n Mos Espa Liane enjoyed the company of so many of her friends. They spend many hours together on board the Corellian freighter of the Grann brothers. Liane told them about her stay with Luke in Mos Eislely and their encounter with Chewbacca. Liane gave a short summary of her re-encounter with Han and his Wookiee friend, but she left out the ways she had been able to help Han to recover.
"Chewie rushed through the cantina, creating havoc among the guests and lifted Luke from his seat. Luke was so thrilled to see the Wookiee again. He had told me much about Han's opposition against the Force and the fact that he had trained Leia as a Jedi Knight. That had been the cause of the estrangement between Han and Leia. Luke and I managed to convince Han to return to Dalmaran and after we had arrived in Irithim Han made it up with Leia and they got married."
Ian and Yarmod looked at their companion.
'I've heard a different story, Shaalya-Car,' Ian said, using their secret way to communicate.
'Leave it the way I told it, Tama-Hinn. It's of no use to get into details about what happened on board the Falcon and afterwards on Na'ctaMagh'Ba,' Liane argued with her brother.
On the third day after their arrival in Mos Espa, Liane went back to the shop owner to pick up her boots. The new boots fit perfectly and were very comfortable. She was delighted with the result and looked at herself from all sides in a mirror.
When Ian and Yarmod who had accompanied her, were standing behind her, she saw three friends in a Jedi outfit: she was now a Padawan apprentice. They praised the shopkeeper about his work and paid the agreed price. Outside the shop, the three padawans discussed the next step of their plans.
"Ian and I want to see, if the Astræa has been checked, Liane, and how the droids are doing," Yarmod said, "If we want to leave, we have to make sure that the ship is ready. We will bring you back to the Granns now."
Liane looked at him with a questioning look. Ian and Yarmod laughed.
"We still have an obligation to protect you, remember, and we will stick to our duty," Ian commented.
Liane started to laugh too.
"I've almost forgotten," She said, "but do you think it's really risky, if I go back alone to Yarnick and his brothers."
"Darth Golluth's spies can be everywhere, Liane. Even here on Tatooine. He might not expect, that you will show up here, but I think, that I am not far from the truth, if I say that he might have hired some bounty hunters to track you. So, it's out of the question that we leave you unprotected. Come on, we'll bring you to the Granns. Their ship is a good safe haven for you. While we're checking the Astræa, I'm sure Yarnick and the others will defend you against any bounty hunter that might show up, if necessary," Ian said.
Liane who shook her head in disbelieve, still laughed, but inside she appreciated the true commitment of her two padawan friends.
At the docking bay where the Corellian freighter of the Grann was docked Yarmod and Ian told Yarnick and his brother what they expected of them for a short time.
Kieran started to laughed at their seriousness.
"I'm sure, Liane can defend herself, guys," He said.
"She probably might, Kieran," Yarnick said, "but it's wise of these guys to stick to their duty. Liane, while you were on board with us, you always relied on our protection. I expect you will do now, even if you're able to defend yourself with your Jedi powers," the eldest Grann said.
Liane roared with laughter and hugged him.
"I will behave as a member of your crew, Yarnick, as I once did while I was your sister Eilidh. Yarmod, Ian, I'm safe with these guys, I always have been, for more than a year."
The two padawans left and walked the short way to the docking where they had secured the Astræa. They requested access and entered the ship. While Threepio and Artoo were aiding them, they went through all the vital check up points thoroughly. To their reassurance everything checked out perfectly well, and within three hours they went back to the Granns. The Astræa was ready to set course to Palomintar Four, but the moment of their departure was also depending on the final check up and repairs of the Grann brother's ship.
While they were walking back Yarmod commented on Yarnick's plan to get to Palomintar Four with them.
"Do you know, why Yarnick has decided to come with us, without consulting with his brothers. Even Liane was surprised with his decision?"
"Can't you imagine?" Ian grinned, "Yarnick has a good reason. The same reason I had, before I knew I was Liane's brother."
"You mean, he's in love with her?" Yarmod asked surprised and started laughing, and continued, "It seems that Liane has attracted many guys, master Luke, you, and now you affirm that also Yarnick has a crush on her."
"What about you, my friend," Ian said and grinned, as he saw how Yarmod's cheeks colored, "You can add your name to that list too. You fancy her, like I do. But seriously, I'm glad that Yarnick and his brothers are coming with us. I even think, that my master and master Luke will agree on their plan."
