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Jaina Solo solo_sword
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Abeloth's planet- Monday evening
Jaina had chosen this particular ship because it was fast, sturdy, could evade detection and deliver a debilitating attack, and she was really glad for her choice in this fight against Ship. Cannon fire from both ships was nearly constant, and after she'd shot off her first missile Ship had taken out their shields.

That she could handle. She'd been up against Ship several times and still thought she was the best pilot to actually do it damage. What she couldn't handle was the scream she heard coming from the medbay where Luke had strapped in before going beyond shadows. It was the kind of sound that dropped a cold stone right in the pit of Jaina's stomach because that was the sound she heard when people died screaming, and she couldn't go back there to help him with Ship out there. She'd been trying to hold out against Ship till Luke came back, but that might not be an option now, and she needed to finish this fast and get to Abeloth's planet.

Jaina hit Ship with a double baradium missile strike, and after that, it stopped returning fire. It was still close, and definitely a threat, but after a short while of waiting for it to make a move, she decided that the hull breach alarms could be at least acknowledged now. There were at least three breaches, and she closed her helmet and got up only to seal off the medbay cabin so Luke would stay safe. She could sense he was alive, but that was it, and she was going to have to land on the only planet nearby- Abeloth's- to find out if she could even save him.

Jaina fired off her last missile, and accelerated after it, hoping that she could at least strike past Ship towards the planet. And if it fired, at least the stern could take a couple more shots, probably. But to her surprise, Ship became a distant dot that shrank further and disappeared.

Finally, Ship had turned and run.

Jaina found a clear spot and landed on the planet without further incident, but she knew the ship was in bad shape. Once she was safely on the ground she tossed off her helmet and headed straight for the medbay to get to Luke. He was laying pale and still on the cot, still strapped in, and to Jaina's shock he seemed to be bleeding from a hole in his chest, like something had been ripped out of it. It was a panic-fueled few minutes as she tried to stop the bleeding and bandage him up and activate the medical droid that gave Luke a breathing tube and hooked him up to machines to monitor his vital signs. By the time it was done, Luke was stable- or at least in a healing trance- and Jaina was covered in her uncle's blood and just hoping that whatever happened meant Abeloth was taken care of, or at least not a major threat right this second.

Jaina was about to start work on repairs when she sensed Ben around. He must've gotten free from Abeloth somehow- maybe whatever Luke did worked?- and followed her sense here. Also there was Vestara, which she was much less happy about, especially since she could already sense something dark. Grabbing her lightsaber but keeping it deactivated at her side, Jaina lowered the boarding ramp and headed aft to meet them. Rather than let them on right away, she descended the ramp, because she had one very singular mission here, and that was to make sure Vestara didn't board till Jaina was ready to let her.

"Jaina!" Ben called, sounding alarmed, rushing towards her and pulling Vestara along with him. "Are you okay?"

Jaina might have forgotten about the blood all over her if it hadn't been for the worry in his voice. "I'm fine," she said. "How about you, Ben?" She wasn't so focused to miss that he hadn't been able to go in a straight line to get to her.

“Ben took a blow to the head,” Vestara said, steadying him. “He’s lost a lot of blood and is having a few balance problems.”

It probably shouldn't be a surprise that he'd inherited the Skywalker-Solo predisposition towards concussions, but Jaina relaxed a little bit. “You’d better come aboard then.”

Ben and Vestara started towards the boarding ramp, but Jaina held up a hand to stop Vestara from stepping onto it. "Just Ben for now. Please."

Vestara regarded her coolly, and Jaina stood firm, because she was not letting a girl radiating that much dark energy after tangling with Abeloth into an enclosed space with an injured Luke Skywalker.

Ben looked back and forth between them, confused, and said, “You don’t need to worry about that dark stuff, Jaina. It’s just an aftereffect.”

“Of what, exactly?” Jaina asked.

“I was standing too close to the font when I used the Force,” Vestara explained. “I knew it would taint me, but we needed its power. It was the only way to kill Abeloth.”

“But the taint will fade,” Ben said. “It’s already faded a lot.”

“I’m glad to hear it," Jaina said, still watching Vestara carefully. "But it’s actually your father I’m thinking of, Ben.”

“Dad?” Ben started up the ramp, but he was still holding Vestara’s hand. “What happened?”

Jaina stepped squarely in the center of the ramp to block them. “I don’t really know. It happened beyond shadows.”

“That’s bad,” Ben said, realization dawning on his face. “Is he awake?”

“Not yet," Jaina said, and looked to Vestara. "I’ve got some repairs to make and my sensors are gone, so I need you to keep watch. Ship could be around somewhere.”

Vestara finally relented, dropping Ben's hand. "Go on, Ben. Check on your father," she said, and stood on her toes to give him a kiss. Ugh, teenagers.

After a moment- too long, kids, jeez, Jaina was right here- he backed away, but placed his hands on Vestara's shoulders. “There’s nothing to worry about, Ves,” he said. “If Abeloth couldn’t kill us, Ship doesn’t stand a chance.”

