Star Wars: Empire of the Hand
Note: Rated NC-17. This story takes place late in 35 ABY, between The
Joiner King and The Unseen Queen. It is a work of fan fiction and not written for profit. The Star Wars Universe and EU canon characters
ultimately belong to the maker George Lucas.
He had thought she
Try as he may, Jagged
Fel could not get the images of betrayal out of his mind. What had
happened to the Jaina he had loved, the fiery, determined “Sword
of the Jedi”? How could she have betrayed his love, his
respect for her by Joining with the enemy? That was the question
repeating over and over again in his mind: Why?
You in there?”
Jag grunted a reply,
still staring blankly into his drink, like he had been doing for at
least the last half hour.
“Jag? JAG! Yo,
Flyboy!” Still no response. “Come on, man, we’re
supposed to be having a good time, before you’re shipped out
again. Now smile, Sith damn it, or your whole squadron’s gonna
hear about how you used to think there were dianogas in the
“If I recall, I
wasn’t the only one who fell for that, Shran.” Jag
managed to smile.
“Yeah, well the
places I go, there really can be dianogas in the ‘fresher,
if you’re lucky enough to have a refresher at all!” Shran
was an unusual-looking Chiss. He was a little over 1.5 metres tall,
short for his species, with spiky jet-black hair that refused to stay
in place. His looks were not the only things unusual about him, as
Jag knew only too well.
the one who wanted to be an Explorer,” Jag reminded him
“What can I say?
It’s more fun than just flying around shooting at things.”
way to sum it up. Jag thought to himself. Shran’s comment
brought back a fountain of memories, of flying alongside a certain
X-wing in his Clawcraft, the pair of them blasting coralskippers back
to whatever hell the Yuuzhan Vong came from. Flying together, it
almost felt like they were one mind, a single bird of prey swooping
down on intergalactic vermin. It had felt so right.
the other hand, get to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new
life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Chiss has gone
before!” Shran continued. “Jag? Oh, great, not again!”
He moaned. Jag would never admit it, but seeing his old friend get
frustrated was pretty funny. The spiky-haired Chiss’s bright
red eyes flashed in annoyance. “Jag. Buddy. Knock it off.
Look, I know it’s tough, but she’s gone and she’s
not gonna come back.”
“How would you
know? You’ve never stayed with any girl for longer than one
Leska …” Shran started, referring to his on-again,
off-again “relationship” with a fiery-tempered fellow
your spiky ass last time she saw you,” Jag pointed out.
just her way of showing she loves me and how she can’t
live without me,” Shran shrugged. “Look, if Leska really
wanted to kill me, she’d tell me ‘Shran, I’m going
to kill you!’ And I’d say ‘oh really, how?’
and she’d bring out something kinky like a lightwhip …”
“Shran, I don’t
want to hear about your sick fantasies.”
tell you later. Anyway, the point is…”
have a point? There’s a first.”
Bro. The point is that Leska has enough respect for me to tell
things as it is. She wouldn’t leave me hangin’
for years on end, just to go off and play with the bugs.”
is such a negative term. How about ‘realistic’?”
Jag resumed moping, occasionally looking out the window at the
streets of Chakra City beyond, the starry skies of Nirauan overhead.
It was strange, despite spending the majority of his career in space,
he had rarely bothered to actually look at the stars. Which one was
she around now? Could she possibly be looking up at her sky,
wondering the same about him?
He glanced over at
Shran, who was now watching the rest of the bar, a bored expression
on his face. Two other Chiss in black and silver-trimmed Explorer
uniforms walked by, nodding a greeting to Shran. He waved back; they
were probably members of his crew, just as landlocked and bored as he
was. Jag remembered Shran telling him how his Explorer ship,
Discovery had been at the Spiral shipyards for the last two
months, undergoing repairs from the emergency landing they had been
forced to make when they were attacked by the Kiliks. The
arrow-shaped Explorer mainships were not meant to go in atmosphere at
all. The fact that Shran had managed to “land” his, get
his crew to safety, and most importantly, preserve all of the
Explorers’ research, spoke of his skill as a captain. Now,
Shran was here, trying his best to help Jag, when he clearly had
problems of his own. As exasperating as his friend could be, he was
still that – a friend.
Jag started. He had lost so much lately. He would never want to
lose his lifelong friendship with Shran as well.
worry about it,” Shran smiled. “Hey, if I hadn’t
been laid since before the Bug war started, I’d be pretty
and I … I mean, we never had time…” Jag trailed
telling me you’re this upset and you two never even …?
Fla’conde mais! Shran spat out a particularly nasty
Cheunh curse. “Was it some stupid Jedi thing or something? I
heard they’re not allowed to get married, or was that the Old
order? I forget. I think I ski … I mean, was absent from
that Imperial history class.”
“No, the new
ones can marry.” Jag answered dully.
“Oh yeah! I
remember how pissed Mom was when she heard Mara had married their
little fruit of a leader, what’s his name again?”
