Jedi Rescue, Parts 1-6

By Bernadette Crumb

The mansion was quiet, most of the staff off for the night, and the horde of children tucked up in bed; or, in the case of the older ones, in their rooms watching holos or reading. The Jedi had meditated before laying down and were deeply asleep by midnight. Even the most experienced of the Force users was unaware of the silent figures moving toward their rooms.

The door to the unwilling guests' chambers burst open, and before the sleeping Jedi could do more than open their eyes, guards from the estate security force had seized them, hauling them from their beds, and forcing them down the dimly-lit, carpeted corridors.

Dazedly, Octavia resisted the hulking pair who had hold of her by the upper arms, uselessly. She was unable to get free, and fear turned to anger. There was a ceramic statue on a table halfway down the hallway and she reached out through the Force to lift it and bring it down hard on the back of the head of one of her guards. He cursed and jerked at her arm roughly, giving her an angry glare, but he didn't let go. Ahead of her, she could see Medenna likewise struggling to get free.

At the top of the grand staircase, she saw Alida and Kaliandra, also held by estate guards. Octavia caught Alida's eye and took a deep breath, shaking her head minutely.

Medenna softly cursed. "So much for not meaning us any harm." There was fright in her crystal blue eyes.

Octavia pulled herself together for the girl's sake and sent, **Medenna, keep yourself centered.**

Alida demanded, unable to break free, "Where are you taking us?"

The guards gave no answer as they hustled them down the grand staircase and across the main entry hall of the mansion. Octavia could see the birdlike hull of a llambda class shuttle stooped on the front lawn, like a bird of prey. The ramp was down and the light that spewed from it was the only illumination of their path. Four guards stood at the bottom of the ramp with their weapons drawn. Octavia stumbled on the hem of her robe as the escort shoved her along the graveled path.

* * * * *

In a control room in the hidden depths of the manor, several individuals gathered. The general attitude was of professionals intent on getting their work done well, but there was no tension in the chamber.

"They're starting," Lady Polena Blaine, announced. Her eyes remained fixed on the monitor.

Lady Talasa Steele put down her flute, and sat up. "Commander Jorlon?" she addressed a man garbed in the uniform of Zoron's system star fleet.

"The Alliance ship is still on its predicted course, my lady," the naval watch officer replied.

"Good." The young woman glanced over toward Wilder, Princess Raven's aide. "Is the shuttle properly prepared?"

He nodded, his hooded dark eyes on the monitor screen. "Their lightsabers are also on board. Should be easily found if they are smart enough to take advantage of the break we are giving them."

"Octavia needs to learn how to whisper." Polly commented, speaking Sith.

"What's she doing?" Tal asked.

"Calling to that apprentice again."

"Let her."

Polly tapped the console before her and spoke quietly into a commlink. "Put Octavia in the cell last. Give her at least two minutes before you shut her in." She glanced at Tal, "More than that and we'll go off schedule."

Tal fingered the holes of her flute and nodded.

* * * * *

On board the rescue ship--a fast courier type vessel--Jerella stirred restlessly in a half doze. She knew that she should rest in preparation for their emergence from hyperspace in the Zoron system, but she felt disturbed, wary of the future.

//Jerella!// Octavia shouted through the Force. //Can you hear me?//

The mind touch punched through her half dream and woke her with a start. //Octavia?// She grabbed onto the contact. //We're on our way... we should be coming out at the Zoron system within the next couple of hours. What's wrong?//

She could feel the agitation in her friend's mind as she reached over to the nearest couch and touched Master D'sau's arm, waking the Jedi Master

//We're being moved.// Octavia answered.

Aloud, Jerella asked "Where?"

Octavia's voice was bitter. //Prison planet--they state it's all been arranged; but we don't believe them.//

Jerella expanded her mindlink, trying to channel her friend's words to D'sau. "Where's the prison planet?"

Octavia's mental voice hesitated then continued sadly. //I Think you are going to be too late my friend.//

//No! We won't be late... You'll play murderball with me and the kids again, Octavia!// Jerella's voice was sure, almost prophetic...

Rachel Wylde was at the communications station, alert and watchful, as she listened in on the contact as well. She easily picked up the panicked tone of the exchange and sent soothing thoughts to Jerella, and to Octavia, second hand. //We will arrive in 1.97 hours and rendezvous. Stay calm.//

* * * * *

The surveillance room was quiet.

"Now she's getting answers." Polly said.

"From the same apprentice?"

"Yes, and another one."

"Really? Let me into the link." Tal put a hand on Polly's shoulder and listened to the Force.

* * * * *

There was some delay as the guards sorted out which Jedi was to go in which cell giving Octavia a few more precious moments of time. The estate guards were joined by the four who had waited at the bottom of the ramp. They pushed Medenna towards the first open cell door.

