Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights:
The Re-Genesis Trap

by Arc McBride
The Next Generation

Time: One week since "Return to Ord Mantell"

As The Young Jedi and Arc prepare for the birth of Tenel Ka's sister, someone from Arc's past appears, setting up a plan to kill him and the Young Jedi Knights. But Arc isn't ready to let that happen just yet. And in the midst of all this, something happens to Jaina that no one expected.....


Jaina looked out the Lightning Rod's viewport at the immense, black, cruel ship ahead of the three ships. She readied the weapons systems on the Lightning Rod.

WolvenBlaze, carrying Arc and Lowie, blasted towards the behemoth ahead of them.

"Arc, what the hell do you think you're doing?!" Jacen cried out over the comm aboard Rock Dragon, carrying with it him, Tenel Ka, Tenel Ka's father, Isolder, and mother, Teneniel, who was having several contractions. "You can't take that thing alone!"

Arc ignored Jacen's question to dodge a laser blast from the ship's port bow. "Get Teneniel down there. I'm going to try to draw the ship's attention from you."

"But-" Jaina started.

"This ship is quantum armored. Yours is not. Go!" Arc cut her off. Lowie armed the proton torpedoes. Arc fired a blast at the Super Star Destroyer's bridge, causing a blinding flash.

"--Hapan rulers, this is Sergeant Crun'to of the Imperial Star Destroyer Black Soul. Surrender your ships and passengers immediately or your ships will be taken.--," a voice crackled over the intercom.

Lowie fired the proton torpedoes at the shield generator, causing minimal damage but catching the Star Destroyer's attention.

Arc grabbed the intercom. "Black Soul, you have violated Lycothian rule number 426, section 9A, article 5: attempted terrorism on the Hapan government. If you persist, your vehicle will be destroyed and all survivors will be sentenced to 15 standard years in a Lycothian prison. If you are a regular human, you don't want to know how many of your years that will be."

Another voice, female, buzzed over the intercom. "--Exactly 75.8 years, with a slight chance of parole in 20 years if you show signs of improvement.--"

Arc was shocked. "Do you have a Lycothian, perhaps an Undirian on your ship?" he asked.

"--Lycothian--," the voice snarled. "--Brother dear--."

At that instant, Jacen shuddered for no reason.

Arc's eyes narrowed. He armed two certain torpedoes located on the horizontal fins at the rear of the WolvenBlaze.

"Arc, who the hell is that?" Zekk asked.

"Guys, turn around, get to another planet. "I expect you out of this system in one standard minute. Do not under any circumstances hesitate,"Arc said, and motioned for Lowie to fasten his crash webbing hard.

"Arc, what are you going to do?" Jaina asked.

No answer.

Then Lowie growled over the comm, telling them that in one minute, Arc would fire seven unusually powerful proton torpedoes on Black Soul's bridge, causing an extremely powerful explosion equal to a suicide dive from a Star Destroyer.

"What? Why?!" Tenel Ka demanded.

"I'm feeding you the coordinates to a safe location. We'll meet you there," Arc said, oblivious to Tenel Ka's question.

A set of hyperspace coordinates and a password came on their screens.

"When you get there, give them the password and tell them your mother is giving birth, Tenel Ka, and that I specifically requested guards around lookout posts 4, 5, and 8. Go now," Arc said, and flipped off the comm.

WolvenBlaze moved to an offensive position, and plunged towards Black Soul.

Zekk veered Lightning Rod around to the direction the coordinates were set in. Rock Dragon moved to the same direction.

The radar aboard Lightning Rod suddenly started beeping uncontrollably. Jaina took a glance at it.

"Uh-oh."

"What?" Zekk asked.

"There's two small Star Destroyers and five big ones coming out of hyperspace right behind Arc and Lowie!" Jaina declared.

Just then, Arc fired his torpedoes.

Zekk and Jacen almost at once hit lightspeed, moments before the first missile hit.

Aboard Rock Dragon, Teneniel Djo was gasping and crying out in pain. Isolder and Tenel Ka were by her bedside.

