From Blastsword to Lightsaber
Part Five
by Alan (A.K.A Qurinas)

Flight Officer Cheriss Ke Handi sat in the cockpit of her T-65XF. She stared out through the canopy and saw the stars swirling around her craft as she traveled through hyperspace. Sabre tooted and scrolled a message across her screen stating that they would revert to realspace in one minute.

Cheriss straightened up and checked all the ships systems. Once she completed her checks, she waited. The stars around her became still and the planet Tentrill III appeared off her nose. She looked over the horizon of the planet and saw a fierce space battle being waged. The ships were far away but she saw the two enemy Star Destroyers, with their supporting ships, engaging the Lusankya and her task force. Starfighters flew around the capital ships like angry bees.

Cheriss knew that they had been instructed to maintain radio silence as they descended to the planet's surface. She immediately brought her X-wing into proper position to follow Luke to the planet. She pushed her throttle forward and accelerated to maximum speed. The flights of X-wings flew the short distance to the atmosphere with incredible speed.

As she had been ordered to, she kept her sensors in passive mode so it would be harder to detect her X-wing. She also kept her feelings closed in and hidden away during her approach. Luke and Corran had both warned that other force users on the planet might be able to detect any use of the Force by the Jedi.

The fighters screamed into the atmosphere of Tentrill III. Cheriss followed her wingmate as he led Wraith Squadron to their designated landing zone. The terrain below her was thinly forested. She scanned the area and studied the spot they were supposed to use as a landing zone. It consisted of several small fields surrounded by areas of thicker woods.

Cheriss engaged her repulsor engines as Luke brought them into a small clearing. He spun and guided his X-wing so it was almost completely hidden within the tree line. She found a similar spot where there was a hole in the trees, but the covering above was mostly unbroken. She guided her fighter to a soft landing and cracked open her canopy. Just as she looked up she saw two black X-wings roar past. She knew Myn and Corran were flying those X-wings and that they were moving to a spot on a nearby hill for Myn's sniper assignment.

A few seconds later Rogue Squadron screamed by at tree top level. They performed a tight right turn and flew over to their landing zone about five klicks from the Wraith's landing zone. There they would wait until scrambled by controllers on the Lusankya. In the mission profile, they were in a position to provide close air support as well as protecting the Wraiths from enemy craft. They would act as the Wraith's insurance policy against unwanted visitors.

Cheriss jumped out of the cockpit and used the Force to guide her to the ground. "Sabre, keep all systems on standby. Be ready to depart at a moment's notice. Ok?" Sabre tooted his acknowledgment as Cheriss opened the storage compartment and began to pull out the camouflage netting she would use to hide her fighter. Cheriss threw the netting into the air and reached out to guide it with a brief touch of the Force. She hung the netting from the trees around not on the fighter itself. This way she could get her fighter into the air much quicker.

She looked over her shoulder to see Luke aiding the other pilots to do the same thing she had done with her netting. She began to pull gear from the storage compartment of her fighter. She removed her flight suit and donned the camouflaged uniform of New Republic commandos. She clipped on her utility belt and hung the borrowed lightsaber from it. She slung her blastsword over her back and picked up her blaster rifle. She checked the power level of her rifle, picked up her pistol and did the same. She holstered her pistol as she turned to meet the rest of the Wraiths in the clearing.

She ran over to the clearing as the rest of the group gathered there. Luke spoke into his comlink to confirm that Myn and Corran were in position. Luke turned to address the group. "Everyone ready? Let's move out and be safe. Dia, you are on point. It should take us about twenty minutes to reach the base."

Everyone gathered their equipment and began walking through the forest in the direction of the Imperial base. The small game path through the forest was a fairly easy hike. Dia led the Wraiths at a slow but steady pace, watching both sides of the trail vigilantly for any potential dangers.

They had been walking for about ten minutes when they came to a small clearing with a ravine running along the eastern edge. Cheriss felt a tremor of danger through the Force, just as they were about half way across the clearing. An instant later she heard the whine of a blaster rifle. She looked up to see a red blaster bolt streak down from the hill where Myn was and enter the woods about twenty meters away.

"Everyone down!" Luke shouted as Cheriss was diving for the ground. The Wraiths went diving for cover as the clearing was filled with blaster bolts. Cheriss brought up her rifle and saw scout troopers lining the forest's edge on the opposite side of the clearing from the ravine. Cheriss reached out and let the Force guide her shots. She squeezed the trigger and sent a bolt towards a crouching trooper. The blast hit him square in the helmet, knocking it from his head and leaving a smoldering hole where his forehead should have been. The body twitched once then laid still. She sensed his life force dwindle then wink out all together.

Cheriss continued to spray blaster bolts towards the wood line. She saw Luke stand and heard the snaphiss of a lightsaber. The green blade came to life in Luke's hand. A hail of blaster fire came at Luke and he quickly parried the bolts sending them back in the direction of the firing scout troopers.

The Wraiths continued to fiercely exchange fire with the scout troopers. Luke ran down the line directing their fire. Cheriss pulled the empty powerpack from her blaster and slammed a fresh one home just as she felt a tremor in the Force. She rolled onto her back and sat up to look at the ravine directly behind the Wraiths. "Luke, behind you!" She shouted just as a figure jumped out of the ravine. He jumped higher than any human should have, at least a human unaided by the Force.

He landed with cat-like grace. His long black hair ran down over his shoulders and covered his face. His piercing eyes, which were a deep yellow, almost glowed. He wore black pants and tank top, showing his rippling mussels glistening with sweat. She could feel the anger radiating from him. It was nearly overwhelming. He raised a blaster in his left hand and pointing it at Luke.

Cheriss reached down within and pushed him back as hard as she could. The incredible force hit him in the chest and sent him somersaulting back into the ravine as he fired the blaster. The first bolt was on target but was intercepted by Luke's green blade as he spun. Two more bolts sailed over his head. Luke glanced at Cheriss and nodded towards the ravine.

Cheriss dropped her blaster rifle and unclipped the lightsaber from her belt. She ignited it and the red blade came to life. The two ran towards the ravine and jumped off the edge. The two flipped through the air allowing the Force to guide them to a safe landing within striking distance of their intended target.

The man flashed an angry look at Cheriss. "Pathetic whelp. Feel the wrath of Darth Vitryll." He snarled as he ignited a yellow lightsaber that looked like caged lightning. He extended his left hand towards her just as she raised her lightsaber to strike. Blue lightning leapt from his fingertips. She tried to bring her blade down to block it but was not fast enough. The lightning washed over her as she screamed out in pain and fell to the ground. Her lightsaber's blade retreated into the hilt as it slid from her grasp.

