"Well that was a lot of work." Grumbled Han as the stargate was pulled upright. The rebels had chosen to forgo erecting any structures identifiable from orbit and had instead excavated, and shored up several of the ruins. The gate room was among the first to be restored, though sadly, the crystals that made up the ancient database had long since crumbled into fragments. Starbuck remained optimistic that somewhere further in the ruins an operational remnant would be found, Han had little interest in it though. In his opinion, the greatest weapon the Rebels would have had been with them the whole time. "We brought the thing for a tour of the galaxy and it ended up right back where we started."
"Well despite appearances we've come a long way." Starbuck replied wanly, "It wasn't too long ago you were pointing a blaster at me and stealing drones."
"Stealing is an ugly word." Deadpanned Han. "Look just because we had a moment back there, let's not get all mushy here." Starbuck rolled his eyes.
"You know Han, there's a reasonable explanation for that." Starbuck said dryly. Han started to shake his head, "No, listen, there is. You've never had a touch of the Force have you, you've never had much use for it."
"Look, all I know, is there's no all powerful energy guiding life, not my life." Han said tiredly, "I've made my own luck, I always have. I get by just fine."
"Fair enough." Starbuck acknowledged, "But you've always been a damn good judge of character haven't you Han, you've always gotten yourself out of scrapes, one way or another, and you're a little better than the average pilot aren't you."
"But that's not the force!" Han protested, "It's me, just plain old Corellian me. Besides," he added, "Even if it was the Force, that's all gone now."
"Maybe it is," Starbuck said evasively, "But that's not what I'm getting at." he leaned idly on a console as he spoke. "Now, I'm no expert, but I have a pretty keen insight for these kind of things, as a result of being ascended, there's a lot of knowledge in here, I can't quite... pull out, but the ideas are there." he tapped his temple, "My idea is, there's more to using the Force than meets the eye."
"You think?" Han demanded.
"Well look, the Force itself... that's a different plane of existence, right. and the metachalorinates, midi-chlorines, they're tiny, living beings descended from the femtobots that cultivated life in this galaxy." Starbuck continued, trying not to lose the Corellian's attention, though the man was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. "They are present in everything in this galaxy right? But not everything died when that death wave passed through the galaxy. So?"
"So?" Han echoed turning to go.
"So you heard that buzzing sound didn't you. In Yoda's chamber, you heard the buzzing noise the lizards were making." Starbuck pressed, Han was walking now towards the technicians, intent on finding something better to do than listen to the man following him.
"So what kid, lizards make noise." Han growled.
"But they don't!" Starbuck exclaimed, stopping the man, "Those lizards weren't really making a sound! Yoda heard it, and sure, I know, it doesn't need to be said." Said Starbuck gesturing towards his own ears as Han opened his mouth, "Because I heard it too. Ackbar and Wedge couldn't though, I asked them after."
"So big deal." Han said, "What do buzzing lizards have to do with me?"
"The buzzing wasn't sound Han, it was the resonance of a disturbance in the force, it was, a shadow." Starbuck explained, "I can sense it because I have an advanced awareness of this plane of existance, because of the time I spent living on another, I would bet you a million cubits yoda could hear it because he was once so in tune with the Force, but the point is that you could hear it too. Do yous ee what this means?"
"Not even remotely." Han said, yet he remained standing where he was, at the base of the steps leading to the Stargate.
"It means, you probably have the physiological ability to sense, or use the force, you've got the mind for it Han, you are just utterly closed to the idea of it. You could have gone your whole life without noticing it Han, but when the Force disappeared, it was the absence
that heightened your awareness. Like, not realizing it had gotten dark, until you turned on a light." Starbuck told him, "All that luck, and skin of your teeth skill, there's something there Han, you're a more..." he searched for the right term, "Evolved level of humanity. " Han scoffed.
"You know you sound a lot like the old empire." he accused Starbuck as he climbed the steps, "'Humanity is more evolved than aliens', and all that."
"Well so what, evolution doesn't make someone better." Starbuck argued, "I knew a guy who could pop his arm out of his socket and back in, that didn't make him a nice guy, just a good wrestler."
"Why does any of this matter anymore?" Demanded Han, rounding on him, "The force is dead, all those wizards and their craziness are gone."
"Well it doesn't exactly." Starbuck said faltering at last as he saw in Han's eyes, a hunger for far more meaning than he could provide, "I'm just saying some of what was going on back on the Star Defender was because of the noise. It's like how a daggit hears a high pitched whine and goes crazy, we could hear that noise on an unconcious level and it was kind of getting to us all, is all." Han gave him an incredulous look.
"Well hey," said Han throwing up his arms in a profoundly sarcastic gesture of gratitude, "Thanks for the insight, let's all just hug."
"Coreascendant a the logical place for a hidden base, if so few remember its location." Continued Starbuck, choosing to return to Han's earlier comments, "A good palce to set up the Stargate if we can find others to connect it to. It's a little too close to the action for my tastes though, given hyperdrive speeds in this galaxy, I have some ideas about a fallback option. It never hurts to be prepared."
