimenting, she found that she could press one button and have her location enlarged. Then, she could use it to find her destination. It wasn't until she took a closer look at where she was, however, that she learned the final mystery of Danathrees.
"By the Force, he's hollowed out the entire planet and made it a space station!"
Jane blocked one attack, dodged another, then ducked beneath a third. All the while backing away to get them out of the throne room so Tyran wouldn't be able to influence Daria's conversation with Quinn. Or Frost, or whoever the hell she is this week, Jane thought.
"Running will not save you," Tyran told her. "You are destined to die this day."
"Only if you bore me to death," Jane retorted. "And even if I do fall, your plan has failed. We told the Republic you're here and they will put a stop to your scheme. On top of that, your apprentice will be freed by her sister. Frost will be gone and Quinn will return."
He laughed, "My plan is greater than you can imagine, child. But I will not waste breath trying to explain it to you. I would rather spend my time carving you to pieces." He closed quickly, causing Jane to concentrate on her defense.
"Quinn, you've got to try to remember," Daria said as she stepped back again. They had worked their way into an access corridor that led down into the station. Much deeper than the domes go, Daria noted. "You're my sister, not her friend. You are Quinn Morgendorffer!"
"You lie." Frost kept coming. "I have waited for this chance since I awoke. She was my best friend since we were little. I remember how you were jealous of our friendship. You would torture her for the pleasure of it." Daria backed into a door and opened it so they could go through. "It seemed the only place she found peace was when you were away. She was so happy when you left to go to the Jedi Academy, because you wouldn't be coming back."
"Those are lies," Daria told her. "Search your feelings and you will see that."
"I see nothing except someone I hate." Frost lunged forward, thrusting with the tip of her saber. Daria parried it, but failed to dodge the large figure as she was run into.
With an "Oof" the smaller woman bounced from her sister to the wall. Only a quick roll to the side kept her from being bisected by the blue-white blade of a lightsaber.
Note to self, Daria thought as she got to her feet, don't let that happen again.
Jodie looked at the details of a hollowed-out globe. Beneath the crust was nothing more than a giant construct. Even the magma and dense core that once provided the magnetic field had been somehow removed. Now, the only remnants of the planet Danathrees was the crust. A series of super-fast lifts moved people and equipment from one point to another. And, near the series of massive engines, were the reactors. Five massive fusion reactors powered the world-turned-starship. Using the zoom controls, she pulled up more information.
"They're almost done with the hyperdrive," she noted. "They'd be able to take this whole planet anywhere they want," Jodie said as a chill went down her spine. "That must be the time limit we sensed." Jodie lowered the projector as she sighed. Then, she lifted it again as she said, "And that's what I'm here to prevent." Manipulating the controls, the Jedi scowled, "How do I find those little buggers?"
The amount of smoke made it impossible to see where Quinn had gone. Daria knew the smoke wasn't dangerous, just almost opaque. Except for the light of her saber, it was pitch black. Shutting off the weapon, Daria trusted her senses and the Force to keep her from walking off of a ledge or stepping on something dangerous. "Here Quinny-Quinny-Quinny," Daria muttered. The silence was broken by an odd rumble that was felt more than heard.
She found the door ahead of her by almost walking into it. That she was holding a hand out in front of her was the only thing that kept her nose from finding it first. Igniting her saber for light, she found the controls and opened the door.
"This," she muttered when she looked at what was on the other side, "is unexpected."
Tyran tried to take off Jane's head, only to have her deflect his blade away, then come after him with her own. Both were being careful, as they were on a catwalk a few hundred feet above a massive boiling caldron of garbage. Sporadic streams of waste or solid objects passed them, adding to the morass below. Jane's only comment had been about the smell, but they were currently too busy keeping their balance and trying to kill each other to speak.
Jane's smaller size made the balancing easier, but Tyran's large size and greater physical strength had nearly knocked her bodily off of the catwalk more than once. That and the smell was enough to make her sick at her stomach.
He swung at her feet, causing her to leap into the air. When she reached the level of his chest, she kicked out, pushing him one way while she leaped the other. Regaining his balance, Tyran quickly closed the distance.
Well, we're halfway to getting away from this smell, Jane thought as she brought up her lightsaber once more.
The crowd of armed men waited as the lift came to a stop on the other side of the door. Several tensed as they waited for the doors to open. As they did, a massive barrage of blaster fire blew the walls, floors and ceiling of the car apart. Finally, they stopped firing and a single figure moved forward. They looked inside, but couldn't enter because the floor had been gouged out enough to be unsafe. Finally, they turned to the group.
"No one in there," they reported.
"They must have found another way down," a young man from the crowd said.
"I heard they were a Jedi," another man said. "They, they can do anything."
"Stop panicking," the man at the door said. "The Jedi can die just like anyone else." Suddenly, he was flying toward the group.