You know, the guy who blew up the first Death Star. Jaina’s
uncle.” Sometimes, Shran did not seem to care who he insulted.
Not that Jag had any love for the Skywalkers, but still.
there’s another problem. You definitely don’t want Jedi
in-laws. Imagine how family reunions would go then. It would be bad
enough with your Dad and Han Solo supposedly being in the same room.
Add lightsabers to that and you’ll have an episode of ‘Troops’
on your hands.” Shran continued, seemingly oblivious to
whether or not Jag was listening at all. “Where was I? Oh
yeah, about you not getting any…”
were fighting a war.”
“So? Plenty of
people got laid in the Vong war. I did. Quite a few times.”
“Any time. So
why didn’t you afterwards, if you don’t mind me prying?”
do mind, and … I don’t know. She always said it never
felt like the right time. Some Force thing, or something.”
“So it was
some stupid Jedi thing. That moactan teel…never mind.
Well, at least I know how to fix you now. Come on!” Shran
grabbed Jag’s arm and began pulling him out of the bar.
“Fix me? Shran!
What are you doing?”
“Just trust me,”
the spiky-haired Chiss smiled. This worried Jag. He knew from years
of experience that when Shran smiled like that, trouble was not far
Whether it was just
morbid curiousity that prompted Jag to allow his friend to drag him
through a maze of streets, or just the suspicion that he would once
again have to get Shran out of trouble, Jag would try to remember
later. Whatever the reason, they ended up in a familiar part of
town, one he had drag Shran out of more times than he would have
“See, just the
place for a sad, pathetic little flyboy to pick up some lekku.”
Shran grinned, continuing to drag Jag down a street that made
Corillia’s Treasure Ship Row look as barren as Tatooine’s
Dune Sea. Brightly coloured lights shone from the restaurants,
shops, theatres and hotels lining the streets, of which some looked
more questionable than others.
remembered a mission from before the Vong war, where his squadron had
rescued at least a hundred Twi’lek women and young girls from a
Hutt slave ship that had blundered into Hand space. The would-be
slaves had been sold to the Hutts by their own clans. They could not
return to Ryloth and if they went anywhere else, they would have put
the then-secret existence of the Empire of the Hand at risk, so the
Empress had allowed the Twi’leks to settle on Nirauan. Most
had started up the businesses on this street, using the only skills
they ever knew, though most were now sending their daughters to
school, giving them a better life than they ever could have hoped
the Twi’lek part of Chakra City had become quite popular with
Fleet personnel ever since, though Jag never visited himself, except
to drag home Shran or members of his squadrons who indulged a little
too much. He knew why Shran would take him to a place like this, and
he didn’t like it.
think I should go check on my Clawcraft…” Jag started.
rolled his eyes. “Honestly Jag, you’re more Chiss than I
am! Look, you need this. The girls here are nice and they don’t
expect anything but a one-night stand … and maybe a few
credits. Pick one, or I will!”
fun.” Jag started walking back in the direction of the
meant for you this time!” Shran chased after him. “I
hate to sound sappy, but I’m worried about you, Bro. Look,
this isn’t Spike Squadron, or a Star Destroyer, or Csilla. You
don’t have to put on the emotionless act. Just relax, enjoy
yourself, and don’t worry for once.”
Bro, I know you’re just trying to help, but I really don’t
about that one?” Shran interrupted, looking over Jag’s
turned around. Walking down the street towards them was a
lavender-hued Twi’lek, dressed in a form-fitting, black
bodysuit, a black jacket with white patches on her shoulders and a
black headband with a white circular patch over her forehead. As she
moved closer, Jag could see the patches were old-style Imperial
cos-player. This should be fun,” Shran grinned. “Excuse
Twi’lek’s lekku twitched in annoyance, and she turned to
cross the street. Not to be discouraged, Shran slid in front of her.
“Hello Evening Star. I have something that needs an
engineer’s fine touch. I don’t suppose you’d be
willing to accommodate, would you?”
“Sure you do. I’m not your type, trust me.” The
know you must be aching to work on my engines, but my friend
here could use the … maintenance more than me. I’ll
make it up to you, I promise. Jag! Come here.” Jag stood
where he was. “Jag!” Shran grabbed the Twi’lek’s
wrist and dragged her over to him.
about my friend. He means no harm, Major.” Jag tried to
Shran asked, noticing for the first time the rank insignia over the
Twi’lek’s front pocket. “Hey, nice touch!”
okay,” the Twi’lek replied. “I deal with idiots
like him all the time.”
bet,” Jag confirmed.
One thing Shran could not stand was to be ignored. He then realized
that things were actually going in his favour. “This is my
friend, Jag. He’s been through a lot of poodoo lately and I
was wondering if you could, you know, cheer him up?”
The Twi’lek questioned. It was her turn to notice Jag’s
flight suit and Fleet insignia. Her eyes grew wide. “Captain
was all Jag needed right now, a fan. “I apologize again,
Major. Come on
Shran.” He grabbed Shran’s arm and
turned to walk back to the spaceport.