"I imagine that's what those are for." Wedge chimed in wryly pointing at the explosives being positioned nearby, "Once we get this thing running its our escape route and booby trap."
"Especially if the Empire manages to trace your little connect signal." Retorted Han, "Personally though, first sign of trouble I'm making for the Falcon, I trust that heap a whole lot more than I trust some dusty ring. This whole business of tearing a guy apart shooting him through a wormhole and trying to put him back together on the other side? Thanks I'll do it the old fashioned way." There was a sudden pause in activity around them, and Han clamped his mouth shut.
"That's... a great attitude for a General..." Said Wedge awkwardly glancing around at the suddenly nervous looking technicians. Han shot a glare at them and they suddenly found things to do.
"Technically the stargates have been around longer than your style of hyper drive" Starbuck pointed out, "I don't see what your so worried about Han, you don't seem like the kind of guy whose lacking in courage."
"Jumping through that thing ain't my idea of courage." Declared Han stolidly, but this time, more quietly, "It's more like… suicide."
"A unique presence in the force, the clones once had." Joined in Yoda as he hobbled over, "Wonder I do, if such a footprint one would gain, from traveling through this device?"
"See, the little guy sees what I mean." Said Han, "It's not "you" on the other side, it's a copy."
"Coming from a man who scorns all that "hokey religion" that sounds pretty superstitious." Starbuck pointed out, "You'd have to acknowledge that the force exists, first of all." He teased.
Han shot him a dark look.
"I've seen what the Force can do kid, for years I tried not to think about it." He stared at the gate towering over them, nervously. "Like you said we've come a long way."
"Well I'm not a clone." Said Starbuck. He jabbed a finger in his chest. "I think therefore I am, and I am, and I am, and I am..." Chewie who had been silent thus far chuckled.
"Alright laugh it up..." Han began, but was interrupted.
"Captain Starbuck!" called Admiral Ackbar descending the newly rebuilt staircase from the upper levels of the gate room, "My technicians tell me, we have been unable to access the city's mainframe nor any of the back up nodes, it seems the seismic activity has over time damaged the silicon based storage devices the Ancients used."
"Frakking crystals looked pretty, but they always seemed a little flimsy to me." Grumbled Starbuck, "Keep searching admiral, the system was incredibly redundant, if you can find any operating fragments you should be able to restore most of it. In the mean time lets get a better look at this gate." He strode up the ramp to the gate and knelt at its base. With Chewie's help he slid the inner ring to a specific position and as the inner aligned with the outer, he reached through a depression and slid back a panel. Beckoning Artoo over he gestured.
"Alright little buddy, there is an alternating current running off this contact. If you can figure out the language you should be able to interface."
Artoo gave a confident beep and extended a probe . There was an awkward moment when it became apparent that Artoo's probe was both too short and inflexible. Han snickered, and Starbuck shot him a dirty look. Artoo blatted at the heckling and oriented his trunk severely downwards, aligning the probe with the hole. There was a spark causing the droid to draw back suddenly. han smirked at Starbuck, who looked pointedly elsewhere, but before Han could make a comment, Artoo gave an excited whistle.
"We're in business admiral!" Starbuck called, the droid chattered excitedly "Artoo is retrieving destination/point of origin records, the Stargate only connects to the network when it is active, so there have probably been updates, but we can get a general idea of what gates were where when this thing was last used." he gave Han a smug glance, "No need to send any signals yet Han, you can relax."
"Uh huh. Chewie, keep your hands free, we might need to make a run for it." Solo shot back.
"Very well captain, but do not activate the Stargate under any circumstances." Ackbar ordered, unable to hear the banter from a distance. "We do not wish this location to be identified as having an active Stargate."
"You got it sir." Starbuck replied musing at how easily he fell into military protocol, he hand't been particularly reverent as a Warrior. He glanced up at Yoda who peered inquisitively at Artoo. "We can't activate it anyway, the formation of the event horizon would take my head off and disintegrate Artoo and yourself." He grinned. The little Jedi took a step back and Artoo squealed voicing a concern. "Hey don't worry!" Starbuck answered, "There would be plenty of warning, if the gate started up I'd just yank the control crystal. Keep downloading little buddy."
"A device like this I have never seen." Declared Yoda looking at the gate. Suddenly the Jedi was wracked by a cough. Then another. Yoda's tiny body was seized by an involuntary convulsion and Han stepped back uncertainly, Starbuck stepped forward. He reached out and touched his shoulder.
"hey you don't sound so good." He observed.
"My time long past it is." Replied Yoda, "Sustained by the force I was for so long, live long without it, I cannot. Strength I must find for what is to come, from within."
Watching the brave little Jedi steel himself, Starbuck was moved. His arm still on Yoda's shoulder Starbuck said, "Well… maybe there is something I can do, I don't know how this will work with nonhuman physiology, if it will work at all." He closed his eyes and extended his senses towards Yoda. Starbuck knelt there amid the bustle of the gate room under construction with Artoo downloading diligently and held the Jedi's arm. He felt the Jedi's arm through the robe beneath his hands and Yoda's eyes widened at the first hint of Starbuck's mind in his.
