Heart of Darkness


Act 2' 8: The Blood of the Faithful

Nam Chorios… Base Level 2…

Inquisitor Drayneen Locardis had seen many horrifying things in her twenty five years. Her earliest memories were drenched in blood. Fourteen years ago she, her brother, and many other children had lived in an orphanage on Talasea. None of them knew at the time, but she and her brother were blessed or, perhaps, cursed with the gift of the Force. They were the children of the founders of the orphanage—two young padawans who had escaped the Jedi purge. Padawans whose names were listed in the Jedi registry at the temple. Padawans whose bodies never turned up.

She never knew how long the Inquisition had been hunting her parents, but it must have been from before she had been born. Eventually they had caught up. She remembered little from that time except blood. She could not remember whose blood, though now she suspected it was her parents' that soaked her clothes as a child of eleven. The last she could remember was her brother coming charging out from wherever he had been hiding and trying to rescue her.

The scene before her brought forth those agonizing memories. All around her was blood. Pools of blood from the storm troopers as they had been cut down where they stood. She had fought briefly against Senator Alderaan when the young teen had been battling against her brother. Drayneen had leapt into the fight and attacked what had appeared to be multiple images of the Senator.

Now, as she watched jagged bolts of red-purple energy rip the very life force from a storm trooper, she knew that the Senator had not fought them seriously. She'd heard rumors that the ancient Sith had such powers, but she had never thought they really existed.

Her own ignited saber did nothing. It rolled limply in her hands as she watched a storm trooper slam into another—a sickening crunch echoed down the hall. Then another trooper simply ripped apart as if torn apart by a rancor. Yet there was no rancor. The trooper simply tore apart—blood everywhere.

As an inquisitor she had many powers. She had a great deal of knowledge of the physical and the mental of most of the known species in the galaxy. She was able to inflict pain by merely touching. She could direct the pain to anywhere she pleased on the body. She could touch the nervous system, control a sentient's muscles, and even feel and manipulate their emotions. In battle she was moderately skilled with a saber and had a keen sense of premonition. Most inquisitors had her powers to the same degree, though most had better saber skills whereas she was much better at reading others emotions.

She'd even seen Lord Vader asphyxiate a careless officer once. Yet, nothing approached the sheer level of brutality that young Senator Alderaan had just shown. Twelve storm trooper cut down in less than a minute. And not simply cut down. Cut down in a manner that left a clear message to anyone that stumbled upon the scene that something big bad and nasty had come this way.

She deactivated her saber and pushed her fear aside. Taking a deep breath, she voiced her suspicion about Leia. "You are not a Hand or an adept are you? You're a Sith."

"You don't serve the Emperor…" asked Drayneen carefully. While she was an expert at coercing information out of those she questioned, she knew that she was walking on very very thin ice.

Leia turned slowly as she also deactivated her saber. Her bright yellow eyes met Drayneen's blue ones. "Be careful what you believe, inquisitor." Leia's voice was not one of a young woman. Often she spoke as if she were a young teenager her age. Sometimes she spoke with a command of authority or in a dangerous business like no nonsense manner. Few had ever heard her speak as the Dark Side raged through her, and fewer had ever survived it. For this voice was not one of stern command or a happy young girl. It was one with the Dark Side—and the malice, the anger, the darkness of the Force permeated her voice. It was one that promised a brutal painful death like the ones the storm troopers had just received.

"You intend to destroy the Emperor and Vader?" asked Drayneen. The anger that flashed through Leia's eyes made her heart stop. She ignited her own light saber, but she knew it would be no use if Leia decided to kill her.

Drayneen would be forever grateful to Pooja Naberrie.

"Leia… Leia?!?!" came the voice of the Senator Naboo through the communicator. "LEIA, are you alright?!?! Siri said that something has happened."

It was like watching a hurricane dissipate before her very eyes. Slowly the yellow receded from the young Senator's eyes and they were once again deep brown. Her pale complexion slowly began to fill with color.

"I'm fine Pooj," came the voice of a young woman, so different from the demonic voice only a few moments before. "Just ran into some storm troopers. Nothing we couldn't handle."

