In Stars: Part I
The world hung like a child's marble suspended in the vastness of
space. Through the transparisteel view port the cabin's sole occupant
occasionally got glimpses of green covered continents and deep blue
seas through dense white and gray clouds. It was nearly identical to
a thousand other planets flung across the galaxy, the only unique
things separating it being the shape of its continents and the fact
that it had not yet been captured despite its close proximity to the
The pilot sighed, resting her chin on her crossed arms, and
tried to banish all thoughts of the invaders from her mind. She
should be happy that the planet had somehow survived. Ecstatic, even:
Others had not been so lucky.
Whenever the Yuuzhan Vong captured a planet they reshaped it to their
desires, employing horrible biologically created beasts and organisms
to change the chemical make-up of the world, if they didn't outright
destroy it, sacrificing the inhabitants or enslaving them. She'd been
there at Ithor and had witnessed the destruction first hand. What had
once been a thriving planet was rendered uninhabitable in a matter of
moments. The thriving forests and plains reduced to slime covered
Yet despite the war waging around it, Middle-Earth was untouched. A
haven like it had been during the first decade of her life.
Anagha had half expected it to find it already enslaved, one of the
Vong's huge worldships waiting in ambush for the much smaller New
Republic Correllian Corvette, with enough coralskippers, the Vong's
living starfighters, to easily decimate the two hastily slapped
together squadrons at her command.
It had been a long journey, from the awkward teenager she'd been when
she'd left to the battle hardened commander she was now.
Trista had been furious when she'd found out. The woman had
been Anagha's hero for ages; she'd grown up listening to tales from
her uncle Jalaal about the diminutive Jedi. She'd thought for sure
that the older woman would understand.
The Old Republic style Jedi had lectured her on what a waste
the expedition would be. It would remove valuable pilots from the
front, draining the New Republic's resources, and, Trista had gone on
to point out, it could very well lead the Vong straight to Middle-
Earth. The planet, she felt, was quite capable of protecting itself
without the New Republic meddling in its affairs.
Anagha had automatically questioned how the Jedi knew that
Middle-Earth was safe. It was well known that Trista's methods were
extremely different from Luke Skywalker's, or any Jedi he had
trained, but whenever she tried to sense Middle-Earth through the
Force, all she got was a vague foggy impression. But then Anagha was
hardly known for being adept at using the Force.
"Well you haven't exactly seen any Hobbits, Dwarves or Elves
running around as Vong slaves or used in any sacrifices have you?"
The Jedi had pointed out, crossing her arms over chest before pulling
at her lower lip.
Anagha steepled her fingers and pressed her thumbs against
her forehead. She'd continued to worry about this same thing every
single minute on the weeklong hyperspace journey here. The New
Republic was too technologically advanced; Middle-Earth's far more
medireview culture would never be able to catch up. Which was why, she
reminded herself, precautions would be taken. This was to be fact-
finding mission only, there was to be no interaction with the
inhabitants if possible. A selected few would go in, judge the
situation, and, if there was a threat… Anagha could only hope that
there wasn't, going down that course would require too many
explanations for too many people…and as Trista had said days earlier;
any interaction could very well destroy the innocence that was Middle-
The door whisked open behind Anagha, revealing a tall
humanoid figure with two long snakelike tails, called Lekku, where
hair would normally be on a human. The bright orange of the Twi'lek's
flight suit clashed horribly with her blue skin. She threw Anagha a
quick salute before reporting that the pilots from both Outrigger and
Outlander Squadrons were waiting in the ready-room. The door shut
quickly behind her retreating form.
Anagha sighed; she had her orders…
In Minis Tirith, Arwen was awakened by the sudden emptiness
in next to her in bed. She opened her eyes and sat up to find
Aragorn, King Elessar, dressed and pulling on his boots.
The former ranger saw her and flashed her a slight
smile. "One of Faramir's men found something on patrol, and they want
me to look at it."
Arwen sighed, she had been married to Aragorn for a year now
and was used to him going off to lead a band of men to hunt orcs or
to judge some dispute occasionally. "When will you be back?"
"In an hour or so." Seeing her confused look he quickly
added, "They brought it here."
He grabbed his cloak from the chair and quickly came over and
kissed her lightly. "It's probably nothing, go back to sleep."
The former elf nodded and watched his retreating back as he
left the chamber, knowing that it probably was something. Faramir
would not leave Ithilien and Eowyn for just anything.
"They found it in the forest near a town," Faramir quickly
explained as he and Aragorn headed through the streets of Minis
Tirith towards the lower gate. In the East the sky was hazy with the
beginning of dawn. My men would have dismissed it as just another Orc
but Beregond didn't like how it looked. It's too tall to be either an
Uruk-hai or an Orc…and neither of those are as mutilated as this is."
Two guards stood in front of an old house that had been
cleared of any occupants. They both gave the King a salute before one
stepped forward to open the heavy oak door. Aragorn went inside,
easily brushing aside the curtain that separated the entryway from
the main room, Faramir close behind him.
The first thing he noticed was the smell, reminding him of a
battlefield where the dead waited to be buried, baking in the sun.
Then he saw the stiff form stretched out on the table in the middle
of the room. He stepped closer, ignoring the men who saluted him
before moving back into the shadows as they covered their faces with
rags in the process.
The thing was tall and vaguely human looking, but there any
similarities between it and any race of Middle-Earth stopped. The
forehead sloped back dramatically from an over pronounced brow, all
the other features looked like severe comical replicas from a crudely
carved child's toy. The nose bridge was flattened against the face;
the very tip of it was neatly excised along with any cartilage
underneath. It had no lips, and long wide gashes slashed across its
cheeks showed sharp, decaying teeth. Tattoos covered its head, scalp
and any other peace of skin that showed. The armor was hard and crab-
like, reminding him of the crustaceans that inhabited the shallow
streams and ponds he had occasionally come across in his wanderings.
Horns protruded from its shoulders, elbows, and knees, rough raised
scars surrounding them. Underneath the skin, he could see rough
raised knobs and indentations that weren't made of muscle.
A long slender staff was clutched in its hand with a sharp
point at one end and a flat diamond-like head at the other. Scales
covered its length, reminding Aragorn of a sleek serpent. Almost
unconsciously he reached out a finger and touched its back surprised
by its warmth.
The thing immediately came to life, writhing out of its
owner's hand and spitting a thick green glob at one of the men across
the room. Faramir quickly slid his sword out of its scabbard and
unceremoniously hacked at the creature's head. His sword shattered
but not before the creature stilled and went limp, its head bouncing
once on the straw covered floor. In the corner the man who had been
hit with the poison gasped for air as he lay in one of his comrade's
arms, a large hole burned through his chest.
Not unused to battle, Aragorn walked out of the house and
into the clear air outside. He took several deep breaths and then
sent one of the guards running for his messengers with a single word.
If there were more of those creatures out there all of Gondor and
Rohan would have to be warned, along with the Shire and the Elves.
Also, he would have one rider sent after Gandalf; no doubt he would
need the wizard's advice in this.
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