Jacen walked up to them from the cockpit. "We've got about four minutes before we reach the place Arc told us to go. Is she gonna make it?" he asked.

Teneniel stopped yelling for the moment, but kept gasping for breath. "I'll," she gasped, "be..fine."

Jacen sat down by Tenel Ka. "You okay?" he asked.

Tenel Ka shook her head. "I always thought I could trust her. I didn't expect her to turn on me," she said, referring to her grandmother, Ta'a Chume, who had betrayed them on Hapes and had been killed in the confusion.

"I'm sorry," Jacen said, placing an arm on her shoulder. He quickly changed the subject. "Where do you think Arc is sending us?" he asked.

Tenel Ka shook her head. "I don't know. He said a safe location, but safe from what?"

"Maybe whatever was on that ship. The person on it said Arc was her brother, but Uncle Luke said Arc's sister was dead," Jacen said.

"He never exactly said she was dead. He said Arc lost his sister. Perhaps he meant lost to the Dark Side," Tenel Ka said.

"Whatever the reason, there was something on that ship Arc didn't want us to see," Jacen noted. "Didn't you feel it?" Tenel Ka shook her head.

"I felt something on the SSD, something that was stronger with the Dark Side than anything I've ever felt before, and it wasn't the girl who was talking to Arc," Jacen said. "It was so strong, I thought it was the Dark Side itself."

Teneniel cried out again.

Jacen heard a beeping in the Rock Dragon's cockpit. "Look's like we're coming up on Arc's place," he said, and walked into the cockpit with Tenel Ka.

Aboard Lightning Rod, Jaina and Zekk cut the lightspeed engines. Rock Dragon soon took shape again. The stars materialized, and a green, lush planet appeared on the scopes in front of them.

"Whoa," Jaina said. "It's beautiful..."

"Yeah....beautiful," Zekk said, but he wasn't looking at the planet.

A laser blast shot clean past the Lightning Rod's cockpit, catching their attention.

"--This is Lycothian Planetary Guard Unit #36. Please enter the correct password and prepare for analyzation,--" a voice crackled.

Jaina and Zekk were caught off guard for a minute. Jaina regained control and typed in the password.

A thin buzz lasted a second, then the voice said, "--Both passwords acknowledged. State your business.--"

Zekk grabbed the comm. "We need help. We have a pregnant woman on one ship, and Arc sent us here, and he requested guards on lookout posts 4, 5, and I think 8."

"--Arc? LORD Arc sent you here?--" the voice asked.

"Yes, he sent us here. Megator attacked-" Jaina started, but the guard again cut them off.

"--Megator?! Oh, damn it all to hell! Quickly, land at Docking Bay 28 and fill us in. We'll take the pregnant woman and get her to the palace infirmary immediately, but land, now!--"

Rock Dragon shot down immediately following the message. Lightning Rod followed close behind.

Jaina looked out the viewports. Lycoth, she presumed, was a lush jungle world. Several bogs and marshes darkened in the distance, but for the most part, all she could see was fresh, beautiful jungles.

She looked up ahead. There was a large city in the clearing, but it was dwarfed by the giant palace in the center of it. Two small moons were visible, but the giant moon on the other side was not yet visible. The palace looked much like the Imperial Palace on Coruscant, but was covered with a bright emerald surface. Four large towers were at every corner...

...along with gun turrets and lookout towers. In the center was a massive structure containing many docking bays. One said "28- Armored".

"Do you think that's where they want us to land?" Jacen asked over the comm.

"I don't see any other docking bays that say 28. I guess so," Jaina replied.

Rock Dragon touched down first in the docking bay as it opened. Lightning Rod landed beside it. The bays closed with an armored clang.

Jacen and Isolder stepped out first, carrying Teneniel on a stretcher. Tenel Ka followed close behind.

They were greeted by medics who carried Teneniel into a room by the docking bay. Tenel Ka, Jacen, and Isolder followed them.