"We're out of the base and we'll be out of communication range soon…" said Pooja with concern clearly evident in her voice.

"Pooj. Change of plan. We got Dzym to talk and he said that there is a plague based upon the Droch. We don't know much about how it works but you guys have to get back to Hweg Shul and find out. Bartam is supposed to release the plague into the galaxy and we have to stop him. If we don't… billions maybe even trillions might die."

There was silence. After a few moments Leia reached out with the Force to check their surroundings. A feeling of anticipation hung in the air, and Leia was sure that was the emotion of the Dark Sider who was not far away.

"Your question—about have I ever envisioned my brother and I living without the fear… " began Drayneen slowly.

"You were taken when you were young were you not?" interrupted Leia. She did not like the fact that the inquisitor had deduced that her goal was to destroy the Emperor.

"Eleven," answered Drayneen. "Marcus was thirteen."

"I too do not wish to live in fear. I had to hide from the Emperor ever since I was ten," said Leia truthfully. "I was sixteen when his assassin finally found me. She killed someone I held very dear—I barely escaped with my life. I will not live in fear for the rest of my life, inquisitor."

Drayneen closed her eyes for a second. She understood the young girl's desire. Long ago, when she was young she had day dreamed that her brother and she could live a life without the fear, without that dragon that wrapped itself around their hearts whenever they were together. Yet, as the years went by she had stopped believing that anything could be done. She had accepted her fate. She had lost something. "Hope."

"Hope and Faith," agreed Leia. "Hope that we can all live without having to run from assassins or… the fear of being found out and our loved ones being massacred as an example to us—to drive us further into despair."

Drayneen sighed and shook her head. "The question is can you succeed…"

"We don't have time to talk this through, Dray," said Leia. Impatience filled her voice. "We have to take care of business here and then… we will discuss."

"You will kill me if I don't agree to follow won't you? How does this make you different from the Emperor?"

Leia paused a moment as she gathered her thoughts before speaking. "I am not different from the Emperor in the way I will destroy my enemies as mercilessly as he does. But unlike him, I will defend those who serve me just as fiercely. The difference between us is that fear does not rule me. Palpatine fears that he will someday lose his power for he believes that only the desire for power drives the sentient. He is wrong and that will be his downfall."

"How do you know that he is wrong?"

"If that were true, you would have murdered your brother long ago. You have to rely on him to keep your secret—a secret that could destroy you. And yet you have never acted against him have you? It has never even crossed your mind to dispose of him so that you might be that much stronger and even though he is a weakness."

Drayneen simply nodded. There was something about this young girl—something special in the way she looked at the world.

"You may have lost hope of ever seeing yourselves free. But you have always kept faith in your brother. Just as he has faith in you. That is not the power that Palpatine believes in."

"No it is not." In that moment, Drayneen realized that she had somehow bought into the words of Senator Alderaan. Something inside her had changed as she stood surrounded by pools of blood. She wanted to be free of the fear. Free of constantly looking over her shoulder and wondering if she had become just a little too strong in the Force and would be executed because of it. Most of all, she wanted to talk to her brother as she had seen other families speak with one another. She wanted something… real. And now she could somehow see it happening. Hope.

In a single motion she knelt before the young Senator. "My Lady… I will pledge myself and all my skills to you. I want to see the man responsible for the death of my parents destroyed. I want to be with my brother. I want to be free from it all."

Leia made no move. She simply looked down at the beautiful inquisitor that knelt before her. Something had happened within the other woman--a decision had been made. A decision that had been always lurking under the surface of the cool cold exterior. Palpatine has utterly failed, mused Leia. No... It's not that he has failed, he has underestimated the will of sentients. It is that others have triumphed and held onto what they truly are.

"I accept. And I pledge to you that I will do all that is within me to see him destroyed. I will give you my loyalty as you have given me yours." Leia reached down and helped Drayneen up. "We really need to get going. Welcome to the Rebellion."

Drayneen let out a heartfelt laugh. "We always knew that Alderaan was connected to the rebels."

"Oh, this ain't the same Rebellion, inquisitor. This isn't the same Rebellion at all..."