They had reached the docking bay and walked up the ramp. As they entered the flight control room they heard the many voices of the brothers and the laughing voice of Liane. They exhaled. Nothing had happened during their absence. Liane looked at them as they entered and felt their relief. Even if they had been away for just a very short time, they were worried about her.
"Join us," She said, "we were just talking about the travels I made with these guys. It was always great fun. I really enjoyed it, being part of their crew, so I love the idea to travel with them again to Palomintar Four. On Endor they also came to support Luke and me against Dendicott and his mercenaries."
"We know, Liane, we were there too," Ian laughed.
"The Astræa is ready, Liane. She can set course to Palomintar Four any moment," Yarmod said.
"That's good news. Yarnick and his brother have been discussing their trip with us. Their ship will be ready in two days. I suggest we wait until it's ready too, and leave together," Liane said.
"That's no problem. It's only a slight delay," Yarmod commented, "it won't change our plan. It's even better, if you, guys, come with us. We don't know what the situation on Palomintar Four is. My master and I landed on the other continent, where those refugees live at the moment. You, Ian, you went to Myr, didn't you?"
"Yes, with those harvesters, but the Millennium Falcon had to outrun an former imperial star destroyer which had gone into orbit around the Palomintar System," Ian said.
Conor watched the two padawans.
"How did you guys end up with our former crew member?" He asked.
'Don't say anything about Na'ctaMagh'Ba and our secret escape,' Liane said, looking at her two protectors.
"Our master told us it was our duty to protect, defend, and accompany Liane, while they were helping master Luke on Palomintar Four," Yarmod said elusive.
"You stayed with her all the time on Dalmaran?" Bran asked.
"Yes. Liane has become the protÃ©gÃ© of our Supreme Chancellor, after she and master Luke returned to Dalmaran with the Millennium Falcon. The lady Mon Mothma granted amnesty and pardoned Liane, and she is now officially a citizen of Irithim and the New Republic, but as my master and I had found out that Darth Golluth was behind the Endor attack, the Supreme Chancellor decided that Liane needed some Force-sensitive guards."
"But you took her with you to Tatooine. Why did you decide to come here?" Ronan suddenly asked, "On Dalmaran you could have carry out your duty much easier, I think."
For a moment the two padawans were silent, then Liane stepped up, "They didn't took me with them, Ronan, I suggested we should go to Tatooine, and because I want to assist Luke and his sister. As a padawan Yarmod and Ian had only practiced with a training lightsaber the many different Jedi defense forms and learned to shatter blaster attacks. Luke told me how a real lightsaber had to be assembled. Yarmod is a great pilot and brought us to the Jundland Waste with the Astræa. While we stayed in the house of Luke's former master, Ian and Yarmod have assembled their own lightsabers, and before we came to Mos Espa I managed to assemble my own too. A real lightsaber has a much more sophisticated use in combat. We don't know what to expect on Palomintar Four."
"So it is your plan to go to Palomintar Four and join commodore Skywalker?" Yarnick asked.
"Did Yarmod and Ian agree with your plans, Liane?" Kieran asked.
"They did, and you guys are now a bit too curious?" Liane asked dismissively, feeling irritated by their questioning, "There isn't much more to tell. We have assembled our lightsabers, and now we want to join our masters on Palomintar Four. That's what a padawan has to do."
There was a long silence after Liane's peevish comment. Finally Brion spoke, "We're only interested in your adventures after we left Endor, Eilidh. It's good that you took your friends to Tatooine, so they could assemble a real lightsaber. I'm told, that a lightsaber is a fine weapon in the hands of those who are able to wield it with precision. You, guys, will be two great Jedi Knights, and you too, Eilidh."
The speeder with Luke and Chewbacca reached the Ribana area at dawn. They passed the town itself and carefully sought their ways through the dense woods of the afforest hills to get as close as possible near Toallin's former vineyard. Still under the protection of the morning twilight they entered the house and went down to wine cellar. Chewbacca took out the loose stone. Luke took the memory cards from a pocket at his belt and wanted to put them in the hole.
"Chewie, what time did this guy show up yesterday?" He asked, turning to his companion.
