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Stellar Pathways, Part 3
By Michael J. Pfeffer



Part Three: Meetings and Greetings

March 27th, 1998
3:30 PM Lawndale Time
Stellar Coordinates 1035, 9642- several trillion miles above the Andromeda galactic plane
Aboard the MJP-911

The mottled blur of hyperspace was as it had been for the past week, but now, those
watching it were together once again. They were about to depart from interdimensional
travel and arrive...

...well, they didn't know where they were going to arrive yet. Trent and Jesse were keeping
an eye on the weapons systems, Jane was relaxing in the lounge with Daria, and Michael
and Mara were in the cockpit.

"Stand by to jump out of hyperspace," Mara said over the intercom. "In three...two...one..."

Everyone tensed as she pulled back on the two engine levers. The starlines flared back into
stars. Eddie began computing a position report.

A few moments later, the shipboard computer coughed.

Verbally coughed.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he spoke, "we are now approximately ten to the power of five
hundred quadrillion, seven..."

"Will we able to go back eventually, Eddie?" Jane asked.

"Oh, yeah, of course!" said the computer. "I can compute distances and..."

"Shut up, Eddie," Daria said, then she pointed to the radar display. "Michael, we've got
targets... very, very, big targets ahead of us."

"How big?" Trent asked.

"Oh, about 1.2 kilometers long," Michael said casually.

"What?"

"You heard me. One thousand, two hundred meters long. Hang on, I can get a visual. They
aren't too far out..."

Five seconds later, the monitor showed what looked like some giant mass of bulges, yet
aerodynamically sculpted. "What is that thing? Jesse said in awe.

"I'm not sure," Michael responded. "I just hope it's a friendly- we're being tracked."

In the fast approaching spaceship, two figures- one male, one female, stood at the bridge.
"Well, well, looks like we have some company," the man said in a confident yet soothing
voice.

"The question is, are they hostile?" the lady asked, her voice laced with experience and
knowledge from countless situations before.

The tall man closed his eyes, projecting his thoughts through space towards the small
craft... "They're travelers..." he said. "Travelers from across the universe..."

"So we can call Scouting Services and have their position traced," the lady snapped back,
tossing her hair. "We're busy."

"Mara, we have to welcome them. They've come all the way from..." he scrunched his
forehead in concentration. "Earth? Never heard of it."

Master Trader Mara Jade sat down in the command chair of the Mon Calamari MC80 star
cruiser in exasperation and brushed off her tan jumpsuit. "Well, terrific, Luke," she said.
"Why not torpedo one of the biggest cross-trade route openings in New Republic history?
We need to be on schedule! Trakai and Yaga Minor are ready for us."

(Author's note- to prevent further confusion, Mara Jade and Mara Jacobs will now be known
as Jade and Jacobs, respectively, when the two are in the same scene. -MJP)

Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, clad in dark robes, stood with infinite majesty and calm. "Come
on, Mara, they're probably lost or something." Luke keyed a comm panel. "Open the
docking bay doors," he spoke into the speaker. "We have guests."

Back on the MJP-911, Michael had gone off to change into his Air Force uniform. "We're
acting dignitaries of Earth, representing our entire species," he had said. "At least one of us
has to look nice."

Trent was jotting down notes. "If we can't make money off this, at least it'll make a great
song."

Jesse was lost somewhere in the ship.

Mara was powering up the engines and trying to fight off Eddie. "Listen, you sack of silicon,"
she shouted, "I don't want an iced coffee, I don't want Indian food, and I certainly don't want
a mask!"

"But Miss Jacobs," he said, "I only want to keep you at the utmost of enjoyment."

"Shut up, Eddie!"

"Oh well..." Eddie sighed. He shut up.

Daria and Jane were still in the lounge. "I still don't believe it," Daria said. "We've actually
made contact with an alien species."

"Yeah," said Jane. "It's kind of anticlimactic, though, that we're being pulled into a gigantic,
bulgy running shoe."

Daria shrugged. "It's probably some really advanced design. You know, really functional."

"They could at least have some sense of aesthetics. I could probably do a number on that
ship."

"What are you going to do? Weld a bicycle and a few saxophones to it?"

"Nah. Only when I bring it back to Earth and send it to the Whitney Museum."

Just then, Michael walked out, clad in the blue slacks, sky-blue shirt, and dark blue jacket of
an Air Force uniform. The rank badges had obviously been altered- they showed the
five-star general's rank. The "fruit salad" orders and medals decoration was a small one and
a half lines of multicolored ribbons.

"Well, well, someone's looking nice. Going to go flying?"

Michael smiled. "Knock it off. This is the closest I have to formal wear."

Eddie piped up. "Sir, the approaching ship has locked on to us... we seem to be caught in
some sort of beam."

"Tractor beam, maybe?" Daria asked.

"Possibly," Eddie said. "Although they are far from us, they appear to be..."

"SHUT UP, EDDIE!" everyone shouted.

Eddie shut up.

The tractor beam of the Calamari cruiser pulled the MJP-911 effortlessly into the hangar
bay. Jesse had finally found his way back into the cockpit, and all six gaped at the masses
of craft inside. There were fighters, transports, and one thing that looked...

"Whoa, man- that one looks just like Eddie!" Jesse blurted out. It was thin and hawkish in
front, but the fuselage got bigger moving back. There were two bulgy fairings for the
engines, and there were three v-tails in back. It was sitting squat on its landing gear,
dormant. Two figures, one male, one female, were standing in front of it. Michael engaged
the hover engines and lowered the landing gear of the 911. They floated down to a gentle
landing, and the side hatch opened. As the ramp touched down, six armed soldiers with
exotic-looking rifles at port arms marched up in formation. The two figures followed.

Michael walked down, followed by Jacobs, Daria, Jane, Trent, and Jesse. He stood
face-to-face with the tall man in dark robes. "Sir, on behalf of the people of the planet Earth,
I greet you in the name of interstellar friendship and peace. I am an honorary representative
of the United States Air Force, Airman Michael J. Pfeffer."

The man nodded. "It's a pleasure. I am the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, New Republic
united galactic federation, of the planet Tatooine. This is Master Trader Mara Jade, of the
Smugglers Alliance." He gestured to the tall redhead beside him. Jade nodded.

Jacobs looked incredulously at the trader. They looked almost exactly alike.

"These are my friends, all of the planet Earth. Daria Morgendorffer, Jane and Trent Lane,
and Jesse... well, just Jesse, to my knowledge."

Luke nodded. "Welcome, all of you. I'm happy to say that you have arrived at a very
triumphant time for the New Republic. We are opening a new trade route through former
hostile Imperial territory, just wrested from the grasp of our enemies' arms. Since this route
is still not fully secure, we must request that all starfighter traffic must remain docked aboard
ship unless an alert is sounded."

"Alert?" Daria spoke up. "What's going on around these parts?"

Jade smiled a wry smile. "You must have been growing up in the major backwaters. You all
have a lot to learn."