Disclaimer: Star Wars is the property of Lucasfilm/Disney. Ranma is the property of Rumiko Takahashi. This story is purely for entertainment purposes and is in no way intended to generate a profit.

Star Crossed: An Awakening

Chapter Four: Benevolence

The steady hum of the hyperdrive cut off just before the ship re-entered normal space. Ranma and his two companions watched, with baited breath, as the streaking blur of stars shrunk back into scattered points of light.

In his haste to carry out Kasumi's urgent order, he had selected the coordinates displayed at the top of the navi log - effectively backtracking the ship to its previous jump point. They had engaged in a serious debate, while in transit, about whether or not to prematurely end the jump but, ultimately, had decided to just go with it due, in large part, to his wife's convincing. Nabiki had, against her obvious fears, suggested that having knowledge of their ship's history could come in handy later on. Her reputation as a hustler had been built on the foundation of gathering as much information as possible and neither he or Kasumi could deny her success. Thus, they had all agreed that visiting its last location, despite the potential for danger, was in their best interest.

Ranma reckoned she had been right as he took in the sight before him.

Chunks of debris, mostly large and some small, littered the star field surrounding the husk of damaged capital ship before them. As Padme, he had been unaccustomed to taking part in large scale space battles and was even further removed from poring through their remains. That had been more up Anakin's alley. However, as he observed the wreckage, it became blatantly obvious that the conflict in question had been overwhelmingly one-sided.

"This is all from the same ship, isn't it?" Ranma proffered.

Kasumi's breath hitched in her throat as she replied. "Yes, it is. There's no sign of wreckage from enemy ships. If this had been a fair battle, there would be more than just what we see. They were massacred."

"That's awful..." Nabiki said. "Do you think anyone could've survived this?"

"Well, the fact that there are so many intact fragments grouped this close together suggests it was brought down by smaller explosions and decompression - rather than a big boom - so it's possible. It's strange, actually... the crest on the side of the hull is from-"

"The Galactic Republic," Ranma said, finishing Kasumi's statement of revelation. He lifted a hand to point at some alien writing on the largest chunk of debris. "The Benevolence. I wonder what it's mission was."

"Wait, you can read that gibberish?" Nabiki asked.

"It's Aurebesh," Kasumi said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Do you trust me?"

"Yeah, of course. You're my big sis-" Nabiki doubled over in response to the sudden inrush of information. Her eyes clamped shut as a reflex when her vision began to swim. It was over almost as suddenly as it started, though. "Warn me... next time you do that," Nabiki said, between breaths.

"Ah, but that wouldn't be quite as much fun," Kasumi teased.

Ranma looked on with amusement as Nabiki recovered her wits. "That's a nifty way to learn a new language," he said.

"It was a bit more than that, actually," Nabiki replied, straightening herself out.

"I had to make sure she knew her way around a starship. Having an extra set of capable hands in an emergency could mean the difference between life and death while traveling through space," Kasumi supplied.

"Makes sense," Ranma replied. A faint beeping drew his attention back to the console before he could comment further. He pressed the flashing red button and a flat holo-projected screen popped up in front of the forward view port. "Looks like we'll get to test Nabs sooner than we thought. Sensors just picked up two contacts closing in on our position. We're being targeted," he added with urgency.

Kasumi squeezed around her sister and slid into the pilot's chair before grabbing the controls. "Buckle up."

The next several minutes passed in a flurry of blaster fire, skin-stretching evasive maneuvers, and glancing explosions. Everyone pulled their weight. Nabiki angled the deflector and did her best to balance the distribution of power between the inertial dampener, thrusters, and defenses so Kasumi could focus on piloting. Ranma left the co-piloting duties to his wife so he could man the blaster array and return fire.

Ranma nearly fell out of his seat when they took a direct hit. "Come on, hotshot, you're supposed to be the best pilot in the galaxy! Get us out of this!"

"I'm trying!" Kasumi shouted back. "This damn shuttle's got a fat ass on her, though! She was meant for crew transport; not a dogfight!"

"Well, you'd better start getting creative because now we're flying naked! That last blow took out the deflector!" Nabiki said.

"I see that!" Kasumi replied. "Okay, hold on to your asses! I'm taking us in! Nabiki, route everything to the engines!"