Luke stepped forward and swung the blade at the dark Jedi. Luke's green blade collided with Vitryll's yellow one as the man parried his attack and swung for Luke's legs. Luke reached out with the Force and levitated a rock in the path of the incoming blade and jumped back, kicking him in the face. Vitryll dropped to the ground with blood spilling from his nose.

Cheriss was slowly pulling herself up as Vitryll stood. Blood ran down from his nose as he glared at the two. His eyes rolled back in his head as a vortex of wind whirled around him kicking up dirt and stones. Cheriss extended her hand toward her wayward lightsaber and drew in to her. The lightsaber flew into her hand. She gripped it firmly and the red blade came back to life. The dark Jedi let loose the small storm he had created and the swirling vortex rushed towards the two Jedi. Luke and Cheriss stood firm against the on rushing cyclone with their lightsabers at the ready.

The winds whipped them. Luke and Cheriss ducked several large rocks sent in their direction. Luke swept his hand through the air and the wind died almost instantly. The whirling stones dropped to the ground as a look of horror creased Vitryll's face, as he surveyed what Luke had done. With just a sweep of his hand, the Jedi Master had subdued the violent Force Storm.

Luke ran forward and pressed the attack. Vitryll raised his hand and sent a bolt of lightning out at the charging Jedi. Luke caught the bolt on the blade of his lightsaber. As the lighting ceased, Luke leveled his blade at the dark Jedi's chest and lunged forward, driving the blade into his chest. The blade stopped when the hilt smashed into his breastbone and the green blade emerged from his back.

Luke leapt back as lightning flashed from Vitryll's eyes and began to dance all over his body. He stood there writhing as the lightning flashed and danced. A brilliant flash and the smell of ozone were accompanied by a deafening clap of thunder as the dark adept's spirit exploded out from the broken shell of his dead body.

The explosion was so great that it knocked both Luke and Cheriss back almost ten feet back. A bolt of lightning struck Luke in the left arm just above the elbow burning him severely. Cheriss rolled along the ground but stopped suddenly as her shoulder and neck connected with a large boulder. She flopped over and laid still with her face in the dirt.

Cheriss blinked and felt a sticky liquid running down her face. She tried to clear the pain in her head and rolled over. She touched her face and her hand came away covered with blood. She looked over at Luke who was pulling himself up. The sound of blaster fire had stopped. She looked up and saw the Wraiths walking down a path into the ravine.

Luke got up and rushed over to Cheriss. He pulled a bandage from his pouch and pressed it against her head. Her hair was soaked with blood. She felt dizzy as she sat there. She could feel Luke using a healing technique to help to stop the flow of blood. "Looks like you hit your head pretty good," Luke said smirking slightly.

"Ummm…yeah," Cheriss stammered.

"You'll be ok," Luke said. "You did very well. It was a very difficult fight, but you stayed calm and let the Force be your guide."

Cheriss just nodded. As her head cleared, she could feel the ache where the lightning had seared her skin. Her bones seemed to ache with the very thought of the dark energy racing over her. She looked down and saw black burn marks on the front of her tunic.

Elasarr ran over to where Cheriss was slowly sitting up. He dropped his backpack next to her and began to fish out his medkit. "Have no fear young Jedi, I am here to attend to you." He began to pull out bandages and other medical supplies to tend to her wounds. He also pulled out some small piece of what appeared to be an animal horn and laid it next to her. "For good luck." He smirked.

The Wraiths fanned out around Luke, Cheriss and Elasarr as the devaronian tended to Cheriss' wounds. After a few minutes Cheriss was beginning to feel better as she used some Jedi pain controlling techniques. Luke aided her allowing even more progress to be made.

As Elasarr was finishing up with Cheriss, he grabbed a bacta patch from his case. Dia helped Luke roll up his sleeve to allow the medic to apply the bandage to the burn left by Vitryll's attack. Luke had rolled down his sleeve and was picking up his gear as Elasarr picked up his supplies after treating the two injured Jedi. Kell Tainer walked over and offered Cheriss his hand to help her up.

Cheriss had just stood when they heard the roar of X-wing engines and saw four X-wings streak by. An instant later another four flew over. Luke's comlink chirped. He listened for a moment then turned to the Wraiths. "Lets get moving. We have company. We need to move fast while the Rogues try to keep them off of us."

The Wraiths had just made it to the tree line when a TIE Defender flashed by. It had Sith symbols painted all over its hull.

* * * *

Corran Horn laid next to Myn Donos on top of a large outcropping of rock over looking the Wraith's approach route to the Imperial base. Corran watched through a set of macrobinoculars as Luke and Cheriss battled the dark Jedi. Myn had just stopped firing, the last scout trooper falling to the sniper's bolts.

As Corran watched, the dark Jedi was impaled by Luke's blade. The fallen man had just been consumed by the very lightning he had wielded, when Corran's comlink beeped. "Rogue Nine, This is Rogue Leader."

Corran picked up his comlink. "This is Rogue Nine, go."

"There are Defenders inbound to this area at a very high speed." Wedge's voice said through the comlink.

"Acknowledged…" Just as Corran was going to inform Wedge that he and Myn were going to stay in the sniper position ,a glimpse of the future flash in his mind. He saw the TIE Defender with the Sith markings twisting and turning through the sky firing at an X-wing. He realized it was his. He saw the pilot, an old woman with crazy white hair and weathered skin. The dark side had ravaged her body.

"Rogue Leader, Rogue Nine will go airborne and Rogue Five will stay in position for continued support," Corran spoke into his comlink as he jumped up and ran to his waiting fighter. "Whistler, start engines." He shouted as he climbed onto the S-foil and crawled over to the cockpit. The engines roared to life as he jumped into the cockpit and began to put on his enviro-gear and helmet. He was finishing when he saw four X-wings streak overhead and fly off into the distance. He lowered the canopy and engaged the repulsor lifts. Tree branches snapped as he rose from the ground and broke through the canopy the ship was hiding under.

Corran engaged the main engines and accelerated to fighting speed as he flew past the ravine the Wraiths were climbing out of. He looked down at his sensors and saw the flights of Rogue Squadron's X-wings heading to a high altitude to engage two full squadrons of TIE Defenders. He felt a tremor in the Force. He shook his head as he felt his senses become muddled and he reached out with the Force to see beyond the physical.

When he looked at his sensors again and saw that a lone trip climbing up from the surface to pursue the X-wings. He knew it had to be her. He quickly switched his selector to proton torpedoes and waited for Whistler to signal a lock. Whistler's tone turned steady and he squeezed the trigger. A torpedo streaked away from his fighter and he enabled both the laser and ion cannons.