"That's why we try avoid being shot," Jodie told him as she charged the group.
Before they could think to start shooting, the soldiers found their target in their midst. A few tried shooting, with most hitting someone else who was in the way. Their numbers diminished quickly as Jodie's lightsaber made its deadly way through them. The last few had shots clear of their fellows, but found their blaster bolts sent either into the walls or back at them.
"No wonder they went down so easy," Jodie noted, "not an African-American in the group."
From the small control room, Daria could look out at literally miles of fighters. The chamber was reinforced in places by massive metal beams that seemed to stretch from the floor somewhere below to the roof hidden above the lighting panels. Outside of the room was a small ledge, from which Daria could see an opening to her left and one to her right. The one on the right seemed to be lit with the same kind of lighting as this chamber. To the left, however, the light was brighter.
There was a split second's warning before a lightsaber blade passed through where Daria had been standing. By then, she had leaped forward and landed on one of the fighters. Behind her, Frost followed suit. Again, their lightsabers crashed together as Frost pressed the smaller woman back.
"You have to remember," Daria told her after leaping backward onto a different fighter. "Your true self is being hidden, and you don't seem to care."
"I will not be caught up in your web of lies," Frost said as she followed. "Your Jedi tricks will not work on me."
Daria clenched her teeth in frustration. Fighting in a purely defensive mode was dangerous, as it allowed the enemy to attack at will. And it only took one mistake to lose. But Daria was determined to find the Quinn that was still hidden away in the armor. How can she not remember? It's like her memory has been erased. But, you can't do that to someone on that scale without there being some kind of side effect.
Frost cut toward Daria's head, then changed the strike to her hips. Daria was almost caught off-guard, but blocked the strike. Then, Frost spun her blade, causing Daria's lightsaber to fly off into the distance. Left no choice, Daria turned and ran as she heard it bounce down one level then another.
The fight had carried into a room filled with computers and monitors. Jane hadn't had time to figure out what they controlled, only to realize that there was less room to maneuver.
"You know your plans won't work, Tyran," Jane said with a smirk. "Even if you do beat me, the Republic has the ships and manpower to take down this monstrosity you've created."
"Your pathetic Republic will find I have dozens of capital ships aboard this station." Tyran grinned, "I have factories to build entire Star Destroyers here. I can take the scrap of other ships and turn it to my own advantage. Entire asteroid belts will become fodder for my plans."
"Yeah," Jane smirked, "and you were going to kill me. We see how well that's worked out."
"We aren't finished," Tyran told her. He struck fast, but Jane was able to parry.
Jane parried a thrust toward her heart, then countered with a slash across his middle. They exchanged attacks for the next few seconds until Jane cut toward his head. Tyran dove out of the way, losing a lock of hair to Jane's saber. The blade, however, continued on into the panel behind where he had been standing.
She was looking right at it when it exploded.
The blast knocked both combatants to the ground. Jane climbed unsteadily to her feet after making sure her lightsaber was still in her hand by squeezing it. As she tried to look around, Jane had to fight down a wave of panic.
Jane was blind.
"Oh, this is so not good," she muttered.
"I just had to go and lose my lighsaber," Daria grumbled as she took in her surroundings.
The room was almost as long as the previous one had been, but was much more narrow. It was an assembly area for the fighters. Currently shut down, the machinery looked as though it had stopped in mid-production. Micro-welders were up against welds to be made, mechanical arms ended with attraction field generators were moving toward components that filled bins on both sides. In the center to Daria's left was another control center. It was to here that Daria fled. By the time her sister caught up to her, Daria was standing against the back of the room.
"Your friend will not come to save you," she said. "By now my Master will have finished her."
"Jane can take care of herself," Daria replied as her hand twitched. "And I came here to save you, remember?"
"I do not need saving."
"That's a matter of opinion, Quinn." Her hand moved again, this time catching Frost's attention.
"What are you doing?"
"You always said I should be more attractive." Her hand moved again, causing another control to move.
"The controls to the fighter line won't — Aah!" Frost dropped her lightsaber as she was pulled off of her feet by an attraction field. The disk was designed to hold a wing of a TR.I.E. fighter, so was large enough to hold the armored woman from her head to her ankles. Her struggles were in vain, as Daria quickly turned it so that the controls were hidden from view.
Daria lowered the disk until her sister's head was at eye level by the side of one of the fighters. She ignored the curses as she looked at the headpiece. "Maybe if we take this thing off . . ." she reached for the helmet.
"No!" Frost tried to move. "You mustn't do that. It keeps me alive!"
"And it keeps you ignorant of the truth," Daria said as she managed to get her fingers under the lip. With a hiss, it came free. Daria pulled it up from her sister's head, but left it attached to the attraction field generator. She looked in surprise at the head of her sister.
