ogether with a dispirited general, Luke drove to Mon Mothma's offices. The Supreme Chancellor expressed her worries and offered him all the help to get his sister safely back to Dalmaran. Once again general Madine give vent to his deep concern with the whole situation.
"I told your sister more than once, Luke, that there were too many risks. It wasn't a safe plan." he said, looking dejected. "I should have known better."
"There's nothing to worry about, sir, my sister is safe. She volunteered to go with prisoner princess, because she wanted my sister to stay with her."
"Are you sure, master Skywalker, that Leia went with our prisoner deliberately?" Mon Mothma asked surprised.
"Yes, madam. The Force has shown my sister how unsure princess Liane was about her escape plan. On one of my sister's visits princess Liane has asked my sister to accompany her, if she would escape. That's why Leia has decided to have herself taken hostage, so she could stay with princess Liane and protect her if she would run into trouble. "
"Does that mean that our escaped prisoner knows that your sister went with her voluntarily? Can it be, master Skywalker, that the princess of Morantan has discovered that your sister is a Jedi Knight?" Mon Mothma asked, looking very concerned.
Luke shook his head.
"No, I'm absolutely sure that princess Liane has made her own plan to keep my sister with her, because Leia didn't immediately accept with her proposal. Leia has become a trustworthy person for the princess. She's also convinced that my sister is someone she can easily manipulate with Affect Mind, a Force skill she must have learn from Darth Vader. "
"Luke, how can you be so sure, that your sister volunteered to join as a hostage. Threepio reported she was unconscious. Someone must have drugged her; probably those guards." Madine interrupted.
"Leia pretended to be unconscious, general. After the guard had brought her to the princess' cell, the Force gave my sister a deeper insight in princess Liane's intentions. It's very likely that she has ordered her guards to serve a dinner in her cell, and to put a sleeping drug in the wine. She wanted Leia to stay with her. "
Mon Mothma frowned. She walked over to her infocom and contacted the detention building, asking for the commander who was in charge with the investigation of Princes Liane's escape.
"Yes, ma'am. We've found a carafe with wine. The wine was drugged with a strong sleeping drug, ma'am. A small quantity of wine was in a glass next to the plates. Miss Skywalker seems to have sipped from the glass, but spitted the wine in a napkin. If she has swallowed some drops accidentally, the quantity must have been too small to have any effect."
After she had thanked the commander and switched off, Mon Mothma looked at the young Jedi with admiration.
"Your abilities as a Jedi Knight gives you more insight in this situation, than we would ever obtain, master Skywalker?" She said.
"This has nothing to do with my abilities as a Jedi Knight, madam. Before I left Dalmaran Leia and I agreed to keep in touch regularly and discuss the outcome of her visits with princess Liane. When the princess used Affect Mind to involve my sister in her escape plan, it was about time to inform you. It's a bit unfortunate that my sister couldn't get any names at an earlier stage. She has asked me to tell you that she has recognized her so-called kidnapper: a senator called Zolgathrii," Luke said calmly.
"The Tychorion will leave tomorrow, we must find that senator's whereabouts and get Leia back to Dalmaran, Luke," Madine said, who looked up at Luke's last sentence. All the time he had been occupied by his own thoughts.
"We should not act hastily, sir. We'd better benefit of my sister's involvement. It gives us a great advantage over the senator's plans. Leia will keep us informed and she'll keep an eye on princess Liane. In the meantime we can make a strategic rescue plan."
"I'm not finished with that imperial collaborator, if he harms your sister," General muttered with deep concern.
Luke suppressed a smile, but Madine saw the twinkle in the Jedi's blue eyes.
"You should be more serious, Luke. I'm still not convinced that your sister wasn't unconscious. Threepio lamented that she didn't move, when the guards put her roughly at the back seat of the waiting speeder. The driver, probably that senator, was armed, for he shot the guards. Criminals, like him, shouldn't be elected as rulers of our New Republic."
"What kind of man is senator Zolgathrii, madam. Is he an influential member of the Senate? Do others support his opinions, his plans? Is he opposing your policy? Does he believe in the existence of the New Republic? " Luke asked, still chuckling at Madine's stubborn remark.
"He has some followers and supporters in the Senate, master Skywalker, if that's what you mean," Mon Mothma said. "I am not surprised by his action, although I did not expect him to bribe some guards in the detention building and take a former senator as Leia Organa with him as a hostage. Maybe I trusted him too much."
