Star Wars: Children of the Force
(A Star Wars Fanfiction Universe)
HOPEFULLY PRODUCED BY WARNER BROTHERS
by Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly
Copyright Noahide Books
Amidala and the Fleet of the Dranzordians
Queen Amidala surveyed the host before her. Dranzordians. 100 ships, all hovering just above Naboo, threatening war unless their demands for one particular Naboo resident were met. But how could she hand him over? How could she possibly ever hand over Jar Jar Binks, despite the claim from the Dranzordians that, upon visiting Dranzordia as a diplomatic envoy of Naboo, Jar Jar had been ever so careless in the royal Emporer of Dranzordia’s court, firstly by dropping his jar of rare Naboo fish onto the court floor, one of the fish springing up into the mouth of Princess Drakzella, the Emporers daughter, and her nearly choking on it; secondly by addressing the Prime Minister of Dranzordia as his royal highness and entering into discussion with him, before being correctly pointed towards the Emporer; and thirdly, and most embarrassingly, upon turning towards the court, passing wind directly into the face of the most highly honoured and esteemed Emporer. And while they had let him go and returned him to Naboo, glad to be rid of him, the Emporer had subsequently flew into such a rage that he demanded the head of dear old Jar Jar on a pike. The Queen was about to intervene.
Amidala’s face came onto the screen of the command centre of the flag ship, were the Emporer from Dranzordia was sitting in his royal regalia, and she began her well thought out speech.
‘Dearest Emporer. Naboo greets you and offers, in true humility, a million apologies. Dear Jar Jar is a most unpredictable character. He has served us well for many a year yet, in truth, he has the unfortunate ability to make gross demands on the patience of others in the exercising of his most exuberant personality. Yet this is the way the force has made him. However, in the heart of Jar Jar lies a soul which, in truth, would never harm even the slightest of intelligent beings in a word of hatred, for his soul is as pure and gentle as a dove, despite, how shall I say, his most unfortunate mannerisms. Please, forgive us dear Emporer. We offer in tribute a vessel laden with the finest delicacies Naboo has to offer, and ample gold to have made your great trip worthwhile.’ She left off speaking, waiting in the Emporer.
He pulled himself up in all his glory, considered the vessel which was being shown on the side screen, and finally assented. ‘But please, Most Honourable Queen Amidala, could you choose another honorable member of Naboo’s council to be your representative to Dranzordia in the future.’
‘It will be as you say,’ responded the Queen, and in the corner Jar Jar Binks sighed a deep sigh of relief.
Han Solo and Leia's Legacy
'It's the Millennium Falcon II,' said Leia. 'I had it designed specially.'
'It's smaller,' said Han.
'For humbler egos. I'm sure a wookie can handle it.'
'Chewie. I can handle the flying of the ship,' said Han. He turned to Leia. 'You made this for me Princess?'
'Hardly,' but she was smiling.
They were up above New Alderaan, the Space Citdael Community, testing the ship. It was quick. Han was in his element.
'She handles well,' he said.
'Luke is a good designer,' replied Leia.
'Luke!' exclaimed Han. 'He designed this?'
'With Lando's help,' smiled Leia. '4 years of study of at Academy paid off for Skywalker,' she said. 'His great-grandfather helped him also.'
'Dalar Skywalker? Shmi's father?' queried Han.
'He's not all there,' said Leia. 'Father is so old, but he did it out of love.'
Han put out his hand and touched Leia's cheek. 'Watto had redeeming qualities, in the end. Telling Luke about Shmi's heritage.'
'We're lucky. We know our family now,' said Leia. 'Anyway, come on General Solo. Show me what an old fool can do.'
And as the Millennium Falcon II flew around New Alderaan, Han Solo was in his element, eternally indebted to the name of Skywalker once again.
The Dark Side of Chewbacca
Chewbacca had brought some of the finest Coruscant wine onboard the Millennium Falcon II, and was steadily consuming it all afternoon.
'Your drunk,' said Han Solo.
'Awwww,' replied Chewbacca.
'We have a Sith Lord scoping us out,' said Han Solo. 'I feel all that dark side all over the ship.'
'Awwww,' moaned Chewbacca.
'Get your act together, Chewie. I need some fine flying.'
Chewbacca burped, and then hugged Han Solo and started singing.
Darth Insanus was monitoring the Millennium Falcon II. He had his sensors on the ship, and tuned in to hear what was being said.
Next to him, officer Rambart said 'Is that a wookie singing? He sounds terrible.'
Darth Insanus glared at Rambart but kept on listening.
'I know,' said Han Solo, comforting Chewbacca. 'You miss home.'
'Awwww,' moaned Chewbacca, and suddenly farted.
'What was that noise?' asked Darth Insanus to Rambart.
'It was disgusiting,' commented Rambart. 'It must be some horrible new weapon of the Rebellion.'
Darth Insanus considered his options.
Han had put on nose plugs, and gotten the mop out. Chewie had vomited up all over the control deck.
'That noise was equally as hideous,' said Darth Insanus, still listening in.
'We best report it to the New Emporer,' replied Rambart.
Darth Insanus considered the situation. Whatever vile creature the Rebellion now had, his Emporer must be informed of a possible new threat to the New Empire.
'Let us – Depart,' spoke Darth Insanus valiantly.
Rambart responded immediately, glad to be leaving the place.
Later that week.
'A Millennium Falcon III? What happened to the second one?' queried a puzzled Leia Organa.
Han Solo refrained from commenting on the condition of his ship.
Some things are better left unsaid.
Han Solo and Luke Skywalker on the trail of Misfax the Cyborg
Luke examined the lightsaber. 'It's Sith made,' he said to Han Solo.
'They're back,' said Han. 'I feel it in the force.'
'You feel it in the force?' queried the Jedi Knight.
'A hunch, blondie,' responded the swaggering General.
They looked down the corridor. Luke had picked up the saber from inside the hallway, just near a small chest, which was full of gold coins. They had been on the trail of 'Misfax', a cyborg which had been killing new Padawan.
'He's in there,' said Han Solo.
'How do you know?' asked Luke.
'The sign. It says 'Premises of Misfax',' replied Han.
Luke refrained from commenting.
Luke armed himself with his lightsaber, and Han took out his Laser.
'On three,' said Luke. 'One...' Han pushed the door open, ready to fire. The room was all bare, but a dead body was on the ground. Luke examined it.