Chewie turned and regarded them, giving a quizzical growl. Han turned, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end, "What are they…"
Suddenly Yoda straightened and began to radiate light. His skin tone improved, his ears ceased drooping. The stick fell away as he stood before the kneeling Starbuck. Work in the room ceased as others became aware of what was happening, an indefinable power permeated the chamber.
"This is...this is something unreal..." Han said uneasily. he remembered what Starbuck had said early. if he had heard a buzzing before on the Guardian
, he was hearing a deep hum now, as though something of awesome power had just brushed over his consciousness. he cocked his head, for a moment, he thought he heard, something else... an echo of triumphant laughter, a chilling brush with darkness..."
"I've got a bad feeling about this." he said into a room that was suddenly still, but just as quickly the darkness passed and it was as though dawn had broken. The sense of wrongness, that something unnatural had just happened was replaced by a sense of awesome wonder, as something very right began to take place. Han glanced around and found that all around him held their breath. Though Starbuck still knelt beside Yoda, seemingly oblivious, the Jedi looked about in amazement, rapt amazement, and Han yearned to know why.
Suddenly a figure flickered into view, a blue phantasm Han did not recognize. Another appeared beside it looking at wonder at the first, a third appeared and a fourth. In moments the eerie apparitions were everywhere. many of them wore robes, and cloaks, many of them carried phantasmal light sabers. Chewie made a sound something like a growl and a gasp, Wedge at first put his hand on his blaster, and a hand in front of Han, and then dropped his hand to his side in amazement.
"By the Force!" Exclaimed Lando stumbling into the room beside Ackbar, hand on his blaster, "Han have you ever seen anything like this?"
"Not exactly." Replied Han, "But maybe once." he pulled away from Wedge and Chewie and waded into the growing crowd hesitantly at first, and then eagerly. Staring into the faces of each he saw their lips move as they tried to speak but he could hear nothing. Moving quickly from face to face he searched, until suddenly at last he spotted three familiar figures. One tall but stooped, two shorter, more youthful. Obi wan turned to him, and with a small smile he nodded in recognition, to Han. He said something to the others. There was no sound. Luke waved joyfully shouting in silence, and as the third figure finally turned Han's heart stopped.
"Leia!" he whispered, and then shoving forward, "Leia!" he shouted as she brushed past Luke towards him as well, but as they came with a few paces of one another all of the apparitions vanished from view.
Han found himself halfway up the ramp and alone. The sudden loss was soul crushing and he stood transfixed for a moment. Idly he fingered the holster of his blaster and ran a hand through his hair. Choking down the lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat he strode forward angrily to where Starbuck knelt. The blond man was shaking his head disoriented. A renewed Yoda stood staring at his claws in wonder.
"Yes.." said the Jedi wondering, "Yes… feel them I can!" he exclaimed, "Returned it has." Confused he looked at Starbuck, "Truly great your powers are, Starbuck, beyond the force you have reached."
"Well… lets not try that again." Groaned Starbuck rolling down onto his back, "That wasn't entirely my idea you see."
"What the Krifff was that? Where'd she go?" demanded Han reaching down and hauling Starbuck up by the lapels, "I don't care how you do it but bring her back!"
"Who?" Starbuck blinked confused. "Those... shades? You saw them?"
"The whole bloody room saw them." Declared Lando coming up beside Han, he put a hand on Han's shoulder and Han released Starbuck. Starbuck put out a hand and leaned on the Stargate shakily.
"Than more than the Force that was." Surmised Yoda, " projections I have seen, many times in the past, never so many at once, and so bright, channeled them you did."
"Not me!" protested Starbuck, "I was just trying to help you fight off a cold! Something took over from me, hijacked my energy I guess you could say."
"Your 'energy'?" Han demanded his old habit of cynicism reasserting itself, "I thought you said you weren't a Jedi.
"Force and energy are two different concepts." Replied Starbuck "Think of force as an influence, and energy as an ability to do work. The Force was essentially a massive network of influence, the energy I generate and control is more direct and less of a group effort. What I think just happened is my energy fed the Force through Yoda. "
"Protected I was, from that which killed others." Clarified Yoda, "Within me, the force lived, but asleep it was, wounded isolated, silent."
"So Starbuck woke it up by accident and it started to use him as a battery." Said Lando, "Who were all of those people?"
"Perhaps, passed through the force they have." Surmised Yoda, "Trapped their spirits are, neither here nor there."
"Well bring them back!" demanded Han, "You can't just abandon them, they'll die!"
"They're already dead." Replied Starbuck, "Well what I mean is their bodies are dead." he amended hastily, "The people you saw can't come back "Here" exactly, They exist in the timeless aspect of the Force, they can either Ascend to a higher plane, or continue to remain there, but they can't live again, and until the Force is whole, they can't interact with this plane, without a medium."
"You did it." Han pointed out accusingly, "You ascended didn't you? You were dead and you came back."