Madine and Luke looked at Mon Mothma.
"The intelligence force informed me several months ago that they suspected senator Zolgathrii of plotting against the New Republic. I asked them to come up with more solid evidence, before I would take any action. I am very sorry that your sister has fallen victim to my cautious policy," She continued, "I think an in depth investigation is now needed to find out if he also has supporters outside the Senate. It is clear to me now, that he's planning a coup."
"My sister told me, that senator Zolgathrii is the representative of Ortel in the Senate; a planet in the Roghvi cluster." Luke said.
"That's right, master Skywalker. His home planet is Ortel, the only habitual planet in the system. As you might know the Roghvi cluster mainly consists of gas planets. The cluster is a few parsecs from Coruscant. Zolgathrii probably will use his home planet Ortel as a first base, before he goes to Coruscant to lead a coup against the New Republic. On Coruscant he will seek support of the faction of sympathizers of Palpatine and the Empire."
"We have to take into account that it isn't for certain that he might take Leia and the escape prisoner to Ortel," Madine objected, and continued, "He also might already have made contact the Provisionary Coruscant Council to involve them in his plans."
Mon Mothma shook her head and her face expressed her disagreement with Madine's words.
"No, general, being familiar with senator Zolgathrii's pride and vanity, he surely will take Leia and princess Liane to his exquisite residence Dokanta on an afforest hillside. I will order our intelligence force to send surveillance probes to check and report all activity around Zolgathrii's residence and I will also order them to extend their information about the number of Palpatine's followers on Coruscant." Mon Mothma answered. She looked stern.
"We will soon know where he has gone, general. Leia promised to contact me as soon as she knew more about the plans of Zolgathrii and the princess of Morantan," Luke said.
"I'm going to prepare my men for an attack on Ortel as soon as possible. Chancellor, I want to make use of my prerogative to access to all the information our intelligence force has on Zolgathrii's residence: maps, drawings, images, footage and so on and the surrounding area." Madine asked.
"Of course, general. I'll leave the preparation for an attack in your hands, general, but I want to be kept informed." the Supreme Chancellor said.
After Luke and the general had left Mon Mothma went over to her desk and sought contact with one of her most trusted secret advisors.
"You've heard what has happened?" She asked.
"I have, Mon. What do you suggest I should do?" The man answered.
"Inform the triarchy on Coruscant via procon at once. Tell them about our follow-up on the escape. and who is involved. Tell them, if they hear any news about senator Zolgathrii planning a visit to Coruscant, they have to contact you immediately. Emphasize that they doesn't have to take any further measures or action, the only thing we ask them is to have a round the clock surveillance if he turns up. Ask if they will cooperate in a jointed intervention."
"I will immediately seek contact with them, Mon. I'll report back as soon as I have spoken with the members of the triarchy."
The holographic image of the advisor disappeared.
General Madine and Luke left the government building together. Luke felt the general's concern about Leia's well being and her safety. To put him at ease, he invited Madine to join him to his apartment. The Corellian general gratefully accepted Luke's offer. During their dinner Luke reassured his superior and friend.
"As I said earlier, general, Leia and I have been in touch ever since I left Dalmaran. I knew already what had happened when I landed on the space port. When Leia was brought to princess Liane's cell she informed me about the drug in the wine. She told me she wouldn't inform your men to free her, but have herself taken hostage. When I met you at the space port I immediately asked her if she was alright. Leia will keep us informed, general, and that's a huge advantage."
"Your sister has told me about the way you Jedi communicate; what's more she let me experience it. It's a bit difficult for me to believe, Luke."
"My sister probably let you experience what Force Affect Mind means, general. I must admit, there is a kind of relation between the way Leia and I can communicate and a Force manipulation technic, but it's not the same. Through the Force our minds touch. Leia and I are making use of Jedi telepathy. That's why I'm absolutely sure my sister is safe and will do everything to protect princess Liane."
"Luke, we'll attack and defeat Zolgathrii and his minions as soon as we know where he's hiding and I want you to join me."
"I most certainly will, general, but we need a thorough investigation of Zolgathriii's residence. If we rush things, he might suspect he has been betrayed. That might put my sister and princess Liane in jeopardy. The Supreme Chancellor has granted you access to all necessary information on Zolgathrii and his home planet. I'm sure we'll develop with a strategic plan to bring back my sister and princess Liane unharmed. " Luke said using his Jedi skills to put his friend's mind at ease.