Jag looked back. “I’m Neela Sen, Walker Corps,”
the Twi’lek held out her hand.
took her hand. “Jagged Fel, Starfighters. He’s Captain
thought so,” Neela said resolutely. “Only one Chiss in
the whole galaxy is so … unique.”
one way to put it.” Jag agreed.
smiled to himself. Mission accomplished. “Have fun,
you two.” He smirked, as he started walking down the street.
the strip club’s the other way.” Jag observed.
tonight, Bro. This may sound lame, but my Mom commed earlier, saying
she had a new assignment for me. Maybe they finally got my baby out
of drydock!” Shran called back. “Oh, one more thing…”
owe me details tomorrow! Evening Star, thanks again. And I will
make it up to you!” Shran yelled as he turned the corner.
shook his head, then turned back to the waiting Twi’lek. “I
really am sorry about him …” he started.
be. You friend’s reputation spans the Empire.”
does his ego. I’ll let you get back to whatever it was you
were doing now.”
I didn’t really have any plans for tonight. The Cerberus
won’t be leaving until tomorrow morning,” Neela supplied.
“How about I take you out for dinner?”
mean, like a date or something?” Jag asked, startled.
Why not? Your friend may be an idiot when it comes to women, but
he’s right about one thing – it looks like you need some
downtime. What do you say?”
shrugged. He was here, it was a long walk back to the spaceport, and
he was hungry anyway. “Okay. Why not? Lead the way.”
Jag was enjoying
himself, and that made him feel even worse. Neela had taken him to a
nice little Twi’lek restaurant down a side street from Little
Ryloth’s main strip. It was quiet and peaceful, the stir-fried
dish of bantha steak strips and native Rylothian vegetables was
surprisingly good, and Neela was pleasant company. She did most of
the talking, telling him about her adventures as an engineer and
gunner for the renowned Walker battalion, the Nightstalkers. Unlike
Shran or his wingmates, she didn’t seem to mind his own
quietness. He found that refreshing, that someone would just let him
listen. Paradoxally, his enjoyment of the date was also making him
sad. Try as he may, he couldn’t remember when Jaina had ever
let him just sit and listen like this in the few dates they had
managed to have after the Vong war.
Jag? Jag!? Are you
listening to me at all?
I was just
I was trying to
tell you about the new discoveries about the Force my brother has
made in his journeys. He just sent me a letter, and it’s
Jaina, you know I
don’t really get this Force stuff. Can’t we talk about
something we both like?
You always do this!
Ignore me, when I’m
trying to tell you something important.
long had it been that way? Jaina had been getting more and more
frustrated by Jag’s lack of understanding about the Force, but
how could she expect him to truly understand what he could never
experience for himself? It would be like trying to explain a
beautiful symphony to someone who was deaf. Why didn’t Jaina
“Jag, are you
It took Jag a moment
to comprehend the question. There was no prying into what he was
thinking, no demands to pay attention. Just a simple question, ‘is
alright, considering.” Jag answered.
“Is it the
bantha? I found it a little overdone tonight, which is strange for
this place. They’re usually pretty good.” Neela asked.
She seemed genuinely concerned.
“No, no, the
food is excellent. It sure beats Star Destoryer cafeteria food.”
“Tell me about
it. Back on my old ship, the Typhonus, we got a choice
between gruel and slop. Nine out of ten stormtroopers can’t
tell the difference. The food got much better after our little
rag-tag band of Imperials joined up with the Hand.”
Jag managed a small
smile. Neela’s stories about the first years after Endor, when
the remaining Imperials were on the run from the increasingly
powerful Rebels, were fascinating. Still, he couldn’t help but
feel guilty. Was smiling at another woman’s jokes cheating?
Could he cheat on someone who had dumped him?
Jag sighed. “I’m
sorry Neela. I’ve been trying to enjoy myself; I really have
bothering you, and my little stories can’t get your mind off
it?” Neela concluded. Jag stared at her, shocked. Was she
staring like you’ve seen a Fosh. I’ve been around
humans, especially human males, for longer than I care to admit. Why
is it whenever something unexpected happens, you guys immediately
blame it on the bloody Force?” Neela sighed.
Jag thought about that
for a moment. “I guess I have been hanging around Jedi too
long. Whenever Jaina did something like that, I could have sworn she
was trying to read my mind.”
freaky.” Neela replied. “If someone was doing that to
me, I’d grab a ysalamir off a tree, strap it on and never take
“Yeah, that is
kind of disturbing, now that I think of it.” Jag had to admit.
guessing this Jaina, who’s presumably a Jedi, is the one you’re
worried about?” Neela asked. “I don’t mean to
pry. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay.”
She stood up from the table, her dinner finished, Jag’s about
half done. “Are you still hungry?”
“How about we go
for a walk?”
Jag glanced at his
chrono. “But it’s almost 23:00.”