'It's him,' said Luke. 'Misfax.'
'How do you know?' asked Han.
'He has a nameplate on his garment,' replied Luke.
Han refrained from commenting.
'So. You have come to inspect my handiwork,' said a voice. They turned. It was 'Lord Apholox of the Legion of Zardoz.'
'You killed him,' said Luke.
'To defend myself,' replied Apholox.
'The room? It's stripbare,' replied Han.
'A mystery to me, also, dear General. Perhaps if you summon the Coruscant guard, we can have the room sealed off and his body taken away.'
Luke looked at Apholox suspiciously. He never liked the soldier. Always around when trouble was.
'I'll call them,' said Han.
'Do you have any knowledge of this?' asked Luke, holding up the lightsaber. Apholox, seemingly instinctively, quickly reached to his side, but then grinned.
'Oh. Why, what have you there?' asked Apholox.
Luke nodded to himself. 'I think we can handle it from here, Lord Apholox,' said Luke. 'But I'm sure we'll run into each other again.'
Lord Apholox considered the Jedi. 'Yes. I think we can both count on that.' And as he walked past, he looked at the lightsaber, frowned slightly, and exited.
Han returned shortly. 'They'll be here shortly. What did Lord Poxolox have to say?'
'Nothing of consequence,' replied Luke, looking off towards where the legionairre had departed.
The Woes of C3PO
'It's not easy being a droid, you know,' said C3PO.
'Tweet, wirrrr,' responded R2D2.
C3PO looked out of Master Skywalker's Coruscant abode at the shimmering city.
'We are underappreciated. Why I speak several, several languages, and what use do they make of me?'
'Deet dot dirrrr,' said R2D2.
'How many languages? I forget R2. My circuits are getting old. They've never been properly used anyway.'
'Deeet wirrr dottle dot,' said R2D2.
'The Ewoks of Endor? They appreciate me? Yes, of course you are right. But Master Skywalker will never take us there again I fear.'
'Wheeee Sweee diit,' said R2D2.
'No, R2 D2. I will not get my hopes up. They only fail in the end.'
Luke Skywalker entered the room. 'C3PO. R2. We're going on a trip. The Empire has it's fleet near the Endor system. Darth Insanus has been making new moves, and we need to monitor him from the Moon of Endor. We're going to see our old friends. The Ewoks. So ready yourself,' and he left the room.
'Wheeeee,' said R2 D2.
'I don't think it's funny that you told me so,' replied C3 PO. 'I will have to brush up on my Ewokian. It's been years.'
'Deedle doot,' said R2 D2.
'No, I will not go for a system service, R2 D2. The thoughts of them poking around in my ancient circuitry. The damage that wookie has done in there, no wonder I can't remember anything right anymore.'
'Deet dot wheedel whirr deet deet dot deet,' said R2 D2.
'Just the way of life, I suppose,' said C3PO. 'Even droids get old.'
'Deet Deet Deet,' responded R2 D2.
'Yes, life goes on,' said C3 PO. 'Even for an underused C3 unit. Now where was that Coruscant Interplanetary Database Computer Port again? I need a refresher.'
'Whiirrrrrrrr,' said R2 D2, and the droids of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker continued on their merry adventures of the day.
Questioning the Force
Galaxy is at Rest. Trade and commerce once again run fairly,
freed from the tyranny of the Empire. The New Republic is a
new way of life, built on the foundation of the old, forging new and
better alliances for the sake of Galactic peace. Luke Skywalker now
heads the Jedi council and has been training a whole Generation of
new Jedi Knights. The Jedi once again hold their
Position, but all is not well. Luke is uneasy, unable to find peace. A figure Haunts him, his father Anakin, and a new threat is imminent, coming from The neighbouring galaxy….
Space. Luke was headed towards the witch moon of Endor, with R2D2 in tow, C3PO travelling with Han Solo on the Millennium Falcon III.
whirrr, dooot, whheeeee,' said R2D2.
‘Yes, I’m sure Wicket misses you too,' replied Luke. 'Anyway, we're nearly there R2. Going to camoflague mode. We don't want the Empire to know about our presence.'
Soon they were with their old Ewok friends again, but Luke had a misty look in his eyes. The force was leading him. Taking him somewhere. He left R2 with the ewoks and went to where his father Anakin had been cremated. But, in the distance, he could see a mountain, and it was there were the force wanted him to go. He came to a river, and crossed it, and his nimble feet danced across the rocks, easily finding his way. The mountain loomed, and he climbed, steadily, like a Jedi, balancing his ego not to think he was a grand climber of accomplishment, but a servant of the force, in balance, steadily doing what the force required. He reached the top of a rocky spire, and beneath him and the mountain lava flowed, pouring down a torrid ravine. He continued on. An eagle suddenly confronted him, and attacked him, but he looked at the eagle, and with the force it peered at him, then flew away, back to its nearby nest. He continued on, and found a cave, and, turning on his light saber, entered. He could feel it. The force. The dark side.
Suddenly it was Darth Sidioius, and the spirit of the Emperor looked at him in all his wrath, but Luke knew he would not trouble him. Somehow he knew. And so he continued on, his senses heightened, and another sith of legend appeared, Darth Maul, who glared at him but said nothing more. And he passed him by, and came to the end of the cave, and suddenly it was his father. But it was not. It was Darth Vader. And Luke looked at Vader, and put away his saber, and sat. And Darth Vader glared at his son, but nothing was said at all.
Gar Solo, the son of Han Solo, was on a patrol mission with R2D3 out to outer rim planets of the galaxy were disturbances had been reported. They landed on a planet and found the village destroyed. Chaos is everywhere.
'I don’t know who did this, R2. But we must report it immediately to Coruscant.'
'Weeee,' responded R2D3, as they gazed upon the destruction.
A midwife came out of the room and came to Leia. They were on Tatooine ‘She is ready,’ said the midwife to Leia. Leia came in to meet her daughter Amidala, named after her mother.
Amidala had given birth. Her name is ‘Kelendra’ she said to Leia.
Leia took Kalendra and went into the other room to show her to Han Solo and Kade Gon Jin, the husband of Amidala.
‘She is a special child – a child of destiny’,' said Leia.
'A grand-daughter,' said Han Solo, his voice filled with pride.
Luke was in space with R2D2. 'Weee doot dot wee whirr,' said R2D2.
I guess I found what I came For R2. I guess.'