The shuttle lurched forward as Kasumi forced it into a nosedive. Ranma grinned in admiration as she took them straight into the hollowed out husk of Benevolence. Giant girders, columns, and shorn off pieces of hull floating in their path were nothing against Kasumi's tight focus. Their lead pursuer grazed a chunk of debris within seconds of following them inside and crashed into a bulkhead immediately after.

For a moment, Ranma thought he had been transported back in time as he watched Kasumi work diligently to save their lives. How many times had Anakin's resolve gotten them out of the worst situations? Kasumi laughed triumphantly when the second one went down and Ranma felt his heart flutter for just a second. As soon as he realized it, he clamped down on that feeling and buried it. That line of thought couldn't lead anywhere good.

Nabiki cheered her sister on while the woman in question pulled up on the stick and exited through a hole in the superstructure. "That was amazing, Kasumi!"

"Careful. She used to have a bad habit of an easily swollen ego," Ranma said, grinning.

"Sounds like someone else I know," Nabiki said, smirking back at him.

Ranma did his best to appear affronted, even though he knew he was guilty of the same thing. "Me? Never."

"Uh... guys?" Kasumi started. "I think it's a bit early for a celebration. Look," she said, indicating the star field ahead of them.

Ranma felt his jaw fall open as a cluster of enemy ships dropped out of hyperspace. There was no way they could out maneuver all of them. "Nabs," he said, prompting the woman into action.

"Already on it," she replied as she scrolled through the jump log Ranma had used earlier. "Just need a minute.

"Work fast," Kasumi said as she manipulated the controls and threw them into a barrel roll. The shuttle's metal skeleton groaned under the strain of being forced to move in such a frantic way.

Ranma braced himself against the g-forces overpowering the inertial dampeners and did his best to spray return fire at the small swarm. He chanced a glance back in Nabiki's direction to check her progress in between targeting.

"Nabiki... we're ready when you are," Kasumi said through gritted teeth.

"Almost... Got it!" she shouted, triumphantly, before pulling the lever.

A collective breath of relief occurred once they entered hyperspace. Good fortune had smiled upon them once again. Such good fortune wasn't meant to last, though.

In response to their inquiry, Nabiki had shared with them just why it had taken her so long to select a destination. She had reasoned that a set of frequently visited coordinates was likely their safest option. After all, one didn't spend a lot of time somewhere if it was dangerous. They had agreed that her logic was sound. Kasumi had even been quite optimistic after looking at the name of the system at the end of their jump. Beta-Ryloth. Ranma remembered the Twi'Lek people from his past life had hailed from the Ryloth system. Surely Beta-Ryloth was named in honor of that. He and Kasumi had agreed that it would be good to make contact with a familiar race.

When they exited hyperspace, just outside of the system, Ranma hadn't known what to expect. He had considered a number of different scenarios, though. However, being accosted by the local authorities had not been one of them.

The capital ship that had intercepted them with its tractor beam and pulled them into one of its landing bays, had not even bothered to hail them. Despite Kasumi having reassured he and Nabiki that their captors were likely just being cautious, Ranma hadn't felt good about it.

"Just remain calm and let me do the talking," Kasumi had warned when their landing ramp had been lowered via their overridden controls.

Ranma thought it was overkill to have such a large platoon of armed guards waiting for them at the bottom of the ramp. Even more baffling was the fact that they were all wearing Mandalorian armor. Why would a Mando battlecruiser be patrolling Twi'Lek space?

The answer they got, despite being bad for them, had inaugurated them to the state of the galaxy.

Firstly, the Mandalorian Guard was the reigning military force charged with protecting the New Galactic Republic's borders from insurgents representing the Native Species Coalition. No one was permitted entry to or exit from a member system without the proper, and current, pass codes being transmitted to patrolling authorities.

The codes loaded in their shuttle's computer, as they later learned, were outdated due to it being off the grid for over six standard months. Since Kasumi had come home within a week of it crashing on Earth, that meant it had to have been adrift for quite some time.

Ranma might have had trouble deciphering such a mouthful in the past but, due to his experience as Padme, he had been able to easily sum up their situation. They were in deep poodoo. With no valid identification, and a ship with outdated credentials, they had been treated like criminals.

Secondly, since the NGR was currently under martial law, Ranma and his two companions had been detained and sentenced without due process. The Padme in him was outraged, to say the least. The Ranma in him, which was already anti authority, wanted nothing more than to lash out and take down as many as he could despite knowing it would be a futile effort.

