The gray smoke from the gunfight began to clear. Skyl’n took a deep breath, ignoring the acrid air, trying to let the Force to flow through her. Her heart was hammering in her ears and sweat is pooling behind her lekkus. It took all the years of training she had to not wiggle them with irritation or anticipation. She leaned into the pillar she hid behind, easing weight off the throbbing in her left leg.
Grand Moff Kilrin had shattered her leg armor, scorching her shin and lower thigh with a blast from a rifle that was nearly as long as she was tall. In a different situation, she would have something snide to say. Here she remained silent, concentrating.
Here was the Maelstrom Prison. She and her team had been tasked by the Jedi Council to rescue its sole prisoner. They had already infiltrated Taral V, a heavily fortified moon of Dromund Kaas, to steal a Gree computer just to be able to navigate here. Standard navi-comps couldn’t compute the jumps in this space through the interference in the Maelstrom Nebula.
Whoever this prisoner was, he was important to both sides. The Republic had already sacrificed a great deal to reach him. The Empire had gone to great lengths to conceal him. Rycus Kilran himself was charged with securing the prison. Sky grimaced thinking of Kilran’s scarred face. Her many run-ins with him since the massacre at Coruscant had etched his cruel grey eyes and mocking voice into her nightmares. She tamped the anger bubbling in her from her mind, closing her eyes, taking another deep, calming breath.
It wasn’t working very well. She felt strange here. The Force felt strange here. Charged, like air before a thunderstorm about to burst.
Skyl’n suppressed an impatient sigh and glanced behind her. She could see Rho, a Miralukan Consular, in the dim green shadows of the prison lights. He frowned in her direction. They battled together so many times, that even if the Miraluken didn’t have extra Force sensitivity, he knew her well enough to nearly read her mind. A wave of warmth coursed through her leg as he sent a Force heal. The throbbing eased and she shot a grateful smile in his direction.
She stole a peek around the pillar. Kilran hadn’t moved from the base of the ramp where he stood sneering, ready to snipe anyone unwary enough to catch his gaze. He was waiting for his 5th Fleet Bodyguard troopers to jetback down as his reinforcements.
Sky couldn’t see Captain Taita, her other companion, though she could sense him through the Force. She’d met the slick smuggler at the Republic Fleet Cantina. Despite her initial distrust of what she had construed as quiet boasting, he had turned out to be the best pilot she’d ever known. Handy in a gunfight, too. Very little disturbed Tai’s self-assurance. Even as she heard the whine of the 5th Fleet jet packs, Tai’s voice in her earpiece was low and calm, “Two on the left, one on the right” he said. Three heartbeats. “Now!” Tai commanded.
Augmented with the Force, Skyl’n catapulted into the first soldier before he could land, sending him sprawling heavily into the walkway, his armor scraping, jetpack scorching a skid into duracrete. With a small smirk and a crooked finger, she faced the other two troopers. The taunt worked. As they converged, she spun her lightsaber in a full arc, catching the first across his chest, the second into his knees, stunning both. She knew she only had seconds. She could sense more than see Kilran aiming his enormous rifle at her, but then Tai and Rho were on him, and he staggered back under their assault.
Sky took advantage of her temporary advantage over the three troopers with a Soresu combination. She used a thrust kick into one of the troopers. She swung her lightsaber at the second trooper, but he dodged, his armor sizzling where she grazed him. The first trooper had pulled himself to stand and though he was unsteady, managed to fire a slew of rapid shots at her. Sky rolled, feeling her armor cutting into her chest, but catching one of the troopers by his legs. By now, she lost track of which one was which, but used this one’s weight to slam into one of the others. It was an almost automatic rotation, the slash of her lightsaber, a roundhouse kick, parry. Screams and groans. Hers. Theirs. Repeat. Repeat again. Sudden quiet.
She had defeated the three troopers. She turned to the others.
Kilran was alone now, his broad silhouette finally flagging under Rho and Tai’s assault. Skylin stepped back and leapt again, this time bringing an overhead smash down on the Grand Moff. She felt a trickle of anger escape her as her lightsaber bore down on him.
“So much still left to conquer,” the Butcher of Coruscant gasped. Disgusting how the man wore that nickname proudly. She stood over him watching the life ebb out of his eyes, remembering the shock she had felt as a Padawan, watching the Jedi temple burning.
Shaking her head, Skyl’n tried to rally a more Jedi appropriate feeling than the grim satisfaction she felt as he drew a last shuddering breath.
Rho was frowning at her again. He could sense these flashes of darkness she had been feeling.
But he merely said, “There is more to be done here,” as he started to slice a large computer console.
She shrugged to herself- even the normally compassionate Miralukan hadn’t tried healing Kilran either. As Rho worked, a strange cell emerged from above, a man suspended within by some sort of purple electrical field. With shock, Sky recognized it as Force lightning.
The prisoner was released, suddenly falling crumpled on the ground before them.
Before she could aid him, the prisoner pulled himself up, “What have you done?” he demanded. He was shaking, but it was anger rolling in waves from him. Skyl’n resisted the urge to step back.
Who was this?
He was wearing the simple brown robes of a Jedi, but little else was distinctive about him. He was average height, his features bland, hair a dull brown. He was tattooed, the pattern one she couldn’t quite place. Yet something remained familiar about him, but in a way that raised goosebumps on her arms.
The bland face belied his arrogance…and his power.
With a start, Skylin recognized his face. From the Archives.
It always seems to come back to Revan. Drew Karpyshyn’s Revan intrigued me to play my first MMO, and he pops up in the game often.
Linda has been a Star Wars fan from the time she saw Episode IV in the theatre with her parents and insisted on being Han Solo while playing with the neighborhood kids. She’s now a fangirl who splits her time learning to twirl a bo staff like Ray Park, jumping horses, writing fanfic she dreams up on her commute to work, and spending time with her husband and their own feisty Padawan version of Ahsoka.
Latest posts by Linda (see all)
- An Interview with Tom Hoeler, a Del Rey Editor - July 9, 2019
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- Behind the Book: Interviewing Timothy Zahn on Thrawn: Alliances - August 8, 2018