Madine looked at the young Jedi and began to laugh.
"Now you're using your abilities on me, didn't you? It was like I felt some reassuring thoughts touching my mind."
Luke smiled serenely, but didn't comment on Madine's remark. The general relaxed and leaned back in his chair. For a moment he completely seemed to have forgotten the troubles of the day.
"You completed stunned me, Luke, when you turned up unexpectedly at the space port at the moment Zolgathrii had taken off. Weren't you on Dagobah?"
"I was already near Irithim when Leia told me about the wine. When I heard about princess Liane's escape plan I interrupted my studies and prepared to leave Na'ctaMagh'Ba." Luke said.
"I thought you went to Dagobah to study?"
"I've been on Dagobah for a short while, but only to collect my old master's writings. Then I went back to Dalmaran and brought his scrolls to the temporary location on Na'ctaMagh'Ba, where Leia and I have secured the content of the former Jedi Library and Archive of Coruscant. I used my time to do some study of my old master's writings there. It's a dry and relatively warmer place than the swamp planet of Dagobah. So I was on Dalmaran when Leia told me about princess Liane's plans."
General Madine had listened with much interest.
"Dagobah is a very strange planet, Luke. Have I ever told you, that I once had to make an emergency landing there, when I had been sent on a secret mission for the Alliance? It's not charted, but it's an inhabited jungle planet full of living things. I touched down in a huge swamp. My spacecraft completely flooded and I had to swim ashore. With no possibility to contact my wingman I felt stuck. Once on higher grounds all the invisible noises were a frightening experience. After nightfall I dug myself a hole between some giant tree roots. I fell asleep, and now comes the strangest part of my story. The next morning, as I woke up, I found myself lying between the landing struts of my spacecraft. The ship was completely clean of mud and vines and looked like new. When I boarded the vessel I heard a chuckling laugh, but I saw no one. I still can hear that laugh after all these years. I think, because it was such a pleasant laugh. A laugh of a living being who had great fun. I'm absolutely sure that that laugh belonged to my benefactor. I called, but no one showed up. I made some temporary repairs and took off. As a token of my gratitude I left all my survival rations behind before I took off. There are humanoid creatures living on Dagobah, aren't there, Luke?"
"The whole planet is alive, general. Most life forms are gentle and kind ones, but there are some ferocious dark ones. You've probably got help from Master Yoda. He has been my Jedi master and taught me the ways of the Force."
"He must be a giant, if he could raise a flooded space craft." Madine said with a laugh.
"Not at all. He was about two feet high, but he was a Grand Master of the Force. I saw him raise my swamped X-wing. It was unbelievable!"
"If you meet him again, Luke, will you thank him for his help."
Luke silenced for a moment and said after while at a soft tone.
"I'd wish I could, general, but Master Yoda has joined the Force. He passed away in the same year we fought the Battle of Endor. Thanks to him I learned there was another Skywalker: my twin sister Leia."
All of a sudden he felt a bit worried about Leia's voluntary action, but he controlled his feelings and said teasingly, "You're lucky, general, that Master Yoda didn't show up. If he had, he might have forced you to complete a full Jedi training. I can assure you, he was a tough master and very difficult to please."
Both men laughed, Luke because he appreciated Madine's believe in the Force, and Madine, because he knew he didn't have the powers the young Jedi had.
A long time after the general had gone home, Luke was standing on the terrace of his apartment staring into the dark night. He thought of his sister and hoped that she was alright. His thoughts also dwelled on Han Solo and his Wookiee friend Chewbacca. Through the Force he asked Han to come back to his sister, that she needed him and loved him. He also used the Force to see where his friend could be, but no clear image of Han appeared. Instead the puzzling images he had seen through the Force when he had met Princess Liane on Morantan entered his mind again.
Luke sighed and recalled his talks with his masters Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and with Anakin during his short stay at Dagobah. He recalled what Anakin had told him about Liane. His father had asked him to help and protect the girl. Anakin had confirmed what he had already been thinking: Liane wasn't a relative; Anakin had sensed the strong influence the Force had on Liane. He had taken her as his padawan. He had admitted, that he had overseen her training at the Dark Side of the Force personally. At a later moment he had adopted her as his daughter to protect her against unwanted revelations about her on Coruscant. Nevertheless he hadn't told Luke where he had found her and why he had raised her himself. In the end he had asked Luke to undertake Liane's training at the Good Side of the Force.