Reaching Coruscant, Luke landed near the Jedi Academy. He was greeted by other Jedi.
‘There is news, Gar Solo has something to report,' said a young Padawan. Luke nodded.
Luke found Gar in the main court of the Academy and spoke with him about the destruction on the planet he had visited.
I will take it into consideration,' replied Luke. 'You have done
well, Gar Solo.'
Luke, after Gar left, walked out onto his balcony and looked over Coruscant. Anakin his father suddenly appeared in spirit form.
Is all well with you,' asked Anakin.
‘Father. Yes, I suppose,' replied Luke.
‘What troubles you,' asked Anakin.
‘Oh, father. A search for meaning. A search for understanding. I know what we do here In the Academy helps so many, but I feel there is something missing. Something I have yet to do.’
‘Son, the ways of the force are always mysterious. It works for the good of all, and the darker Side, well, not always, as you know well. If that is a voice from the force you will find your destiny
Soon enough. Or it will find you, son. It will find you,' replied Anakin.
Luke looked at his father and nodded softly.
Luke, as the representative of the Jedi, appeared at the Galactic council. He spoke of the reports of destruction of a number of outlying galactic systems and the council suggested further investigations. He also brought up the issue of his own son, Anakin, and his late day eagerness to become a Jedi. He asked the council if there were any objections, them knowing the history of his father. Nobody objected but concerns were raised.
Anakin Skywalker, Luke's son, appeared before the Jedi council.
questioned him. ‘A Jedi, Anakin?’
Anakin responded ‘I had a dream I would be a Jedi.’
'Does the council accept my son's claim to study the ways of the force?' asked Luke. Nobody spoke. It seemed, nobody would dare.
A boy looked at his mother. His name was Hayden. 'I must go where the force is leading me,' he said.
'Are you sure,' she replied.
Han was with Lando Calrissian. They readied for the trip from Tatooine to Coruscant and boarded the Milennium Falcon III.
‘Remember, don’t wreck this baby like my last one. I am still getting over that,' said Lando.
‘Hey, it wasn’t my fault,' replied Han.
They took off into space, and days later had arrived at Coruscant.
‘Admiral Solo. It is good to see you back. There's trouble,' said Luke.
'Isn't there always,' replied Han.
Han was selected with a fleet to head off to find what the trouble Could be.
Hayden travelled for a while, from spaceliner to spaceliner, but purchased a cheap ship and flew to the witch moon of Endor. He found a mountain and the force led him on. On the other side of a river he crossed he was greeted by witches of Endor.
'The seeker has come,' said a witch.
tell the dark lord,’ said the other.’
Hayden continued on and dame to the central cavern and the witches greeted him. They sent him further on and Sidious came out of the shadows.
‘What is this before my eyes,’ said Darth sidious. ‘I Sense a son of Skywalker.’
‘Luke Skywalker was my father. But he knows me not.’
‘Good, good,’ said sidious, and drew the lad towards himself.
Anakin was before the council. They discussed various things and it was decided that Anakin was to travel to Dagoba to begin his training with Arda, Yoda’s son.
Hayden was on the moon of Endor and Sidious said to him. ‘What do you sense in there,’ pointing to a dark cavern.
‘Yes,’ says Sidious. ‘Go find that power.’
Hayden entered the cavern.
Anakin arrived with R2D3 on Dagoba. They had flown an X-Wing. They looked around.
‘We’ll never find him,’ says Anakin, after a while.
‘Give up so soon why do you?’ said Arda, who came into view.
‘Arda?’ asks Anakin.
‘Mmm,’ says Arda.
Hayden was in the cavern. He came into the darkness and the figure of Darth Vader came upon him.
‘Who are you?’ asked Hayden.
‘You know Who I am,' responded Vader
Arda had begun his training of Anakin.
is that place?’ asked Anakin, about a desolate place,
familiar, where the dark side dwelt.
‘To find out for yourself, if dare you,’ said Arda. ‘But beware the dark side.’
Anakin entered the cavern and the figure of Darth Vader appeared.
'Who are you?' asked Anakin.
‘You know who I am,’ said Darth Vader.
Han Solo and the fleet had searched the desolate cities, but no survivors could be found in these systems. They were new colonies, barely established, but a dark power had ravaged them. A dark power, not that of the Empire. Han was sure of that. And so they returned to Coruscant, and were at a loss for what to do next. But Luke took the matter into consideration.
Luke was again on the moon of Endor with R2D2. An X Wing was stationed nearby, and they were on a cliff of the mountain
'Looking out Luke said ‘I suppose it all makes sense in the end. I suppose it does that.’
The howling and whirring wind was his only reply, as he gazed out at the vista of the Endorian moon.
The Return of Tyler Lucian
Tyler Lucian examined the Light Saber. It was second rate. Skywalkers always made second rate Light Sabers. He remember when Anakin Skywalker wanted him dead, and he dove into the Acid Lake. But there was a covering gel he had prepared in the lake, which he sunk into, giving the appearance of his untimely death, so the Dark Lord of the Sith would hunt him no more. And so, a new life to live, he walked the galaxy a while, and made his way to Tatooine. He settled in Moss Eisley, on the outskirts of town, and became a trader in second hand wares. Now he had a light saber in his possession. It was made by a certain 'Rey Skwalker' apparently. Second rate. It functioned alright, but it did not have the prestige of a rel Jedi or Sith's prowess about it.
'It's second rate, Rey,' said Tyler.
'Listen, Lucian. It's first class material. The DNA of every Skywalker flows into me in that Light Saber.'
'Smells like Palpatine blood,' said Tyler, sniffing it. 'And I've bedded a few Palpatine harlots in my time.'
Rey smiled. 'I'm aware of the ladies of the Palpatine clan.'
'They do get around,' smirked Tyler. '500 credits. Nothing more.'
'Done,' said Rey. She took the credits. 'I'm saving to get some expensive items from a local store,' said Rey. 'I've seen what you have, and there are a few odds and ends of interest. I will be back. But there is some Skywalker stuff of old man Owen in town which I must have. The cretin won't sell it cheap, though. So you have one of my older light sabers to deal with. It was made carefully. It's Jedi quality.'
'Might get 1000 for it,' said Tyler, stroking his chin. 'But it lacks panache. No blood and sweat has gone into it. The force thinks it second rate.'
'You sense the force?' queried Rey.
Tyler looked at his friend. 'It's known to work in Lucian's. Anyway, get out of here. I have work to do.'