"No, I didn't die
." Argued Starbuck, "They haven't either, exactly, but we both took different roads Han, mine is a little more of a two way street."
"Qell," fumbled Han, "Its possible right? You did it didn't you?"
"Sorry Han Ascension is a little different. With a greater control of matter and energy you can just MAKE a corporeal form." Replied Starbuck, "And I gave all that up when I descended."
"Physical manifestations of the Force, there have been." Declared Yoda, "The Father of Leia, a Jedi he was, named Anakin Skywalker before he fell. Conceived he was, by the Force."
"That doesn't sound like it went too well." argued Starbuck, "Look, I'm sure the Midi-chlorians figured out a way to create a corporeal form, but it would have to be made up of mid-chlorians, meaning a ridiculous force sensitivity."
"Powerful he was." Confirmed Yoda.
"But sensitive." Starbuck elaborated, "Fickle, prone to the currents of emotion that run through the force. Look every creature tied into the force broadcasts unconsciously through it, Your dark and light side notions?" he now addressed Yoda, "That's a reflection of a group subconscious. Leia could perhaps be reborn one day through the Force Han," he said turning back to Solo, "But she wouldn't be entirely her own person. her independence, her free will would be compromised, maybe the Force would try that kind of thing but the Ancients would never stand for that."
"Perhaps tolerate it they did, " observed Yoda, "The folly of it, to teach us."
"There are more pressing concerns at this time." Interrupted Akbar's gravelly voice, "I would ask that you all return to your duties and continue this discussion at a more appropriate time." Starbuck, "What is the status of Artoo's download?"
Reluctantly the technicians working about the room responded to the authority in his voice. han was still, perhaps for the first time in his life, entirely unsure if what to do next and so proceeded to stand motionless, sorting out what had just happened. Starbuck glanced at the droid who whistled, and retracted the probe.
"You were done?" he demanded, "Why were you still linked?" A series of beeps and whistled too complex to follow ensued and Starbuck motioned Threepio over from his place in the corner of the gate room.
"Oh Come on Artoo, such rubbish," the droid chastised, turning to Starbuck he clarified, "I'm afraid my counterpart has become somewhat enamored with the device. He is quite impressed with its software protocols, and its operating system. He is quite eager to continue exploring its capabilities."
"Sounds like the little guys in love." Commented Starbuck, "Come on Artoo, lets set up a DHD first and then you can go on a second date."
Ackbar surveyed the renewal of activity with relief. He turned to Calrissian, but paused as he followed the man's gaze. Solo still stood before the gate motionless. Technicians did their best to work around him, respectful of the man's mood.
"I've never seen Han like this." Lando said, "He's always self assured, arrogant, cocky..." he sighed, "It's these damned wars, they change you."
"Solo is a man of surprising complexity." Ackbar noted, "Beneath his veneer, he has come to question much, including himself."
"It's a damn shame Admiral." Lando remarked, "The man is good, one of the best in the business. I'm not sure he remembers that."
"Perhaps it is time to remind him." the Admiral decided. "General Solo." he called out, the man turned. "Mr. Calrissian has brought a security matter to my attention of which I wish to make you aware." Solo did not move. "Come now General, this is a situation in which you bear some small measure of responsibility, the least you can do is lend us your input in correcting it."
"My responsibility...?" Han began to take umbrage and stalked towards the stairs to the control room. Lando winced.
"Thanks for making me a part of this Admiral." he said tightly. Ackbar said nothing but gave the man an amused glance.
* * *
Wedge followed master Yoda from the gate room. "Master Yoda, where are you going?" asked Wedge.
"Renewed am I, reconnected to the Force I am." Replied the Jedi, "Commune with it on my own I must, something to refresh old skills, it is time I did."
"May I ask you something before you go?" Wedge pressed following the Jedi through the recently cleared hallway. Though the steps had deteriorated beyond recovery, a ramp extended over a collapsed portion, and the two continued further towards the building's exit.
"Ask something you have." Replied Yoda, a hint of amusement in his voice, "But more questions I will allow."
"Er. .thanks." said Wedge, "look, I knew Luke Skywalker growing up on tattooine. When I heard it was destroyed, I grieved, but I knew somehow that Luke would have survived it. When he showed up on that old tramp freighter, the Death star hot on his heels, it felt like.. like… like inevitably, like it was destiny."
"Falling into place, pieces seemed to be." Replied Yoda, the two approached a balcony. It had once overlooked a panoramic city, now it was little more than a sunken garden. "Or, appeared it so."
"That's what I mean!" declared Wedge, "I mean, it was all just coming together, the rebellion was getting too strong, the Empire too bold, good vs. evil it was all about to come to a head at last and then the goa'uld and the wraith? They weren't really part of the equation at all!"
"Mistaken we were, what signs and prophecies meant." Agreed Yoda seating himself on a moss covered bench.still walking, "More complex, this universe is than imagine we could have. From beyond the Force factors lie which anticipate we could not."