The Wookiee grunted an answer. Luke nodded and put one of the cards in the hole.
"Put those stones in place, Chewie," He said, "I have something in mind."
Chewbacca put to stones back and Luke pulled the Wookiee with him outside among the entangled bushes of vines. Chewbacca grunted several questions at the young Jedi.
"There's enough time to get back to the spot where we hit our speeder. I want to make a detour around the vineyard and see if we can discover from which direction the guy is coming. I expect from the mountain ridge. So we're not going back to our camp immediately. First we do some investigations, then we come back here. I will hide in the storage room. I want you to stand guard near the speeder. If nothing happens, we'll make a camp for the night and see what will happen tomorrow," Luke said.
Chewbacca commented reluctant on Luke's words.
Indeed, Chewie, my first intention was to put both cards back, and get back to our camp, but I want to see the guy's reaction, if he discovers that one of them is missing. Will he panic, will he take the one card with him and leave? He certainly will suspect that some one has been following him and discovered his secret hide-out. If he is, what I think, I want to approach him and speak with him. You're right, he might be armed and dangerous, but that can't be a reason to do some investigations."
Chewbacca continued to grunt.
"No, Chewie, I won't take unnecessary risks. If I'll feel the slightest suspicions, I won't reveal my presence, but I wonder if he is a real opponent and supporter of Darth Golluth, or an imperial spy. Let's get back to the speeder and follow those hills on the west side until they reach the mountain ridge."
They found their way back, and started their investigation tour. Everything now and then they stopped and Luke watched the valley with the house and vineyard through his binocs. Finally they reached the spot where where the hills went up along the rocky slopes to the ridge. They hid the speeder among the last dense bushes and continued on foot, seeking their first hiding places along high rocky boulders. Luke carefully observed those low mountain ridges surroundings which enclosed the vineyard on the north side. The vines had found their way nearly to the top of the rocky hills, and formed an not to disentangle heaps, branches and leaves. Luke and Chewie used these dense vegetation to hide themselves. Their progress was slow, and the heath among the dense undergrowth became tense. They had to pause several times, and seek coverage when Luke sensed the presence of some surveillance drones. Finally they reached the opposite eastern hill side which lead to Ribana. They briefly discussed how to proceed and decided to get back to the speeder using the dense growth of the vines at a lower level on the north hill. They descended deeper into the vineyard, when Luke pointed to a kind of staircase that descended to the valley. Carefully Luke investigated the path, and nodded.
"This path has been used recently. I assume, that our man has been using it to reach the domain. It's probably going straight to the house. Chewie, get back to the speeder, return to our first hiding place, and stay there. I'm going to follow the path down. If my assumptions are right it will lead me to the house. I will use our secret infocom frequency to contact you."
They split up. Staying under cover of the vines Luke ran down along the stone track and reach the domain within ten minutes. To his surprise the front door stood wide open. He remembered from his first visit that Mugin had warned them not use the front door, because the front side of the house was more visible from the mountain ridge and the hill tops. He moved to the rear of the house, but before he had reached the back door, he noticed the presence of another human being.
"Chewie," He whispered in his infocom, "Some one is coming. I'll seek for a place to hide. Can't reach the storage room in time."
A grunt was the answer. Quickly Luke entered the house and rushed to the corridor to find a hiding place as near as possible to the wine cellar stairs. In an instant he studied his options, and saw a closet opposite the open cellar. The door of the closet was partly broken and Luke squeezed himself inside. He had hardly taken his position as he clearly heard quick steps at the front door of the house. He peeked through the broken door and reached out to the Force to hide his presence. The steps neared and Luke noticed a young officer, who cast a quick glance over his shoulder, before he descended into the wine-cellar. Quickly Luke left his hiding place and peeked inside the wine-cellar. The young man stood near the wall and was taking away the loose stones. Using the Force Luke quickly descended the stairs and stepped back in the shadows next to the stairs, covering his head with the cowl of his cassock. Not for a moment did he lose sight of the young man. The young officer had put the stones aside, had taken a datapad from the pocket of his jacket and now reached inside the hole to get the memory cards. Luke saw how he put the datapad aside and used his two hands to reach inside the hole. He took out the memory card Chewie and he had put back, but then he reached inside again for the second card. Luke noticed a slight surprise in the young man, who started to look at the floor of the wine-cellar. He stepped out of the shadow and walked up to the man.