"Leia!" came a voice through the communicator. "Leia, you still there?"

"It's been like ten minutes, yes we are still here. Are you guys out of the base yet?"

"Yes. We're almost out of range…" The communicator crackled and hissed. "… plan. We're going… confront… Bartam and stop him… Marcus… get us in… cut off... snake and stop plague."

Pooja's words stopped Leia cold. What in the name of the Force is she thinking?!!

"Pooj! Don't do something stupid!!" shouted Leia into the communicator. Nothing but static replied. Those words that she had just heard did not have a good omen to them. She whirled around to face Drayneen. "Tell me Marcus is not much of a martyr."

Drayneen's silence told Leia what the answer was.

"Please tell me he is not the martyr type," pleaded Leia again.

"I wish I could. But my earliest memory of him is him trying to rescue me after our parents were killed."

"Great. And I know Pooj will have no problem laying her life down for billions—or for even ten useless death stick addicts. And Siri… Just Great!" Fear coursed through Leia's veins. She hated when things began to spiral out of control. At least there was only one thing she could do. Leia seized the Dark Side again. The faster she finished here the faster she could catch up to her moronic cousin and her equally moronic companions.

"Alright Dray, let's go. You ask the questions and I'll apply the pain this time. It's gotta be quick and dirty."

"Interrogating Dzym was quick and dirty, Senator. I was not at my best."

"Well you better do better this time. We need to catch up to our idiotic comrades before they get themselves killed. They are going to confront Bartam, and for some reason I don't think your brother is powerful enough to wipe out a legion of storm troopers himself."

Drayneen looked at Leia and sighed. "Idiot. I'll get what we need to know from this Dark Sider."

"Right, and if I can't put him down quickly. You get the frick out of here and catch up to the others. You get them to wait for reinforcements."

"And you?"

"I'll hold whatever it is down there off until you escape."

Drayneen shook her head. "Weren't you just calling my brother and the others idiots for being martyr like?"

"Oh shut up," cried Leia, rolling her eyes skywards. Just what she needed—one more person to point out her inconsistencies. Why did everyone that she took into her service have a license to poke at her!! "It's different. I'm in charge."

"Uh huh," agreed Drayneen. "That makes it completely less martyr like."

Desert… Nam Chorios…

"How long will it take us to get back to Hweg Shul," asked Pooja, as she ran her hand through her dirty brown hair. The droids, herself, Marcus and Siri had a relatively easy time at the slaver base. R2 now held the entire database in his little mechanized head. While they had no time to sort through the data, everything they needed would be found there. They had even met with almost no resistance, just the few communication workers and the guard contingent that was outside the sensor array.

"Half the day," said Marcus as he piloted the air car that he had stolen. "I don't think we can make it faster than that. I also don't know if we have enough fuel to make it."

"There will be stations along the way. We will be able to fuel there," said Siri with little concern. "The question is how will we manage to gain access to Bartam."

"I am not worried about that. What I want to know is what exactly are you Ms. Teechi?" asked Marcus as he turned to look at the older woman. "How did you know that Leia was in trouble?"

"I am simply an agent for the Senator Alderaan. And I know she was in trouble simply because that's what she does—get into trouble," answered Siri serenely.

Pooja stifled a laugh. "That is so very true."

"That's not much of an answer," said Marcus. "I am not use to not having my answers evaded."

"Peace Marcus," said Pooja as she put her hand on his shoulder. "All will become clear in time. There are many things that cannot yet be revealed. I don't really think they need to be revealed either."

"The Senator is correct. It is very unlikely that we will all survive the coming confrontation," said Siri softly. "Be at peace inquisitor. Your sister is safe. I am sure that Senator Alderaan will see to that. She is more powerful than you can imagine."

"I can imagine a lot."

"Then you should be at ease."

Marcus did not reply and silence descended. The desert twilight slowly set in and the red purple light danced across the horizon. "How do we plan to get to see Bartam?"

"I will demand of it using my rights as a Senator. We can probably coerce some of the other Senators that are still here to come along. I think you adopting the mantle of an inquisitor will also get him to see us so long as we surprise him with our arrival."