Rey nodded, and left the shop. Tyler examined the Light Saber for a moment, flicked it on and made a few moves, and then turned it off. Taking a tag, he wrote out 20,000 credits, and attached it to the light saber. Should sell soon, he thought to himself. Easy money.
Out the back of 'Lucian's', a bedraggled store of secondhand goods of questionable origin and nature, a young lady of 16 years was in the muck with her droid. Zena Lucian, daughter of Tyler.
'You know, R2 D2,' she said. 'You are a pretty cool droid.'
'R2 D2 made a noise, and whirred.'
'I know, your model is exception. Every R2 D2 unit has technical skills to be admired. But your da bestest Artie. Fabulous to behold. It's just a shame you're so coloured by the sun. All your white has turned cream.'
Artie the R2 D2 unit whirred a noise of 'Fate has its say,' and Zena smiled.
'Wonder if dad is finished for the day,' she said to Artie, looking at the store. 'Well, no matter. Plenty to do.'
'Deeet dirr deeet,' whireed Artie.
'I have done my studies R2,' replied Zena. 'Not much else to do in this force forsaken place. No boys. No girls. Just dad, and the slackers who come into the store from town. I miss mum.'
R2 whirred again.
'I know, Artie. She left for a reason. But she'll be back for the same reason. Love wins in the end, R2.'
Zena picked up a panel from the ground, and looked at the art piece she was working on. Disused metallic and plastic objects from droids and machinery were strewn around the back of the store, which also functioned as a junk yard, and Zena had taken it upon herself to start designing art pieces, which she would photo, and submit in school in her classes.
'Zena,' said her father, coming out of the store.
'Dad,' said Zena.
'Here. I was going to sell it, but you have a tinge of the force. Be careful with it.'
Tyler handed his daughter Zena the lightsaber. She flicked it on.
'I can sense its history,' she said to her father. 'Powerful people have used this.'
Tyler looked at her. 'Perhaps too powerful,' he replied. He left her, and she flicked the lightsaber around in sword movements, as R2 D2 watched, fascinated in his droid way with the human's conduct.
The Cave of Asgar
Zena entered the cave of Asgar.
'Are you here Asgar?'
A Jawa came out and pushed her kneecap. She followed the Jawa, who led her to a chamber where Asgar the Hutt was sleeping. The Jawa kicked Asgar on the tail, and his eyes opened.
Speaking in Hutt he said 'Ho, Zena. What adventure brings you here today?'
'I,' said Zena, opening her cloak, and revealing the lightsaber on her belt. 'Am a Jedi.'
Asgar looked at the youngling.
'You think yourself a Skywalker, do you? Or a cheating Solo. They never pay their debts.'
Zena took out the lightsaber and turned it on. 'I can dance around as fast as the shadows,' she said. 'Shadows which you can never catch up to.'
And she danced around the cave, and the Jawa flicked his finger, and the band started a tune.
'I am Jedi, and I am amazing,' yelled Zena.
'Ho ho ho,' chortled Asgar. 'She is full of beans today comrades.'
Zena leaped over rocks and up cabinets, and pulled out a weapon, and said 'Bah. I am jedi. I fear not puny laser cannons.'
'She is brave,' said Asgar. The Jawa folded his arms. He was far from impressed.
Zena jumped down in front of Asgar, and bowed, and said, 'My father trained me in dance, and trained me in acrobatics. But my passion is what makes the skill my father taught me excel to levels unheard of. I am the most feared of Jedi Maidens in all of Tatooine. Nay, all the galaxy.' Her prose was perfectly precise, and the audience of Asgar the Hutt were greatly impressed. And she danced the cave, and skirted around, and the show was spectacular. Eventually she calmed down, and sat down on a seat, next to the Jawa, and Asgar closed his eyes, and went back to sleep. The Jawa said something and Zena repliled. 'I can kick ass with the best Jedi's Jawa boy. I just need to find one of them, and go off on my adventure. It's in me, I tell you. Something great. Something grand.'
The Jawa spoke again.
'Dream on, huh?' replied Zena.
The Jawa again spoke.
'Just a silly girl with a saber too much for her sorry ass, huh? Funny Jawa boy. Funny.'
The Jawa chortled, and Zena stood. 'I will return,' she said dramatically, and covered herself with her cloak, left the cave, got on her cycle, and headed for home, her performance a hit for sure.
Zena looked up at the picture of her mother on the wall.
'I miss you mum,' she said.
Whirrr deet doo deet,' said R2 D2, in the corner of her bedroom.
'I know R2. She's doing what she must. I miss her, though. But dad's drinking can get a bit much, and mum had enough. I'll visit her one day. If I can afford a trip offworld.'
R2 whirred, and Zena settled down.
'You know, R2. I dream of being a real Jedi. Honestly. I swear. In my dreams I'm fighting Sith and things, and Stormtroopers. And there is this lady beside me all the time. I know her name in my dreams, but I just can't say it. And there are her best friends. And I'm on a ship called the Falcon or something like that, and we're flying through space, and there are people chasing us, and it's a wild ride. And there a man, one of those Mandalorian's. And he is after me for a 'High Price.' He keeps on saying that. 'For a High Price.' It's really weird, and I can never shake him in my dreams.'
'It's also weird. You have a twin in my dreams also. He's bright and sparkly, though. Not like your sorry ass. He's all flashy, and he's really famous and stuff, and celebrated. And you are teaming up with him. And there's this weird adventure around a black hole which you two are very concerned with. It's all very strange.'
R2 whirred once more.
'I know. I should get some sleep.'
She picked up her lightsaber, and looked at it. She would be a Jedi one day. She was sure of it. But for now she was a silly teenager, with dreams beyond her real station in life. So she put down the saber, and pulled up the blankets, and settled down to sleep. And all around Moss Eisley nobody was wiser to the recent adventures of Zena Lucian, barring those select few who had enjoyed her recent act.
The Powers of the Dark Side
'The force drives Lucian offworld,' said Scar Palpatine.
Darth Verlak smiled. 'She is young, and naïve. She knows not her own powers yet.'
'We can corrupt her,' said Scar. 'They always like to fall. It is their coming of age. Time and time again when we bother to push our agenda, they succumb so easily. They have no Jedi spirit like those from the ancient times. Offer them the galaxy, and their eyes light up. Lucian is no different. She will accept our terms.'