"You haven't dropped it," He said quietly.
The young man turned around, but didn't winced at his unexpected visitor.
"Who are you?" He said calmly, looking at the data card Luke held out to him.
"Someone who is interested in your visits here," Luke said, using the Force.
The young man took the data card from Luke's hand.
Luke lowered his cowl. The young man still looked at him, but didn't show any fear.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" He asked determinedly.
"I'm here to warn you. Your visits have been de..."
At that moment heavy metallic footsteps were stomping through the corridor on the floor above. Quickly Luke threw off his Jedi cloak.
"You're defenseless, aren't you? Better hide behind one of those wine casks quickly. Don't show yourself, I will defend us both."
Luke reached out to the loose stones which positioned themselves in the wall. The heavy metallic footsteps had reached the wine-cellar door. Luke cast a glance over his shoulder and beckoned to the other guy to seek a safe hide-out. The metallic footsteps descended down the stairs. Four heavy armed droids were entering the wine-cellar and raised their weapons.
"You're spying on our master. We're ordered to kill you," One of them said in a metallic voice. The four droids adjusted their blasters, but Luke raised his hand and slammed them against the stairs and the cellar wall. All four went down. The four droids were laying in a disorderly heap near the walls. Luke reached out to their weapons which floated in his direction. Next he walked over and attached restraining bolts at the back of the droids heads. Then he turned to the young man who had left his hiding-place.
"Thank you, master Skywalker," He said, "Do you know that Darth Golluth is looking for you and for your Jedi padawan."
"I know he is after Liane Solichor, my padawan." Luke said, but the guy looked surprised, while he walked over to the knocked out droids.
"So Liane Solichor is your padawan, not a guy called Ian Tydon?" He said, kneeling near one of the droids. He looked up.
"Do you have an infocom?" He asked
"I do," Luke said on his guard, "Why?"
"I want to reprogram these droids, so they can't act as killer droids any longer. These four droids always remain outside. They stand guard day and night. I already wanted to change their programming an earlier opportunity, but all my possessions have been confiscated, including my infocom. I want to use your infocom to unblock the encrypted code in these droids program unit. If you don't trust me, you might give me a hand."
Luke kneeled next to the young man, who opened the back plate of one of the droids and took out a small circuit board. He pointed to a small connector at board.
"Can you connect your infocom?" The young man said, not looking up at Luke.
Still cautious Luke took his infocom from his wrist, unrolled a thin wire and attached it to the connector. To his surprise the young man immediately activated a small holographic keyboard hovering above the infocom's display. He rapidly switched to one of the many access modes and typed a long series of characters. After a few seconds another holographic display popped up. The young man scrolled through a list of coding, before he selected several coded lines. He erased the coding and quickly replaced them with several other lines. Then he secured the program code and unplugged Luke's infocom. He looked up at Luke with a grin.
"That's one. It was easier than I expected. Let's do the same to the other three. I will leave them deactivated, until I go back inside those cave dwelling."
Working the same sequence on the other droids the young man managed to change their programming. Luke had watched him with a smile and admiration. The young man rose and handed Luke his infocom.
"I guess, I owe you an explanation," he said, "for if you hadn't been here, master Skywalker, I wouldn't have been able to defend myself against these killers. I must admit I have been a bit careless."
"Which isn't your normal habit, is it, master Thai," Luke said.
Alerted the young man looked at Luke.
"You know who I am?"
"Like you know who I am." Luke answered, "The intelligence force of the New Republic is fully aware your reputation and tremendous expertise with any computer system and its programming. You must be the one who hacked our communication system on Quoith, didn't you?"
"In cooperation with your experts on Quoith. It has been a pleasure to cooperate with them, for those guys have equal skills, master Skywalker. "
Luke looked surprised, "I wasn't aware that the hack was a set up, master Thai. Are you associated to Darth Golluth?"
"Master Skywalker, may I ask you a favor. Please don't use my real name any more. I have another identity here. I'm Doran Whain, first technical officer on board the Basilisaea."
