Star Wars: Treasures of the Force – Ch 45

As plans went, Nix was well aware that “arrest all of or allies” was not what one might call “blessed with conventional wisdom”. Even without the the intuitive clarity the Force usually provided her though Nix knew it would work.

“That does not seem like an improvement of our predicament,” Thirty-two said, which also did not surprise Nix.

“Huh, no, you know what I think she might be on to something,” Sali said, because one does not get to be a Pirate Queen, or survive for any period of time as one at least, if one is not able to grab opportunities when a glimpse of them is offered. “Thirty-two, you and the rest of the former Preservationist League’s contingent are, and this is important, have been under the custody of the Calerpris Protectorate, your incarceration negotiated and handled by the Calerprise Grand Regent.”

“I don’t recall…” Thirty-two began to say before understanding caught up to him. “OH! Why yes. Indeed, we are! In the heat of battle it quite slipped my mind. How silly. And the records we have here so clearly support that takeover with the proper dates and times already.”

Nix could almost hear the system hacking and forgery work being done through the vacuum of space, but it didn’t matter.

“Could you patch Sali through to the New Republic fleet’s commanders,” Nix said. “I’m sure she can sort this out with them, and explain how Calerpris had a standing judgment against the criminal Klex Cartel and its judicial mandate required the pursuit of said cartel, including the conscription of all legally available forces to combat the galaxy-wide threat the cartel represented.”

“Will they accept us as ‘legally available forces’?” Thirty-two asked.

“It’s the New Republic,” Nix said. “Slavery isn’t technically legal there. The prison system allows you to effectively be slaves, but all the Preservation League did was buy out the contract on providing you with food, shelter, and the rights to your work allowance.”

“There doesn’t seem to be an observable difference there,” Ravas said.

“You’re not wrong, except for the thin edge of ‘the letter of the law’ and the much wider gulf of this being a problem the New Republic doesn’t actually need to care about,” Nix said.

“Right,” Sali said. “They sent a fleet out here because they were afraid a new Warlord fleet with an army of convicts was going to come blasting for them. A bunch of prisoners changing to a new set of jailers is a bunch of people they don’t care about being managed by a different bunch of people they don’t care about. The key to dealing with a bureaucracy isn’t to be upset that they don’t give a krife about you and never will. What you need to do is exploit the fact that they don’t give a krife about you and never will. Take any other problems away and you can do whatever the krife you want.”

“Exactly,” Nix said. “Convince the New Republic that the prisoners some other governments problem before they start shooting and we’re fine.”

“The planet is about to smite us though,” Ayli said.

“Oh yeah. Convince them the prisoners are someone else’s problem and send a cruiser down here to pick us up in the next two minutes and we’re fine,” Nix said.

“One small problem with that,” Thirty-two said. “The remainder of Klex fleet fled from us and got blasted to pieces by the Praxis Defense grid. We’d love not to fight the New Republic fleet, but being blasted to pieces ourselves seems like a terrible alternative.”

“Don’t worry, you won’t be,” Nix said surveying the throne room before them.

“Yeah, we’re about to take the Defensive Grid off-line, permanently,” Ayli said, sparks of Force Lightning gathering in her hands.

Nix reached to hold her back but it was Ravas who stopped her first.

“Don’t,” Ravas said, laying a gentle hand on Ayli’s wrist. “I know that sounds wrong coming from me, but I even in life I knew the cost for that power was too high.”

“What? But you…” Ayli objected, the sparks growing more intense.

“Refused to let myself admit a lot of things,” Ravas said. “I knew, I always knew, what I was doing to myself. I thought embracing my own destruction for power was embracing the truth. The power was undeniable. It was real. What I was trading for it though? The effect it had on me? Those were real too, no matter how much I denied them. So don’t follow me. You do not need to destroy yourself, no matter the pain you carry.”

Nix wanted to add something to that, but she found herself gobsmacked.

Kelda, similarly, didn’t seem able to form words.

“What?” Ravas asked, seemingly annoyed at the attention, or perhaps embarrassed by it.

“You’re not wrong about destroying this place though,” Nix said, keenly aware of the lack of time left to them. “We just have less emotionally destructive means of going about it.”

The blue lightsaber felt like it had been molded to fit her hand precisely, and swinging it with joyous abandon through the control Throne in the room was fulfilling in a manner she had a hard time putting words to.

For their parts, Ravas and Ayli glanced at each other, lit their blades and joined the smiling mayhem with relish.

As it turned out, while the designers of the defense system had constructed it to survive thousands of years of automated service, they had not built sufficient redundancies to handle three people with lightsabers absolutely wrecking every panel, control surface, and power junction they could smack with a blade of disintegrating plasma.

“Don’t know what you did, but the entire planetary grid just went dead,” Thirty-two said.

“Told you the leader of the Children wanted all the controls at their fingertips,” Nix said, wishing there was a little more left to destroy.

“How fast can you get the Cruiser down to us?” Ayli asked.