Scar Palpatine picked up the Orb Centralis. 'I sense she is ready for a fight. Already she believes she will be accepted as Padawan, and she knows her age to be too old.'
'Some before her were too old, yet were admitted,' said Verlak.
'Vader was exceptional,' said Scar. 'My father knew it when he saw him in action. The Jedi council simply would not turn him down in the end. Yoda knew it unwise, but the promise was too much to forsake. And they will say the same of Lucian's daughter. This child of the force will be too much for them to resist. They will not turn her away.'
'She flies with Skywalker,' said Verlak. 'I sense it. I can see it I am sure.'
'Your farsight is always cloudy, brother,' said Scar. 'But you speak true. Rey has befriended her, and they seek the council emerging of Jedi Warriors, to entertain the notion that this young talent will be Rey's Padawan. She virtually rules their council now, and the other new Jedi will not decline her wishes. They have no prudence as they once had. But I know they suffered heavily, and tradition is gone in many ways. They are reborn, and must learn again. And that is their weakness, and what we can make their undoing.'
'Yet they live time and time again,' said Verlak. 'Because the force refuses to change its way. It admits and revels in its darkness, yet always clings to the light. It is of a dual nature it never denies. And it will always bring Sith to Jedi and Jedi to Sith. It is the way of the force.'
'And so we shall gather this young chick, and bring her to the dark, and she will be our new pawn of prophecy for the dark side,' said Scar.
'As you say,' replied Darth Verlak.
'Mother,' said Zena, and hugged Celeborn Lucian.
'Your father's brother is inside,' said Celeborn.
'My lady,' said Rey, bowing. 'We are here on New Alderaan to speak with the Jedi Council. Since New Alderaan's rebirth, and the establishment of the New Council here after Coruscant's destruction, I have been of the mind to ensure I follow the yearnings of the force. I knew I must visit Tatooine, not just to lay rest to a shadow of my soul. There was something more there. There was a work of the force which comes from days of old. And in your daughter I found that work. I don't understand it yet. The force often works in ways difficult to discern. But she is a child of High Price. This much I know is true. She is a child of High Price. And her father Tyler objects not to me taking her as my Padawan apprentice, but I seek your permission likewise.'
Celeborn nodded, and looked at her daughter. 'It is much to be a Jedi. We will speak later, and I will know your mind.'
'As you wish mother,' replied Zena.
Shortly Alfed Lucian, Zena's uncle, was hugging Zena tightly, and while his breath smelled badly of tobacco, she was very grateful to see her favourite uncle.
'You have grown, Zena. So tall. The last time I saw you – knee high, young lady.'
'I remember you though,' said Zena. 'And I look at the family pictures of you all the time.'
'Priceless,' replied Alfred. 'I need a smoke, though,' and he excused himself.
'He should know better for this example than in front of you directly,' said Celeborn.
'Men do as they will,' said Rey, seated on a chair. 'They do not always consider their influence on the young. And when they do, they do not really change their ways either. It is their nature to be brash and brave and bold. They think themselves the hero.'
'My dear,' said Celeborn. 'It is why we admire them so.'
'Perhaps,' said Rey. 'Yet it is the gentler man which wins my heart.'
'And has that heart been won?' queried Celeborn.
Rey looked out the window. 'I can not say,' she replied.
Celeborn looked at the Jedi Knight, and turned to her daughter. 'Choose wisely, should a man desire your heart. Some are champions in more ways than one, and some are the dark side itself.'
'R2 is the only man I need,' said Zena.
R2 whirred, and Zena said, 'I love you too R2,' bringing smiles from Rey and Celeborn.
'It is good to see you daughter.'
'And you too, mother. And you too.'
The Pandering to the Dark Side
After presentations at councils, and learning Jedi ways a while, Zena Lucian continued on in her regular schooling studies on academies in New Alderaan and, at times, when Rey permitted, she would visit Tatooine and her father, do her own studies, and talk of work in the community. She was interested in developing her identity as the Clan Lucian Jedi Knight of Tatooine. This was what she feel she represented. She had spoken to Rey at length about the idea and, one afternoon, out the back of her father's place, a shimmer of force appeared to her.
'Luke,' said Rey. 'I know your picture. Every Jedi does.'
'I could imagine my fame,' replied the spirit force of Luke Skywalker. 'Are you well?'
'As well as anyone I could think,' said Rey, and sat down, R2 D2 next to her whirring at Skywalker.
'An R2 unit,' said Luke. 'Novel to see another.'
'Yes,' agreed Zena, playing with a stick.
'Rey. She's an admixture of what we can't really deny,' said Luke. 'She is a pivot of the war of the dark side and the light side of the force. You know your master has turned, and then pretended that all is well. The recent turmoils have created disharmony in the force. And Rey knows this. She also knows that she must do what she must do, for she has a faith in an idea of the force, as most Jedi in fact do. Obi Wan felt he knew insights into the force, as did Yoda. There were ways they understood it to work. And tell me, you do also?'
'It panders to darkness,' said Zena. 'The force. It knows it is wrong. Deep down I can tell the force knows. It is realistic. These Midiclorians of life in the galaxy. They know what our galaxy and it's people are made of. They know their hearts and deep thoughts. And they know people will often have their wicked way, and that they will often expect to be justified even in this. So it crafts out a way of life for them also. The dark side.'
Luke came to Zena, and sat down, crossing his legs.
'In school, as a little one, I knew I was mostly a good kid. Oh, I still did bad things. We all do. And I've met a few rogues over the years who, while their heart is mostly in the right place, questionable things at times they indeed do. But that is the nature of the choices this existence thrusts upon us. The interactions of living being force right and they force wrong. And it is the nature of the beast. And the force knows this, and chooses wisely to work as best it can with the reality of the situation.'
'Which is exactly what I am saying. Pandering to the dark side,' replied Zena sarcastically.
'I suppose,' said Luke. 'Use your Light Sabre. Impress me.'
And for the next while Zena Lucian impressed the force person of Luke Skywalker, with acrobatic feats, and light saber moves, and the whirring of a R2 unit seemed enjoyed just as much as the famous member of the Skywalker clan.
Confrontation with the Dark Lords
'I spit on your father's father's father, Darth Verlak. He raised a bastard, who raised a swine, who raised a pig, who sired a beast,' and Zena spat on the ground in the temple of the dark, the darkness all around, and the armed stormtrooper looking on with weapons held in an eery gaze.
