This story is dedicated to Markus who suggested the crossover and helped in the story's development. Enjoy!
After dispatching the pirate, Len, in haste to fulfill the Emperor's wishes to find and bring back the Tasous, offered a handsome fee to anyone who captured, preferably killed, the remainder of Hugon's band. There were many takers, most notably, a spy from Dantooine. This man, who used to perform espionage for the Separatists during the Clone Wars, passed on extraordinary information that Len found most useful.
The spy, Worge, told Len about an unusual discovery made by Count Dooku many years before the conflict between the Trade Federation and Old Republic.
He could tell Len so much as he had never been through it himself, but he said, "Dooku discovered what looked like a black hole, but it is, in reality, some kind of dimension breach. Where it leads to I am not sure. Dooku revealed this to me, and only me. I was not to say one word about this breach, not even to the Emperor himself. Dooku had hoped, once the Separatists emerged victorious after the Clone War, to return to that breach, perhaps penetrate it once more."
Len was intrigued, so he asked, "And where is this breach?"
Worge replied, "Apparently it lies far beyond the Outer Rim. I'm not sure of the exact coordinates, but Dooku did drop some hints of the exact location..."
There was something else Worge told Len Targ: Count Dooku, years before he became a key player in the Clone Wars, actually made one trip through that breach. No one knew of this journey other than Worge. What the spy found intriguing was what Dooku brought back from that trip.
"A creature unlike any I've seen in our galaxy. Huge beyond compare, taller than the largest of our animals. Long neck, too, but a ridiculously small head for a beast that size. Dooku kept it in a hidden compound on Dantooine, protected by numerous towers and force fields. No one knew of this compound, or its resident other than myself."
Again, a curious Len asked, "What became of this creature, and what was Dooku's purpose of keeping it?"
Worge replied, "That I do not know. I assumed Dooku wanted to use the beast as part of the Separatist war machine. He endeavored to train it for combat, but it never quite learned. Dooku told me he thought the animal stupid, and therefore let the creature languish in the compound. That was when he aligned with the Sith Lord Sidious. He hired me to look after it, but one morning, as I brought its favorite green food, the creature was gone. Vanished, just like that. I assumed bandits had stolen it during the night, but how does one manage to board an animal of that size on a ship? What manner of ship would carry an animal of that tremendous weight? What did it matter, anyway. Dooku was firmly entrenched in the wars and ultimately killed. Whatever became of his prize is still a mystery to me."
Well, this wasn't quite what Len wanted to hear. Sure, Worge's tales of Count Dooku's clandestine foray through a mysterious space breach resulting in bringing back an exotic animal were fascinating, but Len needed leads on the fugitive Jedi. This Dantooine spy may have at least seen the star skiff the Tasous used to escape Coruscant.
He asked, "Any chance a skiff landed here in the past day or two? The ship is identical to what Senator Amidala owned, though it may be the same."
Worge stroked his thin chin whiskers, replying, "No such ship has landed here, and I've been in Mos Eisley for more than a month." He paused, thought it over then added:
"Wait, while on a quick trip from here to Dantooine, I did see a skiff matching your description. But that was days ago. I thought nothing of it, but it did give me pause that it went into hyperspace. I have no idea to where it was going since there is precious little beyond the Outer Rim, just the edge of our galaxy, and I have no idea what is beyond that, other than that breach..."
Snapping his fingers, Len Targ said, "That's it! They've gone through it! Give me those coordinates again, then tell me exactly where you last saw that skiff."
After penetrating the planet's atmosphere, the Endurance streamed through blue skies and fluffy white clouds. The landforms below finally took shape, giving Marbe and Kirel some idea of what to expect upon landing. The big question was just where to land.
"Scan the surface again," said Kirel to his sister. "There has to be a settlement somewhere, perhaps a landing platform."
Marbe nodded, replying, "We'll need coordinates, instructions–"
She stopped herself, wondering whether this planet may not have cities or other settlements, human or otherwise. Just as she assumed before, this planet may be hopelessly backward and have not anything by way of advanced technology. Perhaps the planet's inhabitants are nomads; they travel from place to place, settling nowhere.
Allowing herself to trust her own feelings, she said to her brother, "I'm picking up the presence of lifeforms, but I have a feeling no one will respond to our transmissions."
Raising an eyebrow, Kirel said, "Lifeforms? I wonder what kind? Alien? Human? Animal?"
