Star Wars: The Triumphant Return Part 1
Miranda. A distant world beyond the Outer Rim, on the boundary of the galaxy and intergalactic space. As the Empire seeks to expand into the Outer Rim, the Miranda system, and its surrounding stars, act as a platform. A platform that the Empire could use to send out its ships to anywhere in the Galaxy. Flying over, or even under the galaxy if hyperspace lanes could be found, and if there are, it could spell disaster for the growing rebel movement as the Empire will be able to move its vast fleet of Star Destroyers virtually anywhere in the Galaxy. But even on a world as remote and isolated as Miranda, there is still hope. A small faction of rebels departs from Serreno on a CR90 corvette named the Trailblazer. Not only is it carrying a small group of rebel cells that could restore freedom to the Galaxy, it is also carrying a very precious cargo: two Jedi. A master, and an apprentice. The future of the Jedi Order, who are still hanging on by a thread following their near-extinction. As the pilots of the Trailblazer entered the system, they saw Miranda. The watery moon that orbited the Gas Giant planet Theo. Although Miranda was a moon, it had two smaller moons of its own: Kozo, a small lump of rock, and Kelma, a proto-planet that was forced out of its orbit in the outer-most parts of the system and by sheer luck, was put into orbit around Miranda. As the trailblazer landed on Miranda’s surface, the two Jedi departed the ship and took a walk through the forest. On Miranda’s Amlereihm Continent in the great valley known as the Corinthian Pass, giant pine trees dominated the forest. They could easily grow as tall as 200 meters. They rivaled even the giant trees of Kashyyyk. All around the forest were the great mountains known as the Corinthian Divide. The mountains were so tall and the mountain range so long that is effectively divided Miranda into its East and Western Hemisphere, with only the narrow Corinthian Pass acting as the only way to safely move through the mountains. “How do you feel Zonia?”, asked the Jedi to her apprentice. “I feel OK”, said Zonia, “you don’t mind if I call you Master Offee, do you Barriss?”. Barriss giggled a bit. “Of course not Zonia”, said Barriss, “you can call me however you see fit”. Barriss sensed Zonia was still a little mistrustful of her. Barriss left a bad first impression on Serreno, and she had a lot of making up to do to Zonia. “Zonia”, said Barriss, “I’m sorry. I don’t know how much you’ve had to go through in your life, but I can promise you that you’re not alone”. “I understand”, said Zonia, “you don’t have to apologize for anything. I would’ve done the same if I were in your position. In fact, I almost did”. “I guess that’s something that we both have in common” said Barriss as she smiled at Zonia. “I can teach you the ways of the force”, said Barriss, “I can teach you how to control your dark side so you don’t ever have to go through that again”. Zonia smiled and felt much more reassured. Although Barriss had attacked her on Serreno, she had her reasons. And now that those reasons didn’t matter, Zonia could finally have the Jedi training she deserved. “Can you show me what you know?” asked Barriss. Zonia nodded and pulled out her lightsaber. “Is it your lightsaber?” asked Barriss. “No”, said Zonia, “it was stolen by my fellow Nightsisters and kept on Dathomir. I don’t have one of my own, so this is the best I can do”. Barriss thought about what Zonia had told her. “Well”, said Barriss, “I guess it’s better than nothing. But don’t steal. It is not the Jedi way to steal”. “Yes master”, said Zonia as she smiled. Barriss immediately pulled out her WESTAR-35 blaster and set it to stun. “Alright, show me what you know”, said Barriss as she took aim at Zonia. As Zonia was able to deflect the blaster bolts, Barriss was impressed. “I see Ahsoka was able to teach you something” said Barriss. “She did help me sharpen my senses” said Zonia. “What did she teach you about the Force?” asked Barriss. “The Force?” asked Zonia, “you mean that certain power?”