'They were not pleasant souls, tis agreed,' replied Darth Verlak.
'Best him will you,' said Scar Palpatine, seated on his throne. 'He is my padawan, and he is experience in blood duel, Zena Lucian.'
Zena circled Darth Verlak, and ran in charging with her Light Saber, an overhead slash, which Verlak fended off, and the circling continued. A laser bolt flew past Zena's face, and she turned and noticed a Stormtrooper with laser raised. 'Funny,' she said to the stormtrooper.'
Scar Palpatine waved at the stormtrooper, indicating him to put down his weapon, and as the stormtrooper complied, Darth Verlak made his move,coming in quickly, and hacking at Zena. He clipped her ear, and it singed. Zena grabbed it, and yelped.
'The Jedi can't handle an earache. She is no knight. She is a whelp.'
Zena put both her hands firmly on her light sabre, and shouted, 'For the faith of the side of good in the force, be smitten in my righteous anger,' and with all her acrobatic prowess she rushed, suddenly turning to the right of Darth Verlak, and hacked at him, severing his hand which held the light sabre. Darth Verlak yelled, and collapsed on the ground. He stared up at her. 'I'll finish you yet,' he said through gritted teeth.
Zena glared at him, but suddenly a host of laser shots were going off from several storm troopers, who were suddenly attacking the others. One of them ripped off his helmet. It was Poe Dameron. 'Come, we've been here all along. What, you thought we'd let you boast your way to Palpatines destruction without lending a hand?'
Palpatine observed, and signalled for one of the Red Sith Knights to take Darth Verlak. He retreated with Verlak, and as the struggle in the chamber continued, Zena glared after her enemies.
'Let them go,' said Poe. 'Fight them another day. Let's get the heck out of here.'
Zena was stubborn, and made as to follow, but Poe grabbed her, and looked at her face, and she yielded, and followed him away, back to the waiting Millennium Falcon, and off this mad world.
The Clans of the Galaxy
'You can't literally catch the wind,' said Joh Dreamweaver.
'I can,' replied Tarakin. 'It's in my blood. From ancient days of Tatooine.'
Joh took a pebble and threw it down into Dam Eelid, the dam itself. 'I doubt you speak truly Tarakin Windcatcher. It is fable our surnames were Archons of Power. They are noble gestures of pride from the founding fathers, aspirations of glory they sought. Not realities of their birth.'
'Yet I catch the wind,' replied Tarakin, and took a pebble also, and threw it down into the dam, watching till it hit the water and made a ripple. He turned and looked the other way, out into the city of Dam Eelid beneath the Dam, which lay up in the Eelid mountains of Tatooine. The city was vast, one of the biggest cities of Tatooine, and plush with greenery, rare for their desert planet. Down their in the city life went on, life in the Empire or Republic or whatever Tatooine recognized these days. Maybe even a little world of its own, its own system, as the Jedi Council of New Alderaan had gone separate ways with New Coruscant, and the galaxy was split in two, and maybe even many more parts. They had a life now, in a galactic confederation, which was its own way, and ran in its own style. And he felt it, in the force, the difference now in his bones. The quality had changed. It wasn't as hard anymore. It was more peaceful, more joyful, more – exciting. A better life.
'Prove it,' said Joh Dreamweaver.
'I will. But weave me a dream, as I know you can, and send it to me. Of the wind of Dam Eelid. Of the high mountain air, and I will catch the wind, and fulfil your dare.'
'Don't be stupid Tarakin. I don't know how to do any such thing,' replied Joh.
'But you are a Dreamwever,' he replied.
She looked at him with uncertainty. 'You really think I can?'
'I know so,' replied Tarakin. 'Listen. Listen carefully. In the air, in the aether, there is a buzz. In the force. Things are alive now. We are in a new confederation, and it's not like the old one. New powers run the show, and there is a new way. And it's a much better way.'
'I know the talk,' said Joh, and took another pebble, and dropped it down into the dam. 'But we still must find our purpose in life regardless.'
'Which will be easier,' said Tarakin.
'Maybe,' she replied. 'But exams are exams, and they are tough to pass unless you study, no matter how much the aether inspires you.'
'Of course,' he replied.
She looked at him. 'You're silly. But I like it.'
'I can catch the wind,' said Tarakin, standing up on the bench, with his arms outstretched. 'I can catch the wind and ride it's wildest spirit.' He looked down at her and smiled. 'And you will dream me every step of the way.'
She looked up at him. 'Silly idiot,' she said, and he jumped down, and hugged her, and they started the trek back down to the city, heading for their homes.
* * *
'Art Skyfire,' said Courtney Dreamweaver. 'Skysteam does not think you are much of a threat.'
'They are the weakest Sky clan,' replied. 'I mean come on – mistmakers. Not exactly a Tatooine specialty. They are failing pretty lousily Courtney.'
'Funny,' she replied. 'You get up there on that rock you like to masquerade, and say 'Behold the Fire,' yet all that comes out is a weird belching sound. What, you think you are a frikking dragon or something? Is that the secret of the Skyfire clan?'
'Shut up Nightmare girl,' replied Art Skyfire.
'The Skywalkers must think you average indeed. The sorriest member of lowly Skyfire.'
'We're in the upper hierarchy,' replied Art. 'Skywalkers recognize us well.'
'I doubt it,' replied Courtney.
'Humph,' said Art. 'Dreamweavers? There are like only 3 or 4 Dream clans, and you don't even rule. Dreamstones always get the glory. They always do.'
'Dreamstones are cunning,' replied Courtney Dreamweaver. We're working them out though.'
'Like those ruddy Skywalkers,' replied Art. 'I'll work out there secrets. I will, I tell you. They think they rule the galaxy these days. A big ruddy dark Sith Lord and then a Rebel Hero. All the power and glory they say all day long.'
'They don't really boast about it, actually,' replied Courtney. 'Unlike Skyfires, they are a humble clan. Why the force chose them to rule the Sky.'
'Yeh, whatever,' replied Art Skyfire. 'You'll see. We'll be up soon enough.'
'In your dreams. Now get off that damn rock, and let's go get some sustenance. I'm hungry, and it's lunchtime.'
'Fine,' replied Art, and jumped off the rock, and accompanied his girlfriend into the city, to find a place for lunch.
* * *
Tarakin and Art were smoking ciggies.
'You two are terrible,' said Courtney.
'Pathetic,' said Joh.