Zekk, Jacen, Jaina, and Raynar were greeted by a man in gray robes and a red belt with a lightsaber clipped to it. He looked 40, but they knew he was much older than that if he was Lycothian. Around him were military personnel

"Greetings, fellow Jedi. I am Draak, Monarch of the planet Lycoth. I understand you were sent here by my son, Arc," he said.

"Arc's your son?" Jacen asked.

"Last time I checked, he was," he said.

"Uh, allow us to introduce ourselves," Raynar said. "I am Raynar Thul. These are Jacen Solo, Jaina Solo, and Zekk. The people you saw go in are Tenel Ka, King Isolder, and Queen Teneniel of Hapes."

"We have another companion, Lowbacca, but he's with Arc right now," Jaina told the man.

"I heard you say `Megator' over the comm. Has he harmed anyone?" Draak asked worriedly.

"He killed several Hapan guards on Hapes, but Arc stopped him before he could hurt anyone else," Zekk replied.

"Damn. Where is he now?" Draak asked.

"Arc handed him over to the Hapans to drop off on the next uninhabited place," Jaina said.

"On a ship?" Draak asked.

"I would think so," Jaina said.

"Was he tied or restrained in any way?" Draak asked.

"I don't think so," Jacen replied.

"Oh, no."

On the Hapan cruiser Nova Blast, the guards kept their eyes on Megator's unconscious form, putting their guns to the KILL position.

Megator suddenly stopped breathing.

One of the guards jabbed at him with his boot. "Guys, maybe we should give him some adrenalin."

"How much?" one guard asked.

"Just a little, like two quarts," the guard suggested.

The guard injected a large dose of the liquid into Megator's bloodstream, though his hide was tough to penetrate at first.

After a while, Megator resumed breathing.

Then he woke up.

He got up and roared in rage. He slashed his arm at the nearest guard, cleaving him in four separate pieces.

The guards kept shooting, but to no avail, as Megator soon turned his attention on them.

"Damn it, if Megator gets control of a Hapan cruiser, there's no telling what he could do," Draak said.

Jaina seemed confused. "What's the big deal? Can't you just blow him up?" she asked.

"Easily, but that's not the point," Draak said.

"Then what is?" Jacen asked.

"Megator has the ability to drain energy. If he drains the Hapan cruiser of all its energy, he'll be able to shield himself from any blast, even an atomic," Draak said.

"What? How? No shield could withstand that big a blast," Zekk said.

"Megator can magnify his strength and power more than 200% above that of an Eclipse-class Star Destroyer's shields. It's a temporary ability, but it can last more than a day on Lycoth," Draak replied.

"How long is that to a regular human?" Jaina asked.

"About two weeks," Draak said.

"Great. But why does he want to kill Teneniel?" Jacen asked.

"Have you heard of the Omega?" Draak asked.

"Arc told us about them. They're a highly trained ring of assassins, aren't they?" Zekk asked.

"Correct. Their prime weapons are DarkStar, Tyrant, and Megator, all bioweapons of immense power."

"Wait a minute," Jaina said. "You're sayin' that there's two more of these things out there?"

"Unfortunately, yes. DarkStar is Megator's mate. Tyrant is simply another of their race," Draak said.

"And where does Anja Gallandro fit in all this?" Zekk asked.

"Anja Gallandro? Who is she?"

"We thought Anja was our friend, but she attacked Arc on Hapes," Jaina said.

"Monarch!" a soldier came running up to Draak. "We've just spotted a small Hapan fighter coming in at Area 13, the Medical Hall! It's going to attack!"

"Megator?" Draak asked.

"No. It doesn't contain Megator. We did a biohazard check. No signal, sir," he said.

"Then who is it?" Draak pondered.

"Wait," Jaina said. "I think I have an idea who."

"Anja," Zekk said.

"Yeah. Can you track the source?" she asked.

"It seems to have come from Hapes itself," the soldier replied.

"Now I know it's her," Jaina said. "Could you attack it with planetary defenses?"