Full red hair was hidden under the helmet. It was cut short, but was obviously real. There were three bald places, but none larger than an old Earth dime. The scars were small, with the exception of one toward the frontal lobe of the brain. Twin wires came from it, leading to the mask.
"He's using an implant," Daria told Quinn. Looking closer she nodded, "Yes, and it's powered by the batteries running the rest of this stuff." Daria moved her fingers down to the face mask. "You know you have a full head of hair under this thing? Let's look at the face, shall we?"
"Get off of me!" Daria could see the strain in the black-clad body as it struggled against the field holding it in place. But, with a determined scowl, Daria removed the mask.
Quinn's face was pale. There was a scar running from between her eyes, then down under her left eye and across her cheek. Her nose had obviously been broken, and the skin was dry and chapped. Looking at the inside of the mask, Daria found where the wiring continued.
"Let's cut this off here," Daria said, holding out her hand. The black lightsaber flew from the ground. She fired up the blade, then gently brought it into contact with the wires.
Frost screamed. Then, she shook. Finally, she slumped. Her breathing, still regulated by the machinery of the armor, was the only sound besides the speakers repeating their alert about Jodie.
Daria moved to the controls as she placed the black lightsaber on her belt. As gently as she could, she brought her sister's unconscious body to the edge of the control center. When she shut down the field, she held the body in place via the Force. Then, she laid her sister on the ground.
Quinn opened her eyes. "Daria?" she asked, her voice weak.
"It's me," came the reply from her sister, kneeling next to her.
"You came to save me."
"You're my sister," she said in explanation. "How much do you remember?"
"I remember everything," Quinn replied.
"Do you know what Tyran did to you?"
"He put a thing," she gestured with a hand, "in my head. He said it was because my memories got in the way." She looked at the ceiling, "You cut the wires. Now I have my real memories back."
She looked over at Daria, then let her eyes slide down to the lightsaber on Daria's belt. "That's mine, right?"
"That's right. It looks kinda like your other one."
"I made that one first. The other one came later." She looked up into Daria's eyes again. "You were foolish to come here. I could have, like, killed you."
"I had to save you," Daria explained. "You're my sister."
"You blew me up."
"You didn't give me the chance to stop you from getting on that ship." Daria sighed, "Look, I didn't know it was you. I set those charges in case the ship got away, but I was hoping to keep it from launching. I'm sorry." Daria dropped her eyes, "I'm sorry about a lot of things. You were right about me being a lousy sister."
She didn't see the scowl that appeared on Quinn's face, but the anger in the voice was clear. "You're right, you are a lousy sister. And a fool."
Daria was Force-shoved into the wall. As she tried to regain her feet, the lightsaber on her belt flew across the room. When she looked up, Quinn had replaced the mask and was setting the helmet on her head once more.
"You made a mistake, sister," she said as the helmet sealed. "I chose the name Frost. And now you will pay for your final mistake with your life."
Maybe this wasn't such a good plan, Jodie thought as she ducked back behind the corner. The hyperdrive generators were through a pair of doors at the end of the corridor. But, there were four droids sitting at the entrance. They had blasters attached and were protected by their own force fields. I've heard of the 'destroyer' line of battle droids before, but I thought they'd gone the way of the dodo bird.
A mechanical 'click-click' noise alerted her to something approaching from the direction of the droids. Falling back, she brought up her lightsaber just as one of the droids came around the corner. Without pause, it began to fire. A few seconds later it was joined by a second droid. Side-by-side, they were impossible to get around. Jodie was hard pressed to keep up with the incoming fire.
Yep, she thought, this was definitely not a good idea.
Reaching a corner, Jodie ducked around, then turned and ran to give herself some space. She went through a door on her left just as the first shots from the droids raced past her.
Daria ran back the way she had come. She had already gone down several levels of fighters as she tried to find her lightsaber. Finally, she hit solid ground. A glance up confirmed that she was fifteen levels of fighters from the top. "Long way up," she muttered.
"Indeed," came the dark voice from behind her. Quinn's blade was glowing as she approached. "The trail ends here, dear sister. I will strike you down, then I will see that Jane and Jodie also die."
"Your master betrayed you, Quinn," Daria backed away in the direction she believed her lightsaber had flown her eyes glancing around for any sign of it.
"Like, his time will come," she promised. "But for now, I will finish what I started in the warehouse." She moved in on Daria, barely allowing time for her sister to dive out of the way.
Daria caught sight of debris lying in the corner. "Quinn, think for a minute. Would I have come back for you if I hated you?"
"No," came the reply. "But I do not care if you love me, Daria. I hate you."
Daria felt a rock the size of the planet hit her stomach. "Quinn, no," she whispered. "We've had our differences, but we don't hate each other."