'She can be a powerful Jedi Knight, my son, if you take her as your padawan learner. It's my fault, that she has learned so much evil knowledge, I know that, but you can teach her to use her powers in a better way, and help her to become a true Jedi Knight. Please, Luke, don't let her become a puppet of the Dark Side of the Force, like I was, because I misjudged and trusted Palpatine too much.''
Luke had promised his father, that he would do anything to help Liane.
He had to be careful while planning his sister's rescue. He had to take Liane with him as well.
While Luke and Madine were making plans to investigate their opponents and prepare the attack, Leia had been brought to an underground basement deep under the Zolgathrii residence. Liane had given orders to treat her with respect and Leia had been locked up in a small, but comfortable, two room stay.
Already during her space flight Leia had informed her brother about her destination, Zolgathrii's intentions to overthrow the New Republic and the possibility that three other senators were held as hostages too. After the arrival she had hidden her lightsaber under her clothes again. To her relief they had brought her to her new accommodation without having frisked her. The two rooms had enough possibilities to hide her Jedi weapon at a safe place.
The guards took good care of her and treated her more as an honored guest than as a hostage. Liane paid a visit to her almost every day. During those visits she told Leia about what was going on Ortel and how Zolgathrii's plans evolved. Although Liane was nice and friendly and never used Affect Mind again. However, Leia sensed a growing frustration in Liane's mind about the lack of progress of her escape.
One afternoon she bluntly asked Leia, if she hated her
Leia shook her head.
"No I don't, Liane, but don't expect, that I agree with your plan. Your escape will only cause you a lot of problems."
Liane had left her without getting angry.
"Maybe things aren't going the way she expects," Leia muttered.
One moment she wondered if she should tell Liane she was a Jedi and could help her, but she rejected the idea. On her own she couldn't do any good even if she could rely on the Force.
More than a standard week passed in which Liane didn't pay Leia a next visit. However one evening, already passed midnight, a lot of noise and screaming was heard in the corridor of her detention area. With a bang the door of her cell slammed open. Leia who had been asleep for several hours, sat upright on her couch.
"Isn't there an empty cell?" A voice snarled. Leia immediately recognized Zolgathrii's heavy hoarse voice.
"No sir, in the last empty cells we had to lock up the other hostages." the voice of a guard answered.
"Alright, I'll keep her here for the time being. Throw her in," Zolgathrii said.
A guard roughly pushed someone inside.
"YOU CAN KEEP YOUR HOSTAGE FRIEND, THAT LEIA ORGANA, COMPANY, UNTIL I HAVE SETTLED THE MATTER WITH THOSE SPIES FROM IRITHIM. LATER I WILL BRING YOU TO THE OUTER RIM AND COLLECT MY REWARD FOR YOU," Zolgathrii snarled. The door slammed shut.
Leia jumped off her couch and kneeled near Liane who had gotten up on her knees. Cautiously Leia placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Liane, what happened?"
Liane's nose was bleeding, and at some places her clothes were tattered as if she had been beaten. Leia wetted a piece of cloth and wanted to clean the girl's face.
Liane grabbed the towel and held it to her nose.
"HE WILL PAY FOR WHAT HAS DONE!", She grumbled angrily with a muffled voice, 'I WILL MAKE HIM PAY FOR YELLING AND SCREAMING AT ME THAT I HAD TO KILL SOME INNOCENT OTHER HOSTAGES!".
She looked at Leia and tried in vain to continue on a normal tone.
"I don't know those men. He has invited them to join him on Ortel for a dinner, but he said to me, that while they were enjoying their meal I SHOULD STRANGLE THEM THE WAY MY FATHER PUNISHED ANY ENEMIES. HE WANTS ME TO CHOKE THEM USING THE FORCE. HE WANTED ME TO FREEZE THEIR BODIES SO THEY WOULD BE PARALYZED, THEN IT WOULD BE EASY FOR ME TO SUFFOCATE THEM. WHEN I REFUSED TO CARRY OUT HIS MURDER PLAN HE STARTED YELLING AT ME THAT HE KNOWS I CAN DO THAT. I DON'T WANT TO USE THE FORCE THAT WAY, LEIA. My father killed many of his men that way. I've always hated him for that! I don't want to kill those men; they are senators just like you, Leia. Zolgathrii says that they are spies, they have betrayed him. He says, they have revealed his plans to the Supreme Chancellor. I tried to control him with the Force like I did while I was imprisoned, but he isn't responding anymore. He became outraged when I tried, and his guards began to beat me. ONE OF THEM PUNCHED MY NOSE SO VIOLENTLY THAT IT STARTED BLEEDING, ZOLGATHRII ALSO HIT ME WITH A STICK WHICH RUINED MY CLOTHES. HE THREATENED ME TO BRING ME TO A PLANET IN THE OUTER RIM TERRITORIES, INSTEAD OF BRINGING ME TO MORANTAN AS HE PROMISED HE WOULD DO. He doesn't need my help at all. He will get a lot of money once he would have gotten me out of that prison on Dalmaran. I HAVE TO MAKE A PLAN TO MAKE HIM PAY FOR WHAT HE DID."