Kasumi and Nabiki had, thankfully, talked him down before it had come to that. Still, he didn't like the idea of their fate being in the hands of militants.

"Be quiet, here they come," Kasumi hushed from her cell.

Ranma checked himself as he heard the hydraulic door of their detention block slide open. He heard shuffling and grunting accompanying the footsteps walking over the grated flooring.

"Stop resisting, treasonous scum," the filtered voice of a helmeted soldier said.

Moments later, two Mando guards escorting a Twi'Lek man with blue pigmentation arrived at the cell directly opposite that of Ranma's. They dropped the force field and shoved him inside before locking it down and retreating to wherever they had come from.

"What are you staring at?" the Twi'Lek grunted as he plopped himself down on the bench.

Ranma averted his scrutiny before clearing his throat and greeting the newcomer. "Uh, hi. So what are you in for?"

"Same thing as you, I'd imagine," the man replied. "Just about anyone returning from long voyages are being detained. It's ridiculous. They'll be hearing from my lawyer as soon as I get home."

"How long has this been going on?" Kasumi asked from her out of sight position.

"What? You've been living under a rock or something?" the Twi'Lek asked. "It's all over the holonet."

"Something like that," Kasumi replied.

"The hell's that supposed to mean?" the Twi'Lek replied. "Look, I'm not interested in being associated with real criminals, okay? Whatever you got going on is none of my concern."

"We're not criminals!" Nabiki replied, indignantly. "We just had some bad luck, same as you."

"Yeah, I bet that's what they all say," the Twi'Lek man replied.

"Listen, I think we got off on the wrong foot," Ranma said. "My name is Ranma. The one next door to you is Kasumi and the one next to me is Nabiki. Maybe we can help each other?"

The Twi'Lek snorted. "Somehow I doubt that."

"Let him be, Ranma," Kasumi said. "Whatever happens next is out of our hands. Just trust that the Force will guide our actions. And consider the fact that we're no longer in immediate danger."

"No offense, Sis, but I don't think we should just sit back and do nothing. I'm not saying we should be brash, like Ranma suggested, either. But we've got to act."

"We will, little sister. When the time is right."

The right time, as it turned out, was a long way off. Their sentencing was followed by transport to a penal colony on a dusty rock. Whispers among the other prisoners they were grouped together with suggested that the moon was somehow infamous. Ranma learned exactly why that was the case as soon as he and his friends went through inmate orientation.

Prisoners on Krylon Two, the second moon of the local gas giant, weren't there to merely serve time. As it turned out, they were also made to work in the mines. It was basically slave labor. If they didn't meet quotas, food and water rations were withheld. It was hell in every sense of the word.

During the first week, he and his companions learned a lot more about how exactly the galactic conflict that had gotten them branded convicts had started. Their Twi'Lek acquaintance from the Mando capital ship, Baz was his name, had been a bit more open to conversation after sharing in their fate.

Roughly seven months earlier, a diplomatic envoy was sent to negotiate with the rulers of one of the prominent native systems who had been on the fence about joining up with the NGR. At that time, the government had just come off of a spat of isolationist policies and was looking to extend its reach. There had already been some cases of refugees being given asylum within the NGR's borders so there was precedent for intercultural relations.

The mission was spearheaded by ambassador Tandari of Beta-Ryloth who, along with with other members of the NGR delegation, sought to woo the native leaders with lucrative trade agreements and gifts of technology - which was thought to have been light years ahead of theirs. When their ship, the Benevolence, was ambushed just short of its destination, it was declared an act of war. That, along with a few cases of refugees setting off bombs, had caused fear and paranoia to spread across all of the NGR territories. The senate had declared martial law and closed its borders after that. The immigrant population was subsequently rounded up and placed either in prison colonies, similar to Krylon Two, or internment camps.

It was Baz's personal opinion that the governing powers of the native inhabitants of this galaxy saw members of The Great Migration as invaders despite all that they had been offered.

The Great Migration, as it was called, was a pivotal moment in the NGR's history. Baz had been unable to give the specifics, since it had happened long before his time, but was able to sum it up as thus; hundreds of years ago, several billion people fled their galaxy following a cataclysm and started the first ever intergalactic pilgrimage. After arriving in the new galaxy, they colonized several systems and started what would eventually become the New Galactic Republic.