. “It’s more than just ‘a power’”, said Barriss, “it’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the Galaxy together”. As Barriss gave Zonia her lecture, one of the rebels from the trailblazer told Barriss that she had an incoming transmission, and had to cut her Jedi lesson short. “Wild Card”, said the voice over holo-transmitter, “this is Fulcrum, come in”. “Fulcrum, this is Wild Card”, said Barriss, “reading you loud and clear, over”. “It’s nice to hear from you”, said Barriss, “thanks for giving Wild Card 2 a head start in her Jedi training”. “Copy that”, said Ahsoka. “Where are you right now?” asked Barriss. “I have to remain in hiding for the moment right now”, said Ahsoka, “I can’t give the blueprints of the superweapon to the alliance just yet. If I do, the Empire could retaliate against the people of Serreno. But based on what I’ve seen so far, this weapon looks deadly. It literally has the potential to destroy an entire planet. I must stay in hiding away from the alliance to see if I can find a weakness”. “A weakness we could exploit”, said Barriss. “Exactly”, said Ahsoka, “but this superweapon may not be the only thing in the Empire’s arsenal”. “What do you mean?” asked Barriss. “I sent you to the Titan-Miranda system for a reason. The ancestors of its current inhabitants had ships that could travel between galaxies. One of my Mirandan informants has told me that one of these ships, an old battleship is still intact and operational somewhere in the Titan-Miranda system”. “I’m listening”, said Barriss. “If the Empire finds this ship, it will give them the ability to not only travel through the galaxy with little difficulty, it could also give them the means to travel to other galaxies, and spread their reign of terror there. I sent you all the way out to the Titan-Miranda system to find this battleship before the Empire does. If you can find it first, now only will you deny the Empire the secrets of this ship, it will also give the Mirandan race the opportunity to escape Imperial Oppression, and fly away from here to a new home”. “Looks like this ancient ship is very important”, said Barriss, “If we do find it, what do you want us to do?”. “If you find it, you will need to find a way to restart it and fly it” said Ahsoka. “That sounds like a comforting plan, thanks” said Barriss. “There is one more thing you need to know”, said Ahsoka, “this ship is carrying weapons”. “Hardly surprising for a battleship” said Barriss. “No”, said Ahsoka, “not just any kind of weapons. So powerful, that the Emperor himself has ordered this ship to be found”. “Then I guess we have no time to waste”, said Barriss, “Wild Card out”. With that, Barriss cut the transmission and went back outside the ship to look for Zonia. She had found her meditating at the foot of one the giant Conifer trees. She was so peaceful, so connected with nature, that a hummingbird flew out of the tree and flew in circles around Zonia. When Zonia opened her eyes and saw the colorful hummingbird, she smiled and reached out her hand and extended her finger. The hummingbird felt so comfortable around Zonia, that it came to rest on Zonia’s finger. When Barriss saw this, she was impressed. She had thought that because she was a nightsister, she was going to be all dark side. She didn’t expect Zonia to have such a light side, that she could encourage small animals to come near her. As soon as Barriss approached Zonia, the small hummingbird flew away from Zonia and approached Barriss. The hummingbird just hovered in front of Barriss at first, but when Barriss extended her hand and tried making a connection with the small animal through the force, the hummingbird flew around Barriss and came to rest on her hand. Almost right away, the hummingbird flew off of Barriss’ hands and flew around both her and Zonia and tried to lead them to a bush. When Barriss and Zonia reached the bush, they found the hummingbird’s nest, and saw that the hummingbird had a tiny chick. Barriss and Zonia were mesmerized by the tiny baby hummingbird, but saddened when they saw that the chick had a broken wing. Zonia hanged her head in sadness, but Barriss slowly picked up the baby hummingbird and held it gently in her hands. Then, she did something that astonished Zonia: she began using her Force abilities to heal the injured hummingbird. When she finally fixed its wing, the baby hummingbird was able to flap its wings and fly away. Zonia was astonished by what she saw and looked to Barriss in awe. “Do you think you can teach me?” asked Zonia. Barriss smiled. “In time”, she said, “in time”. As Barriss and Zonia looked around in awe and saw the giant trees around them, a loud thundering boom broke their awe. When they looked overhead and saw all the birds and other animals fly and run through the trees to escape the terrifying noise, they saw what was causing it. It was a Star Destroyer, on approach to land at a nearby base. The Empire was putting a lot of resources into trying to colonize the Titan-Miranda system. And all of this effort was for a ship. A ship