"He'll try to kill us."

"Yes. But we will have a shot at him before he can have us killed. We'll have to try to escape afterwards, but the chances are slim," said Pooja, taking in a deep breath. "This is our only shot though. I do not think that we will get reinforcements before Bartam takes the Droch offworld. If we don't stop him now, billions may die."

"Then we will stop him," said Marcus, surprised at the surety in his own voice. He was a servant of the Empire, an extension of the Emperor's will. Surely saving the lives of billions was the will of the Emperor was it not?

Nam Chorios… Slaver Base

Several blaster bolts deflected harmlessly into the walls around her. The storm troopers that had intercepted them fired again only to watch the silver light saber deflect their shots back at them. The surviving troopers began to retreat but only to be crushed by a falling crate.

"You have good instincts," remarked Leia as she watched Drayneen eliminate the last of the squad of troopers that had attempted to stop them. She had not even drawn her own saber.

"Thank you. That was taxing though."

"Nothing like trial by fire. Just save enough energy so that you can make your escape if need be," said Leia as the two continued deeper into the base. "Can you sense where this Dark Sider is?"

"Not really, I get a feeling that it is in that general direction," answered Drayneen as she waved down the hall they were walking down. "But it's like a giant mist."

"It takes time to adjust when you are in the presence of someone very powerful."

"It's like this whenever I am around Lord Vader or the Emperor—or you just a little while ago. It's like being suffocated in a dark fog."

"Yeah, that's the general feeling. You have to hone your senses. Just takes a little practice. I'm surprised that this wasn't part of your training as an inquisitor."

"I'm sure it was designed to weaken us so that we could always be found if need be."

"Good point. I hope you have excellent acting skills, Dray. You will be much more powerful when you return to wherever you inquisitors go."


"Deep core world?"

"Yes and don't worry. I have excellent acting skills. It's Marcus that you have to worry about."

"Nice to know," chuckled Leia. "Ok, what do you sense now," asked Leia as the two came to a giant doorway at the end of a concourse.

"We have to be close… the fog is very thick here."

"Good. Whatever it is. It's on the otherside of this doorway. So… remember. I've been keeping my Force energies shielded. Whatever is in there probably doesn't sense me and thinks you are the one that is coming after it."

"Right. So he's going to attack me first?"

"Maybe, but this is the plan. Whatever he does, he is going to have his attention primarily focused on you. He might come after me first to get me out of the way. That's what he would do if he were smart. No matter what, as soon as I engage you need to get under cover. I'm not one of those who likes to feel out their opponents first."

"Shock and awe. It's a tactic the Imperial military uses often."

"Literally, and if it takes him down fast then we'll be able to get the hell out of here. Be ready to begin the interrogation as soon as he's down. But, also be ready to get out of here when I tell you to. If I don't think I can beat him you need to get clear, so I can execute a fighting retreat."

"Alright… so I open the door?"

"Yes. Ready?"

"Here we go." Drayneen seized the Force. She had never been an overpowering Force user. Most of the time she simply convinced her subjects that she was on their side. They told her what she needed to know and she would let her lackeys do the dirty work. Still, she was an inquisitor. They were the highest ranked of the Emperor's force adepts. The more powerful inquisitors were as powerful as a fully trained Jedi Knight. The weaker ones generally were the strength of a Jedi Padawan, albeit a senior one. With intense concentration, Drayneen slowly pried the doors open with the Force.

"Not bad. You ok?"

"That wasn't bad," answered Drayneen. She looked calm in her borrowed brown uniform. Her breath was coming slightly hard, but she was well under control. "I rarely exert this much Force energy."

Leia nodded and stepped forward through the doorway. The lighting was poor and only the emergency lights were on. Shadows pooled everywhere and Leia could feel the Dark Side clouding everything around her.

The space they entered was enormous. There were hundreds of durasteel crates stacked all around. It reminded her of her encounter with Han Solo the previous year. "MOVE!" shouted Leia as she pushed Drayneen to the side.