"We have special gun turrets on the lookout towers," the soldier said.

"I'd like to give it a shot," Jaina said.

"At what?" Zekk asked.

"The gun turrets, what else?" she said.

"Well, if you're going, I'm gonna go," Jacen said.

"Count me in," Zekk said.

"I'm there," Raynar stated.

Jaina walked up into the top of the tower. At the top, she found a shielded viewport, a gun turret on the outside, completely charged.

She sat in the gunwell and took the controls. The tower shifted to reveal Anja's stolen fighter, blasting at a large structure in the palace.

A voice crackled in her comm. "She's comin' in too fast!" Raynar said.

Jaina fired a blast at the fighter once it came into her sights. The aqua beams nicked Anja's fighter in the twin moonlight.

Anja fired at Zekk's tower. Zekk fired, missed.

Jacen fired in unison with Raynar, the blasts hammering Anja's shields. Jaina fired multiple shots, concentrated on Anja's thermal exhaust port, attempting to ignite it.

One shot grazed the port, causing Anja to turn her attention on Jaina's tower. She fired her proton torpedoes.

Jaina shot at the weapons with her turret, blowing them up in mid-air.

Anja yelled a war-cry over the comm, diving at Jacen's tower in a suicide dive.

Jacen fired shots left and right, heavily damaging Anja's craft, but not destroying it.

Suddenly, a blast hit Anja's engine, veering it out of control. But the blast had come from a starfighter, not a tower.

"That was for betraying us," Tenel Ka spat over the comm.

"Tenel Ka!" Jacen yelled out in recognition. "Weren't you in the medic lab?"

"I heard that Anja had attacked, so I requested a fighter to help out," Tenel Ka said.

"Well, you certainly achieved your goal. You saved Jacen's butt!" Jaina said over the comm.

"Hey, I think I could have roasted Anja's ass by myself, you know!" Jacen said.

"Yeah, along with your own!" Zekk said teasingly.

"I hate to break up this reunion, but look out!" Raynar cried out over the comm.

Anja moved to attack Tenel Ka's fighter. She fired a pair of homing missiles, then another pair.

Tenel Ka dodged them, but they kept on her tail coming in at tremendous speed. One missile slammed into another, causing a powerful explosion that rocked the fighter.

Anja blasted at Tenel Ka's fighter with a turbolaser that damaged the fighter's starboard engine.

"Say good night, brat!" Anja snarled over the comm. "Huh? What the-AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Two sharp missiles punctured Anja's fighter, destroying it utterly. She barely had time to eject before her arm blew off, along with the fighter.

A tractor beam drew in the homing missiles on Tenel Ka's tail, then two lasers blew them up at a safe distance.

The WolvenBlaze.

It looked like it had taken some damage on its port bow and the cockpit had been damaged heavily, but it was still space-worthy.

"Arc! Lowie!" Jaina cried out over the comm. "You guys okay?"

"Yeah, we're okay. The ambush wasn't as bad as it looked. Lowie took shrapnel to the knee, and I got a blow on the head, but otherwise we're fine." Lowie growled an agreement.

"Anja got loose, and we don't know where Megator is," Zekk said over the comm.

"I had a feeling not to let those Hapans guard him, but the SSD was a bigger threat," Arc said.

"Why? What was on it, anyway?" Jaina asked.

"Mandaeus, in the cargo bay. I couldn't destroy it. The ISD's covered it pretty well," Arc said regretfully. "I was sure that those torpedoes would do the job, but the ship got away."

"Arc, who else was on that ship?" Jacen asked.

"I'd rather not say. Right now, I think Teneniel's going to need her entire family with her," Arc said.

"I agree. Let's go," Tenel Ka said.

They all met in the docking bay. Tenel Ka and Jacen briefly exchanged hugs, then they went into the medic labs.

Teneniel was crying out in pain. The time was very near.

"I need you to push, my queen, push!" a female doctor said.

"Aaaahhhhh!!!!!" Teneniel cried, pushing with all her might. Tenel Ka and Isolder held her hands.