Vestara nodded and forced a smile. “I know that. Go on, now. I hope your father is going to be okay.”

“Thanks,” Ben said. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

While she was careful not to reveal it in the Force, Jaina felt a little bad that she was about to wreck this for them.

She stepped aside to let Ben aboard, and once he was safely on the ship and she'd pointed him to the medbay, Jaina slapped a few buttons on the control pad to retract the boarding ramp, leaving Vestara outside. "I'll be back in a minute."

"What are you doing?" Ben frowned. "I keep telling you-"

"I can't check hull integrity with an open hatch," Jaina sighed. “And your girlfriend is fine. It’s Luke Skywalker you should be worrying about.”

Ben studied her a minute, trying to figure out what was going on. "Okay," he said, starting down the corridor. "But don't even think about leaving without Vestara. If not for her-"

"Ben, don't worry. The last thing I intend to do is leave Vestara Khai on this planet."

Jaina did run the hull integrity test, because that was important if they were ever getting off this rock. But once that was finished, and she had an idea of where to start, she went back to the medbay to check in on them and found Ben talking to Luke, so she hung back, not wanting to interrupt. "Hey, Dad, thanks for coming after us," Ben was saying. “I don’t know what happened beyond shadows, but it probably saved us. Vestara and… Dad? Dad, are you awake?"

The Emdee droid stepped to the foot of the bunk and plugged into the data socket. “I’m sorry, soldier. The patient’s brain activity is still minimal," it said.

“He squeezed my hand,” Ben said. “In fact, he’s still squeezing it.”

“It’s just motor response,” the droid said. “With this level of brain inactivity-"

“I don’t care what your scanner says. This man is a Jedi Grand Master. He has capabilities you can’t begin to understand.”

“Alternative medicine is the folly of the weak-minded, soldier.”

“Jedi Knights are not weak-minded,” Jaina said, stepping into the cabin. “And the Force is hardly ‘alternative medicine.’ Clear?” She pointed a finger, floating the droid back towards its primary interface socket, knocking it over. Even a droid should understand her point.

She stepped closer to the bunk. "Luke squeezed your hand?"

“That’s right,” Ben said. “He’s not doing it right now, but he definitely squeezed. It started when I was talking to him.”

“When you mentioned Vestara?”

When she said the name, she could actually see Luke's hand clamp down on Ben's.

"What's going on?" Ben asked.

“I imagine he’s trying to tell you something.”

“Like what? If you’re going to tell me she can’t be trusted, forget it.”

“I don’t think I need to tell you anything, Ben," Jaina said. "I think you already know.”

Ben shook his head. “What I know is that Vestara risked her life to save me from Abeloth," he insisted. "She can’t still be Sith. They turned her over to Abeloth… with me.”

“I can’t explain that,” she conceded. “But there’s something you need to know about the battle in the Temple.”

Ben shook his head again, but she could tell he was thinking. He was such a smart kid, and it was so easy to get caught up in feelings and turn a blind eye to the bad stuff, and he really needed to not do that in this case. "No… you can’t possibly blame the ambush in the treatment plant on her. She didn’t even know the plan until after our capsule was in the line.”

“That’s a very good point,” Jaina admitted. “And she wasn’t the one who told the Sith where we would be entering. Abeloth did that.”


Jaina nodded. “Wynn Dorvan clued us in,” she explained. “He was Abeloth’s prisoner for a while, and he said she could look into the future. We think she was probably flow-walking.”

“You see? If Vestara didn’t-"

There was a gagging sound from beside him, and Luke was grabbing so hard Ben's knuckles seemed to be popping.

The droid made its way back over, saying, “I’ve never seen this before. The patient isn’t coming out of the coma, but the name seems to trigger a primitive fear response.”

Ben frowned. “Fear response?”

“He’s afraid for you, Ben,” Jaina said. “I think I know what he’s trying to say.”

Ben glared at her. “Okay, Jaina. You’ve been treating Vestara like the spawn of Palpatine ever since you landed. Whatever your problem with her is, it’s time to lay it out.”

Normally challenging her like that would be met with brutal honesty, but this time Jaina didn't give that. She knew how much this was going to hurt, and she didn't want to bring Ben that kind of pain, but she had to. "After you were captured," she said gently, "Vestara was seen inside the Temple with a band of Sith."

"Of course. She was a Sith prisoner."

“She wasn’t a prisoner,” Jaina said. “It was an ambush, and Vestara was leading the attack.”

It was starting to sink in for him, Jaina could tell by his face and the growing sense of unease. “And you’re sure it was Vestara?” Ben asked. “That she was actually with the Sith?”

Jaina nodded. “My parents are the ones who told me. They contacted us via the HoloNet, just before we entered the Maw.”

“How were Aunt Leia and Uncle Han involved?” he wondered.

“They’re the ones the Sith ambushed, and they both saw Vestara leading the attack,” Jaina explained. “The Falcon was making a drop at the loading bay where the evacuation tunnel comes out. Vestara was there, waiting with a couple dozen Sith. She used a thermal detonator to disable the Falcon while the rest of her team attacked. Dad is positive it was her.”

