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Episode 1: Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away

Welcome to Friend or Foe, TOROCasts first featuring fan fiction piece. Warning ye followers of the TORO! This post has story!

Episode 1: Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…

By Banath

“I looked her in the eyes, and… did it. I couldn’t bring her back with me to Tython. It would have been both our death sentence,” I said.

The Council listened to me in silence. From left to right the great masters of the Jedi Order sat before me. The faces of the men and women of several species that managed to become the highest of rank in the Force. Though I couldn’t sense their power in the Force I could see the power in their eyes, vibrating out from the way they shifted in their seats, the way they held themselves, the way they looked at me. The best I could do, was to be honest to them. They could tear through any lies I would give them. Immediately. I bowed my head in silence, and waited for further questions.

“This has become a… difficult situation, Captain,” said the human Jedi Master. “You should have brought her here to be trialed, as in our way. In these difficult times we cannot afford to let Jedi fall to the dark side and roam free.”

 “Yes Sir, I know, but…”

“I was not finished. Seeing the friendship between you two, it is understandable that your feelings affected your judgment. This does not absolve your responsibility for your part in the situation, however. On the other hand, for that same reason you are in a unique situation to help us. We will give you one task to redeem yourself, not only before the Council, but we will stand for the possibility to clear your name in the face of the Republic, even if this means that our relationship with the Republic cools a little more down, since Coruscant.”

“Thank you, Sir,” I answered, though I died a little more inside.

The human Jedi smiled with a sad face. “Do not thank us yet – You have not heard the assignment. We have been given permission by certain officials within the Republic – against their judgment – to let you, your ship and crew go on the hunt for her. And you must bring her back to us, any means necessary. What she knows could give the Sith Empire a vital advantage. We cannot afford it.”

A pain came over my heart. It is as I feared it would be.

“Yes, Sir.” I responded. The human Jedi looked at me with a stern face.

“Good. This meeting is adjourned.”

I left the Council room with a heavy heart.

I left the room, but as I walked out into the hallway a tiny green Jedi Master caught up with me. He looked ancient, white tufts of hair sticking up at odd angles to his wrinkly green body.  He had been sitting on my right side, when we were in the conference. So there is the real power in the Council, I thought cynically.

“Come with me, you must,” said the Jedi Master briskly. The short alien was able to keep up with my fleet pace. It surprised me. I should stop judging Jedi on their appearance.

“Understanding, I do your actions. Condone them, I do not. Helped her, we could have, my son.” said the Jedi.

“I am sorry, Master Jedi, but it was all I could do.”

The little green being sighed. “Loved her, you did, is it not?”

He responded to me with strong assurance. I could lie, but that wouldn’t help. I smiled to him with a guilty face. “I still do, Sir, but it is not wise to do so anymore.” “Wise?” the Master chuckled, “Love does not make one wise, it makes one great. Not letting love blind you, makes one wise.” The Jedi looked at me for a moment, and his ears started to hang a bit. “Betrayed, felt you must have, when she did it. Hurt, you still are?” I could only nod. A sad sigh came from the little being, like he could feel the pain I felt. We walked slowly on without saying much more.

“Sir,” I asked cautiously after a while, “How is the war going? What I know is that we are not doing very well.”

The look on the Jedi’s face spoke more than a thousand words. His ears started to hang down even more. A distant look in his eyes. “Not doing very well at all, we are, in this war. Entrust you, I do, young captain, with this secret of the dark side. Know not, very many do of our inability to see, because of it. Help you, it will, when facing your love. Forget, Jedi seem to do. Clouding, the Dark side of the Force, our judgment does. Know this, the Emperor does. Against us, he uses it. At stake, the fate of the universe is. Vital to the war, what she knows. Destroying the Temple at Coruscant, a great tactical move it was. Lost, a lot of lives have been. Affording it, once again, we cannot. Died a little, hope did that day.” The small Council member seemed older even beyond his age of 500 to me, when he said that. It effects all of us, I thought. And my mind drifted again to her.

“Captain!” Abruptly I was shaken out of my memories of the past week. I looked out of the starboard window to the vastness of space. My second-in-command, Iridom, called for my attention.