'Hey, we're the men,' said Tarakin.
'Real men,' said Art.
'Probably unemployed bums, at home on mum and dad's expense till their late 30s, before they finally get off their arses and get real work. And only then because the parent's are threatening to kick them out, and change the locks if they don't go voluntarily,' said Courtney.
'Oh, that's cold,' said Tarakin. He looked at Joh. 'I got the dream,' he said.
'I figured out how it might happen. I felt it. Inside,' said Joh. 'Something in me responded when I was thinking about my surname. Something gelled inside. I think it was the force, you know.'
'And I think you are right,' replied Tarakin. 'And I have ideas of how I will follow the dream, and ride the wild wind.'
Joh smiled. 'It could be amazing. There was a lot I weaved.'
'So I'll hardly be an unemployed bum,' smirked Tarakin.
'I guess not,' said Joh.
'Art thinks he's going to be the ruling Sky clan one day,' said Courtney.
'In their dreams,' replied Tarakin.
'If Court provides one,' said Art Skyfire.
'It comes in the way it thinks best,' replied Courtney. 'I can control it, but lots of other things seem to interfere. Like there are a thousand voices in my heart weaving out life.'
'The Life of the Force,' said Tarakin.
'Maybe,' said Courtney.
All 3 looked at Courtney, and puzzled on that idea.
'Well, semester is nearly over,' said Tarakin, and it's our final year. Next year we face Academy or the real world.'
'You better be ready,' said Art.
'And you also,' replied Tarakin.
The group continued on in the park of Dam Eelid, and as they day passed they eventually went their separate ways, returning home, thoughts of the future put aside as they got on with their home life and concerns of bothersome parents.
Clan Council of Dam Eelid
Zena landed her Starfighter in the starport of Dam Eelid. She dusted the X-Wing for a while, noticing the gunk which had been building up for a few years, using a rag a worker at the spaceport had handed to her. Satisfied, she walked to the registry office, gave her details, and left the starport, hailing a cab. As they trundled along through Dam Eelid, she rested her head against the glass window, looking out at the city, thinking over recent events. The sith had gotten away, but they had claimed the 'Vallurian Crystal', which was what they were after. It held a cryptic map of the galaxy, a precious item of the Sith, which when decoded would show key locations in the Empires overall strategy. It had cost lives, those of dear friends, but they had paid the toll, and claimed their prize. It was just a heavy price to pay. Soon they arrived at Clan Council, and she got out. The man at the reception asked for her lightsabre, but she stared at him, and he waved her in. Soon enough she found Tag Jinn.
'You know,' said Tag, sitting at a seat in the cafeteria of the Clans Council, 'I always worry about that look on your face Zena. I've known you over 5 years now, and when you wear that frown it's never good.'
'There is contention in the Skies,' said Zena. 'And the Luc's'. A few others as well. All over the galaxy, in free cities, these tensions are erupting into conflict over power. They don't even know who they support these days. The light side or the dark side of the force.'
'That's hardly been an issue a while now with some of the younger,' replied Tag. 'They are more practical. Pragmatic. If it gets the job done it will do. That is how they pursue their education and their career. Whatever it takes for the most part.'
Zena sat down. 'It is hardly ethical,' she replied.
'What the hell is ethical on Tatooine?' replied Tag.
'Not much,' sighed Zena.
'You look dusty. Hard week?'
'You could say that,' replied Zena. 'We've made progress in pushing back Empire plans, but these Star Wars never seem to end. They are an unrelenting opposition which come at you time and time again. Bent on their craft, the dark force running through them. It never changes.'
'Get drunk, and find a man,' said Tag. 'And your worries will all go away.'
Zena laughed. 'Perhaps,' she smiled. 'Anyway, I want to make an official report for Tatooine on clan activities I have encountered around the galaxy. There are issues which need to be addressed by the Galactic Clan councils. Resolutions of power and authority. This situation should not be allowed to get out of hand. I feel if it continues this way it won't just be the Empire which is the problem anymore. It will be warring and envious family names.'
'I see,' replied Tag. 'Well, make your report, but get yourself cleaned up. And have a drink. You could use one.'
Zena smiled. 'It's good to see you Tag Jinn.'
'And you too Zena Lucian. And you too.'
Zena grabbed for her lightsabre, but the youth kicked it away from her grasp.
'I can fight,' she said, raising her fists. 'Think carefully street urchin.'
The youth mocked her. 'I have a buddy, though. Shar. Come out.'
A nervous dark skinned youth emerged from the shadows of the alley, and looked at Zena.
'We should probably leave her be Skam. She's probably a Jedi with that sabre or something. She'll use the force.'
'Skam Durander stood his ground. He was a Dam Eelid punk, and his friend Shar Skelid was similar, but not as taken by the streets yet. He still had innocency in him.
Zena looked at Skam. 'What do you want?'
'Money,' replied Skam. 'I'm frikking broke Jedi.'
Zena carefully walked over to her lightsabre and picked it up, keeping her eye on Skam. She put it back in her belt, and tidied up her hair. 'Crime doesn't pay you know. It's not the way to get by in life.'
Skam, who had been holding back out of fear she might be a Jedi, was still defiant. 'Nobody will give me work. Nobody cares.' He collapsed down in the alleyway against the wall of the building, and put his head in his hands. He spat, and there was blood in his spit.
'You've been fighting,' said Zena.
'Earlier. Brawling with a man for his money. He hit me in the mouth and left. I didn't get anything.'
'I should probably report you, you know,' she said.
'Go ahead,' said Skam. 'At least they will feed us in detention.'
'Don't say that,' said Shar. 'We have each other. We can make it.'
Zena looked at them both. She thought on her youth in Mos Eisley, and kids like this which were around some times, on the edge of town. Hopeless kids, not much going for them.
'Come with me,' said Zena.
Skam looked up at her. 'Where?'
'To a better life,' replied Zena.
She led them, and they came to the Starport.
'You'll both have to cramp in, one on the other's lap. But I'll take you to my home. In New Alderaan. I have family there, and there are people who can help you. Give you work and something to do. There is probably nothing left for you on Tatooine.'
And so Zena Lucian took in two youthlings, who were just dumb teenagers, not knowing anything about life much. But there was inside their hearts a testing for each. A testing of the force. From both the good, and the bad.
Shar and Skam
Shar was tempted. He was on New Alderaan in the Temple of Padawan Delight. The Temple of Padawan Delight was were the young Padawans in training became one with the force. The Force was summoned in the Temple regularly by elder Jedis and it ran richly throughout the temple and its grounds.
