This story is dedicated to Markus who suggested the crossover and helped in the story's development. Enjoy!
Edbar flatly replied, "Long enough to clear Coruscant's atmosphere. Probably in deep space by now. Good younglings, they were. I just pray the Emperor doesn't send his stormtroopers..."
"...Or," said Wilsh with great concern, "send them..." His face blanched at the inevitable outcome.
"We must hide! Find Belma then come with me!"
In the Imperial Palace, Palpatine smiled with satisfaction. So, there are more Jedi, and living right under our very noses. He remembered Ricar Tasou, and the Jedi's heartfelt resignation from the Order to marry Belma Bucpa.
He also recalled, a few years after the marriage and birth of the younglings, Ricar returning to the Order by request of Jedi colleagues. Ah, thought the Emperor, that was all calculated on his part. Ricar Tasou believed his old master Artmo Hox had been captured by General Grievous, thus Tasou ended up prisoner himself. There was something else: the actual fate of Master Hox. The Jedi had simply disappeared, perhaps died in combat. The Emperor had no idea Hox still lived but far, far away from the galaxy. Just where Hox's present location was unknown, but right now it was Ricar's children, Marbe and Kirel, the Emperor wanted. The Force ran strong in those two, and if they followed in their father's footsteps, as Palpatine reasoned, they could be a threat to the Empire. Well, there was one Jedi he sought to get into his clutches. That would be Darth Vader's son, Luke Skywalker. No matter, there is time, and the young Apprentice, despite his seemingly solid grasp of the Force, can still be turned to the dark side. Vader will see to that. As it stood now, young Skywalker was en route to Tatooine, to rescue his friends Han Solo and Princess Leia from the crime boss Jabba the Hutt.
However, there were new young Jedi on the run, as reported by His Excellency's spy, Spence Llan. Somehow, Palpatine knew the Tasous had never left Coruscant, that they were in hiding somewhere within Imperial City. Years of searching and careful espionage at last paid off as Llan finally spotted Wilsh Wolon, a lowly clerk living with his elderly aunt and uncle. Wolon, obviously purchasing food for his guests, unwittingly let the name "Marbe" slip, but he quickly covered up his mistake. But not soon enough for Llan to partially uncover a nearly two-decade secret. Ever the thorough spy, Llan planted a homing beacon on Wolon's speeder then followed the signals to a house in Coco Town. There was something else Spence Llan managed to plant – a tiny probe droid undetected by the unsuspecting Wolons. There the droid recorded all information: Belma Tasou and her children had indeed been hiding all these years.
Alas, Marbe and Kirel had been long gone by the time Wilsh Wolon returned home. No matter, thought the Emperor, let them go. He had already hired a bounty hunter, Len Targ, to find the young Jedi, then dispatched Stormtroopers to the Wolon home. In time, there shall be no more Jedi. The Emperor will have Luke Skywalker right where he wants him, and the Tasous will be just another bad memory.
On the Endurance, somewhere in deep space...
"Did you feel that?," asked Kirel as he tried to determine the skiff's course.
"Yes, I did," replied Marbe.
They both felt that deep sorrow long before they cleared Coruscant's atmosphere. They felt a strange rumble in the Force, as if many cried out in pain. Kirel was the first to feel it, and sense what was happening on the surface, in Imperial City, in the Coco Town district. He could hear the Wolons' cries of surprise and desperate pleas for their lives. He sensed that old couple and their nephew, holed up in a tiny hidden attic space. Belma Tasou refused to hide, preferring to face death she knew would come. It was a profound relief on her part; she had lived for her family, now was the time to let go, to be one with the Force. She faced her fate with a courage unbounded as Stormtroopers blasted their way into her bedroom. She put up no fight, offered no resistance. Belma Tasou died knowing her children were at last free and safe.
"Miss them not. Mourn them not," siad Kirel. "That's what Yoda always said."
Now was not the time for tears. Marbe and Kirel had to determine their destination. For obvious reasons, the Core Worlds were not the best places to hide out. Imperial starfighters could be anywhere, and even the Endurance with its two potent laser cannons was no match against Imperial firepower. However, the skiff was lightspeed capable, so making a quick getaway just in case...
"Master Kirel," said the protocol droid HK-47, "if I may, I believe the ship's course is pre-set."
HK-47 was Kirel's personal droid, bought by Ricar years ago. HK was originally an assassin droid, programmed to kill and nothing more. However, by the time Ricar purchased the droid, HK had been reprogrammed as a straight protocol droid, fluent in more than five million forms of communication, yet still retaining his usefulness in combat. A deadly sharpshooter when armed with a blaster, HK didn't quite lose all his love for bloodlust; however, that reckless, uninhibited "I love to kill" streak was very evident.
HK, despite his violent past and tendencies, had a sharp sense of humor often verging on insults. He referred to all organic lifeforms as "meatbags" and delighted in directing disparaging comments towards R2-T7, Marbe's astromech droid. Still, HK possessed a noncommittal, nonchalant attitude towards his masters, a useful trait for any born killer. Unlike the more polished and refined protocol droid, C-3PO, HK-47 had no moral compass; he had no concept of right and wrong.
"What do you mean," asked Marbe, "that the course is pre-set?"
HK replied in his deep rumbling voice, "Before departing, Madame Tasou had R2 recalibrate the auto-navigation. This was in keeping with your father's wishes, that is if the opportunity for escape arises."
Kirel nodded, now knowing that Mom and Dad knew something may go wrong. These plans were made long before Ricar's capture and death, as dictated to his wife. Somehow Ricar foresaw the coming Jedi purge and took great pains to ensure his children's future.
"So," said Marbe, "they knew all along. Well, looks like we won't head for Tatooine or Dagobah."
Kirel agreed, saying, "Mom and Dad obviously wanted what was best for us. So, I wonder what system this is set for."
"Who knows," said Marbe, "at least we'll be out of harm's way." She heard the familiar beeping of her faithful astromech droid. She asked, "R2, will we be able to make the jump into hyperspace?"
Little R2-T7's dome head spun around; her single red eye glowed as she uttered a series of beeps and warbles. HK translated, "She says the course is set for a system far beyond our galaxy."
"But where exactly?," asked Marbe.
"I suppose," replied Kirel, "we'll find out when we get there. Probably one of the Outer Rim systems."
Itching to make the jump to hyperspace, he said, "Gotta set these coordinates just right, or else we'll smack into an asteroid belt or supernova...At least we'll outrun any Imperial cruisers or starfighters. Let's see what this baby can do."
Within seconds, the Endurance zoomed into deep space, and the Tasous wondered what strange, fantastic adventures awaited.
At the same time the Endurance streaked across the blackness of space towards an unknown star system, a lone Jedi Knight made a return trip to his home planet. He just prayed it wasn't too late to save his friends, or else the Rebel Alliance would be lost.
Copyright @2006 by P.R. Parker. All Rights Reserved.