“Come on, we
have to get back to the spaceport anyway. You have quarters there,
right? I’ll walk you home.” Neela insisted.
The night air was cool
as Jag and Neela walked down a riverside footpath towards the
military spaceport at the edge of town. The area was surrounded by
city parks, with ysalamiri-covered elpam trees standing at not-quite
even intervals and softly glowing lamp posts lighting the way for
evening walkers. Jag and Neela were not alone, as they passed others
on the trail, mostly Chiss and human couples. At one point, Jag felt
a faster breeze overhead as a Draconian lazily flapped home. He
stared after the flying reptile in envy. To be able to fly unaided,
that was the dream of every human who ever took up the siren’s
song of aviation. He felt so peaceful, he almost didn’t notice
Neela snuggle up against his arm.
“You know, I
really love this planet, almost as much as my new homeworld.”
Neela absently commented.
live on Nirauan?”
is home. It’s on the other side of the galaxy from the rest of
Hand space, not too far from Bespin, actually. Before we joined the
Hand, we had to settle there when our Star Destroyer was on its last
legs, so we named our planet in our ship’s honour.”
Jag had never heard of Typhonus being settled, but the story reminded
him of those he had heard throughout his childhood of Nirauan’s
building a new hyperspace beacon highway to link us to Nirauan.
Everyone’s already nick-naming it, the ‘Hand Span’.”
Neela giggled. “And the funniest thing is, this is happening
right under the Alliance’s noses, and they don’t know
Jag wondered what
Jaina would think of that? Then again, Jag’s duties had
required him to keep Jaina in the dark about some things. For
example, she and the other Jedi had immediately assumed that Jag
worked for the Chiss Ascendancy, and he had done nothing to tell them
otherwise. After all, it wasn’t technically lying. He had
been working for the Chiss Ascendancy’s military as an exchange
soldier, much like how his father served the Hand as the Ambassador
to Csilla, and the Ascendancy as an Assistant Syndic. He had always
assumed that when he and Jaina finally got married, he could bring
her back to Nirauan and fill her in on the truth about the Empire of
the Hand, but now that looked like it was never going to happen.
where?” Jag and Neela had come to the end of the path, right
outside the Walker corral of the spaceport/base. “What are we
in the restaurant when you went to use the ‘fresher?”
“Well, I commed
a couple of friends and arranged for a surprise.” Neela
explained as Jag heard the beeping of someone activating the security
lock on the other side of the corral’s doors.
woman wearing stormtrooper armour, minus the helmet, opened the door
for them. She looked bored, with a magazine tucked under one arm.
She quickly looked over Jag’s military ID card, handed it back
to him with a raised eyebrow, and didn’t even bother scanning
Neela’s. “Never thought you were the flyboy type,
Neela,” she commented.
one to talk, Rose. How’s Trig doing?”
old, same old. He still thinks he could beat Old Ma … I mean,
this young man’s father, in a TIE race.”
him to keep dreaming, from me.” Jag had to grin. He
had yet to beat his old man in a race.
do, Sir,” Rose the Stormtrooper replied. She turned to Neela.
“Trainer 8 and 9 are ready.”
I owe you.”
worry, I’ll collect,” the trooper assured her, going back
to her guard station, presumably to read her latest issue of Weapons
and Technology Monthly.
especially Chiss clawcraft, were wondrous metallic birds of prey.
Their speed, grace and power had captivated Jag ever since he had
first seen his father’s TIE scream across the sky as a child.
Even if he hadn’t been born the son of one of the Old Empire’s
greatest fighter pilots, Jag knew that space and sky had always been
his destiny. Although he loved starfighters with all his heart, as
he followed Neela though the Walker corral he had to admit his
respect for the sleeping monsters therein. He passed familiar, boxy
AT-STs and walked between the legs of a giant AT-AT close to the
entrance of the corral. However, the deeper into the monsters’
lair he traveled, the stranger its resident beasts became. He
recognized Walker designs that had just been theoretical blueprints
in his engineering textbook at the Academy and another six-legged
beast he remembered as a relic from the Clone Wars, an AT-TE. The
small pods-with-legs AT-PTs were an even older design than that,
being the staple ground support vehicles, Jag recalled, from Grand
Admiral Thrawn’s Katana fleet.
Neela stopped in front
of one of the two-legged monsters. It was a design Jag had never
seen before, looking at first glance like someone had stolen a
bubble-canopy fighter and stuck its cockpit on legs. Jag examined it
closer. The strange Walker actually had two cockpits, not one, the
first lower and protruding forward, the second above and behind it.