She sudden stopped, looked with an angry look around her, jumped to her feet and walked over to the couch. After she sat down, she continued with on high-pitched angry tone.
"THERE'S A FIGHT GOING ON OUTSIDE THE BUILDING. ZOLGATHRII IS YELLING CONSTANTLY THAT THOSE MEN ARE THE SUPREME CHANCELLOR'S ELITE FORCES. HE IS A MEAN MAN, LEIA, A HORRIBLY MEAN AND DANGEROUS MAN! HE WANTS TO OVERTHROW THE NEW REPUBLIC. HE HATES THE SUPREME CHANCELLOR. THERE ARE NOISES OF HEAVY EXPLOSIONS AND LASER BLASTS. UNKNOWN GROUND FORCES HAVE SURROUNDED THE BUILDING. BECAUSE I REFUSED TO KILL THE OTHER HOSTAGES, ZOLGATHRII ACCUSED ME OF BEING A TRAITOR, A SPY FOR THE REBEL ALLIANCE AS HE CALLED THE NEW REPUBLIC. HE IS EXPECTING A HUGE REWARD FOR ME AND HE WILL USE THAT MONEY TO BUILD AN ARMY AND A SPACE FLEET. I DON'T UNDERSTAND, WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT."
Leia hadn't show her relief about the news that New Republic ground forces has surrounded Zolgathrii's residential palace. She was sure that her brother and general Madine were leading this attack and that it would be only a matter of time before they would rescue her and Liane. Yet she didn't comprehend all of Liane's incoherent angry yelling. Nonetheless, one thing was clear: Liane had opposed Zolgathrii, when he had ordered her to kill the other hostages. He had gotten outraged when Liane had refused to use any of Darth Vader's dark side knowledge to execute them. She seems to have strong will and had refused to use her Force powers to kill innocent men. Her stubborn behavior had been enough for Zolgathrii to discard their temporary alliance. Leia wondered what Luke would think of this development of events. Leia also wondered about the meaning of Liane's strange narrative that Zolgathrii intended to bring her to the Outer Rim Territories where he would get a high ransom for her? Did some else know about Liane's upbringing by Darth Vader? Could it be that that unknown person ... ?
Leia felt that Liane was still furious about Zolgathrii's treatment.
"Calm down a bit, Liane. Your anger won't help you to solve this situation. You'd better take some rest at the moment. Lay down on the couch and relax," she said on a soothing tone. To her surprise Liane listened to the soft spoken words and laid down on the couch. Leia rose and fetched a blanket and a cushion and offered it to Liane.
"Try to get some sleep and forget your anger for the moment," she said, using the same soft soothing tone.
Liane grabbed the blanket, stuffed the pillow under her head and turned to the wall of the cabin. She didn't say a word, but through the Force Leia felt that Liane's tense emotions and anger subsided. Her breathing had become quieter. Leia reached out to the Force to surround Liane with a feeling of relaxation. The tension and anger left the girl and finally she fell asleep. Leia took the blanket from her bunk, wrapped it around her and sat down in one of the chairs. She turned inward, suddenly feeling her brother's presence through the Force
'Liane has been locked up with me, Luke. Zolgathrii has put her in detention, after she refused to kill the other hostages. He has beaten her. His threatening behavior has raised a lot of anger and hatred for him in her. Her rage and anger nearly overwhelmed her, despite her good reaction to Zolgathrii about the killing of the other hostages.'
'We've found out who the other hostages must be. They came to Ortel at the invitation of Zolgathrii. He invited them to his residence for a meeting and a dinner. Do you know if they are locked up at the same detention block?' Luke asked.