Her encounter with Solo had not been a particularly fun event. She had broken several ribs and her arm in the fight with the Wookie. Then Solo almost killed her by dropping fifty tons of durasteel crates on her. And THEN she almost had Black Sun kill her—she had yet to settle that score. It wasn't coincidence that had dredged up that memory. It was the Force telling her that there was danger.

And she was right. Not a second after she had pushed Drayneen to the side and Force leapt from the spot they were standing, a massive shape descended and crashed down exactly where they had been.

"Hohoho," came a deep booming voice. Ruby eyes appeared as a giant nine meter long shape began to rise up. A gleaming purple light saber ignited, casting an eerie light into the dark room.

"Well I'll be Force damned," remarked Leia as she looked at her opponent.

"You have to be shitting me," added Drayneen as she dusted herself off and looked at their opponent. "I have to be dreaming."

"Oh we aren't dreaming," said Leia as she came to stand next to Drayneen. "We are definitely not seeing things."

"Garuga, bima oria, Jedi," boomed the voice.

"What did he just say?" asked Drayneen.

"I have no idea," shrugged Leia.

"Jedi, you should bow before the might of Beldorian the Splendid," repeated the voice.

"Are you sure we aren't hallucinating? This isn't one of your illusions is it?" asked Drayneen.

"Nope. That really is a Hutt. And it really has a lightsaber in his hand." And so much more made sense and so much more made no sense. Hutts had no compulsions about slavery. In fact, slavery was something that was normal in their sphere of space. However, Hutts primarily cared about wealth. It was very unlike them to engineer bio diseases that would decimate the galactic population. In fact, that was very not Hutt-like since plagues were bad for business.

"It's not like any Hutt I have ever seen. It's lean and muscular. I thought they were all fat and slobbish. Can you beat it?"

"He's strong," was all that Leia could say. "I think maybe we should talk with it first."

"Right," said Drayneen. She stepped forward to speak before Leia could protest. "Greetings Beldorian the Splendid. I am Inquisitor Drayneen Seyfarth. I greet you in the name of the Emperor Palpatine."

"You seem familiar to Beldorian. You are one of the little darklings that were captured before. Ahh… Seti spoke to me of the necessity of your codes."

"Asghard Seti is a traitor to the Empire. My Emperor will dispatch forces here shortly to dispose of him and the Grand Moff that you must have spoken to before. Whatever they offered you cannot be worth the displeasure of the Sith Master."

Drayneen's mind was working furiously. Ashgard Seti had been exiled here to the Meridion Sector. She had no knowledge that he had actually been behind anything here. However, it would make sense. He was a shrewd political creature and if Bartam was actively working on this world then Seti had to be in on it. The old man would not let anything this large escape his notice.

The Hutt paused and both Drayneen and Leia could feel a flash of fear run through him at the mention of the Sith Master.

"Beldorian is old. Far older than the Sith Master. Beldorian has trained with great masters such as Yoda."

"Yoda was defeated by my Master," pronounced Drayneen. "Join with us Beldorian the splendid. Tell us what you know about this plot against my Master. About this plague and the crystals."

"HmHmHm. The crystals weaken the Droch, but the crystals are alive. They will not work off this world."

"Interesting. And what about Seti and Bartam. Where do they intend to take this plague?"

"Beldorian does not know and does not care. Most likely to the world of your Emperor… but of course now that Beldorian has told you such—you must die."

"We have what we need. We will leave you in peace and I will tell my Emperor that you have aided our cause."

"You speak truthfully," boomed Beldorian's voice. "But your companion radiates an intent to kill me. If Beldorian lets you go, your Emperor will come for me. I do not believe that I can permit that," said the Hutt dropping the third person. "As I said, I am old but I am not stupid."

The Hutt threw out his hand and unleashed a Force push that threw Drayneen and Leia backwards. Yet, just as Leia had predicted the Hutt had concentrated on Drayneen instead of the true threat. While Drayneen was sent tumbling, Leia flew backwards, flipped gracefully and landed on her feet.

Force lightning exploded from her hands and struck the Hutt causing him to scream in pain. However, Beldorian was not weak in the Force and he knew how to use the Force nexus that existed on Nam Chorios to enhance his powers. Slowly he brought his saber to intersect the lightning and turn it back.