It had been a lot to digest. Nabiki hadn't been as affected as he and Kasumi were since she didn't have memories of a past life to associate with. Kasumi had done her best to put up a strong front, but Ranma knew she was upset about it. While he couldn't be entirely sure she shared his motives, he knew something had drawn her to the idea that they could potentially return to a familiar place. For him, it had been the small hope of learning the fate of Padme's children. The confirmation that he would never have that opportunity had shaken him to his core.

Regardless, they had carried on as usual. Being a prisoner was no picnic and bigger problems had presented themselves.

Two weeks after completing the training necessary to operate the heavy machinery and other special tools required of miners, they had been given their first deep subterranean assignment. He and Kasumi had been shocked when they learned what they had been sent to unearth. The NGR was digging for Kyber crystals and not just the typical ones that went into certain blasters and other small ship systems. No, they were after the rare giant specimens. They and other prisoners were being used as free labor to support the industrial war machine. A machine with a grand and deadly agenda.

Kasumi knew a lot more about war than Ranma did and not just because she had been a Jedi General in the Clone Wars. Her previous incarnation had lived a much longer life than Ranma's. She had seen, first hand, what a fully operational weapon powered by giant Kyber crystals was capable of. Without going into every horrifying detail, she had shared with he and Nabiki the tale of her time as the Sith Lord, Darth Vader. Nothing less than an intra-galactic weapon of mass destruction would call for giant crystals.

Luckily, for them, Kyber crystals had other uses and the quest for the elusive giants had opened up a path with an abundance of the smaller specimens. Kasumi had been adamant that their suffering predicament had been for this very reason. With her knowledge at their disposal, they had been given a chance.

"Now, remember what I said," Kasumi reminded him. "Don't go looking for a crystal. Use what I've taught you. Open yourself to the Force and the right one will call to you."

Ranma acknowledged her with a nod before departing down a branching tunnel. His hard hat mounted flashlight illuminated the jagged surfaces as he slowly advanced. He quieted his mind and regulated his breath, as he had done many times before while performing kata. This time, though, he left his feelings open.

Kasumi and her sister kept a lookout for droid guards and tried to look busy while Ranma went on his quest. All seemed to be going well and, indeed, her senses told her Ranma was on the right track. So, after a sufficient amount of time, she began coaching Nabiki in anticipation of his return.

Unfortunately, the seismic alarm went off and the droid guards started rounding up the miners. Kasumi and Nabiki remained behind even as the ground, walls, and rock above their heads began to tremble with tectonic shifting. They couldn't leave without him.

When a guard came by and tried to haul them away, Kasumi had responded with Force; but not before it had radioed for backup. As the moon's crust continued to grow unstable, Kasumi volunteered to run and head the droids off so Nabiki could wait for Ranma. However, her sister had refused only to suggest that Kasumi be the one to stay behind and wait. She reasoned that if anyone was capable of surviving the potential cave-in, it was more likely to be she and Ranma as opposed to herself. Before Kasumi could come up with a suitable counter argument, Nabiki had bid her farewell and warned her that there would be hell to pay if she and Ranma failed to survive.

So it was that, several minutes after watching her sister depart, Kasumi heard the echoing footfalls of Ranma's ascent. A sudden spike in the severity of the quaking caused her to stumble at the same time that she heard Ranma's shout. He was clearly in distress. She seized the Force with a ferocity and passion not known to her since her time as Anakin and blurred into a speed saturated sprint.

She found Ranma pinned under the rubble of a partial tunnel collapse and wasted no time in reacting. Her roiling presence, at once, tightened, then spilled away from her body to blanket her immediate surroundings. The pile of boulders responded to her insistence and removed themselves from her friend so he could extricate himself.

"Are you okay?" she asked him, offering a hand.

Something in his eyes almost made her heart jump as he grasped her hand. "I am now," he replied as he got to his feet.

Kasumi shook it off and whirled around as fast as she could to break eye contact with her sister's husband. It was steadily becoming harder to remain objective and detached. "We've got to hurry up and get back to the surface; things are getting worse."

"What about Nabiki?" he asked.

"She's fine," Kasumi replied. "She lead the droids on a chase back up top so I could stay behind and make sure you made it."

"I guess we'd better get moving, then," he said.