'I don't know, Luke. I'm locked up myself on an underground level. I might ask Liane, but I still want to remain cautious. I'm not yet convinced that she is a reliable ally at the moment given her hatred for Zolgathrii. It also might be, that Zolgathrii has killed the other hostages himself. He has also threatened Liane, that he will take her as a prisoner to a system in the Outer Rim territories, in exchange for a large sum of money which he wants to use for a coup. We need to investigate the meaning of his words, Luke?'
'We will after we have returned to Irithim, Leia. Take good care of Liane. I hope to set you free within the next couple of days.'
Leia released her Force trance and looked the sleeping girl on the couch. She rose and wrapped the blanket around Liane. She pulled the chair a bit closer and sat down, wrapping the other blanket around her.
A few days passed in which Liane's anger and hatred for Zolgathrii sometime exploded. More than once she jumped angrily to her feet when she heard noises outside the door. One night she awoke with a jolt.
"I WILL KILL YOU, TRAITOR. YOU CAN'T TREAT THE DAUGHTER OF DARTH VADER THE WAY YOU DID!" She yelled.
Leia pressed her hand over Liane's mouth.
"Liane, stop screaming! You've been dreaming. Forget Zolgathrii, forget your anger. His attention is focused on the fights outside at the moment."
Liane, however, wasn't able to accept Leia's reassuring reasoning. She pushed Leia away and paced up and down the cell.
"HE WON'T BRING ME TO THE OUTER RIM. I WILL MAKE HIM PAY FOR WHAT HE DID TO ME AND TO YOU! I WILL FIGHT HIM AND I WILL KILL HIM! "
Leia sat down in her chair and looked at the angry girl.
"You can't do anything now, Liane. I assure you, nothing is going to happen the way Zolgathrii told you. He won't bring you to the Outer Rim Territories."
A pair of dark angry eyes looked at Leia. Leia walked over to Liane and pulled next to her on the couch, wrapping the girl in some compassionate Force feelings.
Reassuringly and gently she started to talk to the upset girl.
"Liane, once again, you are the obstinate angry girl I met on my first visit at Iritihim's detention building. Once again, you're behaving as princess Liane Solichor, the Dark Princess of Morantan. Being a princess you should behave as a member of a royal house, like me. You should behave calm and with dignity," Leia said with a soothing voice, while reminding the girl about her descent.
Liane shrugged, looking at Leia with angry eyes, but after a while she shook her head.
"I'm not, what you are suggesting. I'm not a real princess. I'm not a member of a royal house, like you. I don't know anything of my birth. As a young girl I lived among a group of priestesses of a Baroonta clan. It was odd, for there was only one man, Eremian. He was the leader of the clan and took care for the priestesses. I've gotten my first education from those priestesses. They taught to read and write and other basic things. They were living on an island in the archipelago separated from the mainland of Morantan by a wide ocean. I have been living with them until I was about seven years old. One day a tall man, clad in a black cloak with a black mask, came to the island. He took me with him and brought me to a stronghold in the Morantan jungle where thousands of armed men where under his command. At first he told me he was my new teacher, and he would complete my education using with, what he called, the Force, but later he said, that I was his daughter. So I'm not a princess at all. His officers addressed him as Lord Vader. While I grew up his officers started calling me 'Dark Princess', or even Lady Vader, because I had learned to use the same evil power my father often used. They often said, that I resembled him, but I hate that title. I DON'T WANT TO BE COMPARED WITH HIM, FOR MY FATHER WAS A VERY MEAN AND CRUEL MAN," Liane screamed.
It took some moment before she composed herself again.
"He once told me he had been a slave in his youth and had worked for different masters. I guess, that's why he wanted to control and overpower everyone and everything. You can't imagine how frightening he was. All the officers on Morantan were scared to death, if he entered the stronghold. He taught me to use a strange power - he called it: the Force -, but he used that power himself in a frightening way, for he killed many of his men if they opposed him, suffocating these men from a distance. Their death was horrible to watch. He taught me how to use that power, but I always hated him when he forced me to practise on animals, innocent creatures which had done nothing wrong."
Leia held her breath; Liane was telling her about her life under Anakin Skywalker, her real father.