Corran switched the cannons to single fire and closed on the Defender. The torpedo was getting closer and Corran began firing his cannons at well beyond maximum range hoping to spook her away from the X-wings. She was not fooled she began to fire on the last X-wing in the flight.

"Rogue Leader, Rogue Nine. Be advised, you have a trip trailing your formation," Corran said. He waited for a response. There were several seconds of silence. "Rogue Leader, Rogue Nine. Acknowledge," Corran said keying his comm. It was obvious that whatever she had done was distracting them from even hearing his comm calls.

The Sith pursued the flight of X-wings falling in behind Hobbie who was flying on Wes Janson's wing. Hobbie appeared to hesitate as the lasers began to splash off his rear shield. After a moment, he managed to clear his head of confusion caused by the Sith and broke hard to port. Had he been in a normal X-wing, not an XF, he would have been destroyed if not dead. However, because of the XF's improved shielding, he had only sustained damage to the aft of his ship.

The torpedo caught up to the Defender before she could unleash the finished shot at Hobbie's X-wing. The hag broke her Defender up and to starboard. She then pulled her craft through a tight loop into a steep dive. Corran followed her through the maneuver. He fired a few shots at her as she dived but the shots did not find their mark. When the torpedo was almost on her and she was dangerously close to the ground, Corran began to pull up.

The hag streaked towards the ground. As the forest filled the transpasteel window and a crash seemed imminent, she pulled up and fully engaged her repulsor lifts. The torpedo tried to follow the tight climb as the Defender shot upward on it's repulsor lifts. Corran felt a strong force pull the torpedo into the ground guaranteeing that it could not follow the trip.

Corran quickly rolled his X-wing to track the quickly climbing Defender as behind him the torpedo slammed into the ground leaving a crater and sending dirt and shattered trees into the air. Corran looked at his sensors to see that Hobbie had returned to his wingman and the Rogues were just reaching the incoming TIEs.

Corran fired a snap shot with his lasers and ion cannons linked up, as the Defender flew by him. His shots missed cleanly. Corran's speed carried him past the Defender, which was going much slower than he was. The hag quickly turned the Defender onto his tail and unleashed a barrage of laser bolts. The lasers drilled into his rear shield quickly draining power from them. Whistler screeched as Corran rolled his fighter in an attempt to dodge the incoming shots.

Corran felt his X-wing shudder as lasers slammed into the aft end of his craft. Corran pulled hard on the stick bringing his X-wing through a spiraling loop, which managed to shake the pursuing Defender. Corran rolled through the inverted and turned hard to end up on the tail of the fleeing TIE. However, the TIE was quickly accelerating away from Corran's damaged X-wing. Corran looked at his instruments to see he was only getting sixty-five percent thrust from the engines.

Corran held the trigger down and fired the lasers and ion cannons as fast as they would cycle. The bolts slammed into the shields of the TIE draining away their energy. However, no bolts had pierced the shields before the Defender accelerated beyond their range.

Corran winged his fighter over and quickly dove towards the ground. He pulled up so he was skimming the treetops. He saw the Defender turning to make a head-to-head run with him. The TIE descended so the two fighters were streaking directly towards each other at a great speed a few meters above the trees.

Corran and the hag began to fire at maximum range. Corran's vision was obscured by the laser splashing off his forward shields but knew his Force guided shots were doing the same to the oncoming TIE. Lasers broke through the X-wing's forward shield and tore at it's nose. Corran made a last ditch effort and turned his fighter to the left to bring it directly inline with the oncoming Defender. The hag tried to go below the X-wing but did not fully succeed.

The two lower solar panels of the Defender were tugged at as they struck the trees and the top one was sheered off by Corran's starboard S-foil. The hag quickly engaged her repulsor lifts and shot her stricken fighter upward. Corran's X-wing tumbled stern over bow as Corran quickly pulled the handle to eject himself from his doomed fighter.

The X-wing's canopy peeled away as Corran was shot out of the disintegrating fighter. Whistler followed him out an instant later. The X-wing exploded, sending shock waves over the two escapees. Corran looked at the Defender moments before it crashed into the forest and exploded. Corran's repulsor cushion engaged and guided him to the ground below. He looked around and saw the hag riding a repulsor down as well.

Corran came down hard a few hundred meters from where he thought the Sith had landed. He quickly gathered himself and shed his enviro- gear. Corran unclipped his lightsaber and stood ready. He glanced around at the forest hearing the sounds of distant aerial combat. Corran reached out with the Force to search for his enemy.

Corran caught a flash of malice and brought his lightsaber to life in his hands. He saw the hag standing about five meters away with three small cylinders in her right hand and a dormant lightsaber in her left.

The hag let loose a horrible screech and raised her right hand. She threw the cylinders at Corran. As soon as they left her hand little lightsaber blades emerged from each. The throwing blades streaked toward Corran as the hag's eyes flashed with hatred. Her hair and robes swirled about her, moved as if by an unseen wind that whipped about her body. Lightning surged from her outstretched hand following the daggers to their target.

Corran quickly parried two of the thrown blades. The third got through his defenses and slammed into his right thigh as he caught the lightning on his blade. Pain shot through his entire body as the blade hummed and dug deeper into his leg. The hag engaged the blade of her lightsaber, which came to life as an unearthly green blade. She rushed at Corran raising the blade over her head.

Corran quickly tore the thrown blade from his leg and tossed it to the ground. He slashed through its handle with his lightsaber and brought it back up barely in time to parry the hag's overhead strike. The two stood with their faces a few inches apart. Corran looked into her eyes. He stared at her withered features and her rotting teeth. She breathed heavily as she strained to push his block into his face, her putrid breath reaching his nostrils.

Corran pushed his lightsaber up and broke the lock of the two blades. He quickly counter attacked striking at her front leg. The hag brought her forward leg up and kicked Corran squarely under the chin, sending him flying back.

Corran hit the ground hard, landing on his back. The swiftness and grace of the attack had taken Corran completely by surprise. He had not thought an old woman could move like that. He would not underestimate her again.

Corran jumped up off the ground and brought his lightsaber to block the attack of the charging hag. He quickly parried her first few slashes and began to counter attack. He brought his blade down in swift and powerful strike driving her back. He quickly feinted once left and brought the blade back in a low circle connecting with her leg, just above the knee.

The hag's lower left leg fell away, leaving a smoldering stump where her knee should have been. She screeched and fell to the ground. Her lightsaber slipped from her grip as she fell, reaching for what was left of her leg. Corran stood over her, his lightsaber at the ready.

The old woman looked up at him with hate filled eyes. She shuddered as her eyes rolled back in her head. Black clouds of energy began to boil from her robes.