"So that's my question!" said Wedge plaintively, he paced the sunken garden, dimply lit by fading sunset, and the lights from within the doorway. "The Force is gone Master Yoda, what do we turn to? What does any of this mean anymore?"
Yoda looked up at Wedge fondly.
"Miss him you do." He said jabbing his stick at Wedge, "As General Solo misses Leia, you miss Luke, not as deeply perhaps but miss him you do."
"I grew up with him." Said Wedge awkwardly, "I kind of admired him, I mean he was the youngest of us, the baby but he was always there in a pinch. He was so hopeful and optimistic, " he sighed, "His future was so bright."
"Bright it should have been." Agreed Yoda, "Visions I had, Luke as a leader I saw, revered, respected, humble, yet powerful, yet come to pass this has not."
"Can it still?" asked Wedge, "Starbuck came through a device which can move through time."
"Considered this I had." Declared the Jedi at length. "Guidance from the force must I seek."
"How?" asked Wedge, "When you came out of the Hydroponics lab on the Star Defender
you said the Force was gone. Starbuck went on about those Midi-chlorians having been killed in the Centerpoint wave. Starbuck touches you and ghosts start appearing everywhere? I saw Luke
YodaI buried that man three years ago on Yavin, and today I saw
him moving, alive, how do we save him?"
"Save him?" demanded Yoda, "Save him you say, From what, save him, must we? One with the Force he has become, timeless, and forever, Save him you say? Save him from what I wonder."
"he's not right though!" protested Wedge, "He's not here, with us! there has to be a way to bring him back, to put things the way they should be."
Yoda looked sadly at Wedge for a moment.
"Not for us, is that decision to make." He said at last. "The power we may find, but the wisdom, we have not. Who lives, and who dies, How valid may be ones life be? Luke's life is,. and was, to unravel as it was destined to, to determine how it should have, that is not our right."
"We have to do something!" protested Wedge, "All of your friends the Jedi, all those who died, we can fix that, how much wisdom do we need to see that that must be done?"
"Crowded, your premise is by your assumptions, Room for wisdom your question does not leave." Yoda pointed out, "Only the answers you desire, will it reveal. 'Know nothing do I' is the mantra of the wise, " he sat and reflected silently for a moment and then said, "The Force is with you Wedge Antilles."
Wedge started, "What? I've never…"
"Always has it been." Replied Yoda, "yet more so now, than ever. New champions it chooses in its time of need. Long hoped for this you have, now come your moment has, whom serve, will you?"
Wedge shook his head, "I don't understand."
"Wisdom you have found, in confusion, it seems." Chuckled Yoda. "Different were things before. Chosen from birth, people were, to follow the Force. Influenced they were aware of it they were, choices, they were asked to make. Found them we did, and raised them we tried to the ways of the Jedi embrace. Changed that all has now."
"because the Force is gone." Wedge agreed, "Midi-chlorians aren't spread out throughout the galaxy, but we can change that, undo it!"
"The Force is in all living things." Yoda said adamantly, but pondered, "Yet changed has the nature of our connection to it." before Wedge could consider precisely what that meant the Jedi stood. "Passed the torch will be." Declared Yoda nodding to himself at the determination in his own words., "New life I have been given, a new path, I must accept. Forward we will look, choose to move on, we must. Invited, will you now be, to follow the way of the Force, not chosen."
"You are asking me to be a Jedi?" asked Wedge finally understanding, "To join you? I don't have the powers I can't do the things…"
"Manifestations, external are they." Replied Yoda, "Internal
development, more important has become. Transform you that can, in time, but learn you must, and choose, you must."
Wedge took a deep breathe, "Than if it is acceptable to you, I do choose." He said, "I will follow the path of the Force, not for the power or the influence, not even to change the way things are or worse, but to honor my friend. This galaxy wants to change Yoda, I can feel it. The Jedi were always a beacon of hope, a shining example of what we can all become. I will be that light if you let me, just as Luke was for me."
Yoda regarded him for a long moment.
"The past consumes you still." The Jedi said sadly, "For the one who must lead, to the future must he look, with single minded purpose."
"I know I'm not perfect." Wedge pleaded, "But I'm here.
"Perfect you are not." He said at last, "nor perfect am I. Shaped we are by the world we live in, fall short perhaps, of our promise we do."
"We can always try to be more." Declared Wedge resolutely, "I will try to be what Luke should have been, just give me the chance!"
"To yourself you will be true and to the force." Declared Yoda resolutely, "As will I. Do, or do not, there will be no try." He reaching into his robe he pulled forth a light saber, tossing it to Wedge. "your first lesson that was. Begun your training we have." Suddenly an alarm sounded.
* * *
"You've got to be kidding me." Han snapped, "Already?"
"Confirmed sir, our patrols report a Cylon base star closing on this position." The technician confirmed, listening to her headset. Starbuck was jogging down the corridor to the recently established control room.
"Put it on a tactical plot, vector fighters to intercept." Ackbar ordered as he stood over a holotank. A graphic of Coruscant dominated the view with a blip marking the position of the base star.