"I can see the head," the doctor said. The other doctors administered a pain-killer to Teneniel.

Then, suddenly, the door flew open. A military officer walked in. "He's here. Megator arrived on the planet just a minute ago," he said.

Arc drew his lightsaber. "We're not running anymore. She's got to give birth here. Evacuate the main hall of the palace. I'm going to draw his attention, but keep it quiet," he said to Isolder and Tenel Ka.

"I'm coming, too," Jaina said. "I wanna piece of him for what he tried to do to Teneniel. Also, you don't look like you can handle that thing yourself."

"Did a pretty good job last time," Arc stated. "Okay, but watch your back. He could be anywhere."

As they walked out the door, Zekk stopped Jaina. "Listen, be careful. That thing is unpredictable, so please don't do anything foolish," he said.

Jaina squeezed his hand. "I won't."

As they made their way through the palace, they heard a loud crash in the main hall. Arc jerked his head in the direction it had come from.

"Is it him?" Jaina asked.

"I don't know, I didn't hear any blasts. You'd think someone would have at least fired a shot," Arc replied.

"How did you come to know Megator, Arc?" Jaina asked.

"I was tracking down an Omega assassin on Dagobah when he disappeared. I didn't realize it was a trap until Megator got the jump on me. Got busted up pretty bad. Megator was no different. Then DarkStar and Tyrant jumped me from behind. I fought them off, got into WolvenBlaze and went to an Undirian medic frigate," Arc said. "It just happened to be passing by."

"And the person on the Black Soul?" Jaina asked.

Arc drew a deep breath, then let it out. "The shell that was once my sister, Isis," Arc said. Jaina asked no more questions after that statement.

Then there was another loud crash, this time followed by yells and a blast.

Arc grabbed Jaina's hand and pulled her behind a wall. He peeked behind the wall, gripping his lightsaber.

He saw Megator in the clearing, ripping a guard apart sadistically. Arc snarled under his breath. Jaina tried to grab her saber, but it slipped.

The lightsaber clattered onto the floor loudly.

Megator snapped up his head, grinning evilly.

He galloped to the wall, looked behind it...

..and found nothing.

Megator was shocked. "What the..."

Suddenly, Arc crashed into Megator's back, igniting his lightsaber. He swung the crimson beam onto Megator's head, slicing it open. Jaina jumped down from the wall where she and Arc had jumped at the last minute. She ignited her electric violet beam and slashed at Megator's cheek.

Megator howled in pain. Blood splurted from the vulnerable areas. Arc grabbed him by the waist from behind and threw him over his head, slamming Megator's weight onto his diaphragm.

Megator coughed and slammed into Arc, sending him flying backwards. He grabbed Jaina and flung her aside.

"Out of my way. My bone's with him," Megator said.

Jaina snorted. "Afraid to hit a girl?" Jaina said, assuming a battle stance.

Megator flared. "Afraid?! I fear nothi-oof!"

Arc slammed into his back, catching him off guard.

"Your arrogance is your weakness," Arc said.

Megator roared. "Your faith in your friends is yours."

"Don't give me that Palpatine crap, you oversized heap of bantha dung," Arc said.

Enraged, Megator punched Arc across the jaw. Arc ignored the blow and grabbed Megator's knee. He squeezed it with all his might, making a sickening crack.

Megator cried out in pain, then savagely tore into Arc's chest with his mammoth claws.

Jaina kicked Megator's head hard. Megator grunted, grabbed Jaina, and flung her into a wall.

Megator grabbed Arc by the throat hard and choked. Arc kicked his stomach hard and pounded on his head, but Megator raised him up, undaunted.

Arc gasped for air, but got none. He tried firing a blast from his forearm and drawing on the Force to pull up his lightsaber and tried to stab Megator, but to no avail. Megator gleamed wickedly.

Red foam flickered against Arc's teeth and drooled out of his open mouth, and his eyes slowly started to roll into the back of his head...

