1: VADER'S TRAP
CHAPTERS 17 - 24
Story © Copyright M.Kuppe
Leia sighed. So much for that idea! I didn't think it would be that easy, but I could always hope that we'd get a break sometime. "Thank you Threepio, that will be all."
"If you pardon, Mistress, that is not all."
"What are you talking about Goldenrod?" Han had joined them in the briefing room. He was just about to see if Leia needed anything before he left.
Threepio turned stiffly to face Han. "Well, sir. It seems that when I was correlating the facts on our staff histories, a very peculiar anomaly occurred."
"Threepio, please, get on with it!" Now Leia was getting anxious. Having Luke away, a potential spy in their midst and the pressures of setting up this new base were beginning to take a toll on her patience.
Threepio turned back and did a double take at Han. He was unsure of who he should address next. He tilted his head and shuffled back to face Leia.
"As I said, it seems that when I was collecting this data, I felt that I had made a mistake somewhere along the way, because I was certain I had come across information that I had already recorded. It turns out that I hadn't been mistaken, because when I double- checked, I discovered that two of your staff here have identical background histories. I must add that the odds of this happening, well, are even beyond my capacity! As well as exactly the same names, these two humans have identical backgrounds, including exact family member data! The only difference that sets them apart are their retinal scans on file." Threepio looked genuinely pleased with himself, if a droid can be said to be proud. He handed Leia the datatapes of his findings.
"It looks like we have our spy." added Han.
which one is which?" Leia wondered aloud.
His deep voice rumbled with menacing power. "You will do as I say, or you will never see your dear Skywalker again!"
He suddenly stopped his tirade and cocked his head a bit. He seemed to be listening to something she could not pick up with her own ears. He whispered "Good he has arrived."
Luke! No! Kali took her one opportunity. While he seemed to be in his trance-like state, using the Force to track Luke's progress, she darted away into the forest underbrush as fast as she could. R4 tried to follow her, but Vader recovered. He lifted the droid high in the air then brought it crashing down on top of Kali. Knocking her over, Kali tried to roll out of the way to prevent being crushed by the weight of the droid's body, only to be pinned down by her left leg. She pushed the unit off her, but not before ejecting the datatape of the Imperial's conversation about the spy. Arfour was still. The blow had completely destroyed it's circuits, and Kali knew she could do nothing for him. She got to her feet and limped away as fast as her injured body could take her.
after her, but with Luke approaching quickly, he stopped and decided
he would let the forest and it's inhabitants take care of her. He
had no further use for Kali anymore
his real prize was on his way.
"Welcome, young Skywalker, to Dantooine and to your Fate." The huge black figure had unhooked his saber, and now it hummed as the red blade extended to it's full length.
"Where is she?" Luke looked around. He glanced over at the shuttle, but he sensed it was empty.
"Oh, you mean my 'bait'? Well, after a hunter has sprung his trap, there is no further use for the bait. She is dead. And you will soon be joining her." Darth moved forward, slowly swinging the saber from side to side.
"NO!!!!" Luke could not, would not believe him! Kali can't be dead! He lost control and grabbed his saber, turning it on and swinging at the monster facing him.
The two warriors dueled, sabers crackling as they crossed, hissing when they cut through the thick forest growth. Back and forth they fought. Darth seemed to be playing with him, enjoying this practice of his Jedi skills. Luke surprised him, though. He was a better swordsman than he gave him credit for. Perhaps I should not kill him after all. Perhaps it would be better to turn him to the Darkside ...
On her way, she spotted Luke's ship. Artoo whistled at her. "Artoo! Am I glad to see you! Quick! Start up the engines, we're going to get Luke." As she jumped into the cockpit, she took out the datatape. "But first, I have something you can keep for me."
Kali lifted the ship on it's repulsors and headed toward the clearing. Below she found Luke losing badly to Vader. He looked exhausted, and Vader seemed like a predatory animal just playing with him. It took all of Luke's energy to just protect himself from the fatal blows he was being pummeled with.
Kali didn't waste a second. She got Vader in her sights as he looked up at the X-wing swooping down on him. A single blast from her lasers caught the Dark Lord and spun him around. Luke blinked, disbelieving at first, watching Vader go down. Did I do that? He looked up and couldn't believe his own eyes. Kali! She wasn't dead!
The T-65 landed next to Luke and he pulled himself inside, slumping behind the controls, as Kali moved to the empty space behind him. Vader was getting up again; he was still alive!
Luke took off immediately, as the Dark Lord's saber came flying of it's own accord directly at the ship. The X-wing turned, as the red glowing blade narrowly missed slicing through the cockpit's canopy. In a flash, they were ascending the sky above Dantooine.
his lightsaber, and boarded the shuttle. He would not let them get
away that easily. He went straight to the communications console.
"Captain! Deploy your squadron and intercept that ship coming your
way! I am returning to the bridge!" He wanted to watch as the snubfighter
was utterly devastated by his contingent of TIES.