"Stop!" Corran shouted. "There is no need for this." Corran leaned closer gesturing with his lightsaber.

The old woman did not heed his warning. The energy clouds began to encompass Corran. He quickly calmed himself and began to absorb the energy. He felt sickened and soiled as he absorbed the dark side energy trying to tear him apart. Corran let out a terrible scream and swung his blade.

The absorbed energy shot down his arm and flowed from the tip of his lightsaber's blade. The blade separated the woman's head from her neck and sent it rolling. The remaining energy came off the lightsaber in a wave that surged into trees and rocks more than twenty meters away. As the wave of energy slammed into the tree line, rocks and trees shattered sending debris in all directions.

Corran fell to his knees and was met only with the sound of his own breathing and the clattering of falling debris. He heard a crackling sound in front of him. As he raised his eyes he saw the hag's body burst into flames. He retreated back from the oncoming heat of the conflagration.

Corran heard rustling and hushed voices in the nearby tree line. He brought his lightsaber up as he saw Luke break through the trees and into the small clearing. Luke smiled as he pointed at the other side of the clearing. Corran turned and saw a struggling Whistler, trying to break through the trees, soar into the air and come to rest a few feet away from him.

Corran nodded to a tweeting Whistler as Luke released his telekinetic hold on the droid after he carefully placed him on the ground. "Where were you a few minutes ago, Master?" Corran smirked.

Luke looked around the clearing and said, "It's a good thing we were late. Or we might look like those rocks."

* * * *

Corran waited patiently as Elasarr tended to his badly burned and cut leg. The wounds caused by the little throwing lightsaber had been more severe than Corran had originally thought. Corran watched as Luke and Cheriss examined the hag's minimal remains and stored the Sith objects and weapons in their packs. Corran had noticed that the thrown blades he had parried away were nearly undamaged by his strikes.

Face was busily talking on the comlink to Wedge, giving him an update and receiving one in return. The battle above was going well. The New Republic's losses had been light and Rogue Squadron had not taken a single casualty. They were still at full strength minus Corran and Myn.

However, the Wraiths were behind schedule getting to the base because of the heavy resistance they had met thus far. When Corran was adequately bandaged up, the Wraiths gathered around Luke for orders.

"Okay folks, we are going to try to take a more round about approach to the base so that we will not be as easy to ambush. Dia, you take point and let's get moving," Luke said as he adjusted his pack and fell in line behind Dia.

Cheriss followed next in line. She checked her blaster rifle that Kell recovered from the field above. She quickly discerned it was in working order and started off after Luke.

Their remaining journey to the base was relatively quick and totally uneventful. The Wraiths came to a break in the woods and saw a jagged cliff rising from the wooded floor. There was a thick metal door within the rock face. Six stormtroopers stood guard around the portal.

Luke brought his comlink close to his lips and whispered into it. "Rogue Five, this is Wraith Leader. Are you in position to provide support?"

"Affirmative Wraith Leader. I just got into position," Myn answered.

"Rogue Five, prepare to provide fire support in sixty seconds," Luke ordered as he returned the comlink to his belt. He motioned for everyone to get ready and turned his attention to the guarding stormtroopers. Luke watched as he heard the whine of a blaster rifle and saw a red bolt strike the stormtrooper just to the left of the door.

The bolt slammed into his helmet, shattering it, and traveled into the skull beneath. The body shuddered and slumped to the ground. Luke motioned for the Wraiths to open fire. Blaster bolts poured into the surprised stormtroopers.

However, the guards quickly recovered and dived for cover. The surviving troopers began to return fire.

* * * *

Wedge twisted and turned in the cockpit of his X-wing. He danced his fighter in and out of the swirling dogfight on the edge of Tentrill III's atmosphere. Debris fell from shattered Imperial and Republic fighters. The capital ships far above continued their ferocious battle. As he watched, The Lusankya poured turbolaser fire into The Cobra. The bolts pulled back hull plates as they slammed into the Impstar. Fires began to burn on along her bow and port sides as she sailed past the Super Star Destroyer.

Wedge turned his attention back to the ships he was supposed to be playing with. After looking at his sensors he saw that he would have a few minutes reprieve. He looked over at The Fury and saw TIE Bombers begin to emerge from her belly. Well, that was short lived, Wedge thought. No rest for the wicked.

The dupes turned towards the planet. Wedge saw that their course would take them to the area in which the New Republic had been marshaling its troops for the assault on Admiral Guffris' stronghold. Wedge quickly turned his fighter to pursue the bombers. "Rogues, intercept and destroy the bombers deploying from Fury. Watch that turbolaser fire from the Impstars," Wedge spoke into his comm unit.

Wedge heard the pilots acknowledge as he pushed his throttle up to full and headed after the bombers. Unfortunately, the Rogues were about ten clicks away from the bombers when they deployed. They would need to hurry to catch them in time. Wedge led the group of X-wings towards the TIE Bombers. Unfortunately, the quickest route to the bombers required the Rogues to fly right under The Fury. Wedge turned and rolled his X-wing to make it a more difficult target for the gunners aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer.

Turbolasers streaked past the Rogues. However, with much jinking, twisting and turning all the Rogues made it through unscathed. Mostly due not only to their skill, but the fact that turbolasers were not designed to engage small fighter type craft.

The dupes had already entered the planet's atmosphere when the Rogues were in firing range for their torpedoes. Wedge assigned each Rogue a primary and secondary target. Wedge listened, as Gate's beeping became quicker until it became a solid tone. "Fire!" He shouted into his comm unit. The blue streaks of torpedoes headed towards the bomber formation. Wedge switched his targeting computer to his secondary target and keyed his comm unit. "Engage secondary target. Fire when ready." Wedge squeezed the trigger as soon as Gate signaled a solid lock. Wedge looked up to see debris raining from the destroyed bombers.

Wedge's torpedo sped to its target exploding right above the dupe's engines. The fighter exploded in a ball of plasma. However, just before the Rogue's second barrage of torpedoes found their targets, the bombers had released their bombs. The white-hot bombs fell towards the Republic troops. Wedge looked at his sensors again and confirmed that all the bombers had been destroyed. He watched in horror as the bombs arched towards the ground below.

The bombs began to impact well short of their intended targets. The only two bombs managed to come anywhere near the troops. Wedge keyed his comm. "Lusankya Control, this is Rogue Leader. Status report on ground troops." Wedge held his breath in anticipation.

The controller's voice came back, "Standby." Wedge circled the troops scanning for threats for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the controller responded. Wedge looked at his chrono, he had been waiting nine minutes. "Ground forces report only injuries. Twelve wounded. No fatalities. It looks like you rushed their shots. Good work, Rogues. Ground Commander sends his thanks and the troopers are buying the bar for you guys tonight."