that could change the face of the Galaxy, and maybe the entire universe. “I’m gonna go into town”, said Barriss, “I’m sure someone somewhere might be willing to help us”. “Help us with what Master Offee?” asked Zonia. Barriss finally explained the nature of their mission, and why it was important. She told her apprentice that they were looking for an ancient spacecraft, and it was of vital importance that they find it first. As Barriss and Zonia approached the settlement, they found a sign on the outskirts that read “Welcome to Corinth, established 2000 BBM, population 9000”. Barriss and Zonia looked to each other in confusion. What did the ‘BBM’ mean? But they could have their questions answered as soon as they went into Corinth. As they looked around, they tried to cover themselves up. The majority of the population were Mirandans. Other species that migrated to this remote world included Humans, Rodians, Twi’leks, Aqualish, and occasionally saw Ithorians, Togrutas, Trandoshans, and Mirialans. They were surprised to see this much diversity on Miranda. The system was so isolated and so remote, that even Tatooine was urbanized compared to Miranda. “We should split up”, said Zonia, “So we can learn as much as we can and get out”. “I agree”, said Barriss. As the two split up, Zonia went into a pub to see if she could get any intel. As she sat at a barstool, she looked around. She saw a lot of miners and farmers sitting at one end of the pub, and Imperials sitting at another end. As she sat at the bar stool, looking around for any intel, someone approached her. “You’re not from around here, are you?”, he asked. Zonia turned around in surprise. Surprise that someone could sneak up on her. “Were you talking to me?” she asked him. “Yes”, he said, “you. What are you doing here?”. “I’m just here for a drink?” she said in an annoyed manner. “My apologies”, he said, “I’m Jaspar, Jaspar Strasley”. “I’m Zonia”, she said, “my name is Zonia”. Zonia looked to him with both surprise and curiosity. How could he have snuck up on her? It soon became clear to Zonia why that was the case. Physically, he looked Human. His dark eyes, dark hair, and fair appearance all pinpointed to him being human. Except that she could not sense him through the Force. That’s when it became clear to Zonia that he was a Mirandan. “And no, I’m not from around here”, she told him, “but I am trying to learn”. “Let me show you”, Jaspar said. As Jaspar walked Zonia out of the bar, he told her more about his people and his homeworld. His ancestors had built an enormous civilization across the stars. Because Miranda at the time was located in a small cluster of stars, the resources that their micro-galaxy provided were very limited. This forced his peoples ancestors to build ships, that could leave their galaxy and travel to other galaxies. “Nothing lasts forever”, Jaspar told Zonia, “for reasons unknown, our great civilization collapsed over 3,000 years ago, and nearly all of our ships were destroyed. For the last 3,000 years, we were forced to stay on Miranda, living with only the basic necessities, and nothing else as my people had stripped Miranda of nearly all of its natural resources. Forced to live just above the edge of Extinction, and unable to leave this world. That was, of course, until the position of our micro-galaxy’s shifted closer and closer to your galaxy, and you were all able to reach us. It was just a few explorers at first. But everything changed when the Clone War came to Miranda”. “You remember the Clone War?” Zonia asked Jaspar. “I don’t remember very much”, he told her, “I remember when the Separatists first arrived and tried to make this system theirs, but we wouldn’t give up without a fight. But the Separatists were nothing compared to the Empire”. Zonia was astonished to hear Jaspar say that. Even this far beyond the Outer Rim, there was Anti-Imperial sentiment. “They’ve stripped our world of its resources”, said Jaspar, “and all for what? A ship. A ship that might not even exist anymore”. “A ship?, asked Zonia, “what do you mean?”