Jaina slammed into Megator's back, causing Megator to drop Arc. Arc drew in a fresh breath of oxygen and rolled onto his side.

Jaina struggled frantically with Megator, but he cut open her shoulder. Jaina screamed in pain.

Arc climbed up onto Megator's back and sank his teeth into the back of Megator's neck, digging into his spine.

Megator cried out in pain, reached behind him, and clawed open his back. Arc remained focused, his teeth stained with blood.

Megator drew out a large needle from his boot. "Drop dead," he said, and plunged the needle deep, deep into Arc's side, drawing blood.

Megator slammed Arc's head on top of his, stunning Arc temporarily.

He turned to Jaina, getting to her feet. He injected the blood into her bloodstream, just above her thigh.

Arc slowly drew a large vibro-blade from his boot...

Jaina at once began to feel sick. She dropped to the floor, clutching her stomach in nausea.

Megator stood triumphantly. "Two Jedi down in one day. I'm feeling proud of mysel-AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Arc stuck the vibro-blade into the wound in Megator's neck and dug out his spine, tearing it open. "Feel proud of that," Arc spat. Blood poured from Megator's back.

Megator was paralyzed from the neck down. He slumped to the floor in a bloody heap.

Arc lifted Jaina up. "It hurts...oh, god, it hurts!" Jaina yowled.

Arc looked back at the needle. He picked it up. The realization dawned on him. "Megator, you sadistic bastard!" He ran, carrying her, into the medic labs.

"Something's wrong," Zekk said. "Don't you think we should have heard from them by now?"

Teneniel cried out again in pain.

"I got an arm! The arm is out!" the doctor said.

Jacen shook his head. "It's only been ten minutes, Zekk. I don't think they've finished drawing him away."

Zekk ran his hand through his hair. "Well, I'm going to go look for `em. Won't be hard to find if they're still fighting. I'll be right back."

He walked out the door and looked to his right, towards the main hall. He started towards it.

He walked in and saw Megator, unmoving, on the floor, half-dead, in a pool of blood.

He cautiously walked towards Megator, holding a long metal pipe. He jabbed Megator with it. Megator did not move.

He saw a trail of scattered blood leading off in another direction. He prayed it wasn't Jaina's.

He followed it until he found a hall. On the right was a sign: MEDIC LABS AHEAD.

He ran down it until the trail of blood ended at a doorstep. He walked in.

Arc was in there, bleeding as if he'd been in a fight with a krayt dragon. Jaina was hooked up to a I.V. tube, unconscious.

"Jaina!" he cried. "What happened?"

Arc coughed. "Megator transplanted my DNA into hers. She'll be okay. I- how'd you find us?"

"I followed the trail of blood outside, presumably yours," Zekk said.

"Am I bleeding that bad?" he asked.

"Worse," Zekk replied.

"Anyway, I hooked her up to this machine and gave her a painkiller," Arc said.

"What's wrong with her?" Zekk asked.

"My DNA wasn't the only thing transplanted into her. Megator also got a sperm sample from me. He injected it into her-well, you get the idea," Arc said.

"So, this means?" Zekk asked.

"I did a test on her. She's pregnant."

Zekk's mouth gaped open. "P-pregnant? Does that mean that in nine months-"

"More like nine days," Arc said, "hours, even."

"It's growing that fast?" Zekk asked.

"DNA from Lycothians has been known to produce offspring faster than that of any creature in the universe. When it entered her bloodstream, it instantly created a child," Arc said.

"But why? Why would Megator want to do that?" Zekk asked.

"One of the many, many questions I'm gonna ask him before I hang his dead carcass out to dry,"Arc said.

"Will she be in any pain?" Zekk asked.

"No, but something disturbs me about this child," Arc said.

"What?" Zekk asked.

"Why me?" Arc said. "Megator must have had a reason to do this, and usually, when he wants something, it's for some sinister purpose."

"Do you think that, maybe, Megator wants this child?" Zekk asked.

"I think he wants to turn it," Arc said.