Wedge smiled and responded, "Glad to hear it Control. Rogue Squadron will head back to the battle above. Tell the Commander we'll see him tonight. Rogue Leader, out."

* * * *

The Wraiths were engaged in a blistering light fight with the defending stormtroopers. Myn Donos rained selective fire down from above. The stormtroopers could not survive the sheer volume of incoming fire. Finally, a last shot was heard from the hilltop and the last Imperial defender fell to Myn's fire.

"Cease fire!" Luke shouted. The surrounding Wraiths stopped firing and began to reload their blasters while they looked towards the door. No reinforcements arrived. Luke slowly got up and motioned for the Wraiths to do the same.

Cheriss stood and bought her blaster rifle up so she would be ready to fire if a target presented itself. The Wraiths began to creep forward towards the entrance. They arrived at the closed metal doors. Piggy and Shalla knelt down next to the door's controls.

The Wraiths all turned outward to face the forest in case anyone tried to sneak up behind them. After a few minutes of trying, the doors snapped open. The Wraiths formed up to enter the compound with Dia leading the way. The facility was of classic Imperial feel and design. The Wraiths weaved their way through the facility looking for the Control Center.

The Wraiths came to a split in the passageways. Luke turned to the left and looked into a room that appeared to hold the generators for the base. There were multiple energy conduits running through the room with catwalks running between them. As far as Luke could see there were five levels of the catwalks. There were doors at both sides of the large room on the lowest and highest catwalks. The Jedi felt a disturbance in The Force as the door, on the opposite end of the room, snapped open. Eight hooded figures, in large black cloaks, stepped onto the highest catwalk.

"Over there!" Tyria shouted as she brought up her blaster rifle. She fired at the figure in the center.

"No!" Luke shouted as he saw a flash of movement from the figure. A white bladed lightsaber came to life in his hands. He deftly parried the bolt and sent it back towards Tyria. Luke quickly brought his lightsaber to bear and dove to catch the incoming bolt. Luke barely deflected the bolt streaking towards Tyria's head. The bolt bounced off Luke's blade and deflected down right into her blaster rifle.

The red bolt struck the blaster, which then exploded in Tyria's hands. Tyria fell to the ground. Kell quickly ran over to her. He frantically dragged her away from the door to Elasarr who began to examine her. He discovered that her only injury was burns to her hands. Cheriss tossed her blaster rifle next to Tyria so she would have one.

"The rest of you continue looking for the Command Center. We'll hold these guys off. Cheriss and Corran you are with me. The rest of you follow Face. He is in charge," Luke said as he spun towards the door with his lightsaber drawn. Corran and Cheriss both engaged their lightsabers and followed Luke into the room. The doors slammed shut behind them.

The three Jedi stood at the foot of the lowest catwalk. They saw the eight hooded figures move to the mid-point of the highest catwalk. Luke and Corran looked at each other. Corran could tell what Luke was thinking and nodded acknowledging that he was ready. Luke summoned the Force and catapulted himself and Corran high into the air. The two landed gracefully on the third catwalk.

Cheriss tried to mimic her Master and leaped as high as she could but barely reached the third catwalk. She tried to grab hold of the edge but felt an unseen force slam into her chest. She lost her grip and fell to land hard on the catwalk below. She lay there stunned and watched the cloaked figures jump to the third catwalk. One stopped just for a moment as he landed and flipped into the air. He came rushing down at her prone form. His lightsaber came to life in his hands and the blade pointed directly at Cheriss.

She rolled out of the way just as the lightsaber was driven into the metal grating where she had been laying. She sprung to her feet and reengaged her lightsaber. The hood of her attacker fell back and she saw a young boy with sandy blonde hair. He could not have been more than twelve years old.

He must have seen the shocked expression on her face. The young boy glared at Cheriss. "Despite my age I have more power with the Force than you could ever dream of. When you are one with the Force, tell them Darth Exlias sent you." He had barely finished speak when he lunged forward.

Cheriss was shocked by how fast and strong the attacks from the boy were. He drove her back with one ferocious blow after another. Cheriss tried to counter attack but, with the boy's small stature, she had trouble landing an attack.

Cheriss was forced to be totally on the defensive. She could do nothing but defend. Most attacks were blocked on her innermost circle of defense. As their lightsabers clashed Cheriss was spun to the left almost losing her balance. She reached out with her left hand to steady herself against one of the energy conduits. An idea flashed into her mind's eye.

She still had her back to him when she sensed the boy's next attack stabbing towards her kidney. She slashed her blade across the conduit opening it up. She spun and blocked his attack as far to her outside as she could. The lightsaber still creased her back, cutting and burning the soft flesh beneath her tunic. The force of the block knocked the boy a bit off balance. Her left leg lashed out with a ferocious roundhouse kick that caught the boy in the side of the face.

He slammed into the opened conduit face first. The boy screamed and Cheriss was met with the smell of burning flesh. The boy tried to free himself. Just as he pulled himself off the conduit, he stumbled and his bodied slackened. He fell and careened off the catwalk. His body fell limply about thirty meters to the ground, where it landed with a sickening thud.

Cheriss took a moment to catch her breath. She looked up to see Luke and Corran battling the seven dark Jedi. They had moved to the uppermost catwalk. Luckily, for Corran and Luke, the catwalk was not very wide. They were at the far end with their backs to the wall, the width of the catwalk preventing them from having to engage more than two at a time.

She steadied herself and clipped her lightsaber to her belt. She leapt for the fourth catwalk, barely reaching it. However, this time no outside force met her. She grabbed the edge and pulled herself up. She looked up and prepared to leap again.

She moved to an area of the catwalk where there was no fighting going on. She looked up and selected an area well behind the dark Jedi and leapt. She again caught the edge and hauled herself up. Cheriss stood ready and quickly unclipped her lightsaber standing ready. One of the dark Jedi spun and saw her.

As she pulled her hood back from her face she snarled to the others, "This one is mine." Her eyes seemed to brighten with her words and a surly grin played across her lips.

The oncoming opponent was a woman about her own age. She was one of the most beautiful women she had ever seen. She had auburn hair that ran down past her shoulders and wore a black tunic and pants that clung close to her body. The outfit was a mockery of Luke's Jedi robes since it was covered with Sith symbols and heraldry. She also had many of the same symbols tattooed on her arms, neck and a few on her face. However, this did not take away from her beauty at all. If anything, it added an exotic flavor to her that made her even more attractive.