"My father told me, that I needed the knowledge and power of the Force, for one day he would bring me to Coruscant to be the advisor of the Emperor. During his stays at Morantan, he instructed me to use the Force in a lot of different ways. He said, it was an energy field I could feel and it would help me to keep everyone and everything under control, once I would be the Emperor's assistant. If he wasn't present I had to practise his lessons until I could flawlessly carry out his teachings. In fact it were these teachings through which I became scared and afraid of him and the way he used the Force. Many times I've even hated him, and wanted to run away from the stronghold. I once did, but he found me, and punished me, locking me up permanently in one of his private bay in the stronghold. He forbade his men to talk to me and allocated several droids to take care of me. I was constantly being watched."
There was a long silence. Liane stared in the darkness of the cell, thinking of Darth Vader, her father.
"Oddly, he seemed to have changed after he had been away for almost a year or so," She continued in a soft voice. "He returned to Morantan unexpectedly, and he immediately ordered me in his private chamber. I felt that something had angered him, for when we were alone, he reprimanded me for something I had done. I didn't punish me, as was always his normal habit, if the commander had informed him about my behavior during his absence. Instead he gave me some very strange instructions. I remember every word he said."
"Liane," He said gravely. "I've taught you many ways to the use of the Force. You're not always as obedient to me as you should be, for this time the commander has told me you have been reading a forbidden book, haven't you?" I could do nothing else than to admit I had, for he always knew if I lied. "Liane", he said, "in that forbidden book you have read about the Jedi Knights, so now it's time to tell you, that the Force can also be used in two different ways. The first way gives you power and the possibility to control everything and everyone, to control and master any unexpected situation. The second way can only be used to defend a person against enemies or opponents. The emperor, you and I are using that first most powerful way and for a long time there wasn't anyone who could use the Force in that other way. But a certain Luke Skywalker has mastered that second way of the Force and he has become a very powerful and dangerous opponent, a Jedi Knight, a servant of the other use of the Force. The Emperor has ordered me to bring him to Coruscant, but Luke Skywalker might come to Morantan while I am away and when that happens you must use your skills of the Dark Side to overpower him, take him prisoner and put him in detention. The commander will inform me and I will come back to bring him to Coruscant. But beware, Liane! He is my ..... he is my most dangerous enemy and yours too, don't let him control you." It was so strange, Leia, for he stopped in the middle of that last sentence.'
Leia closed her eyes, took Liane's hand and pressed it.
"I didn't fully comprehend what my father meant," Liane said. "If that second way of the Force could only be used for defense, than why was my father frightened of that use of the Force power by a Jedi Knight, called Skywalker. Nevertheless I promised him that I would do as he had ordered. That's why I've attacked Jedi Skywalker at Morantan. Because my father had emphasized that he wanted the Jedi alive, I had set my blaster for at the highest stunning level, so he would be easily defeated, before I could take him prisoner. I became scared to death when I wasn't able to defeat him the way I had planned, for whatever I tried, how fast I fired, he repelled all the blasts with his lightsaber. Instead he defeated me and I expected that he would kill me, but he ordered his men to treat me with respect and make sure nobody would harm me. When he visited me in the detention building he was always calm, kind and friendly, treating me with respect and trying to reassure me. He never reproached me for my attack, not even during that hearing in court. Leia, I must have been a dangerous opponent, why didn't he kill me?"
"Luke Skywalker is, as you said, a servant of the Good Side of the Force, a Jedi Knight, Liane. Your father and the Emperor have been using of the darker side of that energy field. They called themselves Sith lords. The Jedi Knights don't use unnecessary violence against their enemies, but use the Force to help people and bring order, peace and justice," Leia said kindly. She considered if she would tell Liane, that Luke was her brother, but she decided not to. Liane shrugged her shoulders.
"My father always said that enemies had to be killed, otherwise they would revenge themselves one day. But Zolgathrii was supposed to be on my side, I trusted him and now ... " Her voice trailed off, but her eyes got a dark and angry look again.
"HE WILL PAY FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE TO ME," She said cross in a loud voice.
"Hush, Liane, calm down, and listen to me. From the beginning Zolgathrii wasn't really interested in you. He only wanted make use of the power you possess for his own benefit. He didn't expect, you would oppose him. You are known as Darth Vader's daughter and you have gained some knowledge of the Force's dark powers, but you're certainly not your father's equal by no means. Your use of the Force's powers are only a fraction of what Darth Vader could achieve, but you also seem to have a very strong will which has prevented you from killing the other senators without a good reason. Because the New Republic's elite forces have landed on Ortel, Zolgathrii has to face a lot of new problems. Those forces will rescue us. Come on, let's try and get some sleep. Shall I keep you company? We can talk a bit more before we fall asleep again."