Seeing that her lightning was being pushed back, Leia abandoned her attempt at sizzling the green monster and Force leapt in with her saber ignited. The Hutt easily parried her and lashed out with his muscular tail.

Leia was not taken by surprise. She vaulted backwards and using Beldorian's tail as a springboard she flipped over and away from him. Again she sent a blast of lightning his way, but the Hutt absorbed the lightning with an outstretched hand.

Leia seized a durasteel crate with the Force and flung it Beldorian only to have the Hutt send it careening into other crates with a wave of his hand.

"Hohoho. You are strong, but not as strong as Beldorian."

"You have got to quit it with the third person," griped Leia. She leapt in again and attacked with a quick three strikes against the Hutt who easily parried them all.

"Hoho. Ataru," laughed the Hutt as he launched a counter offensive. His tail lashed out again, causing Leia to have to leap into the air. As she was caught in the air, the Hutt struck like a coiled viper. Leia could not believe how fast the Hutt could move. She brought her saber up and intersected his attack, but only barely. The sheer force of it drove her backwards in the air and she hit a crate. Pain lanced through her body as she fell downwards. She concentrated and landed on her feet, but was forced to her knees.

She had no time to recover. The Hutt's size belied his speed. He was on her again before she even had time to raise her head. The Force told her that an overhand strike was coming and she instinctively raised her blade to intersect it. This time she parried the blow and when the next attack from Beldorian came, Leia leveraged her parry so as to utilize the Hutts on strength against him.

She flipped over and attempted to strike at his midsection only to find that the Hutt was prepared. Beldorian blocked her counter strikes and then threw a Force push at her. Leia countered with her own push and the energies collided forcing them both back.

"Hoho, Djem So. Incomplete. Your forms are lacking," criticized Beldorian. "Perhaps you should have sought training from Master Yoda. A powerful Jedi that one."

"You know, the last Hutt that laughed at me… He didn't laugh much when I turned him into ash."

"Your Force lightning does not scare me little darkling. It is nothing that I have not encountered," laughed the Hutt.

Another hiss snap and Leia saw Drayneen launch an attack at the Hutt. "Dray NO!" she cried out. The warning was too late. The Hutt easily parried the inquisitors attack and then Force pushed her backwards flinging her into a wall. Leia winced in pain, but a sense of relief filled her. Dray was lucky to have gotten off so easily.

She reached for the Dark Side as she had so often done before. However, this time she demanded more. Not since she had fought Mara Jade had she truly had the need to push her abilities. However, against this Hutt she could not win without pushing her Force abilities to the edge and then beyond. She let out a scream of rage as the Dark Side rushed into her sending icy shivers down her spine.

Her yellow colored eyes filled with malice, Leia reached out with one hand while she held her saber in the other. She collected the Force energy and shaped it into a living weapon.

The Hutt was no fool. He struck at Leia before she could complete whatever she was doing. Leia blocked several strikes by him before she leapt backwards. Without both hands, she did not have the strength to keep blocking the Hutt's powerful blows. She only needed a few more seconds. She Force leapt upwards and landed on top of several crates. The Hutt immediately slammed into the crates below her to dislodge her, but Leia had the time to finish her spell.

With a scream of rage, she threw her Force energy downwards at the Hutt. Beldorian summoned up whatever Force powers of his own and threw a powerful wave of Force energies upwards. Had Leia's Force blast been an ordinary one, the Hutt's would have dissipated her attack. Leia, however, had modified her attack. Generally two force waves were like two waves of water crashing into one another. If one was stronger than another, then that wave might be able to get through, but usually they simply cancelled each other out. Leia had concentrated her energies at the front of her attack, and when that attack hit Beldorian's it dissipated. However, she had delayed the end of her attack slightly so that more energy shifted to the rear. Her attack was designed to pierce through an opponent's attempt at deflection. The ancient Sith referred to the technique as a Force Spear. It worked. The spear pierced through Beldorian's energies and struck the Hutt in the arm sending him spinning into the ground screaming in pain.