She held in her hands a wicked looking sword. The hilt had four sharp points sticking from it. The blade was forged from some sort of black metal. It was also covered with Sith symbols. The woman grinned at her. Cheriss was shaken by almost everything about this woman.

Cheriss stumbled back away from her. The two doors leading out of the room opened behind her. She walked backwards through the doors with the Sith woman pursuing her. She stepped into a hallway as the doors closed behind the woman.

"Who…who are you?" Cheriss stammered.

The woman looked at her. Passion, Cheriss had only dreamed about but had never felt, glowed within her eyes. She chuckled, "I am what you dream to become."

Cheriss was stunned. "What?"

"I can see it. You yearn to be me. You yearn for passion… for lust. You will find it. You will find it in the Force. And in what the Force can give you. If you live through our fight that is." The woman shrugged, a provocative grin crossing her lips.

Cheriss looked down at her sword. "Please, you have no chance against me. Your weapon can not stand up to a lightsaber. Please, don't make me kill you…"

The woman snickered. "We'll see…I do not believe my time to become one with the Force is now." With that the look in her eyes changed. She had gone from dark temptress to ferocious warrior in an instant. She lunged with her sword towards Cheriss heart.

Cheriss blocked the sword as hard as she could with her lightsaber, expecting the metal blade to come apart. It did not. The woman parried the attack and her blade held against the lightsaber. Cheriss was shocked. The woman quickly pushed the lightsaber's blade back and slashed towards Cheriss right leg. The blade cut a deep gash across her thigh. She could feel blood beginning to run down her leg.

She hobbled back and blocked furiously as the Sith slashed at her repeatedly. She was driven further down the hall by the ferocity of her attacks. Cheriss came to a halt and stood with her lightsaber at the ready. The Sith lashed out swinging the blade at her head. Cheriss moved her blade to parry. However, at the last instant, the woman dropped her strike and her blade struck the handle of the lightsaber shattering the crystal that powered the blade. The lightsaber fizzled in Cheriss' hand.

Cheriss quickly flipped backwards as the Sith followed up her strike with a slash towards Cheriss' abdomen. Cheriss reached down to grab the blaster from its holster. As her hand closed around the grip she froze. Her blastsword still sat in its scabbard on her back. She reached up and drew it. The tip began to glow purple as she whirled it around in front of her.

She brought the blade up in salute to her opponent. As she did an old feeling over came her. She became the hunter. At first the Sith looked surprised. Then she returned the look and the two charged towards each other.

The two blades clanged off each other as both lunged at each other. Each well directed attack was quickly parried and the two traded shots. Cheriss felt at home again. She faked a lunge at the Sith's right shoulder but quickly dropped the point of her blade towards her left knee. She felt the blastsword kick as it fired when it contacted her knee.

The Sith snarled in pain. Cheriss looked in shock, extremely surprised that she still stood. She had never seen any duelist able to do that. However, none of the duelists she had faced before had the Force. She wiped a tear from her eye with her left forearm and grinned devilishly at Cheriss before recommencing her attack.

Cheriss met each attack with an even more skilled parry as she reached out with he Force. Now that she was more comfortable in her chosen fighting style, she noticed the Force easier to wield. She counter attacked with stunning precision driving the Sith back.

Finally, Cheriss lunged and drove an attack past her guard scoring a hit upon her chest. She quickly pulled the sword back and struck her again. The Sith flew back a few feet. She lay on her back, with two smoking holes in her chest. She was unnaturally still.

Cheriss walked over to her and moved the tip of her weapon mere inches above her forehead. She stopped and looked at the dark Jedi's face. She pondered for a moment what she had seen in her and what she had said. She quickly brushed away the thoughts of what she had contemplated doing with her blastsword. The brushed them away, they scared her. Cheriss turned and ran towards the area Corran and Luke were.

The double doors slid open as she approached. She saw Luke and Corran on the lowest catwalk. "Are you guys ok?" She called down.

"Fine as usual," Corran remarked.

Cheriss saw signs of their fallen opponents near the two Jedi. "I'll be right down," she said. Cheriss allowed the Force to guide her as she gracefully leapt down from level to level until she reached the floor.

Luke looked at her. She was a mess and blood covered her leg. She was breathing heavily and her clothing and hair were dirty and disheveled. Luke looked at her questioningly.

Cheriss smiled softly. "I am fine, Master."

Luke smiled trying to drive away the look of concern he knew his face was displaying. "I am very happy to hear that. I was sure you would be."

"She had a good teacher." Corran smirked. "However, let's hug later. We have to help the Wraiths." With that, he turned and trotted out of the room, still limping lightly from his earlier wound. Cheriss drew her blaster and followed Corran with Luke right behind her.

* * * *

Inyri Forge rolled and jinked her X-wing fighter as she accelerated away from the Star Destroyer. She had just completed a strafing run against the Fury. She had made the run at as high a speed as possible. The fighter opposition had been neutralized allowing the Rogues to assist in battling the capital ships.

She had made sure to keep up her speed in the run. Even though it was almost impossible for a turbolaser battery to hit a starfighter close in, she wanted to make sure that she didn't help the gunners beat the odds.

She banked her fighter in a sweeping turn to starboard. The nose of her fighter turned back towards the planet far below. When she was pointed almost directly at the horizon on the far side of the planet, her sensors momentarily made contact with another ship. She almost missed it.

She quickly turned her fighter back to a course that would take her in the direction of the contact. She quickly scrolled through the information on her display. She found the contact. From what little the brief sensor sweep derived, it was a small transport or shuttle.

Inyri keyed her comm unit. "Rogue Leader, Rogue Eleven. I had a brief contact on the far side of the planet. It might be an Imp trying to make a break for it. Request permission to pursue."

Wedge glanced down at his console to see the Inyri had already turned to give chase. He saw that she was well out in front on him. "Rogue Eleven, permission granted. I will turn to take your wing position. You will lead the intercept. Be advised I am quite a ways behind you, keep that in mind if you engage," Wedge replied.

She tapped her throttle to make sure it was all the way forward giving her maximum power. She also shunted power from her lasers to her engines and switched her weapons over to proton torpedoes. She quickly broke the plane of the planet allowing her sensors to get a full view of what lay behind it.

Her sensors picked up a heavily modified Imperial Gunboat being escorted by three TIE Defenders. Inyri noticed their range and muttered to herself, "Emperor's black bones." They were too far away for her to catch them before they were out of the planet's gravity well.

It's worth a shot she thought to herself as she keyed her comm unit to broadcast in the open. "Imperial Gunboat, this is Rogue Eleven. Power down you engines and weapon systems. Then prepare to be boarded. If you do not comply, I will be forced to destroy you," Inyri said into her mic.