"We," said Marbe, "won't know until we get down there. Hmm...Looks kind of arid and desolate, much like Tatooine."
HK-47, strangely silent while his human masters continued to scan the planet's surface for lifeforms, said to R2T7, "You know, shortie, methinks these young meatbags have yet to learn to follow the instructions left by their father. Why, one can plainly see on Madame Tasou's Holocron the precise landing coordinates."
Little R2, while not relishing HK's jabs at her diminutive stature, whistled and beeped as she rolled toward her mistress.
"R2," said a presently perturbed Marbe, "what is it? Have you made contact with the surface"?
The astromech droid wheeled her dome-shaped head, beeped madly, then proceeded to call up the Holocron. In that shadowy image Marbe could see her father, Ricar Tasou, as vibrant as if he was still among the living. Well, he is still here, but one with the Force. Marbe nudged her brother, saying, "Hey, it's Father. I believe he's been here before; I can feel it."
Kirel, his eyes fixed on his father's serenely handsome face, replied, "Yeah, I feel it, too. Wonder when he made this?"
The young Jedi's question was soon answered as the holographic image of Ricar Tasou began to speak:
"My children, I recorded this long ago, before I married your mother, before you were born. Yes, I have been here before, when I was a young Apprentice. What you are about to experience will mark the beginning of your everlasting destiny. I am not at liberty to divulge what is to come for the pair of you, but the creatures you will encounter will leave upon you a lasting mark. No, there are no humans here – Humans have yet to inhabit this planet, and that will not be for millions of years. Yet, there may be one, maybe two humans you may encounter. One I met during my second visit here. Listen to him, as he is wise and knows much about the creatures you will meet."
Kirel looked at his sister; he whispered to her, "Didn't he say there are no humans there, but we'll meet a human after all. I don't get it."
Marbe whispered back, "Neither do I, but..."
They continued to watch their father's flickering image, wondering what exactly happened during his first visit to this strange planet. So many unanswered questions: What did Ricar experience there? What types of creatures did he encounter? Why did he make a return trip?
To this, Ricar had already sense his children's wariness. He told them, "Marbe and Kirel, don't let your fears and doubts cloud your better judgement. Use the Force. Let it guide and speak to you. As I said, you may meet one, perhaps two, humans, but these meetings will be brief and swift. Forge friendships with the creatures, for they possess wisdom and compassion not like the myriad animals of our home galaxy. Now, here are the landing coordinates..."
After Ricar gave his children landing instructions, he concluded with this: "Once there, you might search for Master Artmo Hox. My last communcation with him indicated exactly what happend to him. I am sure he is there, on that planet, perhaps near the spot where you will land. Now, go and fulfill your respective destinies. Incredible adventure await. Good-bye, and may the Force be with you."
Marbe and Kirel watched as the Holonet faded from view. They looked at each other, and at last they knew exactly what to do.
"I guess," said Kirel, "this is where we land. Hmm...Still looks kind of desolate, but if it's like Tatooine, we may run into someone, or something."
Marbe wanted to laugh as she replied, "Well, I have a feeling this planet, while it may resemble Tatooine on the surface, is nothing like that den of ne'er-do-wells. Hey, didn't Father say we might encounter a couple of humans?"
Kirel laughed himself and nodded. "If he met humans on his last visit here, then those guys might still be here. And I'm with you: This planet is nothing like Tatooine. At least there's no one like the Hutts or the other wackos who frequent that cantina in Mos Eisley."
With a sigh, he added, "Oh well, here goes. We'll need to take speeder bikes to get around. And don't forget the provision packs. Even if there is potable water and edible foods, we'll need something for the trip across the surface."
Marbe said, "Yes, perhaps what they eat might be nothing we're accustomed to. Oh, we'll need to charge up our lightsabers."
She turned to HK-47 and said, "You and R2 go ahead of us. We'll be in constant contact if anyone should run into any lifeforms."
HK, while not relishing being stuck with "Shortie," assented to go ahead of his human masters.
Double-checking his blasters, he said, "I assume I'm allowed to use this in the event any lifeforms threaten us."
To this a concerned Kirel turned to his sister, asking, "Do you think we'll encounter any hostile types? Father didn't mention anything like that."
Marbe Tasou, charging her lightsaber, replied, "If we do, we're prepared. Now, let us land and explore this planet. I'm anxious to learn what secrets this place holds, and why it drew our father here two times..."
Copyright @2006 by P.R. Parker. All Rights Reserved.