"But have them hug the surface." Han suggested, "Keep the planet between them and the Cylons until the last minute."
"What the frack is going on?" Starbuck demanded, "Has the Empire found us already?"
"We detected a Cylon Base Star rising from the surface of Coruscant's moon. it must have arrived here before us and been waiting for our ship to leave." Ackbar told him
"Unfortunately for them, it didn't" Han grinned wolfishly. Ackbar nodded to the General.
"After it left the system, General Solo had it return from a different vector and take up position on the far side of the solar system. Our ground based fighters are moving to intercept, while the Star Defender
plots a micro jump to block their escape."
"Four minutes to intercept." The technician called out, "No sign our fighters have been spotted, but the Star Defender
is not yet in a position to block her." Han scowled and stalked over.
"She's got a gravity well generator on board." Ackbar explained, "That should serve to disable their hyperdrive."
"They wouldn't use Tylium FTL?" Starbuck asked confused.
"If you are referring to the propulsion system the Cylons used to reach our galaxy, they abandoned it." Ackbar told him, "It was impractical within a galactic region, and fuel was not easily obtained."
"That's right..." Starbuck considered, "They can't maintain faster than light with all of this stellar clutter around, whole star systems would force them to constantly accelerate and decelerate."
"The hyperlanes to Coruscant have not been maintained in millennia." Ackbar stated, "That worked to our advantage, as our early warning probes detected them on approach, but the Star Defender is on the far side of the system as well." he turned at a disruption by the comm station.
"You don't have to calculate the damn twelfth decimal point, did you not read the briefing?." Solo was shouting into a comm system, "The planet's gravity will drag you out of hyperspace, just use the vector I sent you." he looked up at the admiral's scrutiny. "Sorry," Han apologized, "Some of your so called 'fleet navigators' are a little too by the book and it's gonna get us killed."
"Using the planet to intentionally drag a ship out of hyperspace is quite brilliant actually." The Mon Colomari replied, "Also quite risky."
"Yeah well thank Thrawn." Han said, "A couple of his patrols cornered Chewie and me a few months back doing a spice run to Jabba's new palace on Dantooine and we had to get a little creative."
"Fighters have been spotted!" the technician reported excitedly, "The base Star is launching Raiders, she's going to fight them!"
"Yeah, wait 'till they get a load of the Star Defender, and the squadrons she's packing." Han declared smugly, "See why I wanted to keep just a few squadrons on the ground Admiral, easy to hide if we want to go to ground, and a convincing bluff if we try to pull something fancy."
"Your suggestions for fleet disposition have proven satisfactory." The Admiral allowed, "Though B Wings and A Wings, seems an unconventional approach, I would have considered X Wings a more versatile defender for an atmosphere."
Han made as if to answer, but was interrupted as a new signal appeared in the holotank.
"Wake up time toasters." he crowed as the massive Star Defender began pounding the base star. outgunned several times over, and trapped by the interdiction field, the ship had literally now chance, and the tank was already swarming with friendly fighters exterminating raiders.
"Captain Starbuck, this battle has proven the vulnerability inherent in concentrating our forces. The cylons are all but exterminated, but had this been an Imperial probe, or even a Vong, we may not have prevailed so readily."
"You don't like being on the ground Admiral, I get it." Starbuck replied. "But there are specific reasons we can't just set up shop on the Star Defender. Some of the addresses you want to check out have to be dialed from this spatial location, and what's more they have to be dialed in the company of certain security systems built into this city."
"Have you managed to locate an intact copy of the city's database?" Ackbar asked, Starbuck nodded. "Sort of. We were able to connect with one, but as best we can tell it'll take months to excavate that portion of the city."
"So we cannot take it with us." The Admiral sighed. Starbuck nodded. "We will proceed with the establishment of this base. I will move the Star Defender back into the Rim and allow her to be spotted to draw attention away from this sector of space, but if the Cylons have already found us..."
"We knew that was an accident. Lando caught it just in time." Starbuck argued, he glanced at the holo tank representing the recently completed battle, "For the most part." he amended.
"I am not comfortable with the Stargate remaining in this location." Ackbar insisted. "It is too valuable an asset, and if anything it draws attention to the colony of Wookiees we are establishing on the southern continent
"Oh come one, with the tech level of that colony, it's gonna be practically invisible." Han argued, "The jungles are the perfect cover, the excavation site on the other hand, is gonna be a little more tricky, but nobody can hide something in plain site like a smuggler Admiral, trust me, we can do this. The Wookiees deserve a home, after all they've been through."
"Look, Artoo and I already have a little brain child that should get our most immediate goals met." Starbuck assured him, "Leave Han and a detachment here as we promised, that can run at the first sign of trouble. We found another functioning stargate on Endor, that you can use as a back up if something happens to this one."
"There's also one on the fourth moon of Yavin." Han said, "Good luck getting through to that one though. Your old headquarters is probably Vong central by now."
"it should not be difficult for General Madine to locate the stargate you believe is on Chandrilla with the device you provided Starbuck." Ackbar decided, "If all goes according to plan he should return with it in a few days, will your... brain child... be operational by then?"
