Star Wars: Darkness Rising: The Threat Within. Chapter 18 and 19.

Chapter 18.
Kylo stood straight with his hands behind his back.  He looked up at the hologram of the older scarred man before him.  Kylo was glad that this was over the echonet and not face to face.  “Lord Ren, do you mean to tell me that your former pupils managed to escape you?  Are you sure that they escaped?”  

Kylo ground his teeth.  “I did not let them go if that is what you are hinting at, My Lord,” he said and pointed to the bandage on his face.  “I did not get this because I was playing nice.  And I realize that this pushes the timetables forward.  It is nothing that is not insurmountable.” 

“Lord Ren,” the man said and crossed his arms.  “You have underestimated your students several times now.   They were the ones that sensed me.  I called you there to kill them and eliminate the issue.” He shook his head.  “Go, carry out the destruction of the Jedi if it is not too late.” 

“I have been assured that messages have gone out to all agents in the field.  If it is possible to catch them, they will be destroyed before they can give warning.” 

“See to it, Lord Ren.   You and I need to have a discussion when this is over.”

“As you wish, Lord Snoke,” Kylo said and bent his head. 

The hologram vanished.  Kylo left the room and walked out onto the bridge of the Aggressor, the flagship for the 14th fleet.   A redheaded man stood on the catwalk overlooking the control floor below.  He glanced over at Kylo as he approached.   “I take it that Emperor Snoke was not happy?” he asked. 

“Take care with your tone, Admiral Hux,” Kylo said as he stopped.  

Admiral Hux glanced at Kylo.  “My apologies, Lord Ren,” he said, though it was hard to know if he really meant it.  “Before you ask, we are still five hours away from being able to leave, I cannot hurry it along anymore than that.” 

“What is taking so long?” Kylo asked and leaned on the railing.

“Refueling.   After the shakedown, the ship’s systems must be doublechecked for leaks and damage. We were not prepared to go immediately into battle.  I have every crew working through rotation and every person and droid in the shipyards is helping.”  Admiral Hux turned to Kylo.  “Now, Lord Ren, if you do not mind, please leave the bridge.  You are being a distraction to the crew.” 

Kylo grit his teeth but looked around.  It did not take him using the force to be able tell that the crew was trying not to pay attention to them.  “Fine, Admiral.  I will be in my quarters.  Inform me the moment that we are prepared to leave.” 

“As you wish, my lord,” Hux said.   He stared at Kylo’s back until he had left the bridge then sagged a little.  A commander walked up next to him and handed him a cup of caff.  “Are you sure it is a good idea to risk needling him like that, sir?” she asked. 

“Probably not, commander.  But I would rather have him off my bridge than distracting the crew.  He may be Lord Snoke’s right hand, but I am the master of this fleet,” Hux told her.  “And I will not have him causing us trouble.” 

Chapter 19.
Lando looked over at Nein.  “Let’s see what reception we get,” he said.   He pulled the controls back for hyperspace.  The Lady Luck appeared in the nearest safe zone entrance into Coruscant space.   Nein didn’t comment as Lando dove the ship down narrowly avoiding a freighter.  Nein’s attention was consumed by the scanner readouts.  

“Coruscant control to Lady Luck, what are you doing?” came over the comm.  “Follow transmitted course immediately.” 

Nein yelled something and pushed on several controls.   Lando pushed Lady Luck’s throttle all the way forward and the ship jumped before everything outside the ship went black.   A pair of concussion missiles flew through where the ship had been and exploded against a bulk freighter’s hull. 

Nein extended the probes so that Lando could see where he was going.   They were able to see a small firefight between a gunboat and a light freighter before the freighter exploded into a ball of flame.   “Well, Finn wasn’t kidding.  I wonder if they have been waiting for us to show up for days or not?” 

Nein shrugged and began moving the controls to shift his own view screen.  He sat up and tapped the screen.  Lando leaned over.  “A huge Mon-Cal ship.  That has to be the new Home One.”  He sat back up.  “Give me a course.” 

Admiral Ackbar lounged in his chair as a holofield enveloped him.  “I know Chara,“ he said. 

Another Moncalamari stared at him.  “Oh, don’t I know Chara me, grandfather.”  She crossed her arms over her chest.  “You said that you would be turning over command and coming back home for the past year now.” 

Ackbar sighed and shook his head.  He started to say something, but she cut him off by holding up hand.  “You don’t want to do you?” she asked.  They made eye contact and even though they were thousands of light years apart he knew she could read him.  “Don’t answer.   If you don’t want to retire, just say so.   Yes, the rest of the family will be upset but if you are doing your duty, then keep going.”  She reached out to touch him and the holonet flickered then went blank and Ackbar could hear the bridge again. 

A human commander and the Devornian captain of Home One were standing outside the holonet field.  “Admiral,” the captain said, “There is something that you need to see.” 

Ackbar pushed himself out of the chair, his joints ached with the movement.  Maybe he was getting to old.  “What is it, Captain Mabsan?” 

A light loader droid stood on the bridge holding a message capsule.  ‘Admiral Ackbar’s Eyes Only’ was scrawled across the outer casing of the capsule.  “It is locked sir.  Scans show no explosives or electronics other than the lock.  It came through the air screen on landing bay 3,” the commander said.  “The scans show that there is a data chip in it as well as a note.  We have no clue as to what is on it.” 

Ackbar moved the droid so that it turned the data pod over.  He muttered the word trap before keying something in the lock.  The top of the message pod opened and Ackbar pulled out the note and read it.   “Commander, have everyone out of landing by 3 the time we get there.” 

Ackbar and Mabsan stood in the empty hanger bay.   The forcefield at the far end shimmered and a moment later the Lady Luck appeared.  Mabsan took a step back but Ackbar only scowled.  “Who is this?” Mabsan said. 

“General Calrissian,” Ackbar said.  The Lady Luck had barely settled down on her landing gear when the gangway extended.  

“Admiral,” Lando said as he approached.   He saw the rank markers on the Deveronian but did not know him.   “Captain.” 

“General Calrissian,” Ackbar said.  “Do you care to tell me what this is about and why I should not have your ship impounded?” 

“Did you look at the data chip?”  He asked. 

Ackbar nodded.  “I find it hard to believe though.” 

Lando frowned.  “Don’t find it too hard to believe, that information came from an imperial installation.   And we are on a serious timetable now.”

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Shawn Bennett

When I was 7, I saw Star Wars: A New Hope in theaters a week after it opened. My parents were nice enough to take me and I have been a fan of Star Wars and almost all science fiction in general. I am an amateur writer who has been published for contributing flavor text to a RP game. I also have a copyright on a novel I hope to be able to publish sometime soon.