Each seemed to be made of the same blast-darkening transparisteel as
his clawcraft’s canopy. Unlike the awkward, ridiculous-looking
AT-STs that Jag was more familiar with, this new two-legger was
sleek, aerodynamic. Its legs were at its sides, like an oversized
PT, and were longer, with an extra, fourth joint. A long, metallic
tail with what looked like a vibroblade on the end stuck out behind
the Walker, which probably helped with its balance. Its curved
vibroblade foot claws, a mere fence-slicing afterthought on STs, were
longer, sticking straight up while the Walker was at rest. It looked
like they could swing downwards to do some terrible damage to enemy
“Do you like
it?” Neela asked.
overly familiar with Walkers, but yes. I’m impressed.”
“This is the
All-Terrain Strike Transport, or ‘Raptor’. When you hear
‘deploy the STs’, from now on, this is what they’ll
mean.” Neela gazed up at the Walker with almost motherly
pride. “She’s my baby.”
“You mean you
designed that beast?” Jag asked.
“Yep. My boss
was busy working on the replacements for the ATs, but a new scout and
support Walker’s been needed for some time so I took up the
project myself. I hate to brag, but I’m really proud of her!”
“Is this what
you wanted to show me?”
not not happy to show her off, but no, I had something else
planned for you. Come on!”
Neela grabbed Jag’s
hand and ran excitedly towards another section of the corral. Too
quickly for Jag to realize where he was going, he found himself
pulled up a metal staircase, to the top of one of the Walker mounting
platforms. Neela finally came to a stop. In front of them,
seemingly floating in midair, were two seats, with a primitive
control panel and speeder bike-like handlebars mounted in front,
nothing more. He looked down over the edge of the platform, to see
the seats were actually mounted on two legs that looked almost the
same as Neela’s Raptor’s. Jag raised his eyebrows in
surprise. He hadn’t thought AT-RTs had been used since the
Neela jumped expertly into the seat of one of the RTs. “You
“You want me to
climb into that?”
“I know Walkers
aren’t your usual cup of Caf, but I thought it would be fun to
take the RTs for a spin.”
even know they still made these things.”
They’re old Clone Wars models; we use them and the PTs as
trainers.” Neela explained. “Don’t worry; I’m
only a basic pilot myself. I’m good at designing and fixing
these things, not piloting them.”
isn’t the term I’d use for a ground-pounder,” Jag
commented wryly, but he climbed aboard his Walker anyway.
Controlling the AT-RT
was easy enough, once Jag got used to it. The handle bars and basic
display were similar to those on the speeder bikes and swoops Jag had
flown during his Academy training. What he couldn’t get used
to was the actual feeling of feet hitting the ground, the lopping,
even gait of the Walker. It was more like a “Runner”
actually, as Neela gradually speeded up their laps around the
practice court. Racing around the court, feeling the wind though his
hair, piloting the walker was exhilarating, especially since Jag had
never before been on something that could move so fast, but could not
hover or fly. He never could forget that he was on the ground. It
was a different type of thrill than what he got while behind the
controls of his fighter, but it was still fun.
raced past him, coming so close if Jag had wanted to he could have
reached out and brushed her lekku, which streamed behind her head
like a pair of ribbons. That was another difference from fighters –
you could never actually touch your wingmates.
laughed and twitched the ends of her lekku invitingly. “Come
on, flyboy, this is a Walker, not a sandcrawler. Let’s move!”
Neela had finished yelling, Jag had raced up beside her Walker. Now,
he actually did reach out and brush his hand gently against her one
of her lekku. He was surprised how soft and smooth the serpentine
headtail was, and she didn’t seem to mind his touch, as the tip
of her lekku curled gently around his wrist. Too late, he remembered
that stroking lekku was the Twi’lek equivalent of a kiss.
Shocked, he quickly pulled his hand away.
sorry! I didn’t mean…” Jag started.
okay,” Neela assured him. She smiled seductively. “You’re
good at that.”
didn’t know what to say to that. He followed in silence
as Neela guided her Walker back towards the mounting platform.
I’m …” Jag tried to apologize again as he
dismounted from the AT-RT.
Neela pressed her forefinger against his lips. “I told you,
it’s okay. I was beginning to wonder if you’d ever make
I didn’t want to…what I mean is…nothing against
you or anything, you’re very attractive, but I’m just not
ready for this kind of thing.” Jag stammered as they once
again passed the various Walkers on their way out of the corral.
I know you’re confused right now. Your world’s turned
upside down and you don’t know where you’ll go from
here. Trust me, I know what you’re going through…”
could you understand what I’m going through?!” Jag
snapped, walking quickly away from Neela. “You weren’t
dumped for a bunch of fraggin’ bugs!”
not, but the man I love married my best friend!” Neela shouted
turned around, startled. Neela knelt in the shadow of the AT-AT,
shocked about what she had just revealed. Her pale orange eyes
glistened with unshed tears; Jag could not guess how long they had
been there. He walked back to her and put his hands on her
shoulders, like he would to any comrade in pain. This small action
seemed to comfort her, and he sobs quieted slightly.
I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”
Neela started between sobs.
I’m the one who should be apologizing.” Jag countered.
He moved a little closer. “I’ve been so wrapped up in my
own problems I didn’t even see …”
was cut off as Neela leaned forward and pressed her lips against his.