Luke nodded, "Then let's forget any formalities, Doran. Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight and Jedi commander of the New Republic's Gold Squadron. "
"To answer your last question, Luke: No, I'm not an associate to Darth Golluth, or admiral Trevor Matrik which is his real name. The former imperial admiral ordered the commander of the Basilisaea, admiral Vestor, to send his most experienced technician down to the planet to fix admiral Matrik's communication system after he had ruined it in a tantrum. Those guys on Quoith did an excellent job, after we had set up the hack. They were able to access his system and and cleaned it," Doran Whain said.
"Earlier you said, that Darth Golluth is looking for me; more precisely, Darth Golluth wants a Jedi padawan called Ian Tydon. What does he want him for?" Luke asked.
"Admiral Matrik is very secretive about his ideas, but he has heard that the padawan is severely wounded. I'm not fully aware of his intentions with the guy, but it seems that that wounded guy is the boyfriend of a woman with very special knowledge. You just mentioned your padawan's name: Liane Solichor. Darth Golluth hopes she will come to Palomintar Four, if she hears that her boyfriend is badly wounded."
"He hopes she will come to Palomintar Four of her own free will, after all his attempts to bring her here by force?"
"Luke, as I said I don't know what he is up to," Doran said.
"The New Republic's intelligence force have done a lot investigations on admiral Matrik already," Luke said, "The admiral wants my padawan to join him, because he knows she has learned a lot of Sith knowledge from Darth Vader. Admiral Trevor Matrik has secret plans to revive the empire. He wants to become the next emperor."
After Luke's explanation Doran kept silent for several minutes. Luke watched him patiently. Finally Doran Whain looked up.
"If you already know that much, it's very likely that you also know why I am here," He said.
Luke nodded, but commented, "You're here with a special mandate from the Provisional Coruscant Council. I'm here with a special mandate from the Supreme Chancellor of the New Republic and her advisors. We both want to prevent that Liane Solichor will meet admiral Trevor Matrik on Palomintar Four."
Doran nodded, Luke continued, "We're pursuing the same goal, aren't we?"
"Absolutely, Luke. I must intercept the woman if she turns up on Palomintar Four and arrest her. If she doesn't cooperate I'm allowed to eliminate her. "
For a moment Luke held his breath.
Doran, if you don't mind I like to call a friend of mine to join us, before I tell you more about Liane Solichor."
He took his infocom and called Chewbacca. The Wookiee arrived instantaneously. Luke grinned. His pal hadn't been waiting near the speeder, but probably near the back door of the house. Doran looked amazed as the towering Wookiee entered the wine-cellar. Luke introduced the Wookiee.
"Chewbacca is my friend and co-pilot. You're right, Doran, we both are here with a similar kind of mandate, but my aim also includes the liberation of Ribana. Admiral Trevor Matrik has illegally occupied this planet and driven the Quelans of Ribana into exile. Recently I met with the Quelan leaders and I promised them we would help them to get their former way of life back. I even have a prerogative to ask the New Republic space fleet for immediate assistance," Luke said and Chewbacca grunted in agreement.
Doran Whain nodded, "The admiral is violating the peace treaty between the Provisional Coruscant Council and the New Republic..."
... and so the Provisional Coruscant Council sent you to Palomintar Four as an uncover agent to keep an eye on the admiral and keep your superiors informed about his plans and progress," Luke said, "Doran, you're not fooling a Jedi Knight."
"Yes, I'm an agent of the Provisonal Corusant Council . My superiors have ordered me to find a way to infiltrate the abode of the admiral. After the Battle of Jakku he disappeared, but my superiors found evidence about his hiding place, and his attempts to get in touch with the daughter of Darth Vader. I was commissioned as a lieutenant-technician on board the Basilisaea. Your people on Quoith blew up the admiral's communication system and admiral Vestor, the commander of the Basilisaea brought before the admiral, who is known for his many fits of rage, his opposition against the peace treaty and his admiration for emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. The leaders of the Provisional Coruscant Council assume that admiral Trevor Matrik seeks a way to revive the empire, using the knowledge the daughter of Darth Vader possesses. She is raised as a Sith lady."
After Doran's words Chewbacca began to grunt dangerously. Luke silenced his companion with a gesture of his hand.
"What's wrong with him, Luke? Did I say something wrong?" Doran asked, looking at the furious looking Wookiee.