"Absolutely." Said Starbuck confidently
"Then we will make preparations to expedite the Atlantis mission as soon as possible." Ackbar declared, "Solo, you will begin working on a deployment for three fighter squadrons to maintain a covert presence on this world to continue excavations." He nodded to the General, who stood a bit taller, "As your first official command, I would ask you not to plan to abandon it at the first sign of trouble, without bringing as many of those under your command along as possible." The Admiral turned to talk to a the comm officer about recalling the fighters in orbit.
"yeah? Well tell Lando his 'situation' is taken care off, and tell him the next time he tries to give me a gift, make sure it doesn't cause more trouble than it's worth." Han retorted. The Admiral pretended not to hear.
"Did he just make a joke?" Starbuck asked, Han was shaking his head.
"He's coming around." Han said, slightly amused, "Now I have to rewrite the report I did yesterday, who knew command was so much..."
"work?" Starbuck asked innocently. Han eyed him.
"Don't you have some?" he demanded curtly. Starbuck offered him a mock salute
"Yes sir." he replied smartly. As he left, Solo looked down at the holo tank that displayed the system. he allowed himself a moment of solitary satisfaction. The Admiral had overseen his defense plan, but had not interfered, and even though it had been an easy win, it was still a win. Han noted with a bit of professional pride, that there had been no fighter casualties. The combination of fast moving A-wings and B wings supporting at range had wiped out the Raiders easily.
* * *
"Its' a boy." Grinned Starbuck a few days later, "Anybody got a fumerillo?"
"Don't know what a fumerillo is but have a cigarra." Lando Calrissian offered, handing one to Starbuck and lighting up his own, "When this baby hits the commercial market we're gonna be very rich men."
"I hear that" grinned Han slapping Chewie on the shoulder. Before them sat a console, with the evidence of its recent construction scattered about it in the form of tools, wires and discarded hardware. Artoo extracted his connection from it and the console lit up. "You sure you want to go on this little trip of yours Lando, no sense running off and getting yourself killed messing around in somebody else's business."
"Risk is my business." Answered Lando suavely as he puffed his cirgarro, "Besides we can't make a profit until all this fighting is over. Might as well get myself into a good position in the meantime."
"Download is complete the dialing device is operational." Declared Threepio.
"The originals were based on a crystalline computer technology but I'm pretty sure this will be up to the job and then some." Declared Starbuck, "I have a feeling that pairing your people's technology with that of the Ancients is going to work out beautifully."
Artoo beeped affirmatively and Starbuck chuckled patting the droid on the head. "Easy buddy there's a universe full of stargates by now, just waiting to meet you."
"Sir if you don't mind my asking…" Threepio ventured, "With the operational protocols downloaded, and his own database of star positions, wouldn't it have been simpler to simply have Artoo or another astromech function as an intermediary? Such units are readily available throughout the galaxy."
Starbuck glanced uncomfortably at the droid, and scuffed his feet a bit. "Well the thing is Threepio… and no offense… but where I come from we just don't do things that way."
"I'm afraid I don't see what you mean." Professed Threepio.
"Well… I mean the Cylons were very similar to droids…" Starbuck explained, "We don't need all that here. The DHD is meant to be sort of a… manual thing…"
"I see." Said the crestfallen droid, "Well I can certainly see your concerns…." Artoo beeped irritably, "No no Artoo its quite alright I was simply making an inquiry."
"Alright lets fire her up." Declared Starbuck, changing the topic,"Everyone stand clear!" he called to the gate room below. The DHD had been constructed as a console in a balcony overlooking the Stargate. Solo had been uncomfortable with the position of the old control center as it lay in a direct like line with the Stargate, the balcony however was at a right angle to the aperture. This way, the General had argued, projectiles or energry weapons fired into the Stargate wouldn't come streaking out at them. Starbuck had pointed out a force field could be erected but the Han preferred a non mechanical approach as a failsafe.
As Starbuck began to tap out a sequence on a carefully labeled keypad, he consulted a diagram Threepio had made based on Artoo's description.
"Alright this is the first test." He reported to Admiral Ackbar who stood to his right. To his left, several technicians stood watching Starbuck's every move and taking notes. These would become regular gate operators once the system was more fully understood. Below a security team stood weapons at the ready, with E-webs positioned at angles to the Stargate. Wedge and yoda stood with them. "Nothing should be coming through." Starbuck called down reassuringly, "It's a one way wormhole." A noise behind him drew his attention. Han tapped his blaster to his temple.
"Better safe than sorry." He quipped.
As the chevrons completed their ignition the Stargate erupted with a kwoosh and settled into a shimmering vertical pool.
"Where does that lead?" asked Han glancing at the readouts, "Holy smokes that's a lot of power!"
"Its an extra galactic address to Atlantis." Explained Starbuck, "The only local address we have may be in enemy hands, so if we were to connect directly, they could identify our location."