They didn't make it more than a dozen meters before the tremors climaxed and caused rubble to rain down all around them. Kasumi had sensed it coming and grabbed Ranma by his hand so she could yank him forward and Force push him ahead of the cave-in. The resulting disaster caused her to black out; the last thought on her mind dwelling on her failure to accept that her newfound clarity had been nothing more than pretense. She had fooled herself into believing it would be easy to let go of her attachment while, in reality, her heart ached for Ranma's touch more than anything else.

She didn't know how much time had passed while she was unconscious but, when she awoke to find a bloodied Ranma partially buried under debris, it wasn't hard to connect the dots. The stubborn idiot had no doubt stayed behind in an effort to dig her out only to fall victim to an aftershock. He was obviously still breathing and, after pulling him out, she determined he was mostly unharmed. Still, she couldn't help but blame herself for his current state. Had she not involved him and her sister, this could all have been avoided. Now that she was aware of her persisting desire for him, she couldn't deny how selfish it had been to make a decision which would ensure his close proximity.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered as she used torn off pieces of cloth to dab at his wounds. "This is all my fault. I wasn't truly ready and still I pulled you into this crusade." She heard him moan and froze for a moment. She let out a breath when she realized he was still unconscious. "Listen to me. I must sound so pathetic. I'm such a wreck that I can't even speak to you directly about this. Can't even admit how dishonest I've been," she added as her throat constricted with emotion.

After a brief struggle to maintain her composure, her watering eyes finally spilled tears; signaling the crumbling of her resolve. She leaned over him, face to face, and hovered mere centimeters from his lips. Oh how she desperately wished true love's kiss would end this nightmare in a fairy tale fashion. She closed the gap and brushed her mouth softly against his before quickly pulling away.

What was she doing? Ranma was married to her younger sister now. Indulging her desire was sure to invite shame and embrace betrayal. "Obi-Wan... you were right. This temptation is nearly beyond my control. What must I do to have relief?"

"Ugh, Kasumi? What's going on? Are you alright?"

She snapped her attention back to Ranma and felt the full force of her emotions rush back. "Ranma! I'm so glad you're okay," she said. "You had me worried. Why didn't you run away?"

"Heh," he snorted, humorlessly. "As if I'd actually leave you behind. Come on, you know me better than that."

"Promise me you'll never do that again, okay? I can take care of myself."

"And I can't?" he asked, indignantly, sitting up. "Listen, you don't get to boss me around just because I'm your Padawan. If you'll bother to remember, before you and I were burdened with these memories, I was the experienced protector. Give me some credit at least," he added. A beat passed before he noticed her melancholy state. "Wait, why are you crying?"

Kasumi wiped her tears with a hand before sucking in a ragged breath. "I don't know how much longer I can go on like this, Ranma. I'm really starting to believe it was a mistake to bring you along."

"Kasumi, what the hell are you talking about? You couldn't possibly expect to do this by yourself and succeed. Look, I know it must be hard to be the last of the Jedi, but Nabs and I... we're trying."

"That's not even what I'm talking about, you idiot! I'm in love with you! Can't you see that? I... I've been in denial this whole time, okay? I want you so bad that it kills me. Whenever I see the way you look at Nabiki, I can't help but wish it was me you were looking at."

Ranma's eyes widened in realization before narrowing and falling downcast. "Take it back," he said. "You hear me? You can't just come back into my life and drop a bombshell like that. Not when you're the one who ran away." He lifted his head to show her his glaring eyes; hardened, yet glistening with unshed tears. "You flipped my world upside down by triggering these memories and then just abruptly disappeared. Do you even realize how many nights I spent dreaming about you? Wanting you?"

"You... you did?"

"Yes, I did. And what did that get me? I pushed Akane away; so hard that she ran halfway across the world. Then I met Nabiki. The real Nabiki. If you ask either one of us we'll both admit that love was the furthest thing from our minds when we got together. But, still, it happened. It grew, unexpectedly, and drew us together. She helped me get over you without even realizing it. So don't you dare come and get between us. Got it? You had your chance and you made your choice."

"I see..." Kasumi said, hanging her head. She knew he was right. That didn't make it hurt any less, though. The atmosphere became subdued while she pondered just how she was going to live this moment down.