"Yes, Daria. I have hated you for a long time. And now," she loomed over Daria, "I will have the honor of being an only child."
Daria gestured, sending the debris flying at her sister. One item of the debris, however, caught her eye. The rest of it fell away as Daria pulled her lightsaber into her hand.
The small room was quiet except for the echoing hum of two lightsabers. Jane tried to keep her breathing as light as possible as she moved toward what she thought was the center of the room. The pain in her eyes was intense, leaving her wondering if she was permanently blinded. But, she knew that wouldn't be the worse of it if Tyran had his way.
"You know," his voice echoed in the room, "you would have been a good apprentice. In fact, you would have been my first choice if it hadn't been for your friends."
He's circling me, Jane thought, trying to confuse me.
"You have been held back by the Jedi. I could teach you so much more." When Jane still didn't reply, he said, "It's not too late, you know. Join me and I will let you live. You cannot defeat me blinded."
"I don't need to see," Jane whispered. "The eyes can be deceived."
"More Jedi nonsense. Very well, I hope you are on good terms with whatever gods you worship."
He's behind me, Jane realized.
Tyran brought his saber down in an overhead slash, intending to cut Jane in half. Jane spun to her left as she took her lightsaber in her right hand and struck behind her.
There was a scream, and Jane heard something heavy hit the ground. She waited a few seconds, then shut down her lightsaber. There was no sound other than her breathing.
"Now I just have to find my way out of here," she grumbled.
A minute later the door to the room opened, allowing the two droids to enter. A minute ago it had been an area for prepping before going into the area where the hyperdrive was being built. Containment suits had on hooks and tools had been on racks. Now, it was a disaster area. The Jedi had gone through the room like a whirlwind, tools were on the ground and the suits had been left in piles all around the room. The small toilet at the far end had something making noise in it, drawing the droids in that direction.
They didn't detect the plasma welder as it rose from the ground. The one on the left suddenly found its midsection being severed by the welder as the other turned to try to identify the trouble. As it did, the first droid exploded, taking out the second as well.
Jodie climbed from beneath a pile of suits to look at the remains of the droids. "You gotta love this line of work," she grumbled. "Great," she told herself as she left the room, "now I'm starting to sound like Daria."
Daria dodged the fighter wing as if flew at her. It shattered against the wall behind her as Daria dropped down a level to use the fighters to protect her from the shrapnel. She's better trained than last time, Daria told herself. And she's twice as vicious. Either finish this or let her finish it.
"Oh, Daarriiaa," the voice taunted. "Where are you hiding, dear sister?"
Daria leaped back to the same level as Quinn. "I'm not hiding, Quinn. I was just waiting for your temper tantrum to end."
"A tantrum, you say?" Quinn chuckled. "Perhaps if you'd thrown one or two in your life, you'd be a happier person." She moved toward Daria. "Too bad it's too late."
The attack was fast and strong. Daria frowned as she realized that her earlier strategy of defense only was now coming back to haunt her. Strike back, she ordered herself. She blocked a strike, then spun in close to slam the hilt of her saber into Quinn's mask. She ducked before Quinn could strike back.
Daria now attacked as well as defended, but neither could gain an edge on the other. Any advantage gained was momentary as it was as quickly lost as it had been gained. Without really noticing, the fight carried them from the fighters and into a corridor. One end of Daria's tabard was gone, as was half of Quin's cloak, both severed during the fight. A small burn was on Daria's right cheek from a near miss that had raised heated sparks, and a melted stripe went down the left side of Quinn's helmet.
"You cannot win, Quinn," Daria told her as they moved apart slightly. "I feel the conflict within you. Tyran fanned the flames of disagreement to create your hate. It's not real. Let it go."
"You seek only to save yourself. It will not work, sister." Quinn brought her saber up and attacked.
Her swing was at Daria's waist. Daria blocked it, then spun and brought her own in a strike at Quinn's arm. It was blocked as well. Bringing up her left hand, Daria Force-shoved her sister away.
"Two can play that game." Daria was shoved back toward the wall, but flipped in midair and hit feet first. She did a dive roll off of the wall and came up with her lightsaber ready to block the strike Quinn attempted.
"Stop fighting me," Daria said as they locked sabers.
"You stop," came the reply. "I promise I'll make it quick. And not too messy. I hate messy."
A shove sent Quinn back a few feet, but pushed Daria back twice that. "I'm not your enemy, Quinn. Who was it that locked you inside your own mind? He had you believing that you were someone else! How can you be loyal to that?"
"You don't, like, understand anything, Daria," Quinn said as she waved her lightsaber like a pointer. "I hafta do what he says. I mean, I call him 'master' for a reason."
"He's teaching you things that aren't good for you. Like," she thought for a second, then started over. "It's like he's teaching you to wear stripes and plaids together. Only using the Force."