Her kiss was soft and gentle, and said more than words ever could.
think we need a place to talk,” Neela murmured when their lips
nodded, too shocked to argue. They walked hand in hand out of the
rescued me from Tatooine, and took me with him to Cardia,”
Neela began. She was sitting on the end of Jag’s bunk in the
small, spartan quarters he had at the spaceport. She hesitated.
okay.” Jag assured her, from his seat on the opposite end of
the bunk. He took her hand, waiting patiently, not pressuring her.
She would speak when she was ready.
continued. “He really didn’t have to save me, I mean, I
did try to kill him. What he should have done was turn me in to the
local authorities, or kill me himself, but he didn’t. He got
me off that sandball, and instead of keeping me as a ‘pet’,
like most other Imperials would have, he sent me to the Academy. He
said I had a real talent for mechanics and he was right; I just
needed an opportunity to prove myself and The Commander gave me that.
He gave my life meaning, and I guess I’ve always been grateful
to him for that. Over time, my gratitude grew into something more.
I realized I loved him.” Neela paused.
Jag gave her hand an
She took a deep breath
and continued. “At the Academy, I roomed with one of the few
other girls there, a Corillian named Kat Tetra. Now, she’s one
of the best Walker pilots to ever stomp on a Rebel, but back then, we
were both punk kids, trying to prove ourselves in a galaxy that
seemed set against us. We were two women, trying to excel at the
Imperial Academy when the Tarkin philosophies of anti-women and
anti-alien biases were in full swing. You’re too young to
remember that, but it was pretty bad. I’m so glad the Empress
and Grand Admiral got rid of that in the Hand.”
Jag remembered his
father’s stories about how the Old Empire’s corrupt
policies had gotten to be too much even for him, when he had defected
and joined Uncle Wedge in Rogue Squadron. It must have been even
worse for an alien woman like Neela. “Why did you stay with
the Empire, if things were that bad?”
Commander was also our primary instructor at the Academy, and he
always thought Tarkin was an idiot, so Kat and I we were lucky. We
worked hard in our courses and managed to beat the odds. I guess
knowing that not all officers were like Tarkin, that there were those
like The Commander and Grand Admiral Thrawn out there, who
appreciated skill no matter who it came from, really made a
difference. I stayed with the Empire because I grew to love what the
Empire really stood for -- a united Galaxy, strong enough to stand up
to any threat, especially bastards like the Yuuzhan Vong and Kiliks.
The Rebels ‘winning’ really screwed the galaxy over.”
me, I know.” Jag agreed
Kat and I have been best friends ever since, a lot like how you and
Shran are. I love her like a sister. So what if I’m a Twi’lek
and she’s human? Like the Mandalorians always say ‘Family
is more than blood’.” She paused again and looked down
at the floor.
Jag asked gently.
I didn’t know until it was much too late was that Kat loved The
Commander just as much as I did. Five years after Endor, Kat and The
Commander got married.” Neela choked back a sob. “I
loved them both so much; I wanted them to be happy, even at the cost
of my own happiness. At least, that’s what I kept telling
myself. I’ve never told either of them how upset it made me
feel to see them together. Hell, I’ve never told anyone at
all, before now.”
why are you telling me?” Jag asked. “We’ve only
known each other for one night.”
think because I just know I can trust you. When I first saw
you, how sadness and confusion were just radiating off you, I wanted
to help you.”
it really that apparent?”
you were Twi’lek, your lekku would be twitching like a Jedi on
Myrkr.” Neela smiled. “The point is, I saw you in pain,
the same kind of pain that I’ve been having, and I wanted to
help you in any way I could. I don’t want you to suffer like I
have.” Neela sighed, seemingly in relief, and laid her head
back onto Jag’s lap. “You know, it feels good to finally
talk to someone about all this.”
beginning to feel better too. I’m still upset about what
happened with Jaina, but I feel better about being upset.”
Jag admitted, looking down into Neela’s eyes. He absently
stroked her right lekku.
closed her eyes, enjoying his touch. “I won’t lie to
you. It’s not going to stop hurting for a long time.”
know, I know. But now it doesn’t feel like the galaxy’s
going to end, at least.” Jag admitted.
know, Joiners can be saved, if the Kiliks in their nest are all
killed,” Neela added. “There may be hope for you and
don’t know. It’s not just the bugs; things haven’t
been, well … perfect between us since the end of the Vong
know this is the galaxy’s biggest cliché, but maybe
you’re better off as friends?” Neela suggested. “Like
I said before, I love Kat like a sister, and that hasn’t
changed. She’s still my best friend, and I serve under The
Commander on the Cerberus right now. He and I have a
friendship that I wouldn’t trade for the galaxy, one that goes
beyond mere romantic love. Most of the time, I’m happy with
the relationships I have with my friends now. It’s just once
in a while that my emotions get the better of me. Maybe I should
spend more time around the Chiss.”
long as it’s not Shran!” Jag joked, and they both
laughed. “Maybe you’re right, maybe some people who
think they should be lovers are better off as friends.”
maybe some friends would make better lovers.” Neela countered.