Ben went silent for a moment, and finally pulled his hand free of Luke's grasp. "Thanks for the warning, Dad," he said. "I understand. Vestara Khai is a Sith. She always has been.”

“I’m afraid so,” Jaina said. “I’m sorry, Ben.” The poor kid. It was always terrible to find out someone you cared about wasn't who they thought you were, but most people didn't have to consider things like Sith.

“Don’t be,” he said, apparently trying to shake it off. “Is everyone okay?”

"Mom and Dad are fine,” she said. “But Bazel Warv died in the ambush.”

That was the part he took the hardest, letting his chin drop. "It’s my fault,” he said. “I can’t believe I let her fool me- or that I was ever stupid enough to think she really loved me.”

Jaina put a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m pretty sure that Vestara does love you. It’s the only way she could have tricked you long enough to pull this off.”

Ben looked up. “How so?”

“Ben, you’re a fairly sensitive young man and as strong in the Force as your father,” Jaina said. “Don’t you think you would have noticed if she were lying about her feelings?”

He considered this, nodding. “You’re right,” he said. “She did love me. It just didn’t matter.”

“That’s what Sith do. They draw on the power of their emotions to get what they want.” Jaina took her hand away, and knew he was going to take this part really badly.

“Go on,” Ben said. “Tell me the rest.”

“I wish I didn’t have to, but you need to know,” Jaina said. “That ambush Vestara was leading? They were after Allana. The Sith know who she is.”

That seemed to steel his resolve more than anything else. "We should make sure she comes back with us, then."

They hashed out a very basic plan on how to lure Vestara in, considering just trying to keep her off the ship must have put her on guard. It was going to have to hinge on Ben pretending that nothing was wrong and convincing her to come on board. Luckily he was one of the better actors Jaina had ever seen in real life.

Jaina opened the boarding ramp, but when she and Ben stepped out, Vestara was nowhere to be seen. "Vestara?" Ben called. "Where are you? Come on out."

There was a brief pause, and Vestara stepped out onto the ledge around the courtyard they had landed in. "Up here!" she called back. "Sorry!"

Ben and Jaina automatically stepped closer, but away from each other so they could cover more ground between them. Jaina kept slowly moving further to put herself in position for a flanking attack. “What are you doing up there, Ves?” Ben asked.

Vestara shrugged. “Hiding, obviously,” and looked to Jaina, who stopped moving. “If Ship really is around here, I didn’t want him seeing me.”

“Oh, yeah- good thinking,” Ben said. “But we’re good to go now. Come on down.”

Vestara remained where she was and continued to look at Jaina. “You’ve done a cranial scan on Ben already?”

Jaina nodded. “He’s fine," she said. "But Grand Master Skywalker not so much. We need to get going.”

“You did a cranial scan and made repairs already?” Vestara asked. “You’re fast.”

Vestara was on to them. She had to be. She wasn't dumb. So now the game was going to be who gave up fastest and started the fight. “The EmDee did the cranial scan. Are you coming or not?” Jaina said.

"Sure," Vestara said, glancing up at the sky before looking back at Ben. “As soon as Ben shows me what he has up his sleeve.”

That surprised him, but he rolled with it. “Nothing to worry about, Ves.” He straightened his wrist, and a hypo dropped out of his sleeve into his hand. “It’s just a sedative.”

“And why would I need a sedative?” she said. “Do I seem agitated to you?”

“My fault, I’m afraid,” Jaina said, still circling. “With Luke in such bad shape, I’m in no mood to take chances- and, well, it hasn’t been all that long since you were a Sith.”

“It’s just until we get out of the Maw, Ves.” Ben began to circle in the opposite direction again. “It doesn’t mean anything. Trust me.”

And with that, Vestara gave up first, looking genuinely hurt. "Ah, Ben. Why did you have to say that?"

A second later she was firing a bolt of Force lightning at him from her hand, and Jaina was already Force leaping onto the ledge Vestara was standing on. Vestara pivoted to hit her with the lightning, but Jaina caught it on her lightsaber blade as the sound and vibration from a landing vessel could be felt from the jungle.

Vestara used the Force to launch herself into a high, cartwheeling arc over the courtyard. Jaina spun to follow, but by then a fiery plume was flashing past beneath Vestara- one of Ship’s stony projectiles. It crashed into the ledge with a deafening boom, knocking Jaina off, and Ship came sweeping in to scoop Vestara out of the air before jetting off.

"You okay?" Ben asked, making his way over to her. His robes, still bloody from his head injury, were now smoking.

"Yeah," she said, pulling herself to her feet. "You?"

He nodded, but was looking up into the sky where Ship had disappeared with Vestara. "This is going to be a problem."

[NFB, NFI, OOC fine! Most dialogue and a couple bits taken from Apocalypse by Troy Denning, though I added parts and took stuff out and all that fun stuff.]

[Canon!Me, you have terrible taste in women. TERRIBLE.]

[You really, really do. Canon!me isn't much better, though, to be fair.]


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