"Eww." Even with the mask, Daria knew her sister was cringing. "Don't even joke about that."
"But it's what he's doing to you."
"Daria," she shook her head, "my Master has shown me the true power of the Force. I can't turn away from it."
"Quinn, that's not true. Believe me, I know." Daria put a hand to her chest as she spoke, "I went through two masters because I questioned everything. I had to find my answers. And I learned something. The Force is about life. And the Dark Side is death. Anger, rage, fear, they all lead to death. That's why the light is stronger. Because the Force is created by life. You see?"
"You always did talk too much," Quinn grumbled. The sight of the tall woman in armor stomping her foot would have been amusing under any other circumstances. "I just can't leave my master, Daria. You don't know the power of the Dark Side. I'm bound to him until one of us is dead."
"No," Daria shook her head, "you can free yourself. I know you can. You're strong enough to do it."
"I can't," even with the voice modulator, her voice was the one of a lost little girl.
Daria shut off her lightsaber and walked toward her sister. "Quinn," she said, "you have to choose. Either obey Tyran and kill me or come with me and live on your own terms."
"Don't," Quinn lifted her saber. "Stay back, Daria. I gotta do what he says." She watched as her sister walked to the edge of the lightsaber blade.
"Kill me or come with me, Quinn."
"I —" Quinn's hands were shaking. "I'm sorry, but I must obey my Master."
This time, sticking her head around the corner only brought one droid after her. It had fallen for the same trick, however, leaving the single droid. Jodie simply used the Force to shove it into the wall until the droid was a pile of parts.
After retrieving a containment suit, Jodie slipped into the room where a hyperdrive larger than most buildings had been nearly completed. She took a moment to check the radiation levels and circle the area as she looked for a way to stop the drive.
I'm not an engineer, Jodie reminded herself. However, I do know that hyperdrives are fragile creatures. A lot of their construction is designed to cushion them from shock. Maybe if I give it one big enough I can take it out. She frowned, Hmm, that might take out the entire planet. With Jane and Daria on it. Not to mention all these other people.
As she circled, she noticed a panel about two stories up on the drive that had been left open. It was an easy jump for her to land on the meters-wide opening. A small walkway was still resting above the components themselves, giving the Jedi a way to reach the heart of the hyperdrive.
"If it wasn't for what it's going to be used for, this would be impressive," Jodie told herself as she looked around. She came to massive coils set in four horizontal columns with a space in the middle large enough to park a Republic cruiser. At each end was an enclosed box as tall as Jodie with a half-meter-thick cable running into it. A slight hum could be heard coming from within.
Jodie eyed the cable as she listened to the hum. "Sounds like we've got power running through here. If I cut the power, the hyperdrive will be out of commission for a while." Nodding, she drew her lightsaber. Bringing the blade up, she sliced down, severing the cable in a single motion.
As she returned the lightsaber to her belt, she turned to see a technician who had come in from the other direction staring at what the Jedi had done. Her eyes were wide as her mouth worked without sound. Finally, she turned her green eyes to Jodie and said, "You know what you've done?"
"Cut power to the hyperdrive?" Jodie asked, suddenly nervous.
"You've cut the power to the synchronizer. Without that, the drive is going to build up an asynchronous power surge that will spiral out of control." The woman ran a hand through her blond hair as she added, "There's no telling what's going to happen."
"Uh," Jodie looked at the limp cable, "Can we use some duck tape on it or something?"
"What's 'duck tape?'"
"Never mind." Jodie looked at the coils behind her. "Should they be glowing like that?" The coils were beginning to pulse with an unhealthy red light.
"They wouldn't be if you hadn't cut that cable," the woman told her. She turned to go, "We gotta sound an alert." Stopping, she looked over her shoulder, "You do realize you've just blown up an entire planet, right?"
"I did?" Jodie was too stunned to move until after the technician had left. Then, she frowned, "Crap. Now I gotta get out of here."
"Warning, hyperdrive malfunction imminent. Hyperdrive malfunction imminent."
Jodie noticed the technicians were frantically trying to fix the problem. She also noticed that ever more of them were running for the doors. She spotted the blond woman just reaching the ground and running for the doors, herself. As Jodie hopped to the ground, she absently noted that the woman was easily the fastest technician she had ever seen.
Stepping through a set of doors, Jodie realized they weren't the same as the ones she had passed through earlier. That the remains of the droid she had bounced off of the wall were gone was the first clue. That there were now three operational destroyer droids turning toward her was the only other clue she needed.
Jodie raised her lightsaber and charged. Before the droids could get their shields up, one of them was headless. Then, she was past them and running down the hallway.
In the room behind her, the massive hyperdrive began to hum as the malfunction began. A flash of light came from the open panel just before the rest of the lights on the former planet dimmed.