Leia leapt downwards for the killing blow only to find that the Hutt had recovered. Beldorian whirled around and intersected her blow with his own purple lightsaber. "Hoho. Good technique."

Leia could see that the Hutt was bleeding from the wound, but he was still using the arm. The creature had to be in intense pain, and a small part of Leia knew that he was using that pain to motivate himself. To make himself stronger. This was not good.

Sometimes she hated being right. The Hutt threw himself into Ataru with a vengeance. Leia had never been the best light saber combatant and the combinations/katas that the Hutt were using against her were pressing her to the limit. Time and time again Beldorian's blows reigned down. From above, from the side, from the front. Leia could do nothing more than stay on the defensive. With each blow she felt herself get weaker.

A blow nicked her in the shoulder, and then on the arm. Desperation grew within her, she knew her strengths, but Hutts were notoriously immune to mind tricks. Would her illusions work on him? She had no choice but to try. She reached for the Force again and projected herself to her left and to the right. The Hutt stopped momentarily and then struck at one of the illusions which danced back away from him.

Leia vanished the alternate illusion and stepped back into the Darkness. She had always thought that the illusions were mind tricks, but it seemed that perhaps that Sith magic might be something more. She reached deeper into the Dark Side of the Force.

Drayneen, she thought to her companion. Strike me down.

Suddenly, there was a snap-hiss and a silver light saber was protruding from her body. Behind her was the beautiful inquisitor with a sad look on her face. "I'm sorry, but I need to return to the Emperor," said the inquisitor.

"Hoho," replied the Hutt. He lowered his saber. "You're companion's life for your life? That is the bargain you wish to make."

"No," replied the image of Drayneen.

There was no warning for the Hutt as the real Leia stepped forward and cut straight through the Hutts tail. The Hutt screamed as an entire meter of him was severed from the rest of his body. "No," said the image and Leia at the same time. It's time for you to die."

Leia tapped the Force and projected another image. Beldorian sliced at the image that was racing up his spine and struck it, only to find a gleaming red light saber sticking from his chest. "Impossible," he wheezed. "I'm a Hutt… we cannot be tricked."

Leia withdrew her saber and then brought up her left hand. Sith lightning exploded from her hand and struck the fallen Jedi over and over until his skin began to broil. "I told you not to laugh at me," sneered Leia as she blasted Beldorian's corpse one last time before falling to her knees panting.

She coughed and wheezed as she caught her breath. Her body ached from the exertion but at least she didn't have any serious wounds. It was a tough fight, she mused to herself. I just killed a fully trained Jedi or Fallen Jedi… or whatever he was. Leia felt elation at her accomplishment. She knew she was powerful, but she also knew that she had never defeated her father or Siri in a sparring match. There had always been that little part that was unsure of herself, but this victory gave her confidence.

She felt, rather than heard or saw, the real Drayneen come up behind her. Leia frowned. If there was a moment for the inquisitor to betray her it was now. She was tired, but Leia had still plenty of fight left in her. The inquisitor would be making a very bad mistake if she were to try anything.

"Faith," said Drayneen simply as she saw Leia's hands tighten around the cylinder that was her light-saber. She reached out slowly and grabbed the young Sith at the elbow. Slowly she helped Leia stand. "Are you going to make it? We have to catch up with the others."

"Only if you're driving," chuckled Leia wearily as she leaned into the inquisitor for support. "I have a little bit left in me. I'll make it."

"Alright," said Drayneen as she helped Leia across the room. She turned right as they were about to exist to take one last look at the corpse of the Hutt Jedi. "How are we going to explain that?"

"Flame throwers," said Leia. "He got charred up by some flame throwers."

Drayneen let out a laugh. She leaned down and set herself to shoulder more of Leia's weight. They had a long way to go yet and they could still possibly run into more trouble. Hopefully they wouldn't run into any trouble that she couldn't handle.

Another Chapter!! I hope you all enjoyed it. This was a fun chapter to write so it went quickly. I have low self esteem. Make me feel better with a review--or 3. Also, I'll figure something out with this whole beta process. I start a new job tommorow so... ugh.