“Sir, should I let the navigator make the jump to lightspeed?” she asked. Grim reality called me back. It has been a week since we left Tython. I had a long and difficult meeting with my Republic superiors and representatives after the questioning by the Jedi Council. The Republic forces were not so lenient as the Council was. Maybe because they cannot see through me or my heart, like the Jedi could. The questioning droid was relentless. Question upon question was fired at me. They needed to know everything that happened. Luckily, they didn’t torture me. Although I expected it. The little sleep I’d been allowed was much less than I could’ve used for this mission. I was still a little tired, and wouldn’t exactly be getting much rest while on my ship.

The lieutenant walks up with a questioning face. An eager woman of a strong, slender build comes up to me. The short hair, neatly tied up, gave her a more strict look. The strictness of her posture made even me a bit intimidated. The brown eyes looked at me with anticipation. She was ready to prove her worth to me and the Republic. She has only been my second-in-command for little over three months. She does her work accurate, handles the crew very well and has a keen eye what needs to be done. Will this be another one that dies under my command?

I took a deep breath, straightened up and look her in the eyes.

“Is everything set, Lieutenant? All crew and commando’s onboard, supplies restocked? This will be a long trip and we won’t see a lot of friendly faces once we have jumped.”

“Aye sir, everyone is set and are awaiting your orders.”

I returned to the view of space. “Somewhere out there in that big expanse of space she is hiding, Iridom, and we have to catch her, before she is in Sith space.”

“Aye, Captain, but we can handle it,” she said with certainty. “Even if we get caught up across the Empires borders, we have managed to escape their fleet before,” she smiled with a smirk look on her face. “Dropping in and out into the Empires territory if needed, won’t be too much of a pickle for us, sir.” Her confidence made me smile a bit.

“Don’t expect to be so lucky, Lieutenant, the Force isn’t always with us.”

“Those Jedi that are on board will probably disagree with you, Cap’tain.” She pointed discreetly to the two out-of-place figures that stood calmly in the corner.

I started to laugh, the woman knew how she should handle the crew, even me. She will be a great captain in a few years on board her own vessel. If she makes it…

“Indeed, they will, Lieutenant, indeed they will. Thanks for cheering me up.” She gave me a short nod. 

We walked back to the center of the Corona’s bridge. The Corona, the ship under my command. Home and harbor to me, and one of the mid-class Republic ships. A beautiful ship, with the characteristics of the larger capital ships of the Republic, but smaller. Usually the colors of the Republic would be pride at it sides, but with this mission, it was ordered to repaint it. The droids did the job faster then expected. That’s what you get with an unlimited workforce that doesn’t tire. 

I looked across the bow and my crew. In the middle in front of me and to both the right and left side the consoles for plotting the course, using the forward weapon batteries and all other tech and in the center front the rudder. As the crew heard me approaching, the helmsmen slightly turned their heads to catch the order when it came. On the left, the two Jedi, a blue female Twi’lek, who I figured was a master, and a Mon Calamari male. I nodded to the two and a slight feeling of discomfort came over me. Is the Council really that afraid that I won’t do my work?

I knew that my track record spoke against me, but the Jedi could see more then just my files. I didn’t like having the Jedi onboard. She would see them as a threat. When we were alone, even after her turning, she was never aggressive towards me. If she feels threatened, I didn’t know what would happen, but remembering her lightsaber skills, it wouldn’t be pretty. Maybe some Republic official feels more confident about this, because of the presence of two Jedi.

But the two Jedi had their orders, and I had mine. If something mission-related came up, they were the executive power. Despite my orders that I was to obey them, I wanted to make something clear. There is only one king and one high priest onboard of a ship. The captain and only the captain. “I’m responsible for both the success of this mission and the safety of my crew. So don’t get in my way, I won’t get in yours, and we won’t have any problems.”

The Twi’lek smiled as though she weren’t irritated by my tone. “We will not be interfering with your job, and we would never ask you to endanger your crew any more than is necessary. The Force, as always, will guide our actions, and our path has already been determined. It does not tangle with yours.”

The future is never set, I thought. Based on what the little green Jedi said about the dark side, you shouldn’t be so confident either. Still, their overconfidence was not something I could do much about.

I gazed back to the helmsmen. “Helmsman Thricada, make the jump.”

“Aye, Sir.” And the stars became starlines. And so we jumped into hyperspace.

To whatever fate…

To be continued…

About Banath

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