"The woman you're talking about, is a special friend of the Wookiee, Doran, a protégé of the Supreme Chancellor of the New Republic and my Jedi padawan. She is not what your superiors fear, and I want to urge you to listen the following and report what I'm telling you to the leaders of the Provisional Coruscant Council," Luke said very determinedly. Chewiebacca was still grunting under his breath, looking at Doran Whain with a ferocious look in his eyes.
"Liane Solichor is my padawan learner. That means that I'm training her to become a Jedi Knight. She is by no means a Sith-lady. The administration of the New Republic, in particular the Supreme Chancellor herself, guarantees her safety. My government has long been familiar with the motives of Darth Golluth, aka Admiral Trevor Matrik and protects my padawan by all means. They have brought her to a safe haven, until her adversary has been defeated.
Doran looked at Luke and Chewbacca.
"So your administration has indeed been hiding her on Na'ctaMagh'Ba."
"How do you know the whereabouts of the young woman?" Luke asked surprised, feeling also some worry.
Doran looked guilty. Chewbacca seemed to be getting more and more angry
"I'm very famous for my expertise, Luke," Doran said, looking with growing uneasiness at the Wookiee, "I intercepted the coordinates of a computer system on Na'ctaMagh'Ba, using a backdoor in the New Republic's communication center on Quoith. The existence of a communication system on that prohibited continent drew my suspicion, because the Dalmaranian scientific farmers don't communicate with the outside world, using high sophisticated technology. The admiral ordered me that I would pass any information about the girl Liane to his spies on Dalmaran. I couldn't refuse that order, but I chose a group of not too savvy guys. I didn't want to reveal that secret hiding place on Na'ctaMag'Ba to the admiral, nor did I want to frighten your padawan. She have to stay there, for as long as Darth Golluth hasn't found her, he can't proceed with his revival plan."
Now Luke and Chewbacca started too laugh
"I can reassure you, Doran, the guys you've sent, have been captured and are in custody, awaiting their punishment."
"Luke, you just told me that she is your padawan, a kind of apprentice, I presume, and she become a Jedi Knight, like you."
"Liane will never pass on what Darth Vader taught her, for she has a great experience with what evil consequences the Dark Side would have again on the future of our galaxy. You have my word on that," Luke asked.
"Your explanation about the whereabouts of your padawan will certainly change my mandate. I will send an encrypted report to my superiors, telling them they have to withdraw my order to eliminate her."
Chewbacca grunted a long sentence to Luke. Doran looked at the young Jedi.
"What's he telling you?" He asked.
"Chewbacca wonders, if you know what Darth Golluth has done to the citizens of Ribana."
For a moment Doran hesitated, then he took the datapad.
"As the occupation of Ribana is also a reason why you are here, you have to read this, it provided you with more information about the admiral's action and it will probably answer several questions you might have."
He handed the datapad to Luke. Luke took it and quickly scanned the content of the file. Thoughtfully he handed the datapad back.
Doran looked at his chrono.
"I have to get back to Darth Golluth's underground abode. You'd better leave now, before I activate those droids. Thanks to you for defending me in the first place, these guys will be my assistants from now on." He said with a big grin and rose, "Luke, may I ask you another favor. Although I'm a skilled undercover agent and communication technician, I would like to team up with you. Our task will become easier, if we join forces. What are your plans?"
"I accept your proposal, Doran. Keep those data cards at a safer place. Much better destroy them. You've read them. Darth Golluth can't be trusted, I fear. You said your infocom has been confiscated. You should take mine and reprogram it, so we might keep in touch at a later stage. For the time being we'd better use this. "
Luke took two small devices from a pocket at his belt and handed one to Doran. He took it and looked at in wonder.
"This is a very sophisticated tracker, Luke. I didn't know that the New Republic uses these ones too," He said.
Luke nodded, but looked very seriously.
"You're familiar with it? All you have to do is press it, if you want to meet me. I will hear a buzz and feel a short electric pulse. You also can set it to mute and receive a short electric pulse only. Can you put it somewhere in your uniform, where it won't be detected?"
"I will hide it in the collar of my uniform."
"There's a deep wide trench behind the afforest hills on the west of Ribana. It's covered with thick entangled bushes. Are you allowed to go outside when ever you want?"
Doran looked thoughtful.
"I'm not sure yet, Luke, but I will find a way to meet you again. If I do not have the opportunity to come to the agreed place, I will press this tracker three times."
