Stellar Pathways, Part 4
By Michael J. Pfeffer

Part 4: New Beginning

March 27th, 1998
New Republic fleet Red Zulu One
Aboard the Calamari cruiser Triumphant
3:45 PM Lawndale Time

Luke took the Earth residents to a turbolift down inside the star cruiser, towards the living
quarters. Mara Jade had to attend a matter on the bridge, and Jesse was lost, so it was only
the six of them.

"It all began about eight years ago," Luke said. "We broke free from the clutches of the evil
Galactic Empire by destroying their Death Star. Emperor Palpatine and his apprentice,
Darth Vader, were killed in the battle, and the remnants of the Old Republic disbanded the
Rebel Alliance and we became the New Republic."

"That's the government now, right?" Mara Jacobs asked.

Skywalker nodded. "About five years after that, we had to stop Grand Admiral Thrawn, one
of the best Imperial commanders, from retaking most of the galaxy. Two years after that, we
finally finished the clones of the Emperor and stopped his uprising. A year after that, we
fought off another rogue Imperial admiral, Daala, and we had to send one of her
superweapons into a black hole."

"Talk about turbulent," Daria said. "We've had to do that every once in a while back on earth.
Once, we had to break free of British rule, but then we had a civil war. After that, the entire
planet went into combat for a while. We're not sure what's keeping us going. Probably some

"Speaking of which," Michael said, "what's the deal with that other 911 you had in the hangar

Luke smiled. "That's an old relic from our fight against the Empire. We captured a weapons
factory in the Kazan Ridge, and we found two of those craft that hadn't yet been destroyed.
They're Seinar Fleet Systems XM-2 Missile Boats. One of them was modified with a
Genuine People Personalities shipboard computer. We thought it was a little bit too
halcyonic, so we decided to transfer it someplace else. The Imperials jumped us, and our
agents brought him to Earth. Imperial Javin Sector authorities would never look there."

"So that's where Eddie came from," said Trent.

"I always knew that something that annoying couldn't have come from Earth," said Jane, "but
I still don't get game show hosts."

The doors slid open, and a tall, sinister-looking man was waiting for them...
...with a gun.

Michael spun Mara around behind him, and Trent pushed Jane and Daria down, intending to
take the shots. Michael reached under his arms for his trusty Beretta ace-in-the-hole pistols,
but the assassin had already drawn a bead on his target. The dark man raised the small
weapon and fired a bolt at Michael, who couldn't get to his pistols fast enough to return fire.
The sparking lightning struck him in the midsection, and Michael fell down. With that, he
turned towards Skywalker and aimed, yelling "Long live the Emperor!" With that, he fired.

Luke held out his hand, and a long cylinder seemed to jump from his belt and ignite,
revealing a three-foot long beam of light. The dark assassin fired a salvo at Luke, but the
Jedi Master effortlessly blocked the stun bolts with his lightsaber. With a leap and a flash of
light, the assassin was cut cleanly in half.

Mara found something that looked like a radio and activated it. "We've got a problem here!
Send medical help! We're in... uh... just get here fast!"

Daria and Jane had just got up. "Trent," Jane said, "next time, let the assassins kill us. You
don't have to do it yourself, okay?"

Luke had just sheathed his lightsaber and had knelt over Michael's prone body, with his
hands on the temples of Michael's head. Suddenly, Luke stood up. "He's all right. That was
a neutralizer stun bolt. He'll wake up, but he won't be able to move around for a while."

"How long?" asked Mara, her face etched with concern.

"Four days."

"Dammit," everyone said.

The clack-clack-clack of marching jackboots echoed through the halls of the cruiser, and
two New Republic medical technicians marched up, carrying a stretcher. "What happened?"
one of them asked.

"Imperial assassin," Skywalker said. "He must have forgotten to switch to kill."

The medic shrugged. He lifted Michael onto the stretcher and they rushed him to the
medical center.

Med Center Alpha
4:30 PM Lawndale time

He opened his eyes, slowly... not realizing where he was. Something flooded back to him...

"My God! I can't feel my legs! Holy... Everyone, get down!" Michael shouted, reaching under
his arms. Feeling the textured grip of his twin pistols, he pulled himself up and threw himself
behind the nearest cover. He unsafed the pistols...

... and looked at the incredulous faces of two New Republic medics.

Michael grinned sheepishly. "Heh... sorry, guys." He put the pistols back in the shoulder
holsters. "I thought you were my parents or something."

Jane looked around from the hall. " Did I miss it? I just hope you wasted the medics. They
wouldn't let me in." She saw the two uniformed doctors. "Damn." They helped him back up.

"Why can't I feel my legs, or..." suddenly, his arms went limp. "Wonderful. Now I can't even
move around."

"You were hit by some assassin's stun bolt," Mara said as she walked in. "You're out of
commission for four days."

"Four days?" Michael asked, turning pale. "Damn. Luke had asked me to run escort for a
while. Where's Daria and Trent?"

"They're out with Luke, looking for Jesse. Captain Malakin doesn't want too many people
snooping around."

"Ah. Okay, someone's gotta fly escort for a while. Mara, when Trent comes back, why don't
you team up with him for a while? He knows the flight control systems, you can work with the
weapons. However you want, just go ahead." He reached into his pocket and tossed the
remote controls for the MJP-911 to Mara.

She caught the controller deftly. "You got it. Enjoy the convalescent leave," she said with a