After a moment of silence she heard a malicious laugh comm through her head set. "Now, now. You and I both know that you can't catch us before we make the jump to lightspeed," a gravely, male voice answered.

"As you can probably tell, we aren't flying your run of the mill X- wings. I will catch you before you can escape. Power down your engines," Inyri ordered, trying to sound more convinced than she felt. The distance to the gunboat was decreasing, but not quick enough for her to get a firing solution before the entered hyperspace.

"I am well aware of your new ship's capabilities, we studied much about them after our engagement over Hoth," the voice replied. "I will be leaving now. I would like to tell you that I won't forget this. You alliance with the Jedi and your actions here cost me some very promising apprentices. No, matter."

'What is he talking about? Inyri thought. Apprentices?

"However, myself and my fellow Dark Lords have safely escaped and we will repay you and the Jedi ten fold for what has happened here," he snarled.

Inyri was surprised when her targeting box on her HUD went red and her astromech indicated a solid lock. She squeezed the trigger, twice in quick succession, sending two torpedoes at the gunboat. They quickly accelerated closing the distance to the enemy ship.

"Nice try, but far too little, far too late," the voice from the gunboat chuckled as it accelerated away and disappeared in a flash to hyperspace. The torpedoes, which were unable to find their target, exploded.

"Good try, Rogue Eleven. I was almost buying it," Wedge said to her over the comm. "Now, come on. Let's get back to the fight."

"Acknowledged, Rogue Leader," she said as she turned her fighter back towards the Lusankya and other New Republic ships.

* * * *

The three Jedi ran through the compound. After a few minutes they heard the sound of blaster fire. They turned the corner to see the Wraiths pouring fire into the last few remaining stormtroopers. When the Wraiths saw their friends return, they jumped up and followed the Jedi as they rushed into the Command Center.

The Wraiths quickly opened fire as the doors to the Command Center snapped open. The few stormtroopers and officers that were there went down in a hail of blaster bolts as they tried to bring their weapons to bear against the Wraiths. In the center of the room was a man dressed in an Imperial Admiral's uniform. He looked as if he had stepped right off an Imperial Navy recruiting poster.

Admiral Gufriss was tall and handsome. His black hair was beginning to gray at the temples giving him an air of maturity and authority. He glared at the Wraiths contemptuously and quickly drew his blaster. Luke reached out and snatched the blaster from his hand with the Force. Just as he did, stun bolts shot out of Face's and Kell's weapons dropping the Admiral to the floor.

As Gufriss hit the floor, two red blaster bolts slammed into his head from behind. Cheriss spun to see a woman diving towards a ventilation shaft. She was dressed in a non-descript black jumpsuit. She had long red hair that was tied back in a loose ponytail. She was young and thin. Her shimmering green eyes turned to meet Cheriss'. Cheriss felt a presence stab into her mind. Cheriss tried to fight the presence and drive it away but she was just too strong. Cheriss' world faded to black as the woman dove into the ventilation shaft.

Cheriss' eyes fluttered open. She was obviously lying on her back. Luke and Corran were sitting nearby as Elasarr looked at her. "Nice to see you too," Elasarr said as he sat up. "Looks like you're doing ok."

Cheriss groaned as she tried to sit up. She looked around to see New Republic troops were occupying the Command Center. She blinked trying to clear her head. "How long was I out?"

"About an hour. Maybe a little more," Corran responded.

Cheriss shook her head. "What happened."

"We're not sure," Luke said. "You were attacked mentally. We do not believe that you had any permanent damage done to you."

Cheriss tried to put on her bravest smile and portray less fear that she felt. "That's good to hear."

"Whoever it was that attacked you got away though. Master Luke and I have not been able to track him down," Corran said. "Did you see who it was?"

Cheriss tried to think back. "I don't know…" Her memories were fuzzy. She thought she could see a person, but anytime she tried to concentrate on features the image faded. The harder she tried to see the face, the more elusive it became. Luke could sense her frustration.

"The most important thing is that you are safe. We also accomplished our mission." Luke sat gently patted as he Cheriss on the shoulder.

Cheriss looked down and the lightsaber hanging on her belt. She held it up to Luke. "I'm sorry, Master Skywalker. It appears you didn't leave it in good hands after all."

Luke took the lightsaber and examined it. "This blade has seen life again in your hands. It served you well. That is all I would ask of it. It will now go in the Jedi Museum on Coruscant."

Elasarr helped Cheriss to her feet. The Wraiths gathered their equipment and began to head out of the compound to where they had landed their fighters. Luke quickly checked in with the Main Ground Commander then followed the Wraiths out of the Command Center.

Corran waited for Luke to come out and walked up beside him. "What of the Dark Jedi? What are we going to do with their remains and possessions?"

Luke sighed. "Well, as you know, when a Dark Jedi dies, there usually isn't that much left for remains. When the ground forces moved in they gathered what little remained of the bodies and put them with the rest of the dead. Their possessions have been sent up to the Lusankya to be held for me. I am still not sure what will be done with them."

"At the very least, Tionne could take a look at them. I am sure something worthwhile could be discerned by studying them." Corran replied.

Luke nodded. "The only strange thing the ground forces reported was about the Sith woman Cheriss was battling. No remains or objects were recovered from the site of her death. The only thing they found was evidence of an explosion."

Corran raised an eyebrow. "I see…no wait. No I don't."

Luke chuckled. "The only thing I can think is that she died in a similar fashion to the Emperor. When she died her body turned into a deadly burst of dark side energy. It is a good thing she didn't die when Cheriss was still there or it is very likely Cheriss would not be with us now."

Corran nodded. "Well, sometimes a little luck never hurts. Even if you are a Jedi"

&uqot;Now, Jedi Knight Horn. You know what you always say. There is no luck, only the Force," Luke joked.

The two Jedi laughed as they exited the compound to make the long hike back to their fighters.

* * * *

The pilots of Rogue and Wraith Squadrons sat in the main briefing room. Admiral Ackbar, General Antilles and General Skywalker stood at the front of the room. It was the day after the New Republic had secured Tentrill III and Admiral Guffris was killed.

Admiral Ackbar turned to face the gathered officers. "Ladies and Gentlemen, may I have your attention please. First, I would like to thank Master Skywalker for all his help. Without his aid, I do not believe that we would have succeeded as decisively as we did."

The pilots cheered happily. "Captain Loran, front and center," Ackbar said looking directly at Face. Face stood and walked to the front of the room saluting the three officers.

"It is my pleasure to return command of Wraith Squadron to Captain Garik Loran from General Luke Skywalker." Admiral Ackbar informed the group. A few playful groans and applause met the announcement.