From a distance, an observer would have seen the shell of a world begin to race into hyperspace, then come to a sudden stop. While, for a ship, it would not have been a problem, for something with the mass of even a hollowed-out planet, stopping suddenly had major consequences.
Daria braced herself for the strike of Quinn's lightsaber. Then, a mechanical voice intervened.
"Warning, hyperdrive malfunction imminent. Hyperdrive malfunction imminent."
Quinn and Daria both looked up as the voice repeated itself. Then, the world around them seemed to shift slightly as the lights went off then came back on.
A groaning sound echoed through the corridor just before the floor beneath the sisters buckled. Quinn was tossed back as Daria was thrown shoulder-first into the ceiling. As she came down, the floor beneath her was torn open by the forces racing through the planet-turned-space station. Reaching out, she managed to grasp the edge of the floor with her left hand.
"Too much," she muttered. She glanced at her right arm, which was hanging lifeless at her side. "Must . . . control . . . pain." As she reached for the Force to quell the agony, another groan sounded. Again, the floor began to move. This time, it began to sag. Glancing down, Daria could see that the floors under her had been shredded. It was a long way down, with sharp, twisted metal waiting in her path.
I'm julian fries, she thought as her hand slipped.
The planet's destroying itself, Frost thought as she saw Daria thrown into the ceiling. I gotta get out of here. Master Tyran will want me to survive. Daria's hand caught a part of the destroyed floor. As the hand began to slip, a smirk appeared beneath the mask. Good, she will die.
Wait. A voice suddenly echoed in her mind. Daria? The black clad female staggered. Then, she jumped toward the disappearing hand.
"Gotcha!" Quinn caught Daria's hand before it had moved more than a few centimeters. Quickly, she pulled her sister onto a more solid area of the floor. "You okay?"
"I think my shoulder is dislocated," Daria hissed. "You're gonna have to put it back in its socket."
"I don't know," Daria admitted. "It's just not where it's supposed to be."
Beneath her mask, Quinn bit her lip as she felt Daria's shoulder. "I can tell where it's supposed to be," she said. "Do you want me to be gentle or fast?"
"Fast, please," Daria replied. "We need to — AAHH!" Daria screamed as Quinn jerked the limb back into position. Collapsing onto her knees, Daria was barely aware of her sister's arms around her.
"It's okay," Quinn was whispering. "It's okay. You're going to be all right."
How long has she been doing that? Daria wondered. I wish I had time to enjoy it. Wait, did I really think that? Daria allowed herself one last flash of her old aversion to contact with her sister, then put it aside. "Thank you, Quinn," she whispered. "Thank you." Daria moved her arm, although it was still in agony. "We need to get out of here," she added as she sat up.
"Well," Quinn said, "we can't go that way."
Glancing at the ruined floor, Daria nodded, "No kidding." Daria tried to stand, but stumbled into Quinn. "Sorry."
"No problem, sis," Quinn said. "Look, I think we can make it to an escape pod. You up to it?"
Daria started to reply, then stopped herself. "Quinn, who's in charge after Tyran?"
"Uh," Quinn absently scratched her helmet, "I guess I am."
"You need to sound an evacuation order. If this place keeps this up it'll rip itself apart. And even if it isn't, the chaos will cover our escape." Daria checked for her lightsaber. "Good, haven't lost my saber, again."
"Yeah, I hate it when I do that," Quinn agreed.
"Shall we?" Daria asked.
Jodie's lightsaber deflected another flurry of blaster bolts back to their source as she charged the three troopers. Before they could redirect their fire, she was in the middle of them. It was over after that. She ignored the bodies as she had forced herself to ignore the others. A sound from behind her caused her to turn, her lightsaber ready.
"Jodie?" Jane had her right hand on the wall, with her left holding her lightsaber. Her face was burned and her eyes were swollen shut. "Uh, I can't see anything."
"Oh." Jodie touched the hand holding the lightsaber. "Why don't you put that away and let me lead you, okay?"
"Sure." A few seconds later they were moving at a fast walk down the corridor. "You know where we're going?" she asked.
"Yeah." Jodie glanced at the device on her belt, "I found a holographic map. I'd just checked for the fastest way back to the ship before I got ambushed by a bunch of goons."
"This is Darth Frost." The voice coming from the intercom system caused both women to stop in their tracks. "All personnel are ordered to evacuate Danathrees. The station has become unstable and will destroy itself. All personnel are ordered to evacuate."
Jodie was still looking up when she felt Jane's hand slip from her own. "Hey, where are you going?"
"I'm going to find Quinn," Jane replied. "Then I'm going to finish what Daria started."
"Oh, no," Jodie got in front of her. "We're getting out of here. Besides, do you really think a Sith would bother with an evacuation announcement?"