"Be careful, Doran, our client is an unpredictable man, full of strange ideas and plans," Luke said and stretched out his hand, "Let's trust and help each other."
They shook hands. Before Luke about to leave, Doran turned to him again.
"I have some last information for you, Luke. Darth Golluth has also told me how he has killed a whole platoon of imperial soldiers who supported the occupation of Ribana. He not only took measures, so that the second star destroyer exploded shortly after they had started their navi-computer, but he also ordered a group of droids to kill the remaining stormtroopers who were supposed to guard Ribana. And he is still using these kinds of killer droids as his servants and lackeys."
Luke and Chewbacca left the building through the back door and stayed undercover of the entangle vines to reach their speeder. They pushed the speeder up the southern hill. Once on top they looked back and saw how Doran Whain left the vineyard building at the other side in the company the four revived and reprogrammed droids.
Two ground officers stood before the Astræa and looked at it in admiration.
"This is a former imperial shuttle, but it carries the markings of the New Republic. Who's the pilot?" One of the guys asked as he looked at his companion.
"I don't know. Two droids are permanently guarding the vessel; an astromech and protocol droid. I've seen them rummaging around the ramp and the landing gear. The day before yesterday I saw two guys enter it. The droid welcomed them and seemed to be pleased to see them. They had asked permission at the briefing desk to carry out some final checks. In the log I've read that they want to leave soon. There was something very funny about those two guys. They were dressed similar and were wearing their hair in a tied knot at the back of their heads. At the right of their heads a long strand of hair was braided. They looked like a pair of twin brothers, but when I had a closer look they were very different." The second officer commented.
"It's a beautiful space craft. Must have been the shuttle of one of the imperial elite? I wonder how it had ended up with the New Republic markings?" The first one said again with admiration in his voice, "Let's have a look at our data banks. Perhaps we will meet some famous guy who fought against the emperor and his clan. It gives a good story if you can tell later that you've met a hero of the Rebel Alliance."
They both laughed and went back to their office. The first officer activated the infocom and started a search using the markings of the Astræa. To their surprise an alert activated. They read the message and warned their superior. The space port commander came over, read the message and turned to his men.
"I'm going to inform Irithim. Ground this ship. It has been taken without permission. If those two guys who have done the check, turn up again, put them in custody and warn me. See to it that the ship stays in the docking bay."
The commander left and the two deck officers took the necessary precautions to ground the space ship.
Meanwhile the commander contacted Irithim space port. The deck officer who took his message, told him to hold the connection and warned his commander.
The holographic image of Irithim's space port commander popped up.
"What can I do for you, commander," He said.
"A imperial shuttle carrying the markings of the New Republic has landed about a week ago in Mos Espa. As all the necessary checks for a clear landing were found in order, we haven't paid real attention to it. After we did a second check we've found out that the ship is called the Astræa and her pilot is no one less than the famous Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker. However our surveillance cams haven't found his image. There are two droids on board the ship, and two strange dressed young men have been doing some checks recently. We think they're intending to leave soon. As our data banks gave an alert, I have order my men to ground the ship, until Irithim will confirm the ship is cleared for take off. "
"Thank you, for warning us. The Astræa has left Mas'onom space port more than a month ago without stating her destination, those guys managed to leave Mas'onom space port without getting permission to leave. You did well to ground the ship. I will warn the Supreme Chancellor. She knows who has to be alerted, and she will probably warn the owner. So you can expect Jedi master Skywalker soon to pick up his ship."
"We will see to it, that the ship won't leave again without permission, commander. Please, keep us informed," The commander of Mos Eisley said and switched off.
On Irithim the space port commander called the Supreme Chancellor immediately.
Mon Mothma's image appeared on his console.
"Madam, the Astræa has been found. She's in a docking bay at Mos Espa space port on Tatooine. The space commander reported that two young men have recently done some final check ups. Those guys must be the two missing padawans."
"Did he mention a young woman as well?"
"No, madam, he was talking about two guys and two droids."
Mon Mothma sighed.
"Thank you, commander. I will take the necessary steps to inform the right person to pick up the ship and our two missing padawans. I will inform the commander of Mos Espa space port as soon as possible."
Mon Mothma switched off and activated her connection with the Tychorion. It took some time before the holographic image of general Madine popped up.