Ranma's movement caught her attention when he picked himself up off of the ground and started moving rocks with his bare hands. Seeing him take action reminded her that she didn't have time to waste moping. Their lives were in danger.

"Ranma." He paused his work to look at her over his shoulder. "Did you get your crystal?"

"Yeah, I did. Why?"

"Do you remember what it felt like? Connecting to your environment through the Force?" When he nodded, she continued. "Then stop using your hands to dig. Step back and use what you've learned. We can work together and clear the path much quicker that way. The air is starting to run out so we don't have time to waste."

Ranma did as instructed and, together, they dug themselves out.

Over the next couple of weeks, things at the prison colony returned to normal. Tunnels were cleared of debris and the few unfortunates, who had been crushed to death, so that work could resume. Two things remained oddly out of place, though. Kasumi and Ranma.

Nabiki couldn't help but notice the absence of warmth that had once existed between them. Gone was the banter and other little tells they gave off when sharing an inside joke. Granted, their situation wasn't ripe with opportunity to find humor, but they had previously done their best to maintain an air of light hearted optimism. Now, all that seemed to remain was cold determination and a professional level of politeness. Something had happened between them, that much was obvious. Getting them to talk about it proved to be near impossible, though.

Despite that, the preparations for their escape plan had continued to move forward without further incident.

After secretly stealing tools and parts from the mining machinery, cannibalizing components for use in the construction of their lightsabers had been all too easy. Kasumi and Ranma had already finished theirs a few days earlier. The only reason Nabiki lagged behind was because of her choice to dual wield. Now that they were all properly armed, though, the real test could happen.

In addition to their Twi'Lek friend, Baz, they had recruited a couple of other trustworthy inmates to their cause who, as it turned out, were natives. Mavek, a Cardassian, was an older gentlemen who was a long-winded but well mannered. Hiren, a Romulan, was just a teenager but he was incredibly strong and fearless.

The six of them had worked together for the passed several days to quietly rally inmate support for an all out riot. Getting people to commit had been a huge hurdle, though, since they knew it was impossible for everyone to successfully escape and that some of them would be hurt or killed. Ultimately, Kasumi had had the three of them step in and pay each group a visit so they could personally deliver messages of hope and let them know that the Jedi were more than just a myth. Hope, it seemed, was the magic ingredient.

Timing was everything, though. If they didn't all rise up as one, then there was a chance it could all fall apart.

"Is everyone in position?" she asked over her radio. One by one, her five accomplices checked in and confirmed that the groups they had been placed in charge of were ready. "Good. When the prisoner transport lands, don't move until I give the signal. We only get one shot at this."

Nabiki, having devised the escape plan, was placed in charge of coordinating the operation. Since Krylon Two was almost entirely overseen by droids, it had been easy to exploit the repetitive habits of their robotic custodians. Although the correctional droids were pretty well armed and solidly built, they required maintenance like anything else. Every night after the prisoners were locked down in the residential block, the entire staff of droids would avail themselves of the industrial oil bath. All the dust, sand, and loose pebbles played havoc with their joints, after all.

When the skeleton crew of organics tasked with overseeing the night shift called for droid backup, they were going to be disappointed at the pitiful response. Nabiki had sent Ranma to sabotage the bath earlier in the day to ensure that any droids they encountered were either slow to move or just short of paralyzed.

"Here it comes. Wait for my mark," Nabiki said as she watched the boxy transport extend its landing struts and vent its belly thrusters as it descended toward the platform. She and a small group of twenty hid inside an empty shipping container near the platform so they could oversee the landing and make their move when the time came.

After touching down, the ramp was lowered and a half dozen soldiers exited to secure the perimeter. She had to make sure they thought everything was normal, at least for the next few minutes. If they got spooked before the ship had fully powered down, then the pilot could get it back in the air and make a hasty retreat within seconds. So, she waited.

After several more minutes, during which she watched the pilots through the window into the cockpit, she saw them vacate their seats and disappear from view. "We're good to go. Let's get rowdy," she said over her radio.

Within minutes of her order being acknowledged, a siren began blaring across the entire complex and put the soldiers guarding the platform on edge. By that time, Nabiki and her small contingent had repositioned themselves underneath the platform. They waited until the rest of the soldiers exited the craft and exposed themselves before acting. She counted twelve in total.

Nabiki steadied her breath as she mentally ironed out her plan of attack. If she did it right, nobody had to die.

