A while back, Tim Zahn said he wanted to write an adventure about Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade, and their son Ben. Obviously, that didn't happen, so I did it instead. I also wanted to write a story about Jacen Solo that expands on his relationship with Tenel Ka and preludes his fall to the dark side. Finally, I wanted to find out what happened to the Jedi Master K'Krukh between the Clone Wars and the Legacy comics 150 years later.
If you still care about the Legends EU and any of those characters, here's a story for you.
A long time ago it had been a graceful thing. Its gray wedge-shaped hull, simple and blunt but instantly recognizable, had slid through the stars or dove into the atmospheres of hundreds of different worlds. Depending on one's allegiance, the sight of it bursting through cloudy skies meant certain salvation or certain doom. Because it was so simple, stark and powerful, its arrowhead design had been reworked dozens of times since its creation. The ships modeled after it had been bigger, faster, and more powerful, but in the end they were mere imitations of its instantly recognizable design.
It was a ruin now. It had been almost sixty years since Pride of Chandrila crashed onto the planet's surface. The Acclamator-class assault carrier's massive hull remained unmoving, wedged between two mountains, its blunted gray nose jutting outward over an escarpment that tumbled down to a deep canyon. Beyond the canyon stretched a broad plain of iron-red dust. The carrier's tall narrow command tower was topped with black-scorched ruin, virtually unchanged since the day a few well-placed missiles had exploded the bridge. Its four engines were vast, empty mouths that had been dark and silent for decades.
The air on the planet was dry, and Chandrila had been preserved despite its violent crash and years of abandon-ment. The planet's natives had scavenged what there was to scavenge, but that had been long ago. Now all that remained was a lonely, forgotten ghost on a lonely forgotten world.
This world spun slowly on its axis, so that each cycle lasted almost a standard year. The long days became dangerously hot, and the long nights just as cold. What natives the planet had moved perpetually across their world in the violet band of twilight that crept slowly across the northern continents. The weather and worse, the ecological damage wracked during the war, made it almost impossible for proper farming. The natives drifted across their world, hunting strange animals for their food and scavenging from whatever strange plants had adapted themselves to the harsh environment.
It was a cruel and bleak place, but in the narrow band of perpetual twilight, there could be beauty as well.
He sat at the crest of the mountain. He wore thick animal-skin robes to fend off the wind, and beneath the robes he was further protected by rough skin and a coat of long fur, once sandy-brown but now steadily turning gray. He had a massive body, almost three meters high. Each hand ended in three fingers and each finger ended in a thick claw. His face was long and narrow but his mouth was wide, and two tusks jutting from his lower jaw. His eyes were small and dark. His people came from an icy world almost as harsh as this, and though he'd spent his childhood and young adulthood training to be a Jedi Knight under Master Twoseas on Coruscant and more pleasant worlds across the Republic, he'd found that he could adjust naturally to hostile climates.
In a way, they were even welcome. Sometimes, it felt like he'd come back to a home he could no longer remember.
K'Kruhk had spent over half a century on this planet. For the first years, even the first decades, he'd been afraid that somehow the Emperor's men would track him to this desolate, forgotten place. As time went by, he came to understand that no one would come for him, and if he wanted, he could remain here for the rest of a life very long by human standards.
It was a tempting thought. The horrors of the Clone Wars, and the even greater horrors of the great Purge that followed, had filled him with bitterness and dis-illusion that could easily grow into the Dark Side. Even before the rest of the Jedi had been exterminated, he had pondered putting down his lightsaber and walking away from the Order, even the Force itself, for he had been taught that a Jedi made peace, and as a Knight and later Master, all he'd known was war.
This planet was not just a place of exile. He had a purpose here, too. The natives, a nomadic tribal people, needed help to survive on a world, already harsh, now ravaged by ecological disaster. They'd greeted K'Kruhk with a godlike reverence, for he was three times their size and capable of magic through both the Force and (to him) simple technology.
So he was their guide, and their protector. Sometimes they made him feel like he wasn't alone, but only sometimes.
His clan was down in the valley now. K'Kruhk had climbed up the mountain of his own will, mostly to see if his old body could still do it. Now he sat on a peak from which he could see the long string of mountains running from north to south, violet in the long twilight. To the east he saw the iron-red wastes, tinted deeper red by the hint of oncoming day. To the west, higher mountains rose dark against a darker night.
But he found his attention drawn to Chandrila, which lay stuck between two mountains a kilometer to the north. He had not been inside the vessel for years. Though he'd never served on it himself, he'd spent the worst years of his life on assault ships just like it. Despite his conscious aversion, he felt himself being drawn to it, and was not sure why.
He thought it might have been the Force talking to him.
He still used the Force for tricks, yes. Little thing that helped him and his clan survive in a hostile environment. It had been decades since he'd ever felt any attachment to the greater universe. Sometimes, during the war and during his flight, he'd almost felt that the galaxy itself was speaking to him, whispering wordless wisdom that kept him alive when everyone else he'd ever known or cared about was killed. Some Jedi talked about the Force having a will, almost like a consciousness, and for a time he'd believed it. Since he'd settled on this world, the Force had stopped speaking to him. He'd started to doubt whether it ever had.
Now, though, it was back. Perhaps. Perhaps he was going mad, or getting old. Or, just possibly, the Force was telling him that something was going to change soon, that over sixty years of quiet exile were coming to an end.
He shifted on the mountaintop, turning away from Chandrila to face the other ruin lying some two kilo-meters to the south.
He'd never known that the name of the wrecked Trade Federation ship was. During the war the massive Lucrehulk -class control ships had been almost as iconic as Acclamator-class cruisers, with their near-complete circular hulls and spherical central control station. Now the ship was as sorry as proud Chandrila. One semi-circular arm of the ship was smashed against a mountainside. The other half-hung off a ledge. Its command sphere, protected by the round arms, had survived the crash relatively unscathed, so it had that advantage over Chandrila. The cruiser looked like it could tip over at any moment and plunge into the black crevasse that separated the twilit mountain range with the higher ones in the dark west.
K'Kruhk stared at it. He thought, just maybe, he saw a few pinpoints of light on the command sphere, as though someone were inside. As though it were alive again after so many years.
It could have been a trick of the twilight. It could have been madness, or age. Or the Force really could be talking to him after all this time, telling him that something was finally going to change.