. Jaspar looked over his shoulder as they walked down the street, to ensure that no one was listening. “There are rumors”, said Jaspar, “rumors that one of our ships, an old Battleship named the Triumphant, has survived the cataclysm that brought down our civilization and is hidden somewhere in our system. We don’t know if these rumors are true or not, but it was enough to bring the Empire out here, and in large numbers”. Zonia raised her eyebrows, the rumor of the Triumphant may not be so far-fetched. He wanted the Triumphant found just as much as she did. And he might be able to help her. “Come with me”, she told him, “I need to show you something”. As Zonia continue to talk with Jaspar, Barriss went to the other side of Corinth. As small of a settlement as it was, it was the largest settlement on Miranda that was built by Mirandans. Any settlement on Miranda that’s bigger than Corinth is an Imperial base, searching for artifacts that could lead to clues in finding the Triumphant. As Barriss walked along, she sensed a dark presence nearby. She immediately covered herself up and started investigating. As she snuck on the corner of one street to the other, she saw the dark presence she sensed. It was a human female, with dark brown skin and glowing yellow eyes shouting orders to the Imperial Officers. When Barriss got a closer look at her, she saw a gyroscopic lightsaber fixed to her back. Barriss knew all too well who she was involved with. She was an inquisitor. No different than the ones she has encountered in the past. She had to warn Zonia, and fast. As Zonia and Jaspar walked through the streets of Corinth, Jaspar started asking Zonia more about who she was and where she came from. “I’d rather not talk about my past”, she told him. “You’re a Jedi”, he said, “aren’t you?”. Zonia was in shock. “H-how could you know” she asked. “I was very little when the Separatists invaded Miranda, trying to find the Triumphant, just like the Empire. But they didn’t win the battle for Miranda. I remember when the Republic liberated my world, with a Jedi leading the assault. The metal hilt you were trying to conceal earlier in that pub, it’s a lightsaber. Isn’t it?”. Before Zonia could respond, she received a call on her commlink. “Wild Car 2”, said Barriss over the commlink, “this is Wild Card 1, do you copy?”. “Reading you loud and clear”, said Zonia, “Listen to me, I saw an inquisitor. Go back to the trailblazer, I’ll meet you there”. “Inquisitor?”, asked Jaspar, “those guys are nasty business”. “I know all about them”, said Zonia, “and I think you should come with me”. “Come with you?” asked Jaspar. “We need someone who knows this world”, said Zonia, “and somebody we can trust”. Jaspar thought hard, but agreed. They might be able to help Jaspar’s people, even if the Triumphant is never found. As Zonia and Jaspar made their way back to the trailblazer, Barriss tried to find a way to stay out of sight of the inquisitor. The last thing they needed was to have them know that the rebels had traveled all the way out here, and put their mission in jeopardy. As Zonia and Jaspar ran through forest, they were suddenly pushed into one of the giant trees by an unseen force. When Zonia got up, she saw a dark presence walking towards her. Wearing a black uniform with an Imperial insignia on her shoulder. As Zonia looked to her in terror, she took off her mask and revealed herself. Zonia was in shock by what she saw. “I see you’re still an inquisitor”, said Zonia as she ignited her lightsaber. “Why aren’t you?”, asked the inquisitor, “we trained together sister, why is it that we aren’t fighting together?”. “Because I refuse to go on the path you choose to go on”, she told her, “you don’t have to do this”. “Poor sister”, she told Zonia, “what has that poor excuse of a Jedi been teaching you?”. “Stop calling me that!”, Zonia exclaimed, “I have a name. You have a name too, Dhara Leonis”. “That is no longer my name!” shouted Dhara as she charged at Zonia with her lightsaber drawn. Zonia struggled to keep against Dhara’s relentless attacks. It wasn’t long before Dhara overpowered her opponent and had Zonia pinned to the ground. As Dhara moved in for the kill, Jaspar got back to his feet and drew two swords from holsters hidden in the back of his jacket. Dhara laughed when she saw Jaspar hold the primitive weapons. “What exactly do you plan to do with those?” she asked laughing. “Fight you, if I have to”, Jaspar responded. Immediately, Dhara ignited the second blade to her lightsaber and charged at Jaspar, all as Zonia looked on in horror. Zonia closed her eyes as Jaspar and Dhara’s blades were about to make contact. But when Zonia opened her eyes, she was astonished by what she saw. Instead of Dhara’s lightsaber cutting through Jaspar’s swords, they stopped her saber dead in its tracks. Even Dhara was surprised by what she was seeing. “Impossible”, said Dhara. “I’m not quite finished” said Jaspar as he returned his strikes, his swords producing static sounds as they came in contact with Dhara’s lightsaber. Dhara was quick to respond, and