"Commander, what should we do? The staff in the control box is asking us for assistance," one of the Mando soldiers said to another.

"Where are the droi-"

"Commander look out!" a third soldier yelled as he spotted Nabiki ignite her twin yellow sabers mid-leap.

Nabiki twisted in the air and deflected blaster fire before landing in the middle their group. She Force-pushed half of them to ground with one hand while cutting a blaster rifle in half with the other. "Now!" she shouted, signaling the rest of her group to climb onto the platform.

The distraction made it possible for Nabiki to spin her sabers in a flurry and slice off blaster muzzles being aimed in so many different directions. Only one or two soldiers got additional shots off before she destroyed their weapons. Luckily, nobody got hit. The soldiers she had floored had also had their weapons confiscated by some of her strike team.

"Nobody move!" she said as five of her men held the soldiers at blaster point. "If you cooperate, nobody has to get hurt."

"Nabiki, have you taken the ship yet?" Kasumi's voice said through the radio over the sound of blaster fire in the background. "We're taking more of a beating than we thought! These guys had Destroyers in storage!"

"Shit! Hold on. We'll be there in a minute," Nabiki replied before looking at the people around her. "Alright guys, let's get these soldiers tied up and out of the way. Those of you who have weapons I need in the ship with me."

Nabiki took her small armed team up the ramp and, after stunning the pilots, commandeered it. Within minutes, she was in the pilots seat guiding the transport to her friends at a low altitude. Since it was a military craft it had sufficient weapons with which she was able to take out the Destroyer droids pinning down the rest of her people.

Once they were gone, she watched two sabers, one green and one blue, begin cutting down swaths of standard prisoner droids as their wielders darted around the battlefield. Nabiki lowered the ramp as they hovered so that her armed companions could assist her with laying down blaster fire.

Sadly, by the time the opposition was eliminated, nearly half of their number had gone down. After setting the craft down in the middle of the walled off compound, she rescued just over eighty people - her friends included. Although theirs hadn't been the only mining complex on the rocky moon, they couldn't risk liberating the others lest they become bogged down in a prolonged conflict. It was a sure bet that the space station/refinery orbiting Krylon Two had seen what happened and would send for reinforcements as soon as possible. Thus, they made a quick stop back at the platform to pick up the stragglers before leaving it all behind.

"So, where exactly are we headed?" she asked of her sister once they had safely entered hyperspace. Her part of the planning had only extended as far as getting them out of jail.

Mavek cleared his throat, getting her and everyone else's attention, before deciding to speak. "If you'll allow me, miss Kasumi, I believe it would be appropriate for me to explain the rest."

"By all means," Kasumi said, with a nod. "I was about to suggest the same thing."

"Thank you," he replied with a polite smile. "As I've told you all once before, prior to my being sent to that dreadful rock, I had carved out quite the successful career as an art dealer. What I failed to mention was how I, an immigrant who came to the republic with not a credit to my name, gathered the necessary startup funds to open up my own boutique on New Alderaan's capital city. Well, the answer is that I haven't always been entirely legitimate."

Nabiki's opinion of the guy rose several notches upon hearing that admission. A fellow hustler was someone she could respect. Mavek then ventured into an unnecessarily lengthy explanation regarding some of his shadier deals, reminding them all that he was also a successful windbag. She decided to amend her earlier opinion after that.

Eventually he got back around to the original subject matter, the gist of which was that he knew of a smugglers moon near the edge of NGR space where they could sell their commandeered ship for scrap with no questions asked.

It hadn't escaped her that they would likely be branded fugitives and have bounties placed on their heads, so a secret hub of illegal activity seemed like the perfect place to purchase new identities. When she proposed the idea and Mavek stated he could arrange such a meeting, she, yet again, amended her opinion.

There it is folks! Sorry for the wait, but I've been busy blocking out the ending of this story. I now have a defined plan which entails three solid arcs. After this chapter, expect to wait around three to four weeks for the next entry as I fulfill my mission to get a two chapter lead. Once I have that lead, posting will come every two weeks.

For those of you worried about the Star Trek tie-in, fear not. This is very much a SW story. I always intended for ST to play a part in this since it is set in the milky way galaxy, but the heart of this is driven by characters dealing with the dark/light side of the Force.

Thanks again for the support and don't forget to review, favorite, and follow! Until next time.