Face saluted Luke. "Sure you don't want to keep them, Sir?"

Luke smirked. "No, I can't keep up with the Wraiths. I'm lucky I kept up as long as I did."

The gathered pilots burst out laughing. When the laughter died down to chuckling, Admiral Ackbar continued. "I would also like to announce Master Skywalker's return to civilian life."

Wedge slapped Luke on the back. "Lucky you. You don't have to deal with me as your Commander anymore."

Luke chuckled. "Yeah, you were a real Wampa of a Commander."

"Flight Officer Cheriss Ke Handi, front and Center," Admiral Ackbar ordered.

Cheriss stood and walked to the front as Face retook his seat. She saluted the three officers and stood at attention in front of them.

"Now it is time for news that is some good and some bad. Flight Officer Ke Handi will be leaving Wraith Squadron and placed in the inactive reserve force," Admiral Ackbar said. Cheriss began to smile. Her eyes brightened expecting what would happen next.

"I have asked that Cheriss be released from her obligations to the New Republic Armed Forces to attend the Jedi Academy at Yavin IV. There she will begin her full time training to become a Jedi Knight," Luke said, stepping forward to address the group.

A roar of applause met the announcement. After the applause died down, the Admiral looked at the gathered pilots. "I'd like to thank you all again for your fine service. As usual, I might add. If there is nothing else, you are all dismissed."

The pilots gathered around to congratulate Cheriss and Luke. The pilots all began to head to their favorite tapcaf to begin celebrations that would last long into the night.

* * * *

The celebrations went on for several days as the Lusankya headed to Coruscant. Luke and Cheriss spent most of their time saying good bye to their new friends and making plans to keep in touch.

Wedge, Luke, Tycho, Face and Ackbar met the morning they were supposed to arrive at Coruscant. They were meeting to discuss the results of the T-65XF program. Admiral Ackbar looked pensive as he sat down to begin the meeting.

Ackbar looked down at a data pad that he had carried in. He cleared in throat and began to read from the pad. "The New Republic Security Council thanks you for all your hard work in testing the Incom T- 65XF. We have read through the test results and pilot evaluations. The XF has received glowing reports from pilots and ground crews alike. However, the New Republic will not be investing in the further development of the project."

Mouths dropped around the room. Ackbar waited for the disgusted sighs to end before continuing to read from the pad, "However, the New Republic will be funding a limited testing program and manufacture of a new variant on the design. The T-65XJ is being designed from General Skywalker's, Captain Horn's and Flight Officer Ke Handi's input gathered during the XF's testing program. General Skywalker and Captain Horn will have an active part in the creation of this new fighter." Ackbar paused to take a sip of his water.

Wedge glanced over at Luke trying to gauge his reaction. Luke's usual Jedi calm held in place and Wedge could discern nothing.

"A very limited number of these craft will be purchased by the New Republic to be given to the Jedi Academy. Incom will then decided if there is a market after that. The New Republic has decided not to pursue a contract for the T-65XF because of the high cost of the individual spacecraft," Ackbar said.

The gathered pilots groaned loudly and muttered amongst themselves.

"This project is simply too expensive for the New Republic at this time. However, we may be able to consider it in the future." Ackbar's latest line met with even more groans and pessimistic comments.

"Sincerely, Councilor Borsk Fey'la." Ackbar finished.

"Figures…" Tycho complained. "Doesn't surprise me Fey'la was in on that decision."

"Well, ours is not the reason why…" Wedge said, wishing he could explain more. However, it was not like him to complain about high command in front of his officers, even his senior staff.

"I'm sorry gentlemen. I tried everything I could to convince them they were making the wrong decision. Mon Mothma was the only reason the XJ program was passed," Ackbar admitted. He wanted them to know he was behind them. He said as much as his conscience would allow.

"We appreciate that, sir," Tycho said. "Hopefully not too many more of our pilots will need to die before the bureaucrats decide our lives are worth the credits."

The dismayed pilots left the briefing room to gather their things for their arrival on Coruscant and redeployment.

* * * *

Cheriss had just finished packing her things when she heard her door alert buzz. "Come in," she called. The door opened to admit Master Skywalker. He was dressed in his brown and tan Jedi robes.

"Ready to go?" Luke asked, knowing just how heavy of a question he was asking.

Cheriss nodded. "I am ready, Master."

"When we arrive on Coruscant I would like you to begin searching through the bazaars and markets for gem stones," Luke said. Cheriss' eyes lit up. "I believe you are ready to begin construction of your own lightsaber."

"Thank you for your confidence," Cheriss said.

"No Cheriss, thank you. It's people like you who are remaking the Jedi tradition." Luke smiled. "I have more good news."

Cheriss tilted her head and smirked. "And that is?"

"The New Republic and Incom wish for us to continue our evaluation of the XF to gain more input into what we want to see in the XJ. Your fighter has been given to you as a gift from the New Republic and Incom," Luke said. "I don't know what is going to happen to the others, however." Luke added off-handedly.

Cheriss was shocked. "I…I…wow," was all she could stammer.

Luke smirked and picked up one of her bags. "Well, lets get going."

"Yes, Master!" Cheriss said enthusiastically as she grabbed her things and began to trot down the hall towards the hanger. "Come on, Sabre," she called over her shoulder. The purple and black droid tooted happily and followed the pair towards the hanger.

Luke and Cheriss entered the flight deck to see most of the Rogues and Wraiths gathered around beginning to make preparations to head down to their planetside base. Corran walked up to Luke and Cheriss.

"Congratulations Cheriss, on your opportunity to go to the Academy," Corran said, hugging her. Cheriss returned the hug, smiling brightly.

"Master Skywalker, I have some leave coming in a few weeks. I would like to come to the Academy and discuss some things with you. Including my future," Corran said.

Luke smiled. "I am glad to hear that Corran. I look forward to it."

"The only thing I ask is that Mirax can come along." Corran shrugged. "I'd hate to have to deal with her if I had time off and didn't spend at least some of it with her."

Luke chuckled. "That's fine Corran. I'd love to see Mirax again."

"Well, see ya in a few weeks, you two," Corran said as he trotted off towards his X-wing.

The pilots gathered around Luke and Cheriss sending them off in a hail of hugs and back slaps. Luke and Cheriss slowly broke away and began climbing into their X-wings. With a final wave, they lowered their canopies.

The T-65XFs lifted on their repulsor lifts and headed towards the magcon field. They broke through and headed towards the city-planet of Coruscant.

* * * *

Author's Note: Please join Cheriss in her next series of adventures titled: The Shrouded Path. Thanks for reading. I hope you all had as much fun reading as I did writing. =^.^=

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