'It is alive,' said Zeb Lad Jinn. 'The Light Side of the Force. The Midichlorians are an aspect of our galaxy formed through the natural creative proces in the universe at its origin.'
'How did the universe begin, Zeb Lad Jinn?' asked Shar.
'There are – many answers,' replied Zeb. 'Traditional ones, and obscure ones. There is no concrete truths which are universally recognized on this question. Jedi have traditional answers, and so do Sith, and most cultures do, where creation is made in their image, as it would be. Some say the force is all that was in the very beginning of things, and in some traditions there are dualistic answers of the light side and dark side eternally in conflict. Some posit that God is the primal creator of our universe, and other posit that we are all seed eternal in our existences, and that we were at rest to begin with till the universe brought our seed to growth and life. And so many other postulations. But regardless of what caused all to be, here we are now and it is what we do with our time given in life which is the making or undoing of us and our purpose.'
'I see,' said Shar.
'I am sorry if I could be of no further help,' replied Zeb, putting his hand on Shar's shoulder. 'Cosmology is always a challenging subject for many.'
'Yes. It is,' replied Shar. Zeb left him, and he sat crossed leg in the middle of a temple training gym, when Skam entered in. He tossed Shar his lightsabre, and flicked his own on.
'Challenge me Rebel Scum,' he said.
'Funny Skam,' replied Shar. And so they duelled, but with not too much intensity, mostly smooth moves, in Jedi tradition, slowly made, and considerd on their training.
'You think the light side is the way to go?' asked a sweating Skam when their duel had ended.
'It suits me,' replied Shar. 'I don't think I'd make much of a Sith in the end.'
'Me, don't know. Being a Jedi is in me. I know this. The force seemed to settle with me and say it liked me well enough. But I felt a – hesitation. As if was reluctant to move much more than a basic training program. But I see it in you. It likes you more.'
Shar looked at Skam. 'Don't turn to the dark side you idiot.'
'Why not? The pay is better.'
'True,' replied Shar, and they chuckled, and wiped off their sweat, and headed off to the showers to clean up and begin their afternoon studies.
The Vallurian Crystal
Skam awoke in a cold sweat. It was night in the dorms of the Temple of Delight, and Shar was in the other bed nearby, fast alseep. It was the dream again. The same shadowy figure. Again, offering him power and abundance, and whispering to him. 'Retrieve it for me.' Skam had sensed, from this nights dream, it was the Vallurian Crystal the dark figure wanted. The Key to Dark Side locations, something the Rebel Alliance was still trying to crack. He shook off the dream, and stood, put on a robe, and walked to the window. He looked out at the cold night, and the greenery around the temple. He knew. He'd known since the first night the dream had come. It was the dark side. It was Sith. It had found him, found his heart, and nestled into it, for it seemed to know what Skam also knew to be true. He was no Jedi.
The following week they were with Zena, who had returned, and were at the Rebel Alliance Headquarters in the city. Zena was discussing things with many, and there was a lady present, Rey Skywalker apparently, who was the legend in the war at Exxogol. Skam and Shar were in the background, but Skam stole away quietly, yet Rey noticed him leave. He weaved his way upstairs, and found were the Vallurian Crystal was located, in a laboratory, being studied. He looked at it.
'You're going to take it,' said a voice behind him. 'Aren't you? And take it to your new Dark Lord.'
Skam did not flinch and look behind him, but he knew who it was.
'You're a Palpatine. You know the power of the dark side.'
'I'm a Skywalker,' replied Rey. 'And I know what to resist.'
Skam said nothing more, and waited, then turned, but Rey was gone. And so he did the deed, and took the Crystal under his cloak, and stole away from the headquarters, headed for an X-Wing, and a place he seemed compelled to go.
Rey and Zena watched him leave from the upper window.
'We should not have let him take it,' said Zena.
'It is – better – this way,' replied Rey. 'He must go and do as his heart tells him.' She looked at Zena. 'We shan't have him back if we push at him too much. Let the youth learn. He may in time come to his senses.'
Zena saw the wisdom but the crystal had cost them so much. But she relented, as Skam departed, knowing a new Sith Lord was likely on the horizon.
Cunning Moves from the Empire
'HE'S SITH!' yelled Zena Lucian.
She stood there, incredulously.
'He's done nothing illegal so far under Tatooine law,' said Tag Dar Jinn.
'The member of the Clan Council is correct,' said the house speaker. 'The Empire has approached us under truce,with the intention of establishing legal party presence on Tatooine.'
'Bite me, Lucian,' said Darth Verlak.
'Is that skulking Skam Durrander hiding behind you?' asked Zena.
'I'm not hiding,' replied Skam, stepping out so that he could be seen. He was dressed in a typical dark robe a Jedi might wear, but he was no Jedi.
'We have a traditional presence in recent years on Tatooine,' said Darth Verlak. 'The Empire has conducted its affairs with authority and strength.' He turned and looked at Zena Lucian. 'But it has become increasingly apparent to us that the Rebel Alliance does not appreciate our particular strengths. Emporer Palpatine was a popular figure in the Galaxy, yet he was destroyed on Exxogol by the Rebel alliance because they didn't like his style,' said Darth Verlak in a mocking tone. 'So very well. We will apply democracy to the process. The Empire has a new position in various areas of the galaxy. We have noted that Tatooine and many worlds in this sector have made vast improvements in social standing and attitude. Quite frankly' he said, addressing the house speaker. 'You have made severe advances in tolerance and acceptance and allowing a dark sense of humour. The youth of Dam Eelid, we have noted, are far more practical and pragmatic. They are very much to our liking a lot of the time. More free to express their natural inclinations without being repressed so much. Because of that we are happy enough to allow democracy to rule these dominions without objection. Your moral structures are far truer now. Let the Rebels compete with us politically. The youth are happy to hear both sides.'
Skam Durander addressed the House Speaker. 'The kids don't mind some of the Empires way quite frankly, Lord Speaker.'
'Of this we are aware,' replied the House Speaker. 'The Empire shall be allowed entrance into Tatooine affairs should they comply with legislationary requirement.'
'As we are happy to do,' replied a grinning Darth Verlak, staring at Zena lucian.
'Fuck' swore Zena softly under her breath.
'Indeed,' replied Tag Dar Jinn.