“We’re on the wrong side of the planet, but we’re heading there now,” Thirty-two said. “Telemetry says, it’ll be three minutes until we want touch down.”

“No touching down,” Nix said. “We don’t have time and you do not want to be on the planet surface in three minutes.”

The sense of gathering dread was palpable and it’s scale beyond Nix’s ability to fathom. How many had died on Praxis Mar? Millions? Billions? How could she understand even a tiny fraction of that?

“We have a problem there,” Zindiana said. “I tried a reroute on the primary drive and we regained all the thrust we’re going to. It’s good for a whole four seconds now. There’s no chance we can make it to orbit for a pick up in that time.”

Nix turned to the Force. It was filled with despair, and lies, and self-deceiving illusions. Hate and misery had scrambled the harmonious flow of life on Praxis Mar to the point where even the grand balance of the cosmos was disrupted and led to destruction and ruin.

Except it didn’t want to.

The Force was twisted because the lives which had ended on Praxis Mar hadn’t been able to find a way past the pain and horror their lives had become.

Nix couldn’t say they’d been wrong. She couldn’t blame them for failing to fix a problem that was so much vaster than any one of them could face alone. Their story was a tragedy and there was no denying the horror which had engulfed them. 

She was distant from them though. She had the advantage of time which they had lacked. She was able to remind the Force that the end of Praxis Mar hadn’t been the end of everything, or even necessarily an inevitable end of anything.

There had been warning, chance to change course, opportunities to flee, or to change, or to save some parts of their world. 

Peering into the churning maelstrom of the Force within Praxis Mar, Nix knew that even in absolutely defeat, not everything had been lost.

Their history. Their culture. Their stories. They were all buried, shrouded in darkness and cloaked in long simmering rage, but beside Nix stood the answer to all of that.

“My wife can free you,” she told Praxis Mar. “She understands you. She’s an archeologist and she will tell your story.”

It was ridiculous.

It didn’t matter.

The story of Praxis Mar was over, and only the Dark Side remained.

The Dark Side in which lurked something far beyond the ability of any living being. Something which could only laugh at Nix’s pitiful attempt to bargain for her life before she was snuffed out like all the rest.

But Nix wasn’t bargaining.

She had no illusion that she could face the Beast of Praxis Mar. If she tried to stand against it, even with her friend, even with both of the fleets in orbit, they would all die. 

At least they would now.

Today they stood no chance.

Tomorrow though? 

A fierce and awful delight played across Nix’s lips as the Force spoke to her.

Tomorrow was unwritten.

And it wanted to be free of the torment it had been bound in for so long.

It could wait.

If she could promise it tomorrow, it could wait.

And that was easy.

The promise of tomorrow was already there.

The end of the rage that had swallowed Praxis Mar was nestled in a quiet little cave overlooked by everyone and home to a love which had endured past end of life and hope. 

Kelda said she hadn’t managed to redeem herself in the Force but Nix had to chuckle at that. Of course she had hung on Ravas, and of course she still hated Scytheus. Love and hate were both parts of life. In Kelda’s long hermitage, she’d found the quiet which answered the screams of the dead planet. She’d found the peace she needed, not to let go but to hold on and believe in the impossible without it destroying her.

Kelda hadn’t failed the Force and the Force hadn’t failed her. She was more complete than she knew, and in her was the proof that Praxis Mar’s future could be freed of the chains of its past.

The Force resonated with that like a gong and Nix saw a path to her tomorrow open like a river parting before her.


“We’re go for atmospheric insertion,” Thirty-two said. “We are getting cataclysm level seismic readings from the continent you’re on though.”

“Yeah, we’re not happy with that either,” Zindiana said. “How long till you’re in pick up range?”

“Thirty seconds,” Thirty-two said.

“At what altitude?” Zindiana asked.

“24,000 kells,” Thirty-two said.

“In standard units?” Sali asked.

“Translated on the display,” Goldie said.

“That’s no good,” Zindiana said. “We’re not going to make a tenth of that.”

“Not how I planned to go out,” Sali said. “There was supposed to be more booze and lots more guns.”

“Save some of that booze for us,” Ayli said, the ship to ship comms springing back to life after they’d gone mysteriously silent for over a minute.

“And boost. Now. Hard as you can!” Nix said.

The Goldrunner’s failing engines lit up and wrenched the craft into the air.

For one second.




Catastrophic engine failure. Zero output. Complete replacement needed.

And they began to fall back to the planet having achieved just enough altitude that the lack of power to the inertial compensators meant they were going to die from being pancakes against the planet’s surface rather than buried in lava or crushed by an earthquake.

That is until the tractor beam caught them.

“We’re not falling,” Sali said, shocked but not at all disappointed.

“Of course not,” Nix said. “You already fell for me. I’m not letting that happen again. I’m happily married now.”

“That new craft is yours then I take it?” Thirty-two said.

“Well it is now,” Ayli said.

“What did you do?” Sali asked.

“Stolen a getaway ship,” Nix said. “What, you didn’t think a paranoid cult leader wouldn’t have a getaway craft right near their throne room did you?”

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