“Relationships are weird that way.”
absently looked at the one piece of decoration hanging on the wall at
the thought of friends, Spike Squadron’s group holo, and his
eyes wandered to the tall Chiss woman standing beside him, Shawnkyr
Nuruodo, his executive officer. Shawnkyr, Shran’s cousin, his
childhood friend and Academy classmate. Shawnkyr, who had followed
him into the Known Regions even after practically begging him not to
go during the Vong War. Shawnkyr, who had always flown at his side,
who had never said anything about his relationship with Jaina …
am such an idiot.” Jag moaned.
wrong?” Neela asked, concerned.
only that I’ve just realized how my XO probably feels about me,
and I, the clueless idiot that I am, never even considered it until
now. Shran’s right. I am just a pathetic flyboy.”
turned over and planted another kiss on Jag’s lips. “Stop
feeling sorry for yourself,” she told him once their lips
parted. “And stop worrying, at least for tonight. Jaina, your
XO, and especially Shran, aren’t here. I am.” She
kissed him again, this time more passionately, her tongue sliding
seductively into his mouth, tasting delicately at his lips.
returned the kiss slowly at first, then more eagerly, his hands
sliding smoothly down her lekku, which curled around his arms
now, just for tonight, you’re mine,” she breathed between
kisses, and pushed him gently down onto the bunk.
know better than to argue with a woman who’s made up her mind.”
Jag whispered, and pulled her headband off over her lekku.
learning; that’s good.” Neela smiled, and traced the
scar on his forehead with her tongue, while unzipping the front of
his flight suit. The battle scars crossing his chest, which Jaina
had found unsettling, seemed to turn Neela on even more. She placed
his hand up inside her own shirt and he felt a few similar scars on
her. They were clearly both warriors, both soldiers for the Hand.
that The Empire of the Hand had Jag’s attention at the
moment. He was more interested in what Neela’s hands and lekku
were doing, rubbing gently against his body as more pieces of
clothing met the floor. He repeated the favour, pulling her shirt
and military bra over her head. Her nipples were a deep violet
colour, standing out against her lavender skin, enticing him. He
took one into his mouth and sucked gently, causing Neela to sigh in
pleasure. He felt her claw-like fingernails rake gently against his
back, then one of her hands crept downwards, under his undershorts.
He gasped as she found her target and squeezed firmly.
underwear finally joined the rest of their clothes on the floor, and
Jag saw a sight that few men in the galaxy had ever seen: a
beautiful, naked, and willing Twi’lek woman. Not,
however, willing to wait, as she playfully pushed him down, and
crawled on top of him, positioning herself just behind his erect
member. He gasped as she rubbed herself enticingly against him, he
could feel how wet she was, how much they both wanted each other, but
she wasn’t letting him have her. She was teasing him
mercilessly, and that just made him want her even more.
you want to dock with my hanger bay, flyboy?” Neela purred
definitely time to land,” Jag teased back, and flipped her over
onto her back. He bent down between her legs, running his tongue
over her, searching until he had found her hard little bud. He
licked it gently at first, then faster, causing her to gasp and moan
as he felt her quake with pleasure. Now it was his turn to tease
her, as he brought her to the brick of passion, then smiled slyly and
pulled his tongue away.
slid further under him, and reached out and grabbed his manhood,
rubbing it more firmly than before. Finally, she guided him into
her, they both gasped as he entered her. It wasn’t like Jag
was a virgin. He had a few encounters during his Academy years with
fellow classmates, always human; he had been too nervous to approach
the intimidating Chiss women he had really been attracted to.
However, during his relationship with Jaina, he had not slept with
anyone else, which had added to his frustration when Jaina
continuously refused him. He had literally not made love to a woman
for years. Now was his chance to make up for lost time.
was surprised as Neela lifted her legs up over his shoulders,
wrapping her feet around the back of his neck. This caused him to go
even deeper inside her; he liked this unusual, but pleasurable
position. A Twi’lek’s reputation for “creativity”
was well-deserved. He began moving rhythmically in and out of her,
feeling her moving under him in unison, matching him thrust for
thrust, her soft little yelps of pleasure encouraging him. It took
all his self-control to keep from crying out himself – he
didn’t want the whole base to hear them, or he’d never
hear the end of it from his wingmates.
he felt her arch her back under him, almost lifting him off her as
she finished passionately. He smothered her mouth with his, covering
her screams of pleasure. Seeing her in such sexual bliss was all it
took to send him over the edge. Neela returned the favour,
smothering his cries with her kiss as he came.
sweat dripping down his forehead into his eyes, Jag rolled over onto
his back, utterly spent. Neela snuggled up to his side, using his
shoulder as a pillow as they both fell blissfully asleep.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
“Jag! I know you’re in there! Open up!”