"We will send a probe through and determine if the city would make an appropriate base." Declared Ackbar signaling to the forces below. A probe droid rose up on its repulsors and hovered towards the gate. "After that base is established, Captain Starbuck wishes to try several other addresses."
"You guys want to set up a base that far away?" asked Han doubtfully, "you can't get a ship there to back you up, the Stargate's your only way in or out."
"Indeed, there is a risk." Agreed Ackbar, "But that very factor makes an ideal fallback spot. Starbuck tells us that Atlantis has the same extra galactic hyper drive capability imperial city had before the war."
"Ah and as the city's original hyper drive was damaged we would have a working model." Han observed, "Clever, you can reverse engineer and then upgrade your ships."
"Atlantis won't be alone for long." Concluded Ackbar as the probe disappeared into the event horizon. Telemetry began to pour in. "These results are promising." He declared as Starbuck turned to watch the video feed.
"Everything looks alright, its entering the control room now." Starbuck declared. "None of the consoles will activate until a human with the proper gene is present, but I can tell from that indicator the city's power supply is pretty low."
"We will be sure to bring backup generators along just in case." Ackbar declared as Starbuck moved to leave the balcony. "The layout is some what different than Imperial City.
"Really?" Starbuck raised an eyebrow, "Most of the Lantian cities had an identical blueprint, even Lemuria," he gestured to the gate room they sat in, "I wonder which one Imperial City was..."
"Mr. Calrissian, once our forces have cleared the city for occupation, you will assume your duties as administrative leader of the city, however you will answer to general Madine with regards to military matters." Ordered Ackbar, "Your job will be to oversee research and development as well as to establish trade with any local allies you can identify."
"I assume Madine will be doing more than just providing security?" asked Lando. he glanced at Han.
"Correct." Replied Ackbar, "He will be responsible for assembling a fighter corps for defense of the city, classified scouting missions to map important factions in the Pegasus galaxy, and should a viable intergalactic hyper drive be developed, construction of a shipyard. Operations in this galaxy will be limited to defensive holding actions so as not to arouse undue attention from the Empire as the Vong threat is diminished."
"How long can that last." Demanded Han sarcastically.
"Indeed General Solo, Indeed. The Empire will come calling for us, sooner, rather than later." Declared Ackbar, "But the steps we take here today will ensure that when that day comes we will be ready."
"Well you know, I have a few errands of my own, both in this galaxy, and probably that one," Starbuck chimed in, as he turned to head down into the gateroom "People I need to find, I've done what I can for you right here, right now, but I intend to come back, and by the Lords of Kobol when I do, I'll help you finish this war and free yourselves from tyranny." he took a breath. "You know i always thought the ancients needed to take responsibility, get involved, commit to doing something." he shook his head, "When I arrived here I had no idea how much like them I really was. I was always a drifter, I was always a hustler," Han nodded in understanding, and Starbuck clapped him on the back. "Times change buddy, we've got to change with them." he declared, he nodded to Yoda and Ackbar. "I've got all these powers, and it's time to take responsibility. Time to get out there and make a difference." and with that he left.
Han leaned over to Chewie, "Listening to this guy talk, you'd think he was going to single handedly save the universe."
As the security forces entered the gate, and the Technicians followed pushing carts laden with equipment, Starbuck followed them with Artoo and Threepio in tow. He glanced back pausing at the middle of the ramp, as the droids approached the iris and with one hand motioned the droids on. Artoo rolled through courageously while Threepio simpered nervously. The droid gave a panicked cry as Lando tipped it through the Stargate with a shove. Flashing a grin Lando gave the balcony a wave and followed suit. Starbuck looked up at the balcony where Ackbar, Solo and Chewbacca stood. Yoda had joined them and Wedge, now wearing the robes of a Padawan stood beside him.
Noting the renewed confidence in Solo's bearing, the somewhat more relaxed posture of Ackbar, and determination on Yoda's face, he gave a broad grin and a wave to them. Locking eyes with Han he winked and as he vanished into the gate. Last in line Starbuck stood framed by the gate looking about the room with determination in his face. He turned to the gate, and without breaking his stride, stepped confidently through. Han wondered if Starbuck had somehow heard what he said. As the gate disengaged he heard an echoing laugh and a familiar voice reply.
"You bet I did, my name is Starbuck, I'm here to save the universe."This is something of a mid season climax, I got a little backed up with revising but am back on track, and will resume posting once a week. I am adding aspects to the Force which are entirely of my own conception, in order to put it into context within a universe which also contains ascension. it's been pretty light on action so far, in terms of ship to ship and what not, because I was working on differentiating the characters in this fanfic from those in the Canon. Starbuck is less of the carefree cutout he was in the BSG series, because, he's literally millions of years old now, he's ascended and it's all changed him. Obviously Han is a very different guy, too, Ackbar is a different guy, Lando's a different guy, etc. Familiar faces but shaped by a different history, Starbuck's job was to bring out the qualities in them that we would recognize, so they can be the heroes we want them to be, in this universe. A universe with some pretty big players in it.
The hall is rented, the orchestra engaged, it's time to dance