"General, can you warn Luke Skywalker and tell him that the Astræa has been grounded on Tatooine. I want him to pick up his ship together with two runaway padawans, his two droids, and asked them what happened to Liane Solichor," Mon Mothma said sternly.
"I will contact the Millennium Falcon immediately, madam," Madine said, "I'll will inform you what our Jedi will decide."
"No, general, I want him to pick up his ship and asked those padawan where Liane is," the Supreme Chancellor said, "I am worried, general. I fear the worst."
Mon Mothma broke the connection and Madine walked to his communication center.
"Contact the Millennium Falcon at our secret frequency," He order, "and put her captain at my office."
He went back to his office and sat in his chair. After several minutes he informed if they had contacted the Corellian freighter.
"No, sir, there seems to be nobody on board, but we'll keep trying. We'll pass on general Solo as soon as we can reach him."
Madine leaned back in his chair and waited. Hour after hour passed, but the image of Han Solo didn't pop up. Madine started to walk to and fro through his office, when the image of Wedge Antilles suddenly appeared on the holo display.
"Wedge," The general said relieved, "I want you to come back to the Tychorion immediately. Tell your wingman to take over the command of Gold Squadron for an indefinite time. We talk after your arrival on board."
"Roger, sir, I'm on my way. You can expect me within an hour."
Wedge's image vanished. Madine sat down in his chair again, but jumped to his feet again and started walking restlessly through his office again. Why didn't the Millennium Falcon answer his calls? The buzz on his desk blinked.
"Commander Antilles asks permission to see you, sir?"
"Bring him in," Madine said and walked over to the door.
The door slid aside and Wedge Antilles entered.
"Wedge, I want you to leave and go to Mos Espa on Tatooine. Report to the commander of the space port and take over the command of the Astræa, her crew and their droids. Bring them to the Tychorion for further interrogation."
"The Astræa is on Tatooine? Does Luke know? Is Liane there too?"
Quickly Madine informed the commander of Gold Squadron about what Mon Mothma had ordered him.
"I can't reach the Millennium Falcon. I fear that it will take some time before any one will board that ship. They are all very busy down there, so I want you to go to Tatooine immediately. How long will it take you to get there?"
"Tatooine is on the other side of the Outer Rim. With an X-wing it will take about thirty hours to get there, general." Wedge answered.
"What about one of our newest transport ships? It's said they are faster than the older ones, and you also can take some of our men with you to escort you on your flight back to the Tychorion. If you go with the X-wing you have to leave the ship on Tatooine" Madine suggested.
Wedge's face brightened.
"If you mean I can take the new V8-57, I can reach Tatooine in eighteen hours."
"Very well. I will order the techs to prepare one of those ships ready immediately. As soon as it's ready you will leave. I will assign one of the pilots and a technical guy to assist you. By the way, why did you call me, Wedge?"
"To inform you that the Basilisaea has shifted her position and has gone into a low orbit around Palomintar Six. It still seems that admiral Vestor wants to do some investigation on the surface of the planet. You can pass on your decision about the needed action of Gold Squadron to Riley Wintrop. He has taken over my command."
"As long as Vestor focuses on Palomintar Six he can do as he pleases. I will inform your wingman, Wedge."
Wedge turned to his superior.
"Can I make use of one of the guest rooms, general. I want to put on my ceremonial Jedi clothes. I think that as a Jedi Knight I need to leave a firm impression on my padawan, his runaway friend Ian, and Liane Solichor."
"The message I've got from Mon Mothma she said that the space port commander hasn't mentioned the girl. Ask Ian and Yarmod about Liane's whereabouts, Wedge?"
"Leave that to me, general. I'll be back with the Astræa and our runaway friends in less than a standard day."
Wedge Antilles left. An hour later Madine met his squadron commander again at the foot of the ramp of a V8-57. The squadron pilot had changed his piloting gear for his Jedi outfit. Madine looked at him and brought an official salute.
"May the Force be with you, master Antilles. Good luck!" He said impressed.
Wedge boarded the transport ship where the pilot had already started the engine. Slowly the ship hovered about the platform and found her way to the open hatch at the bottom of the Tychorion. Madine followed the movements of the ship on a nearby monitor. As soon as the ship drifted into space the pilot ignited the ion-drive and accelerated the speed. Within minutes the ship vanished into hyperspace.
To be continued...