* * * * *

Tal swore mildly. "Damn, one of the young ones panicked."

"One of the Jedi is trying to escape," the watch officer interrupted. "I believe the guards will be able to control them."

* * * * *

"I'm not going in there!" Medenna yelled, fighting the guards as best she could, her red hair flying about as she jerked her head around and pulled her arms free of their grasp. But they managed to regain hold of her and pushed her toward the portal.

Alida sensed that Octavia's concentration on the Force was focused elsewhere than the prison transport. Her own perception of the Force led her to feel that they were most likely not in any real danger. The Jedi Master prayed that she was not misinterpreting what she felt. //Medenna. Calm yourself.//

"Another cell ... it'll be the tanks next!" Medenna panicked.

//Peace, child.//

Octavia pulled out of the contact with Jerella long enough to try to reassure the girl. //Medenna listen to Master D'med,// she added, trying to project confidence, despite her fear. //We'll get out of this.//

Alida nodded. //We will,// she affirmed.

The guards holding Medenna pushed her into the first cell and the door hissed closed, shutting off her terrified face-and her presence in the Force.

//Force dampers.// Octavia's fear rose up in her again.

//Stay calm, Octavia.// Alida glanced at her own Padawan, who stared ahead resolutely.

//Easy for you to say I think.// responded Qui-Gon's granddaughter.

//Trust the Force,// the master replied. //It's all we have.//

//Yeah, right!// Octavia snapped.

Alida gazed at her. //Be at peace. Whatever happens, it's as the Force wills.//

Octavia took a deep breath, glanced at the guards. //Yes, Master.// she replied, showing the woman the respect she deserved. "But I still don't trust it all," she muttered under her breath.

Kali was next and the two remaining Jedi could feel the sudden absence of the Padawan's Force presence.

//I really don't like this.// Octavia whispered to Alida, fighting the fear which began to creep in.

Alida inhaled sharply as she was cut off from her Padawan. She calmed herself. //I know, Octavia. I know.//

//I wish I could be as calm as you.//

* * * * *

Jerella was still picking up the emotional overflow from Octavia, and reached out again to her, including Master D'Sau in the link this time. //Octavia. We will be there in time. What are they doing to you?//

D'Sau added //Be strong//. Her mental touch was serene and calm, soothing the listeners at both ends of the link.

Octavia sent //Cells ... force damping cells ... this isn't good at all!//

* * * * *

Polly's closed eyes snapped open. "Tal, we've got a master in the link now."

"Dropping out." Tal broke the contact.

* * * * *

Master D'med's guards pushed her toward the third cell, across from Kali's. //Force be with you,// she called to Octavia.

Octavia's sent back, //with you also Master D'med.//

Then her own grace period was up as she was shoved through the final portal, into the small, claustrophobic cell. As the door whisked shut, her connection with the Force abruptly vanished.

* * * * *

On board the courier, Jerella bit her lip as her friend's presence suddenly disappeared. She exchanged looks with Master D'sau. "I KNOW we'll see her again. But..."

"The absence of one from the Force is never easy. We still rely on the Force, but also on our other information sources." D'sau placed her hand on Jerella's shoulder. "It will be all right."

* * * * *

The prisoners could feel the muted vibration of the shuttle's maneuver drive increase suddenly as the pilot readied the craft for flight. The vibration became an audible whine and a slight lurch and a sudden pressure as the gravity grids delayed their compensation for the antigrav liftoff.

In their separate cells, Alida and Kali both closed their eyes and meditated. Even without the Force, it was calming.

The direction of thrust changed and the engine whine increased as the vessel thrust forward and up toward orbital space.

Octavia held onto the narrow bench she sat on, closing her eyes trying to remember what Luke had taught her, what Alida had shared with her. She admitted that so far, things were going exactly as the Steele's had promised, but it was so hard to trust!

* * * * *

The Jedi disappeared from the Siths' perception of the Force as they were put into the Force-damped cells.

"Medenna wouldn't last long on the streets where I grew up." Polly said conversationally.

"Very few would," Tal answered. She glanced at the impassive Wilder who was staring at the monitors.

"Time to open the door." Tal pushed a button on her com panel.

"My lady, the corvette RED HUNTER reports a minor engine failure. They're speed has dropped by one third and their patrol will be somewhat delayed until they affect repairs."

"Thank you, Commander." //And that gives the Jedi the time they need to make their escape.//

* * * * *

The rescue party was wakened and briefed on the contact, and the information provided.

Jerella contacted Rob in his X-wing via mindlink, and shared the memory of the contact, even as he received a hypercom message with the basic info.

By the time Jerella turned her attention back to the cabin, Rachel had a holo ready, showing the locations of the planets, ships known to be in system, and the military sites they'd need to avoid or deal with. She sent a holo transmission to the accompanying X-wings.