"You talk as if you have met my father, haven't you?" Liane asked surprised. For a moment Leia looked into a pair of inquisitive eyes.
"I have indeed met Darth Vader, Liane. I was once his prisoner. He frightened me too, when he interrogated me, but I don't want to talk about him now. We'd better get some sleep."
Liane lay down and shifted a bit so Leia could lay down too and put an arm around her. Liane was now completely calm again, but Leia still felt a lot of uncertainties and anxieties in her. Again she surrounded Liane with kind and comfortable feelings. What a strange story the girl had told her about Anakin. Why had he brought her up at the Dark Side? Why had she been living among a Baroontarian clan in her youth? What had Zolgathrii done to the other senators? And what were his intentions with his threat, that he would bring her to the Outer Rim? With a sigh Leia closed her eyes, but suddenly she clearly felt her brother presence. She immediately touched his mind.
'Luke, please, hurry. It will be very difficult for me to protect Liane, if Zolgathrii comes and takes her away, without revealing myself as a Jedi Knight.'
'Stay calm, Leia. Madine's men and I on our way. We'll rescue both of you. Hold on for just a few more hours.'
Leia smiled at these comforting thoughts, which seemed to fill her mind. She looked at Liane, who had fallen asleep again.
On Coruscant Jerno, Kalip and Valann were in a meeting with the other members of the Provisional Coruscant Council, when one of the members, a greying captain came in late.
"Dokanta on Ortel is under siege. There seems to be a fight going on between the space forces of the New Republic and the militia of the senator of Ortel. The New Republic has send the Tychorion and a number of other frigates of their fleet to go into orbit around Ortel. They have transported ground forces to Ortel's surface for an assault at Dokanta," The officer said, before he sat down.
The others all looked at him.
"Captain Boloon, were did you get this information?" Jerno asked.
"It's on the Holo Net, admiral." Boloon answered, "I apologize, sir, for being late, but this news mesmerized me, I had to watch the complete news flash."
Jerno activated the big holo screen in the meeting room and all members turned their seats to watch the holo images of the reporting. Images of some fifteen frigates and destroyers and a number of X-wing space crafts bearing the insignia of the New Republic became visible above Ortel. The images switched to the planet's surface were the sounds of heavy fighting was heard. The voice-over mentioned that the New Republic had attacked senator Zolgathrii's manor to rescue some very important hostages. The images of the fleet popped up again and switched back to the planet. The voice-over mentioned that it wasn't clear why the New Republic's space fleet was attacking one of their own members.
When the series of images had been repeated several times, including the corresponding commentary, Jerno switched off the holo screen and looked at the other members of the council.
"Their act is a serious infringement of Ortel's independence," Kalian, one of the members commented, "The senator of Ortel will certainly raise a protest."
Several members joined the discussion and agreed. For several moment Jerno listened to the words with which his fellow councilors showed their indignation or surprise. Kalip and Valann looked at him and Kalip took the floor, after Jerno had nodded.
"Be seated, honorable members of our council, and please listen."
The council became quiet again and Kalip gave a short comment on the raid. He explained that the triarchy had received intelligence information about a possible attack on Ortel.
"Senator Zolgathrii has opposed the rules of the Supreme Chancellor of the New Republic and now it turns out that he has taken some important people with him as hostages."
"Did we get information about a possible coup?" Hyandron, a representatives of the commerce chamber asked.
"If he intends to commit a real coup is not for sure," Kalip answered, "We received some formal information from the New Republic, warning us in advance for a possible visit of senator Zolgathrii to Coruscant. Our intelligence force also has reported to us that senator Zolgathrii has fled Dalmaran, taking at least one member of the High Council and the special advisor of the Supreme Chancellor with him."
"Is there a possibility we can get more information and evidence of the government of the New Republic itself. If the senator has indeed plans to overthrow the legal administration on Dalmaran the peace treaty we signed with the New Republic may become unsettled or even withdrawn," Kalian said.
The uproar of several concerned voices re-emerged. Jerno took the floor and asked for attention.
"I agree this seems to become a more serious matter, for our council and government of the New Republic as well. In the past senator Zolgathrii has been a regular guest in the high echelons of the former emperor. I will contact the leaders of the New Republic again and asked them to provided detailed information about new developments."