"Why? He could turn any Force-strong child that's a year old. Why does he want this one?" Zekk asked again.

"He wants all of my abilities. Strength, speed, blasts, and above all, Force abilities 200 times greater than the Emperor ever possessed," Arc said.

"I can see why he would want it, but also, why Jaina?" Zekk asked.

Jaina suddenly groaned and rolled over on her left side. Arc looked at her life monitor. It wavered, then returned to normal.

"Great. She's not strong enough to get through this thing," Arc said.

"What will we do then?" Zekk asked.

"When she gives birth, we'll have to use Force abilities to strengthen her," Arc said.

"How do we do that? I'm not a Jedi healer or anything like that," Zekk said.

"You don't have to be. Just concentrate on Jaina and be calm. Feel the Force wash over to her from you," Arc said.

Jaina groaned louder this time.

"The others are with Teneniel. I'll go tell them," Zekk said.

"I'll monitor her condition, but watch Megator. Alert the guards about him," Arc said.

"Why? He's practically dead!" Zekk said. "He's lying in a pool of blood."

"If Megator has absorbed energy from a Hapan cruiser, he'll be able to magnify his healing process 200%, meaning he can replace the nerves in his back and heal entirely in less than an hour," Arc stated.

"Crap. Well, I'll go tell the others about this and warn them about Megator. Don't let anything more happen to her. Please," Zekk said.

"I won't take my eyes off her. Go," Arc said.

Zekk walked over to the door and pulled the doorknob-

-just in time to see Anja point a blaster at his head.

"Did you-" she coughed, "really think...you could get (cough) rid of me that...easily?!"

She was badly hurt. Her right arm, from hand to shoulder blade, was completely destroyed. In its place was a cooling mass of tar, making a neat stub where her arm had been. Her head was gashed on all sides. Worst of all, she was covered with third-degree burns. Her leg had gotten the worst of it. Even the tibia was exposed.

Arc never took his eyes off Jaina. "Shouldn't you be in the infirmary?" he asked.

"Shut up! Get in the corner!" Anja shouted.

Zekk made his way to the corner. Arc did not.

"Get in the corner, damn it!" she demanded, pointing the weapon at him.

Arc jerked his head towards Anja's blaster. In the blink of an eye, twin narrow, orange cutting beams shot out of his eyes, slicing off the barrel of Anja's weapon.

Anja pulled the trigger a second too late. She dropped the useless weapon to the floor and ignited her lightsaber.

"I wouldn't do that. At your current condition, using your strength to attack us would put a great strain on you, possibly a fatal one," Arc said.

Anja growled. "Could I possibly...use one of your (cough) medical droids?" she pleaded.

Arc narrowed his eyes. "Yes, you may. But Zekk will have to accompany you," he said. Zekk stared at him. "What?" he asked.

Arc unholstered his blaster and handed it to Zekk. "Take this. Go left, up the hall, and look to the left. There's a medical lab on the side. After you get her there, tell the guards about Megator and Anja. Then you can go tell the others about Jaina. "

Zekk nodded and took the gun. He and Anja made their way out.

When the door was shut, Arc turned and looked at her life monitor again. Still normal.

He sighed and sat in a chair. How could he have let this happen? He was responsible for this. He should have ended Megator's life years ago. At least then he would have only two creatures to worry about.

Then something hit him. Megator had been the size of a full-grown rancor on Hapes. The one he'd just fought wasn't even half the size of a rancor.

Had he just fought two Megators in one day?

He made sure Jaina was okay. He walked out the door carefully and ran to where Megator was.

When he got there, he walked over to Megator's unmoving body.

He turned the creature on its back. He looked in the eyes of the being.

They'd rolled over. This Megator was dead!

This couldn't have been the one he'd fought on Hapes. No, Megator certainly would never allow himself to be killed so easily.

A child, maybe? An infant would certainly be weaker, but he ruled that out. This Megator did not have the features of a child. Also, this Megator was as strong as the one on Hapes. No, there was only one possibility.