The small projection appeared in the cockpits of the fighters. "Do you have a projection on the route they're taking?" Rob asked.

Rachel nodded, speaking into her headset. "Go to channel 557,2 Rob. One of our agents has planted a tracking device on board."

"Ok--got it." He was silent a few minutes. "Where do you expect them to be when we come out of hyper?"

Jerella watched the changing displays intently.

"We will need to arrive at this point" A mark appeareds in the system. "Due to the space conditions nearby."

"Navigational hazards?" Jerella ventured.

The holo advanced in time and stopped. "Projected locations are as follows." She read off coordinates in a calm and clear voice. "Navigational hazards include the Imperial naval yards, a system Fleet Control Station, normal near-space traffic, and several regular roving military patrols. The latter include at least two corvettes and a destroyer."

Jerella winced... "That's going to be tricky."

Rob's voice sounded confident over the comms..."We can handle it."

D'Sau studied the hazards and nodded.

Rachel echoed his confidence. "Yes, we can. Our latest information on military patrol ships allows a window of opportunity both in and out. _If _we do not fall behind schedule."

* * * * *

The captives had no real way of knowing exactly how much time had passed on their voyage. The vibration of the sublight drives continued its monotonous hum, leading the tired Jedi to tend to drowse, only their nerves bringing them awake after they began to nod off.

On board the shuttle, behind a panel, a small, but vital bit of equipment suddenly failed. As the carefully sabotaged chip melted down from a sudden power surge, it triggered another power surge that overflowed into neighboring circuits.

In the cockpit, red lights suddenly appeared on the pilot's board.

"What the--?"

The co-pilot glanced up from his entertainment pad when he heard the pilot's ejaculation. "What's wrong?"

"Something blew out... but it's not affecting the sublight drive."

"I'll look into it."

The copilot pulled out a pocket tool kit and headed for the connecting neck between the "head" of the ship and the body. He whistled as he found the necessary wall-plate and, under the bored eyes of the four guards lounging in the main cabin, he pried loose the panel and began to trace circuits.

* * * * *

"Polly, they're back on the air." Tal stopped playing the flute.

"With you."

* * * * *

Rachel touched her headset. The tracking device on board was rigged to send other information as well as location. "Jerella, they've lost the Force-damping."

Jerella nodded and her eyes went unfocussed as her link with Octavia suddenly reappeared. //Octavia! What's happened?//

* * * * *

In the surveillance center, the observation, both electronic and Force-driven, continued.

"Taking their time about it aren't they?" Polly commented.

"Yes, they are slow." Tal agreed.

* * * * *

Octavia looked around the cell as the Force filled and surrounded her once again and answered Jerella's query. //I don't know. The Force is back. Master D'med?// She reached toward the glowing presence of the older Jedi in the next cell.

//Out of the cells, now!// Alida's mental order was strong and all four of the Jedi made short work of circumventing the locks on the doors.

The hiss of the four portals opening did not seem to attract attention from the guards beyond the partition that separated the cells from the main cabin.

Octavia stepped out and nodded to Alida and Medenna. //We're out of the cells.// she sent to Jerella.

"What should we do now?" Medenna questioned in a whisper. She shifted to mindspeech when Octavia touched the girl's lips with a shushing fingertip. //Sorry.//

Kali joined them from her cell. //We've got to take control of the ship,// she said.

Octavia looked around. //By any means.//

* * * * *

A few minutes into his work, the co-pilot called forward, "I've found it. Something slagged the hyperdrive starter control pretty good."

"Well, don't leave me in suspense, Myk, can you fix it?"

"I think so... let me see if we've got the bits... Thank goodness we don't need to go into hyper, huh?" The copilot resumed whistling a tune as he rummaged in his toolkit for replacement modules.

The guards turned back to their card game, secure in knowing that the Jedi were harmless inside their Force-damped cells--an erroneous assumption.

* * * * *

Aloud, Jerella said "OK. You're out of the cells. We should be there in a few more minutes."

The rescue party finished arming themselves as necessary and prepared to emerge from hyperspace.

* * * * *

//No, Octavia//" Alida corrected. //Not by _any_ means.//

//You intend to show them mercy?// Octavia's tone was harsh. //Yes, young one. They've not injured us.//

Octavia nodded after a moment. //You're right, I'm sorry.//

Medenna interjected, //It won't take them long to discover we're free.//

Alida nodded. //We'll get their weapons from them. Octavia, how are your skills in mind-trickery?//

//Good enough.//

//Kali is skilled. Between us, we should be able to do this without the need for harming any of them.//

//We cannot harm them.// Medenna agreed. //That is what they would have us do.//

* * * * *

The guards' conversation continued in the forward end of the cabin, counterpointed by the copilot's whistling.

The copilot pried out the damaged module and traced the lines of the circuit further. "Hey, Danvers!"