"You're just saying that so I'll go with you, right?"
Jane's shoulders slumped. "Damn. You're right, though. Either we'll be congratulating Daria on saving her sister or cursing her sister for killing Daria."
"Either way, we have to get out of here," Jodie stated as the ground shook. The scream of tortured metal from the direction they had come from caused the Jedi to pause.
"I think we should go this way," Jane said, turning.
"Good plan," Jodie agreed.
"Warning. Integrity breach in Quadrant Four."
"I hope this isn't Quadrant Four," Jane said a few minutes later as Jodie guided her under a partially collapsed ceiling.
"Me, too," Jodie agreed. As Jane straightened, she turned to look ahead as a door farther down the hallway opened. Jodie's heart stopped as a black form stepped through.
"You!" Jodie left Jane as she advanced on Frost. As her lightsaber ignited, she saw Frost turn toward her.
"Jodie! Wait!" Quinn backed away and raised her hands.
"Where's Daria?" Jodie demanded. "What did you do to her?"
"Why don't you ask me?" Came a tired voice from the doorway. Jodie turned to see a disheveled Daria leaning against the frame. One arm was held close to her side, and there was a bruise on her forehead.
"Daria?" Jodie's lightsaber went out and back onto her belt as she moved to the woman's side. "You okay?"
"Dislocated my shoulder when the floor collapsed," Daria explained. "What the hell happened to this place?"
"Uh," Jodie looked away, "computer malfunction."
"Excuse me," came a familiar voice. "Hello?"
"Jane?" Daria looked down the corridor toward her friend. Looking back at Jodie, she asked, "What happened to Jane?"
"She got caught in an explosion and was blinded." Jodie went and retrieved Jane. "Daria and," she paused to look at the dark figure standing next to her.
"It's Quinn," Daria provided. "She kept me from death by blender."
"I bet it was a real Kodak moment," Jane said in a dry voice. "Too bad we're about to become Jedi flambé."
"Jane's right," Quinn said. "We're, like, running out of time, here." A distant tortured groan sounded.
Nodding, Jodie took Jane's arm, "You know this place, Quinn. How do we get out of here?"
"The best way is the shuttle pad." Quinn looked further down the hall, "We go down three sections then left. I don't think we can trust the lifts, now, so we'll take the stairs to the left of it."
"How far?" Jodie asked.
"Up four levels then through the door and to the right. That'll take us right to it."
"What about my ship?" Daria asked.
"I don't think we have time," Jodie told her.
"But . . ." Daria sighed. "Okay, let's survive this mess, then I'll see if I can find it later."
The lift's doors were distended and creaking. "Yeah," Daria said when she saw them, "I don't think we can trust them."
"This way." Quinn held open the door for Jodie and Jane, then led Daria inside. As they reached the level for the shuttle pad, gravity shifted on them just before the planet shook again.
"This is not helping," Jane moaned as she hung from the ladder.
"We're here," Jodie told her. "Just let go of the ladder and you'll land on the door."
As Jane landed next to Jodie, Daria struggled to hold on with her one good hand. "You guys go ahead," she called to Jodie and Jane. "We'll try to catch up."
"Now hold on," Jane started to complain as she looked the wrong way.
"Listen to me!" Daria hissed. "Jodie and Quinn are the only two of us who are unhurt. Jodie can take care of you and Quinn will look after me. I'm sure there's more than one shuttle on this thing, so take one and go. We'll have to find another way up a level, because I can't make it to your landing."
"I'll make sure she's okay," Quinn promised.
"You better," Jodie said as she turned to open the door.
The gravity in the corridor was off as well, causing them to stand on the far wall. It had weakened enough, however, for them to be able to jump across the hallways. Soon, Jodie and Jane reached the shuttle pad. As they stepped inside, Jodie saw there was, indeed, more than one. They had moved slightly, but were still seemed to be in good shape.
"This way," Jodie pulled on Jane's arm.
"Shouldn't we wait for the Morgendorffers?" Jane asked.
"They'll find their own way out," Jodie told her. "Come on, we can't wait."
"Jane, come on!" As Jodie pulled her toward the shuttle, Jane kept looking blindly behind her, hoping to hear her friend's voice.
The shuttle's engines came online with the seeming slowness born of hurry on the part of the pilot. Jane sat in the copilot's seat, still looking about as if trying to find something. Jodie bit her lip and waited until the last moment before raising the shuttle and turning it toward the doors. "I'm glad this thing is armed," she muttered as she fired the lasers.
The door finally gave, allowing the shuttle and all the air in the bay to escape. Around them hundreds of escape pods had jetted away from the planetary shell beneath them.
"Once we're clear I'll contact the Republic for some ships to get the pods," Jodie said.
"What pods?" Jane asked.