"It doesn't look good, does it?" Luke said over his shoulder to her. He wanted to tell Kali how glad he was to see her again, but that would have to wait he had to buy some time to get the escape coordinates to go to hyperspace.
The Imps were on them in no time. The X-wing began taking hit after hit. Artoo squealed his concern and flashed Luke the coordinates he needed. Just as they were about to leave, a burst of green lasers exploded in front of them. The control board went dead for a moment and he lost his calculations to make the jump. He was trying to keep in control, but it looked hopeless.
"Kali, I " A strange shimmering outside made Luke stop and turn to look. The stars on his port side seemed to quiver. Out of hyperspace came the Rebel Fleet, led by the Millennium Falcon!
"Okay kid, the cavalry is here!" Han was flying in and out of the TIES, taking them out as fast as they approached. Kali knew those voices over the comm; it was her old unit!
"You didn't think we'd let you out of your tour of duty that easily, do you?" Kali recognized the voice of her squad Leader, Commander Perin. She found herself smiling in spite of the battles raging all around them. The Executor, however, had more TIES being deployed all the time. Vader was taking no chances in letting them escape again.
"Han, we can't win against these odds, let's just make a run for it!" Luke got his coordinates back again and was ready to make the jump.
"You got it Luke. Okay Chewie, let's head for home!"
The Falcon, the Fleet and Luke's X-wing were gone in an instant.
perfectly still looking out into space from the bridge of his command
ship. Meanwhile, Admiral Dysan, who was at his side began to stiffen,
gasp for air and grab at his throat
Luke pulled off his helmet and bounded down the ladder from the cockpit. "Leia! I should really be angry with you for sending Han and the Fleet out after me! But it is a good thing you did. I don't think we would have returned if you hadn't."
Kali stepped down out of the ship and took Luke's hand for support. "Yes, Leia, thank you. The fact that you would risk so much for us is overwhelming." Kali looked exhausted, but perked up at a familiar voice coming up behind her.
"Well, we can't be kept a pilot short for too long, now, can we?" Commander Perin arrived and was pleased to have one of his best recruits back - and with no losses to his squadron to boot!
Han and Chewie joined the celebration.
"It looks like we both owe you one now, Han." Kali added, as she gave him a big hug. Chewie guffawed at the surprised look on his partner's face. Leia blushed and laughed aloud.
"Don't mention it. I was getting pretty bored sitting around here anyway " was all that Han could sputter.
"Oh, I almost
forgot! Leia, I have something for you! Artoo, could you come here
please?" Kali removed the datadisk from the droid and handed it to
Leia. "I think you can use this. It's the identity of an Imperial
spy in your midst."
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Han leveled his blaster at the agent's back.
Slowly, Major Baron turned. As he did, his hand slipped into his overalls' pocket and squeezed his gun. His eyes met Han's. The blast took them all by surprise, but it also seemed to happen in slow motion.
back, caught Baron square in the chest, and he fell; he was dead before
he hit the ground. The datadisk with the Rebel location he was trying
to transmit clattered on the cold floor. But it was too late. Luke
turned to see Kali drop, a blaster burn still smoking from her body.
"Kali! No! Not now!"
Luke was slumped beside the bacta tank. He hadn't budged since Kali was submerged. The medic droid continued it's monitoring with quiet efficiency.
"I think she'll pull through, Han. But I'm also worried about Luke. I wish bacta could cure some of his wounds too."
Luke looked up and stared into the tank. His face was drawn and he looked so much older than he should. Kali began to move and was immediately pulled out of the sticky goo.
"I'm beginning to think that I should have stayed on that quiet, what did you call it? 'sandpit of a planet' Luke." Kali tried to sit up in her medbed without wincing. "Maybe then I wouldn't have put in so many hours in that terrible ooze." Despite her wounds, she still tried to keep Luke's spirits up. She hated to see him hurt like this because of her. She also knew that she had better make some decisions - right here and right now.
"Seriously, Luke. I think I'm going to take Commander Perin up on his offer of a temporary leave of absence from the Fleet. I can't fly for now anyway, and I have some personal responsibilities back home that I have been neglecting for too long."
Decision number one: she had to go back to Tatooine, to her family -- they had been taking care what was most important in her life.
Decision number two: Telling Luke right now would just complicate things. She wanted them to be together because it was right - not because he felt any obligation to stay with her. She could sense that Fate had grand plans for Luke Skywalker. She wanted to be a part of his future, but she also didn't want to hold him back. He was needed here.
"Kali, I " was all he could manage to say.
"It's okay Luke, really. My feelings for you haven't changed. In fact, they're stronger than ever. We'll see each other again, I know it. In the meantime, you take care of yourself, Luke Skywalker. The Force will be with you, always."
Through her tears she watched him go. She could wait. For now. But one day, she would see him again, and maybe, just maybe, they could be a real family.
Story © Copyright M.Kuppe
BOOK 2: Chion's Revenge is now online!
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