"What is it, Myk? Something else blow out too?"

"Yeah, I think it's what caused the problem for the hyperdrive controls... that new stuff that was installed a couple of months back that ties into the cells--"

"Well, the console says everything's okay back there. Get the hyperdrive control module replaced and get back up here."

Myk shrugged and began to rummage through his repair kit again. Oddly, the necessary parts weren't there, and he stopped whistling, aggravated, as he looked yet again.

* * * * *

The Jedi silently observed the cabin. Only one of the guards was actually in a position to see them, but he was concentrating on his sabaac hand, and paying no attention to what was going on outside their game. He hunched down over his cards, keeping his eyes on his fellow players' hands, watching for cheating.

They moved forward cautiously, Master D'med in the lead. Alida closed her eyes in concentration for a moment, convincing the guard that there's nothing there for him to see.

//Put them to sleep Master D'med.// suggested Octavia, as she maintained her link with Jerella.

Alida nodded, then looked at Kaliandra, who nodded as well. Together, they focused on the guards, implanting the suggestion that they were very sleepy and should rest their eyes for a while.

Myk began to grumble under his breath as he kept looking for the missing parts. He stifled a yawn, picking up on the overflow of the suggestion, as he headed back to the cockpit in disgust. "We'll need to get the part from base. Some idiot didn't refill the replacement parts."

"Wouldn't you know... well, it's not affecting anything else critical, so just sit down and enjoy the ride."

"I left the panel open."

"Deal with it later," Danvers shrugged. "It will keep."

In the cabin, as the Jedi moved from behind the partition, the sight looked almost amusing, the four hulking guards drowsed off over their sabaac hands. *Almost like a tableau from a child's tale,* Octavia thought as she moved towards the open panel. She focused on the exposed modules and passed her hand lightly over them, scanning them. She glanced at Alida who was treading quietly toward the cockpit itself. Beyond the Jedi Master, she could see the backs of Danvers and Myk's heads. //Master D'med, can you take care of the pilots as well? And can you fly this thing if you do?//

//Yes, and yes.// She threw Octavia a grin. //It's a bit different from what I'm used to flying, but I think we can manage.//

They froze as Danvers spoke again.

"Myk, I'm getting thirsty. Go back to the service panel and grab me a cup of cha, will you?"

The copilot complained, "Why didn't you ask before I sat down?" He began to get up, swiveling his chair toward the main body of the ship. He yawned again. "I better get some for me too." He straightened up and took three steps forward before he realized what he was seeing.

//Kali, now.// Alida and her Padawan closed their eyes and sent the same suggestion to the pilots that they had to the guards.

Myk opened his mouth to say something, then staggered, and slumped to the floor as Danvers suddenly fell forward over the controls. A light snore emitted from Myk's lips, his face astonished even in sleep.

Kali's voice held a trace of satisfaction as she said aloud, "There, they are out for a good long while." She gently moved Danvers out of the way and sat in his seat, while Alida examined the control console.

"Medenna, please disarm the guards," Alida asked the young girl.

"Of course, Master D'med." Medenna turned to retrieve the weapons. She was checking Myk's sleeping form, when she noticed a carrybag tucked beneath the co-pilot's seat. She reached forward and pulled it toward her, curiously sure that it was important she open it.

Octavia smiled, leaving the piloting to Alida and Kali, as she went back to studying the panel. The smile turned to a frown. "Hyperdrive is blown, we have sublight though. I knew the ship didn't feel right." //Jerella, we don't have hyperdrive,// she informed her friend.

* * * * *

On board the rescue ship, Jerella paced nervously. She kept alert for further contact from Octavia. Master Turim moved his large, booted feet from her path with a strained smile. This was the first off-Yavin mission he'd been on since his return to the Jedi fold. Jerella somehow had gotten the impression that he was trying to prove himself again.

"They have taken over the ship, but they don't have hyperdrive." She abruptly announced. "Rachel, how big of a window do we have to get in and out? If their ship stops dead, they're going to have someone investigating pretty quickly."

"Fifteen, perhaps sixteen minutes, Jerella"

The rescue ship pilot announced over the intercom, "Hang on gang, exiting hyperspace, NOW"

Rachel braced in her seat, and swung back to the communications board.

Jerella grabbed onto a handhold and sent out //We're almost there, Octavia. But we've only got about fifteen minutes before someone comes along on patrol once we get to you.//

* * * * *

Octavia worked feverishly on the panel, but after only a few minutes, shook her head and called forward to the cockpit. "I can't fix it without proper parts," she exchanged looks with Alida. "It's going to be a race to who gets to us first.'

Medenna suddenly crowed, "Look!" She lifted her hands joyously, holding up wonderfully familiar silver cylinders. "Our sabers!"

* * * * *

(To be continued)

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