force pushed him into a tree, again. “I think you are”, said Dhara. “Oh, am I?” said Jaspar as he raised his hands. Within seconds, a powerful charge of electricity flew out of his hands and towards Dhara. Dhara didn’t have time to respond. She was quickly on the ground struggling to breathe. Right away, Jaspar helped Zonia get back to her feet. Zonia was in complete surprise by what she saw. “How?”, asked Zonia. “I’ll explain later”, he said. It wasn’t long before Dhara recovered, and was completely enraged. “We should leave”, said Zonia as they ran back into the forest. But as they ran and followed a river through the forest, it suddenly ended in a massive drop-off, with the river pouring over it as a massive waterfall. “We have to jump”, said Jaspar. “Are you crazy?”, asked Zonia, “I’m not jumping over that!”. It wasn’t long before Dhara caught up to them and prepared to unleash all her rage. Zonia looked back to Jaspar. “Actually”, said Zonia, “jump sounds good”. Right away, Jaspar grabbed Zonia’s hand and they both jumped over the waterfall, leaving an enraged Dhara up on the Drop-off. As Zonia and Jaspar stumbled out of the waterfall, Zonia grabbed him by the shoulder and immediately started questioning him. “You have some explaining to do”, she told him, “what kinds of swords are those? Where did you learn to use them? I thought Mirandans were outside the Force, how did you produce that lightning?”. “It’s complicated”, he told her. “I have time”, said Zonia”. Jaspar thought long and hard about what he was going to tell her. “Before my ancestors constructed a vast, interstellar civilization, we were divided. Constantly at war with each other. Until a great warrior, named Amlereihm the Conqueror, managed to unite us temporarily under his rule. Although that unity ended with his death, it provided us with the knowledge that we needed to reunify later again. To preserve the peace, he founded the Erisil Guards, intent on keeping the peace through diplomacy”. “Just like the Jedi”, said Zonia. “Exactly. The Order of the Erisil Guards is ancient. There weren’t many of us left by the time of our reunification. Even less today. Our weapons of choice: the Erisilian Gladius, made of Thorantium. A rare metal found only on Miranda, and the strongest and lightest metal that my kind knows of. We always use two, to make the most of the short blades. The electricity that came out of my hands, my species can naturally make. But it takes years of training to exercise it to my current strength. And years longer, to apply in combat”. “Fascinating”, said Zonia astonished. Having come from the Nightsisters and having that warrior heritage in her blood, she was fascinated by these Erisil Guards. Finally, they walked back to the trailblazer. When Zonia saw Barriss, she clearly had a worried look in her face, and had gotten no rest. “Zonia”, said Barriss, “where have you been? I was very worried, I thought you had gotten captured, or worse. We need to talk”. “Yes”, said Zonia, “we do need to talk, starting with that inquisitor I encountered”. “You what!?” exclaimed Barriss, “Zonia, I’m sorry. Are you ok?”. “No”, said Zonia, “I knew her when they were trying to turn me. We trained together. Her name is Dhara Leonis. This wasn’t just a dangerous encounter. This, this was personal”. “I’m so sorry”, said Barriss. “Don’t be”, said Zonia, “it wasn’t your fault”. “I’ll have to let Ahsoka know”, said Barriss, “we have to warn the alliance and let all our allies know that there are still more inquisitors out there”. “I agree”, said Zonia, “but first, I want to introduce you to a friend I made”. “It’s always good to make friends” said Barriss as she looked to Jaspar. “It’s always great to meet a Jedi. Hello, my name is Jaspar”. “Barriss, Barriss Offee at your service”, she said with a slight bow. As Jaspar told Zonia and the rest of the trailblazer crew more about his world and his people’s history, Barriss went to her quarters and contacted Ahsoka. “Fulcrum”, said Barriss, “this is Wild Card, do you copy?”. “Wild Card, this is Fulcrum, reading you loud and clear”. “It sure is nice to hear your voice again”, said Barriss. “Likewise”, said Ahsoka, “how is training going?”