Jag groaned and pulled
his pillow over his ears. He was having such a nice dream about a
sexy Twi’lek. Couldn’t Shran just leave him alone?
That got his
attention. Two hours late getting up? “Sithspit!” he
swore. “Shawnkyr’s gonna kill me!” He leapt out
of bed, and ran to go open the door, then realized he was naked.
That was strange; he usually slept in his shorts. He found them
lying on the floor with the rest of his clothes. Then, he
It wasn’t a
dream. Everything he remembered about last night really happened.
The date, the walk back to base, the Walker ride, and …
Jag looked back
towards his bunk, searching the tangled sheets for a lavender form.
All he found was Neela’s Imperial headband, peeking out from
under his pillow. He picked it up, remembering all they had been
through last night, a memory he would treasure. She must have left
earlier that morning as Jag vaguly recalled her saying something
about her ship’s departure. At least she locked the door
He then heard the
keypad on the other side of his door beeping. Shran must have been
trying to slice his way in. Jag hurryingly pulled on his shorts just
as the beeps stopped. “For Force’s sake, haven’t
you heard of knocking?!” Jag complained as the door slid open.
owes me five creds!” Shran smirked, seeing Jag’s state
of undress. “Looks like somebody had fun last night, Bro. Oh,
and don’t worry about my Cuz. I sent Shawnkie on a wild bantha
chase. She won’t yell at you for at least another hour, long
enough for me to show you my new cool thing!”
Jag asked as he pulled on his flight suit, stuffed Neela’s
headband in his pocket, and ran a hand through his messy black hair.
He finally looked up, and noticed something different about Shran.
Gone was his black and silver Explorer uniform. He was now wearing
light grey, with silver epaulets on his shoulders and shiny new black
boots. A new rank insignia replaced his “Captain” one.
assuming your ‘cool thing’ has something to do with your
promotion, Admiral? That is, as long as you’re not just
borrowing one of your dad’s old uniforms again,” Jag
“If I were
stealing Dad’s uniform, it’d be white. No, they really
promoted me. Oh, and call me ‘sir’, and I’ll bust
you down to aircab driver.”
worry about that, Bro. So what’s this thing?” Jag
asked, as Shran led him down the hallway towards the doors to the
thing and it’s cool and it does things – cool things!”
Shran replied, solving nothing. They stepped out into the sunlight,
where Jag was greeted by the sight of ... absolutely nothing. He was
expecting to see a new Explorer ship on the lanchpad, a prototype
fighter, anything. Instead, a few Chiss and humans, mostly pilots,
were just going about their business as usual. Occasionally, a few
would look up at the sky.
Jag suddenly heard from across the courtyard. An angry-looking Chiss
woman in an Explorer uniform was walking towards them, and Jag
recognized Shawnkyr following her.
Shawnkie! Glad you could joi …” Shran started.
“What. Did. You.
DO?!” Leska cut him off. She was clearly a Chiss that liked
to get straight to the point.
“What makes you
think I did anything, Bright Star?”
“I know you,
Shran. And don’t you ‘Bright Star’ me!”
Sorry I slept in.” Jag said, embarrassed, and not wanting to
get involved with Shran and Leska’s argument.
Shawnkyr managed a
small smile. “That’s okay, Jag. Shran explained to me
that you were helping him last night, and asked me to let you sleep,”
she replied. She leaned close to Jag’s ear. “Not that I
believe him for a second. You can tell me later,” she
something I wanted to talk to you about …” Jag began,
but then noticed that Shawnkyr didn’t seem to be listening.
She was staring up at the sky, her expression unreadable. Jag
followed her gaze. She seemed to be looking at the moons, which were
just starting to disappear for the day below the horizon. That was
odd. Nirauan’s two moons were nothing much to look at, just a
couple of grey, dead rocks.
is it?” Jag asked. He then noticed something even odder than
Shawnkyr’s sudden interest in astronomy.
There were not two
moons sinking below the horizon. There were three.
“Son of a
Sith …” Jag began.
my cool thing.” Shran said smugly.
“They gave you
command of that?” Leska asked, disbelieving. “I
weep for the Galaxy.”
“I wish we had
that thing during the Vong war.” Shawnkyr replied, still
gazing up at the sky, at something that could either solve the Empire
of the Hand’s bug problem, or cause a lot of trouble if the
Galactic Alliance found out about it.
Jag stood watching the
sky silently, thinking about the night before and the future that was
to come. He reached over and took Shawnkyr’s hand in his, and
to his surprise, she didn’t pull away. Things had changed in
his life, and in the Galaxy, and he didn’t know for sure where
they would go from here.
One thing he was sure
about. The Kiliks, Yuuzhan Vong, and whoever else threatened the
Galaxy better watch out from now on. Let the Jedi think they
were the only hope if they wanted. With the Empire of the Hand as
its shadowy guardian, he knew the Galaxy would really have the
protection it deserved.
That was something
Jagged Fel could smile about.