"Huh?" Looking over, Jodie remembered that Jane couldn't see. "Sorry. There are hundreds of escape pods floating out here. "I just hope they don't get caught in the gravity well of these black holes before help arrives."
"Oh." Jane rubbed her palms on her thighs. "Any word?"
After traveling for a few minutes, Jodie slowed and turned the shuttle around.
"This is Jedi Knight Jodie Landon to any Republic vessel," Jodie said into the comm system. "Repeat, this is Jedi Knight Jodie Landon to any Republic vessel. Please respond."
"Jedi Landon, this is the Han Solo. We are receiving your signal clearly."
"Solo, we are in the Danathrees system. The planet, well," Jodie shook her head, "the planet is falling apart and there are hundreds, if not over a thousand, escape pods that need pickup before they are pulled into the black holes. Be warned, there may be hostiles in the area." Jodie was about to add more, but stopped as she glanced at the planet. "Oh my god," she whispered.
The planet's crust was buckling enough to become obvious even from the distance the shuttle had traveled. Then, a massive chunk was blown away on the port side, flying toward the larger of the black holes. Cracks began to appear, then other sections of the crust began to fly away. Most of the planet, however, began to sink in upon itself.
Suddenly, the whole thing shrank. Then, a blast of fire on the starboard side literally knocked the planet to port, and spinning. The blast lasted only a few seconds, but by then it was heading in the same direction as the first major chunk. Danathrees was joining the other mass eaten by Koogan, the larger singularity.
"Daria?" Jane asked.
"Jedi Landon, what is your status?"
"Uh," Jodie nudged the controls so that they began to back away from the planet's shock wave, "we're okay. The planet, however, has just collapsed upon itself and is moving toward Koogan."
"We are in route. Stand by."
"Oh, amiga," Jane was reaching out to put a hand on the viewport.
Swallowing hard, Jodie managed to say, "Affirmative, Han Solo. Standing by."
"Easy now." Jodie's voice instructed.
Turning, Jane glared at her, "I do not need a nursemaid, thank you very much."
"Hey, I'm just trying to help." Jodie reached her side just before they got to the steps leading up to the main dormitory for the Jedi Academy. "Besides, it made you slow down enough for me to catch you."
"Jane," Jodie put a hand on her arm, "it's been a month. I now you're upset about Daria and Quinn, but you can't just let it eat you up like this."
"I just can't believe she's gone," Jane said as she held her hands away from her sides. "I mean, I'd rather have been blinded for good than to lose her. Jodie," she sighed before going on, "you're a good friend. But Daria and I have been best friends for years."
"I know." Jodie started to go on, but was distracted when a young student approached them.
"Jedi Lane," the boy bowed, "a package came for you while you were away."
"A package?" Jane asked. "For me? Do you mean while I was away meditating or away at the hospital?"
"It came this morning." The boy grinned, "It came on the cargo ship. It's rather large."
Jane looked at Jodie and shrugged. Looking back at the boy, she said, "Let's go take a look."
The box was longer than Jane was tall. The only markings were her name painted in white against the black plastic. She examined it for a long time before using the tool Jodie had procured to pry the top off of it. A layer of inflated packing hid the contents until Jane impatiently yanked them out. As she saw what was inside, Jane's eyes grew wide.
"What is it?" Jodie asked.
"It's," Jane stared, then blinked and looked at Jodie. "It's my speeder bike."
"I thought it was on . . ." Jodie stared at Jane, ". . . Daria's ship."
"They're alive," they said in unison.
Jodie got on the other side from Jane. "There's a note," she observed as she pulled the paper from where it had been secured on the seat.
Jane opened the folded piece of paper and read the contents.
Couldn't let them put sis in a cage. Sorry we couldn't bring it in person, but there would be too many questions to answer. Maybe we'll see you around the galaxy.
Thelma and Louise.
"Yep," Jane grinned at Jodie, "that's Daria."
The desert sands of Tatooine blew around the auburn-haired woman's feet as she looked up at the distant stars. One in particular seemed to twinkle at her. Live well, Jane, she thought, and may the Force be with you.
Dressed in boots and black slacks, the former Jedi had changed the obi for a green jacket. On her right hip rested a blaster pistol. With a final glance upward, she turned to where a black figure was busy working on something beneath the viewport for the bridge.
Quinn turned to look at her. "You sure about this, Thelma?"
"Louise," came the reply, "I've been wanting to paint a name on the ship since I got it. I just never had the time before."
"But, like, who's this 'Mary Celeste' person?" The cyborg asked as she got off of the small ladder.
"I'll explain on the way, sis," came the promise.
"Oh, great," Quinn picked up the ladder, "a story. You gonna save it for bedtime?"
"I think you're picking up some of my bad habits." The elder sister led the way into the ship. A few minutes later, the small freighter lifted off and headed for the stars.