A clone.

A small clone, but a clone nonetheless. But how? The Empire was tottering on the brink of annihilation, controlling only a few systems, none of which having the abilities or manufacturing supplies to create cloning cylinders or factories.

He ran back to the medic room which held Jaina. He had some thinking to do.

The vast moon of Endor shined below the bridge of the Black Soul. The Star Destroyers surrounding it added to the terror the fleet displayed.

Isis smiled at one of the Victory-class Star Destroyers, the Grim Glory. It was the most powerful of her Victory Star Destroyers, being a Mark-II Victory Destroyer. Her other Victory, Darkstorm, was used as a supply vessel. It held her private and most deadly assassin, Russk, a Trandoshan.

The strongest Imperial-classes, IceBurn, Red Giant, DragonFlight, Cyclops, and Captain Kug's flagship, Avenger, were all the latest in the Empire.

What had once been the Empire.

Looking 16, Isis found officers chuckling when her commanders and generals bowed to her on deck.

They had been punished severely.

Isis was 319 years old, far older than anyone on deck. How dare they laugh at her?

If only she could convince Daala to come out of retirement. Pellaeon wouldn't join her. He was losing faith in the Empire rapidly.

That would change very soon.

She spun around and started to her chambers, her black cape flowing like a dark thranta. She ran her fingers along her lightsaber, stroking its ridges.

Officers and stormtroopers saluted her in the hallway in fear. She retained her stony expression, but in her mind, she smiled. Her fire-red eyes spotted her quarters.

When she was in her chamber, she closed the entrance and ran her fingers through her golden hair. Her fleet was small. Her officers were clumsy and dimwitted. She felt like a female Darth Vader in a small Death Squadron.

She walked over to the north wall in her chambers. A switch was positioned there.

She gladly pulled it, revealing a hidden passageway. She walked down the entrance, which led to the cargo bay.

The cargo bay opened as wide as a black hole's mouth. The cargo boxes carried thousands upon thousands of weapons and interrogation drugs. Several droids walked about, carrying tools for constructing fighters.

She went over to a door on the side of the wall. She drew a key card from her belt and slipped it into a slot on the side of the door. A green light lit up on the mechanism, and the door slid open.

Inside was a medical droid treating a man on a table. A light shone brightly above his unmoving form. At the far side of the wall was a jewel on a stand.

Isis walked over to the table. "How is he?" she asked the medic droid.

"His neck injury is slowly healing, but he is still comatose and the carotid artery is still damaged. It may take another year," the droid said.

"That's what you said ten years ago. What is really wrong with him?" Isis asked.

The medic droid made a sound that Isis guessed could only be a sigh. "The knife the Noghri used on him had a poison on it that would keep him from fully recovering. There is no cure for it."

Isis ran her hand angrily through her hair. "Mandaeus!"she yelled.

Instantly, the jewel on the stand let loose a volt of energy, and with a dark roar, Mandaeus materialized in an image that looked like a black, swirling reaper.

"Mandaeus, he has a poison in him. Can you heal him?" Isis asked.

The image moved over the comatose patient.

"Well?" Isis asked again.

The being's answer came out like a deep, echoing rasp. "Yes."

Isis sighed. "How long?"

"A few minutes," Mandaeus said. A black aura seemed to seep into the neck of the wounded man. Isis held her breath for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally, Mandaeus said, "Done," and the neck wound completely sealed up. The medic droid did a scan on the patient.

"How is he now?" Isis asked.

"The poison is gone. The carotid artery is completely functional. Now it's just a matter of reviving him," the droid said.

Isis sighed in relief. "Thank heavens they just decided to bury him, or otherwise we never could have hijacked the coffin."

Mandaeus chuckled evilly. "I especially savored watching those guards die in such pain and agony. Too bad they didn't want to join us."

"It was worth it," Isis said. "Soon Grand Admiral Thrawn will rise again and lead the remnants of the Empire to victory."

To Be Continued.

*1998 by Arc McBride


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