. “We’re getting there. I can already see you taught her the basics, and she has so much potential”. “I know”, said Ahsoka, “reminds me of someone I used to know”. Barriss smiled. “There is something I need you to know”, said Barriss, “Zonia came in contact with an inquisitor today”. “I’m not really surprised”, said Ahsoka, “the Empire’s been going crazy sending out these inquisitors after our series of stunts over the last couple of years”. “Yes”, said Barriss, “I know, but this time, it was different. Zonia told me that she trained alongside this inquisitor on Serreno. She knows her personally”. “This could spell trouble for Zonia” said Ahsoka. “Yes”, said Barriss, “I know. I wasn’t hoping to touch this topic for a while, and I still don’t want to have to give her that lecture yet”. “You have to”, said Ahsoka, “for her own good, for your own good, you have to teach her to let go of her attachments”. “I understand”, said Barriss, “it’s just that…”. “What is it?”, asked Ahsoka, “I don’t want to be hard on her. I don’t want to be as uncaring as Master Unduli. If I am, she could end up like me. The monster I allowed myself to become, and no one saw it coming”. “I understand your position on this”, said Ahsoka, “but this isn’t just about you. This is Zonia we’re talking about. Because of who she is, because of what she is, you are the only one suited to train her. And if you don’t teach her what she needs to know, she could go down a path so dark, I can’t even imagine it. Only you can teach her”. “Because she’s a Nightsister?” asked Barriss. “Because you two both have dark pasts, and you learned to recover from it, and you can teach her to control that dark side because her clan can no longer do that. So if you really wish to truly redeem yourself, if you truly wish to prove to me and the Galaxy that you’ve changed, you must train her, and train her the right way”. “I understand”, said Barriss. “And I’ll do my best to train her”. “I know”, said Ahsoka, “and there is something else you should know”. “I’m listening”, said Barriss. “The Sith Lord you encountered on Kashyyyk”, said Ahsoka, “one member of another Rebel Cell encountered him”. “You know”, said Barriss, “don’t you?”. Barriss listened on her commlink, and heard only radio silence. “Are you still there?” asked Barriss. “Yes”, said Ahsoka, “I know”. “I’m so sorry”, said Barriss, “I wanted to tell you, but I didn’t want you to learn as soon as I learned. That’s why I begged you not to connect with him through the Force. After having to face him, after watching Zing get killed, the last thing I needed was for you to have to find out as well”. “It’s ok”, said Ahsoka, “I had to find out sometime. I just wished I didn’t have to find out like this”. While Ahsoka and Barriss talked over the commlink, Jaspar and Zonia sat at a booth in the galley alone. Talking about each other’s experiences. Zonia told Jaspar about the Nightsisters, and Jaspar told Zonia more and more about the Erisil Guards. He told her that, like the Jedi and the Nightsisters, the Erisil Guard were seen as a threat to the Imperial occupation of Miranda, and began to send inquisitors to wipe them out, forcing what was left of the Order into hiding. “I know what that feels like”, said Zonia. “How what feels like?” asked Jaspar. “To be one of the last of your kind, all alone”, said Zonia. “It doesn’t have to be that way”, said Jaspar as he took a hold of Zonia’s soft grey-skinned hand. “W-what do you mean?” asked Zonia in a nervous voice. “You don’t have to be alone anymore, I know how you feel” said Jaspar. Zonia was captivated by his gaze. Jaspar looked into Zonia’s silver-blue eyes and stroked her beautiful silver-white hair to the side. Zonia was mesmerized and captivated, and finally, let down her guard. As Zonia grabbed Jasper’s hand, they both closed their eyes, and kissed. As Barriss finished talking with Ahsoka, she walked into the galley and saw the scene between Jaspar and Zonia, and turned back to her quarters as quickly as she could before they could notice her. There was nothing Barriss could do, her apprentice had found Love. Barriss remembered what Ahsoka had just told her, and everything the Jedi had taught her. Finally, she was so overcome with emotion, she collapsed in her bunk and started tear up. “How am I going to teach her now?” Barriss asked to herself. She could’ve broken them up, she could’ve given Zonia a long lecture about how Jedi cannot form attachments just as Master Luminara would’ve done. But what would Zonia think about her if she did? What kind of path would she put her apprentice on if she told her that she couldn’t fall in love? After the difficult and painful life she’s been forced to live? Barriss didn’t leave her quarters for the rest of the day, or that night. She still had no idea how she was going to have to break the news to Zonia.
Check back next Tuesday for another chapter of Jesus Armenta's ongoing fan fiction saga!